NFL Draft 2022: Examining Predictions for Top QBs in Latest Expert Mocks

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 16, 2022

NFL Draft 2022: Examining Predictions for Top QBs in Latest Expert Mocks

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    If you're talking NFL draft, that means you're talking NFL draft prospects.

    Even in 2022, when the quarterback class is less than heralded, that rings true.

    It's the most important position in all of sports, after all, so it's always a big deal.

    We'll put some of the top young signal-callers under the microscope here to see where draft experts have them landing.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

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    You've probably heard a time or 10 that there's no consensus with this draft class—not at the top, and not at the quarterback position. These expert predictions bear that out.

    They aren't in agreement on who the first quarterback will be or when he'll get taken, although both The Ringer's Danny Kelly and CBS Sports' Kyle Stackpole have Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett pacing the position as the sixth overall selection by the Carolina Panthers.

    Kelly sees "shades of Tony Romo" in Pickett, whom Kelly noted has a connection to Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who recruited Pickett to Temple. Stackpole contended that Rhule may not be "in a situation where he can survive having to develop a high-ceiling signal-caller like Malik Willis," so Pickett is the Panthers' guy.

    The final expert,'s Lance Zierlein, has Pickett going second among quarterbacks and 20th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Zierlein dubbed Pickett "an ascending talent" and noted he "could compete for a starting spot this season."

    Pickett, who wound up decommitting from Temple to play at Pitt, erupted this past season while throwing for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.

Malik Willis, Liberty

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    If these experts are right, it seems Malik Willis will compete with Pickett to be the first quarterback selected.

    Zierlein mocked Willis the highest, making him the draft's QB1 and the New Orleans Saints' selection at No. 16.

    "I'm sure New Orleans came into the draft expecting to take a left tackle or receiver with this choice, acquired in a trade earlier this month with the Eagles, but passing on Willis will likely be too difficult if he's there," Zierlein wrote.

    Kelly and Stackpole are again in lockstep, as both have Willis landing with the Steelers at No. 20.

    Kelly, who described Willis as "Jalen Hurts with turbo boosters," wrote that Pittsburgh is an ideal landing spot for Willis since the Steelers wouldn't need to rush him with Mitch Trubisky on board as the bridge option leading them out of the Ben Roethlisberger era. Stackpole, who praised Willis' "rocket arm and electric rushing ability," similarly noted how he's free to sit behind Trubisky until ready.

    Willis, who started his college career at Auburn before transferring to Liberty, put up absurd numbers across two seasons with the Flames. He threw for 5,107 yards and 47 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,822 yards and 27 scores.

Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

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    Curious about which quarterback will be the third one taken in the first round? So are these experts.

    There isn't one for Kelly, who starts and stops the first-round quarterback group with Pickett and Willis. Stackpole has the Detroit Lions going with Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder at No. 32 while writing that current starter Jared Goff "doesn't appear to be the long-term answer."

    Zierlein apparently agrees with the part about Goff, because he also has the Lions going with a quarterback in that. Rather than Ridder, though, Zierlein mocked Ole Miss' Matt Corral to Detroit.

    "I have a funny feeling that the Lions may get frisky and jump up the board for a QB at some point, but if they sit tight, Corral has plenty of talent to become their future starter," Zierlein wrote.

    Corral really popped for the Rebels the past two seasons, throwing for a combined 6,686 yards and 49 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns over that stretch.