As we’re starting to get rather confident and comfortable with this 2022 class, we can see the obvious strengths and weaknesses within it. This group is littered with receiver talent, some high end defensive playmakers and even some dark horse, small school offensive lineman that are all looking to become an anchor at the next level. One thing this class absolutely lacks is proven quarterbacks.
When I say “proven quarterbacks”, that is a really tough statement to get behind. Each year we see labels thrown on the class that attempts to predict the success of several 20-23 year old college QBs who come from a plethora of conferences and schemes, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes the stud coming from a pro ready offense with the perfect hand size and arm strength doesn’t make it at the next level, while the game manager that falls to the right system ends up clicking perfectly and turning into a franchise player. That’s why I hate labeling a class weak or strong…for all we know, somebody from this class emerges as a future MVP or Super Bowl winner and has us all scratching our heads 5 years later.
2017 was supposed to be a weak class, but we got Mahomes and Watson…2018 was supposed to be a very strong one, yet we saw Darnold, Rosen and Baker all get drafted before Lamar Jackson. Drew Lock looked like a hot topic in the fall of 2018, but Kyler, a guy we all thought was going to be playing for the Oakland A’s, soon shot up draft boards. QB success is just plain unpredictable through the draft and a major reason for that is because these young talents primarily depend on a solid base built around them in order to succeed…more often than not, the ones drafted in the top 10 are going to have to endure years of pain before the organization can catch up.
So that brings us back to our main point…the 2022 QB class looks weak on paper…does that mean they will all stink? Certainly not, usually we get at least one franchise QB a year and this class likely will join that trend. However, the 2023 QB class is much more intriguing and the reason for that is STAR POWER. Right now, in late November, we are seeing two of the top prospects in the 2023 class dual it out for the Heisman trophy. C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young don’t lack an ounce of star power, but where do they stand as pro prospects and stack up against the rest of the class?
Look, it’s early…it’s Late-November and we can’t even realistically stack up the 2022 class yet, so 2023 is a crap shoot. However, as of now, there are three extremely talented QBs that I think could all be viable 1st round picks.
C.J. Stroud | Ohio State, RS FR
Stroud struggled early in the season, but has absolutely taken off and is now the odds on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy following his 6 TD performance against Michigan State. I love the arm talent, I love the mental processing, I love the size, but what I love the most is the improvements that Stroud has made to his game along the way this season. He has completely rewritten any concerns I had early in the season and has seriously showcase his elite NFL ability through his first season as a starter. The biggest hurdle Stroud must face going forward is that he will lose a pair of receivers that very well could go in the 1st round, however, Jaxson Smith-Njigba has become a very viable WR in the Buckeyes offense and will be rejoining the Buckeyes next season, as well as the talented freshman RB TreyVeon Henderson.
Bryce Young | Alabama, SO
Young, who is just behind Stroud in Heisman odds, is on an absolute tear. In the month of November he has thrown for 1,100 yards and 12 TDs and hasn’t thrown a single interception…it’s only November 23 as I type this. I was a little worried early in the season, simply because it seemed that Alabama had simplified the offense a bit for him and he wasn’t really having to make many complicated reads, but what I forgot was that he is young and inexperienced…and now, a few months later, he is looking comfortable and poised to be a 1st round pick.
Will Rogers | Mississippi State, SO
Some people may jump on Rogers’ stats and claim it is just because he is playing in a Mike Leach Air Raid Offense, but he is more than that. Rogers’ ability to process the field has been unbelievable and he has turned a bottom-feeding offense into a powerhouse this season. He makes the throws he should and rarely misses…it’s early but Rogers reminds me a lot of Mac Jones. It’s easy to say that his stats are inflated, but he is doing it against nationally ranked, SEC teams.
Guys Who Could Return
Carson Strong | Nevada, JR
Strong was climbing up boards earlier in the season, but it seems that his stock has become a bit stagnant as of lately. We know what Strong can do…he has a big arm and has been rather efficient with the ball, but he hasn’t consistently displayed the “WOW FACTOR” type throws that we love to see in the guys coming from the weaker conferences. I think that he is a strong candidate to return to Nevada for his Senior season and hope for a year like Desmond Ridder and a chance to stick at the top of draft boards.
Grayson McCall | Coastal Carolina, RS SO
I am a huge fan of McCall…I love the way he cooks. He’s so efficient and a highly rated player when it comes to analytics…so why is he not a top prospect like Zach Wilson was last year? I’ve heard critiques on the Coastal offense being too run heavy, but that’s out of McCall’s control. He’s slim, but not any slimmer than Lawrence was last year. He’s made head turning throws that are necessary at the next level. He also had a late season injury that halted the NFL Draft hype train before it took off. Regardless of whatever it is that has him still on the outside looking in, if he returns for another season, then I expect for another very successful campaign and a veteran prospect that could finally see his name rise.
Other Names to Watch
D.J. Uiagalelei | Clemson, SO
It’s easy to get disillusioned by his poor play this season, but don’t forget what he did with his limited playing time in 2020 when Clemson had a CFP roster. In 2020, DJ threw for 914 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs and completed 66.7% of his passes. He’s had a rough year, but what is important is that we have seen that upside…we have seen what he CAN do. If DJ can have a bounce back year, which is hard to imagine it getting any worse than this year, he can for sure be on that elite bubble.
Bo Nix | Auburn, JR
Nix has been inconsistent his entire career, but has shown flashes of greatness at times. Unfortunately, his junior season has been cut short due to a season ending ankle injury, which pretty much guarantees he will be back next year. However, will Hot Seat Harsin want to sit around another year with what he knows he has in Bo, when he could have a higher upside prospect sitting behind him? TJ Finley will get a 3 game try-out and a win over Alabama this weekend in the Iron Bowl could make things very interesting. Regardless, Bo will likely start somewhere and it is hard to imagine a guy with 4 years of starting experience (with at least 3 in the SEC) doesn’t get a chance in the NFL.
Devin Leary | NC State, SO
Leary might not be a huge name, but he is a huge part of the reason why the Wolfpack are ranked #20 and are 8-3. Since taking over the starting job, Leary has thrown for 39 TDs, 4,000 yards and just 5 interceptions. Don’t sleep on Leary.