Previewing who the Dolphins might pick in the 2017 NFL Draft
This is the second in a series of film breakdowns of players that the Dolphins could draft with the 22nd overall pick next week.
Part 1: Haason Reddick.
Cameron Wake isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but he is 35 now. And so it’s only natural that the Dolphins hope to find his long-term replacement in the draft.
Perhaps they should take the guy who models his game after the star pass rusher.
Jordan Willis, the fast-rising defensive end out of Kansas State, would love to join Wake in Miami. And after one of the best Scouting Combines by an edge rusher in recent memory, he might get that chance.
“I don't like comparing myself, but someone I learn a lot from is Cameron Wake,” Willis told the Tampa Bay Times in February. “The reason I like him is he has a good kickoff, is very explosive off the football. He rushes to a certain spot and gets there, and I try to take that to my game. He's very consistent, too. When he's healthy, he's one of the best defensive ends in the NFL.”
Willis hopes to one day become the same.
The ability is there.
Everyone knew he was a stud in college, when Willis was named the Big 12 Player of the Year. His 11.5 sacks led the conference. Legendary Wildcats coach Bill Snyder calls Willis “the epitome” of Kansas State football.
But his stock didn’t really take off until the Senior Bowl. Willis was named the South team’s MVP with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass defense.
Then came the Combine, when everything changed. The numbers he put up were otherworldly. Among the 25 edge rushers selected in the first round in the past five years, his 10-yard split (1.54 seconds) ranks first, his 40 (4.53) second, his vertical (39 inches) ranks fourth and three-cone (6.85 seconds) and broad (10-5) rank fifth. Back to that 10-yard split: since 2003, the only other defensive lineman weighing 250 pounds or more to run that fast has been Seattle’s Cliff Avril, who has 73 sacks in his nine-year pro career.
And this isn’t some workout wonder. Willis has the motor and the character to make for an excellent pro. He’s in play for the Dolphins at 22.
But don’t take our word for it. Check the tape yourself, courtesy of Dolphins blogger Max Himmelrich.
Weight: 255 pounds.
Arm length: 32 3/4 inches.
Hands: 9 7/8 inches.
40 time: 4.53 seconds.
Bench press: 24 reps.
Vertical jump: 39 inches.
Broad jump: 125 inches.
Three-cone drill: 6.85 seconds.
20-yard shuffle: 4.28 seconds.
SPARQ score: 140.5, 94.2nd percentile, third among draft-eligible edge rushers.
Pros: Jordan Willis put up some freakish numbers at the combine, landing in the 90th percentile or better for the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, broad jump and vertical. He also has received rave reviews off of the field and is known as one of his team's most respected leaders. Willis obviously has plenty of college productivity. That's the blend you want in a prospect: athletically gifted, coachable and productive.
Cons: Willis doesn't necessarily show all of his athleticism on tape; he often is forced past the QB due to apparent stiffness. He also struggles at times to disengage promptly, letting RBs through in the run game. Ian Wharton hit the nail on the head in his draft guide: Willis is probably best as a team's second pass rusher, and might not be the dominant force to lead an NFL unit.
Fit for the Dolphins: Short term, I love this fit for Miami. Willis is a relatively safe pick given the attributes discussed above, and he'd be able to shine in a unit that also features Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh. However, as a long term fit, I don't know that Willis is the type of force who will be able to eventually step in for Wake. If the Dolphins are going to use their top pick on a safe player, Willis could be their man, and there's definitely room to grow for the Kansas State defender.