No one made extra of an affect on the opening evening of preseason than Malik Willis. The Titans’ rookie QB performed one half in opposition to the Ravens, and made himself unimaginable to disregard. It’s astonishingly early, however Twitter was abuzz with individuals already dubbing him “the steal of the draft,” and ready to anoint him as the subsequent nice one. We will pump the brakes on that for now, however what we noticed was very, very promising.
Willis performed restricted time, going 6-for-11 with 107 yards by the air, speeding for an additional 38 yards on the bottom, together with a landing. His efficiency was harking back to his time at Liberty — and that’s enormous. One of many largest questions on Willis previous to the draft is whether or not his sport in opposition to sub-par competitors in faculty would translate to the NFL. Whereas it’s true he didn’t play in opposition to the Ravens’ top-flight protection, he nonetheless shredded NFL-caliber gamers, and by no means appeared just like the second overwhelmed him.
I’ll be trustworthy, I didn’t anticipate the transition to go this easily, this early. Previous to the NFL Draft he was the No. 1 QB on my board, and I believed he was the one quarterback in 2022 with the potential to turn into a celebrity. Willis possessed uncommon arm expertise, with a knack for scrambling solely when the pocket broke down and passing turned unimaginable.
“What makes Willis such a uncommon commodity is his short-yardage speeding potential, paired with the most effective arms I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s not simply that Willis possesses energy, it’s his contact on deep passes that units him other than everybody else on this class. He appears to simply have an innate feeling for goal defensive backs deep, and routinely locations the ball the place solely his receiver can get it.”
We noticed precisely this in opposition to the Ravens, when he dropped a deep ball proper within the bucket to Racey McMath after it traveled 53 yards by the air.
This isn’t simply howitzer energy, it was an anticipation throw that trusted the receiver in his break — whereas making certain the security wasn’t free excessive to make a play on the ball. This can be a huge time NFL throw, and never one thing you’d anticipate from a 3rd spherical decide. After all, so far as I’m involved, Willis ought to by no means have been a 3rd spherical decide.
One other cross, albeit riskier in execution, was this scrambling side-arm cross to tight finish Tommy Hudson.
The ball comes out with velocity out of an unstable base, and picks up the primary down. This isn’t one thing you’d need to see each day, however it’s good to see that he has play-extending potential along with his arm, as effectively has his legs.
Lastly was the large spotlight that everybody talked about, Willis’ landing run.
This wasn’t a designed run, or a participant who made his determination to run when the ball approach snapped. Willis stayed within the pocket, went by his first and second reads, THEN averted the push and ran for a landing. This can be a huge time play that isn’t wholly dissimilar to the varieties of runs Josh Allen makes when his pocket breaks down.
Sure, it’s all very early — however every thing Willis did final evening confirmed glimpses of an elite quarterback. There’s a lengthy solution to go. He’ll want to interrupt down defenses on movie, take care of adversity when video games matter, and regulate to defenses keying in on him after watching movie to scheme in opposition to him.
Nonetheless, the longer term is ludicrously shiny, and the sky seems to be to be the restrict. Congratulations Titans followers, you bought a superb one.