CFB's Top 25 NFL Draft-Eligible QBs: Week 3

Photo: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The time for preseason rankings has ended and we’ve now got game film from this season to look at on 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 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 (eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft) after Week 2 and who falls just short:

1. CARSON STRONG, NEVADA

Last Week: No. 1

Strong met the expectations in Week 1 and exceeded them in Week 2, finishing out a 49-10 rout of Idaho State completing 34-of-43 passes for 381 yards with four touchdowns before being replaced when the game was more than on ice. That performance was good for a completion percentage of 79.5%. Strong said ahead of the season that his goal was 85%, something that he came close to and would come even closer to if we looked into the adjusted completion percentage in this one. Consistency is the hallmark of a great quarterback and Strong has it.

2. MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS

Last Week: No. 4

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has described Corral’s level of accuracy as video-game-like and has continuously noted just how special of a player Corral is (without “rat poisoning” him, of course). The Rebels signal-caller doesn’t lack the “it” factor that Kiffin seems to be describing here, and has been on fire since the season began. Corral has led an offense that’s looked stout, scoring 43 points in its first outing and 54 in its latest win over Austin Peay. Corral was good for 21-of-33 passing attempts for 281 yards with five touchdowns in the win while distributing the ball to six different targets. Hey, the guy didn’t earn Katy Perry’s endorsement for Heisman for no reason...

3. SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 3

Howell did some questionable things in the season opener against Virginia Tech, but what must also be acknowledged is the fact he hardly had any time to throw. He looked improved in the second game of the year, completing 21-of-29 passes for 352 yards with three touchdowns. He also had 104 rushing yards with two touchdowns on the ground on 11 carries, good for an average of 9.5 yards per carry. Two of his finest moments were his 62-yard touchdown run and his perfectly thrown 58-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Green. Howell did a good job making his opponent pay in the air and at ground level in this one—we’ll just need to see him keep doing it on a regular basis against stiffer competition down the line.

4. SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA

Last Week: No. 2

Rattler’s raw ability is intriguing, but that’s just what he showed to be in the season opener when the Sooners narrowly fended off Tulane—raw. He appeared to be struggling mentally, in some situations throwing into coverage when he had a receiver open in the flat who could have gained substantial yardage. Rattler has an immense amount of talent that showed through in this performance against the West Carolina Catamounts, which ended with a basketball-like final score of 76-0. Rattler completed 20-of-26 passes for 243 yards with five touchdowns in a much better-looking outing. Just like Howell, though, we need to see him perform highly game in and game out for him to stay toward the top of the list.

5. MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Last Week: No. 5

The quarterback isn’t the leading figure of a team for no reason. Willis, who has already been dubbed the “Trey Lance of the 2022 NFL Draft,” certainly looked the part of a leader as he was the difference-maker in Liberty’s 21-13 victory over Troy. The dynamic athlete was 13-of-18 passing for 154 yards with two touchdowns, also carrying the ball 20 times for 93 yards with one touchdown. Willis was sacked five times by the Trojans’ defense, but even that wasn’t enough to efficiently slow him down.

6. GRAYSON MCCALL, COASTAL CAROLINA

Last Week: No. 6

There’s a great level of appreciation for a quarterback who can thrive and distinguish himself in the Coastal Carolina spread triple option. In the two showings we’ve seen from McCall this year so far, he’s executed beautifully and is essential to elevating the players around him. McCall has quickly become one of the nation’s favorite college quarterbacks to watch with his smart yet incredibly gritty and tough style of play. McCall was 17-of-21 passing for 245 yards with two touchdowns as well as eight carries for 16 yards with one touchdown in the Chanticleers’ 49-22 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

7. DESMOND RIDDER, CINCINNATI

Last Week: No. 9

Cincinnati didn’t look nearly as dominant as it should have in the first half of its 42-7 victory over Murray State, but eventually found its sense of rhythm with Ridder being the most important part of that. Head coach Luke Fickell noted Ridder’s leadership ability, saying after the game that Ridder made sure everyone knew what the expectations were and that he’d never heard his signal-caller be quite that aggressive. And as he went, the Bearcats rolled on, driving down the field 75 yards for a touchdown and followed up with 35 unanswered points. Ridder completed 14-of-22 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns.

8. JT DANIELS, GEORGIA

Last Week: No. 8

Daniels is 5-0 in his starts in Georgia but didn’t see the field in the 56-7 home victory over UAB due to a core injury. Daniels is considered “day-to-day” and there is no sure timeline on when he’ll return. Daniels quickly garnered attention in the four games he started in during the 2020 season, ending the year with a 67.2% completion percentage, 1,231 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, and two interceptions. Daniels started this season for Georgia against stiff competition and was mostly solid in the 2021 debut, though he did have one ill-advised interception en route to a minor 10-3 upset over Clemson. Daniels completed 22-of-30 of his passing attempts for 135 yards with the one interception on the appearance.

9. KEDON SLOVIS, USC

Last Week: No. 7

We didn’t know exactly which version of Slovis we’d be getting in 2021, but what we’ve seen so far has been mostly underwhelming. Granted, we are only two games in, but if he and the offense don’t find some spark, Slovis will only fade into the background of the draft boards and USC will continue into a decline. The Trojans lost to Stanford in a matchup they were favored to win by 17 points, coming out on the wrong end of a 42-28 final score. He completed 27-of-42 passes for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

We’ve seen Slovis flash greatness in the past, especially in 2019 when he recorded a 71.9% completion percentage, throwing for 3,502 yards with 30 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. But it’s been over a year since we’ve seen that level of play from him and he’s yet to make the large jump so many projected him to make.

10. PHIL JURKOVEC, BOSTON COLLEGE

Last Week: No. 10

Jurkovec turned in as perfect of a performance as he could when he led the Eagles to a 51-0 shutout of Colgate in Week 1, completing 16-of-24 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns—he was also the team’s top rusher with five carries for 61 yards. Jurkovec’s outing against UMass this week didn’t last long, as he sustained a wrist injury in the team’s second offensive series. The quarterback was off to a good start, completing three of his four passing attempts for 22 yards. We’ll find out more about his status and what it could mean for the near future as soon as this week.

11. D’Eriq King, Miami

12. Dillon Gabriel, UCF

13. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State

14. Tyler Shough, Texas Tech

15. Michael Penix Jr., Indiana

16. Jack Coan, Notre Dame

17. Emory Jones, Florida

18. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

19. Brock Purdy, Iowa State

20. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA

21. Dustin Crum, Kent State

22. Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

23. Graham Mertz, Wisconsin

24. Layne Hatcher, Arkansas State

25. Charlie Brewer, Utah

Honorable mentions: Will Levis (Kentucky), Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State), Levi Lewis (UL)

Written By:

Crissy Froyd

Feature Writer

Crissy Froyd is a graduating senior at LSU, also serving as the managing editor of the LSU division of USA TODAY SMG. Crissy has specialized primarily in quarterback analysis and features for the better part of her career and covers the Tennessee Titans in addition to the LSU Tigers.

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