Whatcha Talking ‘Bout Willis

willis.pngWith the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the 49ers select Mississippi LB Patrick Willis:

OVERVIEW
One of the few bright spots during the Rebels’ rebuilding process, Willis established himself as the best middle linebacker in college football the last two years. He played most of the 2005 season with a broken right hand, but still ranked sixth in the nation in tackles per game (10.9). He surpassed those totals in 2006, again ranking sixth nationally with an average of 11.42 tackles per game.

One of the most respected players in the country, Willis is also one of the most liked personalities away from the game. A leader both on the field and off, he is heavily involved in community service. Despite all of the accolades he has received the last two seasons, he quietly goes about his job.

How far he has come on and off the field is because of his tireless work ethic. Willis came from a split family environment, as his mother left home more than 15 years ago. At age six, Patrick was cooking breakfast for his younger sister and brothers. At 10, he was picking cotton around his home. The proceeds went to his father, Ernest, to pay the utilities. Even now, Patrick says it wasn’t that bad.

Willis would play his final season at Mississippi with a heavy heart after the death of his brother, Detris. Detris, 17, had been swimming with friends in gravel pits near the family’s hometown of Bruceton. The 218-pound teenage linebacker cramped up. “Once he cramped up, it just spread,” Patrick said. “He was the biggest one out there. No one could pull him out.” Patrick would dedicate the rest of his career to the memory of his brother.

At Bruceton High School, Willis earned Class “A” Mr. Football honors and was a two-time all-state choice. He was also chosen Regional Most Valuable Player and West Tennessee Player of the Year as a senior. The previous season, Willis was named all-state, All-West Tennessee and Regional Defensive Player of the Year. As a sophomore, he was a first-team all-region and honorable mention all-state pick, adding all-region honors as a freshman.

During his senior season, Willis had 194 carries for 2,167 yards (11.2 avg.) and 30 touchdowns. Defensively, he was credited with 163 tackles, including 36 for losses, while racking up 12 sacks and four pass interceptions, returning one for a score. He helped lead Central High to the 2001 and 2002 Regional Championship and State Quarterfinals. Central was also a 1999 state semifinalist.

For his career, Willis carried the ball 276 times for 2,486 yards (9.0 avg.) and 39 scores. He had 51 receptions for 946 yards (18.5 avg.) and 17 touchdowns. On defense, he made 494 career tackles, including 275 solo hits, as well as 23 sacks, 46 stops for losses and 13 interceptions, with six returned for touchdowns. He scored 392 career points (62 TDs, one extra point, three two-point conversion, one field goal, two safeties) and compiled 3,944 all-purpose yards.

Willis also earned four letters in basketball and three in baseball. He averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds as a senior, 24 points and 11 rebounds as a junior, and 18 points and eight rebounds as a sophomore during his basketball career. He picked up all-district, all-region, District Most Valuable Player, All-West Tennessee, and honorable mention all-state honors in basketball. In baseball, he garnered all-district honors. He was also named Mr. Central High School.

Willis enrolled at Mississippi in 2003, seeing action in 13 games as a true freshman. He finished the season with 20 tackles (16 solos) and a stop behind the line of scrimmage. The middle linebacker would appear in 10 games as a reserve in 2004, but despite not starting any contests, he ranked third on the team with 70 tackles (54 solos) and led Ole Miss with five sacks and 11 stops for losses. He had four quarterback pressures and caused and recovered a fumble. That performance earned him All-Southeastern Conference honorable mention.

Willis took over middle linebacker chores in 2005. He suffered a broken middle finger on his right hand against Vanderbilt, playing in his final eight games wearing a cast and in the team’s last two contests with a broken bone in his right foot. Still, he ranked sixth in the nation and led the SEC with 128 tackles (90 solos). He posted three sacks, 9.5 stops for losses and two pressures. He also caused two fumbles, recovered another, intercepted a pass and deflected four others, walking home with first-team All-America and All-SEC honors.

Willis was a consensus All-America and unanimous All-SEC first-team pick as a senior in 2006. He received the Conerly Trophy as Mississippi’s best college football player and was the recipient of the Butkus Award and Lambert Trophy winner as the nation’s top linebacker. He was also selected SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and the league’s coaches and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award.

During his final season, Willis collected a career-high 137 tackles (87 solos) with three sacks and 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused two fumbles, recovered another and batted down seven passes.

In 45 games at Mississippi, Willis started 22 times. He finished his career with 355 tackles (247 solos), 11 sacks for minus-92 yards, 33 stops for losses totaling 154 yards and eight pressures. He caused five fumbles and recovered three others, returning one for a 9-yard gain. He also had one interception and 12 pass deflections.

ANALYSIS
Positives: Has a muscular upper-body frame with good shoulder and chest definition and the potential to add at least another 10 pounds of bulk without having it affect his overall quickness … Has a lean waist, good bubble, muscular legs with good bulk … Tough athlete who played all of 2005 with a cast to protect a broken right hand and performed in the final two 2005 games with a broken bone in his foot … Moves very well operating in space and has the loose hips to change direction fluidly … Shows good acceleration, balance and body control working his way down the line … Aggressive taking on multiple blockers, using his leg drive and power to stack single blocks at the line of scrimmage … Instinctive and quick reactor who won’t get fooled by play-action and is quick to recognize blocking schemes … Stays square when facing-up to offensive guards, getting enough leverage with his strength and shedding quickly thanks to active hand swipes … Hard worker in the training room who won Lifter of the Year honors at Ole Miss in 2006 … Looks natural reading plays and also seems to be in position to make the tackle … Keeps his feet on the move and shows good urgency closing on the ball … When he makes proper reads coming off the snap, he is instant in attacking the ball … Has the hand strength to take-on and shed blocks and it is rare to see him get pinned when he stays low in his pads and keeps his hands inside his frame and active … Makes proper body adjustments to bring down the ball carrier in the open … Takes on the lead blockers with force, sinking his weight to push the opponent back and clog the rush lanes … Comes off blocks cleanly to redirect and make the play working in-line … Shows good explosion taking-on the ball carrier through the holes … Keeps his balance when he extends his hands to defeat cut blocks and has the sudden burst to close when chasing ball carriers along the perimeter … Has the speed to reach and make the cut off, showing good balance to shut down the cutback lanes … Is more of a hit-and-run type working toward the outside running plays, as he has the chase acceleration and takes proper angles to close … Has great ease of movement flowing to the ball from sideline-to-sideline … Does not need to gather, maintaining acceleration when trying to redirect … Slippery enough to get through traffic and can play the trail and adjust to the quick cuts by tight ends in man coverage … Has a good feel for the pass, getting to the flats with good urgency and gets a good jump on the ball working in the zone … Uses his lateral agility to bull rush into the backfield … Explosive hitter who wraps well and comes under with good control when playing in space … Will jolt an opponent on contact and plays with very good leverage when attempting to blitz, as he is quick to locate the quickest running lane to close on the quarterback … Makes every effort to collapse the pocket, but must keep his hands active to prevent from getting stacked on his inside charge … Has good speed for man coverage (just lacks a feel for where he should position himself) … Smooth in his backpedal and has good plant-and-drive agility to mirror backs and tight ends in the short area … Has the range to make plays away from his area and is very good at sifting through traffic.

Negatives: Gets walled-off by the larger blockers when he fails to keep his hands inside his frame … Lacks ideal bulk to control or split double teams … While he has the speed to cover deep, he is a bit of a liability in this area, as he looks slow to see the routes develop when working in the zone … Eyeballs the quarterback too long and is not good at anticipating the pass, struggling to get his head turned quick enough to track the ball in flight … Does not have the natural hands needed to snatch the interception, struggling to field the ball cleanly … Slippery in his moves through trash, but will get walled-off once a bigger blocker latches onto his jersey to ride him out … Plays with pain, but has had several injuries in recent years that lead to questions about his durability.

Compares To: Dan Morgan, Carolina — Willis is like Morgan in his ability to sift through traffic and flow to the ball with suddenness, or at least what the Panthers have seen from Morgan when he isn’t suffering from a rash of concussions … … Willis has valid run defense instincts and keeps the plays in front of him, but does struggle recognizing the pass plays … He has the speed to make plays along the sidelines and is an effective wrap-up tackler who does a nice job of taking the ball carrier down by attacking the runner’s outside leg … He needs to add bulk to defeat double teams better at the next level, but with his quickness, aggressiveness and willingness to learn, he will soon become a linebacker coach’s dream.

INJURY REPORT
2005: Suffered a broken middle finger on his right hand, missing the second half of the Vanderbilt (Sept. 17) game, and sat out the following week against Wyoming (Sept. 24). Was forced to wear a cast on his hand to protect the injury the rest of the year … Suffered a partial AC joint right shoulder separation against The Citadel, but did not miss any game action … Broke a bone in his right foot against Arkansas (Nov. 12), but still played in the team’s final two games against Louisiana State (Nov. 19) and Mississippi State (Nov. 26).

AGILITY TESTS
Campus: 4.62 in the 40-yard dash … 365-pound bench press … 500-pound squat … 310-pound power clean … 38-inch vertical jump.

Combine: 4.51 in the 40-yard dash … Benched 225 pounds 22 times … 35-inch vertical jump … 9-foot-11 broad jump … 7.23 three cone drill.

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~ by 49ersNews on April 28, 2007.

80 Responses to “Whatcha Talking ‘Bout Willis”

  1. Yeah Baby! Patrick Willis!
    Welcome to the team!

  2. Yipppeee!

  3. YESSS!!! DJAX and WILLIS in 2 days.. and we get Derek Smith replaced???? I think this might have been the best 2 days ever.. WELCOME aboard Willis

  4. Let get it on, Big Willy Style

  5. Thank you baby jesus! Welcome to San Fran Pat!

  6. HELL YA GOOD PICK BABY YA NICE ARE D IS GOING TO BE SO STOUT CANT WATE TO SEE IF WE GET JACKSON TOO OR ARE WE GOING TO GET A WR WITH 42 PICK MABY SOUNDS GOOD TOO ME HELL YA NICE JOB NOLAN WE CAN DO IT YA GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. RUNNING WILD WILLIS,TRY RUNNING ON US NOW.

  8. MAN WAT A LINEBACKER CREW LAWSON, MOORE, WILLIS, AND BANTA-CAIN YEAH THATS RIGHT WERE BACK BOYS THIS DEFENSE IS NOW GONNA BE TOP 10-15 IN THE LEAGUE

  9. TRADE SMILEY AND 2ND ROUND PICK TO MOVE UP TO THE FIRST ROUND NOW.

  10. YES! Defensive player of the year. YES! Just what we need

  11. i either want meriweather or eric wright now with the second…i wish teams didnt have so much time…this takes FOREVER

  12. i wish we trade up with dallas and draft carriker now….

  13. TUNE IN TO KNBR.COM LISTEN MIKE NOLAN IS ON RIGHT NOW GO AND LISTE N HELL YA GO NINERS !!!!!!!!

  14. CARIKKERWENT TO THE PANTHERS…..

  15. WHERE?

  16. DID CARIKKER GO TO THE RAMS OR PANTHERS?

  17. i think net round we get sidny rice but geting
    patrick willis got my heart really pimpin

  18. i think next round we get sidny rice but geting
    patrick willis got my heart really pumpin damn
    iam so happy

  19. carriker went to the rams.

  20. hey so during the 4th round will they announce that the 49ers traded for darrell jackson.

  21. IM NOT SURE ABOUT JACKSON , WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PHYSICAL DOESNT COME BACK BEFORE TOMARROW.

  22. WHY : Gets walled-off by the larger blockers when he fails to keep his hands inside his frame … Lacks ideal bulk to control or split double teams … (?)

    BEST REGARD
    ngadutrafik 2007

  23. o well

  24. NICE! I hope they get a good WR or lineman (offense or defense) next!

  25. Tremendous pick.

  26. Shit you can’t compare Willis to Dan Morgan!! Morgan ran a 4.7. More like Ray Lewis,Urlacher. So is the trade with seattle set in stone?

  27. trade smiley or harris and 2nd rounder to move up for meachem

  28. throw in derick smith too!

  29. i bet we could get a 5th pick for him

  30. HOPFULY SPENCER,RICE,HILL, OR EVEN ALAN BRANCH MIGHT FALL TO THE SECOND ROUND.

  31. hey Ninaz, what happened to Calvin Johnson…lol j/k everyone makes mistakes. Im just glad we got Willis. I hope the D. Jax trade goes through.

  32. i fucked up man, sorry to everyone but i changed my mind once they announced the darrell jackson news. I’m just glad no one traded for willis and now hes a 49er. Are we kool 49erforlife. You were right and i was wrong mybad.

  33. If the D jax trade does go throuh do we still go WR in the 2nd?

  34. i say dwayne jarrett at 2nd round wat yall think.

  35. Would he be there (Jarrett)?

  36. Alan Branch still hasn’t gotten picked. We should trade up, get him, and with willis and Lewis added to the D have the best run D in the league. We have some fast, strong, big hitters on this team. Branch would be the perfect compliment to keep blockers off these guys.

  37. hell yeah we go reciever in the 2nd!…. Willis at #11!!! good job 9ners!!!

  38. Hell yea, we needed this guy. Derek Smith and Ulbrich are pretty much done

  39. WE GOT TO TRADE TO GET BRANCH BEFORE THE PHILLY PICK.BECAUSE THE EAGLES STRUGGLED AGAINST THE RUN.

  40. wats happening with d jackson

  41. well jarrett is projected at round 1, 32nd pick but by the way players have been slipping id say there is a chance we could get him at 2nd round and 10th pick. Good luck to Brady Quinn that was some dramatic shit i felt sorry for the guy.

  42. IT ALL DEPENDS ON D JACKSON THING IF WE DRAFT A WR IN THE 2ND ROUND

  43. yea Ninaz, we’re cool….all niner fans are brothers we gotta stick together lol

  44. We couldn’t possibly know about the D jax trade before the 10th pick in the second round. So what’s next?

  45. We should’ve traded up for meriweather now go get branch because that d jack trade should go through… if not get rice or jarrett… maybe even spencer

  46. was’nt D.Jack injured the last 2 seasons?? somebody correct me if im wrong about that.. I would rather have unproven-but-good potential WR from the draft over a injury prone veteran.. So can someone give me the 411 on D.Jack… Because I just dont know much about him

  47. He was hurt last year but the year before he was healthy and led the seahawks in everything… I know this because everybody but me in my fam love the hawks

  48. THE FUCKING SAINTS JUST PICKED MEACHEM

  49. I think we´re done at WR in the 1st and 2nd. We need that trade with NE for Branch.

  50. If the trade for jackson its true, we should move up and get Branch for our 2nd and 3rd, we could still try and move up in the 2nd round wiht our other picks and still pick a good wr to groom…

  51. Don’t even need to trade he’s gonna fall to us that is branch… nobody wants him right now

  52. we just traded up!!!!

  53. get branch with the 28th

  54. Got staley that’s a good pick

  55. BoOOOOOoooOOOO BoooOOOOOOooooo!!!! NOt OL!!! BOOOOooOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  56. BYE,BYE KWAME!!!!!!

  57. what did we give up for that trade?

  58. bye K. Harry…

  59. thats a good pick i am fine with that what did we give up for it

  60. yeah kwame is done

  61. a 1st round??? too much we better make play off!!!

  62. Probably 2nd and a fourth round

  63. Well, here’s hoping that pick’s gonna be in the 20s anyway…

  64. i hope we didnt get rid of our second

  65. we gave next years #1 and this years 4th

  66. he better be worth it

  67. That’s good 49ers pick next year gonna be a pick in the 20’s

  68. thats fine we still have our 2nd and two 3rds

  69. eric wright would be sweet

  70. I don’t care we still got a 2nd two thirds and 1 4th but maybe branch might fall to us at 42

  71. the cards traded up for alan branch…. damn cards!

  72. Hey Goldrusher, this may be your round to see Jarrett!

  73. Eric Wright died of Aids. You must not be a NWA fan.

  74. HA HA… that is funny, but I liked Easy. Niner’s are cruisin down the street in thier 6 4. We are showin our age LLoyd!

  75. wow… why did the niners just trade the pick???

  76. Indy does not have a 2nd round pick does that bump us out of the 2nd? Hopefully they gave us Reggie Wayne.

  77. […] Whatcha Talking ‘Bout Willis [image]With the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft, the 49ers select Mississippi LB Patrick […] […]

  78. I love this video about Patrick Willis, really tells you a lot about how good of a person he is.

  79. great pick

  80. […] draft. The niners came out ahead of most teams and certainly ahead of their conference opponents. Patrick Willis is entirely awesome. Nolan did trade away next year’s first round pick, but we got a good […]

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