As we approach the 2022 NFL Draft, here are my updated rankings for the top-10 quarterbacks this year.
While last year we had cutthroat discussions and teams doing whatever they can to move up and get a quarterback, this year we don’t. None of the following quarterbacks would have been top-five in last year’s ranks. However, the quarterback is still one of the most needed positions on a team, and you can’t win without one.
Similar to last year we have several different versions of quarterbacks. We have scramblers, statues, and a mix of both. So, teams will be able to pick the quarterback that fits their system the best, mainly due to the fact that the separation between the top-six is so small. We could be seeing a quarterback class in this year’s NFL Draft that turns out similar to 2013. Or, they could surprise us all. Here are my top-10.
2022 NFL Draft quarterback rankings:
1. Malik Willis, Liberty
Previous rank: 3rd
Malik Willis jumped up to my board, some due to rumors and grumblings around the league. His upside is too good to pass up, and the more I got into Corral, Picket and Ridder, the less I found as far as actual upside.
Willis is a faster McNabb to me, and I don’t think his floor is as low as some people think it is. He can come in and spot start year one; he needs to learn NFL offenses. I would expect his usage to be similar to Lamar Jackson or Trey Lance for year one, but he could be one of the top three most dangerous quarterbacks in year two.
2. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Previous rank: 5th
Ridder is a winner, he’s confident, and he has an edge. Over his college career, he was one of the winningest quarterbacks. He showed in testing that he is far more mobile than we anticipated him to be. There are some questions about his overall accuracy and ability to throw the deep ball off-platform.
But, what you see is what you get. I think he can come in on day one and start, with maybe the top-end of an above-average starter. His weight could be a massive concern due to the way he plays, but I expect him to bulk up a little bit.
3. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Previous rank: 1st
Matt is a highly dynamic athlete in the quarterback position. He has a good arm, has solid speed, and can make plays happen on the fly. But, there are some glaring downsides. He ran more RPO in college last year than any other prominent division-one quarterback. There were also multiple times on significant downs where he would just run a draw, or Lane Kiffin took the ball out of his hands. There are some character concerns as well about maturity level.
What you’re getting with Matt Corral is a mystery, but he has the tools to be a decent quarterback at the next level. Checking the box on all the measurables, he will need to sit his first year, possibly longer, if he ever wants to be efficient.
4. Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Previous rank: 2nd
Everyone wants to harp on his hand size and the lack of NFL success with his hand size, which is fair. But, I am far more concerned about him being the “oldest” quarterback in this class, and the fact he only had one top-end year of production. I did not see a ton of progression of Pickett over his career; he is one-read and move and can climb the pocket into sacks.
Pickett also shows moments when he doesn’t trust his arm or trusts it too much, and it gets picked off or becomes a wild throw. Can he start day one? Sure. Should he? No. Pickett, to me, is a replacement-level quarterback who needs to play inside a dome, using a simple pro-style offense.
5. Carson Strong, Nevada
Previous rank: 4th
As you can see by the stats, this is not a mobile quarterback. If this were 20-30 years ago, Carson Strong would be the top quarterback in this class. He has a big arm and good vision, but he can’t move, and when he climbs the pocket, he gets fixated on a player and puts himself in many bad situations.
Strong will be a system quarterback as you can not ask the same things of him from the four quarterbacks above him, but he has the arm to make up for it. He has the size to move away from sacks, but his lack of mobility or throwing off-platform diminishes his value at the next level. He comes in as a replacement-level quarterback with the possible upside of a slightly below-average player.
6. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
Previous rank: 8th
Zappe has the abilities you like but is concerned with the height. He did well during college, but his massive one year in 2021 at Western Kentucky makes him a bit of an enigma. Not sure what to do with that one year after coming from Houston Baptist, then blowing up. I like his arm, and his ability to move is pretty accurate.
I am just unsure of where his floor and ceiling are. I could see him being a top-15 quarterback in a couple of years, and I could see him just as easily being un-rostered by 2026. Should he go to a team like the Cowboys, where he can sit behind a top-end quarterback for several years, he could be a quality quarterback.
7. Sam Howell, UNC
Previous rank: 6th
It would be an easy target to say he regressed last year as a passer, but he lost half his offense from 2020 to the NFL Draft. Howell reminds me of a right-handed Tim Tebow, which is not good. His frame can’t take the hits Tebows could, and his height and arm length could be an issue with how he plays.
Howell is a one-read-and-run guy, but any time he will climb the pocket in the NFL, he will instantly have to bail out as he won’t be able to throw over the linemen and see his check downs. I don’t think Howell ever reaches a consistent starter level, but I can see the tools and traits that have some people having Howell higher. Unfortunately, almost nothing he does well actually translates at the next level; he can’t continue to run that way and get hit.
Howell is accurate but falls away during crunch time, and maybe the biggest one is when he lost talent. He looked lost. Should he be a high pick, there’s a chance he goes to a team less talented than the one he came from. Any team who wants to take a shot on him better have an offense around him and designed for him if he has any chance at success at the next level.
8. Dustin Crum, Kent State
Previous rank: 9th
I like Crum more than Sam Howell as a prospect; I like his size and mental ability better. But Howells’s arm, running power, and experience vs. higher competition is better than Crums. He is similar in ways to Howell, but the plus side here is if you are a cold-weather team looking at a flier, Crum has the experience, the hand size, and the tools you can work within the late rounds.
I think the top-end for Crum could be a decent starter, more towards the bottom end of the top-32, but he will be an excellent backup for a very long time. Let your team run just about any play you have in your playbook. I think there is as much chance for Crum to end up a top-five QB out of this class for him being undrafted because scouts are entirely sure what they are getting or how he will be used.
9. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
Previous rank: NR
Thompson was not asked to do much at Kansas State, which has only produced rushing quarterbacks who never did much in the NFL for the last two decades.
Thompson is a better thrower than some of the previous, but this is a rush-first team. His height and weight suggest he can be a decent player at the next level, but his small hands, easy scheme, and low-level production as a legit thrower make him almost better suited for a tight end, full back, or running back.
However, there are enough tools there. Someone will take a shot on him, even if to use him as a scout quarterback when they have to play rush quarterbacks. He is also going to be a 25-year-old rookie. He also played only 45 games in five seasons. Thompson only threw the ball 885 times in five years compared to Sam Howell, who threw it 1,117 times in three years.
10. E.J Perry, Brown
Previous rank: NR
Perry is a relatively unknown player; he played at Brown, which is not a hot spot for NFL talent, and did not start gaining steam till after the combine. His combine when you want to come in as an unknown was excellent, with good size, speed, and hand size. His big knock will be the level of competition, and the style of offense he played in doesn’t translate.
However, you are getting a super-intelligent quarterback with enough tools to be worth a late-round pick to see what you can get out of a player who would be what some would consider the prototype build for a starting quarterback.