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Report: Titans' Malik Willis Likely to Redshirt; TEN 'Happy' with QB's Progression

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 10, 2022

AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The Tennessee Titans used a third-round pick to select Liberty's Malik Willis at this year's NFL Draft, but barring an injury to starter Ryan Tannehill, it's unlikely he'll see the field this year.

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler: "Willis is very clearly the developmental quarterback, and even when he gets second-team reps, the goal appears to be letting him redshirt behind the scenes."

Fowler said that the Titans "are happy with his progression overall," adding "I don't get the sense the Titans are going to roll Willis out for a Wildcat-type package. He will be stashed."

Before the draft, Willis was a candidate to not only be the first quarterback off the board, but to also be a top-10 pick. Instead, his slide was one of the stories of the event, as he surprisingly dropped into the third round before Tennessee ended his descent.

Fellow quarterbacks Kenny Pickett (No. 20 overall to Pittsburgh) and Desmond Ridder (No. 74 overall to Atlanta) came off the board before Willis.

While Willis is likely to spend the upcoming season as Tannehill's understudy, head coach Mike Vrabel has been impressed with his young quarterback thus far during training camp.

"I think his ability to move on to the next play, to be able to process things quickly and understand when (a play) was a mistake and being able to be coached has been great," he told reporters. "As we move forward here, in some of the stuff that we're doing, to be able to handle the operation (and) making sure it's clean (is a priority). His ability to recover from a snap that he wasn't at his best, I think he's done a really nice job."

The question is when Willis might get the chance to push for the starting gig. Tannehill is under contract through the 2023 season and has played well in Tennessee.

While he took a step back last year after his excellent 2021 campaign (3,819 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions), throwing for 3,734 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 67.2 percent of his passes, he still led the team to the playoffs for the third straight year.

Come the postseason, Tannehill hasn't been able to get the team over the hump, and it's clear that the Titans wanted a long-term contingency plan, hence the selection of Willis.

But for now, it remains Tannehill's team. Willis will be brought along slowly, and likely won't see the field outside of garbage time in 2022.

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