Malik Willis's NFL scouting report, comparisons, college stats, and all-22 clips from his redshirt senior season at Pitt.
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My model = 78th percentile. Comp = Liberty Justin Fields.
Willis (6’0.5/219) was a 3-star recruit and Auburn to Liberty transfer, who had 40 total touchdowns to 15 turnovers as a redshirt senior. His calling card is his athleticism. Just a tad smaller than Jalen Hurts, Willis has a strong lower half that allows him to toss off defenders when scrambling or running QB power/zone read. He’s not as fast as Lamar Jackson or as powerful as Cam Newton, but he had 944 and 878 rushing yards in his two years as a starter, including sacks.
That’s very impressive because Willis’ sack totals are completely off the charts. His -30 EPA lost on sacks is 2nd worst out of 196 drafted QB prospects since 2005, only trailing Mike White. The primary reason for this is his current poor anticipation. Willis only occasionally makes it though a full-field read and too often looks the wrong way directly after the ball is snapped. Smarter defenses began dropping eight or nine defenders and played zone, a strategy that has been effective against other dual-threat QBs and very much worked against Willis – he was 105th out of 109 college QBs in points earned per play against four or fewer pass rushers. These are serious concerns and in total led to a 67th percentile total EPA against a 14th percentile strength of schedule. For this reason, Willis likely needs a full redshirt year in the NFL and could struggle for most of his rookie contract.
But when he identifies the open target, Willis is dynamic and aggressive. He was 18th out of 84 QBs in average depth of target (10.0) in clean pockets, and his catchable ball rate didn’t drop at all when throwing to the sidelines in clean pockets (83%) compared to over the middle (82%) because he has Josh Allen-level arm strength. Willis’ back shoulder throws are high and catchable, and he is one of a handful of QBs capable of hitting a far hash out route off an RPO.
Willis is compared to Josh Allen often for these reasons, but Allen is much bigger (6’5/237) and had a 48th percentile passing EPA compared to Willis’ 17th percentile, not to mention Allen did so a year earlier into his college career. Ultimately, Willis’ upside case is multiple steps away. He could be the next Jordan Love (non-starter project). He could be the next Jalen Hurts (most likely). Or he could be Josh Allen light. Putting a draft grade on that profile is difficult, and I’d understand a team sliding into the back half of Round 1 to get that 5th-year option, but I’d be too nervous to take that gamble. There are greater odds that he busts than booms.