MOBILE, AL — The first day of the 2022 Senior Bowl saw all eyes on the quarterbacks. With a bevy of throws through simulated action, we take a look at just how each quarterback fared through practice. Our Senior Bowl QB Power Rankings take into account how we’d rank each quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. With a bevy of NFL throws and action with an NFL football, we have a better glimpse at which quarterbacks may have the most success at the next level.
Senior Bowl QB Power Rankings: Day 1
It was a great day for one of the National Team quarterbacks. But it was equally as counterproductive for another.
1) Sam Howell, North Carolina
Arguably the best performance for any offensive player on the day went to Sam Howell. The North Carolina quarterback showcased arm strength and accuracy on multiple occasions. His throws were crisp and on time, while few were inaccurate or misplaced. Howell also showcased his ability to scan the field, read his receivers and coverage, and understand when throws are there or not.
Sometimes, his receivers didn’t help him out with untimely drops, but his accuracy was there. Howell was clean through the day and did his best to elevate the players around him. A couple more days like this from him, and he’ll firmly land back in that Day 1 conversation, if not land ultimately as the first QB taken from this group.
2) Carson Strong, Nevada
It was a great day for Carson Strong. The ball effortlessly left his hand and routinely found his receivers in places where they could make the play. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination as all the quarterbacks need to work on timing with this cast of receivers. Nevertheless, Strong easily had the best day of the National Team QBs.
He had great command over throws and even better strength on deep shots when given the time. Strong was impressive looking through his reads, albeit when there was no rush, finding open receivers with ease. There was maybe one or two overthrows or misses, but there were more than enough of those special balls that make you take notice.
3) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Sure, Kenny Pickett had a good day. But he also didn’t quite “wow” people like some thought he could. Pickett did, however, prove he belongs with an NFL football in his hands as he was seen slinging it to all levels of the field. He was great on out-breaking throws and showcased great timing with his underneath crossing routes.
The biggest discourse around Pickett was certainly his hand size measurements. Yet, he showcased enough power behind his throws that his measurements mean nothing after Day 1. He was great, save for a few underthrows and ill-timed shots. Regardless, those may be accredited to figuring out the timing between his receivers on the first day.
4) Malik Willis, Liberty
There was a fast start to Malik Willis‘ day in Mobile, and then he just started throwing fast — literally. Willis seemed rushed after a couple of drills. His accuracy started to suffer, as did his poise in the pocket. The arm talent is certainly not in question, nor his intangibles. However, he’ll need to settle in going forward if he wants to continue to impress.
Willis’ best attribute is using his legs to buy time and allow his receivers to get open. He thrived out of structure at Liberty this past season. With that out of the question here in Mobile, it’ll be imperative he can remain on script and showcase the ability to throw from a clean platform.
5) Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
While it wasn’t his finest performance, Bailey Zappe had one of the day’s best throws. On a sideline go route to Velus Jones Jr., Zappe hit the Tennessee receiver nearly 55 yards downfield in perfect stride. Zappe had a few more great shots to outside receivers and answered any questions about arm strength to the boundary.
Still, there were a few shots that fell short over the middle. You could argue that Zappe wouldn’t throw these flat shots in real game action as the linemen would require him to put more air on the ball. Nevertheless, short-hopping a few balls over the middle of the field was concerning.
6) Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
It wasn’t a pretty day for Desmond Ridder overall. He missed multiple shots in 1-on-1 drills. Additionally, Ridder also missed a few center-to-quarterback exchanges and quarterback-to-running-back handoffs as well.
It wasn’t quite the best day for ball security nor accuracy for Ridder, who’s been plagued by the latter in his career. There are some special traits in his arm, but the accuracy will need to improve throughout the week.
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