Malik Willis puts on a show for Steelers brass at Liberty Pro Day
By Tommy Jaggi
The Pittsburgh Steelers sent the house to Liberty’s Pro Day to check out quarterback, Malik Willis. Here’s why Willis still seems like the most likely pick.
Since very early in the pre-draft process, we had a great idea that Liberty QB Malik Willis was going to wind up as one of the Pittsburgh Steelers favorite NFL Draft prospects this year. Over the past few months, that has not changed. If anything, Willis is now even a stronger candidate.
On March 22nd, the Steelers sent their top dogs to Liberty’s Pro Day to get one last look at Willis before the 2022 NFL Draft next month. The list of coaches personnel members confirmed to be in attendance were head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert, pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt, offensive coordinator Matt Canada, and player personnel coordinator Dan Rooney Jr.
But wait! There’s more!… ESPN reporter Brooke Pryor confirmed that Tomlin had a dinner meeting with Willis the night before his Pro Day workout — a telltale sign of their interest. This is not the first extensive meeting Pittsburgh’s brass has had with Willis, as they also met with him at the NFL Combine and at the Senior Bowl.
The overall impressions of Willis’ Pro Day were very positive and the crowd on hand were clearly impressed by some of the off-platform throws he was able to make in his workout.
The level of interest the Steelers have in quarterback Malik Willis is obviously very high. On March 21st, Tomlin and his crew finished watching Kenny Pickett at Pitt’s Pro Day and immediately drove six hours to Lynchburg to have dinner with Willis the night before his workout.
Willis is still the goal for the Steelers
I’ve said for the past two months that I think Malik Willis is the player the Steelers are eyeing in the 2022 NFL Draft. Just how important are Pro Day visits? Every single player drafted by Pittsburgh in the first round dating back to at least 2010 has met with Tomlin/Colbert at their Pro Day. There’s even a higher chance of being drafted if you earn the coveted dinner meeting.
Willis is squarely on Pittsburgh’s radar — likely as their favorite overall option this year, based on the interest we have seen from the start.
So what does this mean? At this point in the offseason and with the quarterback-needy teams selecting ahead of them, there’s almost no chance that Willis makes it all the way to the 20th overall pick where the Steelers are selecting. In order to secure him, they are going to have to move up.
The question then becomes: how much is Pittsburgh willing to give up? I would have to venture that if they were willing to trade a second-round pick in 2019 to move into the top-10 and land Devin Bush, they would be willing to trade a future first-rounder to make sure they got their franchise quarterback.
A trade-up obviously isn’t guaranteed to happen, as much of this depends on finding the right trade partner and coming to an agreement on the asking price. With Pittsburgh’s brass also on hand at Pitt’s Pro Day, Kenny Pickett is certainly an option this year as well, and it could come down to availability.
At the end of the day, it’s very easy to see the amount of interest the Pittsburgh Steelers have in Malik Willis. I still think he’s the ultimate goal in the 2022 NFL Draft, but acquiring him might not be easy.