The 2021 NFL Draft saw five QBs taken in the first round for just the third time in NFL history. Even though we’re a year out, many experts around the league seem to think the quarterback class for the 2022 draft will be thin. There is a thought that teams thinking about finding a QB of the future should have acted this year.
But Zach Wilson (second overall to the Jets) and Mac Jones (15th to the Patriots) were nowhere near being first-round projections at this time last year. Trey Lance (third overall, 49ers) was highly-touted but still not a lock at this time last year. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five draft eligible QBs who could hear their names called early next April.
Kedon Slovis, Junior, USC
- Ht: 6-3 Wt: 215
- Career Stats: 18 games, 70% comp., 5,423 yards, 47 pass TDs, 16 INTs, 0 Rush TDs
Kedon Slovis is entering his third year as the starting quarterback for Southern California after taking over for an injured J.T. Daniels during the 2019 season. That season, Slovis earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and established himself as the starting QB moving forward (causing Daniels to transfer to Georgia). He took another big step forward in the shortened 2020 season, leading USC to a Pac-12 title game (where they were beaten by Oregon). Slovis might be the most “pro-ready” option for NFL teams right now. He’s a true pocket passer who shows consistent accuracy and ability to go through progressions quickly. To say he’s a lock to be the No. 1 QB taken at this time might be a stretch but if Slovis continues to play the way he has and stays healthy, don’t be surprised if that ends up being the case
2. Spencer Rattler, RS Sophomore, Oklahoma
- Ht: 6-1 Wt: 205
- Career Stats: 14 games, 67.4% comp., 3,112 yards, 29 pass TDs, 7 INTs, 6 rush TDs
Spencer Rattler very well may be the next Oklahoma quarterback to hear his name called as the Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 pick in the draft. Rattler has raw athleticism and can do things naturally that most players can’t. Early last season, he made some mistakes that you would expect to see from a young guy, but fixed many of those and got better and better as the year went on. He’s not a prototypical pro-style quarterback, but his style of play seems to be very similar to what the NFL is turning into. Having another full year under the watchful eye of QB whisperer Lincoln Riley will only help him continue to develop and prepare for the next level. Expectations are always high at Oklahoma, but especially at the quarterback position. If Rattler can meet or even exceed these expectations, he will be joining the likes of: Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts as former Sooners now in the league.
Sam Howell, Junior, North Carolina
- Ht: 6-1 Wt: 225
- Career Stats: 25 games, 64.4% comp., 7,227 yards, 68 pass TDs, 14 INTs, 6 rush TDs
Many people around the NFL have Sam Howell as their No. 1 pick for next year’s draft and it’s easy to see why. As a true freshman, Howell came in and lit it up immediately, earning ACC Offensive and Overall Rookie of the Year as well as being named to the Freshman All-America team. His sophomore season picked up where his freshman campaign ended. Howell led the Tar Heels to an Orange Bowl berth. Howell has the ability to win from both inside and outside the pocket in the passing game. Rocket arm that can put the ball anywhere he wants on the field. Sometimes gets into trouble trusting that arm strength too much, but the gunslinger mentality is part of what makes him so good. Look for Howell to take another step forward this fall and lead UNC to a 10-plus win season.
J.T. Daniels, Junior, Georgia
- Ht: 6-3 Wt: 210
- Career Stats: 16 games, 62.2% comp., 4,118 yards, 25 pass TDs, 13 INTs, 0 rush TDs
In 2018, J.T. Daniels became just the second QB in USC history to start every game as a true-freshman. Expectations heading into the 2019 season were high, but Daniels tore his ACL in the first game of the season. Missing this time opened the door for Kedon Slovis, who played well enough to be the starter moving forward, causing Daniels to transfer to Georgia. Daniels missed the first couple games of the 2020 season while making sure his knee was back to 100% but once he finally stepped on the field, he looked like his former self. There were some rumors at the end of the season that he would be declaring for the draft early but decided to return to Athens for a chance to compete for a national championship. If Daniels can remain healthy he could be a guy that jumps up draft boards quickly.
Dillon Gabriel, Junior, Central Florida
- Ht: 6-0 Wt: 186
- Career Stats: 23 games, 59.7% comp., 7,223 yards, 61 pass TDs, 11 INTs, 6 rush TDs
When McKenzie Milton went down with a gruesome leg injury in 2019, Dillon Gabriel stepped in as a true freshman and the offense never skipped a beat. In his first two seasons, Gabriel has put up video-game numbers and has been an emotional leader for the UCF program. Gabriel is a left-handed QB who can get the ball out of his hand quick and put the ball in a tight spot for his receiver to make the catch. He’s not a true dual-threat quarterback but is sneaky athletic, especially within the pocket. Gabriel is undersized to play at the next level, but if he can add some weight this offseason, that question will go away. With Gus Malzahn taking over as the new head coach and play-caller in Orlando, look for Gabriel to have his best year yet. Gabriel doesn’t have to declare for the draft but if he does, we could see another left-handed QB in the NFL in 2022.