Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft: Kenny Pickett continues his ascension to the top

Kenny Pickett continues his ascension as Matt Corral maintains the top spot among the top 10 quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The race for the top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft is still ongoing and heating up. Even after 11 weeks of football, no one signal-caller has grasped the coveted QB1 spot in this year’s draft class. Despite that, the Pro Football Network team has come up with our consensus top 10 quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 6-10

While our list of consensus top 10 QBs is by no means an indication of who will be drafted or the order in which they’ll be selected, it reflects how comfortable we are with these players’ skill sets at the next level.

10) Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Falling just a bit from our last iteration, Desmond Ridder still cracks the top 10. It’s true that Ridder has a ton of talent in both his arm and legs. But it’s also becoming more and more apparent that his accuracy issues are a long way from being corrected. Ridder’s accuracy over the middle of the field will continue to be in question through April.

There have also been some ball security issues in 2021 as well. The fumble against Tulsa on a QB sneak is too much to overlook. Yet, the Bearcats signal-caller simply wins ball games. Cincinnati is 10-0 and looking to become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff.

Ridder has completed 65.9% of his passes this season as he’s on pace to set a new career-high of 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Ridder is a great college quarterback with some translatable skills to the NFL level. His accuracy, or inaccuracy, however, will scare some teams off as that is not coachable.

9) Jake Haener, Fresno State

Staying put at No. 9 on these rankings, Jake Haener has done enough to warrant a crack at postseason All-Star games and the NFL Combine. He’s a big-armed thrower of the football with accuracy for days.

He’ll trust his arm a bit too much and try to squeeze balls into tight windows too often. Nevertheless, those have led to multiple “wow” moments.

Haener’s arm strength is great, and his footwork in the pocket is terrific. He can drive the ball with his body and has enough strength to make any throw from almost any angle. Haener will have some growing to do in multiple areas, but he has arm talent in spades.

Currently sixth in the country with 3,467 passing yards, Haener has set all-new career-highs in every major passing category. Perhaps the best attribute about the Fresno State QB is the fact that he’s only begun to scratch the surface of his talent.

8) Will Levis, Kentucky

Speaking of scratching the surface, Will Levis makes his first appearance on our top 10 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks after an emergent season for the Wildcats. Levis has an ease about his throws, effortlessly hitting deep shot after deep shot. He’s emerged onto the scene with 19 touchdowns and a 65.6% completion percentage through 10 games.

Levis does have consistency issues as no quarterback is ever a perfect prospect. He struggles a bit with down-to-down accuracy and finding his receivers on secondary and tertiary reads. He’s got a knack for finding his receivers on crossing routes underneath but also has shown a lack of arm strength on out-breaking routes.

Still, Levis has made Kentucky’s offense something it hasn’t been in years: fun to watch. He’s far from a perfect prospect, but the tools and traits in his arm are intriguing enough at this point.

7) Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan

Kaleb Eleby‘s fall continues as he hasn’t shown much growth in his game to this point. He’s failed to elevate the Broncos this season and has thrown 16 touchdowns against 5 interceptions. Regardless, Eleby has a win over Pittsburgh and Kenny Pickett under his belt, throwing for 337 yards and 3 TDs against the Panthers earlier this season.

Eleby’s anticipatory throws are next level, as is his arm strength. Still, he’s been late to some throws and early to leave the pocket at times. For a big-armed thrower, Eleby’s measurements in the postseason cycle will be crucial, as will his ability to showcase NFL throws and hit every level of the field.

6) Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

Making his debut on our top 10 QBs list, Bailey Zappe has informed the world that we must change how we evaluate Air Raid quarterbacks. Zappe is transcending the Air Raid offense in a vein similar to how everyone thought USC’s Kedon Slovis could. He’s throwing with great anticipation and great zip. He’ll dot the field with perfectly-placed balls to every level.

Zappe also has the arm talent to layer his throws over zone defenders and the power to drive his throws past man coverage. He may lock on to one receiver at times, but in the WKU offense, it’s hard to blame him. Zappe currently leads the country with 4,170 passing yards and 42 touchdowns against just 7 interceptions.

Making the best use of the transfer portal, Zappe has earned himself a Senior Bowl invite and maximized his next-level potential in his lone season with the Hilltoppers.

Top 10 Quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft | 1-5

Who has taken the lead in the race to be the first quarterback drafted next April? While all five of these QBs have showcased immense talent, they are in varying ranges when it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft.

5) Malik Willis, Liberty

Falling from No. 4 on this list, Malik Willis has had to be Superman for the Flames in 2021. That hasn’t meant victories, but it has by no means hurt his draft stock too much.

He’ll be surrounded by much better talent on any NFL roster, and as such, he’ll be able to showcase his elite arm strength. Willis is a talented dual-threat, but he’s also developed immensely as a passer over the past two seasons.

Willis is on pace to set new career-highs in passing yards. He’s already broken his previous high of 20 passing touchdowns with 21 this season. Willis is a dynamic rusher, but he doesn’t just pull the football and scramble on every play. He maintains great eye discipline and keeps his momentum moving forward more often than not.

Like the other prospects here, Willis is far from perfect, but he has tremendous potential based solely on his arm strength. Mix in his dual-threat ability, and you’re sure to see an NFL offensive scheme that’s built around him in the future.

4) Carson Strong, Nevada

With no arm better in the 2022 NFL Draft class, Carson Strong stands alone. His arm, however, is far from just the “strongest” in the class. He has tremendous power and drive as well as a great throwing motion. The Nevada offense does him no favors. Yet, Strong has thrown for 3,547 passing yards and 28 touchdowns this year.

It’s become a usual occasion to see him perfectly splitting defenders in zone coverage or throwing a streaking receiver open down the sidelines. Unlike other quarterbacks in recent memory, Strong’s highlight-reel 60-plus-yard passes are all from his arm instead of yards after the catch.

His lack of mobility doesn’t move the needle for us here, as plenty of quarterbacks have seen success with similar athleticism. In fact, Strong is still a better athlete than given credit for and has terrific knowledge of how to build a pocket on his own.

3) Sam Howell, North Carolina

Sam Howell had a rough start to the 2021 season, and things got worse before they got better. Nevertheless, he’s rebounded quite nicely and is throwing the football tremendously well once again. He outdueled Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman recently and has found his groove. Howell has thrown for 2,704 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and only 5 picks since a 3-interception performance to start the year.

Howell has shown he’s quite the runner as well, totaling 717 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. That may be a detriment, however, as he’s taken some punishment this year. But it’s also shown that he’s a capable leader, and there’s no denying his moxie. From an intangible view, Howell has all the throws and a ton of platforms to launch from.

He can hit receivers across the hashes and has displayed enough touch on his throws to beat any type of coverage. Of all the throws from these quarterbacks on this top 10 list, Howell’s name is definitely spotted across the top.

2) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett‘s rapid ascension isn’t quite done yet. He’s dominating the action and is currently the top quarterback in our College QB Rankings. When it comes to NFL projection, however, he’ll have to weather the ever-important “hand measurement” during postseason All-Star and NFL Combine periods. If you look at his ability on the field, his hand size shouldn’t matter. He clearly hasn’t had any ball security issues and can spin the football with ease.

There are few that have his mileage, as the fifth-year player has gone the distance for Pittsburgh. Still, Pickett has continually developed over his five seasons and has capped it off with one of the better college football passing seasons we’ve seen in some time. His rise is certainly similar to that of Joe Burrow or Zach Wilson of the past two draft classes.

1) Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Matt Corral‘s athletic profile is unlike most quarterbacks. He’s got terrific arm strength and even better mobility. Despite 126 carries, 10 touchdowns, and 523 rushing yards, Corral is hardly labeled as a dual-threat QB. But that speaks to how talented he is as a passer.

Corral can make every throw on the football field but has excelled when it comes to NFL throws. He’ll dot the intermediate level of the field with ease and stretch defenses with accurate and timely deep shots. His down-for-down consistency is next level, as is his poise. The offense is friendly for him, but he’s ascended outside of Lane Kiffin’s system.

Corral is the cream of the crop right now as he’s thrown 17 touchdowns against just 2 interceptions. Few defenses have been able to figure him out, and the Rebels QB should continue to be in the conversation for QB1 as the season comes to a close.

Honorable Mention

  • Hendon Hooker, Virginia Tech
  • Phil Jurkovec, Boston College
  • Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
  • Sam Hartman, Wake Forest

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of NFL News/Analysis for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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