All the positive pre-draft stuff leading into the 2022 NFL Draft, some of which attached him to the Detroit Lions with a high pick at one point, landed with a thud for Malik Willis when the Tennessee Titans took him in the third round (No. 86 overall)
Willis didn't play much as a rookie, and what he did do was pretty ugly (three starts, 50.8 percent completion rate, 276 yards, zero touchdowns, three interceptions). He's got a lot of developing to do, as expected when looking at his college tape at Liberty. Then the Titans drafted Will Levis, who fell himself, this year.
Jim Wyatt of the Titans' website recently wrote that Willis' spot on the roster is not necessarily in danger, but it also "isn't guaranteed." So let's walk down a path where the Titans don't keep Willis. Even as a developmental guy, some teams would have some interest in him if he was available.
A trade return for Willis isn't going to be great, if the Titans pursue that. If he's outright cut, more teams may consider adding him.
Should the Lions keep their eye on Malik Willis as a potential no-risk flier?
On the idea Willis won't make the Titans' roster, Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports took a run at determining five best potential landing spots for him. The Lions of course made the list.
"Curveball! Yes, the Lions picked Hooker in the third round in April -- after rumors swirled about him possibly being selected Round 1. But Willis is more than a year younger than Hooker, and while the club raves about Goff, we shouldn't expect an upstart team like the Lions to be fully committed to him in the long run as they ascend the ranks in the NFC.- Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports
Wills wouldn't pose an immediate, 2023 threat to Goff's starting gig, and sure, his presence would take away some of Hooker's practice reps, but the competition he'd provide Hooker would likely bring out the best in both quarterbacks. "
"Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is a progressive mind who, in theory, could even work Willis into the offense in a sub-package, gadget-type weapon. And Willis' talents clearly jibe with what Detroit wants offensively -- to be more explosive. Back-to-back first-round selections of wideout Jameson Williams and Jahmyr Gibbs prove that. "- Trapasso
As Trapasso hinted at, there'd be a fine line for the Lions if they'd even consider adding an available Willis.
Hendon Hooker will need all the practice reps he can get, but his physical readiness to do much of note there for a big chunk of this season is unclear. They appear content with Nate Sudfeld, and as raw as he is Willis is probably not be an ideal No. 2 quarterback for a team with expectations if something did happen to Jared Goff.
But in a broad sense, Willis needs a change of scenery and the Lions have the coaches in place to help his NFL development. It would be foolish to not consider adding him to their quarterback pipeline, if he becomes available. A late-training camp flier could become more, and there'd be no risk.