There is one QB in this class that many have as #1, but he isn't in my top 5...
I can't help it.
Every year, I get excited about the NFL Draft - specifically the QB situation.
I played quarterback in college after spending the first 18 years of my life dreaming of what getting drafted into the NFL would be like. I have studied masterminds like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as a fan, player, and coach. We are all wondering who is going to be the next to reach that conversation. Whoever is next will start their journey in the NFL Draft.
In years past, I have made a YouTube series focusing on each of my top QB prospects. You can see last year's series here. My life has been a little more complicated this year, as we are moving and I am coaching my son's little league team. So instead of a YouTube series, we are going to have a series of articles.
In this article, I will highlight my honorable mentions.
The next five articles will be about each of my top 5 quarterbacks in this class.
This year's class is much less talented (at least at this point) than last year's class.
To be honest, I don't know that ANY of these quarterbacks are ready to start in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
Regardless, there are teams with needs and first round picks to spend.
I am a QB nerd.
When talking about Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks (now a Falcon), I talked about the stats that I track for each QB prospect. It ends up being a lot of work, but I love it. Numbers and football are some of my favorite thing. Throw in a few spreadsheets and I am having a good time. I looked 21 quarterbacks who are eligible for this year's draft.
You will be shocked when you find out who came in DEAD LAST.
2022 Honorable Mentions
I do not claim to be an expert on the quarterback position or in analyzing NFL Draft Prospects. All of my research is based on stats that I felt were important as a quarterback in college. Clearly, none of those are a factor in this year's QB Draft class, as the player who ranked dead last in my formulas is ranked #1 on many analyst's QB boards. I will gladly admit that this guy may have the highest ceiling due to his athletic ability and arm strength, but I have not seen nearly enough production through his college career to consider Malik Willis a 1st round Draft pick, let alone the best QB in this class. He is outside of my top 5.
Before you laugh too hard, recognize some facts. Out of the 21 QBs I looked at, Malik Wills ranked:
-21st in completion %
-21st in sacks/pass attempts
-19th in TD/INT
-16th in ESPN Passer Rating
He was sacked more than any QB eligible for the 2022 Draft. 15% of his drop backs ended in a sack (to put it in perspective, Kenny Pickett was at 6%). 20% of his drop backs ended in a sack or interception. I track these stats every year, and there is pretty much never an improvement from college to rookie season in terms of the amount of sacks/pass attempts. Can you imagine if a starting QB was sacked/picked on 20% of their drop backs?
To make matters worse, Liberty only played one ranked team in 2021 (Ole Miss).
Willis threw 3 picks, 0 TDs, and took 9 sacks. I understand he had a weak offensive line. That excuse has never held up for anyone. Ever. I don't know why it has been good enough to dismiss the 51 sacks Willis took this year. Only 2 of the 20 most sacked QBs in the 2021 NFL season won a playoff game...
Don't get me wrong, I am rooting for Malik Willis. Liberty University is a smaller school with a focus on faith, which I will root for all day long. Malik Willis seems to be an incredible person, and I will root for guys like that in every way. I think it would be an amazing opportunity for Malik to get drafted in the first round. I hope he gets drafted to a great situation with a great offensive line. I hope he gets groomed well and set up to have a successful NFL career.
Like I mentioned earlier, he may have the highest ceiling out of every QB in this class - he is 100% worth a shot! However, when you consider the credentials that usually boost an organization's confidence in using a first round pick, he really only has his body and athletic ability. The risk of drafting him early is something all teams are talking about. When I think about a 1st round pick, I think about a sure thing, and I just have not seen enough to say Malik Willis is a sure thing.
Another QB that deserves mentioned is Carson Strong. He was 3rd in this class in completion percentage. He was a 3 year starter at Nevada and showed clear improvement every year. He only played 1 ranked team this year (San Diego State) and he showed out, completing 70.8% of his passes and throwing 3 TDs to 0 INTs. Some quotes that have been thrown out there for Carson Strong were "near perfect footwork" and "best arm talent in class". I hold those words in high regards. Nevada is not necessarily the source of NFL stars, but at 6'4", Strong looks the part. He has basically no rushing ability, so that limits his draft potential for sure. He is definitely worth giving an opportunity and may be that perfect back up that can put the ball where it needs to go when you need him to. I can see him getting drafted as early as round 3.
Cole Kelley from SE Louisiana intrigues me. He is most likely going to be an undrafted free agent but listen to some of his unique attributes
-1st in ESPN Passer Rating
-1st in Completion Percentage (73.9%)
-3rd in sacks/passing attempts
-2nd in my formula (tied with Kenny Pickett)
-2020 FCS Player of the Year
-"wowed" scouts at the combine in the deep ball session
-6'7" 260 lbs!!!
This dude is huge. No doubt about it. And I know what you're thinking - he can't run. Wrong. Cole Kelley ran for 16 touchdowns. He is a LOCK at the QB sneak. He may be worth signing just for those situations. He does not have great mobility in the pocket, but he only took 28 sacks on 552 attempts!
6'7" makes Cole Kelley the 2nd tallest QB in NFL history (if he gets to play). As if that wasn't enough, he also has a high release. Imagine never getting a pass batted down at the line. Imagine the visibility his receivers will have every single route. His size is awkward, but mixed with his abilities... I'm intrigued.
Cole Kelley started his college career in Arkansas and did not do well. He ended up getting a DWI in 2017 and found himself going back home to Louisiana. With the Saints rolling with Jameis Winston and having no clear cut predecessor if we see the worst of Winston this year, I can't help but wonder if they might sign Kelley and end up giving him a shot.