Entering Saturday’s final four rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft, one of the more puzzling situations and draft free-falls was Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis still being on the board.
After watching six defensive tackles fly off the board in round one on Thursday night, everyone anticipated that Willis’ name would be called at some point in the second or the third round on Friday evening in Nashville.
That did not happen.
And, even more discouraging for the former All-ACC defensive tackle is that numerous other defensive tackles were taken instead of him night two, as well.
That included UCF defensive tackle Trysten Hill being taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round and then, two more defensive tackles being taken instead of Willis in round three.
Finally, came Saturday afternoon, where round four came and went and still no Willis. Yet another D-tackle came off the board, as Arizona State’s Renell Wren was taken by the Bengals in the middle of the fourth round at #125.
We knew previously that Willis was being called into question by the NFL, when he wasn’t invited to the Scouting Combine in February.
However, because he led all defensive tackles in college football with 18 tackles for loss last season, and he comes from a tradition-rich program that has produced the likes of the late Jerome Brown, Russell Maryland, Warren Sapp, and even, Vince Wilfork back in the early 2000s, you thought he’d get more consideration.
In fact, most mock drafts believed that he would go no later than the 3rd round. Yet, it has become apparent that either the interview process or some injury concern possibly had cropped up about the New Orleans native and his draft status.
Willis had a hand injury at the end of Miami’s season and skipped the playing of the Pinstripe Bowl in the Bronx, New York, against Wisconsin. However there’s no indication that it’s a long-term lingering situation and that the hand would be the reason for the slide.
In the end, Willis incredibly lasted the entire seven rounds without being drafted.
We will await in the coming hours and days the reporting on the “why” that one of the top defensive tackles in a power conference was passed on by everyone this weekend.
Saturday night, media reports had Willis being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Ravens:
— David Wilson (@DBWilson2) April 27, 2019
At the minimum this has cost Williams a couple of million dollars (had he been a late second or early third round pick).
Now, he gets a chance to prove everyone that doubted him wrong.
Or, maybe he’s gonna reinforce that they were right not to draft him.
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