2022 NFL Draft board: Assessing the highest QB prospects

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Drafting Willis is an train in projecting athletic traits versus precise recreation movie. There’s not a QB with larger upside on this draft class, and his ceiling is to this point above some other. There’s additionally not a QB who can be drafted who has as persistently tough performances on the sphere.

Willis is dripping with athleticism. Shorter than excellent at 6-foot-1 however not small, Willis has elite-level arm energy. His acceleration and straight-line pace are each distinctive for the place. He runs like a speedy RB and has good imaginative and prescient as a runner. The mix is ideal for RPOs with speedy WRs on the surface. There isn’t a extra harmful QB outdoors the pocket on this class; between his prompt acceleration and his arm energy on the transfer from awkward platforms, he’s superb at making one thing out of nothing. Willis additionally has a pure charisma and cozy management to him that shone throughout Senior Bowl week and the Mix.

Alas, these aren’t the one outcomes from the final two years at Liberty. Willis struggled with ball placement however particularly contact on his throws. He’s usually very late to drag the set off, and in consequence, he has to throw at max velocity. Significantly better at attacking off- and zone coverages, doesn’t have the position or contact versus press or man that’s desired. Holds the ball too lengthy, a trait that was made rather more problematic enjoying behind a foul OL (particularly in 2021). Misses approach too many simple reads and throws, missing each anticipatory imaginative and prescient and accuracy. Doesn’t throw the ball on timing and anticipatory routes properly; has to see it earlier than he throws it, and that results in dangerous interceptions and missed alternatives. Holds the ball approach too lengthy even when not pressured, and will also be late to tuck and run when nothing is open.

Willis confronted little or no future NFL competitors and struggled badly as a passer in opposition to higher defenses. In matchups vs. Ole Miss, MTSU, Louisiana — the three finest groups he confronted — Willis went 47-of-89 with a 6.2 YPA common, 4 TDs and eight INTs. I watched these three video games, Military, Louisiana-Monroe, UAB and Syracuse from 2021 and NC State and Coastal Carolina from 2020. Apart from as a unbelievable runner and the exceptional arm energy, I wouldn’t have identified I used to be watching a top-100 prospect, not to mention a man in consideration for the highest 10.

And that’s the rub with Willis. It’s an entire projection primarily based on the hope that he winds up dramatically bettering at issues the NFL doesn’t sometimes develop properly. He’s simple to root for, and there’s no denying the potential. The problem shouldn’t be too huge for him to deal with. However he’s received to this point to traverse. Jogs my memory fairly a little bit of Jake Locker, who earned the No. 8 total decide in 2011 on very a lot the identical phrases — large athlete, nice particular person —however might by no means overcome his gross deficiencies as a passer. 

Price a Day 2 lottery ticket for a staff that doesn’t want a QB within the short-term, however Willis can be lengthy gone earlier than the primary spherical ends. Excessive growth/bust prospect.

5. Sam Howell, North Carolina

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