NFL Draft: Malik Willis to the Detroit Lions Gets a Massive Boost

The NFL Draft is right around the corner. After a massive spending spree in free agency, the big names have found new homes (for the most part) and teams are beginning to shift their focus to the 2022 NFL Draft.

The quarterback market has turned drastically, with several big names moving to new places: Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, Mitchell Trubisky to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders. More names are expected to find new homes, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield.

One team that is in the quarterback market is the Detroit Lions. Is Jared Goff the long-term answer in the Motor City? It doesn’t appear so, and the Lions hold the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. That means a rookie coming to the Lions is a high possibility, and Liberty signal-caller Malik Willis just got a massive boost as the Lions’ potential QB of the future.

Malik Willis to the Detroit Lions keeps getting more and more likely

A lot can change between now and the NFL Draft. But, here is how things stand for the time being.

Willis continues to draw a ton of buzz and impressed at the NFL Combine, standing out from the rest of the QB class in what is expected to be a subpar class.

Willis and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton are tied on the list, with Travon Walker not too far behind them. The Jacksonville Jaguars pick No. 1, and everybody knows they won’t take a QB after selecting Trevor Lawrence a year ago. Michigan star and Heisman Trophy finalist Aidan Hutchinson is a popular name for the Jaguars, and after they spent a ton of money elsewhere in free agency, edge might be the way to go.

Could Willis be the future QB for Dan Campbell and the Lions? Only time will tell, but Willis made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine and continues to fly up draft boards as he generates QB1 praise.

The Lions have Jared Goff, but they need to start thinking about the future

First-year head coach Dan Campbell went back and forth all year with Goff under center. The Lions won just three games on the season and Goff’s numbers weren’t eye-popping.

He finished the year 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but Goff looked nothing like the QB that brought the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl and went No. 1 overall in 2016.

Even worse is that Goff carries a massive cap hit of more than $30 million, and his play doesn’t justify that one bit.

So, the Lions need to consider finding a solution at QB in the long term. While the 2022 draft class isn’t strong at the QB position, waiting a year might be challenging and set them back once again.

Willis is raw; that’s not a secret. But he could sit back and watch for a year as Goff plays the 2022 season before handing the job over to the rookie.

After all, the Lions are far from a playoff team in 2022 and need a lot of pieces.

Malik Willis has quickly become the consensus QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft

The Detroit Lions might select Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Liberty Flames Quarterback Malik Willis runs with the ball during the first half of the College Football game between the Liberty Flames and the Syracuse Orange | Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A few months ago, Willis was considered one of the worst QBs out of the top-5 options. Matt Corral, Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, and Sam Howell took turns as QB1 in conversations during the college season.

Willis didn’t generate that type of buzz, and playing at Liberty against inferior competition certainly wasn’t helpful. But, as time goes by, Willis has become the QB1 of the class, and it would be a surprise if he isn’t the first signal-caller taken.

In the draft, the Carolina Panthers are the other QB-needy team, and the Houston Texans could also consider a QB after dealing Watson.

Nonetheless, Willis seems to be far and away the best QB of the bunch. He needs to develop, but his physical tools and ceiling are better than anybody else in the position group.

The Lions should think long and hard about Malik Willis at No. 2 overall and peg him as the future of the franchise.

Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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