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Malik Willis vs. Kenny Pickett: Which NFL Draft QB A Former GM Says Is Only One Who ‘Checks All Boxes’ In 2022

Malik Willis vs. Kenny Pickett: Which NFL Draft QB A Former GM Says Is Only One Who ‘Checks All Boxes’ In 2022 article feature image
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Getty Images. Pictured: 2022 NFL Draft QB prospects Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett

  • How do 2022 NFL Draft QB prospects Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett compare in the eyes of talent evaluators?
  • Former NFL general manager and team executive Randy Mueller breaks down his evaluations for Willis and Pickett below.
  • Heading into the draft, Willis and Pickett are the two quarterbacks expected to be drafted in the first round.

Malik Willis vs. Kenny Pickett: Who Is the No. 1 QB In the 2022 NFL Draft?

Kenny Pickett Evaluation

by Randy Mueller

For my money, Kenny Picket is the only quarterback in this draft class who checks all the boxes.

Pickett has size (6-foot-3 and 217 pounds), arm strength, accuracy and — what is just as important as those physical traits at the NFL level — anticipation and vision to go with awareness.

His hand size and the fact he wears gloves when playing has been the talk among many media folks, but suffice to say that neither appear to be a negative for Kenny 2 Gloves on tape.

I found myself extremely impressed by his ability to anticipate where and when receivers are going to be open from the pocket and when on the move. The ball comes out quick and he can throw without his feet being set, which means he does not need a pristine pocket to operate. He can avoid pressure and seems to make very good decisions — even when pressured and as defenders close in.

Pickett’s multiple years in the same system at Pittsburgh show in his second- and third-level progressions when reading coverage.

He is very accurate and can pinpoint the ball to targets, which means minimal adjustments are needed to secure it, translating to more “run after the catch” and big plays. Pickett throws to all levels of the field vertically, and the fact he throws on time consistently shows he understands that rhythm and timing is everything at the NFL level.

By consistently being able to scan the field from the pocket, NFL coaches will have options in their schemes with Pickett pulling the trigger.

By having the preferred size, natural instincts for the position as well as pinpoint touch and timing to go with his ability to drive the ball on a line, Pickett heads this class, in my opinion. His learning curve at the next level should be easier than any other QB’s in this year’s class and gives him a chance to contribute in his rookie year.

I would have no problem picking him in the first round because of it.

Stylistically, Pickett compares to new Colts QB Matt Ryan when he was coming out of Boston College.


Malik Willis Evaluation

by Randy Mueller

Willis starts with the hurdle of being vertically challenged. At just taler than 6-foot, that size is not what most NFL teams are looking for, and more QBs of that size have failed than excelled at the next level.

The reason I have Willis ranked behind Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe — most talent evaluators have their order reversed — is although Willis is a quicker and more dynamic athlete, he lacks the anticipation and timing that will be needed when facing NFL defenses. This will have to improve for him to play effectively at the NFL level. Waiting for receivers to come open or holding the ball too long are sometimes habits that are hard to break.

Throwing on time is often a challenge when you can’t see from the pocket and I question this, at times, with Willis. He does not see receivers who are open and could make questionable decisions or throw late into traffic.

Whichever team drafts Willis will have to allow for a transition to a faster pace and speed of the game, and that is going to take some time, in my opinion.

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Willis is a very good athlete who not only can get away from pressure in the pocket, but should be effective on QB-designed runs. He will have to learn to not flee so quickly, though. His tendency is to take off from the pocket and, in most cases, can outrun his way out of trouble. That will not be the case in the NFL.

Willis has the strongest arm in terms of velocity in this class. He can throw without having to have his feet set under him, with the correct trajectory and plenty of zip. He has a very quick release and his fundamentals are solid in all parts of his delivery.

Willis can make all the throws that will be asked of him at the next level.

The system Liberty runs presents a lot of pre-defined targets mixed with RPOs, which very few run at the NFL level. Willis’ talent is immense, but there is going to be a learning curve in various aspects of his game. The good news is, if mastered, he brings a lot of upside with his very talented arm and athleticism.

Jordan Love is my comp for Willis, though he is smaller.

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