This year’s draft is well below average at quarterback, with a handful of interesting guys at the top and little depth.
Were last year’s quarterback group and this year’s lumped together, none of this year’s class would rank as high as Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones.
In fact, none out of either class other than Lawrence had/have grades as high as Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz and Mitch Trubisky did. All are failed top-two picks getting second or third chances with new teams this year.
That is the reality of the perils of drafting quarterbacks high.
This should be the first time in five years a QB won’t be the No. 1 overall pick and only the fourth in the past 14 years, but a team or two will get antsy and jump up and take one too high.
This, however, doesn’t mean none will become top QBs. It means we haven’t seen and/or don’t know enough yet to project them worthy of high first-round picks.
Think Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, etc., instead of your typical high-upside first-round prospects.
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Day 1 Prospects
1. Malik Willis, Liberty (6–0 ½, 217, redshirt senior)
Willis is a striking athlete with excellent run skills, and dual-threat QBs are all the rage right now. He throws the ball better than Lamar Jackson already with good, if not great, arm talent. He’s shorter than you’d like, but his tightly packed 217 pounds should help him absorb punishment. Main red flags are level of competition at Liberty and questions as to how well he reads the field and processes it along with a tendency to hold the ball too long.
2. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (6-3 ¼, 224, redshirt senior)
Pickett’s huge improvement from 2020 to 2021 has him flying up draft boards. He has ideal size and arm strength and broke most of Dan Marino’s Pitt records after they stood for more than 35 years. There are concerns about his small hands, but it wasn’t a problem at Pitt. Legitimate concerns include happy feet at times and occasional lack of pace and touch on throws into zones and tight windows.
3. Matt Corral, Mississippi (6-1 ½, 212, redshirt junior)
Corral is a high-character guy with maybe the best arm of the bunch. But he’s an inch or 2 shorter than you’d like in an NFL pocket. He’s undersized and takes too many dangerous hits rather than going down, and like almost of these kids there are concerns about how well he sees the field and reads what he’s seeing.
Day 2 Prospects
4. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (6-3 ½, 211, redshirt senior)
Ridder has nice size and is a four-year starter who won a lot of games. He is a good athlete who moves well in the pocket and does a lot of things well, but he lacks any special traits to predict great things at the next level.
5. Sam Howell, North Carolina (6-0 ½, 218, junior)
This kid is a competitor who finds ways to make plays when it may look like nothing’s there and has the confidence to make teammates follow him. But he’s another undersized prospect in this group who needs a lot of work on his mechanics, and his best hope may be as a game manager.
Day 3 Prospects
6. Carson Strong, Nevada (6-3 ¼, 226, redshirt junior)
Strong has nice size and a special arm that’s allowed him to be highly productive on a consistent basis. He’s a solid leader, but medical concerns with his right knee and his gunslinger mentality will make him a boom-or-bust guy.
Potential Bears Targets
With only six picks, all their eggs in the Justin Fields basket and Trevor Siemian now inked as Fields’ backup, it is unlikely the Bears draft a QB this season.
But a priority, undrafted free agent with a similar skillset to Fields might intrigue the Bears. E.J. Perry (6-1 ½, 211, senior) out of Brown is a potential fit.