Few NFL talent evaluators are able to say with certainty which college quarterbacks are going to be able to translate to the NFL, particularly this year. The lack of a Trevor Lawrence or Joe Burrow has made the 2022 NFL Draft class incredibly difficult to decipher. One person's top quarterback might not be in another's top five and yet it is not because there is a wealth of quality options. There is plenty of time to sort the position out but in a snapshot of the present, here is how a handful of quarterbacks have fared this season:
Matt Corral, Ole Miss: Stock up
Corral is playing in a system that suits his skill set and he is operating at a high level. Corral is throwing with accuracy to all levels. His decision-making has improved and that is evident in his touchdown to interception ratio (14:1). The California native is making fast-paced reads and getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
Corral has strong command of the offense and his feel for the game is unquestionably good. His mobility is not comparable to a Lamar Jackson nor is the style reminiscent of bigger quarterbacks like Josh Allen, but it is enough to extend plays and get chunk yardage here and there. Corral is not asked to throw deep often but, when he does, he has done so with accuracy.
Will Levis, Kentucky: Stock up
Levis and the new-look Kentucky offense caused a stir early in the season with big-play production. The Penn State transfer was showing off his mobility and arm strength against Louisiana-Monroe and Tennessee-Chattanooga. Games against Florida and South Carolina illustrated where there was room for growth. Levis played sparingly for the Nittany Lions, primarily being used as a runner. When he did receive the opportunity to start, he was forcing throws into tight windows on his first read. Some aspects of the game only come with experience.
In a larger role, Levis has been a mixed bag for the Wildcats. Over the past two weeks, the quarterback has shown considerable growth in his willingness to throw the ball away and not force passes into tight windows. After doubling up LSU at home, UK fell short on the road against No. 1 Georgia. Even in a loss, Levis did a lot of good things. In his first five games with Kentucky, Levis threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Over the past two games, he has thrown five touchdowns and zero interceptions. His statistics would have been much better had his targets not dropped multiple passes.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh: Stock up
Pickett is a big quarterback that throws a beautiful deep ball. He demonstrates good pocket presence and an ability to throw on the run but he has had a tendency of throwing into coverage. In 2021, the senior is taking much better care of the football. In six games, he has thrown 21 touchdowns to just one interception, in addition to three rushing touchdowns.
On this particular play in this week's win over Virginia Tech, Pickett stands tall in the pocket knowing that pressure is coming, waits for wide receiver Jared Wayne to get even with the defensive back and then leads him into the soft spot of the zone for a walk-in touchdown.
Pittsburgh's wide receivers have been an issue in recent years with their failure to create separation and complete catches. TruMedia credits the Panthers with the most dropped passes in 2020 and the second most in 2019. They have shown some improvement this year as having just the 12th most passes dropped.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati: Stock steady
The raw athletic ability of Ridder is evident. He has a strong enough arm to play in the NFL and his mobility has kept many a play alive. However, his decision-making is very frustrating. Ridder throws into tight coverage often and those windows close even more in the NFL. He has no problem leading his receivers into a big hit. For all of those reasons, I can not buy into the first-round hype. The buzz about Ridder has grown strong so I was eager to dive back into his tape but I found that little had changed from a year ago.
Ridder is certainly capable of planting and driving a nail through a titanium beam but those moments do not outweigh the concerns. He could be a Kellen Mond type that teams take a chance on Day 2 because of his athletic ability.