There are one or two prospects every year at the Senior Bowl who blow reporters and coaches away. Some pan out in the NFL, others don’t.
While many scouts gather information on the talent of this year’s senior bowl class, the position that is seeing the most debate is at QB. In a class with no clear #1 prospect, one man has pushed to change that narrative.
Spoiler Alert: Malik Willis is killing it.
The QB from Liberty has turned a lot of heads with some of the best all-round practices and clearly the best arm.
Even with Willis turning heads in practices, in case it already hasn’t been made clear, the Eagles should not even consider taking Willis in the first round this year.
A big arm doesn’t always mean success
Everyone wants to point to Josh Allen and how successful he was at the Senior Bowl, turning that into one of the brightest careers in the game. The ability to have a cannon for an arm is definitely something that helps NFL QB’s.
That doesn’t mean it always works out.
Josh Allen, and even Ben Roethlisberger are outliers when it comes to QB’s who had big arms in college and grew to become semi-accurate signal-callers. But there are plenty of QB’s in the draft over the last two decades who have come in with big arms, and it has meant absolutely nothing.
JaMarcus Russell, Drew Lock, Brock Osweiler, and many other QB’s walked into the Senior Bowl with big arms, used that to get drafted early, and have had it absolutely fail them in the NFL.
Allen, and Big Ben were outliers when it comes to big arm QB’s. Just because Willis has an absolute howitzer, doesn’t mean the Eagles should go after him either.
The difference with Hurts
In many ways, Willis regressed as a passer in senior year. He didn’t really follow his progressions his, and doesn’t have the footwork you look for in an NFL starter. Accuracy and anticipation are concerns as well.
Remind you of anyone?
The obvious difference between Hurts and Willis is that Willis has the arm, and Hurts doesn’t have the same arm talent. It doesn’t mean Hurts is a bad QB or would be a bad QB, but there really isn’t a lot that separates Willis to Hurts.
The quality of QB in this draft is far below what we’ve seen in past history. If the Eagles were to take Willis in the first round, that means they feel he can develop to a far higher ceiling than Hurts, but it also means they don’t really like the QB’s in 2023 or 2024. Mind you, many scouts and reporters have made the point that the QB’s in next year’s class could easily go #1 overall this year.
There’s just no reason to reach for a player like Willis when he’s just as much a project as Hurts is.
At least Hurts has actually won at the NFL level.
Talking doesn’t mean interest
Any time Howie Roseman has a conversation with a QB, it pins the ears to every Eagles fan in America.
So naturally, the Eagles GM taking an extra look at Willis has raised the alarm in Philadelphia.
Of course, just because Howie Roseman may LIKE a prospect, doesn’t mean he’s going to draft said prospect.
The fact of the matter is that there could very well be other QB’s that go as early, or earlier than Willis. The Senior Bowl is not the be-all-end-all in the draft process. The NFL Combine is yet to happen and private workouts can change people’s minds.
It’s fair to point out that Jalen Hurts and Malik Willis are two projects at the QB position.
Hurts has shown how important having a leader in the locker room, and huddle is to a franchise. He led the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as the starter. That doesn’t mean he’s finished growing as a passer. He is only 23 years old. The same age as Willis when training camp starts.
There’s absolutely no reason for Roseman and the Eagles to take a flier on another project QB, essentially wasting one of the important first-round picks this year.
Willis may have the better arm, but it doesn’t mean he’ll be as successful as Hurts has been in the NFL.
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire