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NFL Draft

CFB’s Top 25 NFL Draft-Eligible QBs: Week 5

  • The Draft Network
  • September 27, 2021
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Week 4 of the college football season is in the books and the trend of highly-ranked quarterbacks continuing to take a tumble or being inconsistent at best continues. On the other hand, other less talked about names continue to demand attention. We’ve also seen a handful of promising signal-callers go down with injuries that could potentially be long-term and/or affect their decision to declare for the draft or hurt their draft stock.

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 at the quarterback position in the 2022 NFL Draft after Week 4 and who falls just short:

1. CARSON STRONG, NEVADA

Last Week: No. 1

Strong and Nevada were on a bye week this weekend and will face Boise State on the road up next. The Wolf Pack will be looking to bounce back from a loss to a Kansas State team that gave them a lot of issues and took away their run game.

Strong, who we have kept reiterating may have the best deep ball in this class, has completed 83-of-122 pass attempts (68%) for 955 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions so far this season. 

2. MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS

Last Week: No. 2

Corral is considered the new Heisman Trophy favorite for a reason, most recently playing a large role in Ole Miss’ 61-21 rout of Tulane. He completed 23-of-31 passes for 335 yards with three touchdowns, also posting 68 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground on 13 carries.

This week’s contest against Alabama is sure to serve as a checkpoint as to just how elite Corral is as he and the Rebels face one of the most historically dominant teams in college football. Corral has been everything we expected him to be at this point, but how strongly he continues to perform as the team opens SEC play will be the real test. Up to this point, Ole Miss has recorded wins over Louisville, Austin Peay, and Tulane.

3. MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Last Week: No. 4

His school calls him “Houdini in a Liberty uniform” and we’d say that’s a pretty accurate description of what Willis has been for the Flames. The quarterback has been a crucial piece in his program’s success, looking highly effective as both a runner and a passer.

Coming off a dominant performance over Old Dominion in which he was 21-of-28 passing for 242 yards with four touchdowns, leading his team on the ground with 77 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Willis completed 14-of-19 passes for 205 yards with three touchdowns this week while also rushing for 49 yards.

Willis is a passer who can be relied on as a runner, though there are some points where he appears to leave the pocket too early and perhaps could have had a bigger play if he had stood in a little longer. Still, not much to complain about when looking at the overall picture.

https://twitter.com/LibertyFootball/status/1441555800229511179?s=20

4. SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 3

It’s easy to argue that too much responsibility is being placed on Howell’s shoulders as those around him have had their fair share of struggles this season—UNC’s shortcomings extend beyond Howell and there are several other areas you could place more blame on than at quarterback here. Still, Howell has done some questionable things through four games this season and had some costly turnovers this week.

Ball security is becoming a concern as Howell had three fumbles, which derailed any of UNC’s chances at a comeback victory in the upset loss to Georgia Tech. Otherwise, if you’re looking at the stat sheet alone, Howell put up some respectable numbers, completing 25-of-39 passes for 306 yards with two touchdowns, adding a rushing touchdown of his own. Howell has bright spots, but there are glaring issues and a consistency problem here.

5. JT DANIELS, GEORGIA

Last Week: No. 6

Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt but that doesn’t change the fact that Daniels lit it up on Saturday in the one quarter he was asked to play as the Bulldogs hung 62 points on their opponent. In those 15 minutes, though, he looked the part of a top quarterback, as he completed all but one of his 10 pass attempts for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Daniels returned from a core injury last week by going 23-of-31 for 303 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in the Bulldogs’ 40-13 win over South Carolina. I was a bit apprehensive to put Daniels up high in the rankings after he consistently flashed for four games last season due to the small sample size, but he’s picking up where he left off so far.

6. SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA

Last Week: No. 5

The fans audibly calling for Rattler to be benched in the stadium could have had more class, but there’s no denying that the heat is on for Rattler—and boy, is it white-hot. Rattler, formerly projected to be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, will be lucky to finish out the season as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback if he continues down the path that he’s on.

Rattler was underwhelming but did just enough to help his team get by Nebraska in Week 3, completing 24-of-34 passes for 214 yards with one touchdown, and had his ups and downs this past week as he completed 26-of-36 pass attempts for 256 yards with a touchdown and an interception as the Sooners recorded a 16-13 win that came down to a last-minute game-winning drive over West Virginia. Rattler’s arm talent, which has been talked about as the best in this class, was clear to see, but so were some of the issues from the mental perspective that he’s just as strongly shown this season.

7. GRAYSON MCCALL, COASTAL CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 7

McCall wasn’t on the field for too long as Coastal Carolina handed UMass its 15th straight loss this past weekend. He didn’t need to be on for more than about two quarters as the Chanticleers blew out the Minutemen, 53-3. In limited action, McCall completed 10-of-14 passes for 162 yards with two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

McCall has been even more effective in the accuracy category at all levels of the field than he’s been given credit for and the breakdown below really showcases that:

https://twitter.com/realcorykinnan/status/1441876327401938948?s=20

8. DESMOND RIDDER, CINCINNATI

Last Week: No. 8

Like some of the other quarterbacks in the top 10 on this list, Ridder enjoyed a bye week this week after helping lead his team to an impressive 38-24 comeback victory over Indiana. He and the Bearcats came back from a 14-point deficit as he completed 20-of-36 passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception, also losing one fumble. Ridder showed both room for improvement and a strong sense of leadership and ability to rally on the performance.

9. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Last Week: No. 16

Pickett is a name that’s quietly garnered attention and it hasn’t gone away throughout the season. His stock continued to rise this week as he completed 24-of-28 passes for 403 yards and five touchdowns as Pitt downed New Hampshire in a 77-7 stomping of a victory. For the month of September, Pickett has completed 74% of his passes for 1,342 yards with an impeccable touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15:1. He also has 121 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. 

If he can play at this level as Pitt prepares to open conference play, he could become a more serious part of the conversation of rising quarterback prospects.

10. D’ERIQ KING, MIAMI

Last Week: No. 10

King was sidelined this week against Central Connecticut with a shoulder injury, with Tyler Van Dyke making his first career start instead. The previous week, King came into the game against Michigan State with the fifth-best completion percentage in his conference. King was 38-of-59 passing for 388 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, also losing a fumble. 

11. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

12. Will Levis, Kentucky

13. Emory Jones, Florida

14. Jack Coan, Notre Dame

15. Kedon Slovis, USC

16. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

17. Jake Haener, Fresno State

18. Sean Clifford, Penn State

19. Brock Purdy, Iowa State

20. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

21. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

22. Devin Leary, NC State

23. Dustin Crum, Kent State

24. Graham Mertz, Wisconsin

25. Brennan Armstrong, Virginia

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

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