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NFL Draft

CFB’s Top 25 NFL Draft-Eligible QBs: Week 6

  • The Draft Network
  • October 4, 2021
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Competition is stiffening as we near the halfway point of the season, so we’re getting a decent glimpse of which quarterbacks can continue a high level of play as the going gets tougher and which ones were simply making use of “easier” opponents (although some upset losses have indicated that maybe some of them weren’t quite as simple to breeze past as we initially thought).

As we move through this college football season, and release these rankings weekly, a quick note: Players enter the season with a preseason ranking that they have earned over the course of their college career up to this point. Players have good weeks and bad weeks. Some pick themselves up while others enter a downward spiral. Some start near the top, have one bad game, and consistently get worse and fall off the radar for good reason. But do not expect to see a player dropped 15 spots in the rankings because of one or two bad performances. Players will be moved down at a proper rate—there will be no jumping the gun and bouncing around here. Quarterbacks are evaluated on criteria that include accuracy, ball placement, level of mental processing, and natural/raw athletic ability.

Here’s a look at who makes the Top 25 rankings at the quarterback position in the 2022 NFL Draft after Week 5:

1. CARSON STRONG, NEVADA

Last Week: No. 1

Several picked Boise State to defeat Nevada this week, but instead, it was the Wolfpack that ended off Saturday with a statement road win over the Broncos. Strong was a vital asset in the 41-31 victory, completing 25-of-38 passes for 263 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions.

Things got off to a “strong” start for the quarterback, who completed 6-of-8 passes on the opening drive and ended it off for a touchdown. It didn’t take long before you thoroughly got the sense that this was Nevada’s game to win as the offense fired on all cylinders with Strong taking the snaps.

https://twitter.com/RealD_Jackson/status/1444389409558863877?s=20

One of the things that stood out the most about Strong when looking at this draft class is simply the level he’s on as a pure passer. There’s at least one throw per game that wows you down the field, and this game was no different. Here’s a look at one of those.

https://twitter.com/NevadaFootball/status/1444423573058187268?s=20

2. MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS

Last Week: No. 2

Saturday’s contest against Alabama wasn’t as close as Ole Miss would have hoped, but let’s face it, the Crimson Tide are one of the toughest teams to go up against in the entire country. Corral finished out the 42-21 loss completing 21-of-29 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown, which is plenty respectable given what he was up against. The Rebels’ next game is against an Arkansas team that’s coming off a shutout loss. That contest will give us a further indication of where Corral stands—he did some good things this week despite the Ole Miss team as a whole getting crushed by Alabama.

3. MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Last Week: No. 3

Willis’ success only continued this past weekend as Liberty recorded a 36-12 road victory over UAB. The quarterback looked every bit the type of dual-threat he’s been advertised to be, completing 13-of-19 passes for 287 yards with one touchdown, also carrying the ball 15 times for 144 yards with two touchdowns. It’s hard to find another quarterback to compare Willis to—he’s his own prospect in a good way. Willis is not only a solid passer but an explosive runner who is tough to bring down. He’s been making teams pay all season.

https://twitter.com/DP_NFL/status/1444451308250050560?s=20

4. SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 4

Howell has had a bit of an up-and-down season, sometimes having to deal with underwhelming performances out of those around him that affect his ability to do his job. But he put up respectable numbers in the previous game and delivered well this past week too, as the Tar Heels took down Duke, 38-7. Howell completed 18-of-32 passes for 321 yards with three touchdowns, with his first scoring play a 75-yard touchdown pass to running back Ty Chandler. So, what’s the difference between Howell looking like himself and not? Much of the answer lies within the offensive line—when Howell has pass protection, he can play at a high level. With this being said, Howell is now among the top-10 quarterbacks in the nation in terms of points responsible for (104).

5. JT DANIELS, GEORGIA

Last Week: No. 5

Daniels has been more than effective throughout the year, but he was sidelined for the second time already this season, this time with a lat strain. Head coach Kirby Smart has said that it’s  Grade 1 strain and that Daniels is week-to-week. The quarterback previously missed the second game of the season with a separate injury—a core injury. So far this season, Daniels has completed 76.1% of his passes for 567 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

6. KENNY PICKETT, PITTSBURGH

Last Week: No. 9

It is time to give Pickett the type of recognition that he deserves. Last week, he completed 24-of-28 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns as Pitt defeated New Hampshire, 77-7. He ended September with a completion percentage of 74% with 1,342 passing yards and a nearly perfect touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15:1. In his latest showing, a 52-21 rout of Georgia Tech, Pickett completed 23-of-36 passes for 389 yards with four touchdowns—most of those yards were put up in three quarters as well. Pickett delivers the type of consistency every single week that you want to see from a starting quarterback. It’s more than reliability, it’s his ability to help generate explosiveness of offense. 

7. SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA

Last Week: No. 6

Just a week after dealing with the boo-birds, Rattler appeared to take a step forward in a close 37-31 win over Kansas State. Rattler looked like a complete quarterback, good for 22-of-25 passing for 243 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against a tough defense. But he’s very much not out of the woods yet—we’ve seen too many highs and lows and mental errors from Rattler time and time again this season. Despite the fact he may have the most notable arm talent in the class among other positive traits, we’re going to need to see a high level of consistency from Rattler before he finds himself in the top-five conversation again. It can be done, but the path to that begins now.

8. GRAYSON MCCALL, COASTAL CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 7

McCall was perfect before he exited the game, returning from the locker room after halftime with a boot on his left foot and didn’t appear overly bothered. However, Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell said that his ankle was rolled by another player and that he was in good enough shape to continue playing if it has been necessary. But it wasn’t as CCU put a 59-6 pounding on Louisiana Monroe. Oh, and when we said “perfect” earlier, we do mean that McCall was quite literally perfect. He completed 13-of-13 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns. It doesn’t seem like there’s much reason for concern as the No. 15-ranked Chanticleers prepare to face Arkansas State on Thursday.

9. DESMOND RIDDER, CINCINNATI

Last Week: No. 8

Ridder is a part of the Heisman conversation for a reason and that showed up on Saturday as he and the Bearcats gave Notre Dame its first loss of the season. Ridder completed 19-of-32 passes for 297 yards with two touchdowns. The quarterback also had 10 carries for 26 yards with one touchdown on the ground. That six-yard rushing score was what ultimately put the game on ice for Cincinnati. Ridder is a quarterback who has led comebacks and put games away this season, which is important to the leadership role that the position calls for.

10. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

Last Week: No. 11

This ranking is a bit of a small case of “ask and you shall receive.” I wrote last week that Daniels had shown the makings of being a more than effective passer and an elite runner, but that there was something to be desired in regards to scoring in the air. Daniels, who entered a game against No. 20 UCLA with two passing touchdowns over four games, ended the 42-23 upset completing 13-of-19 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns. He also had six carries for 45 rushing yards, good for an average of 7.5 yards per attempt. So, we didn’t see Daniels come alive with his legs the same way we’ve sometimes seen from him in the past, but that average is nothing to scoff at and this has to do with the game-planning. Nicely done, and good for a move-up into the top-10 for now.

11. Sean Clifford, Penn State

12. Will Levis, Kentucky

13. Emory Jones, Florida

14. D’Eriq King, Miami

15. Devin Leary, NC State

16. Kedon Slovis, USC

17. Brock Purdy, Iowa State

18. Jack Coan, Notre Dame

19. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

20. Jake Haener, Fresno State

21. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

22. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

23. Dustin Crum, Kent State

24. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia

25. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

Honorable mentions/Injured Reserve: Phil Jurkovec (Boston College), Dillon Gabriel (UCF), Tyler Shough (Texas Tech)

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