ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has delivered his first 2022 mock draft of the year and he has Liberty quarterback Malik Willis going early in the first round.

Kiper has Willis going No. 11 overall to the Washington Football team and he is the first quarterback off the board in his mock draft. Other QBs going in the first round of Kiper’s first mock draft are Pitt’s Kenny Pickett going No. 18 to the New Orleans Saints, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral going No. 20 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and North Carolina’s Sam Howell going No. 28 to the Detroit Lions.

Here is Kiper’s take on Willis:

“Time for the first quarterback off the board. You might be surprised that it’s Willis, but you really shouldn’t be. He was in the QB1 mix all fall before he faded a little bit in the last stretch of the regular season. The more tape I watch of his past two seasons and the more I talk to evaluators in the league, the more I like him. Put simply, Willis is the most talented quarterback in this class. He didn’t always get to show that at Liberty, which didn’t have much NFL talent around him. (He was sacked an astounding 51 times in 2021.) This is a dual-threat signal-caller — he rushed for 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns over the past two seasons — witha  powerful arm. I’m really excited to see him compete against the other top QBs in the Senior Bowl in a couple weeks.”

Willis, who has been considered a likely first round draft pick for much of the 2021 season, continues to be included at the top of NFL Mock Drafts as the calendar has turned to 2022.

In his final collegiate game, Willis completed 13 of 24 passes for 231 yards and 3 touchdowns and 8 carries for 65 yards and 2 additional touchdowns as he was named the MVP of the 2021 Lending Tree Bowl, helping Liberty to a 56-20 win over Eastern Michigan.

The 6’1″, 225 pound athlete and native of Atlanta, Georgia, finished his time at Liberty with a 17-6 record as a starting quarterback. He will get a chance to showcase his abilities at the Senior Bowl back in Mobile in February. This past season, Willis 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.

Liberty has had eight players drafted in the NFL Draft all-time, but only one has been selected earlier than the fourth round. In 1990, tight end Eric Green was taken in the first round with the No. 21 overall selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Several Liberty players have been taken in the 4th round including Kelvin Edwards (1986), Walt Aikens (2014), and Antonio Gandy-Golden (2020).