It’s time to ramp up the preview for the 2022 college football season as Week 0 is just over a month away.
The 2022 PFF College Football Preview Guide has just dropped and in conjunction with that is an expansion of PFF’s preseason positional rankings that will be rolled out over the next couple of weeks.
Below are PFF’s picks for the top-50 quarterbacks entering the 2022 college football season along with some superlatives at the end, including the biggest projections and sleepers.
(Note: This has nothing to do with pro potential.)
The Top Dog
Young is the best quarterback — and player regardless of position — in college football. He may have just one season of starting experience, but there are truly few flaws within his game. The 6-foot, 194-pound reigning Heisman winner is a bit undersized and has sloppy footwork, but he makes up for it with his innate processing ability, composure and arm talent. He tied for the highest PFF grade at the position nationwide in 2021. In situations where the defense disguised their coverage, Young still held the top spot by a wide margin. The Alabama offensive line was, and still is, not up to its usual standards, but his ability to make a play out of rhythm helps make up for it, as Young’s 17 touchdowns under pressure in 2021 were six more than any other quarterback in the FBS.
It’s hard to rank a quarterback who has yet to even attempt a pass in college football, but given what he displayed in high school and camp in addition to his recruiting pedigree, Ewers deserves a top-20 spot entering the year. The Texas Longhorn is one of few to ever receive a perfect rating from recruiting outlet 247Sports. He has an elite arm that has been shown all over social media, but the question is: Can he effectively put it into action at the collegiate level? Ewers has the capability to climb near the top of this ranking, but he has to play like it first.
Ward is making the leap from the FCS to the Power Five, as he began his collegiate career at Incarnate Word after being stuck in a Wing-T system in high school. He is still getting acclimated to a pure passing offense and learning how to actually play the position, as Ward is still working on his decision-making process and needs to work on ball security on the run and in muddy pockets. His tools laid the foundation for him to reach a Power Five school, as he is a good athlete, has top-notch arm talent and can deliver throws from different arm angles that few can. Ward produced 23 big-time throws this past season but also 23 turnover-worthy plays. He has high-ceiling, it’s just a question of when and if he can get there.
Tagovailoa is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country, as he quietly earned an elite 90.8 PFF grade in 2021, showing improvement in the most critical areas of the position. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound quarterback consistently delivered accurate and anticipatory throws in addition to making the right decisions in neutral situations. He recorded zero turnover-worthy plays in over half of his starts and ranked sixth in the Power Five in uncatchable pass rate beyond the line of scrimmage. Tagovailoa does need to work on being too forceful when the Terps start to fall behind, but overall, he’s one of the best at his craft in college football.
Cunningham is the best quarterback in the country on the ground, as the dynamic athlete leads all returning FBS quarterbacks in 2021 rushing grade (90.3), broken tackles (51) and explosive runs (38). The impact he has as a runner gives him a high floor, and his passing ability is only getting better. Cunningham turned in a career-high 82.7 passing grade in 2021.
Purdue hasn’t had a quarterback this noteworthy since Drew Brees and Kyle Orton at the turn of the century. O’Connell is coming off a breakout season in which he earned a 90.6 PFF grade and a Power Five-leading 7.8% big-time throw rate. The Boilermakers' offense doesn’t live and die by the deep ball, but it has a quarterback that is damn good at hitting them.