As the Detroit Lions work closely with Malik Willis this week, the former Liberty quarterback has drawn an interesting and sure to be polarizing, comparison.
By all accounts, including from FanSided’s own Matt Verderame, Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is the most outwardly gifted signal caller down at the Senior Bowl this week. He could be the first quarterback drafted in April, as the Detroit Lions coaches work closely with him on the American team.
Leading into the week at the Senior Bowl, on the First Draft Podcast, ESPN’s Todd McShay eventually offered an interesting NFL comp for Willis. I’ve trimmed down the full quote to get to the brass tacks.
“He (Willis) just is a little bit raw as a pocket passer. And that’s where you hope that he can have the Jalen Hurts type of improvement that we saw out of Hurts, especially this past season, as a passer.”
Throughout ESPN’s coverage of Wednesday’s Senior Bowl practice, McShay continued his comparison of Willis to Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. Then, during NFL Network’s recap of the day that night, during the showing of the American team’s practice, analyst Daniel Jeremiah invoked Hurts as a comp for Willis too.
Malik Willis vs. Jalen Hurts: Tale of the tape, etc.
From his rookie season in 2020 to his second season in 2021, Hurts upped his completion percentage nearly nine percent (61.3 percent; from 52 percent in 2020). For what it’s worth, since he faced lower level competition, Willis completed over 61 percent of his passes in both of his seasons starting at Liberty,
Running ability is an easy parallel between Willis and Hurts. Willis had 27 rushing touchdowns and over 1,800 yards on the ground over two seasons at Liberty, while Hurts neared 800 rushing yards with 10 scores on the ground in his first full season as an NFL starter.
Hurts has his fans as a developing player, while others see him as imminently replaceable with a low ceiling. Comparing Willis to him is surely similarly polarizing.
In terms of the Lions, the question is quickly becoming if Willis will even last to anywhere near them with their second first-round pick in April–taking him second overall isn’t happening. But if general manager Brad Holmes is able to trade down a bit from No. 2, perhaps it’ll be with Willis in mind.