This year’s class is shaping up to be one of the most interesting quarterback classes ever. Not one of the best, but one of the most interesting. Over the past few weeks, especially at the Senior Bowl, we have had a plethora of reports emerging on what the NFL thinks about this year’s quarterback class. These reports range from teams thinking that there isn’t a single starter in this class to other reports that this class is very talented. So here is my overview of the big six quarterbacks in this class.
Overview of the 2022 Quarterback Class
Not Immediate Starters
Sam Howell, North Carolina
Starting at the bottom, we have Sam Howell. Coming into this season, Howell was a projected first-round pick and was gaining traction to be the first overall pick. But following a season where he regressed slightly, that hype has died down and he is a consensus day two pick. Whether this is due to the loss of his two main wide receivers and his two main running backs to the NFL draft, is up to NFL teams to decide.
Overall, Howell has all of the traits that NFL teams look for in quarterbacks, but he is not brilliant in any department. He is a good runner with a good arm and good decision-making, but he doesn’t have the upside of some of the other quarterbacks in this class as he has not proven that he can do anything to a high level. He is, however, younger than a lot of the other players in this class at only 21 years old.
He could be taken in the first round, but that would seem like a bit of a reach. The signs point to him being taken on day two and should sit behind a veteran before being trusted with a starting role.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Ridder was on many teams’ watchlists as a late-round pick coming into this season. But, after Cincinnati had an amazing season making it into the college football playoffs, he has the attention he deserves from more teams that are looking at taking him in the early rounds. As a quarterback, he had an extremely efficient season as a passer, throwing 30 touchdowns to only eight interceptions.
His traits leave almost nothing to be desired, he has a very high football IQ and can read defenses very well in addition to being mobile enough to make plays outside of the pocket. However, he struggles heavily with his accuracy. He can make throws downfield with a certain level of ease, but he consistently underthrows or overthrows his receivers, which hinders their ability to make a play after the catch and sometimes makes it uncatchable.
He has all the traits to be selected early in the draft, but he needs to sit behind a veteran to improve his accuracy. One team that would suit him is the Atlanta Falcons, as he can sit behind Matt Ryan to improve his accuracy. He would be a good selection for them at the top of the second round.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Willis is the most intriguing prospect of this season’s draft class. He came into this year as a questionable early-round selection after having performed very well in Liberty. This season, he has been a very good dual-threat quarterback, racking up over 2,500 yards passing and over 850 rushing yards.
Willis’ film is an amazing experience. He can make otherworldly plays with his legs and his extremely strong arm, making incredibly accurate throws while on the run. But he also has his fair share of braindead moments where he misses open receivers and instead tries to use his legs to his advantage. The NFL has become accustomed to the type of quarterback that Willis is: one with a strong arm and good mobility. So he should garner heavy first-round hype, even if I am not particularly high on him, personally.
Given his physical tools, it would not be surprising to see him being one of the first quarterbacks taken in this year’s class, perhaps to the Steelers or to the Commanders. However, his production in college and his projection to the league should have him as a late first-round to early second-round pick.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral is declaring off the back of a consistent season for Ole Miss, where he put up good numbers, throwing for 20 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He is the only of these six quarterbacks who did not showcase their talents at the Senior Bowl, but NFL scouts should have already seen his talent in college.
The thing that sets Corral apart is his innovation on the football field. His ability to make plays after the designed play has broken down is a trait that is quite few and far between. However, Corral is not yet good enough at reading defenses, a trait he will have to pick up if he starts in the NFL. He also sprained his ankle when playing in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor and so that could be viewed as a red flag to some NFL teams.
Corral could end up being the first quarterback off the board, but his talent suggests he’ll be the second quarterback taken and could go as high as nine to the Broncos and as low as 32 to the Lions, but it is very unlikely that he slips out of the first round.
Day One Starters
Kenny Pickett, Pitt
After having played three pretty uneventful seasons in Pittsburgh, Pickett burst onto the scene this season after throwing for 40 touchdown passes to only seven interceptions as he led Pitt to the Peach Bowl. His performance broke several school records and cemented him as one of the best players in the country, as well as winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, an award that has been won by many top quarterback prospects in the past.
Pickett has been extremely consistent this season for Pitt, his accuracy and his throw power are both good. In addition to his ability to move outside the pocket, he seems to have all the tools to be an NFL quarterback. However, the biggest issue with Pickett seems to be his hand size, the reason he wears gloves. This was evident during the Senior Bowl, where he found it extremely difficult to control his passes in the rain, and when he gets to the NFL and the ball becomes bigger, it is not certain that he could play with the same poise that he did in college.
While the hand size concern could put some teams off selecting him, it would be unbelievable if he were to slip out of the top 20 as he seems the most “pro-ready” of any quarterback in this class.
Carson Strong, Nevada
Strong has taken strides in the past season to cement him as one of the top quarterbacks in this draft class. He was very good this season while throwing to two NFL weapons at tight end and receiver, but his stats of 36 touchdowns to eight interceptions shows his ability. He also has the highest completion percentage of this group of six players.
Carson Strong is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best pure passer in this year’s draft class. He is able to make every throw in the book and is able to make them with ease. His pre-snap intelligence is also unrivaled in this class. However, he is also the least-mobile quarterback among this group and struggles to make plays outside the pocket. He also has a major red flag in that his knee is extremely prone to being heavily injured as he has a cartilage issue.
Despite being the best passer in this class, I will find it hard to believe if Carson Strong is the first quarterback taken as teams will look at his lack of mobility and get switched off. I believe that he could thrive in the league, as long as he has a good offensive line to play behind. His best fit in this draft class is to Tampa Bay to replace Tom Brady as the starter for the Buccaneers.