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2022 NFL Draft

Malik Willis Could Be Cut by Titans



Malik Willis

It seems like the Pittsburgh Steelers made the right choice in drafting Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis, largely considered to the be the second-best option in the class, has already fallen out of favor in Tennessee.

Willis started out the 2022 season second on Tennessee’s depth chart behind veteran starter Ryan Tannehill, and it was expected that he would sit and learn behind Tannehill for at least one and maybe two seasons before making a real push for the starting lineup.

That timeline was accelerated dramatically in 2022, when Tannehill suffered an injury and Willis was thrust into the lineup. The results were not promising, as Willis completed only 50.8% of his passes, threw three interceptions and no touchdowns and owns an a 42.8 passer rating.

The Titans actually replaced Willis with former Steelers backup Josh Dobbs down the stretch run in 2022, and this spring, they drafted another quarterback, Kentucky’s Will Levis in the second round.

Now it seems that Willis may not even make the Titans’ 53-man roster. Tennessee has traditionally kept just two quarterbacks on their active roster under head coach Mike Vrabel, and Tannheill and Levis would obviously take those spots.

After the Steelers took Pickett at the No. 20 slot, Willis fell all the way to the 86th pick in the third round. Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder went just ahead of him to the Atlanta Falcons with pick No. 74.

The Falcons played Ridder the last four games of the season, and he did better than Willis, with a 63.5% completion percentage and 86.4 passer rating. Given the chance to draft another quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Falcons passed, taking Texas running back Bijan Robinson instead and committing to Ridder for 2023.

Sam Howell, taken by the Washington Commanders in the fifth round, also seems to be in a good place to start this season, while Bailey Zappe’s run as a backup in 2022 nearly unseated Mac Jones in New England.

Pickett’s statistical numbers in his rookie season were not phenomenal, posting a 63% completion percentage and a 76.7 passer rating. But given what has happened to their likely second option in Willis, it seems like they made the right call.