Who is QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft? Is Malik Willis closing in?

Who is QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft? It seems like a simple question, but identifying the top quarterback in 2022 is easier said than done.

Who is QB1 in the 2022 NFL Draft? The top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft is a hotly contested topic. That’s not going to change, even on a week-to-week basis. We’re not in the business of throwing around the QB1 mantle to anyone who has a breakout game, but we can analyze these fluctuations and see where things might be trending.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the notable quarterback performances from the previous week. Which of the top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft helped their stock? Which ones might have it? And what should we look for in Week 3 of the college football season?

Week 2 performances from top quarterbacks in 2022 NFL Draft

To gauge the 2022 NFL Draft QB1 race, let’s take a look at how some of the most notable quarterbacks played in Week 2 of the 2021 season.

Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell bounce back in 2022 QB1 race

This is why, while it’s important to document performances every week, we must keep things in perspective. Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell both struggled in their respective debuts, but it was only the first week of the season. Positive regression was likely, and we saw that on Saturday, albeit against inferior competition.

Rattler helped Oklahoma crush Western Carolina 76-0. In doing so, he looked much more comfortable than he had against Tulane. He still faded back in the pocket at times, but Rattler was crisp, quick with his decision-making, and terrific in terms of ball placement. His arm talent always pops, but that only makes it more stark when he’s comfortable and composed. He also showed off his mobility at times — an underrated part of his game.

Howell, meanwhile, put up numbers against Georgia State. He threw for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns while generating 104 yards and 2 scores on the ground. For Howell, structural improvements yielded individual growth. He had more time to get into a rhythm and looked more comfortable as the game went on. Howell made good decisions but also flung the ball downfield when he had the looks. His physical traits aren’t elite, but he has a strong arm nonetheless with solid baseline mobility.

Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Carson Strong make it too close to call

While Rattler and Howell both had good weeks, you could feasibly have at least five different QB1 options right now. Malik Willis, Matt Corral, and Carson Strong all looked exceptional in their Week 2 outings. Among all of the top 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks, the consistent theme is that they played less-than-stellar competition in Week 2. Even so, it’s good to see execution in optimal circumstances.

Willis and Corral, in particular, have two of the highest-upside skill sets in the entire 2022 NFL Draft. Both put those skill sets on display on Saturday. Although Willis only threw the ball 18 times, he was a steady 13-of-18 for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the ground, he provided 93 yards and a score as well. Willis showed off improved touch and accuracy from last year. That was one of the big issues in his game from 2020, so it’ll be a huge boost for his stock if he stays consistent there.

Corral, meanwhile, put up 5 touchdowns in a surgical display of passing. You love to see quarterbacks play fast, and Corral certainly does. He’s confident and decisive, and his passes carry a rare, unnatural zip. Accurate to all levels of the field, Corral has visibly toned down his volatility so far this season, and that was the only thing standing in the way of his ascension.

Then there’s Strong. Perhaps the steadiest of all the quarterbacks, Strong once again brought his A-game for Nevada. He’s a pocket passer, no doubt. But he brings many of the elements desired in such a QB, including good processing ability, ball placement, and poise.

Sleepers like Will Levis, Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett still making noise

There seems to be a safely-formed top five with any order of Rattler, Howell, Willis, Corral, and Strong. However, the 2022 NFL Draft QB1 conversation isn’t exclusive to them alone. Several sleepers had impressive weeks, including Will Levis, Desmond Ridder, and Kenny Pickett.

Statistically, Levis was the most underwhelming out of this group, but he still put up quality reps. There were times when Levis could’ve responded better to pressure — an issue visible in his Week 1 outing as well. Yet, Levis’ deep accuracy still awed. On his touchdown throw, he actively used his eyes to hold the safeties in the middle of the field, then fired to his open man in the flat. That quick development with his eye discipline is extremely promising, and it cultivates excitement for Levis’ future growth.

Pickett may not be a QB1 contender in the 2022 NFL Draft like Levis and Ridder, as he doesn’t quite have the elite traits. Nevertheless, Pickett is a solid prospect in his own right, and he doesn’t always get warranted respect. He’s one of the toughest players in college football, and he put Pittsburgh on his back last Saturday. With solid mobility and arm elasticity, he has a great off-script skill set. He may not be an NFL starter, but someone will be lucky to have him in their quarterback room.

Grayson McCall an under-the-radar name to watch

He may not declare, given that he’s only a redshirt sophomore. Nevertheless, Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall has been playing lights out, going all the way back to last year. McCall has been one of the driving forces in the Chanticleers’ success, but more than that, he’s also a legitimate NFL Draft prospect with high-end traits.

McCall’s accuracy impresses, as does his willingness to push the boundaries and take advantage of shots down the field. On top of his passing ability, McCall is also a stellar positional athlete and a tough competitor. If he keeps playing well, he may have to consider capitalizing on his stock and declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Coastal Carolina won’t have many particularly challenging opponents in 2021. So the opportunity is there for McCall to inflate his perception nationwide.

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Race to be QB1 in 2022 NFL Draft still open-ended

As expected, we don’t have too many definitive answers as to who 2022’s QB1 is after Week 2. Many of the quarterbacks in the running this week played subpar competition. Although execution is important no matter what, it means a little bit more when it’s amidst more adverse circumstances. That’s not something you can see against Western Carolina, Murray State, or Troy.

Week 2 was a positive week for many quarterbacks. But from an NFL Draft perspective, it was relatively stagnant. As we get farther down the schedule, however, these quarterbacks will start to encounter more obstacles. Through that process, we’ll get more valuable information. Thus, we may eventually be able to narrow down the 2022 QB1 candidates.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.

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