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Steelers 2022 NFL Draft Stock Report: Malik Willis is better than what the stats say

Breaking down which NFL Draft prospects improved, or worsened, their stock during Week 10 of college football, and determining which players could make sense for the Steelers.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

We are now two weeks into the College Football Playoff rankings, and there has already been plenty of movement inside the top 25. Which players had a major part in causing that movement? You are about to find out.

During the college football season, I will have weekly “stock reports,” breaking down everything that transpired in the previous week of college action. We will look at players at any position that either helped or hurt their stock based upon that week’s performance, but we will give a more extensive look at players that play a position the Steelers will be in need of next offseason. Those positions may fluctuate as the Steelers’ 2021 season unfolds and we learn more about what this team truly needs to address in the offseason.

As it stands right now, cornerback, offensive line, wide receiver, and quarterback seem to be the most likely needs. Thus, a noteworthy performance by a player at one of those positions is more likely to be recognized in these articles than an impressive showing by a player at a position the Steelers are already loaded at.

Here are the highest of highs and lowest of lows from the tenth full week of college action.

Stock Up

Jahan Dotson / WR / Penn State

Dotson has been an absolute machine for Penn State in 2021, putting himself right in the thick of the first round conversation. This past Saturday against Maryland, Dotson recorded 11 catches for 243 yards and 1 touchdown, setting the school record for most receiving yards in a single game. At 5’11”, 185 pounds, Dotson is an incredibly quick receiver who displays good hands and surprising athleticism. His route-running is not as sharp as I think it could be, but a good NFL receivers coach should be able to use Dotson’s ability and make him more consistent in that area. He should definitely be considered a potential first-round pick.

Kenyon Green / OL / Texas A&M

With Dan Moore, Jr. leaving for the NFL, Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies coaching staff chose to move their second team All-American guard, Kenyon Green, to the outside. There is still a good chance that he plays guard in the NFL, but Green has held up surprisingly well at left tackle, displaying nice power, good lateral movement skills, and a great pad level.

Last Saturday against Auburn, not only did Green allow zero sacks or legitimate pressures, but he also had a big part in Texas A&M’s rushing success. He consistently moved defenders off the ball and away from the play, helping pave the way for the Aggies’ running backs who combined for 211 yards. If Green continues to show his value at left tackle, he could very well sneak into the top ten this April.

Devin Lloyd / ILB / Utah

I mentioned Lloyd in a stock report earlier this season, but he has not slowed down one bit since then. Last Friday against Stanford, Lloyd racked up 9 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass defended, and 1 interception that he returned 1 yard for a touchdown. Lloyd does not possess the ability to quickly change directions, but he is a solid athlete who has good length and impressive closing speed. His versatility is not talked about much, but he has the ability to play either inside or outside linebacker. Through 9 games this season, Lloyd has recorded 81 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions. He has asserted himself into the first round conversation, and he will have a chance to ascend even higher with a good performance against Arizona this weekend.

Others who improved their stock:

Tavion Thomas / RB / Utah (20 CAR, 177 YDS, 4 TD)
David Bell / WR / Purdue (11 REC, 217 YDS, 1 TD)
Wan’Dale Robinson / WR / Kentucky (13 REC, 166 YDS, 1 TD)
Velus Jones, Jr. / WR / Tennessee (5 REC, 100 YDS, 1 TD)
Jameson Williams / WR / Alabama (10 REC, 160 YDS, 1 TD)
Demani Richardson / S / Texas A&M (4 TCKL, 1 SCK, 2 QB HUR)
Keir Thomas / DL / Florida State (3 TCKL, 2 SCK)
Devin Harper / LB / Oklahoma State (8 TCKL, 2 SCK, 3 TFL)
Jalen Pitre / S / Baylor (6 TCKL, 3 PD, 1 FUM REC)

Futures Watch

Jaren Hall / QB / BYU

2023 prospect
20-25, 298 YDS, 4 TD vs. IDST

Jaylon Jones / CB / Texas A&M

Potential 2023 prospect
4 SOLO TCKL, 1 INT, 2 PD vs. AUB

Tyreek Chappell / CB / Texas A&M

2025 prospect
3 PD, 1 QB HUR vs. AUB

Will Anderson / EDGE / Alabama

2023 prospect
12 TCKL, 1.5 SCK, 4 TFL, 1 PD, 2 QB HUR vs. LSU

DJ Turner / CB / Michigan

Potential 2023 prospect
1 TCKL, 1 PD, elite in coverage vs. IND

Darius Hodges / DL / Tulane

2024 prospect
6 TCKL, 1 SCK, 3.5 TFL vs. UCF

J.J. Weaver / EDGE / Kentucky

Potential 2023 prospect
4 TCKL, 2.5 SCK vs. TENN

Stock Down

Malik Willis / QB / Liberty

I have mentioned on multiple occasions that although the 2022 quarterback class is not elite, it is better than what the national pundits are giving it credit for. Willis has had a rough couple weeks, but before anyone rushes to judge him, it is important to realize the horrendous situation that he has been faced with. The stat line against Ole Miss last Saturday was not pretty. It was comprised of 16 completions on 25 pass attempts, a mere 173 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and 1 fumble. However, he was sacked 9 times.

Draft pundits everywhere have begun to pound Willis for his performance the past couple weeks, but this game finally brought to light the horrid issues on the offensive line. He was under constant pressure for the entire contest and was unable to get into any sort of rhythm. Do not think that this issue was just one game though. Willis has been sacked 38 times this season, and let us not forget that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the country when it comes to avoiding pressure.

Willis has a 21-9 touchdown to interception ratio, but all of his interceptions have come in three games. In those three games, he has been sacked a combined 16 times. While I can understand the concerns about consistency, this guy has been unfairly criticized when you consider what he has to work with. He has one of the worst offensive lines in the country, and his electric deep threat from last year, DJ Stubbs, has made almost no impact at all this year. Dropped passes, incredibly poor blocking, and receivers not getting open are just a few things that can partially justify the young man's struggles.

The majority of draft nerds are hating on Willis, but I encourage you to not become one of them. He has shown incredible toughness through these circumstances, and he is still oozing with potential. His draft stock may be trending down, but this could actually be a positive for the Steelers, who now have a more realistic shot of being able to draft him if they so wish.

Brian Robinson, Jr. / RB / Alabama

Rivalry games are always tough to predict, especially when you are evaluating individual players. That said, Robinson struggled to find open running lanes, as he was only able to muster 18 yards and 1 touchdown on 13 carries. Robinson brings a nice blend of size and speed to Alabama's backfield, but he still goes through phases where he struggles to be patient and find the open hole. The arrow has been trending up for Robinson for the majority of the season, but last week's game puts his draft stock in perspective. The Alabama running back is a prime day two prospect and has the upside of a three-down back in the NFL, but he is proving that he is still somewhat raw.

Emeka Emezie / WR / North Carolina State

Emezie had the option to enter the 2021 draft but wisely waited and returned to school. Unfortunately, he has cooled off after a red hot start to the season and is now falling on draft boards. Although the Wolfpack came out victorious against Florida State, Emezie put up a stinker, catching only two passes for six yards. Emezie is a beast when it comes to contested catches, which makes him difficult to defend in the red zone. On the flip side, his production has been somewhat inconsistent this year, as he seems to completely disappear in the offensive game plan at times. I will likely have a mid round grade on him by the time we get to April.

Which players caught your eye this weekend? Are there any new names that you could see as potential fits with the Steelers? Do you agree that Malik Willis is better than what the numbers indicate? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!