news features


Nagy picks Grier, Willis as Seniors of Week

Wed, Sep 05, 2018

By Jim Nagy
Executive Director


West Virginia QB

Grier was lights-out in Week 1 (25-of-34, 429 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT) against an average Tennessee defense. 

Grier threw for 429 yards and 5 TDs in win over Tennessee

Physically, he displayed tools in the 40-14 blowout that have NFL scouts very intrigued.  His ball placement on deep throws is good and he shows nice touch in the red-area.  One area of QB play that oftentimes gets overlooked is their willingness to test tight coverage.  Many college QB excel throwing into wide open windows but Grier has the confidence to take shots even when his receivers create minimal space.  

Talking with guys on the Tennessee staff, they were most impressed with the pre-snap adjustments he made against their defensive initial look.  Grier changed routes 5-7 times in critical situations and converted the throws. 

From a scout’s perspective, I am getting somewhat mixed reviews from my friends on Grier.  Most see him as a possible early-round pick but others do not see him in the same class as last year’s first-round group of Baker Mayfield (Browns), Sam Darnold (Jets), Josh Allen (Bills), Josh Rosen (Cardinals).

I cannot wait to Grier play live two Saturdays from now in Raleigh when the Mountaineers take on North Carolina State.  This game will feature one of the best QB matchups of the season: Grier versus fellow potential Senior Bowler Ryan Finley.  

In a live game exposure, the two biggest things that scouts always look for in QB are arm strength and sideline demeanor because both are sometimes difficult (or impossible) to gauge strictly off tape.  The binoculars will get plenty of use on Sept. 15 at Carter-Finley Stadium.



Miami DT

Willis one of the lone bright spots in Miami’s disappointing 33-17 season-opening loss to LSU.  But before we get to his disruptive performance on Sunday night, we must shed some light into his redemptive backstory.  We reluctantly put him on our Senior Bowl Watch List in August despite the fact that he had not played in a game since November ‘16.  

Willis was a five-star recruit out of New Orleans back in ‘14 but he had some issues in his one year at Florida and abruptly transferred to Miami.  After sitting out ’15 due to NCAA transfer rules, he played sparingly around a couple of suspensions in ’16 and then sat out all of ’17 due to personal reasons.  

Sources at Miami rave about how he has battled through all the adversity “just to play another down” and against the Tigers he looked like a man that has missed being away from the game. It did not take a trained scout’s eye to notice Willis the other night.  A usual knock on many DL is inconsistent effort but Willis’ motor ran hot all night.  Miami coaches love how hard this kid plays and he pursuit to the ball in Week 1 was impressive.  

Statistically, he finished with 8 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 PD.  That is ridiculous production for an interior DT.  To put Willis’ numbers in perspective, his former teammate, Kendrick Norton, who left Miami as an early-out junior and was selected in the seventh-round by the Carolina Panthers, finished last year with 26 tackles, 6.5 TFL, and 2 sacks.

The thing that will get scouts most excited about Willis is his ability to get up the field.  One play in particular stands out.  In a goal-line situation, Willis pinballed off three different potential blockers and made a play in the backfield for a 2-yard loss.  It is extremely hard to find interior DL that can get vertical so if Willis continues produce behind the line of scrimmage like he did last week he could be one of the draft’s biggest risers this fall.  

Senior Bowl week is always a great opportunity for players with some background issues to spend extra time around NFL coaches and decision-makers.  Sources at Miami love the maturity and overall personal growth that Willis has shown over the past couple years so hopefully he gets the chance to prove to scouts the same thing here in Mobile.

We will see Willis and the Hurricanes play live on Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech.

Jim Nagy Jim Nagy is the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl. He spent 18 years in the National Football League. In his time in the NFL, Nagy worked as an area scout in the West, Midwest, and Southeast regions, as well as in a national scouting capacity for four years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a part of six Super Bowl teams and four Lombardi Trophy winning clubs (Green Bay Packers XXXI, New England Patriots XXXVIII and XXXIX and Seattle Seahawks XLVIII).