As much as the Detroit Lions would like to land Malik Willis in April’s draft, a new set of percentage odds confirms how unlikely it is without a bold move.
As has been said in this space before as well as elsewhere, there’s no quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft with more upside than Liberty’s Malik Willis. From the Lions’ perspective, based on that upside over incumbent Jared Goff, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah thinks Willis is the only incoming quarterback worthy of their attention in the first round.
No quarterback in this class is worthy of the No. 2 overall pick, and the remainder of the pre-draft process won’t change that. Even Willis has enough question marks that many analysts believe he needs to sit on the bench as a rookie to learn an NFL offense and polish his game.
Willis is somewhere in the mix, depending on who you read and when, to be the first quarterback drafted in April. Where that first quarterback will go, be it Willis or someone else, is the question.
Lions given pretty remote odds to end up drafting Malik Willis
Ahead of quarterbacks taking the field for on-field work Thursday night at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein took a run at considering the chances of seven contenders to draft Willis.
In the “front runners” category, with a 20 percent chance, there’s the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Commanders. In the “need the help” category, with a 15 percent chance according to Zierlein, there’s the Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, and the New Orleans Saints. At the bottom, as the “long shot” with a five percent chance, is the Carolina Panthers. These six teams all have picks in the top-20 overall, with the Panthers at No. 6 and the Broncos at No. 9.
Alone in the “outside chance” (10 percent) category, is the Lions.
"I’ve always believed that teams with multiple first-round picks are more able — and likely — to take a big swing with one of them. It’s hard to imagine that the Lions are locked in on Jared Goff at quarterback, and they’ll have the ability to get away from his contract after the 2022 season. Taking Willis 32nd overall, with one of the selections acquired from the Rams in last year’s Goff-Matthew Stafford swap, could be a wise investment with one of their two first-round picks — but if they really want him, they may need to maneuver up the board rather than sit back and wait for Willis to fall to them."
If they want him, the Lions could pray Willis falls all the way to No. 32–which seems very unlikely right now. As Zierlein suggested, they may (and probably will) need to move up (perhaps significantly) to get him.
An early second-round pick (No. 34) and an extra first-round pick again in 2023, courtesy of the Rams, would theoretically give the Lions the draft capital to make that big move up for Willis. But, as confirmed by Zierlein, the odds to stand pat and get him at 32nd overall are very remote.