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Seahawks 2022 NFL Draft Primer: Quarterbacks

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Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Let’s get this out of the way right away: Unlike last year, I don’t think there’s any chance the Seattle Seahawks trade Russell Wilson. Will they “listen to offers”? Sure; it would be front office malfeasance not to. But will they pull the trigger? (Insert your favorite laughter GIF here.)

That doesn’t mean that Seattle shouldn’t at least consider drafting a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft though.

Why?

Because Wilson is 33, only has 2 years remaining on his contract, and currently holds most (if not all) of the “leverage” in his rather expensive relationship with the team (despite having been “less than his best” for significant chunks of the last 2 seasons).

And because even though the Packers’ front office mishandled their decision to move up 4 spots to select Jordan Love in the 2020 NFL Draft (and suffered much offseason drama as a result), Love’s selection seems to have lit a fire under Aaron Rodgers which resulted in him putting together the best back-to-back years of his career and being named the league’s MVP each of the last 2 seasons.

Note: Over the last 2 seasons, Rodgers had 738 completions on 1,057 attempts (69.8%) for 8,414 yards with 85 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Over that same span, Russell Wilson completed 643 of 958 passes (67.1%) for 7,325 yards with 65 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Would the Seahawks drafting a QB with their first pick this year have a similar effect on Russell Wilson? Maybe not. But it would at least provide a possible “succession plan” in the event that things “don’t work out” and perhaps even mitigate some of Wilson’s leverage.

Worst case, the Seahawks would upgrade the QB2 position considerably.


Looking at 2022’s rookie QBs

This year’s quarterback class is, by most accounts, one of the worst in recent memory. That does not, however, mean that there won’t be a bunch of QBs taken on Day 1. Why? Because NFL teams are crazy stupid when it comes to drafting QBs.

According to PFF, the top 7 quarterbacks in this year’s draft (in alphabetical order), are:

  • Matt Corral (Mississippi)
  • Sam Howell (North Carolina)
  • Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)
  • Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati)
  • Carson Strong (Nevada)
  • Malik Willis (Liberty)
  • Bailey Zappe (Western Kentucky)

As mentioned, some of those players, perhaps even most of those players, will be off the board before Seattle gets on the clock in the second round (with pick #42 overall).

But ...

We’re going to take a quick look at all 7 of them anyway.

Note: Most of the analysis and stats in this article are from the PFF 2022 NFL Draft Guide, v2 - which I pay a somewhat lofty fee to have access to - in part so I can write articles like this one.

Matt Corral

PFF has Matt Corral as their #3 quarterback and he is currently #32 on their Big Board. They’re projecting him to go in the 2nd round (I think they’re nuts) and compare him to Jim McMahon.

He’s a mobile quarterback, evidenced in part by having rushed for 212 yards against Tennessee last year. During the 2021 season, he completed 261 of his 392 pass attempts (66.6%) for 3,351 yards with 20 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a passer rating of 104.9

PFF’s take:

“Corral has serious tools that any offensive coordinator would love to try and mold. He also needs some serious molding, though. He’s a project who needs to learn behind a veteran early in his career.”

FTR’s take: I would take him at #42 if he dropped that far. But he won’t. I can actually see him being the first quarterback off the board.

Sam Howell

Some folks are pretty high on Mr. Howell, including PFF. He is their #1 QB, #16 on their Big Board, and they compare him to a “slower Russell Wilson.”

2021 stat line: 216 of 351 (61.5%) for 3,051 yards with 24 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a passer rating of 101.7.

PFF’s take:

“From his arm to his mentality, Howell is a downfield passer. He’s one of the most prolific we’ve seen in the PFF College era (2014-present). He’ll have to go to an offense that’s willing to attack downfield regularly.”

FTR’s take: While the comparison to RW3 is intriguing, I don’t really see it. Not that it matters since it’s incredibly unlikely that he will be available when the Seahawks are on the clock. Would I take him if he were? I don’t know.

Kenny Pickett

Mr. Small Hands is PFF’s #4 QB. They have him at #34 on their Big Board and project him as a second round pick while comparing him to ... Sam Darnold.

Last year, Pickett threw the ball 499 times, completing 334 of those passes (66.9%) for 4,308 yards, with 42 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and a passer rating of 116.0.

Pretty heady stuff.

PFF’s take:

“Between his combination of experience and NFL-translateable skills, Pickett is as ready as any quarterback in the draft class to start out the gate. The question is: How high is his ceiling?”

FTR’s take: Despite his baby hands and the comparison to Sam Darnold, I am actually somewhat intrigued by Mr. Pickett. I doubt he gets past the hometown Steelers at #20, but if he were available in the 2nd round ... I could see the Seahawks rolling the dice.

Desmond Ridder

Ridder is PFF’s #2 QB, despite having better stats, basically across the board, than their #1 QB (Sam Howell). Ridder is #23 on PFF’s Big Board, with an R1-R2 projection and a comparison to Josh Johnson.

His 2021 stat line was: 250 of 387 (64.6%) for 3,324 yards, with 30 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a passer rating of 108.9. As mentioned, all of those numbers beat those of Sam Howell. And Ridder’s team was one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff to boot - although Alabama spanked them pretty good in the Cotton Bowl, 27-6.

PFF’s take:

“Ridder is a decisive and quick pocket-passer who has good enough arm talent to hit defenses over the top. While he’s not much of a runner himself, his speed demands that he’s accounted for.”

FTR’s take: I really don’t understand PFF sometimes. If Howell were available in the second round, I’m not sure if I’d take him. If Ridder were available, I would probably pull the trigger. Alas, I think there are too many quarterback-needy teams picking before us so ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Carson Strong

Strong is PFF’s #5 QB and #45 on their Big Board. They project him as a 2nd round pick and compare him to “Ryan Mallet with Touch.”

The concern with Strong is his knees. Reports indicate that he has Osteochondritis dissecans which is a bone and cartilage condition that is believed to be caused by repetitive stress on the joint, low Vitamin D, and/or a genetic predisposition. (Thank you Mr. Google).

Some teams may consider his knee issues career-threatening and pull him off their boards entirely which means that the likelihood he is available in the second round is high.

That said, he put up pretty good numbers last season, completing 367 of his 527 passes (69.6%) for 4,192 yards, with 36 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a passer rating of 109.7.

PFF’s take:

“Strong has the coveted ability to consistently attack outside the numbers. His 91.5 passing grade on such throws is the highest among the top quarterbacks in the class. That only grows in value in the NFL.”

FTR’s take: There is zero chance that I’d consider drafting him, mostly because of the knee issues but also because “Ryan Mallet with Touch” doesn’t sound like an upgrade from Geno Smith, let alone someone that can take over for RW3 if he needs to. Hard pass.

Malik Willis

Despite having “arguably the strongest arm in the draft,” Willis is PFF’s #6 quarterback (right now) and #56 on their Big Board. They project him as a 3rd round pick and compare him to Kordell Stewart.

In 2021, Willis completed 208 of 339 passes (64.3%) for 2,253 yards, with 20 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a passer rating of 107.2.

It’s worth noting that PFF considers Malik Willis to be a “draftable RB if he switched” positions.

PFF’s take:

“Willis wins when playing schoolyard ball. His creativity on the move as both a thrower and runner is special. He can provide instant offense at any level of football.”

“Willis isn’t a Day-1 starter and needs to go to an offense built around his legs. Parking him behind an established quarterback in that mold to get acclimated to the NFL game would be his best bet.”

FTR’s take: I can’t help but picture Willis in a Taysom Hill sort of role with the Seahawks in 2022. Could be an interesting twist on the RPO package - pitch to Willis and let him decide to keep or throw. If Willis were available when Seattle went on the clock, I think there would be some disappointed 12s if the Seahawks didn’t pick him.

Bailey Zappe

Pop Quiz! Name the NCAA record holder for most passing yards in a season and most passing touchdowns in a season.

Answer: Bailey Zappe.

Sure, the level of competition plays into it, but it’s really hard to criticize a guy who threw for almost 6,000 yards and more than 60 touchdowns.

Still, he’s #92 overall on PFF’s Big Board, is their #7 QB, and is projected to be a 4th round pick. His comparable? Nick Mullens. Oof!

2021 stat line: 475 of 691 (68.7%) for 5,940 yards, with 62 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a passer rating of 118.5.

PFF’s take:

“Zappe isn’t a toolsy prospect. He’s a glue guy backup who could develop into a starter. Competent backup play on a cheap rookie deal can still provide good value in the NFL.”

FTR’s take: Seattle has two R4s this year and if Zappe were available, I would definitely consider using one of them on him. He’ll (hopefully) never “replace” Russell Wilson, but I could see him being a strong QB2 for the next decade or so and that’s worth an early Day 3 pick to me.



Bonus Coverage

Y’all know that I like providing bonus coverage, so ... enjoy!

Some side-by-side comparisons of the PFF ranks and 2021 stats:

Highlight videos:

Matt Corral

Sam Howell

Kenny Pickett

Desmond Ridder

Carson Strong

Malik Willis

Bailey Zappe