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NFL Draft

CFB’s Top 25 NFL Draft-Eligible QBs: Week 2

  • The Draft Network
  • September 6, 2021
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The time for preseason rankings has ended and we’ve now got game film from this season to look at for draft-eligible quarterbacks as they look to make an impression on teams at the next level—as well as their own.

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 drop 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 (for now) and who falls just short:

1. CARSON STRONG, NEVADA

Last Week: No. 3

Strong came out and put up a performance in his 2021 debut that is consistent with our expectations for him. In a week that was full of surprises and unexpected outcomes across college football, that’s saying a lot.

Strong completed 22-of-39 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. And really, his numbers could have been even higher without the several dropped passes from the supporting cast. He’s shown strong command of this offense in the past and right out of the gate this season, and his first performance of the season met the exact expectations we had for him. That’s something that can’t be said about a lot of other highly regarded quarterback prospects.

The quick release, the speed and level of mental processing, the accuracy, and the perfect ball placement with just the right amount of zip (with the highlight of that being a 43-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Romeo Doubs) were all on the field to be seen.

With this, we crown our new Grand Victor. Carson Strong is now QB1, and it’s going to take a lot to move this steady riser downward.

2. SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA

Last Week: No. 1

Did anyone expect to see Rattler and the Sooners having to survive a near-upset from Tulane to start the season? The events of the matchup were a little shocking as Rattler’s second attempt went into the hands of a defender to give the Tulane offense the ball shortly after his first drive of the game had begun.

https://twitter.com/sportingnews/status/1434187782470111240

If you look at the top of your screen on this play, you’ll see a wide-open receiver who could have picked up some decent yardage. Instead, Rattler throws it into coverage and pays dearly for doing so. This type of thing suggests that he’s a bit in his head—something he’ll need to get out of moving on down the line.

Rattler finished the 40-35 win completing 30-of-39 passes for 304 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. It was an up-and-down outing for the quarterback, who seemed to settle and do very well and then regress and panic at certain points later on. It’s too early to make any snap judgments on one of the most intriguing all-around prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he’s got to greatly improve on his decision-making and consistency quickly.

3. SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 2

There is no reason to get overly caught up in the happenings of Week 1. It’s a time when teams knock the rust off, and, well, the Tar Heels were looking pretty rusty as they opened the season with a loss to Virginia Tech.

There were some not-so-great things from Howell in the decision-making department, but a lot of that had to do with the shortcomings of his supporting cast and the fact that his offensive line did not do its job, plainly put.

Howell completed 17-of-32 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions—only one of which looked to be entirely his fault. Howell has some accuracy and decision-making things to clean up, but just like Rattler, don’t declare this a downward spiral if and until it actually becomes one.

4. MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS

Last Week: No. 4

Corral will play his first game of the season against the Louisville Cardinals on Monday evening and enters the season largely considered to be the best quarterback in the SEC.

Corral completed 70.9% of his passes last year for 3,337 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions last year with two particularly bad games as far as interceptions go that aren’t reflective of the way he takes care of the football and how accurate he is on a regular basis. Those inflated that number on the stat line.

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has compared watching Corral’s accuracy to something out of a video game, so we’ll see just how that looks on Monday.

5. MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Last Week: No. 5

Willis, who garnered a wealth of attention ahead of the season, backed up the hype in his Week 1 appearance. One player he’s drawn comparisons to this season is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, and we certainly see shades of that in the athletic Willis’ game. 

He was a large factor in igniting the Liberty offense, displaying his arm talent and ability to get things done both as a passer and an overall athlete. Willis completed 15-of-23 passes for 217 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions to accompany 55 rushing yards on five carries with one score on the ground.

So far, so good for the quarterback who seemingly shot up the draft boards out of nowhere.

6. GRAYSON MCCALL, COASTAL CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 8

McCall looked the part of a top-10 quarterback who led his team to an 11-1 overall record in 2020 when he took the field against The Citadel in the Chanticleers’ first game of the 2021 season.

He completed 16-of-29 passes for 262 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions before his night was over early in the third quarter. Just a sophomore, McCall showed impeccable ability to execute and push the ball downfield.

He’s going to be exciting to continue watching progress in Coastal Carolina’s unique offense.

7. KEDON SLOVIS, USC

Last Week: No. 6

Slovis entered the season with some question marks surrounding him after recording a highly impressive 2019 season that was followed up by a lackluster 2020 campaign that may have been influenced by a Holiday Bowl elbow injury. The pocket passer who does have some mobility got the job done in the victory over San Jose State, but he and the offense’s performance overall lacked explosiveness and looked a little, well, unenergized at times.

Slovis completed 25-of-36 passing attempts for 263 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

8. JT DANIELS, GEORGIA

Last Week: No. 7

Looking at the level of competition, Daniels and the Bulldogs opened the season with more of a bang than most. There was not much that Daniels did egregiously bad in his 2021 debut, though he did have one ill-advised interception, as he led his team to a minor upset with a 10-3 victory over Clemson.

Daniels completed 22-of-30 of his passing attempts for 135 yards with one interception, doing what was needed to help his team to a win in a mostly defensive game against one of the most heralded teams in the nation.

Still, as was said, you can’t count on 10 points to win you games. It must be considered that the Bulldogs just went up against a very tough defense on a week where most Power 5 teams played “lesser opponents,” but there are some things for Daniels to clean up and this offense needs to generate more explosive plays moving forward.

9. DESMOND RIDDER, CINCINNATI

Last Week: No. 10

Ridder had an attention-grabbing first game of 2021, completing 20-of-25 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns to snag the 49-14 win over Miami (Ohio). His 81-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Scott on the second play from scrimmage was one of the most impressive plays of Week 1 and was also the longest touchdown pass of his career.

https://twitter.com/GoBEARCATS/status/1434312655871741952

Ridder is also known for his athleticism and his ability to have an impact on the ground game. He showed that in the opener, rushing six times for 31 yards with a touchdown.

10. Phil Jurkovec, Boston College

Last Week: No. 11

Jurkovec and Boston College made quite the statement against Colgate with a 51-0 shutout victory in which Jurkovec couldn’t have looked much more poised.

Jurkovec completed 16-of-24 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns, also leading the team in rushing with five carries for 61 yards. He committed zero interceptions and didn’t take a sack on a clean day (that he’ll definitely look to have more of).

11. Dillon Gabriel, UCF

12. D’Eriq King, Miami

13. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

14. Tyler Shough, Texas Tech

15. Brock Purdy, Iowa State

16. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

17. Emory Jones, Florida

18. Dustin Crum, Kent State

19. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

20. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

21. Jack Coan, Notre Dame

22. Graham Mertz, Wisconsin

23. Anthony Russo, Michigan State

24. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State

25. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

Honorable mentions: Levi Lewis (UL), Charlie Brewer (Utah), Layne Hatcher (Arkansas State)

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