It's April, which means the NFL Draft hype train is moving full steam ahead. Draft boards are constantly shuffling as teams and analysts alike try to figure out who will be landing where come April 28.
Of course, no actual new football has been played over the past three months. With all due respect to the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and Pro Days: It’s awfully curious how much a player’s “stock” can change from one week to the next without anything really happening.
The reality of the matter is that it’s a long offseason, and America just loves to keep talking ball. Straw man arguments and natural bone-headed analysis is simply the nature of the beast that is year-round football coverage. There’s nothing wrong with digesting as much information as possible, but ultimately the college football to NFL cycle has become so intense that it’s possible to find a perceived fatal flaw with pretty much any twentysomething talent these days.
We’ll lean into this latter point in today’s article and note one key flaw with quarterback included in the PFF 2022 Big Board. This tongue-in-cheek exercise isn’t meant to disparage these future NFLers, but rather to show that anyone can be a jerk about a particular prospect if they try hard enough. Please check out PFF’s 2022 NFL Draft Guide for a full unbiased analysis of all the top prospects.
Sam Howell: Was carried throughout his career by a gimmicky offense and better teammates
In 2021, North Carolina led the country in RPOs and go-balls. Howell's dropoff in passing efficiency has largely been attributed to the Tar Heels losing plenty of NFL talent to the 2020 draft (including Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown, and Dazz Newsome), but the North Carolina offense ranking among the nation’s more “gimmicky” groups is also a concern. Will Howell’s rather terrible sack avoidance ability improve in the NFL when more athletic defenders are better able to limit his mobility and professional coordinators take away his first read?
Malik Willis and Sam Howell are in a very weird spot when it comes to my QB sack prevention number for potential first-round QBs.
Fields was, by far, the worst from those drafted from 2015-2021 and those guys are in a lower tier pic.twitter.com/psHiIF0uWI
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) February 22, 2022
Malik Willis: Couldn’t win the Auburn starting job and had to transfer to lower competition
It worked out for Joe Burrow, but what about Baker Mayfield? How great are Willis’ tools in reality if he couldn’t beat out Jarrett Stidham or Bo Nix? Willis couldn't lead Liberty to more than 14 points against NC State or Ole Miss; competition level is a real concern. Guess how many NFL quarterbacks Liberty has produced? Zero.
Desmond Ridder: One-year wonder who didn’t peak until being an old senior
Ridder might’ve started four seasons at Cincinnati, but that doesn’t mean he was good the entire time. His following PFF passing grades per season include ranks among all signal-callers with at least 100 dropbacks:
- 2018: 76.2 (No. 51)
- 2019: 65.6 (No. 104)
- 2020: 70.7 (No. 80)
- 2021: 88.7 (No. 15)
It’s not illegal for players to get better as they get older, but it sure would have been a lot cooler if Ridder had put more extensive top-tier performance on film during the earlier parts of his career. Perhaps Ridder was a three-star recruit for a reason.
Matt Corral: Nobody is allowed to listen to “Under Pressure” in the Corral household