There’s little doubt that the Atlanta Falcons are stuck in a rut, but selecting Malik Willis in the 2022 NFL Draft could go some way to getting things back on track.
I know what you’re thinking. Well… alright… I don’t. But I can take a guess. It will either be something about disliking the player or the Atlanta Falcons not needing a quarterback because they have Matt Ryan.
The Falcons would be wise to consider a homecoming for Willis, though, who was born in Atlanta and played high school football in the city. In a first-round 2022 NFL Mock Draft at With The First Pick, I had the Falcons taking Willis with the 10th overall pick.
Malik Willis is a dual-threat option who continues to improve
When teams are searching for their next franchise QB, they don’t often look in the direction of the Liberty Flames. The program has never had a quarterback drafted and only three players have been selected since the 1990 NFL Draft. The decision to transfer looks as if it will be a good one for Willis, though, and he’s set to reap the rewards.
After originally committing to Auburn, Willis sat behind Jarrett Stidham, the future fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots. A frustrating couple of years followed before Willis announced that he was leaving the team in search of playing time.
He was forced to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules but was named the starter for the 2021 season. While COVID-19 caused major disruptions and reduced seasons, Willis became a star. He threw for 20 touchdowns and ran for 14 more while throwing just six interceptions.
With his strong arm and elusive rushing ability, he led Liberty to 10 wins and a 17th place national ranking, the highest in program history. A four-touchdown effort in the Cure Bowl saw the team defeat the 12th-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in overtime, establishing Willis as one of the most exciting prospects in college football.
Matt Ryan could still start for the Atlanta Falcons in 2022
Matt Ryan’s contract will likely ensure that he’s still on the team in 2022, and that would benefit all parties. Ryan should still be capable of performing at a high level and Willis will be given the opportunity to develop behind a model professional.
While he praised Willis’ explosiveness and throw velocity, NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah raised concerns about his decision-making and mechanics. A season working with Arthur Smith, quarterbacks coach Charles London, and Matt Ryan should ensure that Willis is ready to step in and perform when the torch is passed.
Despite Ryan’s production and performances, there has always been a section of the Atlanta Falcons fanbase unable to move past the departure of Michael Vick. Willis isn’t the human highlight reel that Vick was, but he’s the new breed of quarterback who’s just as comfortable making plays with his legs as with his arm.
He may never hit the heights that Ryan has and win MVP, but he’d bring some extra excitement to a team desperately trying to avoid talk of a rebuild.