Quarterback is king in the NFL, and so no position is more highly valued, more greatly coveted than QB ahead of the NFL Draft. But who are the top-tier talents in the 2022 class?
NBC analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms releases his quarterback rankings each year ahead of every draft, and he has weighed in with his top five for 2022 ahead of the Thursday’s first round – live on Sky Sports NFL from 1am, Friday.
Read on to see Simms’ 2022 NFL Draft quarterback rankings, with one or two surprising results…
1) Matt Corral (Ole Miss)
Simms: Insane athlete. He is the quickest quarterback in the draft, there is nobody with quicker feet or who can make people miss. He has great acceleration.
He has the quickest release out of the quarterbacks in this draft, maybe the quickest I’ve ever seen coming out of college football in quite a few years. The arm strength is phenomenal, the ball absolutely flies out of his hands and he needs no room to throw the football. It’s almost like an optical illusion. He is made for the modern-day NFL.
He is the most accurate thrower out of this group too. I don’t know what his official numbers are, but I know that when he sees a target he can put the ball on the money, in the tightest windows, better than anybody.
Corral is really gifted at run-pass-option plays, he can throw it side-arm, he can have both feet off the ground and still throw the ball with great power. There are a lot of elite traits with Corral.
That said, the one thing is, he has to put it all together – it is not all quite there yet.
I wish we saw him go through his reads more, as a lot of the time he looks at just one guy and then will run.
I don’t see reckless decisions, although he is not perfect from that standpoint. But he certainly knows how to take care of the football. In the pocket he has great movement, although I wish he was just a little more patient in there.
The high-end talent is real. There is a ton of upside in this kid. For me, he is the guy and, in my opinion, the only one worthy of going in the top 10.
He has a chance to be a superstar. Yes, it’s not perfect but the things I think he needs to fix are fixable.
2) Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)
Simms: Really good football player. The most NFL ready right now of all of the quarterbacks and the safest pick.
He is what he is. You know what you’re getting. He understands protections, can read the field and can process information pre-snap, post-snap, going through his reads.
He is an incredibly accurate thrower, especially on intermediate throws – five, 10 yards – he is on the money pretty much every time.
He is awesome in the pocket. A good athlete, he is twitchy and can make people miss, but he also has a great natural feel of where the pocket is and where to step into so that he’s safe and can still make the throw.
But, despite all of that, I don’t say ‘wow’ about anything with Pickett physically. I don’t know if I necessarily see any trait that is really elite. But he is definitely above average and is the most polished and ready to go from the group in this draft class.
He has an NFL arm, without a doubt, he can make all of the throws – he has a petty deep ball for the most part – but I wish he was more of an aggressive decision-maker.
If you’re one of these teams that needs a guy to be ready this year, with no ‘bust’ factor, then Pickett is your guy.
3) Malik Willis (Liberty)
Simms: I love his arm. It’s special. He can make every throw on the football field with ease and he keeps his body in the right positions, he understands how to use his front shoulder and his motion is nice.
His ability to throw deep balls, balls on the outside that are power throws, they’re effortless.
The running: as an athlete, he is a gifted runner but I don’t think he is necessarily really fast – I don’t think he is faster than Pickett or Corral. But where he is good is, he can accelerate pretty well and he understands how to set up blockers like a running back.
There are true running back traits there. The strength in his legs, he breaks a ton of tackles, bounces off people and he has very good quickness and ability to make defenders miss in space.
Willis’ throwing motion is tight, and when he does want to really put some gas on the ball he controls it pretty well. He has a quick release, second only to Corral among all of these quarterbacks.
But, saying all of that, he’s my third ranked quarterback because he doesn’t really go through his progressions – almost never – and there are too many plays where the first read is wide open and yet he’s still not throwing to him. Why not?
There’s not a lot of variety in throws, not really a reading of the field and there’s too much of him dropping back, looking at the rush, making a move and then throwing to someone that has come open while scrambling. That’s cool, but I don’t know if its realistic in the NFL on a down-to-down basis.
He seems to be the polarising guy this year. I don’t think he’s ‘boom or bust’, but I just look at him as a guy that might need a little more time to develop.
4) Sam Howell (North Carolina)
Simms: Good in the pocket. There is a toughness and grittiness in his game that shows on the film. He is willing to stand in there and take shots.
He is not the fastest guy in the world, but he is mobile and can break a lot of tackles, make people miss within the pocket and he is one of the few guys in this draft who can really go across the field and can read defenses.
He has the ability to throw the ball off different platforms; he can just make it happen and you do see a handful of ‘wow’ throws.. I wrote in my notes a few times that he has to have talent, because the position his body is often in to make a throw, it’s pretty remarkable.
One of the negatives is, he holds onto the ball too much at times, he is a little too patient and takes some sacks out there.
Baker Mayfield is who he reminds you of a little bit; he’s gritty. He doesn’t have the arm that Mayfield does, but his movement and athleticism will translate better to the NFL.
There’s potential for him to be a better thrower. There are a few that have some heat on it, but there’s not enough consistently. That bothers me.
There are things to like and I do think he has a presence on the field and shows leadership. He’s infectious but he’s not a first-round talent – more like the end of the second or third round.
5) Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati)
Simms: He is easy to root for. I really like the guy, having met him at the Combine. He has got a great personality, he acts like a quarterback and you can tell he is quick on his toes – I love all of that stuff.
He is one of the only guys in this class who, with his size, he can throw over the line of scrimmage, throw over people when they’re in his face in the pocket. That’s the one thing I really like about his game in terms of the measurables.
But, after that, there are some issues. It is below-average throwing, at this point, for an NFL starting quarterback. There are some major tweaks that have to be done.
His running is real – the read-option is going to be a real threat for Ridder in the NFL – he could go for a 70-yard touchdown, his speed is worthy of that.
But, in the pocket, he has the worst feet of any of the guys in the top five. Too much, he tends to just stand there like a statue, his feet cemented, and then he tries to throw it – that is hard to do.
His arm itself is not that strong, there are some mechanical issues and he’s not a great short-ball thrower, with a lack of accuracy and precision in those throws. That is a worry for me.
He tries to get by too often on God-given talent. And there is not enough evidence to say he can do it, just snippets.
Watch all three days of the 2022 NFL Draft unfold on Sky Sports NFL, April 28-30, starting with live build-up to day one from 9pm on Thursday, April 28, with the first picks expected to be made just after 1am.