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2019 NFL Draft Profile: Gerald Willis

2019 NFL Draft Profile: Gerald Willis

Paul Austria
Gerald Willis’ journey to becoming a possible first-day pick in the NFL Draft has been far from a straight-line path. He’s dealt with lots of turmoil on and off the field, even getting dismissed from the University of Florida and sitting out the entire 2017 season, but had a sensational senior season establishing himself as one of the best defensive tackle prospects heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

Willis was not only one of the most dominant members of Miami’s 1st-ranked defense in 2018, but he was also arguably the best defensive tackle in the nation. He finished the year with 59 total tackles (34 solo), 18 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. His 18 tackles for loss ranked 1st among all FBS defensive tackles and is the most collected in a season by a Hurricane since Calais Campbell’s 20.5 in 2006. Willis earned the team MVP award to go along with 2nd-team All-ACC honors and 2nd-team All-American honors by Sports Illustrated.

An unfortunate hand injury in the season finale against Pittsburgh led to Gerald’s decision to skip the Pinstripe Bowl in hopes of recovering before the NFL Combine and Miami’s Pro Day. According to the Miami Herald, he even mentioned that he dislocated his left middle finger against FSU and eventually plans on getting surgery, but it hasn’t affected him since.


Pre-Draft Measurables

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 302 lbs.

Arms: 33”

Hands: 8 1/2

40-yard dash: 5.1 seconds (at Miami pro day)

Willis attended the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but did not participate in drills. He measured officially at 6’2” and weighing 302 lbs. At Miami’s Pro Day, he ran a 5.1 40-yard dash and according to reports, he looked good when he participated in on-field drills.


Strengths

Athleticism

One of Willis’ biggest assets is his surprising athleticism as a defensive tackle and how he carries his frame. He is very agile for his size and it shows in his closing burst while in pursuit.

Initial Quickness

Willis has a knack for coming off the line of scrimmage in a hurry and winning the initial arms battle. He’s been nothing short of elite in splitting the gap against the run and he also has an excellent spin and swim move that all have been conducive in accumulating 13 tackles for loss through the first 7 games this season.


Weaknesses

Pad Level

A lot of scouts feel Willis plays with a pad level that is way too tall at times, which has led to him being pushed around and falling victim to double-teams very easily. His aim at the point of attack is to sidestep, spin, or swim off blockers, and not necessarily overpower, which has led to him getting stuffed and this was a problem here and there against the run. According to NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, a personnel director affiliated with an AFC team noted he must address this problem, “or he’s going to have a hard time staying on the field. He’s either in the backfield or getting knocked around.”

Motor/Effort Level

There’s been many instances where once Willis gets stuck and gets trapped in double-teams, he essentially becomes a non-factor. But there’s also been times where he does push and give that second effort and he can still be very disruptive.


Draft Projection: Round 3-4

Had he not suffered his hand injury and fully participated in the Combine and Pro Day, I am fairly certain Willis could have been picked as early as the second round, especially considering the kind of season he had. However, a lot of scouts view Gerald as a high-risk, high-reward player, as he’s either very disruptive or he’s a non-factor when he gets double-teamed, nothing in-between. His time at Florida in which he got into an altercation with a teammate could also raise inquiries about him off the field. Zierlein gave him a prospect grade of 5.54, which projects him as a potential starter at the next level.
 

Comments (23)

Gerald Willis’ journey to becoming a possible first-day pick in the NFL Draft has been far from a straight-line path. He’s dealt with lots of turmoil on and off the field, even getting dismissed from the University of Florida and sitting out the entire 2017 season, but a sensational senior season establishing himself as one of the best defensive tackle prospects heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.


Willis was not only one of the most dominant members of Miami’s 1st-ranked defense in 2018 but he was also arguably the best defensive tackle in the nation. He finished the year with 59 total tackles (34 solo), 18 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. His 18 tackles for loss ranked 1st among all FBS defensive tackles and is the most collected in a season by a Hurricane since Calais Campbell’s 20.5 in 2006. Willis earned the team MVP award to go along with 2nd-team All-ACC honors and 2nd-team All-American honors by Sports Illustrated.

An unfortunate hand injury in the season finale against Pittsburgh led to Gerald’s decision to skip the Pinstripe Bowl in hopes of recovering before the NFL Combine and Miami’s Pro Day. According to the Miami Herald, he even mentioned that he dislocated his left middle finger against FSU and eventually plans on getting surgery, but it hasn’t affected him since.

Pre-Draft Measurables

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 302 lbs.

Arms: 33”

Hands: 8 1/2

40-yard dash: 5.1 seconds (at Miami pro day)

Willis attended the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but did not participate in drills. He measured officially at 6’3” and weighing 302 lbs. At Miami’s Pro Day, he rain a 5.1 40-yard dash and according to reports, he looked good when he participated in on-field drills.

Strengths

Athleticism

One of Willis’ biggest assets is his surprising athleticism as a defensive tackles and how he carries his frame. He is very agile for his size and it shows in his closing burst while in pursuit.

Initial Quickness

Willis has a knack for coming off the line of scrimmage in a hurry and winning the initial arms battle. He’s been nothing short of elite in splitting the gap against the run and he also has an excellent spin and swim move that all have been conducive in accumulating 13 tackles for loss in the first 7 games this season.


Weaknesses

Pad Level

A lot of scouts feel Willis plays with a pad level that is way too tall at times, which has led to him being pushed around and falling victim to double-teams very easily. His aim at the point of attack is to sidestep, spin, or swim off blockers, and not necessarily overpower which has led to him getting stuffed and this was a problem here and there against the run. According to NFL.com’s Lance Zlerlein, a personnel director affiliated with an AFC team noted he must address this problem “or he’s going to have a hard time staying on the field. He’s either in the backfield or getting knocked around.”

Motor/Effort Level

There’s been many instances were once Willis gets stuck and gets trapped in double-teams, he essentially becomes a non-factor. But there’s also been times where he does push and give that second effort, he can be very disruptive.

Draft Projection: Round 3-4

Had he suffered his hand injury and fully participated in the Combine and Pro Day, I am fairly certain Willis could have been picked as early as the second round, especially considering the kind of season he had. However, a lot of scouts view Gerald as a high-risk, high-reward player, as he’s either very disruptive or he’s a non-factor when he gets double-teamed, nothing in-between. His time at Florida in which he got into an altercation with a teammate could also raise inquiries about him off-the-field. Zlerlein gave him a prospect grade of 5.54, which projects him as a potential starter at the next level.
Excellent overview Paul! Thank you for sharing it with us.
 
Gerald Willis’ journey to becoming a possible first-day pick in the NFL Draft has been far from a straight-line path. He’s dealt with lots of turmoil on and off the field, even getting dismissed from the University of Florida and sitting out the entire 2017 season, but a sensational senior season establishing himself as one of the best defensive tackle prospects heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.


Willis was not only one of the most dominant members of Miami’s 1st-ranked defense in 2018 but he was also arguably the best defensive tackle in the nation. He finished the year with 59 total tackles (34 solo), 18 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks. His 18 tackles for loss ranked 1st among all FBS defensive tackles and is the most collected in a season by a Hurricane since Calais Campbell’s 20.5 in 2006. Willis earned the team MVP award to go along with 2nd-team All-ACC honors and 2nd-team All-American honors by Sports Illustrated.

An unfortunate hand injury in the season finale against Pittsburgh led to Gerald’s decision to skip the Pinstripe Bowl in hopes of recovering before the NFL Combine and Miami’s Pro Day. According to the Miami Herald, he even mentioned that he dislocated his left middle finger against FSU and eventually plans on getting surgery, but it hasn’t affected him since.

Pre-Draft Measurables

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 302 lbs.

Arms: 33”

Hands: 8 1/2

40-yard dash: 5.1 seconds (at Miami pro day)

Willis attended the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but did not participate in drills. He measured officially at 6’3” and weighing 302 lbs. At Miami’s Pro Day, he rain a 5.1 40-yard dash and according to reports, he looked good when he participated in on-field drills.

Strengths

Athleticism

One of Willis’ biggest assets is his surprising athleticism as a defensive tackles and how he carries his frame. He is very agile for his size and it shows in his closing burst while in pursuit.

Initial Quickness

Willis has a knack for coming off the line of scrimmage in a hurry and winning the initial arms battle. He’s been nothing short of elite in splitting the gap against the run and he also has an excellent spin and swim move that all have been conducive in accumulating 13 tackles for loss in the first 7 games this season.


Weaknesses

Pad Level

A lot of scouts feel Willis plays with a pad level that is way too tall at times, which has led to him being pushed around and falling victim to double-teams very easily. His aim at the point of attack is to sidestep, spin, or swim off blockers, and not necessarily overpower which has led to him getting stuffed and this was a problem here and there against the run. According to NFL.com’s Lance Zlerlein, a personnel director affiliated with an AFC team noted he must address this problem “or he’s going to have a hard time staying on the field. He’s either in the backfield or getting knocked around.”

Motor/Effort Level

There’s been many instances were once Willis gets stuck and gets trapped in double-teams, he essentially becomes a non-factor. But there’s also been times where he does push and give that second effort, he can be very disruptive.

Draft Projection: Round 3-4

Had he suffered his hand injury and fully participated in the Combine and Pro Day, I am fairly certain Willis could have been picked as early as the second round, especially considering the kind of season he had. However, a lot of scouts view Gerald as a high-risk, high-reward player, as he’s either very disruptive or he’s a non-factor when he gets double-teamed, nothing in-between. His time at Florida in which he got into an altercation with a teammate could also raise inquiries about him off-the-field. Zlerlein gave him a prospect grade of 5.54, which projects him as a potential starter at the next level.

Let me help yall out with the TLDR on the draft projection.

First Round Talent + "Seventh Round" Agent = Round 3-4 Draft Projection
 
He has the potential to be an AllPro and a top DL in the league. Too many people get caught up at the issues with the gator. My man took a complete year to clear all of his things and still practiced and did everything asked of him. He could of played it out and tried to roll with it and get to NFL even earlier.
But no one wants to give him credit for his evolvement and self awareness. He stayed true and matured even more than anyone realized.
I am 150% in the Willis camp. Ball out bro and give them hell with your hunger.
 
Steal of the draft if he falls to R3.
 
I think he gets hurt a bit by such a deep DL class. But I think being Landon Collins brother gives him the "good bloodlines" bump into the 2nd round.
 
That analysis is spot-on.
Willis is a "splash" DT.
He'll make some splash plays (TFL's) but then be a non-factor for the next 3 downs.
He hasn't shown the ability to be a "grown man" and take-on/shed blockers. You're not gonna be able to swim by everybody in the NFL. At some point you have to use your hands and be a bully.
 
That analysis is spot-on.
Willis is a "splash" DT.
He'll make some splash plays (TFL's) but then be a non-factor for the next 3 downs.
He hasn't shown the ability to be a "grown man" and take-on/shed blockers. You're not gonna be able to swim by everybody in the NFL. At some point you have to use your hands and be a bully.

He was playing with fckd up hands half the season and I still saw him bullying offensive lineman more consistently than any other DT in the country... it wasn’t his job to play patty cake with the oline all day. He made plays equally against the run and pass so save the bullshit.

I 1000% disagree with this opinion being poRsted as a fact.
 
Seeing these glowing pre-draft profiles in GW only pisses me off even more!!

As for why he went undrafted??

Personally, I think Russia is behind it

I'll wait for the Mueller NFL Investigation to be completed
 
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He was playing with fckd up hands half the season and I still saw him bullying offensive lineman more consistently than any other DT in the country... it wasn’t his job to play patty cake with the oline all day. He made plays equally against the run and pass so save the bullshit.

I 1000% disagree with this opinion being poRsted as a fact.
Well you can 1000% eat sh!t because he just went undrafted. Seems like plenty of people who are more qualified than you agree with me. (Although I don't believe he should have went undrafted)
 
Nah the NFL scouts and GMs don't know schit compared to the greatest evaluator of all time. KrazyCane.

NFL evaluators have been proven to be horrible, especially at evaluating high draft picks, basically since I've been alive.

This to me seems like a GM decision, but the fact he barely participated in the combine, pro day or senior bowl for SURE hurt him. Nice Agent...,
 
NFL evaluators have been proven to be horrible, especially at evaluating high draft picks, basically since I've been alive.

This to me seems like a GM decision, but the fact he barely participated in the combine, pro day or senior bowl for SURE hurt him. Nice Agent...,

He also did not interview with teams that were interested. So why waste a draft pick on a guy that no else is going after?
 

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