After a year backing up as a freshman, Willis began to emerge as one of college football’s best linebackers. As a sophomore in 2004, he finished the year with 70 tackles, 11 for loss, and five sacks. When Ed Orgeron took over in 2005, it allowed Willis to be free to make more plays, and he came through with 128 tackles, 9.5 for loss, with three sacks on his way to All American honors. He did it once again as a senior, this time earning the Butkus Award and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors after posting 137 tackles, 11.5 for loss, and three sacks.
Patrick Willis is the complete package at linebacker. He has the toughness, instincts, and run stopping ability to play inside, but the athleticism, speed, and cover ability to play outside. He is quick to react to the play, and flies to the ball carrier with authority. Willis also shows the ability to play in space and read the quarterback, and the cover ability to stick with backs and tight ends. He is a mature football player, and a team leader.
The only real question with Willis is that he may need to get a little bigger to play inside at the next level. While he is not small, he will need more bulk on his frame to take on blockers and withstand the beating he will take in the NFL.
Patrick Willis is a standout linebacker, and could be a pro bowler in the NFL for many years. He has an excellent shot at landing in the Top 20, and with good workouts, could be the first linebacker selected.