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    NFL Draft Projections: Malik Willis landing spots include Panthers, Falcons, and Saints

    As projections for the 2022 NFL Draft ramp up, the scenarios for Malik Willis and the potential QB landing spots are intriguing.

    This offseason has been quite eye-opening in terms of landing spots for Malik Willis and the other quarterback prospects, as several trades have altered NFL Draft projections. Potential QB destinations this offseason have altered wildly, and we are looking at different teams with their eyes on adding a QB this offseason. Let’s take a look at Willis’ current projections in the 2022 NFL Draft and his potential landing spots.

    2022 NFL Draft Projections: Malik Willis’ landing spots

    Heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, Willis sits as the top QB on the PFN Consensus Top 300 Big Board, but the situation is anything but certain. Willis is the top QB prospect for three of PFN’s four draft analysts and ranks among the top 32 for all three of them.

    His highest ranking is 21st overall by NFL Draft Director Cam Mellor, while his lowest ranking comes from Draft Analyst Ian Cummings at 85. The spread of those rankings indicates the uncertainty around Willis and the QB position in general this year.

    Willis’ scouting report underlines the potential that the Liberty QB brings to the table. The questions revolve more around his NFL readiness and the work that will be required to ensure he reaches that potential. That is what makes picking a definitive landing spot for Willis so difficult.

    Will a team be patient enough to draft him in the first round and then let him sit and learn? Let’s examine the potential NFL Draft landing spots for Willis and what those projections may look like for his future.

    Detroit Lions

    There is the potential for Willis to come off the board at No. 2 overall. The uncertainty around the QB position has led people to believe the Lions go elsewhere with the second selection, but that is not a certainty. Jared Goff is not the future of the franchise, and if the Lions believe Willis could be, they cannot rely on him being there later. They could trade up, using their picks at 32 and 34 to make it work, but it would be risky.

    The Lions are in an intriguing position. They have Goff on the roster. Therefore, there’s no major rush to put Willis on the field given the limited expectations of the franchise in 2022. If Willis develops during the season, the Lions could give him some playing time, but they have the option to just let him redshirt the year. Being selected by the Lions would give Willis an intriguing long-term outlook, but we likely wouldn’t see him much in 2022.

    Houston Texans

    The noise coming out of Houston is that Davis Mills is their QB and they like him. However, for as good as Mills played last year, there does feel like a cap on his ceiling. If the Texans feel the same way, they must consider exploring Willis’ potential upside.

    The Texans have two selections in the top half of Round 1, so they have the opportunity to go get Willis. If they select him, training camp in Houston would certainly be intriguing. Could Willis push Mills as a starter in 2022? Will it be a genuine open competition? Or will Mills get the role in 2022 with the knowledge Willis is likely the starter in waiting?

    This would certainly be an interesting landing spot for Willis for the storylines it would create in the preseason and into the season itself.

    Carolina Panthers

    This feels like the most likely destination for Willis inside the top 10. As it stands, the Panthers do not have another selection until Day 3. Thus, if they have a first-round QB they like, they really have to grab him with the sixth pick. Given the unconvincing performance of Sam Darnold last year, there is every chance the Panthers could make that move.

    If the Panthers draft Willis, the expectation is that he would get a chance to compete with Darnold in camp. Even if he lost that initial competition, we saw last year how the opportunity to start in 2022 could arise. Neither Darnold nor P.J. Walker is the answer in Carolina, and Matt Rhule’s future appears to be hanging in the balance. If he needs to give his team a spark, Willis could get the chance to start this season in Carolina.

    Atlanta Falcons

    Atlanta needs a QB, and Willis would be a potential option with the eighth pick. Marcus Mariota provides valuable veteran experience as a bridge starter who could give Willis the chance to sit out 2022 before potentially starting in 2023.

    The issue for Atlanta is that they have so many holes on the roster. Would selecting Willis now be somewhat wasting the benefits of having him on a rookie contract?

    On one hand, the Falcons might be at least a year or two away from being competitive. But Willis might also be a year or two away from being ready to lead a team that can challenge in the NFL.

    If Atlanta is going to go QB in the first round, a potential project selection with the immense upside of Willis might make a lot of sense.

    Seattle Seahawks

    Sitting ninth overall, the Seahawks badly need an answer at QB after trading away Russell Wilson. Drew Lock is certainly not that answer; neither is Geno Smith.

    The Seahawks have a lot of other needs, but with three selections inside the top 50, they could address those other needs in Round 2. Letting a potential successor to Wilson pass them by to select a lower-leverage position would be a questionable move at best.

    Washington Commanders

    It feels like the trade for Carson Wentz might have taken the Commanders out of the first-round QB conversation. Nevertheless, if the team feels they were a QB away from challenging, they should use a first-round pick to add a piece that can help them challenge in 2022.

    You cannot rule them out of selecting Willis, but it would certainly put a target on Wentz’s back and pile the pressure on. Willis would be able to sit for at least the 2022 season, but his selection would indicate confused thinking from the Commanders’ front office.

    New Orleans Saints

    By trading with the Eagles to have two picks inside the top 20, the Saints have set themselves up perfectly to go get a QB. They have Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill on the roster, but neither is sure to be the future of the franchise. In a draft where we could see several teams looking to move down, could the Saints be heading up the draft board to select Willis?

    The question for New Orleans is where they view themselves as a franchise. If they think they can challenge in the NFC, they should use these selections to put more top-end talent on the roster for Winston and Hill to utilize. However, if they’re thinking more long-term, packaging selections to go and get Willis would certainly be an option. Willis could sit for a year before potentially stepping in as a starter late in 2022 or at the beginning of the 2023 season.

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    With the 20th selection, the Steelers are likely too low to get Willis if they don’t move up. With seven potential suitors for Willis all picking ahead of them, the chances he slides to 20 are slim. Pittsburgh added Mitchell Trubisky, so they may feel he is their upside gamble for this season. To fully evaluate the Trubisky move, the Steelers might be better using this selection to address other needs.

    However, it would be bold to pin the future of the franchise on Trubisky. If they pass on Willis to roll with Trubisky, they could be left looking red-faced shortly. Therefore, the Steelers could double dip and select Willis while letting Trubisky have 2022 to prove himself. If Trubisky reinvigorates his career, they have trade chips in him and Willis. And if Trubisky struggles, they have a potential heir to Ben Roethlisberger waiting in the wings.

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