Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
If Kenny Pickett has the highest floor among the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class, Malik Willis might have the highest ceiling. It’s not just the physical tools, though Willis has those in abundance. It’s the personality and charisma that many star quarterbacks have. Willis has that “it” factor, and the ability to win over a room and a huddle. That matters when it comes to playing quarterback in the NFL, and it might even matter more than the physical traits.
Malik Willis is 6’0” 225, and can throw (2,857 passing yards, 27 TDS, 12 INTs last year), and run (878 rushing yards, 13 TDs last year). He’s shown that he has the raw arm strength to push the ball down the field as well as the necessary touch to make softer throws as well. He can make throws when flushed or on the run too, which may come into play if his offensive line isn’t good. If the Carolina Panthers want to run some run-pass-option concepts, Malik Willis would be an ideal fit as he’s shown terrific explosiveness as a runner. He can make big plays with his legs that other quarterbacks simply cannot.
Willis is a bit raw in some areas, however. He could clean up his footwork and pocket awareness, as well as tightening up some of his general mechanics to improve his accuracy. If Carolina selects Malik Willis, they may not want to play him right away as they will still have Sam Darnold under contract for another year and Willis may not be ready. How quickly the Panthers want to compete may be the deciding factor if they elect to select a quarterback and are forced to choose between Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett. Their ultimate decision should be fascinating indeed.