Talents such as Malik Willis don’t come around too often. His combination of strength, speed, agility and arm talent is truly a marvel when it all comes together to grace the screens of football fans every week during the college season.
Now that Malik is going pro, we find ourselves with a common question that comes to mind as he prepares to enter the league: how will he perform at the next level and are there past case studies to look at in order to try and project his career as a pro? There are many situations and tangibles from past quarterbacks that could overlap and examining those qualities could help us put together the picture of NFL quarterback Malik Willis.
Calling Malik Willis the next Patrick Mahomes would be downright ludicrous at this point. They have very different play styles and their statistics do not line up in any particular pattern. That being said, going into the draft there were similar concerns for the two passers in terms of how their obvious talent would translate to the NFL.
There was a question of how some lackluster decision making at the college level would be a cause for critique in the pros. Obviously, we know how Mahomes turned out, as it looks like he is poised to be an all time great if his career continues in the way it has gone thus far. In retrospect, Mahomes was trying to do a lot with the offense he had at Texas Tech, and that in turn created more opportunities for interceptions and other throws that scouts may have held against him.
Malik’s decision making has been something pointed out by draft analysts as a knock against him in theorizing his ability as a starting quarterback. Ideally, we can look at this quality in the Mahomes lense. Malik may have felt the weight of carrying much of the offensive burden this past season and in turn tried to do a little more than he might have in a different situation. Putting pro caliber weapons and protection around him may have the impact that it did with Mahomes.
Hurts was viewed as a very talented quarterback coming into the draft with some concerns in terms of decision making and going through his progressions. The talent was there but people questioned if he took off too quickly after his first read wasn’t available. Hurts and Willis can be compared in terms of ability to get yards on the ground in addition to the air, although I believe Malik is a bit faster and more agile than Jalen coming into the draft.
Malik also has more arm talent than Jalen in terms of the throws he can make. Malik has an absolute cannon and showed real progression in touch throws from the previous season. Jalen has shown the capacity to be a solid starter at the next level, hopefully showing signs of success for Malik as a dual threat passer that, when fit to a system that supports him, can play a winning brand of football.
Taylor played in an air-based spread offense at Virginia Tech that took advantage of his running ability and gave him a lot of chances to throw down the field. The Hugh Freeze offense put Malik in a position to make big throws and really take control of a high-flying attack. Scouts questioned if Taylor was the product of a college offense that wouldn’t translate to the NFL and despite that Taylor put together a solid career for himself and even made the Pro Bowl in his time in Buffalo. NFL offenses have advanced and a pass thrower that has experience in an offense with big plays and versatile QB play should be valued in today’s league.
Allen was a polarizing prospect coming in as a rookie because many saw him as way too raw and just a whole bunch of potential. He’s a powerful runner with arguably the strongest arm in the NFL and the Bills took the chance because they thought they could mold those gifts into something truly special.
Malik is more polished than Allen and a more accurate thrower coming in as a rookie. Malik does not have the size that Allen does but is also a powerful runner with the agility to make defenders miss in the open field. He is not afraid of contact and runs with a fierce competitiveness that exhilarates those who watch him perform.
Malik is a raw talent like Allen, but talent like this is special and should cause teams to take a good look before any sort of decision this April. Josh Allen showed he could grow and improve his gifts to fit into the modern pro landscape, and Malik has what it takes in terms of the physical traits he brings to the table.