Who is QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft? The top 2022 quarterback remains elusive, and after Week 6, one of the top quarterback options may suddenly be sinking. There remains a great deal of uncertainty in the 2022 NFL Draft’s QB1 conversation — but that was always to be expected. With another week behind us, let’s take a look at what’s changed and what we can look forward to.
What happens to Spencer Rattler now?
If you weren’t watching the Red River Showdown — a ludicrous assumption, I know — then you didn’t see the news. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, widely regarded as a first-round prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft heading into this season, was benched.
After turning the ball over multiple times in the first half against Texas, Rattler was benched for true freshman Caleb Williams. Williams would go on to score 3 touchdowns, bringing the Sooners back from a 28-7 deficit. With Rattler benched, Oklahoma likely has one more win than they would have had. And all signs are pointing toward Williams keeping the starting job.
Seeing how Williams played against Texas, it’s hard to imagine him giving the job back to Rattler. Thus, there’s a real possibility that Rattler is benched for good. If that’s the case, Rattler’s first-round buzz may be all but gone. And his entire 2022 outlook may be in jeopardy.
Rattler remains a skilled quarterback, with some of the best natural arm talent in this class. And he didn’t quite get a fair shake this year; the Oklahoma supporting cast was never as good as it was expected to be. Still, there are now many more questions for Rattler.
His mechanical progression stagnated, and he never kicked his mental mistakes. Eyes will be on how he responds to his benching, especially after his showing on the Netflix show “QB1” raised character concerns.
Forget falling down the board — I don’t think Rattler should declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. Prospects need to sell their stock at a high point, and Rattler is at his lowest right now. Transfer, do some soul-searching, and reset with hopes of leading the 2023 class.
Matt Corral shows off talent in win against Arkansas
If I told you last year that the steadiest 2022 QB1 contender in 2021 would be Matt Corral, you would have called me insane. Corral threw 14 interceptions in 2020 — 11 of which came in just two games. He was known for his volatility, but this year, the script has flipped. Corral has yet to throw an interception in five games. And that steadiness has lent him a great deal of respect in the QB1 conversation.
Not only has Corral toned down his volatility, but he’s also relied on his physical talent in his brightest moments. Against Arkansas, the dangerous passer connected on 14 of 21 attempts for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also churned out 94 yards and 2 more touchdowns on the ground, leading Ole Miss to a 1-point victory.
Corral’s skills were on full display against Arkansas. As a passer, he used his elastic arm to hit windows downfield and hit receivers with pace. He also showed a calm presence in the pocket and quickly went through his progressions. As a runner, he flashed a tantalizing physicality on top of his athleticism and elusiveness. Without him, Ole Miss doesn’t win this game.
Still, some questions linger about Corral. There’s a chance his volatility could return, and the Ole Miss scheme certainly props him up a bit. Nevertheless, it’s important to scout the quarterback and not the offense. Corral has shown within the Rebels’ offense that he has the talent and the traits — both physical and mental — to be QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft.
NFL teams would do well to recognize that and insulate his traits the same way Ole Miss has done. Any franchise that chooses a QB should be prepared to make him comfortable and position him for success. That never changes.
Will Levis faces daunting yet lucrative opportunity
A few players have separated themselves at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft, namely Corral, Malik Willis, Carson Strong, and Sam Howell. But being in the QB1 conversation in a weaker 2022 class isn’t necessarily an accomplishment. The top-four options are all very much prone to scrutiny, and a late breakout from a high-upside player like Will Levis could shake things up.
After transferring from Penn State to Kentucky, Levis was pinpointed as a potential sleeper early in the process. He started the season on a hot note, throwing for 367 yards and 4 touchdowns on almost 70% completion. Lately, however, he’s been tumultuous, throwing for just 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in the five games since. Overall, Levis has completed 87 of 135 passes (64.4%) for 1,134 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. He’s also run for 163 yards and 3 additional scores.
Levis’ regression after his strong start was disappointing but not a surprise. Levis came into the season with just 102 career attempts. His starting experience is minimal. Thus, there was always going to be an acclimation period.
Levis bounced back against LSU, throwing for 3 touchdowns on 17 attempts. He was more of a distributor than anything but at least stayed composed and consistent within structure. He also started to use his legs more. Those are big developments.
This week presents Levis with his biggest test in 2021 — the vaunted Georgia defense. Levis has the physical talent to be a top quarterback in the 2022 class. But he can still strive for more consistency in both structure and responding to pressure. Look for that poise and congruence from Levis against the Bulldogs. If he shows that, and if he gives Kentucky a fighting chance, his stock could rise.
Could Casey Thompson become a 2022 NFL Draft QB1 option?
There have been a few risers in the ranks. But overall, there’s still room for a new signal-caller to emerge and take up real estate as one of 2022’s top quarterbacks. After his Week 6 performance, it has to be asked — can that signal-caller be Texas QB Casey Thompson?
We shouldn’t make Thompson out as a top quarterback “just because.” But Thompson has shown promise for the Longhorns this year.
After taking the starting job from Hudson Card, Thompson has completed 74 of 110 passes (67.3%) for 1,095 yards, 14 scores, and just 3 picks. Already a redshirt junior, it took Thompson some time to earn his chance. But now, he’s delivering on that opportunity.
Thompson clearly has talent. He has the arm to push the ball downfield and some off-script and navigation ability in the pocket. He can still refine his mechanics, but Thompson’s ball placement was impressive at times against Oklahoma. Also impressive were his competitive toughness and resolve. He left everything on the field.
In the words of Thompson himself: “There’s no way I was gonna let anything take me out of this game — until they carted me off.”
Volume is the key for Thompson. Even now, he only has 139 career passing attempts. Much like Levis, he’s a talented player who waited longer to get his chance. Now that he has it, though, he’s making himself known. With a strong finish to the year, he could feasibly enter the discussion as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
And in Steve Sarkisian’s offense, with the weapons he has, that’s absolutely possible. Keep a watchful eye on Thompson. He might not be going away.