NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

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NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings 2022: From The College Perspective

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Who are the quarterbacks who’ll matter in the 2022 NFL Draft, and what’s the college perspective on all of the top prospects?


2022 NFL Draft Quarterback Rankings

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It’s going to be one of the weirdest and most interesting drafts ever for quarterbacks for two reasons.

1) Now teams just go and get their quarterback through free agency. Tampa Bay needed a quarterback, got Tom Brady, won a Super Bowl. The LA Rams needed a better quarterback, got Matthew Stafford, won a Super Bowl.

Teams that needed quarterbacks are finding proven talents – on vastly different levels – and aren’t going to bend over backwards this year to get one through the draft, especially because …

2) This draft class of quarterbacks isn’t totally awful, but it’s not good.

As always, someone will rise up out of the blue and become a thing once he hits the league, but the best quarterbacks in this draft would have been no better than sixth in the 2021 NFL Draft.

I’d argue it would be even worse than that – I have a thing for Davis Mills and think he’ll be great once he gets talent around him – with Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, and Justin Fields all far better prospects than anyone in this class.

Even worse, the talent level falls off the map almost immediately. As is the top guys are hardly sure things, but it gets ugly in a hurry.

12
Skylar Thompson, Kansas State

Size: 6-2, 217

The Good: If you can get past that he doesn’t quite look or play the part, there’s a lot to like. He’s a veteran who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, he can move, and he knows how to operate an offense. In a good way, he can step in and be a game manager at the next level.

The Not-So-Good: He’s been banged up way too much. The arm is just okay, the mechanics aren’t great, and he’ll never be a good-looking passer who demands to stick on a roster, but all of that is actually fine considering he’ll produce when given the shot. Again, though, he’s been injured too much, and …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He’s 25. There’s no real development to be done here, but he won’t make big mistakes and he’ll work as a strong practice squad quarterback who’ll hang around the league long enough to get one chance to see the field.

NFL Draft Projection: Free Agent

11
Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan

Size: 6-1, 208

The Good: He’s an excellent passer who might not exactly look right in workouts, but he gets the job done. He’s careful with the ball, accurate, and he’s got the ability to find a nice groove at times to take over a game – he threw for 337 yards and three scores in a win over Pitt.

The Not-So-Good: The NFL measurables aren’t there. He’s not a dangerous enough runner, there’s not enough power to his pitches, and everything has to go a lot faster. He’ll be too careful with the ball.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Here’s your ideal emergency quarterback. He’s good enough to potentially get a spot start at some point, but as is he should develop into a strong backup who won’t throw a ton of big picks and can potentially keep an O moving.

NFL Draft Projection: Free Agent

10
Dustin Crum, Kent State

Size: 6-1, 210

The Good: An interesting baller, he played in a high-octane super-fast attack that made him come up with plays on the move. He’s not for everyone, but if you want to work in an up-tempo attack with a great decision maker, here you go.

The Not-So-Good: The size and all-around tools aren’t there. He’s not a power pitcher in any way, he won’t do much in the pocket, and he’s more slippery than fast. He’ll need to be in a timing attack instead of anything that relies on the deep ball.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It depends on how creative some NFL offensive coordinator wants to be. Crum can be good enough to step in and operate in a hurry as an intriguing backup who should stick on a roster.

NFL Draft Projection: Free Agent

9
Jack Coan, Notre Dame

Size: 6-3, 218

The Good: The size, the poise, the ability to read the field – he’s got NFL starting upside with enough good skills to get a long look.

He’s been around long enough to know what he’s doing. Well coached, he doesn’t get caught up in bad plays, can come through on key drives, and he’ll be ready whenever needed to step in.

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, he has the NFL ability to play in the league, but he doesn’t do anything at a high level. There isn’t enough mobility to matter, the arm is just okay, and even with his time at Notre Dame – and Wisconsin – he could still use a little more time and live reps.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Rock solid, he’s fits the mold of a good backup quarterback who’ll make a ton of money hanging around the league for the next ten years.

NFL Draft Projection: Sixth Round

8
Cole Kelley, SE Louisiana

Size: 6-7, 249

The Good: You know what you’re getting. Kelley is a very big, very strong bomber who should fit just about every type of attack. The arm strength is unquestioned and he’s used to pushing the ball downfield without any sort of a problem. With his size, he could turn into a specialist who can get every 4th-and-1.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not a mechanical dream. He’s big, but he doesn’t exactly use his size or height always to his advantage. The production was great, but he needs time to throw and won’t be able to rely on his arm to get out of jams.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s enough here to work with to think he might be a diamond in the rough. The size, the passing ability, and the production – even at the FCS level – are way too good to not give an honest shot as a backup early on with a high-ceiling as a potential bomber for a deep shot offense.

NFL Draft Projection: Sixth Round

7
Bailey Zappe, WKU

Size: 6-0, 215

The Good: If you’re throwing for almost 6,000 yards with 62 touchdowns in a season, you’re doing something right.

Of course it was the scheme, and he might not have a special arm, but Zappe is a passer’s passer who can throw all day long. He won’t miss the open man, and if his guy is covered, he’ll get him open.

The Not-So-Good: There are no NFL measurables here.

Too small, too slow, not enough power to his pitches, and he’s not going to provide any mobility. He’ll need to be in the right scheme and he’ll need to work behind a line that gives him time, but …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: A coaching staff is going to LOVE him.

This isn’t a knock – he could be a Case Keenum type who fills an early role as a capable and ready backup, and then lights it up enough when he gets a shot to earn a starting look for a while. He doesn’t look anything like the part of a top-shelf NFL quarterback, but the league has a place for guys who can throw like he does.

NFL Draft Projection: Fifth Round

6
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Size: 6-3, 211

The Good: If you can be patient, and you’re willing to put in the work to see what might come out the other side, the all-around tools and upside are as good as any quarterback in this draft.

He’s got an underappreciated combination of size, mobility, and experience that’s enough to make any NFL offensive coordinator drool. He has seen it all, come through in tough situations, and he’s progressed by leaps and bounds in his mechanics and timing.

There’s no questioning his leadership or his personality. He’s not going to be a first round pick, and that’s more than fine. He won’t big-time anyone as he simply comes in and starts working.

The Not-So-Good: The pure-passing skills are just okay.

The arm strength is good enough, but it isn’t otherworldly. He’s accurate, but he’s not going to be the timing passer through tight windows that you might want – at least, he’s not going to be that right away.

There’s no problem reading the progressions and finding his guy, but everything has to go a bit quicker. He’s got the skills, and he’s got the mobility, but he was able to get away with a whole lot of things in college that won’t work at the next level until everything goes a few clicks faster.

While he got the job done against most of the big boys, he didn’t get to 60% passing against Alabama, Notre Dame, or Indiana last year – he was 60% or better against all the Group of Five schools except for UCF.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: High reward and low risk.

Again, he’s going to work his way into becoming a player, and he’ll do all of the right things, but is he a high-end starter who can carry an NFL team to a Super Bowl? It’s going to take a whole lot of bumps in the road to get there – his NFL passing ability, again, has to be faster and sharper – but go for it after the first 50 picks and see if you can land a gem.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

5
Carson Strong, Nevada

Size: 6-3, 226

The Good: Arm, arm, arm, arm, arm.

In a draft full of projections and guesses at quarterback, you know exactly what you’re getting here.

Strong is a power-thrower who’ll push the ball all over the field. Get him the ball, give him 2.5 seconds to work, and let him fire it to his guy. There’s no mobility and he’s not getting out of the pocket, but he’ll throw it 50 times, he’ll fire it wherever you’ll need him to, and he’s got the best NFL-caliber range on his passes in this draft.

There’s a great catchability to his passes with a wonderful deep ball and all the touch on the midrange timing throws. He’s experienced, he’s a poised leader, and if you get him behind a good offensive line, he’ll keep you in every game.

However …

The Not-So-Good: Yeah, the mobility. There isn’t any.

You need to have a good ground game and a solid back, you need to have a reliable outlet option tight end, and you need a couple of stellar tackles to give this guy the time he’ll need.

Oh, he’ll fire it anywhere and everywhere, but he’ll also take some monster shots while doing it. It’s a little much to think of him as a true sitting duck, but he’s going to be right there for the hitting. Worst of all, his body wore down on him in college – his knees are going to be an issue.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: Snap ball, receiver runs route, quarterback throws receiver the ball. There won’t be anything fancier than that when it comes to Strong.

In a mediocre draft class, Strong might be a nice idea for a power offense that needs someone to distribute the ball to the talent and hand the ball off to an elite back – think Pittsburgh if that offensive line can improve in a hurry.

Someone will take him after the second round and everyone will go, “yeah, that could work.”

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round

4
Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Size: 6-2, 212

The Good: He fits.

He fits what NFL teams are going to want in terms of getting the ball out quickly, accurately, and in rhythm. The timing is great, the field vision is fantastic on that first read, and he’s good enough on the move to make throws out of the pocket and get yards down the field when he has to take off.

For good and for bad, he’s tough as nails both as a passer and a runner. He’ll take a few chances with his downfield passes, and he bounces back quickly from the mistakes. Fearless as a runner, he’ll live the cliché and leave it all on the field on every down.

Yeah, he’ll get knocked for his lack of size, and it might be a bit hard to envision him as your franchise savior who’ll take you do a Super Bowl, but he might be the most out-of-box ready passer for your timing offense.

The Not-So-Good: He’s going to catch a beating.

He runs and plays like he’s 6-5, 240, and he ends up getting knocked around way too much. Unlike the other top quarterbacks in this draft, Corral’s mobility will actually be a bit more of a negative.

Of course it’s good that he can run from time-to-time, but his game will be about rhythm and accuracy and getting the ball to his guys on the move.

Basically, his game is going to need a slight tweak. Fortunately …

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: He learned well under Lane Kiffin, and the adjustment he’ll have to make is more than doable.

He offers something a bit different than the other top quarterbacks in this draft. Corral is the instant-fit for anyone who wants to do a whole lot of quick-hitting, first-read, tempo throws – the less he has to wait for a play to develop, the better.

Not that he can’t make those big downfield plays, too, but he’s got the accuracy and ability to thrive with a slew of quick receivers who can crank up the yards after the catch.

The one scary part is the lack of bulk along with the durability questions. Again, in a timing-based passing offense that keeps him from having to take off and take shots, he should be solid.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

3
Sam Howell, North Carolina

Size: 6-1, 218

The Good: The value here should be phenomenal.

He’s getting dinged in the scouting process because he and North Carolina weren’t as good as everyone thought they’d be last year. Every year there are guys the scouting types seem to bend over backwards for to find the positives, and there are prospects who only get the glass-it-half-empty treatment.

It’s as if the 2021 season eliminates all the positives from Howell’s first two years.

This guy is a BALLER.

He doesn’t look like he should be all that agile, but he can move, he’s got the arm, and he’s got the attitude that’s going to be exactly what’s needed to get through the rough spots early on.

There’s some work to be done. He’ll have to learn to get the ball out a bit quicker and he’ll have to readjust his mindset a bit to learn how to let the rest of the parts work, but the abilities are there to work with.

The Not-So-Good: He’s not exactly a hero ball type, but he tends to go for the spectacular when just the pedestrian play will do.

It’s not like he had to do it all himself at North Carolina, but he played like it at times and took way too many giant shots. Yeah, he can run, and yeah, he can move well enough to buy time and take off here and there, but he’s going to have to learn how to hit short timing throws over and over and over again.

He’s not the most natural of throwers – he gets the job done even if it’s not always pretty – but you’ll need to get past the aesthetics of his deep passes not exactly reminding you of Russell Wilson.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: There’s a big chance we’re all totally whiffing on the guy who’s going to be the most productive offensive player in this draft.

No, he doesn’t look the NFL quarterback part, and yeah, you can nitpick his game and technique to death, but get past how the sausage is made and enjoy the bite.

The ball might not look right out of his hands, but he’ll get it there. There might be nothing smooth or easy-looking about his style or game, but you want him running your offense.

Make no mistake about it, there’s a big bust potential here, but he’s worth the potential for the value spot of late in the first round or early second.

NFL Draft Projection: Second Round

2
Kenny Pickett, Pitt

Size: 6-3, 217

The Good: The ability and the tools are there to be a rock-solid, restaurant quality NFL starter for a long time.

Start with the experience. No, he’s not Joe Burrow, but on a lower end, the same way the Cincinnati superstar went from being just a guy to an NFL must-have starter, Pickett took his game up a few hundred notches.

The experience here really, really matters. The game slows down exponentially with each year in school for the stronger quarterbacks, and that’s exactly what happened for Pickett. Just okay, he went off last year and hit 67% of his passes for over 4,300 yards and 42 touchdowns.

He read things better, took more shots down the field, and he trusted his arm a whole lot more.

The arm strength is more than fine, no one in this draft reads the field better, and he can move enough to matter.

The Not-So-Good: No, the hand size doesn’t matter.

The overall, all-around tools and skills are good enough, but they’re not otherworldly. The same goes for Joe Burrow, too, but that’s an unfair leap to think Pickett can be that for a franchise.

Frightfully sorry to bring up Burrow when it comes to a quarterback making that giant leap from okay-to-WOW, but there’s a negative side to that, too. Like Burrow, Pickett is a tough guy who’ll absorb a whole lot of hits.

As good as Burrow is – SORRY, I will stop with the references – he got knocked out of his rookie year and took too many blows in his second year. Pickett has to translate his reading ability to get the ball out of his hands faster, be okay that he’s going to throw picks early on, and let the other parts of the offense do the work.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: It’s as if no one quite believes what they saw last year because he was so meh in his first four years.

Don’t overthink this too much. No, he’s not Trevor Lawrence as a prospect, and no, he doesn’t have the jaw-dropping tools some might like, but he’s going to start, he’s going to be in the league for a long time, and he’s going to be more than just fine.

This isn’t meant as bad as this sounds – he’s not always going to be the best or most talented quarterback on the field, but you can win with him. He’s going to grow into the job, but he’s also going to be ready to roll right away.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

1
Malik Willis, Liberty

Size: 6-0, 219

The Good: He’s what you want the face of your franchise to be.

A genuinely good guy, he’s got the right personality, coachability, and leadership qualities to be an instant favorite among the coaches, fans, and locker room. Of course, everyone needs and likes a take-charge, kick-butt field general, but actually liking and wanting your franchise quarterback to succeed is a giant plus.

And he has the best all-around set of tools of any quarterback in the draft.

Outside of his lack of height, he’s got the creativity and mobility for the way the NFL game is being played. He’s got a devastating burst out of the backfield, can buy himself all the time he needs, and it all goes with an arm that is either the best in this draft, or close to it.

Nah, he’s never going to be your classic NFL dropback passer, but he offers so much more to his game to go along with all of the intangibles.

The Not-So-Good: If you care about size and height, he’s not going to be that big passer in the pocket. That doesn’t mean he can’t grow into the role at times, but in an NFL when even the big young guys can move, being built like a running back isn’t necessarily a plus.

Every new quarterback needs work on his mechanics, but Willis will need some tweaking. He’s not the most consistent of throwers, and it comes partly from his ability to get moving and the potential to make big things happen.

While you don’t want to stifle his creativity or his abilities, there’s going to be a learning curve when it comes to a repetitive throwing motion when he stays in the pocket.

You’re going to have to live through a whole lot of negative plays as he gets more and more reps. He’s experienced, but he’s going to need the NFL at-bats as well as a coaching staff that can harness what he’s got.

NFL Draft College Perspective Thought: No, he’s not the ideal prospect, but in this draft if you’re going to go quarterback, go with the guy who brings all the stuff.

He can play on Day One as long as you’re willing to live through a year of lumps and a whole lot of interceptions and mistakes, but there’s going to be a payoff. At least when it comes to the guesswork of projecting NFL talent, he’s the one potential franchise-maker in this draft.

The possible boom is worth it.

NFL Draft Projection: First Round

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