ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals reportedly set to host DT draft prospect Gerald Willis III

Apr 16, 2019, 8:17 AM | Updated: 8:27 am
Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis, front, runs through the tackling dummies as defensive end Joe...
Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis, front, runs through the tackling dummies as defensive end Joe Jackson stretches at the NCAA college football team's NFL Pro Day in Miami, Monday, March, 25, 2019. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald via AP)
(Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald via AP)

Miami tackle Gerald Willis III isn’t considered a top-five defensive lineman in the 2019 NFL Draft. It’s a position group with a great deal of depth in this year’s class, and because of that the Arizona Cardinals might believe his talent is undervalued.

The Cardinals, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, are hosting Willis on Tuesday.

A member of the Associated Press All-America Second Team in 2018, he made 59 tackles, 18 for loss, and 4.0 sacks.

It was a breakout year for Willis, a high-profile high school recruit who signed with the Florida Gators in 2014. He was dismissed from the team his freshman year after multiple suspensions, and a transfer to Miami didn’t immediately remedy those character red flags.

Willis sat out 2015 due to transfer rules and made 19 tackles, 5.5 for loss, as a reserve in 2016 before stepping away from the team in 2017 due to personal reasons. He returned as a redshirt senior to produce big numbers for the Hurricanes in 2018.

The 6-foot-2, 302-pound Willis apparently got things right. A one-gap 3-technique, he’s an explosive athlete who pushed his way back into draft consideration.

WalterFootball.com ranks him as the eighth-best defensive tackle in the draft, and he’s viewed by some as a second-round choice. Others, like NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, believes Willis is more of a third- or fourth-round option.

For Arizona, interest in Willis makes sense. Though the Cardinals signed Darius Philon and re-signed Rodney Gunter to join veteran Corey Peters, depth is an issue at defensive line.

And as the Cardinals keep other NFL teams in the dark about whether they’ll draft quarterback Kyler Murray or defensive linemen Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams with the No. 1 pick, hosting a few defensive linemen who are later-round options only makes their current intentions more unclear.

They already have hosted potential first-round pick Jeffery Simmons, a tackle out of Mississippi State. Like Willis, he also had past character issues.

In both cases, it’s easy to guess that Arizona is using some of its allotted 30 prospect visits for longer sit downs with players devalued because of character issues.

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