Insider: Cowboys May Have Had Top QB Draft Prospect Stolen by Titans

Malik Willis

Getty Malik Willis of Liberty throws during the NFL Combine.

Just because the Dallas Cowboys have Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback, that doesn’t mean the NFL team wasn’t considering drafting another.

Prescott has two Pro Bowls to his name and has been Dallas’ preferred starting QB for the past six seasons. However, a lack of success in the postseason and a season-ending ankle injury in 2020 have made his future a bit less certain.

Now, NFL media insider Ian Rapoport is pointing out that the Cowboys may have had interest in Malik Willis, the Liberty quarterback who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

It’s important to note that Rapoport isn’t confirming Dallas and owner Jerry Jones were interested in Willis. However, Rapoport is thinking about why Tennessee felt the need to jump the Cowboys.

“When you get to the third round, this is where you would take a quarterback who’s probably, sorta going to at least start out to be a backup. I wondered if the Titans thought the Cowboys were going to take him. They said, ‘You know what, we’re just going to leapfrog them, make sure we get our guy.'”

It sounds sensational, but Rapoport’s points do have merit considering the current QB room in Dallas.

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Willis Wows Ahead of 2022 NFL Draft

Liberty isn’t exactly famous for putting out top quarterback prospects, but Willis’ superb junior and senior seasons and impressive arm strength made him one of the most high-profile names in the 2022 NFL draft.

Willis initially started his college career at Auburn before transferring to Liberty after two years and very little playing time. His arrival in Lynchburg, Virginia translated to an immediate starting job and the QB never looked back.

Over two seasons, Willis completed 377 of 604 passes for 5107 receiving yards, 47 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Liberty went 18-6 over that span, following a 10-1 season in 2020 with an 8-5 campaign in 2021. analyst Lance Zierlein projected Willis to be drafted in the first round, but only Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett was selected on the first night. Willis ended up slipping to the third round as teams looked elsewhere, which is an important part of why Rapoport’s thoughts have validity.

Rapoport Thinks Cowboys Need Backup QB

In response to Rapoport’s breakdown of the Titans’ trading up for Willis, NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano questioned the Cowboys’ need for a QB. Rapoport mentioned Willis as a backup and that Dallas still needs one, and fellow NFL reporter Tom Pelissero briefly backed up the idea.

“Backups, everybody needs backups,” Pelissero said. “Third round is where you draft backups. Not many guys that slide into the third round that have the upside of Malik Willis.”

That’s where Willis would have been exciting, because Prescott’s recent injury concerns have created a need to have a talented arm in case of emergency. Willis is raw and would have growing pains, but the ideal scenario would be that he would never see the field in 2022.

Willis could have developed on the sidelines this season, while learning from Prescott. If Prescott then regressed or had another bad injury, the Cowboys have their QB of the future. If not, Dallas could have bailed on Willis down the road in a trade.

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