The Tennessee Titans raised eyebrows and also generated an unexpected publicity bonanza when they selected quarterback Malik Willis with the overall number 86 overall pick in the third round. Ordinarily, a third rounder is marginal, a player not quite guaranteed to make the team but with a decent shot to contribute down the line.
But with fan disenchantment with incumbent Titans starting QB Ryan Tannehill at an all time high, suddenly the rumors began swirling that Willis was going to Tannehill’s successor sooner rather than later.
Willis is a somewhat controversial figure among the draft projectors and scouts.While some consider the Liberty QB a first round talent in terms of physical skills, but others cite the lack of tough competition in college and Willis’ skill set as not ready for the NFL. But the Titans general manager Jon Robinson dismissed any notions that taking Willis the third round was a reach.
“He was the best player on the board, and we’re excited to have him on the team,” Robinson told ESPN. “Good arm, athletic, moves around well and has a really good skill-set. He throws a good ball and is tough to tackle. He’s got a lot of work to do like all these rookies do.”
For Titans fans totally upset with Tannehill after last season’s three interception disaster against the Cincinnati Bengals at Nissan Stadium that ended Tennessee’s playoff hopes. They don’t care about the claim made by some scouts that Willis is an erratic, inconsistent passer with limited experience reading defenses. Instead they point to the fact Willis had 13 touchdown passes of 15 or more yards downfield last season, plus 31 completions for 20 or more yards down the field. He added 878;yards and 13 touchdowns.
ESPN suggested the Titans put in special packages for Willis, while easing him into the offense.while there are those who want the Titans to instantly createca a quarterback competition. But Willis for one pays ample respect to Tannehill and wanted no part of any internal controversies.
“Ryan Tannehill is a great player, and he’s a great leader for this organization. I just want to come in and just do all I can in order to get better at ny craft. Whenever that time comes for me to get on the field, then that time will come. But until then, I’m just going to try to learn and be the best teammate that I can be.”
While Titans head coach alike Vrabel says “We want them all to compete for starting roles.” It should be a most interesting training camp and preseason.