With the hot phase of free action in the rearview mirror, all eyes are on the draft – and again this year, coaches and GMs will link their fate to a young quarterback. But is it advisable for this year’s class? And which quarterbacks would you recommend for that confidence?
To ensure the best possible transparency for the analysis of quarterbacks, it is important to disclose my benchmark in advance.
To me, these are the most important qualities of a quarterback, in that order, although some are of course related:
- Pocket behavior
- Accuracy and expectation
- Off-Script Plays: Arm talent, improvisation, off-platform
- Treatment, readings, decision making
- behavior against pressure
- Mechanics: feet, throwing motion, slip
- Deep passage
It is by far the most important position on the pitch. Every year, more teams in the draft hope to find their franchise quarterback for the next 15 years – and this is also true this year, even though this year’s class in the pre-draft analysis is significantly weaker than the class from the previous year.
But even without a clear elite outlook at the top, I see potential in this class.
On the one hand, there are very different types of players, ie prospects, who interpret and implement the quarterback position very differently, and there are also dramatic differences in terms of floor and ceiling – which in turn gives the teams the opportunity to bet on a talent with a high floor, like Kenny Pickett, or just chasing the upside, for example with Malik Willis.
This makes the 2022 class an extreme version of each team having its own taste in the position – and this group will be sorted markedly differently depending on the team.
NFL Draft 2022 Ranking: Quarterback Top 8
8. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
At first glance: In a class with few exciting quarterback prospects for intermediate and later rounds, Thompson stands out the most. A mobile quarterback who can create acting.
- A quarterback who can create. Thompson has some advantages as a playmaker, his arm talent is visible and he can use his mobility to get out of difficult situations.
- As a result, he also likes how he handles pressure. Thompson is not directly lost when the situation collapses.
- A candidate for an RPO and option offense that also demonstrates his athletic abilities. But definitely a backup in the forecast.
- Thompson is a red shirt senior who has been part of the team since 2016 (!). Comes with the experience from 40 college starts – but also turns 25 in June. Thompson is exactly one day older than Sam Darnold.
- Not a quarterback who disciplines his readings.
- Accuracy is inconsistent, processing too slow from time to time.
- Need some help in a schematic way, he should see the field in the NFL.
SPOX recommendation: 5.-6 Round.
7. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
At first glance: The intermediate level in this year’s quarterback class begins – and ends – with Zappe. An accurate fitter who had tremendous volume in Western Kentucky’s air strikes, but who still rarely needed to act against pressure. Simple tools, more an advanced backup and playful an easy version of Gardner Minshew when he was back in college.
- Accuracy is his greatest asset. Had a huge workload on Western Kentucky’s Air Raid offense and caught 687 (!) Passes for nearly 6,000 yards last season in 14 games. And to implement this type of attack, where short passes often replace the running game, you need a quarterback who is consistently very accurate. This is where Zappe scores the most. PFF ranks him as the 11th out of 106 FBS quarterbacks for accurate passes over the line.
- If accuracy is the first pro-Zappe argument, then touch follows in second place. Zappe regularly places the ball excellently between linebackers and safeties and can thus attack the deep area of the field without a particularly good arm.
- Expectation is crucial for him to be able to “work”, and he shows it too. The ball is often out before the receiver is free or has made his cut.
- Constantly going through his Underneath readings and distributing the ball well there. Also create a new platform in your pocket.
- Zappe played for FCS ‘Houston Baptist from 2017-2020, where he added over 10,000 passing yards. Then came the transfer to Western Kentucky to prove himself on a bigger stage. His 5,967 passing yards and 62 touchdown passes broke Joe Burrow’s 2003 touchdown record and BJ Symons’ single-season pass-yard record.
- Physically, he is undoubtedly limited. Arm strength is manageable, just like athletics. He does not want to create much out of pocket and he ultimately needs a good offensive line to play.
- He had it in Western Kentucky, and in an impressive way: Loud PFF he was under pressure with 12.5 percent of his dropbacks, one of the lowest rates nationwide. What’s more: 60 (!) Of his 62 touchdown passes came from a clean pocket.
- When he comes under pressure when he is thrown out of rhythm, then he gives relatively little to the offense. And that effect will be significantly amplified in the NFL compared to Western Kentucky. Accessory windows are narrowing, pockets are getting smaller, playmaker qualities are in demand more often.
- Zappe made me think of a light version of Gardner Minshew. Zappe’s accuracy and consistency, especially in the underlying passing game, potentially make it an advanced backup at the next level – but no more than that, and I would not expect more from a game manager either.
SPOX recommendation: 3.-4 Round.