The hype surrounding Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has steadily grown throughout the 2022 NFL draft process. It began simmering at the Senior Bowl, continued through the NFL Scouting Combine, and peaked during Willis’ pro day when he made a 65-yard throw look like a soft toss in the backyard.
As a result, he’s been climbing in the first round of 2022 NFL mock drafts.
In the latest mock draft from The Draft Wire’s Luke Easterling, Willis is the first overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons, who strike a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to move up for their guy.
“The Falcons mismanaged their quarterback situation so badly this offseason, they really don’t even deserve to land a dynamic prospect like Willis at this point,” Easterling wrote. “That said, they’re the perfect candidate to move up for him.”
It’s true. The Falcons are the ideal candidate to move up for Willis this year. First, they have the ultimate bridge quarterback in place with Marcus Mariota. Second, the cost to move up to the first pick shouldn’t be as expensive as it usually is. The quarterbacks in this year’s class don’t have elite grades; everyone knows it. So while a trade will still cost a hefty package of future draft choices, it won’t be the kind of robbery most clubs can pull off when they know there’s an exceptional talent at the top of the draft.
This isn’t meant as a knock against Willis. He has the highest upside of any quarterback in this year’s draft, but he isn’t the type of prospect we’ve seen over the last few years, including the 2021 NFL draft when five quarterbacks were picked in round one. Willis would be QB6 among that group.
I give Easterling a lot of credit for this bold prediction. The 2022 NFL draft is shaping to have an unpredictable first round; why not kick it off with an unexpected trade?