2022 NFL Draft: 3 options at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Malik Willis #7 of the Liberty Flames. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Malik Willis #7 of the Liberty Flames. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /
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2022 NFL Draft
Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7). Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

Malik Willis, Liberty

Now admittedly, for the Pittsburgh Steelers to pull this one off they would probably need to trade up in the NFL draft. Which they may not feel necessarily inclined to do given that they went 9-7-1 and made the playoffs last season with a degraded quarterback.

But if they do feel like making a move to snag the top signal-caller in this year’s draft, it might not be a terribly awful idea. Especially since Willis carries all of the necessary traits to develop into an elite franchise quarterback.

Coming into the combine, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett appeared to be in a class of his own. But Willis wowed those in attendance with his advanced knowledge of NFL offenses and incredibly mature demeanor. Not to mention his absolute rocket launcher of an arm.


While he didn’t compete in the 40-yard dash at the combine, his extraordinary speed and athleticism are already well-established. Over the course of his four-year career at Auburn and Liberty, Malik ran for more than 2,100 yards and 29 rushing touchdowns.  Including 944 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2020, and then 878 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2021.

He also managed to throw for 2,260 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions on 63.2% of his throws in his junior year. Followed up with 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions on 61.1% of his passes in his final senior year at Liberty.

Masterfully showcasing his dual-threat capability as a quarterback, which has become paramount in the modern NFL.

Accuracy and consistency have always been an issue with Malik, and he’s not exactly the most intimidating force at 6’1″, 219-pounds. But he appears to possess all of the athletic traits that would allow him to thrive at the next level. Including a strong arm, quick feet, and an explosive deep ball.

Willis has been widely regarded as more of a ‘raw’ athletic talent who has issues taking care of the football. They said the same thing about Josh Allen in 2018, who too entered the draft with similar concerns, now he’s arguably the best player in the NFL.

Obviously, Josh has a significant size advantage at 6’5″, 240-pounds, but the two draw a lot of similarities that make Malik an intriguing prospect. Small school, strong arm, and ridiculously athletic are the first few similarities that come to mind. So, there’s certainly reason to believe that Willis could too be a diamond in the rough, and excel in the NFL.

It also doesn’t hurt that he reportedly blew teams away during the interview process with his intelligence. Landing a score of 32 on the Wonderlic test, which would rank him in the top-20 all-time amongst NFL players. On par with former MVP Matt Ryan, and just below the G.O.A.T., Tom Brady, who had a score of 33.

The Pittsburgh Steelers still have yet to unlock the true potential of their downfield weapons in Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. But with a player like Willis at the helm, who is more than willing (and capable) of delivering deep balls down the field. The Steelers have the potential to put up explosive numbers on offense in 2022.