While this quarterback class may not get as much praise as former classes, there are still some great players that can develop into stars. It’s now week two of my 2022 NFL Draft top 10 series, last week was the wide receivers and now it’s time for the players passing to them.
1. Kenny Pickett- Pittsburgh
Out of all the quarterback prospects this year, Pickett has all the traits of a top quarterback. He is poised, diagnoses coverages, and is accurate when throwing to all levels of the field. Pickett is a player teams can be confident in knowing what they are getting. Pickett’s accuracy has continued to improve over his four years of being a starter as in 2021 he had a 67.2% completion percentage. He puts the ball in places that make it easy for his receivers and he does so by going through his progressions and showing great anticipation once he finds where he wants to go. He also has shown improved mechanics with getting himself aligned and it leads to a consistent release. The only glaring knock on Pickett is he is comfortable in the pocket, sometimes too comfortable that he doesn’t decipher blitzes pre-snap. When he does pick up the blitzes though he has the mobility to take off if his read isn’t open.
2. Malik Willis- Liberty
Malik Willis has the most athletic upside out of all the quarterback prospects. Willis has a sharp release allowing him to fit the ball through unique windows. He also has the mobility to play off-script and make defenders miss as seen by his 90 forced missed tackles. With that though he does need to work on his decision-making, he often looks for the big play that puts the ball in risky spots instead of taking the open check down. There are also questions surrounding his pocket poise at the next level as he tends to go backward instead of stepping up into the pocket. He can show improvements of this at the Senior Bowl, but his upside, if put in the right system, could be huge. These factors are what lands him at number two.
3. Carson Strong- Nevada
While some people have questions about Carson Strong’s mobility given his knee injury history, it didn’t appear to bother him this season. In 2021 he completed 70% of his passes for 4,186 yards, 36 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Strong is not a rushing quarterback, but neither was Ben Roethlisberger and he still had a successful career. What makes Strong a top quarterback is his accuracy, he can hit receivers in stride 50-yards down the field or lead them open underneath. Strong shows great mental processing pre-snap as he diagnoses defenses and communicates what he is seeing with his offensive line. While he is not the most mobile, he does a great job stepping up in the pocket and evades pressure while keeping his eyes downfield to make a play. Most analysts look over Strong, but his mental processing and his accuracy makes him a top three quarterback.
4. Matt Corral- Ole Miss
Matt Corral has the makings to develop into a promising quarterback at the NFL level. What Corral worked on in 2021 was going through his progressions better and taking what the defense gave him. Corral has the mobility teams are starting to look for as he manipulates the pocket well, and can get outside to extend the play. He sees the field well with deciphering coverage which leads to him getting the ball out quickly and allows him to fit in an RPO scheme. What drops Corral to fourth is his consistency, while at times he shows a beautiful touch on the ball, there are other times where his placement is off. His athletic ability overall makes him an intriguing prospect who can develop over time.
5. Sam Howell- North Carolina
While the season didn’t start out great for Sam Howell, given the offensive situation he had to deal with he made the most of it. He did so by still putting up 3,056 yards and 24 touchdowns. With the offensive line he was behind he ended up rushing for 828 yards which showcased his contact balance and mobility. Howell shows good pocket manipulation but his awareness can sometimes lack which led to him taking 48 sacks in 2021. There are times as well where Howell locks onto one target and doesn’t go through his reads. Ultimately Howell is a top-five quarterback in this class due to his athletic ability, and ball placement that is wide receiver friendly.
6. Desmond Ridder- Cincinnati
Like most quarterbacks in this class, Desmond Ridder has shown steady growth from season to season. Ridder has the ability to take off as a runner with his size and vision. Ridder also has the throwing ability to fit the ball in tight windows, and reach all levels of the field. Yet he isn’t consistent, there are times where he makes a routine throw, and a few plays later can’t. His accuracy also takes a dip when he is put under pressure and has to make a throw on the run. While he has the athletic upside and winning mentality, it’s the accuracy issues that drop Ridder to number six.
7. Bailey Zappe- Western Kentucky
Bailey Zappe has really emerged as an interesting quarterback prospect after his 2021 season where he put up 5,967 yards and 62 touchdowns. Zappe has done this with his great touch to his throws for them to be in the right place for his receivers to easily secure the throw. He can throw defenders off due to how comfortable he is in the pocket, he uses pump fakes and is able to move defenders with his eyes. Zappe has clean throwing mechanics but isn’t always consistent with his sequencing especially when on the run leading to off-target passes. He will also need to work on his decision-making as he tests the limits frequently on tight windows.
8. Jack Coan- Notre Dame
Jack Coan is a pure pocket passer who drops back cleanly and gets his release off in sync. He has improved his accuracy except for when working off-script. Coan works through his progressions well and can be seen routinely finding gaps against zone coverage and getting the ball through tight windows. Due to his anticipation, and still learning how to pick up pressure pre-snap Coan comes in at eight with the outlook to be a project quarterback.
9. Kalen Eleby- Western Michigan
Kaleb Eleby isn’t exactly the most accurate quarterback as he tends to overthrow targets, but has seen success throwing spot throws to the middle of the field. He has shown great decision making only throwing 11 interceptions over three years of playing. He has shown flashes of mobility when he evades pressure in the pocket and getting outside to extend plays. If a running lane isn’t open though, his timing and accuracy on off-platform throws can be off. He is a developmental quarterback that shows promise but his accuracy issues are what has him at nine.
10. Brock Purdy- Iowa State
Brock Purdy has been a starter for Iowa State since the middle of his freshman year in 2018. He has the ability to set up in the pocket and has the mobility to gain some extra yardage. But the further downfield he tries to throw, his accuracy dismisses and he struggles to work through his progressions. As well as that when he senses pressure and can’t escape he rushes his throws leading to interceptions and his throwing mechanics become inconsistent.
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