Teddy Bridgewater was truly awesome in his debut for the Denver Broncos, but don’t get fooled, quarterback is still on the table for the 2022 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, we’ll take a way-too-early look at who some of the top options, something we also covered this week on the What’s On Draft Podcast — if you’re craving a more in-depth breakdown — as well as re-drafting the Broncos’ 2016 class.
Now, let’s get into this 2022 quarterback class.
5. Kedon Slovis
Kedon Slovis is an intriguing and difficult-to-project prospect. If in recent years you’ve loved Justin Herbert, Trey Lance and Patrick Mahomes, Slovis isn’t gonna be your cup of tea. But if you’re a Mac Jones fan, strap in, cause Slovis might be the man for you.
Upon reviewing his play, the first things that immediately jump out about Slovis’ game are his precision and intelligence. Despite being a relatively inexperienced quarterback, processes the field with ease, compared to the other quarterbacks in his class. Once he makes that correct read, he has the accuracy to deliver it perfectly in stride or right where the ball needs to be.
Kedon Slovis has an oustanding understanding of leverage and how to attack it. It’s all over his film. pic.twitter.com/SXgFkOrOrX
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) March 22, 2021
Another positive aspect of Slovis’ game that sticks out, is his pocket maneuverability. He looks a good bit more mobile than Jones or Tu’a Tagovailoa, and he legitimately has the capacity to extend plays and play outside structure.
Kedon Slovis' improvisation skills are pretty good, but Gus Johnson's are even better. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/gztc3D7QdB
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 3, 2019
Generally, this is a strength, but there are times that evasiveness becomes a little too unhinged and chaotic, resulting in a negative play.
The big concern with Slovis is that his arm appears to be the weakest of any of the top-caliber prospects in the class, yet Slovis still demonstrates a surprising amount of faith in it. He has the brains and field vision to see his receiver flash open in a tight window and he has the accuracy to lead the receiver right to that window, but he doesn’t have the velocity to get the ball into that tight window without defensive interference, and he tries anyways.
It should be noted though, that it’s possible that an elbow injury he battled throughout the 2020 season was making his arm appear less impressive than it truly is.
4. Spencer Rattler
Don’t get me wrong, Spencer Rattler could be the No. 1 QB in this class at some point. Almost everyone expected him to cement himself as the unanimous first pick. He has the best developer of quarterback talent in college football as his head coach, he’s a highly lauded recruit, and he finally has a year of starting under his belt.
However, through Oklahoma’s first two games this season, it looks like he hasn’t developed at all, as he consistently continues to make the same mistakes he made last year. That lack of development is super concerning given the whispers about him not being very coachable, and the fact Lincoln Riley is his head coach. If Riley isn’t developing this guy, is Shurmur?
Plus, there are a lot of aspects of Rattler’s game that are in desperate need of development before he goes pro. He has an awful tendency to drift in the pocket, his footwork is somewhat inconsistent, and his mind writes ‘hero ball’ checks he doesn’t have the physical tools to cash.
For example, this play where he has all day to get his footwork right, yet still, without proper footing, lobs one downfield into double coverage, prematurely killing Oklahoma’s first drive of the season.
SPENCER RATTLER PICKED OFF 😳 @BR_CFB
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 4, 2021
When Missouri plays Alabama, you can understand why the quarterback falls into some ‘hero ball’ tendencies. When Oklahoma plays a Tulane team that’s been forced to relocate by a hurricane, and the quarterback falls into those tendencies, that’s a lot less excusable.
Rattler fading away from a 40-yard teardrop. That'll do. pic.twitter.com/v4zeteOIbx
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) May 7, 2021
Again, the talent is all there. However, at a point, what Rattler has been must start to matter as much as what he could be. It has to become ‘why is he unnecessarily fading away while throwing a bomb?’ Instead of ‘wow, can you believe he did that?’
3. Malik Willis
Malik Willis is another ‘what he could be’ type quarterback, but he’s much more appealing than Rattler for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, for a boom-or-bust quarterback, his ‘boom’ potential is higher than Rattler’s, as he looks similar to Michael Vick with his elite running ability and an absolute howitzer of an arm. He’s the best athlete in the class, easily the best runner, and has one of the strongest arms.
1. Malik Willis should have easily run this in for a TD.
2. What a freaking throw, my goodness.
3. Does anyone want to tell me this doesn't remind them of a guy who wears number 8 for the Baltimore Ravens. pic.twitter.com/hlEMZRsYkV
— Kellyn Gerenstein (@tndo_kg) June 7, 2021
Secondly, one could also argue his bust potential is lower as he’s demonstrated a more advanced football IQ than Rattler, making pre-snap adjustments and calls at the line of scrimmage for Liberty.
He does have his own ‘hero ball’ tendencies and inconsistent footwork, throwing mechanics, and synchronicity between his upper and lower body lead to sharp spikes of inaccuracy.
Is Malik Willis making the case to be the #1 QB in the 2022 NFL Draft?
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) September 13, 2021
Those are certainly issues that will require fixing before he’s ready to be a high-level quarterback at the NFL level, but they also feel more forgivable than Rattler’s hiccups. Lincoln Riley isn’t overseeing Willis’ development and Liberty needs Willis to play ‘hero ball’ at times, because he’s far-and-away their best offensive player, and oftentimes, the best player on the entire field.
2. Matt Corral
Matt Corral is a difficult player to study because his unorthodox play-style feels like one that could easily have disastrous results at the NFL level, but the things he does well he does really well.
His backyard, playground-style is wild but surprisingly effective. Corral thrives out of structure and picks apart SEC defenses with a parade of dimes delivered on the run. His accuracy is among the very best of the class, and his arm appears to possess a lot more zip than Slovis’. It’s definitely not Mahomes-ian, but it seems comparable to someone like Baker Mayfield, who has enough arm and zip to make any NFL throw.
Matt Corral might have a strong arm as well 🚀 pic.twitter.com/33kefQQfyh
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 13, 2021
He also has a lightning-fast release and ability to quickly compose himself, allowing him to extend plays with insane scrambles, only to settle swiftly and deliver a strike.
Corral fitting the ball in Cover 2 between the CB and S. pic.twitter.com/gHnSH7v7VV
— Jay (@RedskinsCult) September 16, 2021
However, while he has a lot of very good physical traits, he doesn’t have many that are truly elite. Can he be this successful out of structure at the NFL level despite the lack of those elite traits, and if not, can he adapt to playing more within structure? That, along with a head-scratchingly awful two-game stretch that saw him throw 11 interceptions, are his biggest concerns heading into the 2021 season.
1. Carson Strong
No player in the 2022 NFL Draft class has a better arm than Carson Strong.
Sure, he can throw the ball the furthest and with the most velocity of anyone, but that doesn’t necessarily define arm talent. One’s ability to throw with accuracy and touch, and their ability to attack with a variety of throws, and being able to modulate between them at the right times, are also important factors, and some would argue more important factors.
Strong checks every one of the boxes with flying colors. He throws beautiful rainbow-esque deep throws that are reminiscent of the best moments from Justin Herbert at Oregon. He can fire a bullet through the tightest window. He can deliver a downfield strike off-platform. None of it’s an issue.
CARSON STRONG WITH THE BEST THROW OF WEEK 1 🎯
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 5, 2021
Combine that with the fact that Strong appears to be the most mentally advanced (in terms of football IQ) of any of the others in his class, and it’s easy to see how he’s starting to gain a lot of steam as 2022’s top quarterback.
— Lorenz (@ScoutingLenz) July 28, 2021
The biggest concerns with Strong are the air raid system he plays in and his lack of mobility. However, his perfect NFL frame and advanced pocket presence and mental ability make those concerns much less troublesome.