Top 5 QB Prospects for 2022

Now that the 2021 college football regular season has concluded, and only the national championship is to come, this is a chance to look at some of the top quarterback prospects for the 2022 draft class. For the fans of all quarterback-needy teams, and there are a lot of them, this...isn't exactly the class for you. 

Coming into the year, everyone knew that this class wouldn't be able to stack up to the 2021 class, but there was a lot of hype around players like Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell. Over the course of the season, the flaws of these players really poked their heads, with Rattler being benched by Oklahoma for the 2nd year in a row and Howell opening the season with a rough 3 interception game in the national spotlight. And while Rattler is transferring and staying at least one more year in college, Howell improved throughout the year and declared for the draft following the Duke's Mayo Bowl.

While those top preseason prospects didn't live up to the hype, other QBs had breakout years and jumped into the QB1 conversation for the upcoming draft. Knowing that there are still evaluations to come and adjustments that need to be made during the pre-draft process, here are my top 5 QB prospects for the 2022 draft right now:

5. Sam Howell - QB (UNC)

2021 regular season stats: Passing: 63% comp | 2,851 yards | 24 TDs | 9 INTs | Rushing: 183 attempts | 828 yards | 11 TDs

Sam Howell had an incredible freshman year at UNC. He followed it up with a stellar 2020. All was looking up for him. And then, the Virginia Tech game happened. A rough, 3 INT outing to open 2021 in the national spotlight crushed the hype around him. Watching that game, however, didn't tell the same story as the numbers. 2 of the 3 interceptions weren't his fault, and the 3rd came in panic mode with under a minute left. Overall, it wasn't a great game, but the CFB hype machine saw the numbers and ran with the narrative.

Over the course of the season, Howell showed some real improvement, particularly as a runner. He isn't an over-the-top athlete, and there are several QBs to come that are just better runners, but Howell was efficient with his high volume as a runner with RPOs and designed keepers.

He didn't have the year you'd hope for as an NFL team, but he is still one of the top prospects in this class.


  • Poise - Both as a runner and in the pocket, the biggest asset Howell displayed in 2021 was playing calmly and poised. He had moments that worried you, thinking back to the final INT versus Virginia Tech, but he plays calm, smart, and controlled most of the time.
  • Quick Passing - Whether it is one-read throws, the screen game, or RPOs, Howell excelled in these areas. He shows a real knowledge of how to run a quick passing game and has good accuracy while doing so.
  • Designed Run Game - As stated earlier, Howell is sound in the RPO game. He almost always makes the right decision to maximize efficiency, and that meant running a lot of keepers. He isn't a crazy athlete, and he isn't going to be Kyler Murray rolling out and extending plays impossibly, but he does what is asked and more.


  • Progressions - This is a big concern with Howell, but it isn't necessarily a fault of his. The UNC offense is so predicated on RPOs and one-read passing plays that we just haven't seen him consistently have to go through progressions, which he will have to do at the next level.
  • Intermediate Touch - He is an accurate passer inside of 20 yards, but sometimes he just throws the ball too hard when he doesn't have to. He needs to learn to be more delicate on some intermediate throws, both to give his receivers a better chance and to get the ball over defenders.
  • Consistency in Mechanics - When the pocket is clean, he looks natural as a thrower. With pressure in his face, or moving around in the pocket, his feet can get thrown off. He also hesitates and pats the ball on some throws, making his normally quick release a lot slower.

Comparison - Baker Mayfield

He reminds me of Baker in a lot of ways. From competitiveness to stature, to his willingness to extend plays almost to a fault, he shows a lot of the good, and a lot of the ugly, of Baker.

4. Malik Willis - QB (Liberty)

2021 regular season stats: Passing: 61% comp | 2,857 yards | 27 TDs | 12 INTs | Rushing: 197 attempts | 878 yards | 13 TDs

Malik Willis is one of the most dynamic players in college football. He is lightning in a bottle that we haven't experienced since Lamar Jackson terrorized the ACC. His highlight film might be the most fun to watch of any QB in the last several classes. He also has both the lowest floor and highest ceiling of any QB in this top 5.

If you just watched that highlight film for Willis, you would think he is clearly a top prospect in this class, and maybe the best QB. And that would be the case if we didn't have the very ugly and inconsistent moments that have happened across his collegiate career.

His combination of elite arm strength, raw athleticism, and escapability paints the picture of what an ideal QB prospect in 2022 would look like. With the right coaching, situation, and supporting cast, Willis could find himself shaping into the player that we all hope he can be. 


  • Athleticism - To say that this is a strength is an understatement. If he were in the league right now he would rival the likes of Kyler Murray and Justin Fields as the 2nd best athlete playing QB behind Lamar Jackson. When he takes off and runs, which is a lot and maybe even too frequent, you can almost see Lamar running by and through defenders with ease.
  • Arm Strength - He has the strongest arm that I've scouted in this class to this point. He can flat-out sling it. It isn't always the most accurate throw, but there is not going to be a single throw he can't reach in the NFL.
  • Short Passing Accuracy - He is really good at hitting flat receivers and backs in stride. He doesn't hesitate to throw those types of passes either, almost to a fault. But he is good at it nonetheless and that would translate well to a heavy RPO offense.


  • Decision Making - Any time he faced a defense that was faster or more complex than he was used to (see Ole Miss), he struggled. He has trouble progressing and will be stubborn with reads and make throws that are late or just flat out covered.
  • Mechanics - Throwing is effortless for him, but he drops his elbow a lot of the time which causes inaccuracy. He gets his feet all messed up at times, especially when he has to adjust in the pocket.
  • Pocket Feel - He has all the tools to make people miss all the time, but he doesn't always feel it. He fails to identify blitzes pre-snap and tends to roll or slide into pressure more than he does away from it.

Comparison - Lamar Jackson

The raw tools scream Lamar. The athletic ability, creativity in space, and rawness as a passer are Lamar-like. If he finds good coaching and a good infrastructure, there is a chance he turns into a player like that.

3. Desmond Ritter - QB (Cincinnati)

2021 regular season stats: Passing: 66% comp | 3,334 yards | 30 TDs | 8 INTs | Rushing: 110 attempts | 365 yards | 6 TDs

To describe Desmond Ridder over the course of his career in one word, I would say consistent. He is always seeming to make the right decision, take risks when they're warranted, and put his team in a spot to win games.

He has been an elite college quarterback for the past 4 years. He played well enough to win against Georgia last year, even though they didn't, and he has played well enough to beat the likes of Indiana, Houston, and Notre Dame this year.

With the CFP Semifinal in the rearview mirror, I will do a deeper dive into that film in the future, but he didn't look awesome watching it live. The pass rush flustered him and they didn't have time to develop many plays down the field. He didn't play bad, but he had a chance to shoot his stock to the moon with a better performance.


  • Arm Strength - Ridder doesn't have the crazy arm that players like Herbert, Josh Allen, and Zach Wilson have had in recent years, but he has a great one. His ability to throw outside the numbers and deep is really impressive and will translate well.
  • Athleticism - The numbers on the year won't show it (in part because of the NCAAs dumb sack rushing rule), but Ridder is a great athlete. He is awesome in the RPO and read-option game and takes what he can get plus more.
  • Overall Awareness - Between pre-snap reads, recognizing blitzes, identifying coverages, and post-snap pocket awareness, Ridder is as seasoned as anyone. These traits alone should have coaching staffs gushing over his potential. It'll be fun to see how he does against an elite defense at the end of the month.


  • Deep Throw Consistency - Ridder has made a ton of big-time throws in his career, but a lot of them have been with the receiver coming back to the ball. He needs to be quicker on the trigger or he will get punished by NFL defenders.
  • Post-Snap Decision Making - Like Howell, Ridder has done his job as a college QB. But he has been put in a system that is a lot of one-read and throw. He progresses at times, but he will need to show that he can do that at a high level. 
  • Throwing Out of Structure - He has trouble making accurate throws on the run or with pressure in his face. He doesn't reset his feet well after sliding or rolling either.

Comparison - Dak Prescott

Early career Dak is what I see in Ridder. The quick decision-making, strong in the RPO game, smart QB that needs more experience reading defenses post-snap and progressing.

2. Kenny Pickett - QB (Pittsburgh)

2021 regular season stats: Passing: 67% comp | 4,319 yards | 42 TDs | 7 INTs | Rushing: 97 attempts | 241 yards | 5 TDs

How fun is this guy? An absolutely gutty player who goes 110% no matter what. Pickett is dynamic without elite athleticism, has a great arm without the traits to back it up, and he is the only QB in the class who can say that they rewrote the rulebook with his famous (now infamous) fake-slide TD that was fun no matter who you are.

Pickett has vaulted up draft boards in the past few months due to what can only be described as an elite season for Pitt leading to an ACC championship. He has been fearless with throws and runs leading to some big-time plays. He has shown all the makings of a quarterback that coaches are going to want in their locker room (and on the field).

I wish we got to see Pickett one more time in the Peach Bowl, but he has proven to everyone that he has a chance to start on Sundays and should be in the conversation at the top of this QB class.


  • Competitive Toughness - I initially comped him to Taylor Heinicke due to the sheer grittiness and fight that Pickett showed. But he has proven that comp wrong because he is too talented. Still, his heart and willingness to do anything to win are his biggest asset.
  • Big Play Ability - Pickett has flashed greatness this year, extending plays, throwing on the run, and taking deep shot after deep shot. He has great touch and a willingness to throw deep balls that will translate well.
  • Quick Passing Game - This is sort of a double-entendre. Not only does he excel in the quick passing game, but he also has an incredibly quick and compact release that gets the ball to its target fast.


  • Pocket Passing - Pickett excels off-script, whether it be rolling out to throw, extending plays with his legs, or playing backyard-style football. He struggles at times when he has to step up in the pocket and make a throw.
  • Intermediate Passing - It isn't a huge problem for him, but he tries to make every throw he can. When it comes to intermediate throws, that's where he might be a bit overconfident. He tries to fit too many passes in small or non-existent windows.
  • Hand Size - I hate putting this here because I hate calling measurables a weakness. And I hope this won't be a problem. But he wears 2 gloves, and his hand size is rumored to be small, so holding a bigger NFL ball could be a problem.

Comparison - Joe Burrow

He has that gamer mentality that Burrow has. He wants to make a play on every single snap, and while he doesn't have elite QB traits, just like Burrow, he is a really good college QB and has a chance to be a good NFL starter.

1. Matt Corral - QB (Ole Miss)

2021 regular season stats: Passing: 68% comp | 3,349 yards | 20 TDs | 5 INTs | Rushing: 152 attempts | 614 yards | 11 TDs

Corral improved significantly in 2021. He shows real poise and solidified himself as QB1 heading into bowl season. He has cut the turnovers by a lot and showed a lot more confidence as a passer.

Lane Kiffin has set him up with an offense that will let him succeed, highlighting some of his biggest strengths, and Corral has done well out of structure as well. He has taken the reigns on this offense and done exactly what was asked of him to make Ole Miss a top 10 team.

I'm burying the lead because of the injury that knocked him out of the Sugar Bowl early. I'm putting him at QB1 as of now due to the tape that I have gone through. That might change as we find out more about the severity and the impact that it had, but he played well enough to be my QB1 to this point. It gutted me to see that happen and I really hope he can bounce back because he is a fun dude.


  • Touch - His touch is borderline elite. He worked and improved on this so much over the course of his career. He can hit intermediate throws over linebackers and hook defenders, and has great touch dropping deep balls in the bucket.
  • Athleticism - He is great in the designed run game. He is so patient and waits for holes to open up. He doesn't have the elite COD or long speed that guys like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray have, but he is a smart runner with good vision and great overall athleticism.
  • Throwing Mechanics - I think he improved a ton here in 2021. His motion is precise and quick. He gets the ball out almost immediately, which has improved his timing. He had a weird release in 2020 at times but has made his motion consistent this year.


  • Deep Accuracy - While he has great touch, the accuracy on deep shots is inconsistent. Not so much in terms of distance, but throwing with the leverage his receivers have. This might be fixed in the NFL with more reps and building rapport with his targets, but it is an area to improve on.
  • Pocket Presence - He does have great escapability and athleticism, but he is missing a feel for the pocket. Highlighted by the Alabama game, he turns and slides into pressure too much. 
  • Post-snap Decision Making - This isn't a huge flaw of his, but he does have issues knowing what to do with pressure coming. He needs to get a better feel of where to move in the pocket to extend plays instead of ducking and running before it even develops.

Comparison - Kyler Murray

He isn't the crazy athlete with a cannon for an arm like Kyler is, but he is like a "Lite" version. He has great mobility, not elite, and he has a great release and good arm talent, but not elite. Kyler in college wasn't Kyler right now, so Corral has the chance to develop into a player like that.

Be sure to check out my process if you'd like to know more about how I graded these players and came to my conclusions.