2022 NFL QB Mock Draft: Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell land in Round 1

Of all 262 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, only 10 of them are QBs in our most recent quarterback-only 2022 NFL QB Mock Draft.

When it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft QB class and their mock landing spots, it’s all about finding the rhythm between lofty expectations and negative conjecture. For our latest iteration of a 2022 NFL QB Mock Draft, the high road was taken. Given the importance of the position, some coaching staffs may not have the time or leeway to hope for a bridge quarterback to surpass expectations or wait for the 2023 QB class.

Here’s what I would do as general manager of each of the 32 NFL teams. Who grabs a quarterback first and how that incites a QB run could foreshadow what actually happens in the 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL QB Mock Draft: Quarterbacks finding new homes

This is what I would do as the GM of all 32 NFL teams. Some teams will pass up a quarterback first, while others may reach. It’s all about team needs and the projected longevity of the coaching staff.

Round 1, Pick 2 | Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, Liberty

The Detroit Lions need an answer at quarterback. Jared Goff can play — at the very least — average football in 2022 while serving as a mentor for another highly drafted quarterback, so Malik Willis makes sense as the pick at No. 2. Willis’ upside is the best in the class, but he may be a season away from winning games as a starting quarterback.

As such, if this rebuilt team can provide Goff with some positive play, the Lions can compete in most games in 2022 before he gives way to Willis and his contract comes off the books via a potential out next offseason. The worst-case scenario here is Goff plays well enough to win games and becomes a tradeable asset before giving way to Willis in 2023.

Either way, there’s hope around the franchise and Dan Campbell as a head coach with Willis in the building with the second overall pick.

Round 1, Pick 6 | Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Current Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule needs to win to keep his job. So, who is the most NFL-ready QB in the 2022 NFL Draft? It’s Kenny Pickett by a long shot. Pickett is a tremendous athlete, a better leader, and has more than enough arm talent to win games with the Panthers’ roster.

After betting on himself in Year 5 at Pitt, Pickett wowed viewers this year. He also impressed NFL teams both on the field and during the pre-draft process. After settling the dilemma on his hand size, Pickett has more than shown he is capable of slinging the NFL ball with ease. He’ll lead the Panthers to new heights in the Rhule era.

Round 1, Pick 11 | Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, North Carolina

There is a lot to contemplate about Sam Howell after the 2021 season. There is even more to consider regarding a player like LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Both Howell and Stingley had seasons proving they were potential top picks at their positions. Stingley hasn’t reached his potential shown during the 2019 campaign in over two years. On the other hand, Howell had a dominant 2020 season before taking a minor step back in 2021. So, why is there negativity surrounding Howell but not Stingley?

Frankly, the negativity around Howell is unjust. He was asked to run the ball more in 2021. There were quick reads, and the progressive nature of the system clearly had him running more than he should have. Still, he easily topped 3,000 passing yards and set UNC records in the process. Howell has every throw in his bag and has this QB draft class‘ best deep ball. The Washington Commanders have speed outside, and Howell is an upgrade over Carson Wentz.

Round 1, Pick 19 | Seattle Seahawks (mock trade from PHI via NO): Matt Corral, Ole Miss

A trade. That’s right — this is a 2022 NFL QB Mock Draft with trades. In this scenario, the New Orleans Saints moved their two first-round picks to acquire pick No. 9 from the Seattle Seahawks, giving Seattle those two first-round selections. Seattle then grabs Matt Corral at pick No. 19. He’ll need a year or two to get his game on pace with an NFL offense, but Drew Lock is in place to serve as the starting quarterback until Corral is ready.

Corral thrives under pressure and can unleash pinpoint, accurate passes from any platform. He’ll buy time with his legs and pocket mobility while always looking to pass first. Corral is a dominant athlete who uses his athleticism to his advantage from a throw-first stance. Seattle could hit a home run if he grabs the offense sooner than later.

Round 2, Pick 42 | Indianapolis Colts (from WAS): Carson Strong, Nevada

Matt Ryan is in the fold for two more seasons, albeit at a $21.7 million cap hit in 2023. And if we’re being honest, that may present an ideal scenario for a player like Carson Strong. Given that Strong may need knee surgery to repair an old injury and thus be required to sit out a sizeable portion of time at the start of his NFL career, Ryan’s presence allows the Indianapolis Colts to secure Strong’s services while preparing him for the future.

It’s not “sexy” to pick a player you aren’t even planning to play for two years, but this is the nature of the business. The Colts have the roster to compete in the AFC South this season. They’re built to be the division leaders this year and for the next few seasons. Strong taking over for Ryan after two years under his tutelage gives Indy a potential seamless transition from one big-armed signal-caller to another.

Round 2, Pick 52 | Pittsburgh Steelers: Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Some may have a first-round grade on Desmond Ridder, but fortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they secure him in the second round in this 2022 NFL QB Mock Draft. As this is what I would do as the general manager of each team, the Steelers passed on the available quarterback options in the first round, as four were already off the board ahead of their pick at No. 20.

The Steelers stand pat and hold onto their hopes of Ridder sliding to them at 52. Ridder has accuracy issues, but he is a documented winner. He also has a cannon for an arm and plenty of athleticism to rely on in trouble spots. If the Steelers’ coaching staff can maximize his athletic abilities while harnessing his shortcomings as a passer, they could win some games. Ridder may not be the answer to their quarterback position like Ben Roethlisberger was for the better part of the past two decades, but he’s a sizeable upgrade over what Mitchell Trubisky has shown in the NFL.

Round 4, Pick 133 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

This is all about projecting to the future. And frankly, I’d start Bailey Zappe over Kyle Trask any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Zappe is a true slinger of the football who presents an amazing body of work. He’s revolutionized the way we evaluate Air Raid quarterbacks. Zappe also wins you over off the field while leading the team. He has the arm strength to hit every level of the field and an understanding of the game of football similar to Mac Jones.

Round 5, Pick 161 | New Orleans Saints: Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan

The New Orleans Saints will need a serviceable backup for Jameis Winston in 2023 and beyond after Andy Dalton’s one-year contract expires. We’ve realized Ian Book isn’t the answer behind Winston, and we understand the Taysom Hill experiment didn’t pan out as a true quarterback. Kaleb Eleby enters the fold with the potential to win the backup job and be counted upon if he has to enter the lineup.

He’s a great passer with more than enough strength to find every level of the field. Eleby struggles at times with pressure in his face, but in a quick passing offense like the Saints, he could flourish if pressed into action.

Round 7, Pick 253 | Los Angeles Rams: EJ Perry, Brown

Matthew Stafford just led the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory. But behind Stafford, the Rams need some help. EJ Perry is a coach’s kid with a winning attitude. He’ll do what it takes to win games and win over the locker room. Oh, and Perry is freakishly athletic. He makes every throw despite his smaller stature and will absolutely do everything he can to fight for every yard and every inch. He’s a player every NFL team will want on their roster.

Round 7, Pick 262 | San Francisco 49ers: Brock Purdy, Iowa State

Mr. Irrelevant is a quarterback for the first time since 2017 as Brock Purdy heads to the San Francisco 49ers in this 2022 NFL QB Mock Draft. Purdy was considered a potential early NFL Draft pick and future signal-caller at one point. Yet, he never elevated his game in subsequent years at Iowa State. There’s talent there for him to potentially be an NFL starter, but he’ll have to showcase that ability to elevate his game and the talent surrounding him in his first years in the NFL.

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