In just one season as a starting college quarterback, Liberty’s Malik Willis completed 170 of his 265 passes for 2,260 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He also led the Flames in rushing with 944 yards and 14 additional touchdowns.
Pro Football Network currently projects Willis as a first round NFL draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The website projects Willis to be picked 10th overall by the Chicago Bears.
“The former Auburn passer was a revelation,” the projection states. “Liberty emerged as one of the fairytale stories of the 2020 college football season under Hugh Freeze. He has a great arm and proved last season that he is one of the most creative quarterbacks in the 2022 class. Willis came up just shy of 1,000 rushing yards while running in 14 touchdowns.”
With the NCAA not counting the 2020 football season against players’ eligibility, Willis could technically return for the 2022 college football season, but if he puts up numbers in 2021 like he did in 2020 and is still being rumored to be an early draft pick, it is likely Willis would turn his attention to the NFL.
At least three quarterbacks have been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft for each of the past five years, and more than one quarterback has been taken in the first round every year except for one dating back to 2002. As many as five quarterbacks are expected to be taken in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.
Liberty has had one player selected int he first round of the NFL Draft all time, as tight end Eric Green was taken with the 21st overall pick in 1990 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wide receiver Antonio-Gandy-Golden was selected in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team. He was the first Liberty player taken in the NFL Draft since Walt Aikens was also selected in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.