ESPN: QB Malik Willis 'in the Mix' for Lions at No. 2 in 2022 NFL Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 17, 2022

MOBILE, ALABAMA - DECEMBER 18: Malik Willis #7 of the Liberty Flames reacts during the LendingTree Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium on December 18, 2021 in Mobile, Alabama. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are trying to bring Liberty star Malik Willis in for a late predraft visit ahead of the 2022 NFL draft, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Fowler reported the Lions haven't finalized their plans for the No. 2 overall pick and that Willis "is at least in the mix."

Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN

Couple <a href="https://twitter.com/SportsCenter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SportsCenter</a> draft notes with <a href="https://twitter.com/HannahStormESPN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HannahStormESPN</a><br><br>Would Derek Stingley be dream pick for Vikings?<br><br>Lions have done homework on Malik Willis, who could visit Detroit in coming days. <br><br>Packers’ WR outlook <a href="https://t.co/i24lTSOI7H">pic.twitter.com/i24lTSOI7H</a>

While Willis isn't widely considered the second-best player on the board, the importance of the quarterback position and the Lions' need for one could converge to send him to the Motor City.

The 6'1" signal-caller was the choice for Detroit in Bleacher Report's most recent mock draft, with Nate Tice explaining the decision:

"Lions take a home-run swing early and go with Willis as their quarterback of the future. Willis is a toolsy prospect with a big arm and the ability to create with his legs. But he ran a simplistic offense and will take time to adjust to the NFL level. The Lions, meanwhile, are still in the middle of a rebuild and have Jared Goff as a starter. So they will be able to bring the rookie along at whatever pace they choose."

The presence of Goff allows for head coach Dan Campbell to be a little more deliberate with any succession plan at QB.

The Lions are still building for the future in 2022, so missing the playoffs won't be considered a disappointment. And Goff, for all of his faults, provides a steady baseline. The 27-year-old threw for 3,245 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first year with Detroit.

It's not hard to fall in love with Willis' potential. He threw for 5,107 yards and ran for 1,822 yards in his two years with the Flames. The 22-year-old also enjoyed quite the pro day.


Malik Willis' arm strength is no joke. 😳 <a href="https://twitter.com/malikwillis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@malikwillis</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/LibertyFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LibertyFootball</a> Pro Day on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLNetwork</a> <a href="https://t.co/shHKM2loyW">pic.twitter.com/shHKM2loyW</a>

NFL Network @nflnetwork

Unbelievable throw. Great celebration. <a href="https://twitter.com/malikwillis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@malikwillis</a> is doing it all. <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/LibertyFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LibertyFootball</a> Pro Day on NFL Network <a href="https://t.co/9M30Nw39Te">pic.twitter.com/9M30Nw39Te</a>

Purely in terms of value, the Lions would likely be better off looking elsewhere with the No. 2 overall pick. If Willis failed to meet expectations, it would be the kind of thing that defines the tenure of second-year general manager Brad Holmes, too.

The opportunity to land a possible franchise quarterback might be too good to pass up, though.