Latest league news, rumors from Thursday ahead of Round 1

Count Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze among those who has no idea where the chips will fall once the 2022 NFL Draft begins. Asked on NFL Draft Kickoff which team is most likely to pull the trigger on Malik Willis as its next franchise quarterback, Freeze admitted, “Typically, I would say that I usually can have an idea, but I have no clue on what’s really gonna happen tonight.”

All 32 franchises, according to Freeze, have visited Liberty to gain more intel on Willis and his teammates, but three clubs stand out as having picked Freeze’s brain the most throughout the draft process. Freeze told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano that the Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks have maintained the most contact.

Freeze is excited about Willis’ professional prospects regardless.

“In the right place, he can come in and play,” Freeze said. “Particularly with the way we all struggle to protect the passer today because of the great defensive lines we face, I just think he has the biggest upside to extend plays and extend drives, which is valuable.”

The 2022 crop of quarterbacks, as well as the position at which teams are willing to bite, looms over the draft as one of the big question marks. In contrast to recent drafts, the QBs joining Willis atop draft boards — Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder — have tempered league-wide expectations. It remains to be seen how many signal-callers find a home in Round 1.