High expectations, high pressure and high intensity. The National Football League is nothing short of demanding of their athletes, on and off the field. The best way to prepare for the competitive and cutthroat world of professional sports? Learning from one of the hardest working individuals in college football, Bill Snyder. While there are plenty of players that come to Kansas State and do well, Jordan Willis has simply thrived under Snyder’s reign.
Commitment. Unselfishness. Unity.
Jordan Willis was called “the epitome” of Kansas State football by none other than Snyder himself. The 6’4 defensive end (who could transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker) from Kansas City seems to embody each and every one of the 16 Goals for Success from Snyder’s personal playbook for behavior on and off the field. The nation took notice of this young man as well, with Willis being named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Improve. Be Tough. Self-Discipline.
Willis has worked with some of the best in the business, including former K-State legends like Mark Simoneau, improving his technique and physique each and every year. Willis spoke with the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor after the NFL Combine and mentioned working with Hall of Famer Will Shields as well. The workouts and the discipline that go into preparing for the NFL Draft are grueling and often repetitive to insure a top notch product for the prospect’s future home. Willis has continued to improve even since the NFL Combine.
Great Effort. Enthusiasm. Eliminate Mistakes.
While Willis’s performance was outstanding at the NFL Combine, the critics still have questions about his style of play that can only be answered by seeing him in game play action. His 11 ½ sacks in 2016 show that the explosive edge rusher can be the play-maker teams are looking to add. His 52 tackles in 2016 show that he can get the job done and has the speed and strength to keep up with the best of them. Willis has proven his endurance as well, playing 93% of defensive snaps during the 2016 season.
At times, critics have pondered the movement and speed of Willis after the snap. Willis answered by having one of the fastest 40-yard dash times at the NFL Combine this year.
Never Give Up. Don’t Accept Losing. No Self Limitations.
With the results of the NFL Combine silencing many of the critics, Willis’s speed and athleticism is definitely not in question by any means. Throughout his career at Kansas State, Willis faced a number of outstanding opponents and was often matched with right tackles. Not only did he square up efficiently against the opposition, he overpowered them in most cases. From looking at tape, Willis has long strides that appear to slow him down to the average viewer.
Contrary to the initial look of Willis’s long strides vs traditional quick step masters like NFL veteran Von Miller, Willis still gets the job done. In fact, Willis has the same 40-yard dash time and a better vertical than Miller had in the NFL Combine. With Willis’ obvious agility on defense, the question of his straight-line movement as well as his ability to cut corners and switch up his tackle angles were shut down with his impressive three cone drill speed of 6.85 at the Combine. Once Willis has his plan of action, he uses his opponent’s forward motion to essentially knock him over and then powers past him to the passer.
Jordan Willis has the follow-through most NFL teams look for in an edge rusher, with his finishing moves being unequaled. His longer steps cover more ground, and give him the ability to beat his opponent at working a move by beating them to ground zero. By simply watching this talented young man over the last few years, one can see follow-through and finishing the job at hand is not an issue. Willis brings non-stop pressure and follows through on his tackles, which is why he has an incredible 11 ½ sacks from his senior year alone. While there are plenty of defensive players that can put pressure on a quarterback with “almost sacks,” there are only a handful with the follow-through of Willis.
Expect to Win. Consistency. Leadership.
The improvement of Willis’s pass rushing skills has not gone unnoticed. With his large hands (9 7/8 inches) and impressively lengthy arms (33 1/2 inches) it would be a challenge for most bulky offensive linemen to keep Willis away. Controlling his speed, maximizing his long strides and continuing to improve on his already stellar pre-snap reading skills will insure Willis shines in the NFL. K-State players and fans are no stranger to being underrated year after year, which makes the NFL Draft fun to watch each year knowing that any team that drafts a K-State player is getting a heck of a deal. Not only is Willis incredibly talented athletically speaking, he has shown great leadership among his teammates over the years as well. In high school, Willis was elected student body president while his teammates regarded him as rather shy.
Jordan Willis’ draft stock continues to rise each and every day with his workouts, his tenacity on the field and his obvious knack for disrupting his opponent on each snap. The current projections have Willis going in the second round, late third and even in the fourth round. With a strong work ethic, a diligent method of training and a meticulous training method… Jordan Willis truly owns the personal responsibility of his success in football and life. With his tireless workouts and endless study of the game he loves so much, it is no wonder Bill Snyder called him “the epitome” of Kansas State football. Look for his smooth moves and explosive tackles to make an immediate impact to the NFL team lucky enough to draft this defensive powerhouse.