Malik Willis made positive impression on Lions during Day 1 of Senior Bowl practice

SideLion Report

The quarterbacks were not good on Day 1 of the Senior Bowl, but the Detroit Lions remain intrigued by Malik Willis.

The first day of practice at the Senior Bowl can be tough for quarterbacks. They are mostly working with receivers they’ve never worked with before, and perhaps doing things (shotgun, under center) they haven’t done much or at all.

By all accounts, all six quarterbacks across both rosters had their struggles on Day 1 of the 2022 Senior Bowl. Among the signal callers the Detroit Lions coaching staff is getting a close look at as they lead the American team is Liberty quarterback Malik Willis.

Joe Marino of The Draft Network had an accounting of Willis’ performance on Tuesday.

Willis arguably has more upside than anyone in this year’s quarterback class. He is raw with a big arm and plenty of mobility, along with questions to answer about level of competition after tearing it up at Liberty the last two seasons. A fair smattering of mock drafts, including here at SideLion Report, have had the Lions taking him with their second first-round pick.

The Lions remain intrigued by Malik Willis after Senior Bowl, Day 1

On Wednesday morning, via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News, Lions head coach Dan Campbell had some praise for Willis.

“Listen, yesterday was our first day of practice with him and I think he throws a nice ball,” Campbell said. “I think he’s pretty athletic, he’s built better than — from afar you don’t know. That’s why, to see these guys up close, he’s a good looking player. He’s built right, looks like he’s built to last. Shoot, he handled our playbook pretty dang good yesterday. We had a couple run checks in there. Defensively, we had a couple of pressure looks that I thought he handled. Look, Day 1, did a good job.”

Via Kyle Meinke of MLive, Willis acknowledged the challenge of the first day while being excited to work with the Lions’ coaches–tight ends coach/Senior Bowl offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell most closely.

“Trying to fit a whole playbook into one day and work with people we’ve never worked with, it’s just a little rusty at first,” Willis said. “But we’re just trying to learn to work together, and that’s the most important thing.”

“It’s been really cool (working with Lions coaches),” Willis said. “All those guys are really receptive. They tell us everything we need to be successful, and they know how hard it is to come in the week of and with little preparation to execute every down on every play. So I think they’ve been really helpful in that part.”

With rain hitting Mobile on Wednesday, conditions aren’t great for the Senior Bowl quarterbacks to offer a better look at their skills and refine the rough edges from the first day. But Willis made a solid first impression on the Lions during Day 1, and that’s pretty important for both sides.

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