Titans end Willis' wait, draft QB in third round

Titans end Willis' wait, draft QB in third round

Tennessee Titans end Malik Willis' wait, select QB in third round of NFL draft11:43 PM ET

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  • Covered Eagles for USA Today
  • Covered the Ravens for Baltimore Times
  • Played college football at Cheyney University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The wait is finally over for Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, who was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the second of their two third-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft.

The Titans moved up Friday night to select Willis at No. 84 overall after sending a third-round pick (No. 90) and a fifth-round pick (No. 169) to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Willis was widely projected as a first-round pick and was invited to Las Vegas by the NFL to be on hand for the draft. That honor is typically reserved for a player that's likely to be selected in the first round.

Despite the wait, Willis remained in Las Vegas until he was selected and was elated when he heard his name called as he celebrated with his family. Willis said he didn't pack a second suit so he and his group of 100 friends and family decided to go to a bowling alley to celebrate when he was selected.

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"I'm just blessed to have somewhere to call home and appreciative for the opportunity to play at the next level," Willis said. "It hasn't really been difficult. At the end of the day when you don't have control over something, it's not something that you can really get mad at. I'm just grateful to be here and to be a Tennessee Titan."

Willis said he held no ill will toward the teams that passed on him.

"I always have a chip on my shoulder," he said. "I don't think the draft can put another chip on my shoulder. It's cool. God put me here for a reason. I'm not going to be mad for being where I am because a lot of people wish they could be here."

Titans general manager Jon Robinson said he could hear Willis' excitement while they were on the phone, as the news that he was drafted sunk in.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback taken in the first round when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him at No. 20. Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder was the second quarterback selected, 10 picks ahead of Willis at No. 74.

Willis finished last season at Liberty with 2,857 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He was a standout during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl as well.

"Good arm, athletic and moves around well," Robinson said of Willis. "He's got a really good skill set and throws a good ball. He's tough to tackle but he's got a lot of work to do like all of the rookies do."