Malik Willis: Pros and Cons to the Detroit Lions Selecting the Liberty QB 2nd Overall

In Malik Willis, the Detroit Lions could either have a savior, a steady starting quarterback who will be held back by the team’s eternal curse, or the latest bust in a long line of Joey Harringtons and Andre Wares.

Barring a trade, the Lions will have a difficult decision to make when they pick second overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. External reports have football fans believing the long-suffering NFC North franchise will target Willis, the standout quarterback from Liberty, with their first of two first-round picks. Whether or not that would be the right move is still to be determined.

To be clear, the question here is if the Lions should use the second overall pick on Willis, not if the franchise should take him. Unfortunately for tortured Lions fans, there’s no clear answer the way there usually is when it involves taking a quarterback at the top of the draft.

Pros: Willis is widely considered arguably the 2022 NFL Draft’s top quarterback prospect, and he’d bring stability to the Lions

Again, to be clear, the mission here is to determine whether or not the Lions should use the second overall pick on Willis. Few, if any, will dispute the 6-foot, 219-pound quarterback’s electrifying athletic skill set and his ability to beat teams with his arm and his legs.

Willis checks every box the Lions should have regarding their next franchise quarterback. He has a cannon of an arm and isn’t limited to only thriving in the pocket. The Auburn transfer is a dangerous rusher who has drawn comparisons to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson.

It also helps that Willis has earned high praise for his character and leadership skills. Very few teams should want to bring in a young quarterback with a history of toxic behavior, immaturity, and selfishness, especially if they’re one with the NFL’s longest active playoff win drought.

Willis totaled 47 passing touchdowns between the 2020-21 seasons and rushed for another 27 scores in that span. Although he could use time to develop at the NFL level, he has the makeup and raw talent to become a game-changing quarterback and ensure the Motor City finally gets to party with the Lombardi Trophy.

Cons: Does Detroit want to use such an early pick on a quarterback when they have so many other holes?

It’d be an understatement to say the Lions enter the 2022 draft with plenty of needs. Willis or incumbent starting quarterback Jared Goff would benefit from a No. 1 receiver, help at pass-rusher, a new starting linebacker, and a young, capable safety.

Unless the Lions select a top offensive tackle prospect like Evan Neal or Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu and reconfigure the offensive line after the fact, there are very few players who would fit the Lions’ needs and provide meaningful draft value with the second overall pick.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t use the first overall pick on Michigan pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson, then he would be a perfect fit. Although the Lions would likely reach if they use the second overall pick on Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, he at least has a high ceiling. But, the Lions shouldn’t select a receiver so early, nor should they reach on a linebacker.

Still, is adding Willis worth it with the second overall pick if Detroit can get its hands on Neal or Ekwonu? A potential trade down could also help the Lions as they progress through their latest rebuild.

Should the Lions use the second overall pick on Willis?

Will the Detroit Lions draft Liberty quarterback Malik Willis?
Should the Detroit Lions use the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis? | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

There are so many reasons why the Lions shouldn’t use the second overall pick on Willis, and yet it still feels like the right move. Yes, it could backfire, but that applies to every draft selection. The jury is still out on Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who pundits and Twitter users considered a safe prospect. Elsewhere in the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn’t need long to silence those who suggested the team shouldn’t have traded up to acquire him in 2017.

Theoretically speaking, the Lions could afford to wait it out and try drafting Alabama’s Bryce Young atop the 2023 draft. But no prospect is ever a sure thing. What do the Lions have to lose by taking Willis and having him open the season behind Goff?

If the Lions didn’t have Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker respectively lining up at right and left tackle, we’d insist the team target Ekwonu or Neal. Yet, while the Lions do have Decker and Sewell, they don’t have a franchise quarterback. It feels smarter to reach on a quarterback with the second overall pick rather than reach on a safety or a pass-rusher.

As easy as it is to laugh at the Lions, let’s trust in head coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes for once. If they believe using the second overall pick on Willis is the right move, then we’re with them. All it takes is an electric quarterback to help lay the groundwork for turning a long-tortured franchise around.

Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19.

RELATED: Deion Sanders Blasts NFL Teams for Overlooking HBCU Players in the Draft