NFL Draft Community Mailbag: Which Prospect Separated Himself as the Top QB?

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IDecember 22, 2021

NFL Draft Community Mailbag: Which Prospect Separated Himself as the Top QB?

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    With the college football season winding down, the 2022 NFL draft picture becomes clearer with each passing day. 

    A near season's worth of film can now be digested and evaluated to form a better picture of the incoming talent. Meanwhile, players with remaining eligibility are making decisions whether to declare or return for another collegiate season. 

    All the while, Bleacher Report's Scouting Department is hard at work readying itself for the onset of the predraft process. The team of Brandon Thorn, Brent Sobleski, Cory Giddings, Derrik Klassen and Nate Tice continue to work their way through hundreds of prospects as the B/R rankings come together with only a handful of bowl games yet to be played and the actual pre-draft process almost ready to begin. 

    Who better to ask about the upcoming class and how it's taking shape? 

    They're making a list and checking it twice, and this year's third community mailbag hits shelves just in time for the holiday season. 

What Positions Stand out for the 2022 NFL Draft?

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    What are the strongest/deepest positions in next year's draft? — WashingtonDC

    Three positions immediately come to mind when looking at the strength of the projected 2022 class. 

    Wide receiver is the obvious answer, of course. Since spread offenses and the preponderance of multi-receiver sets dominate the game, a massive amount of quality offensive weapons of all shapes and skill sets is now a yearly tradition. 

    Over the last five draft classes, an average of 33 wide receivers heard their names called during draft weekend. The last two events both topped the average with 37 and 34, respectively. 

    This year won't be any different starting in the opening frame with USC's Drake London, Alabama's Jameson Williams, Penn State's Jahan Dotson, Arkansas' Treylon Burks, Clemson's Justyn Ross and Ohio State's Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson all carrying first-round grades. From there, Bleacher Report currently has nine more with a Day 2 grade and evaluations aren't complete. 

    Wide receiver isn't the only intriguing class among this year's offensive weapons The incoming tight end crop may be the best in recent memory based on overall depth. The group lacks an elite slam-dunk first-round talent, but there are multiple prospects available to help an offense depending on scheme fit. 

    Texas A&M's Jalen Wydermyer and Colorado State's Trey McBride (pictured) are true Y-tight ends, who should come off the board early in Day 2. Throw Coastal Carolina's Isaiah Likely and Alabama's Jahleel Billingsley (if he declares) into the mix as excellent receiving options. Iowa's Sam LaPorta, Ohio State's Jeremy Ruckert, Miami's Will Mallory, Washington's Cade Otton and Cincinnati's Josh Whyle all bring starting potential as well. 

    Defensively, the incoming edge-rushers will define the class with Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Purdue's George Karlastis all deserving of Top 5 grades. From there, Michigan's David Ojabo and USC's Drake Jackson should receive early consideration. B/R had 13 edge-defenders listed in its last Top 100

    — Sobleski

Where Does the 2022 Class Stack Against Recent Drafts?

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    How does the talent of this draft class compare to previous years? — JetUp3724

    The perception of the 2022 class will be skewed slightly because it lacks a marquee name at quarterback. Undoubtedly a few quarterback prospects will find their way into the first round. But no one carries the gravitas of a Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow. 

    The last non-quarterback selected with the No. 1 overall pick will have come five years prior when the Cleveland Browns chose Myles Garrett. 

    So, the 2017 class may be the best comparison based on what everyone has seen as of late. Coincidentally, that same class saw A) a franchise drastically overreach for a quarterback with the second overall pick (Sorry, Bears fans) and B) had a couple of talented signal-callers come off the board a little later who went on to become very good-to-great starters. 

    It's unfair to compare any of the incoming options to a Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson based on their professional on-field performances. At the same time, they were once considered projects with question marks within their skill set. So, a quality starting quarterback can be found without investing a top-five selection in his services. 

    Conversely, Garrett was the unicorn in his draft class. No other edge-rusher came close to his potential. Whereas, this year's crop has three defensive ends worthy of consideration among the top five selections. 

    From there, the 2022 crop currently has 28 prospects with solid first-round grades, according to B/R's scouts. That's a relatively high number to understand the overall quality and depth of the incoming group. 

    — Sobleski

Who Should Be Considered QB1?

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Who's the best quarterback prospect in the upcoming draft class? — yankees_1

    I am very high on Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and think he has shown tremendous improvement in his operation and processing as a true quarterback.

    Although he is a very good athlete, he shows the desire to do his damage from the pocket. Ridder plays with good eyes and his processing on a multitude of concepts is consistently good. Combined with very good pocket movement and footwork, he's able to keep his eyes downfield and progress as needed to work through his reads. He shows the ability to throw guys open with the arm strength to drive throws into tight spaces. He also flashes the ability to throw off-platform or outside of structure.

    My biggest knock on Ridder is his early-game accuracy: He can spray throws—my personal theory is that he's a competitive player who is too amped up and calms down as the game progressesand can try to be too perfect on deep balls.

    But Ridder's process on every snap, combined with his polish from the pocket, athletic traits and remaining upside make him more of a valid quarterback prospect than he's being given credit for at this time.

    — Tice

Will Ole Miss' Matt Corral Rise Up Board Like Zach Wilson Did a Year Ago?

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Is Ole Miss' Matt Corral this year's Zach Wilson? — wilsonclark

    Corral and Wilson's builds are very similar, but I think Wilson showed many more traits as a prospect than Corral.

    The Ole Miss quarterback flashes accurate throws on short and intermediate throws and is a tough runner. But Wilson was a tier above with his arm strength and ability to create plays outside of structure.

    Corral's offense at Ole Miss also allows him to thrive off of RPOs. Though Wilson has struggled as a rookie, he was asked to progress more often in BYU's offense. 

    — Tice

How Does Brigham Young's Tyler Allgeier Fit into the RB Class?

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Where does BYU's Tyler Allgeier slot among next year's running backs? — striplingwarrior

    I have Allgeier as my RB3 and am bullish on him as a prospect. He has the potential to be a true three-down starting back, who can handle any type of run concept because of his size (5'11" 220 pounds), vision, balance and burst. 

    Allgeier is also one of the better RBs in this class in pass protection while doubling as a natural pass-catcher. NFL teams cover both traits since it keeps the running back on the field as much as possible.

    — Tice

Where Do the Top WRs Fit?

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    What are the best team fits for the projected first-round wide receivers? — biggreen

    The following are the possible landing spots for Bleacher Report's top six wide receiver prospectsall of whom carry first-round grades: 

    • USC's Drake London - Any team would be lucky to have London as the top wide receiver prospect and an elite threat on the outside. 
    • Ohio State's Chris Olave - New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts
    • Penn State's Jahan Dotson - Saints, Chargers, Colts, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots
    • Alabama's Jameson Williams - Buffalo Bills, Lions, Chargers, Saints and Colts
    • Ohio State's Garrett Wilson - Saints, Lions, Chargers, Patriots
    • Arkansas' Treylon Burks - Patriots and San Francisco 49ers

    — Tice

Is Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum the Best-Ever Center Prospect?

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    Is Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum good enough to be the highest center ever drafted? — bigwalkdog

    I do believe that Linderbaum is good enough to become the highest center drafted in the modern era, particularly in this class where the first-round talent is more evenly dispersed rather than focused heavily at the top.

    With only a couple of true top-five talents in this class, positional value or lack thereof becomes less of a concern since Linderbaum is arguably one of the best overall players.

    What makes Linderbaum special is what he does as a run-blocker, using a rare blend of play strength, power, athletic ability, tenacity and technique. This combination makes him an immediate impact player that a play-caller can build a run game around.

    Being undersized (6'3", 290 pounds) becomes somewhat of a concern in pass protection with anchoring and handling rushers, who are bigger and longer than him. But his play strength may be good enough to overcome similar to how Jason Kelce has won as a pro.

    Early on, Kelce was brilliant in the zone run game and on the move, but he went through a few seasons of getting pushed around, too. Linderbaum may not be quite as fast as Kelce but is a little stronger coming out, offering a nice blend to cover up his few deficiencies.

    — Thorn

Should Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson Be Considered the No. 1 Overall Prospect?

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    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    Is Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson really a better prospect than Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux? — SeriousFan120

    No. Thibodeaux is in a different tier as a prospect. 

    Though not as productive this season, Thibodeaux's blend of length, speed, and bend for a player his size (6'5", 258) is something Hutchinson cannot match.

    To be fair, Hutchinson is a bit stronger and more technically refined right now. But he just does not have the movement skills in space and flexibility around the edge to rival Thibodeaux's potential.

    There's a good possibility Hutchinson starts off stronger during his professional career, but Thibodeaux has more ways to win, and that should make him the better player in the long run.

    — Klassen

Where Does Florida State's Jermaine Johnson Fit After a Breakout Season?

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    Gary McCullough/Associated Press

    After little fanfare coming into the season, do you believe Florida State's Jermaine Johnson sneaks into the first round or will he be a Day 2 steal? — austinsantilli

    In terms of Johnson's grade and evaluation, he is right on the cusp of being a first-round pick. Johnson may be the sharpest run defender at the position in this class and has enough explosiveness, motor and variety in his approach to be effective as a pass-rusher.

    After the first three edge-rushers—Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, Purdue's George Karlaftis and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinsonthere is a bit more room based on team flavor and play style to take into account as far as which edge rushers will fill out the first round.

    Johnson's ideal length and plug-and-play skill set may get him the boost over thinner, faster pass-rushers such as Michigan's David Ojabo and Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie come draft time.

    — Klassen

Will Foot Injury Prevent Derek Stingley Jr. from Being a Top 10 Prospect?

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    Will LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. fall at all because of this year's injury? — InkedKong

    Depending on the significance of Stingley's injury, his stock may slightly fall in this year's draft. Stingley doesn't have a history of injuries, though. If he is able to fully recover from his injured foot and doctors clear him at the NFL combine, he should get the thumbs up as an elite prospect.

    Teams might be a bit on edge with prospects who have had significant injuries, given how Caleb Farley's injury situation went down this year. Stingley's talent is undeniable but the "best ability is availability." If he can't ease the minds of NFL front offices then he may end up sliding a bit before an organization decides to take a chance on his upside.

    — Giddings

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