As Malik Willis’ flaws get noted, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky has something for the myth makers regarding the Liberty quarterback.
In a 2022 quarterback draft class no evaluator really loves as a whole, Malik Willis stands as the one with the most raw upside. As for any talk the Detroit Lions could take him No. 2 overall in the draft later this month, look no further than the comments offered to any Willis-related post on the SideLion Report Facebook page to pick up a good sampling of fan sentiment there.
On Monday’s edition of “NFL Live”, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky took to the board to try to debunk some myths around Willis. Orlovsky started with a throw from Liberty’s game against Syracuse last season.
"Pay attention to this nickel defender who’s unblocked off the edge. Now, Malik Willis catches that snap and has vision on him, knowing that no one is going to block that guy, but I still have to know where to go with the football, when to go there and can I make the proper throw accurately enough” “… So, I want everyone to understand how difficult of a throw this is for a quarterback, to go one, two, three, I know you’re not getting blocked. I’ve got to navigate that mirror hand. I’ve got to navigate this throw to wrap it around. But, I also have to make it accurate enough downfield.”"
Dan Orlovsky has something for the Malik Willis doubters
"From the right hash, wrapping it around that defender, I’ve got to drive that ball all the way to the opposite 39. So, that ball’s going 22 yards in the air, right hash, all the way outside the numbers and to be accurate, placing it exactly on that guy’s chest to go make a play. Those are the plays we watched Justin Herbert, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson make when they stepped into the NFL.”"
As for the perception Willis struggles to get through progressions, toward the end of the above clip and from last year’s game against Ole Miss, Orlovsky talks about that.
"This is a full progression. We’ve got a hitch up top, we’ve got a seam and we’ve got a sit (over the middle of the field),” “… Watch Malik Willis catch this snap and peak to the right. It’s not there, because this up-top defender has drifted out underneath this hitch. Now, let’s see you get to (progression) No. 2. This linebacker right here, if he hangs inside and straightens up, I want you to rip that seam. If he stays with that seam, here comes this replacement. There’s this receiver that’s vacant right now. Now, what I love about this is watch this snap release. He gets on top of his feet. And, look at this snap release. His feet aren’t perfect. I don’t need them to be. I’m getting to (progression) No. 3. Snap release that ball over the middle of the field, placed right on that guy’s chest"
Orlovsky finished with his opinion Willis is the only quarterback in this draft class who has “uncoachable traits”, and he’s not totally wrong.
Some Willis detractors will say Orlovsky just cherry-picked (or had production staff cherry-pick) two clips that show the good he wanted to highlight, and they’d say there’s probably a lot of similar plays Willis failed miserably on. But at this point there’s no changing what those fervent detractors of Willis think about him, and Orlovsky at least attempted to debunk the myths about Willis’ polish as a pocket passer.