At the very least, there are multiple signs that the Birds are showing interest in the Liberty QB.
Writing about the Eagles following their trade with the New Orleans Saints last week, NFL insider Albert Breer said he “heard them connected to Malik Willis the last couple weeks.” Breer also wrote that he “wouldn’t rule out either [Philly or Washington] taking a quarterback high in the draft.”
The latest buzz on the Eagles’ potential interest in Willis came from Rich Eisen’s interview with Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze last week.
EISEN: What are you hearing about from teams, then? What are you hearing about? What are you thinking:
FREEZE: Rich, this is the most confused— I had a lot of first-rounders when I was at Ole Miss. And I kind of had an idea. I have no clue on this one. I know the teams that have spent an enormous amount of time visiting with me. Whether it’s Carolina or Pittsburgh or Atlanta ... all of those — Seahawks — have spent a lot of time with us. But it’s hard for me to keep up. [...] I called him last night and he told me where his rotation was in where he was going to all visit, which none really surprised me. Philadelphia’s called here recently and I talked to them a lot last night. [...]
EISEN: Philadelphia, huh? So, you’re talking to Howie Roseman?
FREEZE: No, I talked to [Eagles assistant special teams coach Joe Pannunzio] last night. I think he’s in their personnel. We go back from our days in the SEC together. But he was calling on behalf of them with just some more conversation.
Indeed, Freeze was the head coach at Ole Miss while Pannunzio served as Alabama’s director of football operations in the first half of the 2010s. And though he’s on the Eagles’ coaching staff now, Pannunzio previously served as Philly’s director of personnel operations for two years (2015-2016) and director of team development for two years (2019-2020).
Pannunzio also played a role in the Eagles drafting DeVonta Smith last April. Of course, he had more direct ties to player given him time the Crimson Tide.
Perhaps too much shouldn’t be made of the Eagles’ assistant special teams coach talking with Willis’ college head coach. But when one considers the other tidbits about the Eagles’ interest in Willis ... combined with the team doing homework on other quarterback prospects (ex: Brian Johnson attending Kenny Pickett’s pro day, Matt Corral pre-draft visit) ... and Roseman once dubbing the Eagles as a “QB Factory” ... maybe it’s more than nothing.
Many seem to believe the Eagles’ pre-draft interest in quarterbacks is about creating a smokescreen to disguise their true plans. They might be right.
They also might be discounting a possibility that’s more likely than they want it to be.
With rumors that Willis could go as high as No. 2 to the Detroit Lions, the Eagles might never have a chance to draft him anyway. If he falls further than expected to No. 15, though? It’ll be interesting to see what happens at that point.
Should the Eagles draft Malik Willis?
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