The Atlanta Falcons have the opportunity to make a splash and draft Liberty quarterback Malik Willis at #8 overall in the 2022 NFL draft. As of late, there has been some buzz of this coming to fruition.
Malik Willis is dynamic, athletic, has a cannon for an arm, and is the best scrambling quarterback available since Lamar Jackson back in 2018. The question is though, is it worth drafting such major project at #8 overall, when the Atlanta Falcons have more pressing needs?
With so many holes up and down the roster on both sides of the ball, should the Falcons pull the trigger on a project like Willis who would most likely be the franchise quarterback of the future? There are both pros and cons to this if the Falcons do draft him this high in the first round.
With the Atlanta Falcons being cash strapped and pretty much in cap purgatory for at least another one to two years, the chances of Malik Willis seeing the field in 2022 should he be drafted at #8 overall are quite slim. This is especially the case if Matt Ryan returns for one more year, which is more than likely at this point.
The knee-jerk reaction initially from most Atlanta Falcons fans would absolutely be an overwhelming no with no discussion at all for drafting Willis this high in the draft. The fact of the matter is that he has a lot of work to do in order to improve his game.
That does not mean that he won’t have a successful NFL career and won’t be a long-term starting quarterback. It is difficult enough for a rookie QB to come into the NFL and become a productive starter from day one.
ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. recently had him being taken at #8 by the Atlanta Falcons. Bleacher Report recently had him being drafted in the third round overall.
This shows that there is a disparity between what the pundits think about him and his potential. Kiper, Jr. indicated that come draft time in late April, Malik Willis may be the first quarterback taken.
He also noted that if he has an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl on February 5 in Mobile, AL, this could propel him into the top 10 draft picks. Willis is strong and powerful and has very good speed.
Coming from Kiper, Jr., many fans will take his opinion with a grain of salt. He is not always overly accurate with his mock drafts and predictions in recent years.
Willis measures in at 6’1″ 225 pounds. What he slightly lacks in height, he makes up for in weight, arm strength, and deceptive speed, as he makes people miss.
The rare blend of his arm, speed, and athleticism will surely have some NFL general managers licking their chops at the chance to draft him. How much of an impact player would he be for the Atlanta Falcons from day one in 2022?
The answer is he would realistically have little impact for the upcoming season. Defensive players on the other side of the ball would potentially have much more of an impact from day one.
Pass rush is such a dire need for the Atlanta Falcons, as they finished dead last in the league by a mile with only 18 sacks in 2021. Most fans would prefer the #8 pick to address this dire need first and foremost.
Another factor to consider is the lack of competition Malik Wills faced in his career at Liberty University. This is in comparison to other Division one schools who faced much stiffer competition.
This could also impact his draft status, as well as how he performs at the NFL combine and the Senior Bowl. If the Atlanta Falcons decided not to draft him at #8 overall, he might not last until the third or fourth round.
There are many aspects of his game that Malik Willis needs to improve on, including his touch, going through his progressions, ball placement, and accuracy. He tends to throw the short pass with too much mustard.
Trying to do too much is a common theme of young, talented quarterbacks. This is something that Malik Willis will learn with experience and maturity.
If the Atlanta Falcons do draft Malik Willis, he will not have a better mentor than Matt Ryan. If Ryan takes Willis under his wings for one season, there are so many areas that he will learn from the future hall-of-famer.
Ryan will teach him about accuracy, touch, mechanics, specific concepts, how to read defenses and attack, how to conduct yourself as a professional, among many other things. There is no better teacher or leader to learn from than Ryan.
Overall, Malik Willis would generate a lot of excitement for Atlanta Falcons fans and what the future potentially holds for the next ten years at least, hopefully.
It remains to be seen as to what will transpire come the end of April. Rumors and speculation will continue to swirl about the #8 overall pick.
Only time will tell though if Malik Willis is worth taking the chance on him as a first-round pick. In most cases, first round picks are expected to be starters from day one and be NFL ready.
There will be mistakes and growing pains along the way, especially at the quarterback position in the NFL. If the Atlanta Falcons pull the trigger and shock the football world, then this is something they must be willing to accept from day one, especially being that they are in rebuilding mode.