The 2021 NFL Draft saw three quarterbacks taken with the first three picks for only the third time in history. Although it fell short of a record-breaking four in a row to kick start the draft, the class will be regarded as one of the best in recent times. It’s a tough act to follow. Nonetheless, there is a talented quarterback class ready and raring to go. Who are the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class?
Top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 1-5
These are my very early rankings of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class. The rankings are compiled from observations made while watching players in the 2021 class and early adventures into 2022 summer scouting. As such, they’ll be subject to change through the summer and 2021 college football season. However, it presents an early look at who should be the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
1) Sam Howell, North Carolina
Flashy as a freshman, Sam Howell shined in his sophomore season at North Carolina. He led the ACC in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and passing yards per attempt last year, to cement himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class. His 9.4 career yards per attempt are the highest in the conference since records began in 1956. That’s better than the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson, and Jameis Winston, who have all come out of the ACC in recent draft classes.
The former four-star recruit is no stranger to setting records. His 17,036 total yards for Sun Valley is a high school state record in North Carolina.
Although he was designated as a pro-style quarterback by recruiting sites, his ability to impact the game on the run has been apparent since his high school days. He combines mobility with arm strength to be an intriguing dual threat.
Additionally, Howell boasted one of the most accurate arms in college football last season, completing 68.1 percent of his passes. There are some inconsistencies to be ironed out, and he loses most of his supporting cast for this season, but there’s no reason to believe that Howell can’t challenge to be QB1 in this upcoming class.
2) Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Can Spencer Rattler become the latest product of the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback conveyor belt to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft? Head coach Lincoln Riley successfully turned transfer quarterbacks into Heisman Trophy winners, including Kyler Murray from Texas A&M. However, Rattler is the first recruit that Riley has been tasked with transforming from a highly talented high school player into a dominant college football quarterback.
A five-star recruit, who was the Elite 11 MVP, number one pro-style quarterback in the 2019 recruiting cycle, and the first-ever QB in Arizona to throw over 11,000 yards in high school, it’s fair to say that Rattler is an incredible talent.
He got off to a shaky start to his first season as the full-time starter, throwing 3 interceptions in a shock loss to Kansas State. Despite throwing 4 interceptions in the first three games, he rebounded, throwing just 3 for the rest of the 2020 season.
Rattler also averaged an impressive 9.6 yards per pass while throwing for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also found the end zone with his feet six times last season. Rattler has insane arm strength. If he proves to be more consistent this season, there’s a chance that he will be the top quarterback by the time we get to the 2022 NFL Draft.
3) Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Standing at 6’4″ and 215 pounds, Desmond Ridder has a prototypical frame that the NFL covets at the quarterback position. Of the quarterbacks in this ranking of the top 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks, only Phil Jurkovec out of Boston College stands taller. With this height, you’d expect Ridder to be a passer who sits in the pocket and slings the ball down the field. On the contrary, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Cincinnati quarterback was designated as an “athlete” coming out of high school. He’s demonstrated that athletic ability by becoming one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in college football when he takes off from out of the pocket.
Last season, Ridder rushed for 592 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, he was one of only 11 players in college football to make a rushing or receiving play for over 90 yards. Furthermore, he has 1,825 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns in his three-year Cincinnati career.
Ridder’s ability as a dual-threat led to him garnering early-round consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft. He opted to return to Cincinnati for another season where, if he can build on his consistency and accuracy as a passer, he can solidify himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
4) Kedon Slovis, USC
It’s easy to say that USC quarterback Kedon Slovis suffered a sophomore slump last season. After all, his average passing yards were down compared to the previous year. Additionally, he threw nearly as many interceptions in six games as he did in 12 during his freshman season.
However, let’s not forget that the Pac-12 was the conference that had the most disruption of all in 2020. Playing a will they, won’t they, Hokey Cokey that resulted in the fewest games played of all the Power Five conferences.
Slovis still led the conference in passing yards and touchdowns in 2020. This coming off of the back of a freshman season where he ousted another of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class in former five-star JT Daniels. As a freshman, Slovis threw for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns while displaying incredible accuracy with a 71.9 percent completion percentage.
The USC signal-caller has an excellent opportunity to carve his name into the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft over the next 12 months. The Trojans have an excellent wide receiver group this coming season, despite losing Amon-Ra St. Brown to the NFL.
5) Malik Willis, Liberty
If you’re looking for a Zach Wilson-esque rise from outside of the Power Five to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft then these next two players may provide you with the answers.
Although Malik Willis was a three-star recruit who spent his early college football career at Auburn, his rise to fame has come with the FBS independent Liberty Flames. Even then, he has ties to the upper echelons of college football with former Ole Miss and current Liberty head coach, Hugh Freeze.
After spending two years at Auburn, and a year on the sideline, Willis ignited the Flames as they became one of the hottest stories of the college football season. A true-dual threat, Willis threw for 2,250 yards at 9 yards per attempt with 20 touchdown passes. Furthermore, he rushed for 944 yards and an incredible 14 touchdowns.
Willis is the most productive quarterback on the ground of any in this list of the top 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks. He has the arm and mobility to succeed at the next level but must be more conscious of ball security.
People will look at a quarterback from Liberty and scoff at the level of competition. That would be incredibly ignorant given that the Flames beat ACC opponents in Virginia Tech and Syracuse while narrowly losing to NC State. Although his performance against the Wolfpack was subpar, Willis was responsible for over 300 total yards and 4 touchdowns in the win over Virginia Tech.
Top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 6-10
Which quarterbacks currently sit outside the top five but could catapult themselves higher in the 2022 NFL Draft with terrific seasons in 2021?
6) Carson Strong, Nevada
Nevada’s Carson Strong only sits behind Willis in these rankings due to his limited ability outside of the pocket. As the modern game transforms, teams value the ability to extend plays with athleticism. Willis has the distinct advantage in that regard while also having the arm to make plays.
Standing at 6’4″ and 215 pounds, Strong has the look of a prototypical pocket passer in the NFL. He could be a damn good one as well. Last season, he demonstrated his ability to make plays downfield while being accurate with it. The Nevada quarterback threw for 2,858 yards while averaging 8.1 yards per attempt and completing 70.1 percent of his passes. He also compiled an impressive 27:4 touchdown to interception ratio.
Strong has a genuine chance to improve his 2022 NFL Draft stock in the coming season. Strong demonstrated awareness in the pocket and arm strength last season. If he improves his accuracy — there were multiple examples of overthrows in the small sample of film studied — he can skyrocket his stock. Additionally, Nevada returns Strong’s favorite receiving target in Romeo Doubs. Their relationship will be pivotal to his success.
7) JT Daniels, Georgia
If this is the season that we finally see the best out of JT Daniels — other than his glorious mustache — then he could easily be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Injuries and uncertainty following his transfer to Georgia have hampered his career. The former five-star recruit and second-ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class has not yet lived up to his billing.
However, the back end of the 2020 season gave us a glimpse of his potential. Finally injury-free and in command of the Georgia offense as the true QB1, Daniels gave the Bulldogs an offensive identity that they lacked early on in the season while experimenting with multiple quarterbacks. Over the four games he played at the end of the year, Daniels threw for 1,231 yards, with 10 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Furthermore, he averaged 10.3 yards per attempt, equal to Howell.
The Bulldogs have an array of receiving weaponry despite losing George Pickens. This will give Daniels plenty of opportunities to air it out in Todd Monken’s offense. That should help him elevate his 2022 NFL Draft stock over the fall.
8) Matt Corral, Mississippi
Mississippi signal-caller Matt Corral is the ultimate wild card in this 2022 NFL Draft class. A former four-star recruit who was ranked as the fourth-best pro-style quarterback in the 2018 class, Corral suffered an uneven start to his career for the Rebels. He redshirted after four games in 2018 and then started four of 10 games in 2019. Although Corral led the team with 1,362 passing yards, he completed less than 60 percent of his passes.
Corral was reborn in 2020, however, with Lane Kiffin taking over as head coach for Ole Miss. Even though he started the season behind John Rhys Plumlee on the depth chart, Corral emerged as one of the most exciting quarterbacks in college football.
He threw for 3,337 yards, completing 70.9 percent of his passes while averaging 10.2 yards per play. Proving himself as a valuable dual-threat, Corral also rushed for 506 yards and 4 touchdowns.
One area that Corral will need to address if he is to be considered as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft class is turnovers. He had the highest amount of interceptions of any of the quarterbacks in these rankings last season. Furthermore, in his career, he has a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
9) Jayden Daniels, Arizona State
Another quarterback that was impacted by the disruption in the Pac-12 is Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels. In fact, Arizona State only played four games with Daniels at the wheel in 2020.
Much like Slovis, he saw a regression in his completion percentage and average yards per play. Nevertheless, the Sun Devils quarterback flashed his ability with his legs more in 2020, rushing for 4 touchdowns and averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
A four-star prospect out of Cajon High School, Daniels drew early comparisons to Deshaun Watson. Although he hasn’t realized that potential yet, a full season of competitive action in the Pac-12 should see him develop. While Daniels has the ability, he has a very slender frame at 6’3″ and 185 pounds. That may concern NFL teams as to whether he can hold himself or not when the hits get heavier.
10) Phil Jurkovec, Boston College
Boston College hasn’t had a quarterback prospect drafted to the NFL since Matt Ryan in 2008. They’ve been predominantly a run-focused offense in recent years. However, with a change in head coach, the 2020 season saw the emergence of an aerial attack on Chestnut Hill. Hunter Long was the focus of that passing offense and parlayed that performance into a selection in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Can the man who threw those passes break the quarterback draft drought for the Eagles?
Phil Jurkovec transferred to Boston College from Notre Dame and impressed immediately. The former four-star recruit threw for 2,558 yards with 17 touchdowns last season. Although his completion percentage is one of the lowest of the top 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks, Jurkovec has demonstrated the potential to make NFL caliber throws. At 6’5″ and 226 pounds, he is also built to be a pocket passer but with some deceptive running ability.
The Eagles return their entire starting offensive line for this season. Furthermore, they have one of the most explosive receivers in the nation in Zay Flowers. If Jurkovec and Flowers combine to their maximum potential, and they looked impressive in Boston College’s spring game, then there’s no reason to doubt that Jurkovec can be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.