The 87th annual NFL Draft is fast approaching, so now is the perfect time to look ahead and get to know some of the top prospects in the class. I’ll break down each position and take a look at some teams who may be in the market for that type of player. At the end, I’ll give you a look at my final mock draft. First, we’ll break down arguably the most important position in all of sports: Quarterback.
In most years, the focus is on the quarterback position. This year, most of the QB needy teams have opted for free agency or the trade market instead. Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and Carson Wentz were dealt to the Browns, Broncos, and Colts, respectively, and the Falcons, Saints, and Steelers added Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Mitchell Trubisky.
This year’s class is considered to be a down one compared to those of recent years but, as we’ve seen in past years, a down class doesn’t mean that teams won’t be jumping up the board for a chance at a signal caller. So, let’s look at the top five QB prospects in the 2022 draft.
Kenny Pickett QB, Pittsburgh 6’3 217lb
Pickett is by far the most pro-ready quarterback in this year’s class. He shows good arm strength and mobility and benefits from playing in a pro-style offense at Pitt. Some of the knocks on Pickett include his hand size and age, will turn 24 prior to the start of training camp.
Malik Willis QB, Liberty 6’0 219lb
Originally starting his career at Auburn before transferring to Liberty, Willis is the biggest boom or bust prospect in this year’s QB class. A true dual threat, the biggest question I have is how he’ll adjust to an NFL offense. Willis would be best suited in a high tempo, RPO style offense.
Matt Corral QB, Ole Miss 6’1 212lb
Corral was my top signal caller in the draft before battling injuries towards the end of the season. Playing in the high intensity SEC, Corral threw for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns at a 68% clip. The type of guy willing to get it done with his arm or legs, staying healthy and limiting turnovers will be key to how his career shakes out.
Sam Howell QB, North Carolina 6’1 218lb
Howell had a much better 2020 than 2021 after losing many of his skill position players to graduation and the draft. Howell played in a true Run-Pass Option offense, and it remains to be seen whether he’s able to go through his progressions. He has adequate arm strength and athleticism to play the position but is still viewed as a project.
Desmond Ridder QB, Cincinnati 6’3 211lb
Ridder is a winner, starting 4 years at Cincinnati and compiling a 43-6 record, the most by any QB in the class. He has good arm strength and mobility and is the most experienced in the class by quite a bit, despite playing in a non-Power 5 conference. He’ll need to improve his decision making and could use a tweak to his throwing mechanics
Teams Targeting QBs
Carolina Panthers- The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold last offseason, and he turned in one of the worst performances of any QB in the league, 38th out of 39 according to ProFootballFocus. Picking at number 6, they should have their top choice on the board when their turn comes around.
Atlanta Falcons- The Falcons were in the running for Deshaun Watson before he decided on Cleveland. Matt Ryan was traded to Indianapolis, and they brought in Marcus Mariota on a 2-year deal. Mariota could be more than a placeholder, but the Falcons will probably look to further upgrade the position.
Pittsburgh Steelers- For the first time since 2004, Ben Roethlisberger won’t suit up in the black and yellow. With the signing of Mitch Trubisky, the Steelers have three guys theoretically competing for the starting job with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins being the other two. If he’s there at 20, I wouldn’t sleep on Malik Willis.
What are your thoughts? Any prospects you think I missed? Follow me on Twitter @devinlowe123 and let’s engage!
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