Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Ranking the 2022 QB Class vs. the Past; Plus NFL Draft Rumors and News
Quarterbacks. Every team needs them and yet so few are good at scouting and developing them. It’s a topic I’ve become obsessed with—read the bottom of today’s Scouting Notebook for more on that—and one that teams are puzzled by as well as we look at the 2022 Draft class.
This is not a good quarterback draft—and that’s the topic of today’s Notebook. We’ll get into risers, fallers and sleepers. I’ll update you on what I’m hearing around the league about certain draft prospects (including rumors on two big wide receiver prospects), but the start of today’s column is all about those Q-Bs and how poorly the ‘22 draft is shaping up as it relates to that position.
“It doesn’t matter that there isn’t a good quarterback in this class; the NFL will manufacture one between now and the Draft because of the need at the position. Remember E.J. Manuel” — former NFL General Manager
Already this year we’ve seen presumptive QB1 favorites Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and Sam Howell (North Carolina) fall off the radar—with Rattler being benched at Oklahoma and likely looking towards the transfer portal in 2022 instead of NFL riches.
The current 2022 quarterback class can be broken down into groups, with five quarterbacks currently vying for the top spot. They are, in alphabetical order: Matt Corral (Ole Miss), Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Carson Strong (Nevada), and Malik Willis (Liberty). When asked to compare those five quarterbacks to the last four years of first-rounders at the position, NFL decision-makers weren’t excited.
Taking a look at this group versus the pre-draft grades of the last four years of first-round quarterbacks (that means NFL careers aren’t factored into this), we could be looking at the weakest quarterback crop in the last five years when it comes to individual talent and not the depth of the group.
2021: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones
Trevor Lawrence was considered by some to be the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, so he alone trumps the talent available in the ‘22 class. This is one of the deepest quarterback drafts in recent history, with comparisons being made to the historic 1983 draft class, so there’s no way the ‘22 draft can compete with this depth.
From an individual talent standpoint, in addition to Lawrence, every quarterback drafted in the first round of last year’s class would be QB1 this year—and it wouldn’t be close.
2020: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love
Until Trevor Lawrence became available, it was Joe Burrow who scouts were raving about and calling an elite prospect. That was my read on his play following the single greatest college season for a quarterback most of us have ever seen. Not to mention that Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert had dominated the college football landscape for years and would have been QB1 in the previous three draft classes. Jordan Love was a throw-in prospect with a ton of upside.
Burrow, Tagovailoa and Herbert would all be the clear-cut QB1 in the 2022 draft.
2019: Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins
If there is a class that will grade out close to the 2022 group in terms of individual talent, it’s the 2019 quarterback group. Kyler Murray is an MVP candidate now but was not seen as the best overall player in that draft class (Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams were). We could see a similar situation this year where the top quarterback drafted is not the top overall prospect thanks to the play of Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE-Oregon) and Evan Neal (OT-Alabama).
Would any quarterback from the ‘22 class top Murray as the 2019 QB1? My grades are not close to final, but based on where they stand currently no quarterback in this class would be higher than Murray and would instead slot in between he and Jones/Haskins.
2018: Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson
Hindsight has made the ‘18 quarterback class a weird one to evaluate. Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are MVP candidates, Baker Mayfield is playing well, Sam Darnold is not, and Josh Rosen is on his fifth NFL team.
At the time, though, this was seen as an elite quarterback group—and to get three starters and two MVP candidates from the group seems to prove that point even if it’s not the quarterbacks people expected it to be.
Comparing the ‘22 class to this one—again not using hindsight but pre-draft grades—and it’s not really close. Each of these quarterbacks had a Round 1 grade on my board and four of them were drafted inside the top 10 picks of a very strong draft class.
The ‘22 quarterback class is deep and we could see five drafted in the first round like in ‘19, but the individual talent of those passers is well below this group.
Using pre-draft grades, every quarterback in 2019 would rank higher than the 2022 class.
Quarterback evaluation tends to heat up more in the January through April window when scouts and decision-makers have a chance to deep dive the tape and also when there are in-person events (all-star games, combine, pro days) where there’s an opportunity to get to know the person as well as the player. That will largely shape the perception of the ‘22 quarterback class, but with less than a month of college football remaining, no one has established himself as the top player in the group.
Will someone emerge, as the former general manager predicted? Of course. But that doesn’t mean they should.
What else is in today’s Scouting Notebook:
* 2022 Draft Big Board Update
* NFL Draft risers, fallers and sleepers
* An elite offensive tackle class is taking shape
* Dishing on three of the top wide receivers; one with serious concerns from NFL scouts
* Trouble in San Francisco?
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