Malik Willis finds landing spot in the NFL, No. 86 pick
While long overdue, Malik Willis has finally found a landing spot in the NFL.
Willis’ lifelong dream came true April 29 when he was drafted as the No. 86 pick in the third round by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans, the reigning AFC South Champions, traded pick No. 90 and No. 169 to the Las Vegas Raiders to get in prime position to snag Willis.
Despite his first-round projection, the 22-year-old surprisingly fell out of both rounds one and two, winding up as the third quarterback taken off the board. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett was the first to go at No. 20 to the Steelers, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder would follow on day two as the No. 74 pick selected by the Atlanta Falcons.
Willis, however, remained evidently optimistic throughout the process, making the moment he was selected all the sweeter.
“My heart dropped,” Willis said regarding when he got the call. “I saw Nashville and I was like, ‘The Titans?’ I just was so excited … I got off the phone, and (my family) was like, ‘Who was it, who was it?’ and I said it was the Titans and everybody just burst into tears … I’m just very appreciative they took a shot on me. I’m in a blessed position.”
While Tennessee currently has a veteran starter taking the snaps in Ryan Tannehill, it is presumed that Willis will fit in nicely to learn from Tannehill and hopefully assume greater responsibility further down the road. The 33-year-old Tannehill has a potential out in his four-year, $118 million contract after the 2022 season, indicating that Willis should have the opportunity to compete for a starting role in the near future. Other quarterbacks on the Titans’ roster include Kevin Hogan and Logan Woodside.
“Watching his tape, he’s a tough tackle,” Titan’s Head Coach Mike Vrabel said of Willis. “Obviously, there’s a lot of things we’re going to have to work with and develop, but our coaches are excited, and I know Malik’s ready to get here and get to work.”
Willis will now head to the Music City for rookie minicamps, where he will officially embark on his journey in the NFL.
Annie Corry is the Sports Editor at the Liberty Champion. Follow her on Twitter @anniecory1