While NFL teams jockeyed for quarterbacks this past offseason, weighing trades for big-time veterans or trading up for quarterbacks in the draft, it was all done with the backdrop of an expected down year in 2022. Grab your QB this year, there are none in the draft next year.
And while this offseason will surely feature the major storyline of which veteran QBs are going to change teams, it turns out there might be answers in the 2022 NFL Draft, too.
After speaking with 10 NFL general managers or top executives, the resounding belief is that at least three quarterbacks go in the first round of next year's draft, with some expecting a fourth to go in Round 1, as well.
While there is no consensus No. 1 -- a Trevor Lawrence-type isn't in this draft – there are plenty of QBs with enough traits to build around and install as a quarterback of the future. The order varied based on who was on the other end of the phone. But while some early media favorites fell off, enough talented passers rose to give this class the requisite heft to get excited about if you are a team in need.
And there will be plenty this offseason.
Nearly all of the evaluators surveyed believe that Ole Miss QB Matt Corral – who this weekend indicated he plans to enter the draft – would go in the first round, while many felt the same about Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett and Liberty's Malik Willis. Despite a more difficult than expected year, North Carolina's Sam Howell remains in the first-round conversation, while Nevada's Carson Strong, does as well. Pickett and Willis are seniors, while Howell and Strong are juniors.
Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, a redshirt sophomore and an early media darling who eventually lost his starting job to freshman Caleb Williams, was not as high in the eyes of the NFL world as he was in the public. And Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, a senior, has impressed, but most (not all) of the GMs contacted felt he was more of a post-first-round selection.
Underclassmen have until Jan. 17 to apply for entrance into the 2022 draft.
Last year, five QBs went in the first round, all before pick No. 16. In 2020, it was four, while it was three in 2019, five in 2018, and three in 2017.
This year should be in the same ballpark, as well. There are a few reasons for that, based on conversations with the GMs and evaluators.
Among the notable opinions on the possible QBs in next year's draft:
- "Pickett is a lock to go in Round 1, and Howell is solidly there, too. Then either Willis, Ridder, or Corral, maybe two of them. Pickett is a little surprise, but he's really established himself."
- "All of the top guys have really interesting traits. Corral can really sling it, Pickett has been doing it for a long time, Ridder is kind of fun. They all have tools you can really develop."
- "It's not that close to last year depth-wise, but people need 'em and at least three go in Round 1."
- "I don't know that all of them are truly worthy of getting picked in Round 1, but everybody needs them and you aren't getting one in Round 2. Not as deep as last year, but three for sure -- Corral, Willis and Pickett -- plus a wild card.
- "Willis, Corral, Howell, Pickett -- all will rise when the coaches get involved and all are really talented."
- "There isn't a guy where I'm like, 'That's definitely a franchise QB.' Corral has guts and swagger, some people are really high on the kid from Liberty (Willis), and Pickett has had the best year of all of them. I know people have some love for the Nevada kid (Strong). It could be five guys in any order."
- "We have three QBs ranked solidly in the first round."
- "I think three is the right number. They said 2017 was a down year and two of the top five QBs in the sport (Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes) came from that draft. And neither were taken inside the top 10."
Unlike some years, there is no consensus. But entering an offseason that will center around the passers, the 2022 draft will feature enough of them.