You have to go back to 2013 and then to 2001 and 2000 to find an NFL Draft in which only one quarterback was taken in the first round.
But this 2022 Draft Class could possibly be a third if draft analysts are in charge.
The 2022 QB group includes Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Nevada’s Carson Strong.
Trevor Sikkema of Pro Football Focus recently joined Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright on Broncos Country Tonight to talk about last weekend’s Senior Bowl and specifically the quarterbacks, featuring all but Corral.
For Sikkema, Willis probably stood out as the best of the bunch since his arm strength could shine despite rainy, cold conditions, but it wasn’t an overly impressive outing.
“I’m not going to lie to you; Day 1 wasn’t great for Malik Willis. For as much as we love what he was able to do and how much he was able to stand out on Day 2, Day 1 was rough,” Sikkema noted. “He was missing guys left and right, which highlighted some of the accuracy issues we’ve seen on tape.”
Turning on the Malik Wills vs Ole Miss tape and the first play was... not great.— Tim Jenkins (@TJenkinsElite) February 8, 2022
Liberty has everything you could possibly want from a play design aspect.
But, we take a sack.
Quick Breakdown Below! pic.twitter.com/0AjcRPFrBK
Sikkema thought Ridder “got better as the week went on” and Howell “showed some good things passing the ball deep, but it wasn’t as ooh and ahh” as previous years. While Kenny Pickett was very consistent, he had some trouble in the slippery wet conditions on Day 2.
In fact, the “winner” among the quarterbacks might have been Corral who stayed home and will showcase his talent at a Pro Day in late March.
Sikkema stopped short of calling the quarterbacks “a disappointment” but noted that no one “really took the reins” to separate as the top quarterback in the Draft.
And beyond that ranking, there’s the question of whether any of them can really be a QB1 for their new pro team.
The PFF writer admitted that he may not have a first-round grade for any of the quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean none will be taken in the first round.
“We live in a different projection environment,” Sikkema said, pointing to the Packers’ draft in 2005 when they drafted Aaron Rodgers, sitting him for several years behind Brett Favre.
“With this class, I don’t want to say the quarterbacks are bad, but I don’t think they’re ready,” Sikkema added. “These are guys who need at least one full year in the NFL, get some confidence underneath them, maybe even two years before some of these guys are really take the reins of a franchise and become everything that their talent might allow.”
So SIkkema thinks all these guys need at least a year before starting in the NFL, but when asked which one he would stake his reputation on being a good starter after a year, he thinks “probably” there are two he’d go with.
“Oh man, what a good question,” he said. “I think I’d probably stake my reputation on Kenny Pickett or maybe Desmond Ridder. I like so much of what Ridder does but there are just too many times the accuracy is just not there for him. ...He reads defenses well and goes through his progressions better than anybody else in this class, but the accuracy is a big issue for me.”
Although accuracy can be improved by better footwork, technique, etc., Sikkema is inclined to think quarterbacks “either have it or they don’t.”
Sikkema also acknowledged that most people answering the question about which QB they’d stake their claim on, would likely choose Malik Willis because he represents the highest ceiling.
Allbright asked how many of the QBs could be starters - not necessarily good ones, but still starters - next season.
And although so much depends on the situation and the coaching and the play calling, Sikkema didn’t want to give any of them that role.
“I don’t think I’m going to have a first-round grade on any of them. I’m not sure I’d take any of these quarterbacks in the first round,” he said, acknowledging the reality of the league where all five could end up with an opportunity to start. “But to have some longevity with it? That’s where I’m not really sure. It will be more of an uphill battle to be a starter than in recent years.”
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