Scouting Report: Jordan Willis, DE

How high can Jordan Willis be drafted after his amazing performance at the NFL Combine?

How high can Jordan Willis be drafted after his amazing performance at the NFL Combine?

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

Well, the NFL Combine has come and gone and we saw a lot of impressive performances this year. While there may not be many flashy names at the top of the draft, I can’t remember a year that was so deep at so many positions. The talent pool that teams will be picking from in rounds 2 through 4 and even beyond is going to be ridiculous. There will be starting caliber players still available on Day 3 of this draft for sure. One position that looks to be very deep is that of Defensive End, which is good thing, because this is a position the Patriots will need to address.  One name that continues to be linked to the Patriots is Jordan Willis, and he made quite an impression at the NFL Combine over the weekend, so I thought I should see if the tape matches up with his athletic testing.



When I watch Willis play, I see a player who has worked on and developed his hand use. He may have the most active hands of any Edge player I have watched to date. Not only are they active, but he knows what he is doing with them. He is effective pulling, ripping, and extending with leverage and power. He makes it very difficult for Offensive Lineman to get their hands on him, and he has the ability to get them off him quickly when they do. He plays with a non stop motor and is willing to run across or down field to stay with a play. He has a good first step and forces his opponent to open their hips early, giving him the advantage as a pass rusher and an edge setter. He plays under control and with his eyes up when setting the edge. He wins with power, using a good bull rush and rip move to get after the Quarterback. He is a team leader and a hard worker and will be an asset to a locker room.


Despite his amazing results at the Combine, I did not see a player who played to those athletic traits on a consistent basis. I was shocked at his 3-cone and shuttle times because on tape he does not have good change of direction and bend. In the games I watched, I saw a guy who struggled to bend the edge because of his tight hips. Willis needs to develop his pass rush moves because when he did not when with his first move, he looked like he didn’t have a plan for what to do next and became ineffective. I thought Willis also played high a lot which created balance issues.


Boy, this is one of the harder evaluations I have done this year. I thought I had Willis all figured out and then he went and absolutely crushed it at the Combine. I went back and watched two more games of his today to see if those traits showed up on tape and their were flashes. Overall, I still saw a guy who played more linear than his testing would indicate, but maybe he just needs to be coached up on how to use his athletic talents. I would have liked to seen him drip in coverage some, because at his size, if he wants to be anything more than a situational pass rusher, he would have to be able to do so. Obviously there is talk of him being a 1st round guy after his Combine performance, but I just cannot get on board with that. As they say, you must trust the tape, and I see a guy who is closer to a end of 2nd/3rd round guy, but realistically think a team will take him top 50.








20 Responses to “Scouting Report: Jordan Willis, DE”

  1. EdgeX says:

    Random thought of the day:

    Do you guys think Washington could be a dark horse for a Jimmy G trade?


    1. Washington trades Cousins to the 49ers and gets 2 x 1st round picks (#2 overall in 2017 and 49ers 2018 1st – plus they already have the 17th overall pick in 2017)
    2. Washington uses pick #17 in 2017 (their own) and 49er’s 2018 1st round pick for Jimmy G
    3. After getting Jimmy G the Redskins would still have #2 overall in 2017 and could use that to pick a defensive player, draft Leonard Fournette, or trade down accumulating more picks

    This would seem like a win-win for both the Redskins and Patriots – hypothetically speaking.


    • steve earle says:

      2 x !st rd picks for Cousins?????

      • EdgeX says:

        Yes that’s what they would have to pay because Cousins is franchised. No ifs, ands, or buts.

        Another reason why the Pat’s believe Garoppolo is worth 2 x 1st round picks.

        • Russell says:

          Interesting trade possibility ! Could also be a Garoppolo landing spot, only Washington gives 1st (#17) and their 1st in 2018. (keeping the 49ers pick)

  2. esther says:


    How does Willis compare to Tarell Basham, whom I would like to see the Pats draft in Round 3?

  3. Jeff says:

    The development still needed in his game, and the good possibility that he’s not a 3 down player makes me think that he’s an unlikely target for the Pats in the first two rounds. As great as his combine numbers were, he seems to have a ways to go to be a complete player. 3rd round makes sense, but as many are saying, he may not last. I remember Danielle Hunter slipped to the third a couple years back, and his athletic traits were excellent as well with perhaps even a higher ceiling that Willis.

    • steve earle says:

      Isn’t that the truth Jeff? I agree but almost every year some GM will fall for excellant combine numbers and take a guy who’s films tell a slightly different story, it happens. I doubt BB will over draft Willis as much as I would like his talent in Foxbrough. Still there are several very good prospects besides Willis to consider so if that GM who loves Combine numbers jumps we still have decent options.

  4. Mike says:

    There is the problem GM. He is similar in size to Ninkovich, but does not move in space like he does.

  5. Larry Cook says:

    Willis at 32, Anderson at 64, awuzie at 96 and the dt from Charlotte at 103.

  6. GM-In-Training says:

    I like him as an OLB, not an edge guy. His arms are too short for Edge, and he’s a little light to set the edge. I dunno if he’d be awesome covering TE and RB, or just ok, though. What you saw on the tape suggests not, but…those numbers. Hmmm.

  7. Russell says:

    The key to what Mike described about Willis is; “He plays under control and with his eyes up when setting the edge.” This is why I like Willis as a stand-up OLB, he sees the play. In a 3 point stance his line of sight starts to low.
    If you watch Willis’s interviews, you will notice how open his eyes are, and much of his eye’s surface is available to his vision. This is a rare trait , as most people’s eye (Lid) is 20-38% closed.
    My latest Mock; I have the Patriots taking Willis at #32. I highly doubt he is on the board at #64.
    Coach Belichick always wants a controled pass rush, with containment,& gap control.

    • Russell says:

      I have a background in Sports Science, if you wonder how I notice stuff like eyes . :0)

    • steve earle says:

      I believe you are right in thinking Willis goes in the top 50 so we may miss on him if a higher rated prospect is available at #32. If that other player is not available the BB could trade the #32 down a few spots and still get Willis. Either way would be okay but there are a bunch of guys that will be around at #32 so anything can happen.
      Also so you will know, the eyelids have nothing to do with the fields of vision of ones eyes. It’s how much light enters the corniers.

    • EdgeX says:

      Who knows, there are a lot of good prospects coming out this year. No one thought Malcolm Brown would fall to the Pat’s in 2015 but he did. 🙂

      • steve earle says:

        Very true Edge and which is why I still have Charles Harris as my pick at #32. I see him mocked as high as the mid teens and as low as in the high 40’s. Keeps hope alive.

  8. EdgeX says:

    Thank you!

    I think the negatives you mentioned can be fixed with coaching. Especially on the Pat’s roster. Really could see the Pat’s picking him at 64 – and I think good chances he’s there too.

    Nice info chart btw, I like that.

    • Mike Gerken says:

      Thanks EdgeX,
      I wouldn’t have a problem with the Patriots taking him at 64 if he is there. After this past weekend though, that might be tougher now. He is young (only 21) and I agree, some of his issues are correctable with coaching.

    • steve earle says:

      It would be great if he was there at #64 but there are always a couple of GM’s that fall in love with raw numbers and Willis has all the best of them but we can hope. I too have him now at my #64 though with limited hope of his being there.

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