The first day of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books and it’s hardly gone the way most expected it to with hardly any mock draft out there remotely predicting what played out during Day 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While most expected former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis to be the first quarterback off the board, it was Kenny Pickett instead at No. 20 overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With this, there’s a decent possibility a large number of quarterbacks could come off the board during Day 2.
Here’s a look into who those may be and where they could land.
Malik Willis, Liberty
Who expected the quarterback with the highest ceiling in the class to still be available for the taking during the second day of action? Such is now the case as Willis is expected to find his landing spot early in the draft on Friday. While Willis has the greatest potential to go bust and doesn’t necessary have the highest floor, he’s got a sky-high ceiling and wide array of traits that will quickly make him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL if he hits his ceiling and and should allow him to fit in well with a number of different teams. Some landing spots that make sense are the Seattle Seahawks, where he could link up with talented receivers like DK Metcalf and gain some solid protection from newly drafted former Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross. Outside of that, a team like to Atlanta Falcons could trade up to grab the athletic quarterback.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Some expected Ridder to pop up in the late first round, but his destination also remains to be seen. ridder may have the best set of foundational traits in the Draft and impressive athleticism that no one saw much of in the Cincinnati offense because of the way the Bearcats ran their system. But it certainly did show up and catch attention when he posted a 4.52-second 40-yard dash time in the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. At the next level in an offense that utilizes more play-action and quarterback runs, we could see some different elements of Ridder’s game shine through that hadn’t before. Ridder projects as a solid option for the Seattle Seahawks at pick No. 41 if they aren’t able to take Willis, though he could also mesh well with the Tennessee Titans, joining Ryan Tannehill in the quarterback room or with the Falcons.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral didn’t get a chance to show as much in the pre-draft process with his decision to not throw in the combine after the Sugar Bowl injury and with him not being able to participate in offseason showcases like the Senior Bowl because of eligibility criteria (it’s quite reasonable to assume he would have been invited otherwise). While there are questions surrounding how well he’ll transition from the Ole Miss score-from-far offense that included a lot of RPOs, there’s no denying how much Corral grew on his own between 2020 and 2021, making quicker and better decisions and getting the ball out faster in addition to continuing to showcase what he can do with his legs. Corral seems like a perfect fit for a team like the New Orleans Saints between what he brings as a passer and his ability to evade pressure and make some things happen on the ground. The Saints would be wise to select a quarterback regardless, considering Jameis Winston doesn’t look to be the long-term answer and the team doesn’t exactly have the strongest quarterback room in the league with the options behind Winston.
Sam Howell, UNC
Howell made the most of what was largely a bad situation with the Tar Heels between a subpar supporting cast and a lacking offenive line, though he himself struggled with inconsistency from time to time. Howell presents a good amount of arm strength, telling me earlier this offseason that he thought he had the strongest arm in the class, on top of being generally accurate and utilizing a tough and gritty sense of mobility, putting his body on the line to move the chains in several instances. The Lions are still in the market for a quarterback after electing to go with former Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson in the first round and there have been a number of mock drafts that have had Howell heading to Detroit. The Washington Commanders are a team who have utilized a quarterback with mobility in Taylor Heinicke in the past, and if Howell is to land here, he could immediately enter competition with Carson Wentz. Depending on how the chips fall, the Saints, Giants, Seahawks, Colts, Falcons and Lions all seem to be teams who could very much act on a quarterback on Day 2, and Howell could fit most anywhere as at least a high-end backup with his broad skillset.
Carson Strong, Nevada
The most developed passer in the class was once largely considered a first-round selection ahead of the 2021 season and at points within it, but has since found himself all over the projections. Some predict he could go at some point in the second or third round while others have him as late as the sixth. Strong has met with several teams, telling me back at the Senior Bowl that he had meetings that went very well with the Commanders, Saints, Steelers, Eagles and Titans. Of those teams, Pittsburgh is obviously out of the equation after taking Pickett on the first night. Strong projects as a quarterback who could start early on in his career, needs very little fine-tuning as a pure passer and while he’s a far cry from Lamar Jackson, he does have the ability to move within the pocket well, can evade pressure when things fall apart and proved in offseason showcases that he can keep it himself when absolutely needed, though that’s not something that should be asked of him on a regular basis. His passing ability should make him an appealing option for multiple teams looking for a quarterback on Day 2, but he’ll need to go somewhere with an adequate offensive line to keep him upright and allow him to make a smooth transition.