With the start of the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis drawing near, the week-long job interview for many prospects with NFL teams should provide some clarity in the NFL Draft process moving forward.
Though we’re not there yet, one thing continues to remain rather clear when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2022 NFL Draft class: there’s a real affinity for a pairing of Liberty QB Malik Willis with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Friday, CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli — who covers college football exclusively — posted his first mock draft of the season and unsurprisingly paired Willis with the Steelers in the first round. The surprise though was that Fornelli has the Steelers trading up with the New York Jets to move from No. 20 to No. 10, making a similar move that they made in 2019 when Kevin Colbert and Co. traded up for Devin Bush.
Fornelli doesn’t write what the actual trade ramifications were, but based off of the 2019 trade-up for Bush, the Steelers probably gave up this year’s first, a second and a third at some point in the new few years to move up and grab their perceived guy in Willis inside the top 10.
Here, Malik Wilis does a great job of not panicking in the face of pressure and delivering a beautiful throw down the field with excellent placement.
Also, Willis lowkey has some good arm strength and velocity. Like this is actually cool. pic.twitter.com/zJ1fRvzHUG
— Nick Price (@PriceCheck3) January 19, 2022
“There’s been a lot of smoke about Pittsburgh’s affinity for Malik Willis, and in this mock, it moves up to make sure any of the other teams in the market for a QB can’t get him,” Fornelli writes. “Willis is the kind of QB lottery ticket who can pay huge dividends, as he’s got a ceiling the others in this class don’t.”
Willis definitely has a higher ceiling than any quarterback in this class, at least from my vantage point. He also might have the lowest floor though as he’s a legitimate boom or bust product. The traits are incredibly tantalizing though, as he brings the best mobility to the table at the position and carries a rocket arm to boot.
Malik Willis can do it all pic.twitter.com/RVhANmIaXn
— PFF (@PFF) February 25, 2022
That said, he’s as raw as they come at the quarterback position, meaning he’ll need at least a year to sit, learn and develop his game overall in the NFL before being ready to take on NFL defenses.
The hype train of Willis and the Steelers pairing in the NFL Draft just continues to gather steam. We’ll see coming out of the week-long Combine March 1-7 if there’s more fuel that will add to the fire regarding Willis and the Steelers.