Malik Willis Scouting Report & 2022 NFL Draft Profile
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malik Willis.
Malik Willis NFL Draft Profile
Malik Willis NFL Draft Projections
Willis has had a winding road. In high school, he played at Westlake in Atlanta for his first two years of varsity ball before transferring as a senior to Roswell, where he had 2,562 yards passing and 1,033 yards rushing with 37 total touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback.
But most evaluators saw him as a college receiver, not a quarterback, so he went through the recruitment process as a dreaded position-less “athlete,” and that likely hurt his status. Even with his playmaking athleticism, he received just three stars and only three offers from Power Five schools.
It wasn’t until after his senior season that Willis received an offer from Auburn with the opportunity to play quarterback, at which point he promptly decommitted from Virginia Tech, signed with Auburn and enrolled at the school less than two weeks later.
Alas, Willis learned at Auburn that being a quarterback is not the same as playing quarterback. For two years, Willis backed up starter Jarrett Stidham, and then in 2019 spring practices he was beat out for the No. 1 job by heralded true freshman Bo Nix.
Faced with the prospect of going through his entire college career without starting a game, Willis transferred to Liberty, redshirted a year per NCAA rules, won the No. 1 job in 2020 and then proceeded to have himself an eye-catching campaign.
Most rushing yards by a QB in 2020:
Malik Willis – 1,043
No other QB has over 789 pic.twitter.com/pYgiBlLTkP
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 26, 2021
Now he enters the 2021 season as one of the most hyped players in the nation.
Don't sleep on Liberty QB Malik Willis 👀 pic.twitter.com/5N73D3ogLo
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 11, 2021
If Willis merely repeats in 2021 what he did in 2020, he could easily go in Round 1 of next year’s draft. If he builds upon what he did as a junior, he could go in the top 10 — and maybe No. 1 overall.
- 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Pick No. 10, Football Team
- 2022 Position Big Board: No. 5 QB
- 2022 NFL Draft Big Board: No. 12 Overall
- 2021 Devy Fantasy Rankings: N/A
Malik Willis Scouting Report
- Might be the most Lamar Jackson-like prospect since Jackson himself.
- Creates easily out of structure.
- Above-average arm strength.
- Strong athlete with Konami Code rushing upside (7.4 yards per carry for career, including sacks).
- Short (6-foot-1).
- Doesn’t throw with great anticipation, placement or touch.
- Often fails to progress past first read.
- Just one year of starting experience to date.
Malik Willis Stats
- 2020, Liberty (10 games): 265-2,250-20-6 passing | 64.2% completion rate
- 2018, Auburn (5 games): 7-24-0-0 passing | 71.4% completion rate
- 2017, Auburn (7 games): 7-45-1-0 passing | 85.7% completion rate
- 2020, Liberty (10 games): 141-944-14 rushing | 6.7 yards per carry
- 2018, Auburn (5 games): 12-88-1 rushing | 7.3 yards per carry
- 2017, Auburn (7 games): 16-221-1 rushing | 13.8 yards per carry
Malik Willis & Liberty Betting Odds
Below are the best odds for various Malik Willis and Liberty betting markets as of May 20, 2021. Find reviews of the best online sportsbooks here.
- Malik Willis to Be No. 1 Pick in 2022 Draft: +1500 at PointsBet
- Malik Willis to Win Heisman Trophy: +15000 at FanDuel
- Liberty to Win National Championship: +50000 at DraftKings
Malik Willis & Liberty Market Analysis
Let’s get this out of the way: Even if Liberty was to go undefeated in 2021, it wouldn’t be a viable candidate to win the national championship. It’s not in the Power Five. It’s not even in the Group of Five. It’s a conference-less independent.
Under former Mississippi head coach Hugh Freeze, Liberty did incredibly well last year to go 10-1 and finish No. 17 in the Associated Press poll. The Flames might even crack the top 10 in 2021: They’re likely to score a lot of points on offense.
Yet I am exuberantly confident that they will not make the College Football Playoffs. FOX Bet hasn’t even bothered to set a line for Liberty to win the national championship because that won’t happen.
Willis, however, is an intriguing candidate for the No. 1 pick and the Heisman.
Imagine if quarterback Trevor Lawrence — a generational prospect — hadn’t been in the 2021 draft class. In that case, the No. 1 pick likely would have come down to quarterbacks Zach Wilson (BYU) and Trey Lance (North Dakota State).
Like Willis, Wilson comes from an independent program and benefitted from a weak schedule last year. Like Willis, Lance is a strong-armed, small-school, dual-threat quarterback who was encouraged to switch positions in the recruitment process.
Willis is far from a perfect prospect, but the NFL has shown that it can overlook his imperfections. In a class with no established frontrunner, the No. 1 pick is wide open, and Willis is very much in the running.
This might sound unbelievable, but with his arm strength, rushing ability and overall playmaking instincts, Willis has the upside to catapult himself into No. 1 consideration.
Malik Willis is the QB who’s going to have that Zach Wilson type trajectory this CFB season. I’m not saying he’s going #2 overall but he’s going to play his way into high considerations.
— Ray G 🏁 (@RayGQue) May 6, 2021
Because of his talent, Willis I believe is likelier than either Kedon Slovis or Desmond Ridder to go No. 1 overall. I currently have both ranked ahead of him on my quarterback big board, but that has more to do with their multiple years of production and relatively high floors. Ceiling, though, is what matters when betting on the No. 1 pick, and Willis might have the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class.
And if Willis is to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, he will need to have a Heisman-caliber (if not Heisman-winning) 2021 season.
Willis is unlikely to be drafted at the top of the board next year, and he’s even unlikelier to win the Heisman this year. But given how wide open the field is this year, I’m willing to bet on the guy who might be the biggest pure playmaker at the most important position in the sport.
Pick: Willis No. 1 pick, +1500; 0.5 units
Bet to: +1000
Best Line (May 20): PointsBet
Pick: Willis to win Heisman, +15000; 0.5 units
Bet to: +10000
Best Line (May 20): FanDuel
Matthew Freedman is 1,051-849-37 (+92.6 units) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.