The Myth of the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft is behind us, and it reveals a modern scouting trend at the league’s most important position.

The NFL draft has come and gone, and there were plenty of surprises, notably at the quarterback position. Among them, not a single quarterback was picked in the second round.

After Kenny Pickett was drafted by the Steelers at 20, the next QB didn’t go until 54 picks later, even though there were several who analysts believed were capable of going in round two.

There’s just one small problem: second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

I know it sounds like an odd — or maybe blatantly false — statement, but there is a case to be made. The success rate on round two signal-callers is pretty horrendous, and it all seems to lead to this one conclusion.

In order to come to that conclusion, however, there are a variety of different criteria. First, the types of quarterbacks and draftable skills. Second, the structure, and third, the history of these picks. Those three, when looked at together, bring a pretty shocking revelation that made me conjure up that statement above.

Drafting a Quarterback

Teams who find themselves drafting quarterbacks highly may be in a variety of spots, but there are three that are the most typical:

  1. One of the league’s worst teams, holding a high draft pick.
  2. Middling franchise, looking to make a change.
  3. Top of the league, finding the protégé for an older (on the verge of retirement) leader.

When teams find themselves in any of these positions, they must find the traits they value in a quarterback. Among those are arm talent, rushing ability, composure, ability to read the field, and more. However, there are two categories that those fall into, which, for the sake of the argument are production and potential.

To put it simply, teams judge what a quarterback is right now versus what he could be in a few years.

Scenario one

The top guys usually have a combination of both. Trevor Lawrence, who went number one to the Jaguars last year, combined national championships and Heisman ballot appearances with a 6’6″ frame and a cannon of an arm. Thus, he went to a team that I would place in the first set of criteria. The Jaguars were easily one of the worst teams in the NFL, and thus received a generational talent.

Scenario Two

Those with one of the two traits, however, have a wide range of options. For a team that’s just good enough to be picking outside of the quarterback window, they might be willing to take a chance on a potentially huge swing in their franchises history. Kenny Pickett is a prime example of this. While he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the highest ceiling, his production last season was hard to ignore. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 9-7-1 last year, decided that he was worth it at 20.

Kenny Pickett goes 20th overall.

Following that pick, there were other quarterbacks on the board, who, like Pickett, possessed one of the two main traits. Malik Willis, who some suspected may go as high as number two overall, had one of the highest ceilings in the draft, however, if he wasn’t going to go in the first, it seemed he wasn’t getting drafted until later on day 2.

scenario threE

Teams that fall in the third category (such as the Packers in 2020) have a tough decision. While they could take their chances on a high-potential pick like Jordan Love, it makes the most sense to maximize their championship window. Green Bay took that chance in 2020, and passed up elite talent because of it. Now, teams have learned from that mistake, while quarterbacks brunt the blow to their draft position.

Thus, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, and all of the quarterbacks who many expected to go in round one, are now available in the dreaded first half of day two.

The Structure of the Second Round

On the typical draft boards, teams have a wide range of grades on prospects. It’s common to see someone who’s viewed as a top prospect by one team be a day two pick for someone else. Due to this disparity, many “first round talents” fall into the beginning of day two.

These players are quickly scooped up in what makes up roughly 25 percent of the round. This leaves the last 24 picks for guys truly viewed as round two prospects, which doesn’t leave much room for quarterbacks.

If a team would have believed in someone enough to draft them with those first eight picks, it’s unlikely he would have slipped to begin with. Teams rarely risk the opportunity of missing out their guy. This is why it’s common to see teams move up to 32. They guarantee themselves the player they want with an extra year of team control.

Lamar Jackson was drafted 32 overall.

If a team wasn’t willing to take that chance, it’s unlikely they viewed them very highly. That idea is exactly what makes the second round the worst for the quarterback. Would a team take a player who, at the most important position in the sport, they aren’t fully invested in or comfortable with — especially when there is still high-end talent on the board?

The last 24

Once you find your way out of those first eight picks, it becomes time for teams to ask themselves that question. As this draft has shown, the answer has been a resounding “no.” The later picks, which are usually the teams competing for playoff spots, would rather choose someone who can contribute right away. Bubble teams are always looking for their next big acquisition, and their philosophy is that is can come then.

Quarterbacks, as a result, usually fall by the wayside. However, there are some instances where they are picked. The results of which are rather interesting.

Modern History of the Second Round Quarterback

Over the last 20 years, there have been 20 quarterbacks selected in the second round. 20 different times, teams have weighed the ideas of production and potential, and in the last two decades, have determined it’s time to take a quarterback who likely only had one of those traits.

A list of second round quarterback selections of the last 20 years.

Of those, the results are typically a failure of epic proportions. Kellen Clemens, Deshone Kizer, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, John Beck, Jimmy Clausen, and Geno Smith all have more career interceptions than touchdowns, while Christian Hackenberg and Kyle Trask (who’s only in his second season) never played a recorded snap.

The other options aren’t great either. Tavaris Jackson, Brock Osweiler, and Kevin Kolb all showed some flashes, but never lived up to their selection.

Five of the remaining six are polarizing. Jalen Hurts has shown flashes, but fell apart in the playoffs. Drew Lock is still young, but was just traded by the Broncos and has been shaky. Jimmy Garoppolo was able to succeed in the Kyle Shanahan offense, but was just replaced and hasn’t shown an ability to transcend the system. Andy Dalton is a similar story, having rough stints in limited playoff appearances. Lastly, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, but has been out of the league for the better half of the last decade.

This leaves Derek Carr, who, while having only one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins, has safely cemented a spot as the Raiders quarterback for eight years. He has made three Pro Bowls, and has continued to improve. Thus making him the only second round quarterback selected in the last 20 years who can safely be called a hit.

The Bottom Line on the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft was a prime example of a philosophy at work. After a quarterback goes in the first round, teams have learned from mistakes of the past. Rather than picking signal callers with clear holes in their game in the following round, they’ve gone for contributors at other positions.

Several teams would love to have the next Derek Carr, but with that comes the chance of Brian Brohm or Deshone Kizer. Just like every other selection, the second round has it’s fair share of bust potential. However, it seems that the combination of quarterback traits, draft tendencies, and a simple history lesson will tell you that it simply isn’t the same.

General managers across the league will continue to take swings on quarterbacks, but when doing so, it’s important to look at the most glaring fact:

Second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

2022 NFL Draft Quarterbacks Temperature Check: Senior Bowl

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The top quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft have now completed their journey to Mobile. With the Senior Bowl over, they now turn their eye to the NFL Scouting Combine. Before diving into that, however, let’s see where the class stands. Six of the top seven quarterbacks played in the Senior Bowl. We’ll check in with what their temperature is as a prospect before moving onto the next stage of the NFL Draft process.

Senior Bowl Practice Star Malik Willis
Photo by Jeff Hanson

Malik Willis, Liberty

Of all the 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks, Malik Willis probably had the most to gain or lose at the Senior Bowl. As was the case during most of his college career, Willis was somewhat inconsistent during his time in Mobile. But his flashes were so explosive that it got some people (perhaps too) excited.

Willis undeniably possesses the best physical gifts in this draft class in terms of his athletic/running ability and arm talent. He also looked the most energetic and engaged with his teammates during practices, especially during the torrential downpour on Wednesday. 

But Willis also has a long developmental road ahead of him with regards to his lower body mechanics, accuracy, and mental processing. He put all these facets of his game on display during the Senior Bowl process. Willis frequently made electric plays with his feet, along with some truly unique throws. But he also missed several easy passes due to his poor footwork.

Nevertheless, Willis probably flashed enough during the week to convince several teams they can fix him and turn him into the next Mahomes or Allen. Because of his elite traits, many are going to be willing to bet on him as the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Temperature Check: Hot, slowly approaching Fever

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett arrived in Mobile with arguably his biggest flaw at the forefront of the discourse: his hand size. Pickett did not measure his hands due to his thumbs being double-jointed, leading to a misleading number. Nevertheless, the rumor is that his hands are only 8 ¼” across, the smallest for any quarterback in the modern era. However, Pickett apparently soared above the other 2022 NFL draft quarterbacks in Mobile, as he was the clear winner during the interview process with NFL teams. 

On the field, Pickett performed like most of the other quarterbacks: inconsistent. He had some nice throws on the first day but also struggled to receive snaps (albeit from unfamiliar centers who were new to the position). On the second day, Pickett donned a glove on his throwing hand to deal with the pouring rain. However, he looked even worse this day, as he struggled to drive the ball with velocity through the rain.

But on the third day, he played arguably the best of any quarterback during the whole week. Granted, this practice took place indoors, but Pickett parleyed this performance into another solid one on game day. At the end of the week, Pickett most likely helped himself; but there are still legitimate concerns about his game that could scare teams off. 

Temperature Check: Warm, slowly approaching Hot

Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sam Howell, North Carolina

Of the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft, Sam Howell probably had the most consistently solid week in Mobile. Howell had some of the same issues as the other quarterbacks (snap exchange problems, drops, etc.). He made numerous good accurate throws to most levels of the field.

But Howell did not test the defense deep as much as quarterbacks like Willis and Strong. On one hand, it was frustrating not to see him take deep shots; on the other, he didn’t miss as badly as the other quarterbacks. 

During the actual game, Howell was plagued by the same issue that gave him so much trouble this past season: poor offensive line play. Even though the offensive lines at the Senior Bowl were much better than Howell’s at UNC, the opposing defensive lines were unstoppable. At this point in the process, he represents somewhat of a middle ground between Pickett and Willis.

The problem is that more teams want to bet on elite traits, even if that player has major issues. Howell doesn’t have any elite traits, but he also doesn’t have any major flaws. For these reasons, I think he could fall in the draft but it might land him in a better situation where he can succeed immediately. 

Temperature Check: Lukewarm but Comfortable

Carson Strong, Nevada

Carson Strong might have had the most to gain among the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl. However, in my opinion, he failed to fully take advantage of this opportunity. Over the course of the past year, Strong became the darling sleeper of many draft analysts. His big arm and accuracy from the pocket were unique, especially for a Group of Five quarterback.

Strong played quite well again this past year, but concerns about his mobility (or lack thereof) and the long-term health of his knee flared. Going to Mobile, Strong had a chance to seize the mantle of QB1 if he could continue to wow with his arm talent and show he could move around the pocket. 

During his time in Mobile, Strong accomplished about one-and-a-half of those goals. He did not wear a knee brace during practice and showed on multiple occasions he could get outside the pocket and even scramble for a few yards. He also displayed the raw power of his arm, launching passes 50 or 60 yards downfield.

Unfortunately, many of these passes completely missed the receiver, as Strong struggled to properly locate passes, especially intermediate and deep. While he didn’t have a bad week by any means, Strong failed to make a significant change to his stock — especially after the first day. If anything, Strong’s chances of being drafted in the first round decreased after this week.

Temperature Check: Warm but lower than anticipated

Photo Credit: AP Photo / Rogelio V. Solis

Matt Corral, Mississippi

Matt Corral did not attend the Senior Bowl, but the performance of the other 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks affects his stock as well. Some said Matt Corral was the biggest winner in Mobile because the rest of the quarterbacks were so inconsistent/bad.

Corral runs a very similar offense to that of Sam Howell and Malik Willis, and arguably ran it the best this season, leading Ole Miss to a 9-3 season. But I am still wary of Corral; he presents a lot of the same issues that plague Willis and Howell, but lacks the size, arm strength, rushing ability, or toughness. 

Furthermore, Corral could have been eligible to attend the Senior Bowl. Since Jim Nagy took over, the game has been much more open to accepting fourth-year juniors that have graduated. They even took Sam Howell, who graduated from North Carolina in only three years.

Conversely, Corral failed to graduate from Ole Miss in four years (one of which was a redshirt year) as a multidisciplinary studies major. Obviously, there have been great quarterbacks with less than stellar academic records who succeeded in the past. But this falls in line with Corral’s history of immaturity and lack of focus, dating back to his time in high school. Therefore, with all these elements combined, I would say Corral has not moved very much in recent weeks. 

Temperature Check: Tepid

SEE ALSO: 2022 ALL-SENIOR BOWL OFFENSE

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

On one hand, Desmond Ridder did exactly what people expected of him at the Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, on the other, he did exactly what was expected. Ridder is an extremely polished, developed quarterback — especially relative to the other 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks. However, that is part of the problem.

Despite starting for several seasons, Ridder still struggles to maintain consistent accuracy and ball placement, especially when throwing deep. He also doesn’t have the strongest arm; it’s not bad, but is about NFL average in terms of both velocity and distance. 

In Mobile, Ridder struggled with a lot of these same issues. Granted, the offensive line, receivers, and offense we all new. But he still made more mistakes and bad plays than most of the other quarterbacks there. Most people see Ridder as a step below the previously discussed quarterbacks, due to his lack of elite (or perhaps even very good) traits. He did nothing to dissuade these notions in Mobile. At this point, it’s hard to plot a path for Ridder to re-elevate his stock to that of a first-round pick. 

Temperature Check: Room-Temperature and Dropping

Bailey Zappe led the American team of winners and losers on Day 3 of the Senior Bowl
Photo Credit: Jeff Hanson

Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

Even though the rest of the 2022 NFL Draft quarterback group in Mobile struggled throughout the week, Bailey Zappe was clearly a tier below the rest. While Zappe is very accurate in short and intermediate areas of the field, he lacks the arm talent to consistently threaten the entire field. He would need an elite team around him, along with a domed stadium, to be a successful NFL starting QB.

While one might point at Drew Brees as a possible model for Zappe, I would gesture towards the scores of undersized, noodle-armed quarterbacks who barely lasted one contract. 

Temperature Check: Cold

Others

Of the quarterbacks at the East-West Shrine Game in Las Vegas, Jack Coan stood out the most to me. Coan flashed at various points in his career, both at Wisconsin and Notre Dame. He probably doesn’t have the consistency or the physical tools to develop into a full-time starter, but he’s extremely smart with an NFL-caliber arm and some athletic ability. He could carve out a niche for himself as a long-time backup in the league. At this point, I’d rather spend an early-Day 3 pick on Coan than Zappe. 

Another lower-tier quarterback that played well at a lower-level all-star game is Chase Garbers. The California quarterback was fantastic in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl; he displayed good zip on accurate throws, along with surprising athletic ability. He is proto-typically built (6’2”, 218 lbs) and looks like the type that could be a solid backup and competent spot starter. If I had to burn a sixth or seventh-round pick on a quarterback to be an NFL backup for the next decade, I would spend it on Garbers.

The Three FCS Musketeers

This quarterback class is notoriously thin, which is driving scouts to the FCS ranks to look for hidden gems. The three names that have come up the most are Alabama A&M’s Aqeel Glass, Brown’s EJ Perry, and Southeastern Louisiana’s Cole Kelley.

Glass is the most prototypical of the three, as he plays like Strong. While he’s extremely accurate, he’s an underwhelming athlete and does not push the ball vertically very much.

Perry is probably the hottest name right now, as he’s coming off several tremendous seasons in the Ivy League after transferring from Boston College. Unfortunately, he’s small and probably doesn’t have an NFL-caliber arm.

My favorite of the bunch is Cole Kelley. Formerly of Arkansas, the 6’6”, 250 lbs behemoth might be the most unique QB in this class. While his arm is not as strong as one would expect of someone with his size and build, Kelley probably has the most NFL tools of any of the FCS quarterbacks. Again, if NFL teams are going to bet on physical tools, Kelley is the smartest man to wager on. 

Senior Bowl Winners and Losers: Day Three, National Team

Desmond Ridder was a winner on Day 3 of the Senior Bowl
Photo Credit: Jeff Hanson

The Senior Bowl continued today in Mobile, AL, as both teams wrapped up their week of practice from the comfort of the indoor practice field. Around the Block sent multiple scouts to Mobile this week to check out the prospects. For their recaps of Wednesday’s practices, check out their standouts from the American and National teams. In this article, Mitchell Wolfe highlights his Senior Bowl winners and losers from Thursday’s indoor practice.

Winners

Desmond Ridder

All three quarterbacks on the National team played much better today inside South Alabama’s indoor facility. However, the one who probably improved the most across the course of the week, along with finally surpassing his expectations, was Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. Ridder struggled throughout the week with his placement, frequently putting the ball out of his receivers’ reach; additionally, the weather on Wednesday did not do him any favors.

But he looked much more poised and patient on Thursday, hitting his receivers in stride with some great strikes. If he can carry this performance over into the game on Saturday, that could help his stock immensely. It was good to see him put it all together today, earning him the distinction of leading the group of Senior Bowl winners and losers.

Rachaad White

Rachaad White has flashed several times throughout this week. But even he might have saved his best for last on Thursday to become one of the final Senior Bowl winners. He continued to show great vision and burst, hitting cutback lanes for chunk runs. Once he plants his foot in the ground and gets upfield, he is tough to stop, frequently finishing off his runs with force and violence.

Additionally, White has consistently shown soft hands, quick feet, and fluid hips as a receiver out of the backfield. He still needs to work on his pass blocking, but given that he has fewer than 300 career touches at the FBS level, teams should be very interested in this versatile back with fresh tread on his tires. 

Khalil Shakir

Khalil Shakir was one of the players I was most excited to see going into this week. Unfortunately, he did not make as many of the highlight catches down in Mobile that made him famous at Boise State. He even sometimes struggled with drops, and more physical corners gave him trouble.

But on Thursday, Shakir finally realized his potential as one of the Senior Bowl winners. He was dominant in the red zone drills, regularly creating separation, finding holes in the coverage, and securing the ball for scores. He finally displayed his superb leaping ability and body control in the air. Shakir is exceptionally versatile, so expect him to get the ball in various ways (returns, end-arounds, reverses, etc.) during the game on Saturday. 

Trevor Penning

Some — perhaps even myself — are not the biggest fans of Trevor Penning. His play style is violent, bordering on reckless. But, in this case, there is no such thing as bad press. Penning was the talk of the town on Thursday, as he routinely dominated his opponents. He also let them hear about it and frequently played through the whistle, delivering some (possibly questionable or even illegal) hits.

Penning has a propensity towards these types of penalties (38 total in his career, 16 in 2021). But given his pestering play style, he might be able to draw some retaliation penalties from opponents as well. He especially got under the skin of Tyreke Smith and Travis Jones, who both accosted him after sustaining late hits. The ESPN television crew remarked that it is much harder to coach aggression into a player instead of reeling them in and coaching them out of it.

At the end of practice, Penning responded to a question about facing opponents from higher-profile FBS schools: “Everyone bleeds red.” That quote alone puts him on the list of Senior Bowl winners. 

Jalen Pitre

Jalen Pitre has been one of the most consistently solid players throughout every day of practice in Mobile. Despite being relatively undersized for a safety (5’10”, 196 lbs), Pitre has played in the slot, in the box, and even some deep safety. He has excelled in basically every position he has been put in, consistently making plays around the ball.

Pitre is one of those players who you just need to ignore the numbers and put on the tape. His instincts are off the charts, and he just gets how to play football. If he’s too small for your scheme, find a new scheme. 

Losers

Nick Zakelj

Sadly, Nick Zakelj only needed two consecutive reps to end up on this list. Early in 1-on-1 drills with the offensive and defensive lines, Perrion Winfrey matched up against the Fordham lineman. Winfrey has earned significant praise the last two days, highlighted as one of the Senior Bowl standouts yesterday. On the first rep, he swam past Zakelj with relative ease; Zakelj got to him a little at the end, pushing Winfrey a little deeper past the pocket.

As mentioned earlier, the defensive line got chippy with their opponents, primarily because of Trevor Penning. Even though Winfrey clearly beat Zakelj, he wasn’t satisfied. He pointed at Zakelj once the play was over and challenged him to run it back. They lined up again, and Winfrey promptly bull-rushed Zakelj right into the lap of the quarterback. I know Alabama might be more open to corporal punishment, but what Winfrey did to Zakelj was unquestionably cruel and unusual. 

Darrian Beavers

The linebacker from Cincinnati was someone I was very excited to get eyes on this week. Darrian Beavers was a crucial piece for the Bearcats’ defense this year that led them to the College Football Playoff. He’s a huge player, coming in at 6’4” and 252 pounds. Therefore, checking in on his coverage abilities became a primary priority.

Unfortunately, Beavers has struggled in coverage this week, especially today. Multiple running backs on the National team roster cooked him on routes out of the backfield. This did not help dispel the notion that Beavers can only be a two-down run-stuffing off-ball linebacker sometimes can rush the passer. Hopefully, Beavers does not diminish his stock further with poor testing at the Combine next month. 

Ja’Tyre Carter

Whereas Nick Zakelj had one (or two) isolated incident(s), another small-school offensive lineman had many more issues. Ja’Tyre Carter from Southern University has had a very difficult week: his wins in the 1-on-1 periods have been very few and far between. Most of the interior defensive linemen have walked him back with ease. He has not been able to set and maintain his leverage correctly. Travis Jones and Logan Hall have had their way with him multiple times.

With that being said, like some of the other offensive lineman, Carter has looked better in team drills than 1-on-1s, which are more important.

Senior Bowl Watchlist: National

Senior Bowl watchlist
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

This is the second part of the first Senior Bowl watchlist by the Around the Block scouting department — read the first part here. By this time next week, almost 150 prospects will be in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl is the most prestigious collegiate all-star game for draft prospects.

They will practice with NFL coaching staffs during the week then play in a game on Saturday, February 5th. The Senior Bowl provides a fantastic opportunity for prospects from diverse backgrounds to prove themselves on a level playing field.

This year, the Detroit Lions and the New York Jets will be coaching up the players. The scouting department for Around the Block put together a watchlist of players from each Senior Bowl team, the American and the National. This Senior Bowl watchlist will preview the players on the American team, coached by the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback – Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder was a near-unanimous choice among the scouting staff for the National team quarterbacks. Ridder has been the starter for Cincinnati for four seasons now and is among the winningest quarterbacks in college football history, boasting a 44-5 record as a starter. Three of those losses came at the hands of some of the best programs in college football: Alabama (in the College Football Playoff), Georgia (in the Peach Bowl), and Ohio State.

Despite this success, many questions surround Ridder. He’s a gifted athlete but is not an elite runner; his arm is good but not elite. Furthermore, he struggles with maintaining consistency in his accuracy in ball placement. In Mobile, Ridder will need to show he can distribute the ball accuracy to all levels of the field. 

Offense – Khalil Shakir, Boise State

Khalil Shakir might have the longest highlight reel of all the players in Mobile. He routinely makes incredible leaping, one-handed catches while keeping at least one of his feet in bounds. But Shakir is more than just a walking spectacular catch.

He’s a highly versatile playmaker who can return kicks, run the ball, and occasionally throw it. His teammates reportedly call him “Swiss”, referencing the versatility of the Swiss Army Knife. With that being said, Shakir struggled with drops during his career at Boise State. He will have to show consistent, reliable hands during the week of practice. 

Christian Watson, North Dakota State

Staying in the upper-middle part of the country, another player who was a favorite of the scouting staff was Christian Watson. A massive target (6’5”, 208), Watson led North Dakota State in receiving for the last three seasons. He also served as their primary kick returner, earning All-Missouri Valley Football Conference and FCS All-American honors at the position.

This shows that Watson is not your typical big receiver who only wins vertically; he’s a remarkable athlete in short areas, and the North Dakota State offense uses him in screens to take advantage of his run-after-the-catch skills. Like most smaller-school prospects, Watson will need to show he can hang with the best of the FBS; can he separate from faster, more athletic cornerbacks? Can he defeat press-jam technique at the line of scrimmage?

Offensive Line – Daniel Faalele, Minnesota

Daniel Faalele will be very hard to miss at the Senior bowl. At 6’9” and 380 pounds, “big” does not adequately describe the Australian offensive tackle. Faalele is relatively new to football, only playing competitively when he transferred to IMG Academy. He played at 400 pounds during his early years at Minnesota but slimmed down when he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID travel restrictions.

When he returned in 2021, he dropped at least 20 pounds and played the best season of his career. Faalele will need to show that he has the movement skills to keep up with NFL-caliber edge rushers. He’s also still pretty raw as a technician, but his physical gifts make him a rather intriguing ball of clay. 

Defensive Line – Logan Hall, Houston

Last year, Payton Turner exploded onto the scene at the Senior Bowl, which helped him become a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints. This year, another Houston Cougar will be looking to replicate Turner’s journey. Logan Hall came to Houston as a tall, lanky edge rusher. But he’s put on around 50 pounds to become a dominant interior defensive lineman. He’s remarkably explosive for someone of his size, especially considering the weight he’s added.

Hall will most likely take reps at defensive end and defensive tackle; he will need to show he has the play strength to hold up in run defense against larger, stronger offensive tackles. Furthermore, he will need to display a diverse arsenal of pass rush moves and counter, allowing him to win matchups in a variety of ways. 

Linebackers – Chad Muma, Wyoming

Chad Muma will also be following in the footsteps of an alumna from his school at the Senior Bowl. Two years ago, Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson parlayed his excellent time in Mobile to become a third-round selection by the Cincinnati Bengals. He is a vital part of their defense that helped carry them to the AFC Championship this weekend.

Muma is arguably an even better prospect than Wilson, so a strong showing at the Senior Bowl could cause his draft stock to skyrocket. He is a versatile player who plays well in coverage and when rushing the passer. Again, like most smaller-school prospects, Muma will need to show he has the speed and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL. As a former safety, this should not be a problem for him. 

Defensive Backs – Jalen Pitre, Baylor

The last player on our Senior Bowl watchlist is another hybrid player, Jalen Pitre from Baylor. Pitre is the reigning defensive MVP of the Big 12, contributing significantly toward Baylor’s turnaround that won them a Big 12 Championship. He played the Star position for Baylor this season, which is their designation for the slot/overhang defender. He filled a variety of roles for his defense, stopping the run, defending the pass, and even occasionally rushing the passer.

As the NFL modernizes its defenses, players like Pitre should be in much higher demand. In Mobile, the Jets’ coaching staff might try to see if Pitre can succeed in a more traditional safety role so that he can stay on the field for every down. He will need to display that he can succeed in deep zone assignments and prevent separation in man coverage.

The Quarterback-chelor: Week 2

Welcome to The Quarterback-chelor! I am your host, Mitchell Wolfe, and we’re excited to bring you this new show, where the 2022 NFL Draft is looking for their QB1. Every week, we’ll break down the 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks and how they are progressing in their relationship with the Draft to be the top-ranked quarterback.

Last year, our lead, the 2021 NFL Draft had many exciting suitors. But in the end, the favorite from the beginning, Trevor Lawrence, established an incredible connection and went home as the top-ranked QB and the #1 overall pick. This year, our Draft has a litany of handsome and exciting prospects looking for love and the honor of winning QB1. We met our contestants last week and Tanner Morgan from Minnesota got sent home. This week, many of our front-runners from before the season had comeback performances on the show. We also had two contestants go home. Let’s dive in!

Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

Spencer is one of the contestants that had a big bounce-back week. In this episode, he was much more poised and looked the Spencer that many fans expected to see. Granted, it was during a very easy date with little to no competition. Our draft may still have some questions for him. But nailing some of the easy questions should help assuage some of their worries. 

Sam Howell, North Carolina

Sam also had a strong comeback episode. Like Rattler, it was a simple opportunity. But he had a lot of ground to cover after a pretty poor showing in the first week. Getting back to an even footing with some of the frontrunners should be Sam’s primary focus. He was able to do that this week, but he’ll need to show he can do it consistently, especially when challenged. 

Carson Strong, Nevada

Carson had another strong week and he’s starting to gain a very big fan base. He’s certainly been the most consistent guy on the show so far. Our Draft likes to see that even-keel nature, Carson hasn’t really been challenged for a whole episode this season, so we’ll have to see how he responds if that happens. As it stands right now, however, nobody’s stock is rising faster than Carson’s. 

Malik Willis, Liberty

Malik put together a very strong week as well. He’s still somewhat of a sleeper pick. But there are pockets of fans that really like him and think he has what it takes to sweep our Draft off its feet. He might not get the best date opportunities or exposure on the show, relative to the front runners. But if he can string some excellent dates together, there’s an outside chance he wins this whole thing. 

Matt Corral, Mississippi

Mississippi Matt flew under the radar this weekend, not getting much air time on this episode. His spontaneity was on display again. But Matt needs to show that he can also be part of a stable relationship, not one ruled by constant ups-and-downs. It looks like there could be a very dramatic date coming up in Matt’s future. We’ll have to see how he responds to contestants from seasons past. 

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Desmond had another very strong week. It was a bit of an uncomfortable start but he rallied and put together a very strong performance for our Draft. Based on the previews and the rumors we’ve heard leaking out for this season, it looks like Desmond is going to have to answer some tough questions in the coming weeks. Based on the previews and rumors leaking from the show, it looks like he and Michael will have a major two-on-one date in the next episode, which will surely be must-watch television. 

Kedon Slovis, USC

Kedon put together another lackluster performance this episode. He’s being saved by other contestants doing worse. But his stock is pointed strongly downward. Our Draft has high expectations for their QB1 and Kedon is not meeting them. But, Kedon is apparently receiving some new guidance from the producers. We’ll have to see how that affects his performance and dates moving forward, but it should be helpful. 

JT Daniels, Georgia

Surprisingly, JT was not in the episode this week. There was talk that he wasn’t feeling well and may have even suffered an injury, like the next quarterback on our list. This is relatively typical, as sometimes we just don’t have enough time to include every contestant every week. Luckily, there should be plenty of time for JT later in the season. 

Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina

Many people are increasingly impressed with Grayson on this season. He’s injecting a lot of life into his relationship with the draft. His youth is still a major drawback. Typically, our Drafts look for slightly older, more mature contestants. But if Grayson keeps showing up and performing extremely well, maybe becomes the youngest contestant to win the show since 2015. 

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Kenny had another very solid week. While he was impressive, we still didn’t learn anything new about him. He was still wearing the gloves, which was disappointing. But Kenny is definitely a very safe contest that our Draft will probably keep around for a while this season. He may not have the high ceiling like the other contestants. But he’s reliable and consistent. 

Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

Like some of the other contestants, Michael had a pretty easy week. It was important that he make up some ground after an extremely poor showing in the first episode. As previously mentioned, it looks like he will have a two-on-one matchup with Desmond on this week’s episode. If I had to make a prediction, I think Desmond will come out on top. But if Michael ends up winning, it could mean he will be on this show for a long time. 

Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

DTR had the week off this episode. He’s had some really high moments so far but has also made some big mistakes. The problem is, like our next contestant, he’s pretty short. Therefore, the high variance of his appearances may not be able to overcome his lack of height. DTR needs to start showing that he’s focused on this process and willing to commit. 

D’Eriq King, Miami

D’Eriq had another tough week. It looks like the injury he suffered pre-show is really limiting his ability to impress our Draft. He also just isn’t the fun-loving, spontaneous, creative guy we expected him to be this season. If he puts out another lackluster performance on this week’s episode, he could be on his way home. With that being said, D’Eriq could be a contender on one of the spinoff franchises, like Wide Receiver Games or Catching Love. 

Phil Jurkovec, Boston College

Unfortunately, it looks like Phil will be the first guy on the season to fall victim to the dreaded ambulance shot. He suffered a hand injury and had to leave to go to the hospital. It looks like Phil is done for this season. However, there have been many contestants in seasons past that return for the following season after suffering an injury. We hope Phil makes his return in the 2022 season. 

Brock Purdy, Iowa State

It was another really tough week for Brock. He’s not showing any of the personality that some fans really liked when he was rumored to be joining the show in years past. Brock keeps making mistakes and looks uncomfortable to just be around our Draft. Despite being in and around the franchise for many years, it doesn’t look like he’s going to make it much further.

Who Doesn’t Get the Rose

This week, we have two contestants going home, albeit one for medical/health reasons. Phil Jurkovec will be leaving the show due to a hand/wrist injury. But he will most likely be back next season. The other contestant going home is Brock Purdy from Iowa State. As mentioned previously, Brock just looked incredibly uncomfortable this week and couldn’t get anything going in a high-leverage situation. Our Draft needs to see more poise for their QB1. For that reason, Brock is going home, in what is most likely his last appearance in this franchise. We’ll be back next week to see who is our Draft’s favorite. And guess what? We may even see some new men enter the race for QB1 on the Quarterback-chelor. 

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