Many people expected Malik Willis to be selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. So it was a surprise to many that he was still available in the third round when the Tennessee Titans picked him.
“He was the best player on the board, and we’re excited to have him on the team,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said. “Good arm, athletic, moves around well, and has a really good skill set. He throws a good ball and is tough to tackle. He’s got a lot of work to do like all these rookies do.”
One person who was also probably pretty surprised was starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who said that he didn’t know the Titans might draft a quarterback this year.
Ryan Tannehill said he wasn’t informed ahead of time that the #titans were drafting Malik Willis. He did call Willis right after he was drafted to congratulate him.
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) May 3, 2022
“I texted Malik right after we drafted him as well,” Tannehill said. “I have no problems with Malik. We’re looking to add talent and guys that can help us. We’ll add him to the room and go from there.”
The Titans have said that the plan is to keep Tannehill as their starter but start developing Willis to one-day ascend to that title.
However, when it comes to working closely with the former Liberty quarterback to develop as an NFL starter, Tannehill made it clear that’s not really his responsibility.
Ryan Tannehill said he doesn't think it's his job to mentor Malik Willis but if he learns from him that'll be a good thing. #Titans
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) May 3, 2022
“That’s part of being in a quarterback room, in the same room — we’re competing against each other, we’re watching the same tape, we’re doing the same drills,” Tannehill said. “I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him. But if he learns from me along the way, then that’s a great thing.”
The 33-year-old quarterback’s sentiments are causing two distinct reactions in the NFL world. Some feel that it’s a perfectly reasonable comment given that he’s a player and the Titans have a quarterbacks coach whose job it is to train Willis. Also, Tannehill presumably wants to keep his job for a long time and it’s not his responsibility to train his replacement.
Ben Roethlisberger said the same thing about Mason Rudolph for those who are outraged by Tannehill’s comment. Lot of veteran QBs hold this same sentiment, just don’t say it publicly. Sports seems like the only place where we demand people train others to eventually take their job https://t.co/RtUc4DkCgA
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) May 3, 2022
Ryan Tannehill is set to make $27M in 2023. He doesn't want the Titans to exercise the out built into his contract after this year in favor of Malik Willis. https://t.co/MWmcIhuqJP
— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) May 3, 2022
Gotta appreciate the honesty. https://t.co/SBAUsx4x5Z
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) May 3, 2022
However, others see the comments as bad form considering Tannehill is a leader of the team and should be offering support and mentorship however he can to rookies, especially those playing his position.
— Dale Ryman (@DaleRyman_WSAW) May 3, 2022
It’s technically not his job but there’s a thing called BEING A GREAT TEAMMATE. If you’re able to mentor, why not? This gives the #VIBES you’re worried about your job! #ImJustSaying what if he has to play a week & the #TEAM needs him to perform. A veterans help means everything https://t.co/sx2bpEN7ku
— Harry Douglas (@HDouglas83) May 3, 2022
Ultimately, it’s Tannehill’s job to prove he should remain the quarterback of the Titans and it’s Willis’ job to prepare for the day when it’s his turn. However things work out, they work out. Neither of them probably expected to be in this position and, chances are, at least one of them will be gone from the roster within a couple of years. So we’ll have to see how it all plays out.