In the NFL world, where information is gate kept as much as it can be and players and coaches alike have their own generic language, you often have to read between the lines to find your nuggets of information. Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was no exception when it came to his podium session on Wednesday. In fact, I may have gotten more out of what wasn’t said than what was. For instance, there seems to be a lot more to Willis than just being a football player. He has a tremendous perspective for someone so young and doesn’t seem fazed by the entire pre-draft process, even coming from a smaller program like Liberty. “It's a game,” Willis said, shrugging. “This game doesn’t make me stressed. Life is stressful. You gotta go through way worse stuff in life so it’s just, be grateful that I get to come out here and play a game.” A game he didn’t even get into until high school. Yes, one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft class was initially pretty unimpressed with football. “I used to think it was boring,” he said. It wasn’t until he had success in the game that it became unboring. If we’re going to read between the lines there trying to figure him out, I’m left wondering if he stops playing well, say if the NFL game takes a little getting used to, will it become boring again at the first sign of adversity? What’s more, the whole not watching football thing seemed to be a recurring theme throughout Willis’ session. He didn’t seem to have a handle on specific NFL offenses that he could become a part of and shrugged that he couldn’t remember all the teams he’d interviewed with. What was more concerning was what he failed to say about his preparation and experience with NFL teams here at the combine. In a two-part question, he was asked if teams have had him draw plays here in Indianapolis and what he’s been doing to get better at film study in order to better prepare himself for the next level. “Yeah, they have me drawing plays,” said Willis. “I feel real good about explaining them and I feel real good about my understanding of the game [...] when you’re prepared, it’s not really stressful. It's not a situation where you feel like you're under pressure. I mean, I just feel like I was doing what I was supposed to do.” That all sounds well and good until you realize that’s all he said before moving on, thereby completely negating the second part of the question—a very important part of the question. Still, there at least seems to be an element of self-scouting, even if it may not quite come from reviewing his own film. “I've been talking to coaches and all these types of people and these are definitely my footwork and just trying to be as consistent as I can with my base,” he said. “I mean, that's where some of the flaws in my game come from. Maybe some inaccuracies are just from footwork. It's not from just being inaccurate.” Willis has tape from the Senior Bowl. He’ll throw this week at the combine. Showing improvement this week would go a long way in proving the willingness to learn and work ethic he spoke of weren’t just lip service.
- Mar 11, 2022
- Mar 11, 2022