NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Titans made it clear on Day 2 of the NFL Draft that there would be no 2022 tunnel vision. Tennessee traded up with the Las Vegas Raiders to grab the 86th pick and select Liberty quarterback Liberty Willis.

Anybody feeling recharged just yet?

Tennessee felt like it lit its world on fire by trading away star wide receiver A.J. Brown on Day 1 en route to selecting Arkansas standout Treylon Burks with the 18th overall pick. The second and third rounds of the draft saw a vastly more interesting storyline develop for the Titans. With incumbent Ryan Tannehill under intense public scrutiny, Willis’ arrival turns up the heat.

Willis was too good to keep passing up

Willis was regarded by the majority of pundits to be the second-best quarterback talent in this year’s draft class.

Apr 28, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Liberty quarterback Malik Willis on the red carpet at the Fountains of Bellagio before the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Where many were advocating for Tennessee to take a future Tannehill replacement with their original selection of 26th overall, Willis fell to the Titans 60 picks later in the third round. How soon the rookie will be ready to take the reins of coach Mike Vrabel’s offense is a question for another day. For Tennessee general manager Jon Robinson, however, Willis was well worth taking a chance.

“You just never know what’s going to go on behind you,” Robinson said of trading up in the draft. “(Willis) was the best player on our board. We were a couple of picks out. You are looking at the teams that are ahead of you, but you are also looking and being cognizant of the teams that are behind you and the potential for somebody to come up or a team in the fourth to come back in to the third.”

How soon can the Titans get the rookie on the field?

 As a prospect, Willis is far from a finished prospect.

Operating what most NFL scouts amount to a high school offense at Liberty, Willis comes to an ideal spot. There is no immediate pressure for the rookie to start for the Titans, allowing him the necessary time to learn and develop behind Tannehill. It is rare to see quarterbacks selected in the draft outside of Round 1 pan out in meaningful ways, but Willis has the greatest potential of any 2022 prospect at the position.

Mar 2, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“When we look and we talk and watching his tape, he is a tough tackle,” Vrabel said on Friday night. “Obviously, there’s a lot of things that we’re going to have to work with and develop that our coaches are excited, and I know Malik (Willis) is ready to get here and get to work, but I think it’s just too soon to talk about certain packages. We’ve done that in the past, and we’ll try to do and put the best players out there to give us a chance to win.”

Quarterback mobility has always been a critical element of Tennessee’s offensive attack.

Vrabel emphasized the need for it in today’s NFL. Under coordinator’s Arthur Smith and Todd Downing, Tannehill’s legs have been an essential tool even with a beast in the backfield like running back Derrick Henry. Tannehill has set and tied a career high for rushing touchdowns (7) in each of the last two seasons with the Titans.

Creating packages for Willis to contribute in a similar fashion while his skills as a passer are refined will allow Tennessee’s coaching staff a chance to showcase their creativity.

The rookie is ready to embrace Tennessee

Dec 18, 2021; Mobile, Alabama, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) passes the ball against the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the second quarter during the 2021 LendingTree Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports

Willis falls to the third round of draft is one of the weekend’s biggest surprises. For his part, the rookie seemed just grateful to call the Titans home.

“It hasn’t really been difficult because at the end of the day,” Willis said of his wait. “When you don’t have control over something, it’s not something you can really get mad at, or it can’t really be hard on you if you don’t have control. All I can control is answering the phone whenever somebody says they have an opportunity for me. I’m just grateful to be here and I’m grateful to be a Tennessee Titan.”

The Titans are certainly happy to have them.

Adding immediate competition and pushing Tannehill to elevate his game will bring the kind of intensity to offseason work and training camp that the Titans need. Finding a path to potential sustainability beyond just the next season on Day 2 of the draft gives Robinson and Vrabel solid ground to start preparing for life beyond their current starter.

As far as draft drama goes, Tennessee has not disappointed.

Featured Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.