Three months have passed since the 2021 NFL Draft, but it still feels like Trevor Lawrence’s name was called yesterday. Nonetheless, the 2022 NFL Draft is fast-approaching and with it comes a new batch of over 250 prospects who will get calls next April. Of course, the position that will be getting the most attention is the quarterback. And of course, we’re giving into that here. So I present to you, my early quarterback rankings for the 2022 NFL Draft:
1. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma, R-Sophomore
While it’s well known that this quarterback class is not as historic as last year’s, Rattler and Howell are still good prospects. He first started in 2020, and could’ve been expected to start slow. However, he didn’t let the crazy year stop him. He finished with 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just seven interceptions. A talented quarterback, Rattler comes into this season needing development, but has shown bright spots.
He has a nice touch on his release, and at times displays excellent and clean footwork. He has an ability to whip it downfield with ease and solid decision making. Rattler doesn’t give the defense easy plays.
However, his feet get inconsistent too often at this point. He needs to step up and climb the pocket more. He tends to bounce around after feeling pressure. Rattler will get skittish and is too reactionary. He will lock into a target too early and fail to start moving his feet, leading to issues if pressure gets in.
Rattler has a lot to work on this coming season, but all of his issues can be fixed. He has a lot of natural talent and his weaknesses are finer parts of the game that can always be improved on. With that natural talent, and plenty of room for improvement, Rattler takes the QB1 spot. He’s currently ranked second in Heisman odds, and could be in for a big season.
2. Sam Howell, UNC, Junior
Howell has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in North Carolina history. In two years, he has 7,227 yards, 68 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions. However, he lost a lot of his offense in the 2021 draft. His top runners in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter were taken, along with his two top receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. He’ll have to show his abilities without those talents this year.
Howell possesses good vision, and always knows where his receivers are going to be. He is a natural thrower and has a quick release with the ability to really toss it downfield. The North Carolina quarterback has a good ability to get out of trouble and make the throw on the outside. He’s an accurate thrower, but can get inconsistent.
Howell sometimes takes too long to start his footwork in the beginning of the play, and then his feet get jumpy at the end of it. He displays nice running ability and has six touchdowns on the ground. Howell is a solid prospect heading into this year and has a considerably high floor already. He’ll have to prove that he can perform without the same supporting cast this year, and fix inconsistencies. There’s a lot to see in 2021 with Howell, but right now he holds down the second spot on the 2022 NFL Draft QB rankings.
3. Kedon Slovis, USC, Junior
Playing at a historic program, Slovis has a chance to cement himself as one of USC’s best all-time quarterbacks in 2021. Despite a limited season in 2020, he still put up impressive stats. During his two years starting, he had 5,423 yards, 47 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Slovis is a skilled quarterback who has good fundamentals. He has solid accuracy and reliable arm strength. The 20-year-old has good awareness in the pocket, and likes to climb up and throw. He reads the field well and has solid decision making. While he has these fundamentals, he doesn’t have a ton of playmaking ability. His release is slow, and he doesn’t push the ball down the field.
On short passes he doesn’t give his receivers a lot of opportunity. He can get away from power but does take big sacks at times. Despite some weaknesses, he’s so technically sound, with accuracy, footwork, and processing above almost everyone in the class, he’s still slated to be a top quarterback this year.
Slovis is a good quarterback who can win with USC. The question is if he’ll be able to take the next step to become a play-maker that will survive in the NFL. He definitely has the makings of a draftable quarterback, he will just have to play to raise his stock this year.
4. Carson Strong, Nevada, R-Junior
Strong is definitely one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft. He had a slow start to his career in 2019, but improved a lot last year. Because of that, he’s established himself as a good prospect. He’s started for two years, throwing for 5,193 yards, 38 touchdowns and eleven interceptions. In 2019, he threw only eleven touchdowns to seven interceptions, but had 27 touchdowns and four interceptions the following year, an enormous jump.
Strong displays fantastic ability with his arm at times, making really hard throws. He reads the field, knows what’s going on. When in the right situation, he has the talent to make any throw on the field. However, he does get inconsistent when not in the right situation. His deep throws go off target too often and hedoes have a great quick release. His footwork starts out well, but begins to get choppy once faced with pressure.
Strong is very talented and could emerge as a top quarterback prospect quickly. He does have finer parts of the game that he needs to overcome, and some basic fundamentals to get down. If he can do that, he would make a significant jump up draft boards over the winter.
5. Malik Willis, Liberty, R-Junior
Willis is an exciting prospect. He’s incredibly fun to watch, but comes with a significant amount of questions. He plays for the Liberty Flames, who have had only three players drafted since Willis was born. However, he could definitely turn into a top pick in 2022. In 2020, he had 2,250 passing yards, and 20 touchdowns to six interceptions. He also ran for 944 yards and an incredible 14 touchdowns.
The 6’1″ Willis defines “threat” in dual-threat. He scored on 10% of his rushes last year, and averaged 9.6 yards per attempt. While his first instinct is sometimes to run, something that NFL teams often are against, he actually is quite adept at keeping the play alive and maneuvering around the pocket to throw.
He reads the field quickly and moves well. His best quality is his ability to take off from the pocket at top speed with little room. He’ll be dancing behind the line one second, and then be off to the races the next.
Despite that dual-threat ability, he leaves a lot to be desired as a passer. He is not the most accurate, and is heavily inconsistent. His decision making is adequate, and he is always reading the field, but sometimes doesn’t possess the accuracy to get it to his target. He does, however, have incredible arm strength and doesn’t often give defenders a chance to take it away.
Willis has a lot to work on this upcoming season, as many NFL teams will need to see significant development in his throwing ability before taking a chance on him in April. He’s still one of the most interesting (and fun) prospects to watch, and will bring a lot of attention to a school that doesn’t get as much in draft talk.