The NFL Draft is just a few days away and the draft order has been set. The New England Patriots hold the 1st pick, followed by the Cleveland Browns (2nd), and finally, with a 3rd overall pick, it’s San Francisco 49ers. That leaves three QBs who are expected to be taken in round 1- Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals) & Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns).
Chad Reuter, the NFL Network’s lead draft analyst, has the 3 top QBs going laughably high. The three quarterbacks are Kyler Murray, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones.
In football, the position of quarterback is the most important. As a result, NFL clubs choose players at the position earlier than they should. The top signal-caller group in the 2022 NFL Draft isn’t quite as strong as it was last year, when five quarterbacks were selected in the first 15 choices.
Despite this, NFL clubs in desperate need of a quarterback will undoubtedly seek out and choose passers ahead of where their skill suggests. It will be a nightmare if clubs take this year’s top three quarterbacks as high as NFL Network draft analyst Chad Reuter predicts.
This year’s quarterback class isn’t very good.
G Fiume/Getty Images; Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Justin Berl/Getty Images; Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Kenny Pickett (L-R) | G Fiume/Getty Images; Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Justin Berl/Getty Images
The quarterback class of the 2021 NFL Draft was historic. Trey Lance is a generational prospect, Zach Wilson is a one-year college wonder, Trey Lance is an interesting small school athlete, Justin Fields is an intriguing large program player, and Trey Lance is a big school winner (Mac Jones). It was like a QB draft version of The Breakfast Club.
Is it this year? Not at all.
During the pre-draft process, Malik Willis has established himself as the obvious No. 1 prospect. He began his undergraduate career at Auburn before moving to Liberty University, which is a small liberal arts institution. He threw for 5,107 yards, 47 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions in that time.
He’s a great athlete with a powerful arm. Dan Orlovsky of ESPN even likened him to Josh Allen. The only issue is that, although Allen is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Willis is just 6-foot and 219 pounds. In the NFL draft, height isn’t as important as it once was, but it still gives some clubs pause.
Kenny Pickett of the Panthers had five seasons with the team, throwing at least 300 passes in four of them. For the first four seasons at Pitt, he was an average quarterback, but he broke out in 2021. Pickett passed for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns, and seven interceptions as a redshirt senior.
The question isn’t whether Pickett dominated in 2021 because he finally discovered something that will enable him to continue to improve in the NFL, but rather whether he dominated because he finally found something that will allow him to continue to develop in the NFL. Or was it because he was a 23-year-old guy competing against 18- to 21-year-olds that he was successful?
Finally, there’s Matt Corral of Ole Miss. He played four seasons at Oxford, Mississippi, and had two strong seasons in the years 20 and 21. He passed for 3,349 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions last season, while also running for 614 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Corral has a terrific arm, agility, and stature (6-foot-2), albeit at 212 pounds, he’s a tad light for an NFL running quarterback. Corral is a good prospect, but nothing screams out at you and makes you go, “Wow,” and that was the case in the SEC for four years.
Chad Reuter of NFL Network has three quarterbacks in the first six choices.
Chad Reuter of NFL Network just published his Mock Draft 1.0 in the middle of a flood of mock drafts. Reuter, like practically every other draft expert (save Maurice Jones-Drew), believes Michigan pass rusher Aiden Hutchinson will be selected first overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After then, things start to become strange.
Malik Willis is the Detroit Lions’ No. 2 pick, according to Reuter. This isn’t completely impossible, but it seems to be improbable. Given the Lions’ many needs at several positions, picking a blue-chip talent such as Georgia’s Travon Walker, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, or Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton appears more likely.
Whether the Lions take Willis No. 2 or not, the Atlanta Falcons following up with Kenny Pickett seems even more improbable. Matt Ryan isn’t there anymore, and Marcus Mariota isn’t the long-term solution. Making a panic QB decision at No. 3 to kick off a long-term reconstruction does not seem plausible.
Finally, Reuter has the Carolina Panthers drafting Matt Corral at No. 6. This seems to be the most likely landing location for the first quarterback off the board this year. This might be QB2 if Willis leaves sooner than planned. But, at six, QB3? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Yes, NFL clubs are in severe need of franchise quarterbacks. Even yet, you’d think that after years of cautionary stories like Daniel Jones, Mitchell Trubisky, Jared Goff, Jameis Winston, Blake Bortles, and EJ Manuel, the powers that be in pro football would have learned their lesson.
At the very least, three of the top six clubs in the 2022 NFL Draft will not repeat the same errors.
There are still potential transactions to be made.
Woke up thinking about Jimmy G & Baker Mayfield, hoping they’re doing well & excited about the unknown so far 🏈
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) March 27, 2022
There’s another reason why quarterbacks won’t fly off the board early in this year’s draft, in addition to the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback class in 2022. This is due to the fact that there are still plenty of seasoned choices available to clubs.
There are still more dominoes to fall after an offseason that has already seen an unprecedented number of high-profile quarterback trades (Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan), free-agent signings (Mitchell Trubisky, Marcus Mariota), and non/un-retirements (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady).
The number of free-agent passers is dwindling. The remaining unsigned quarterbacks that might start in 2022 are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, and Geno Smith.
However, there are still more quarterback transactions on the way.
There’s a high probability that the Cleveland Browns will still trade Baker Mayfield, and the San Francisco 49ers might still make a Jimmy Garoppolo deal. The Lions, Falcons, and Panthers, as well as the Houston Texans with picks Nos. 3 and 13, the Seattle Seahawks at No. 9, the Philadelphia Eagles at Nos. 15 and 16, and the New Orleans Saints at No. 18, may all examine those alternatives.
Typically, the NFL draft provides clubs with one last opportunity to acquire a starting quarterback for the next season. This year, that won’t be the case, so clubs will be less inclined to go after a troublesome quarterback.
NFL clubs, on the other hand, go to great lengths to discover their franchise quarterback. So, if Chad Reuter is true, it would be shocking, but not entirely unexpected.
Pro Football Reference and Sports Reference provided all stats.
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