Malik Willis finally knows where he will begin his NFL career as he was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 86th overall pick in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Friday night.
It didn’t happen in the first round like many were hoping or thinking, but Malik is now a member of the NFL. Willis slid to the third round after many expected him to be taking on the first night of the draft on Thursday; however, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback take in the first round as he was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20.
Only one quarterback was taken in the first 50 picks, marking just the sixth time in the last 50 years that has happened. Prior to 2022, only one quarterback was taken in the first 50 picks in the 2000, 1996, 1985, 1984, and 1975 drafts.
Willis becomes the first quarterback out of Liberty to ever be drafted and ranks only behind Eric Green as the highest former Flame to be taken in the NFL Draft. In 1990, Green was taken in the first round with the No. 21 overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next highest draft picks for the Flames were taken in the 4th round with Kelvin Edwards (1986), Walt Aikens (2014), and Antonio Gandy-Golden (2020) all taken in that round. Willis is the 9th former Liberty player to be selected in the NFL Draft.
The 6’1″, 225 pound athlete and native of Atlanta, Georgia, Willis finished his time at Liberty with a 17-6 record as a starting quarterback. In 2021, he completed 207 of 339 passes for 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He also led the Flames in rushing with 878 yards and 13 touchdowns on 197 carries.
The Titans’ starting quarterback is Ryan Tannehill. He has been with Tennessee for the past three seasons, starting 43 games during the regular season. In 2021, Tannehill completed 67.2% of his passes for 3,734 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He carried the ball 55 times for 270 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The other quarterbacks currently on their roster include Kevin Hogan and Logan Woodside.
Head coach Mike Vrabel is entering his fifth season with the Titans. They have made the Playoffs each of the past three seasons, including 2021 when Tennessee finished the year 12-5 and AFC South Division Champs. The Titans lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Game.