The 2022 NFL Draft class for quarterbacks has changed plenty during the 2021 college football season. As once-prized potential first-rounders Sam Howell (North Carolina) Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) and Kedon Slovis (USC) have struggled to push their stock down, it’s opened the door for two QBs to emerge as the new 1-2 for ’22.
Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral have had impressive seasons vs. different levels of competition. Luckily for NFL observers and fans hopeful their teams will land a strong franchise QB next year, Willis will get to duel Corral on the same field when Ole Miss hosts Liberty (noon ET, SEC Network) on Saturday afternoon.
There’s a long way to go in the pre-draft process with all-star games, the scouting combine and pro days ahead before teams go on the clock next April 28 in Las Vegas. But having a rare chance to compare the rising top two QB prospects in a single college game will be fun.
Between the skill sets Willis and Corral have shown so far, who should be the first to go to the board, right now to the QB-needy Detroit Lions? Here are Sporting News’ updated 2022 QB draft rankings as college football’s top quarterbacks look to distinguish themselves in the final stages of the season.
NFL MOCK DRAFT 2022: Where will Malik Willis, Matt Corral go?
2022 NFL Draft quarterback rankings
1. Malik Willis, Liberty
Willis (6-1, 215 pounds) has drawn natural comparisons to Trey Lance (6-4, 224 pounds), who went No. 3 overall to the 49ers as a fast-rising prospect out of North Dakota State this April. He doesn’t have the same prototypical size, but Willis matches the cannon arm with terrific athleticism. He hangs tough and just has a knack to make plays. He’s also not the typical small-school QB, given his SEC ties, having transferred from Auburn and playing for former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. He has a big chance in get more into the spotlight against Freeze’s former program.
2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
There’s really not much separating Willis and Corral (6-0, 220 pounds) when you look at their playing styles as dual threats. Corral is a little shorter and thinner. He also is a great athletic and is willing to be aggressive with his arm, ideal for the downfield-throwing NFL trend. He has been helped a lot by the strong offensive mind of coach Lane Kiffin. Corral has a chance to displace Willims with a stellar contrasting performance. Both are top-10 picks.
3. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Ridder (6-4, 215 pounds) stands out with his loose arm and natural running ability, too. Although he’s not quiet as dynamic in those areas as Willis and Corral, his big appeal is the mental and physical toughness. He’s also got the intangible of winning leadership and plenty of experience.
4. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Pickett (6-3, 220 pounds) has gotten a lot of attention for the Panthers’ fine offensive season in the ACC. He’s the top traditional pocket-passing prospect in the class with his deep ball-accuracy, smarts and maturity. He made the right decision not to rush into the NFL in 2021, because he has continued to grow all-around and show more impact leadership.
5. Carson Strong, Nevada
Strong (6-4, 215 pounds) is the same size as Ridder and has done many simliar things well as the leader of the Wolf Pack. HIs last name is apt for how he can make all the throws with his arm, and he’s still learning to better use his athleticism. He’s kind of a hybrid of what Josh Allen and Justin Herbert do well.
6. Sam Howell, North Carolina
Howell (6-1, 220 pounds) was everyone’s favorite top quarterback in college football with big-time NFL buzz until he came out struggling with mental and physical mistakes for the Tar Heels. Some of it is tied to having a dwindled supporting cast, but Howell has fought through the adversity both in and out of the pocket to show his assets tied to smarts, accuracy and relentlessness.
7. Tanner McKee, Stanford
McKee (6-6, 228 pounds) has an outstanding big and strong frame and he has put together some NFL pleasing passing skills with it breaking out for the Cardinals. McKee has the arm to deliver the ball anywhere and recognizes pressure well to be accurate and efficient. He doesn’t have the biggest arm in relation to some of the prospects above, but he tends to put the right touch on his throws.
8. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Rattler (6-1, 200 pounds) got a little rattled early in the Sooners season, perhaps pressing a bit, but his bout with inaccuracy and inefficiency cost him his starting job in favor of another Lincoln Riley future NFL star, freshman Caleb Williams. He has a strong enough foundation of accuracy and athleticism where he can still developed into a pro starter in the right system.
9. Kedon Slovis, USC
Slovis (6-3, 205 pounds) was right there with Howell and Rattler before the season but it’s been a bumpy ride for the Trojan and the program, including Clay Helton being dismissed as head coach. Slovis is not quite back at his 2019 promise, having trouble with tougher defenses (see the Notre Dame game) and doesn’t have any running element to his game. He’s had injury and ineffectivness, but the intangibles and mental parts of his game will keep him on the Day 2 radar.