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DT Gerald Willis: How Would Drafting this Player in Round 2 Make the Browns Better?

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ROUND TWO potential draftee has an extremely high ceiling

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The defense should consume much of this year’s draft, and GM John Dorsey needs to make sure each pick is one that will help this team contend for the AFC North Division title. Since the Browns do not possess a first-round pick this year, their selection in the second stanza is critical.

Expect one of the draft picks in all likelihood at some point to be spent on a DT for added depth and to work towards a starting position. The Browns have already traded DE Emmanuel Ogbah and realize that a good defense will use multiple defensive linemen continually throughout the game to keep fresh legs on the field. Gerald Willis could very well be that player and should be available in Round 2 with pick number 49.

A former five-star recruit, he originally signed with Florida, but had issues with several coaches and teammates. As a freshman, he was involved in a fight over a pair of cleats with Gators’ QB Skyler Mornhinweg to which the signalcaller required stitches. He was also suspended twice for undisclosed reasons. In another incident in the game against rival Florida State, QB Jameis Winston of the Seminoles had scrambled and gained minimal yardage and then darted out-of-bounds into the Florida bench. As Winston decelerated he approached two Florida players standing on the sideline, one being Willis. Next, Willis hauls off and shoves and then punches Winston with both forearms right in the facemask. Willis was ejected and his team was assessed a 15-yard personal foul.

Florida in due course released him fundamentally, and then he transferred to the University of Miami. Willis’ playing growth was stalled in 2017 when he took the entire season off at Miami with allegations of character issues. But once he returned, he was a completely different player and possessed new leadership skills plus a good work ethic previously missed. Everyone associated with him - especially his Miami coaches - all rant about the change in his attitude and life in general. The result was a very productive 2018 season peppered with a relentless behavior. This player is a force and does not miss tackles.

Specifics:

College: Miami
Height: 6’-4”
Weight: 300 pounds
40-time: 4.95
Career Tackles: 33
Career Tackles for Loss: 18
Career Sacks: 1.5
Career Forced Fumbles: 1

Positives:

  • First-step explosiveness & burst
  • Swim move his forte’
  • Big enough to push through weaker blockers
  • Natural big-man strength
  • Will chase down plays from backside
  • Quick feet and excellent change of direction
  • Sure tackler
  • Nasty player
  • After sitting out 2017 season exceptional player
  • 2018 Second-Team All-American

Negatives:

  • Needs to stay lower for more leverage
  • Improve hand usage
  • Work on more flexibility
  • Better balance control
  • Off-field issues include a transfer from Florida, one-game suspension for violation of team rules, partial MCL tear in 2016, took a leave of absence for the entire 2017 college season, dislocated finger 2018

Expert Draft Site Analysis

CBSsports.com

Willis has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Hurricanes with 13 tackles for loss in the team’s first seven games. He might have the most effective swim move in the nation, and he plays with serious power at the point of attack. He has a checkered past off-the-field but has done plenty of good for his draft stock early in 2018.


Do you think Willis’ off-field issues would prevent you from drafting him and adding him to the defensive line rotation?