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In the big B/R chart heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, there are seven quarterbacks in the top 150. That’s exactly as many as there were in 2021.
The big difference?
Last year, four quarterbacks were ranked in the top 10 and had ratings of 8.7 (immediate impact prospect/NFL starter) or higher. Two – Justin Fields of Ohio State and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson – had ratings above 90, with All-Pro as the floor and the Hall of Fame as the ceiling.
This year, not a single QB is among the top 10 ranked players in this class. B/R scouts No. 1 QB prospect Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati is ranked 17th overall; the next, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, doesn’t appear on the board until No. 43.
The rest of the quarterbacks who made it to the top 150 players in the class this year rank as follows: Matt Corral of Ole Miss at No. 82, Malik Willis of Liberty at No. 87, Sam Howell of Carolina North at No. 92, Nevada Strong’s Carson at No. 93, and Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe at No. 107.
Additionally, no quarterback in this class has earned a 9.0 rating (top-10 hopeful) from B/R NFL Scout Nate Tice. QB1 Ridder scores an 8.4 (freshman starter/first or second round finisher). All other prospects are rated between 7.7 (potential impact player/second round) and 6.8 (potential role player/fourth round).
All that to say, there is a prospect in this class – Ridder – who could be considered a future franchise quarterback, with the talent and potential to start his rookie season if need be.
In all likelihood, every other quarterback in this class is best suited to be an NFL backup.
But because there are so many teams that need QBs in 2022 — and so few callers likely to land in the trade market eventually — those players are going to be drafted higher than they should. being and have unfair expectations pinned on them as a result.
We live in a golden age of young quarterback prospects.
Five quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round in 2021, including three in the first three selections.
Four were drafted in the first round in 2020; No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is currently preparing to play in Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI.
Fourteen other quarterbacks were drafted in the top 10 selections over the previous five years.
With all that talent coming from college football in recent seasons, the well had to dry up at some point.
That doesn’t take away from QB class this season before they even had a chance to prove themselves on the court.
But the many teams that could be seen as needing QBs this offseason are struggling.
What are these teams, exactly? Let’s get to know order project.
The Houston Texans have a tougher quarterback situation than any other team in the league. Not only will they only have one quarterback who isn’t Deshaun Watson actively under contract when the league’s new year begins March 16 at Davis Mills, but they’ll have to figure out what to do with Watson.
Watson has not dressed for the entire 2021 season as allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by 22 women are under investigation. The ongoing legal process, of course, has also made it untradeable.
Before the legal action against him began, Watson had demanded a trade from the team. It seems likely he won’t play another for the Texans, but his presence on the roster prevents them from making a future call. Mills may be the QB of the future, but the Texans need a veteran who can push him through training camp or provide roster depth. This makes the freelance agency market an obvious choice for Houston.
The two quarterbacks in the New York Jets roster behind Zach Wilson are slated to become free agents in March. The Jets are in a better position than most teams on this list in that they have a clear starter Wilson, but they will still need depth in their QB room.
The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, don’t have a clear path to follow in this position.
Cam Newton was cut and then re-signed and is now an impending free agent. Sam Darnold is under contract for one more season, but unless he can wow Carolina in 2022 with an improvement from his 2021 campaign of 243 completions, 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions, he won’t. doesn’t seem to have the car keys.
The Matt Ryan era is almost over for the Atlanta Falcons; he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2024, but the team has potential in 2022, which should save $23.8 million in cap space if they cut or trade him after June 1. AJ McCarron and Josh Rosen will become free agents in March.
In Denver, the only quarterback the Broncos will have under contract in the league’s new year is 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock, whose rookie contract is set to expire in 2023.
Aric DiLalla @AricDiLalla
George Paton on the process of selecting a QB to fit the Broncos’ roster: ‘If we don’t think the draft class is very good, we’ll probably try to go heavy in free agency or the commercial market. But I think there are some talented guys in that rookie class, so we’re going to weigh that.” https://t.co/Mu7NLVwVm9
Denver just signed Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett this offseason and is a consistent trade destination for Aaron Rodgers, but it’s not a foolproof plan; Rodgers could return to the Packers or retire completely this offseason.
Jimmy Garoppolo and Russell Wilson are also frequently embroiled in trade rumors, but again, that can’t be a plan A for either team.
Other teams that could be seen as needing QBs are Washington Commanders, who have three callers (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Garrett Gilbert and Kyle Allen) slated to become free agents, which would leave only Taylor Heinicke under contract, as well than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Tom Brady finally announcing his retirement.
Mason Rudolph is currently the only Pittsburgh Steeler with an active contract beyond 2022, so this team will also need depth.
Among those teams, some have players who can start in 2022 but need a backup or training camp competition. Some of these players, like Mills, Wilson and Lock, could to be the guy going forward, but this coming season is crucial to understanding that.
On the other hand, the Bucs and maybe the Panthers need to acquire a player who can start games now, and this draft class is not the one for that. Those could be the teams drafting Ridder, the only QB in this class who could be ready to start in his rookie season after sitting out for six months.
But none of the other prospects in this year’s promotion are likely to provide immediate help to those clubs.
Teams on this list looking for a new perspective to build their offense, like the Bucs, Panthers and Steelers, must bide their time until Bryce Young and CJ Stroud enter the draft in 2023.
But others who simply need depth should use free agency rather than the draft to provide the help they need for this upcoming season.
If you were starting an NFL franchise today, you wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the options that should be available: Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Newton, Tyrod Taylor, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, Mitchell Trubisky.
However, for teams that potentially only need short-term help or training camp competition for young callers, the jury is still out, more experienced players such as Fitzpatrick or Dalton make sense. Both over 30 years old, they won’t break the bank as short term rentals.
For teams that don’t have a potential future cornerstone of the franchise on the roster, seeing if in-between players like Taylor, Bridgewater, Mariota, or Trubisky might be more successful in their systems than in their previous stops is a interesting value exercise that also should not involve multi-year contracts for tens of millions.
None of this is to say that any of these teams, or any other franchise not mentioned here with an aging starter, won’t tempt Pickett or Willis if they think they could become a multi-year starter down the road.
But this offseason, teams can use these free agent veterans for exactly what they are: a one-year bridge until the 2023 draft.
Active NFL team contracts via Spotrac.