The desired NFL quarterback skillset has changed dramatically in the last several years. The tall, stationary pocket passer is becoming a thing of the past. What’s required in today’s game is a more athletic player who can escape pressure, and buy time with his legs. Mike Tomlin himself stated his desire for the next Steelers quarterback to be more mobile in his end of season press conference. If that’s the case, there is a real possibility the team could draft Malik Willis out of Liberty University. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of drafting this player:
* Elite athlete for the quarterback position
* Cannon arm, maybe the best in the draft
* Good poise under pressure
Watch five minute of tape on Malik Willis, and his strengths pop out at you. https://youtu.be/sIB5b3SyPCg He has an NFL arm, and can make all the throws. His throws while on the move are particularly impressive. Liberty used several boots and roll outs in their offense, and Willis thrived in those situations. Willis will test defenses consistently with his ability to scramble. He made countless big plays evading the pass rush, as well as with designed runs. Drafting this player would require the Steelers to adopt a similar type of offense as the Ravens currently have. Not a bad thing considering all the success Baltimore has had in the past few years.
* Ball security
* Small school player
Malik Willis transferred from Auburn to Liberty for the 2020 season. He was only a two year starter in college, and those starts came for a very small school. Willis had a fantastic first year at Liberty. So much so, many had him the number one quarterback prospect going into 2021. Unfortunately Willis regressed a bit this season. Ball security in particular took a downturn during his senior season. The interceptions doubled from six to twelve, to go along with two fumbles. To be fair, Willis 70 more attempts, and 600 more yards passing in 2021.
Accuracy and overall mechanics will be a major focus once he reaches the NFL. That is something that will take time to correct at the next level. If he were to be a day one starter in Pittsburgh, there will undoubtedly be growing pains.
The Steelers could do much worse than Malik Willis as their starting quarterback in 2022. They are certainly familiar with the ins and outs of the Ravens offense. Installing a version of that in Pittsburgh would be very exciting, and sometimes frustrating. Malik Willis would absolutely jump start the running game in Pittsburgh however. Having to defend a runner at quarterback stresses defenses as the Steelers well know. Tomlin could then rely on that, and his defense to stay competitive as Willis develops.
We would still prefer a veteran quarterback for the Steelers next season. What would a trade for Aaron Rodgers look like for the Steelers? But if the team is determined to draft a quarterback, Malik Willis would be an interesting and exciting choice.