Falcons star CB A.J. Terrell praises former high school teammate Malik Willis ahead of NFL draft

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With the draft a week away, the NFL world is buzzing, especially since Deebo Samuel has just requested a trade out of San Francisco. Given the uncertainty surrounding Baker Mayfield, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, AJ Brown, and Jimmy Garappolo, this could be one of the most strange drafts in modern history.

The Falcons are in a true best player available situation with the 8th overall pick, which means their selection entirely depends on how the first seven picks shake out. One prospect that has been floated in several mock drafts is Malik Willis, who has already met with the Falcons. Atlanta is an obvious landing spot for Willis and any quarterback prospect after trading away Matt Ryan.

Even though Marcus Mariota quickly signed a two-year deal afterward, he’s nothing more than the team’s stopgap until they can find a long-term solution. And the Liberty product could be that franchise quarterback for the Falcons. Willis is the top signal caller on Jake’s quarterback big board:

Originally, I had Malik Willis fourth and in the “Yeah, But” category. However, when evaluating these guys, his traits are the only ones I truly get excited about. I had very high hopes for Willis going into 2021; in fact, I thought he would be the first overall pick in the draft. The issues with Willis, for me, stem from his processing. He has an incredible arm and escapability outside of the pocket, but he makes some of the worst (and best) throws out of anyone in this class. Willis needs a lot of time to develop; he is not a guy who I would start from day one. I’m also concerned that he actually regressed this season, albeit against tougher competition. His footwork and eyes are very poor, but if a coach can put the pieces together, he will be one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL — much less in this draft class.

Moreover, current Falcons corner and All-Pro A.J. Terrell was teammates with Willis during their high school days, and the star cover man had some high praise for his former teammate.

Photographer: Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire

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