Two weeks of preseason football are all but in the books, which means this year's rookie quarterbacks are one step closer to making their official debuts. But how did the first-year signal-callers fare in their latest exhibition action? We're glad you asked. Here's our ranking of the top five rookie QB performances from Week 2 of the 2022 NFL preseason:
Stats: 7-11, 83 yards, 1 TD
The Colts may not have room for the undrafted Notre Dame product considering Nick Foles and Sam Ehlinger are in tow behind Matt Ryan, but he showed pro-level touch to close the game against the Lions, delivering a perfect downfield touchdown pass to Samson Nacua in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
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4. Skylar Thompson (Dolphins)
Stats: 9-10, 129 yards, 1 TD
For the second consecutive week, the seventh-rounder is making the case he belongs on Miami's roster as a third QB, behind Tua Tagovalioa and Teddy Bridgewater. Even in a close loss, he looked poised in the pocket, standing tall especially for pretty deep strikes. On a team whose other QBs are notorious for being conservative, that's a nice developmental quality.
3. Malik Willis (Titans)
Stats: 7-17, 80 yards, 1 TD, 42 rushing yards
With lots of electricity and little throwing consistency, Willis posted a very Trey Lance-esque stat line against the Buccaneers, but look where Lance is now: starting at QB for an NFC title contender. In truth, Willis' preseason was always just about confirming the physical gifts that warranted his Day Two selection in Tennessee. He must grow as a rhythm passer to claim and retain a top job, but his effortless scrambling and arm-angle adjustments are apparent.
2. Desmond Ridder (Falcons)
Stats: 10-13, 143 yards
The Falcons' third-rounder put together his second promising preseason outing in as many games Monday night against the Jets. He threw just three incompletions while leading Atlanta to a pair of field goals during his three series, and those drives could have easily resulted in more points if not for penalties. Ridder is not in position to supplant Marcus Mariota as the Week 1 starter, but if the former Titans and Raiders signal-caller struggles early on, the Cincinnati Bearcats product seems like he'll be prepared if his number is called.
1. Kenny Pickett (Steelers)
Stats: 6-7, 76 yards, 1 TD
K-Dawg picked a good time to show some of his best stuff, considering he's the only QB here in position to actually win a starting job. His work was very limited against the Jaguars (eight snaps), but he was decisive in an up-tempo scoring drive that had Mike Tomlin happy post-game. Better yet, he stood tall in frenetic pockets, suggesting he can withstand Pittsburgh's transitioning O-line just as well as, if not better than, his chief competition for the job: Mitchell Trubisky.
- Matt Corral (Panthers): The third-rounder showed some zip on his passes but exited early after suffering a potentially season-ending Lisfranc injury, indefinitely postponing his bid for a backup job in Carolina.
- Sam Howell (Commanders): While his downfield arm talent is impressive, Howell wasn't nearly as effective as his debut, going 10 for 18 with an interception against the Chiefs in a down day for Washington's offense.
- Bailey Zappe (Patriots): The fourth-rounder got a lot of work after Mac Jones against the Panthers, and he showcased short-area accuracy, but he also threw a bad pick-six trying to make a short sideline throw.
- Brock Purdy (49ers): Iowa State's Mr. Irrelevant made a quiet bid for the 49ers' No. 2 job against the Vikings, alongside a similarly efficient outing from fellow backup Nate Sudfeld. His numbers (14-for-23, 128 yards) weren't gaudy, but they would've been better if not for three drops. At the very least, he's proven he's got the accuracy Kyle Shanahan covets.