The 2021 NFL Draft is over and teams are getting comfortable with their new draft picks. The next class of players is getting prepared now for another year of college football. Each position will be analyzed in the coming days. Here is the 2022 NFL Draft prospect watchlist: Quarterbacks.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss Rebels
Corral played four games as a freshman, but still redshirted. He then split time as a redshirt freshman. Lane Kiffin made him more of a full-time starter during the 2020 season. In 2020, he passed for 3,337 yards, 29 touchdowns, 14 interceptions on 70.9 percent completion. Ole Miss was able to go 5-5 on the season with Corral leading the way under center.
There may not be a more volatile prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft class than Corral. He is small, but has an NFL-level arm. His completion percentage is high, but he makes some really bad decisions. When he is at his best, he can carry his team with his good play. During the times he is bad, his team will lose because he turns the ball over. If he can find a way to be more consistently good in 2021, teams will love his arm.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State Sun Devils
For the last two seasons, Daniels has started for Arizona State. He started as a freshman and produced with 2,943 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions on 60.7 percent completion. The Sun Devils won eight games that season. They were only able to play four games in 2020, going 2-2. Daniels had 701 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception on 58.3 percent completion.
Daniels has good mobility and can extend plays outside of the pocket, all while keeping his eyes downfield. He has also shown his ability to protect the football, as he has only thrown for three interceptions. Daniels has some limitations with his accuracy and arm strength. If he can improve in these areas in 2021, and possiblu add some weight to his rail-thin frame, Daniels could be selected early in 2022.
JT Daniels, Georgia Bulldogs
Daniels started off his promising career at USC. As a freshman, he passed for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on 59.5 percent completion. After starting the year as the starter when he was a sophomore, Daniels had a knee injury. Following the season, he transferred to Georgia. He was able to play in four games in 2020 after recovering from his knee injury. Daniels threw for 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions on 67.2 percent completion.
It appears as if Daniels is fully recovered from his ACL injury now. He has shown good arm talent and is at his best when he gets the ball out of his hand quickly. In the Peach Bowl against Cincinnati, he had some nice deep balls and fit some passes nicely in between zone coverage. His decision-making needs to continue improve, as he puts the ball in harm’s way too much, and he’ll have to improve on how he handles pressure. With a big season at Georgia in 2021, Daniels could hear his name called first by the commissioner in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Sam Howell, North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina wasted no time utilizing Howell’s talents, as they started him as a freshman. He passed for 3,641 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 61.4 percent completion in his first season. In 2020, he totaled 3,586 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 68.1 percent completion. His play has been a huge reason why North Carolina has been able to take the program to an Orange Bowl a few seasons following a losing record.
Howell has great short-area accuracy and is most effective when he gets the ball out of his hand quickly. He can carve up defenses doing it this way, especially when he operates off of RPOs. His ball placement to the intermediate and deep parts of the field can improve. He will also want to work on making more full-field reads in 2021, which won’t be easy with the way North Carolina’s offense operates. Howell has the experience and improving in these areas can make him a first round pick.
Phil Jurkovec, Boston College Eagles
After being a backup at Notre Dame for two seasons, Jurkovec decided to transfer to Boston College. He took over the starting quarterback role in 2020. Jurkovec passed for 2,558 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions on 61 percent compleiton. His play helped the Eagles go 6-5.
There are times when Jurkovec looks like a future franchise quarterback and times where he looks lost. He has good size and a good arm to start with. When he is playing well, he has great pocket presence and can find receivers downfield. In Jurkovec’s bad reps, he doesn’t go past his first read and his ball placement is off. If he can play more consistently in 2021, he is another potential first round draft pick.
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma Sooners
Rattler was a coveted quarterback recruit out of Arizona, who decided to attend Oklahoma and follow in their budding line of Heisman Trophy winners and top draft picks at the position. In his first year on campus, he sat behind Jalen Hurts. and redshirted. He improved as the season went on in 2020, finishing with 3,031 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 67.5 percent completion. Rattler’s play helped Oklahoma win the Cotton Bowl.
The strengths are apparent for Rattler, who has an NFL-level arm and athleticism to go with it. To solidify his stock for the 2022 NFL Draft, he has to cut down on his interceptions (which he did late in his redshirt freshman campaign), have more consistent accuracy down the field and improve his touch. He did take a lot of shots downfield last season and could really make the offense more explosive if he hits on more of those. A big year could be in store for the Sooners and Rattler could be the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft class.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati Bearcats
Luke Fickell and Desmond Ridder have elevated the Cincinnati football program over the last few seasons. Ridder passed for 2,445 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions on 62.4 percent completion. He struggled more as a sophomore, finishing the season with 2,164 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 55.1 percent completion. Ridder improved as a junior with 2,296 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions on 66.2 percent completion. He helped the Bearcats go undefeated until they lost to Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
To some, it may be a surprise that Ridder didn’t declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. He had vastly improved his accuracy and decision-making from the year before, which were some of the knocks on his game. Ridder does have solid arm strength and is mobile. If he can work through his progressions and have another season like he did in 2020 for the upcoming college football season, Ridder may be a first round pick.
Kedon Slovis, USC
Slovis filled in for the injured JT Daniels as a freshman and didn’t look back. He passed for 3,502 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 71.9 percent completion. In just six games during 2020, Slovis passed for 1,921 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 67 percent completion. He helped lead the Trojans to a Pac-12 Championship Game appearance in 2020, but they fell to Oregon.
When Slovis is given time, he displays good accuracy to the short and intermediate areas of the field. He has produced over two seasons, but needs to take a step forward in 2021 if he wants to be drafted highly. Slovis doesn’t have great athleticism and he is impacted by pressure too much. His arm strength is far from elite. He’ll also need to process faster in 2021. If he can improve his processing speed and how he handles pressure, Slovis can be a first round pick in 2022.
Carson Strong, Nevada Wolf Pack
Strong may not get many eyes on him while playing in the Mountain West, but he has played well enough to insert himself into the talk about quarterback prospects. He redshirted his first year on campus and then started as a redshirt freshman. In 2019, Strong passed for 2,335 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 63.4 percent completion. The Wolf Pack went 7-6 that season and followed it up with a 7-2 record in 2020. Strong had a nice season with 2,858 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions on 70.1 percent completion.
Strong has the build of an NFL quarterback at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. He has shown good accuracy to all areas of the field and could have a really efficient 2021 season. With leading receiver Romeo Doubs back, Strong will have plenty of opportunities to show off his deep ball. Strong has great accuracy, protects the football and has solid arm strength. He doesn’t have great mobility and hasn’t had the chance to play a lot of games against great competition yet. If he can prove to go through his progressions in 2021, he could be the first quarterback off the board.
Malik Willis, Liberty Flames
Willis started his career off at Auburn where he was a backup. He then decided to transfer to Liberty and join Hugh Freeze’s team. In 2020 as the starting quarterback, Willis threw for 2,250 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions on 64.2 percent completion. He also rushed for 944 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Flames won 10 games. While playing at Liberty doesn’t usually get players a lot of buzz, Willis played against solid competition and faired well. The Flames defeated Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Coastal Carolina. He did struggle against NC State, which was the only loss of the season for Liberty.
Out of all the possible early selections at quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, Willis is the most athletic. He provides a dual-threat who can be used on designed runs. His athleticism also allows him to extend plays. That, paired with his big arm, makes him an intriguing prospect. There are some negatives to his game though, as he can hold the ball too long looking to make a play. He also needs to work on making full-field reads and being more consistent with his accuracy.
Other Prospects to Watch
Dillon Gabriel, UCF- Gabriel has a good enough arm, but the lefty will need to be more accurate this season.
D’Eriq King, Miami- The mobility is there, but he doesn’t have a great arm and needs to continue to work on his accuracy.
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina- McCall can run and throw it well, but doesn’t get the opportunity to play many great defenses. He’ll be just a redshirt sophomore this college football season and has plenty of room to grow.
Michael Penix Jr., Indiana- Penix has mobility and decent accuracy (at least in 2019), but has struggled with injuries throughout his college career.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State- Before the 2020 season, Purdy was hyped up as a possible first round pick. Things didn’t play out that way, but he is back on a good Iowa State team.
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