Scouting the Signal Callers: 2022 Quarterback Prospects

By John Laub
John Laub



     Scouting the Signal Callers


             2022 Quarterback Prospects



The narrative of the Class of 2022 quarterbacks has been discussed at length over the past six months: There are no franchise-changing signal callers, aka Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow, in the upcoming NFL Draft. While this cadre of passers pales in comparison to last year’s group, there are enticing prospects and teams in need of an upgrade will push the signal callers up their draft boards.


After a frenzy of free-agent signees and quarterback trades, it appears that four teams—Texans, Panthers, Colts and Saints—are seeking a new signal caller for the upcoming crusade. There surely will be additional moves, which will change the current mathematics of the Draft and the equation of the quarterback value on the board. It will be a fascinating six weeks for draftniks like myself.


It is the ninth year that I have published the Scholar’s Study Sheets on, and I always look back at recent Drafts before I begin my profiles. Over the previous eight years, 28 quarterbacks were selected in the First Round, averaging 3.1 per year. In a weak quarterback class, only two field generals will likely be selected in the First Round after a flurry of activity at the positon in the offseason.


Gridiron Scholar's Quarterback Model

(Click the link above to see the model and Class of 2022 prospects)


As the college and NFL games have evolved over the past decade, I enhanced my process and added an escapability score in 2020. Now while watching games, I scrutinize the prospect’s capacity outside of the structure of the play call and the ability to move the chains with their legs. In the Class of 2022, five of the top six quarterbacks earned a B+ or better on my escapability score. Only Carson Strong, who is a classic pocket passer, received a low mark.


In 2022, I have again modernized my model to better pinpoint NFL potential. I included Rushing Equity among my benchmark stats. How many rushing yards did the signal caller gain as a percentage of the team’s rushing total? I placed the benchmark at 10% of the team’s total rushing yards. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis rushed for 37% of the Flames’ yards, and five of the top six prospects eclipsed the 10% threshold.


I have broken down the tape, plugged the career statistics into my model and provided a draft grade for the top six prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft…Enjoy my fellow diehards!


Benchmark College Stats for Draft Grade

Games Played: Over 30

Passing Efficiency: 155.0

Completion Percentage: 65%

Yards per Attempt: 8.0

TD:INT Ratio: 3-1

Rushing Equity: 10%

Escapability Grade: B




1. Sam Howell, North Carolina

Tremendous Tar Heels’ quarterback jumps to NFL after three seasons on campus. In 2021, Honorable Mention All-ACC and rushed for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2020, Second Team All-ACC. In 2019, Freshman All-American and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year. Since arriving at North Carolina, started every game. Surpassed 3,000 yards passing each campaign on campus.  Concluded Tar Heels career as all-time leader in passing yards (10,283), total offense (11,292) and passing touchdowns (92). Established single-game record for passing yards (550), passing touchdowns (6) and total offense (571). In high school, all-state baseball player. At 6’1” and 218-pounds, underrated athlete who excelled in three-step drops, play-action passes and RPOs. Anticipatory thrower with very good arm strength. Top-notch fastball at all three levels of defense. Smooth footwork and throws off platform. Fits the ball into narrow windows. Determined competitor who overcame adversity in 2021. Plays well outside of structure and keeps eyes downfield on the move. Scans defense pre-snap and makes good decisions. At times, flustered when the pocket collapses and makes poor throws. Locks onto primary targets occasionally. Lacks ideal height and elite arm strength. Many different perspectives, grades and rankings of the Tar Heels’ signal caller. In my model and film study, Howell earns a first-round grade. A starter from the first day of training camp if called upon.


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 37

Passing Efficiency: 164.2

Yards per Attempt: 9.2

TD:INT Ratio: 92-23

Completion Percentage: 63.9% 

Rushing Equity: 30%

Escapability Grade: B+

Benchmarks Surpassed: 5-of-6

Draft Grade: First Round



2. Malik Willis, Liberty

Conquered pre-draft process and now ranked as the top quarterback prospect on most draft boards. Zestful dual-threat signal caller who has the “wow” factor and raises teammates' enthusiasm. In 2021, Semifinalist Davey O’Brien Award and Bobby Bowden Trophy winner. Second Team All-Independent Offense. LendingTree Bowl MVP: 5 total touchdowns. In 2020, Dudley Award winner and Phil Steele Second Team All-Independent. Rushed for over 1,800 yards, passed for over 5,000 yards and totalled 74 touchdowns past two seasons. In high school, three-star prospect who enrolled at Auburn in 2017. Redshirt junior who transferred to Liberty and sat out the 2019 campaign. At 6’0” and 219-pounds, prodigious playmaker who excels on designed runs and after play breaks down. Quick-twitch athlete. Eye-popping arm strength and puts zip on fastball when throwing off platform. Can make any throw in the playbook. Risk-taker who commanded an up-tempo scheme. Executed designed runs and excelled gaining chunks of yards. Makes defenders whiff in the open field. Impessive Senior Bowl week of practices and named to the All-Senior Bowl Team by NFLDraftBible. Gets flustered when the pocket collapses: Technique breaks down. Forces the ball into nearly impossible windows. Must improve anticipatory throws, touch on passes and decision making. Ball security issues in 2021. WIll need time to develop and learn the professional game. A redshirt season will greatly benefit long-term development. Patience by organization, coaches and fans is paramount.  


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 23

Passing Efficiency: 152.9

Yards per Attempt: 8.6

TD:INT Ratio: 48-18

Completion Percentage: 62.8%

Rushing Equity: 37%

Escapability Grade: A

Benchmarks Surpassed: 2-of-6

Draft GradeSecond Round


3. Matt Corral, Mississippi

After a terrific career at Mississippi, Rebels’ two-way playmaker ranks among the top prospects. In 2021, Conerly Trophy Winner and Second Team All-SEC. Finalist for Manning Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Semifinalist for Maxwell and Davey O’Brien Awards. In 2020, Finalist for Manning Award and Third Team All-SEC (PFF). Finished campus tenure third all-time in passing yards (8,291) and touchdowns (57). Among quarterbacks, most rushing yards (1,388). Only third player to complete over 20 aerial strikes in consecutive campaigns. As a high schooler in California, four-star prospect and U.S. Army All-America selection. At 6’2” and 212-pounds, dual-threat signal caller who illustrated improved decision making in 2021: Cut interceptions down from 14 to 5. A redshirt junior with a quick, fluid and consistent throwing motion. Ball jumps out of his hand. Stupendous accuracy and hits receivers in step. Rhythm passer who excels on intermediate and short routes. Drives ball into small windows. A tough and gritty leader. Easily slips away from pass rushers. Athletic competitor who throws well on the move. Throws well from different angles. Keeps eyes open downfield. Excelled on designed runs. Does not possess idyllic size for the position. Needs to improve deep ball accuracy. Places his body at risk by taking too many hits on the run. Epitomizes the modern college quarterback who is a starter at the next level.


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 32

Passing Efficiency: 160.3

Yards per Attempt: 9.1

TD:INT Ratio: 57-22

Completion Percentage: 67.5%

Rushing Equity: 22%

Escapability Grade: A-

Benchmarks Surpassed: 5-of-6

Draft GradeSecond Round


4. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Panthers’ prolific passer embarked on a meteoric rise as a redshirt senior in 2021. ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Finalist for Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Awards. First Team All-American (Walter Camp and AP). Redshirt senior who captured the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award after passing for 4,319 yards and recording 47 total touchdowns. Finished career as Pitt’s all-time passing leader in every major category: passing yards (12,303), completions (1,045), total offense (13,112), total touchdowns (102) and passing touchdowns (81). Logged 16 300-yard passing games and five 400-yard outings. Guided Pittsburgh to first ACC championship. At 6’3” and 217-pounds, good size, athleticism and arm strength. Poised passer who performs well off script: Excellent mobility and remains focused on the move. Innate feel for pressure in the pocket and evades pass rushers. Can move the chains and keep the offense on track with feet. Plus arm strength and puts the ball into tight places. Throws from many different angles. Marvelous mechanics. Accurate passer with abundant pocket awareness. Stupendous anticipation on throws. Identifies coverages and finds check down options. Takes too many sacks. Does not shy away from risk and gets into trouble. Older prospect at 24: With 48 career starts, will be able to call signals from the first whistle in camp. Draft stock falling throughout the scoutng process and might fall out of the first round.


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 48

Passing Efficiency: 136.3

Yards per Attempt: 7.3

TD:INT Ratio: 81-32

Completion Percentage: 62.4%

Rushing Equity: 11%

Escapability Grade: B+

Benchmarks Surpassed: 2-of-6

Draft GradeSecond Round



5. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Spectacular senior playmaker and competitive leader who guided Bearcats to the College Football Playoff and a 44-6 mark as a starter. 2021 Team Captain. AAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2020 & 2021. As a senior, Finalist for Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Semifinalist for Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards. In 2020, Manning Award Finalist and AAC Championship Game MVP. In 2018, AAC Rookie of the Year. Last year, only active player in FBS with over 10,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing during college career. In high school, a three-star prospect by 247Sports and top QB recruit in Kentucky. At 6’3” and 211-pounds, dual-threat signal caller with terrific arm strength and mobility. Fine footwork and maneuvers well in the pocket. Live arm and puts zip on the ball. In charge of pre-snap decisions: adjusts potections and changes plays. Makes plays off script and keeps chains moving. Good eyes and works through progressions. Easily escapes defenders. Improved decision making and ball placement final year. All the tools to be a starter at the next level. Does not illustrate good anticipatory skills. Takes too many sacks. Better suited for a run-first scheme which utilizes RPOs and a moveable pocket. A fine addition for a franchise and a second-round grade for the Bearcats’ signal caller. 


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 50

Passing Efficiency: 145.8

Yards per Attempt: 7.9

TD:INT Ratio: 87-28

Completion Percentage: 62.1% 

Rushing Equity: 28%

Escapability Grade: A-

Benchmarks Surpassed: 3-of-6

Draft Grade: Second Round


6. Carson Strong, Nevada

Wolfpacks’ gunslinger pursues an NFL career after three years starting. Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Mountain West for the past two years. In 2021, Semifinalist for Johnny Unitas Golden Arm, Manning and Davey O’Brien Awards. Over the last two seasons, tossed 63 touchdowns and passed for 7,033 yards. Took a redshirt season in 2018 and started 10 games in 2019. Established school record for single-season passing touchdowns (36) and single-game competitions (49). Finished third all-time passing yards (9,379) and touchdowns in program history. A three-star recruit in high school. Prototypical size at 6’3” and 226-pounds. Rocket-armed thrower who predominantly operated out of shotgun formation. Traditional drop-back passer with poise. Navigates pocket and finds passing lanes. Compact thrower with a quick release. Impressive mechanics. Easily pushes the ball deep downfield and throws receivers open. Accurate passer. Manipulates defenders with eyes. Calls pass protections and rapidly goes through progressions. Good ball security. Needs to dial down velocity on short throws. Limited athletic ability and mobility and does not gain yards on the ground. Major knee injury in high school which may raise a red flag on some organizations’ rankings. Inconsistent on vertical throws deep down the field. Tendency to hold onto the ball. A composite prospect of Matt Ryan, Drew Bledsoe and Jeff George. A terrific second-round draft pick who can become a starter down the road.


Scholar’s Key Career Stats

Games: 31

Passing Efficiency: 147.5 

Yards per Attempt: 7.5

TD:INT Ratio: 74-19

Completion Percentage: 68.1% 

Rushing Equity: n/a

Escapability Grade: D+

Benchmarks Surpassed: 3-of-6

Draft Grade: Second Round


It is John Laub’s ninth year publishing The Scholar’s Study Sheets: NFL Draft Prospects. With his Masters in history and professional experience as an educator, Laub is uniquely qualified to research, analyze and discover new insights and trends in college and professional football. Laub has played fantasy football over thirty-three years and published articles for for over 25 years. He won $10,000 in 1993, defeating nearly 15,000 owners, and published Audibles: Winning is Everything in the 1990s. He truly is The Gridiron Scholar. Twitter: @GridironSchol91 or e-mail: