Though many believe the Cowboys need to prioritize 1-technique in the upcoming NFL Draft, Dallas could also benefit from improving at the under-tackle position as well.
Miami’s Gerald Willis is a player that has been mocked to the Cowboys in round two often, and he could fit the bill of an impactful 3-technique for Dallas. With Willis, the highs are high but the lows are low, leaving you to yearn for more consistency for this clearly talented player.
Still, Willis’ abilities make him an intriguing prospect who is looking to find his place in this loaded defensive tackle class.
Gerald Willis fit the persona of Miami’s defense to a T. He is an explosive, high energy player who is at his best attacking gaps and avoiding having to rely on his technique. His get-off and first step are impressive, but his sloppiness can overshadow the flashes at times.
Willis tallied 59 total tackles, 18 for loss, and 4 sacks in 2018; absolutely ridiculous production for a player who sat out the entire 2017 season. As indicated by his overall tackle numbers, Willis always seems to find himself around the ball. A relentless player with a high motor, Gerald Willis seems to check all of the athleticism, effort, and nastiness boxes on tape. He possess very impressive quickness for a player of his size, and displays a more complete variety of pass rush moves than previously discussed defensive tackles in this draft class.
The issues he has as a player stem more from a consistent issue in his pad level. He tends to come off the ball too high at times, allowing blockers into his frame. When he comes off the ball at his best, utilizing strong hands and leverage, he looks like one of the better day two prospects in this draft class.
It just doesn’t happen often enough to project his ceiling at the next level. I’m very interested to see his combine performance in March, however, as it could sky-rocket him up these national draft boards.
Getting Gerald Willis to the Cowboys could do wonders for him as a player. Working with the defensive coaching the Cowboys have on staff, specifically defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, could greatly help Willis fine-tune his game and maximize his potential.
With Willis the flashes are there, with a massive frame and smooth feet making him look the part of an NFL defensive tackle. But too often he gets sloppy in his play, or seems to let his nastiness/energy get the best of him.
The Cowboys have proven to have excellent coaching on their defensive line, and a system which could help Willis find his ceiling.