2022 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Malik Willis at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
Malik Willis at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
Malik Willis at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
Malik Willis at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine

Malik Willis is a quarterback for the Liberty Flames, who are known for running a spread offense. Liberty is a heavy RPO team, that typically deploys “half-field” quick-pass game concepts. They do this in order to minimize mental processing for Willis.

The offense does complement this base package with a healthy serving of deep shots, which Willis has absolutely excelled at this past season (#1 "Big Time Throw Rate" according to Pro Football Focus).

Originally an Auburn commit, Willis transferred to Liberty after getting only 104 snaps in his freshman and sophomore years combined. Willis did suffer an elbow injury earlier in the 2020 season. As a result, he wore an elbow brace on his non-throwing hand. Off the field, Willis is known as a capable leader with a great character.

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Malik Willis' stats


Malik Willis

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Malik Willis Combine/Pro Day Stats

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Malik Willis' strengths

The first thing you notice about Malik Willis is how the ball leaves his hand. He has great arm strength, so he can make throws from many different angles and find ways to get the ball to his playmakers in tough situations. Willis can make throws look effortless coming from across his body, at odd angles and on the run. He has above-average athleticism, and this allows him to create opportunities with his legs and extend plays where other QBs would likely take a sack.


Malik Willis is the true dual-threat quarterback in this year's draft class. He has some twitch to him, yet he has a distinct acceleration typically found in a one-cut zone running back. He backs that up with some “Lamar Jackson Light” contact balance and legitimate strength-to-size ratio at the point of contact. In other words, if he didn’t have an arm, it wouldn’t be hard to see him as a college RB.

Malik Willis' weaknesses


Malik Willis' accuracy, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. Despite being ranked 12th for being “on-target” in the NCAA last year, his throws tend to lack touch and, at times, aren’t the “most catchable” because they lack a consistent tight spiral in his reportage. He absolutely prefers to be out of pocket/out of structure. This trait is almost to a fault as there are times when it seems he is inviting pressure within the pocket to give himself an excuse to leave it. Additionally, his lack of ball security may limit any projections for him to be a 10-15 “designed QB Run” QB at the next level though.

Malik Willis' projection based on his traits

Malik Willis is a true project at QB. He is a great athlete, with a special arm, but he has a bit of an “unknown” grade as a QB, given the very limited playbook presented to him. Additionally, Malik Willis faced a painfully weak level of competition while at Liberty (their schedule was littered with FCS/recently promoted FBS teams). Hence, a “redshirt year" would almost be a requirement for Wilis in the NFL.

Based on his traits, fitting him into a heavy outside-zone play-action/boot-based type of offense (Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings) would be ideal. An offense that would allow him to maximize his plays out of the pocket and “adlib” would be a great fit. Coupling that with a few designed QB runs and heavy RPOs to limit processing would also be key.


Frankly, there may be too many variables asked of an offense to fit Malik Willis' skillset that may not be counter-balanced with a high enough ceiling to merit such a strategic shift.

Analytics Corner

Malik Willis is another of the top QBs, similar to Matt Corral (LINK) who has a very positive “Clean vs Pressured” Passing Grade . With a 86.3 Clean Pocket grade, yet 53.2 Pressured Grade, Willis has a very strong split that predictive analysts would love to see. If not familiar, how well or poorly a QB performs under pressure (at any level) is littered with chance. Whereas, how that same QB performs in a clean pocket is much more predictive.

The first thing you notice, whether from the advanced stat lens, or simply the casual fan is Willis’ deep ball. As noted earlier in the piece, Malik could boast a 11 percent big throw rate (more than twice that of peer Matt Corral’s rate). This is a good sign, however, as you may have thought his consistency and base level accuracy is a bit of a concern. According to SIS Malik Willis’ 70 % “On Target Rate” is the second worst rate in the Draft.

Most concerning is how much of a sack risk Willis will likely be at the next level. With a 3.33 average time to throw, along with a 30.5 % pressure to sack conversions, Willis is expected to spend a lot of time on the ground in his first NFL season.

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