Hundreds of top college football prospects participate in the annual talent showcase each year in hopes of winning the attention of NFL scouts and talent evaluators by excelling in the 40-yard dash, bench press (225-pound repetitions), vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle run and 60-yard shuttle run.
Breaking down a trio of quarterback prospects who could improve their stock for the 2022 NFL draft with a strong showing in 2021
The 2021 NFL draft is only two months in the rearview mirror, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to prepare for next year’s draft.
Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round, marking just the second time the feat has been accomplished in the 21st century. While the 2022 draft may not be as highly-touted at the position heading into the upcoming season, there is not shortage of quarterback talent.
The likes of Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell have been consistently ranked among the top returning quarterbacks in college football. Kedon Slovis, JT Daniels and Matt Corral have also seen plenty of hype as gifted, Power 5 signal-callers. Outside of the Power 5, Malik Willis, Carson Strong and Desmond Ridder have made their fair shares of appearances in the first rounds of early 2022 mock drafts.
However, there’s always a quarterback or two that breaks out with a stellar season and shoots up draft boards. While it’s difficult to predict said breakout candidates with incredible precision, there are a handful of quarterbacks with major sleeper potential.
Here are three quarterbacks who could shoot up boards in the 2022 NFL draft:
2020 Buffalo Bills training camp preview for Josh Allen, Jake Fromm, quarterback position.
The Buffalo Bills are a few short weeks away from arriving for training camp in Western New York. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the preseason festivities will be diminished; the team will not hold their sessions at St. John Fisher College, their training camp location since 2000.
Nevertheless, the aim of the training camp remains the same. The organization must prepare players for the preseason, which depth players will compete in their final battle for a roster spot.
Training camp could hold greater importance this year, as the trimmed down preseason slate leaves fewer opportunities for players to impress the coaching staff.
The Bills Wire will complete a position-by-position analysis of each group on the Bills roster. This edition will focus on the quarterback position:
Josh Allen (24: 3rd season)
Matt Barkley (29: 8th season)
Jake Fromm (21: Rookie)
Davis Webb (25: 3rd season)
Josh Allen did exactly what the Bills hoped for him to do last year: Make improvements to his all-around game. Allen, for the most part, made better decisions than his rookie year. The arm strength and athleticism were on display, still, but Allen improved his touchdown to interception ratio (10:12 in 2018 to 20:9 in 2019) his passing yards per game improved by 20 yards per game, and Allen’s completion percentage also trended in the right direction, improving by six percent from his rookie season. Add in nine rushing touchdowns, and Allen was the most essential cog in the Bills offense last year.
Even with the improvements, everything was not completely rosy last year. His 58.8 percent completion percentage was still well below the league average. Allen’s bad throw percentage was 20.3 percent, the fifth-highest in the league, as per Pro Football Reference. He also struggled mightily in completing deep passes, which should be a strength considering his arm power.
Allen had several highlight moments throughout the year as he guided the offense to its second playoff appearance in three years. The Wild Card game started out as a dream for the Bills. Unfortunately, the lasting impression of Allen trying to make things happen at the end of the game is what many in the nation will remember.
Still, it’s the progress that makes Buffalo happy. Allen improved with a new cast of talent at skill positions, and it benefited the second-year pro. In addition to Allen, Matt Barkley played in the Bills’ season-ending, meaningless contest against the Jets.
Now here’s a rundown of storylines to follow in this position group:
Can Allen take another step forward in his development?
Make no mistake: this year is all about Josh Allen. The team has rebuilt the roster over the past three seasons to position itself in the best vision that head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane could imagine. The team has several reliable and explosive receiving and rushing options.
Now, it’s up to Allen to make it all come together.
Allen is a bit of a complex individual for defenses to figure out. His unpredictability has led to many highlight-reel plays. In the same regard, this has led to some chaos.
Allen has fit the ball into tight spaces. His arm strength is exceptional, which is nothing new. The gradual increase in his accuracy still has some distance to improve. It’s more about developing a bit more consistency with Allen. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has done a great job at focusing on what Allen does well, Allen just needs to do more well, like the deep ball.
The next step for Allen is to further eliminate poor plays. He’s on the right trajectory if he continues his development from last year. With wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the fold, there will most likely be more space for Allen to find receivers in the passing game. It’s up to him to consistently make the right reads and allow his playmakers to excel. If he does this, the stats will go up, the wins will come, and the critics will get a little less loud.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Hawai’i quarterback prospect Cole McDonald
Cole McDonald | QB | Hawaii
Hawaii has been known to produce some highly productive passers, such as Colt Brennan. McDonald is next on the list. His has a NFL-sized frame for the position. He is more of an athlete than he is a passer but could get some looks from NFL teams that should follow during the free agent scramble after the NFL Draft.
McDonald is more of an athlete at the quarterback position, rather than a passer at the quarterback position. If he can break contain of edge rushers, look for McDonald to burn a defense with his legs. Not afraid to mix it up with safeties and corners. He will drop his shoulder in hopes of bulldozing an attempting tackler. Has shown some breakaway speed for a quarterback that could potentially lead to big plays.
McDonald’s ability to navigate the pocket helps with some big play opportunities in the scramble drill. Keeps his eyes downfield scanning for the open receiver. He uses play action and read options well with the threat to run. Uses those opportunities to sling it down the field for touchdowns. He does a good job of attacking the seams of a defense that resulted in a lot of points for Hawaii.
Mechanics will be the main aspect of McDonald’s game that will need the most work. His release just doesn’t promote confidence in his deep ball accuracy. The release point being the biggest issue. With proper throwing mechanics, he could improve but his velocity is below average for a NFL quarterback. Fixing his throwing motion should help alleviate some of his throws, the ball needs to come out clean to help velocity as well.
On the topic of his release, a lot more issues arise when you look at his throwing set up. He takes too long to get the ball through his wind up and throw. Being just a tick quicker could be the difference in a complete catch and run by a receiver or a pick six going the other way when you allow a defensive back to close on the play.
Not a quarterback who can win consistently with tight window throws as he suffers with ball placement. At the NFL level those windows will be tighter. Doesn’t have the arm strength to fit the ball into his receiver. He can be late on getting the ball out as well which will increase his turnover worthy throws at the next level.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Michigan State quarterback prospect Brian Lewerke
Brian Lewerke | QB | Michigan State
Lewerke showed a lot of promise after his redshirt sophomore season in 2017. He regressed over his final two years but the scout thought process is if he did it once, he can do it again. He is an option to join a roster as a third quarterback or practice squad arm.
Lewerke has the leadership aspect to his game that teams will love. He was a three-year starter after sitting his first two seasons in East Lansing. He finished his career voted captain twice. In the pocket, he shows good pocket awareness. Will climb the pocket or move laterally to find time to release the ball. Has good touch on his throws with adequate arm strength for a NFL quarterback.
Lewerke isn’t just a passer, as he can run the football. Can show some toughness on the runs. Can play in an offense that runs with zone reads and read options with the ability to attack with his legs and arms. As far as his platform, throws from good platform. Doesn’t see a drop in play from speeding up mechanics with pressure.
The regression from the sophomore campaign is concerning. After posting a 20 touchdowns and seven interception season, Lewerke threw 25 touchdowns and 24 interceptions over the next two. He never completed more than 59.6 percent of his passes. He does have some ball placement and accuracy issues that need to be cleaned up with some mechanics adjustments.
While speeding up his mechanics doesn’t seem to be an issue, his mental processing needs to speed up at times. When watching his games from this past season it felt like he stayed on his first and second reads too long before getting to the third and fourth options. At the NFL level, players move quicker and he will need to dial it up to keep with the times.
One of the worries for Lewerke is that he is a see it open, throw it quarterback. He needs to become more of a passer and less of a thrower. There really doesn’t seem to be any anticipation in his game. Also the velocity at which he throws is a question mark. He needs to work on stepping through his throws and driving the ball downfield.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Michigan quarterback prospect Shea Patterson
Shea Patterson | QB | Michigan
The former Ole Miss transfer was expected to take Michigan to new heights under Jim Harbaugh. Unfortunately for Patterson, while he showed flashes of what he could be it never became a sustained level of play. He will likely be competing for a bottom of the roster spot or practice squad arm in 2020.
The former five-star quarterback recruit is obviously athletically gifted. He is able to use that talent to create off script. He does a good job of running the spread and winning of play fakes and read options but doesn’t possess enough of an arm to be a straight drop back quarterback. His mobility is on full display with how he can get outside the pocket and put pressure on defenses.
His ability to navigate the pocket when avoiding the rush is remarkable. He is a better passer when on the move. He will miss easy throws but makes a few per game that make you question where he was going but it works for him. The flashes give you the idea that he is capable of raising the bar on his play.
The biggest concern with Patterson is his mechanics. He has a below average arm for a NFL quarterback so he needs to win with technique and form. His passes don’t come out clean which definitely hurts any velocity that he could put on the throw. He will show flashes of cleans passes but they are few and far between.
With Patterson, it is easy to play coverage on deep throws. His inability to drive the ball downfield allows defenders underneath to have a shot at interceptions. His decision making leaves a lot to be desired as well, as he locks onto his target and will force the ball to his target regardless of the situation.
Pocket presence can also be a bit concerning. More often than not he puts himself in precarious situations based on the fact that he doesn’t sense pressure well enough. This forces him to attempt to leave the pocket and drop his eyes on passing plays.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Iowa quarterback prospect Nate Stanley
Nate Stanley | QB | Iowa
Stanley was a three-year starter at Iowa. After throwing just nine passes over a five-game stretch his freshman season, Stanley threw for 8,235 yards and 68 touchdowns over the next three seasons. The senior is looking to make a team next year in the NFL and develop into an eventual starter caliber signal caller.
Stanley has size and frame for the position. More of the prototypical size at the quarterback spot. Has a big arm that is on full display to all areas of the field. Tight windows are not a problem for Stanley to fit the ball right in there. It’s not the biggest arm of the class but he has more than enough to get the job done.
He has the ability to change his throwing motion and angles to complete passes. Does a good job to throw off a good base, however his arm strength allows him to complete passes even when he gets off balance. Has the frame to withstand punishment as pressure gets to him while delivering the ball. Doesn’t give up the ball much.
Stanley isn’t a very mobile quarterback which seems to go against the norm these days in the NFL. He can move around the pocket to avoid pressure but he isn’t a guy to tuck and run. This allows defense to play coverage without the fear of Stanley beating them with his legs more often than not. When his mechanics break down due to pressure, it can get ugly.
Production drop off from the previous two seasons in terms of touchdowns is concerning. Receiver didn’t do a good enough job of creating separation, Stanley needs to work on throwing his guys open with anticipation. He will also need to work on getting through his progressions rather going off first or second read.
Being the more traditional drop back passer, Stanley is going to struggle with any run pass option styles of offense. He isn’t a threat to get outside on runs so teams will key on backs and receivers in hopes of eliminating options. He will require the right system.
Perkins is a dynamic athlete at the quarterback position. He wins by getting outside the pocket where he can threaten a defense with his legs. Not just because of the speed but he can be elusive in the open field. Defenses have to come up and play the run when Perkins gets outside the pocket as he will tuck it and run. This does open up some plays downfield where he will chuck the ball.
Perkins can throw the ball from different arm angles and different speeds. Shows some touch with floaters but will sling it if he needs to throw it into a tight spot. Shows the ability to have good accuracy at times. Has adequate arm strength.
One of the big keys for Perkins to stick at the NFL level will be his consistency. If he gets out of rhythm, his game seems to fall apart. He becomes just a runner at that point of the game. He needs to become more accurate when throwing on the move. He got away with floaters in college that will get picked off at the next level.
Perkins will need a lot of work in going through progressions and reading the field in the NFL. More a of one-read and bail type of quarterback. Had issues with turning the ball over after locking on his lone read while at Virginia. A good third quarterback option while learning the NFL game.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Colorado quarterback prospect Steven Montez
Steven Montez | QB | Colorado
Montez has a bit of a NFL pedigree, his father Alfred played one season for the Oakland Raiders. Has the build of the prototypical quarterback. Montez is looking to become the next El Paso product to make it to the NFL, much like Aaron Jones did.
Teams will love the mental acumen of Montez. His father having played college quarterback and one year in the pros helped him be ready to play the position at division one. He was named team captain in 2019. Coaches have raved about his leadership on and off the field with his team.
Prototypical size for the position. Has a big arm to make all the throws. Not just a guy who will stand in the pocket and sling it all over the field. Montez can throw for accuracy when on the move in the scramble drill. Has a little Mahomes to his game with how he can sling it down the field with a flick of his wrist.
Despite being a bigger framed quarterback, Montez can evade the pass rush. Does well to sense pressure and can avoid it. Although he does have a habit of bailing on a pocket too soon and will run into trouble. Still shows adequate pocket presence.
The problem with quarterbacks that have big arms is that they don’t know how to dial it down in certain situations. Montez is not immune to that either. Needs to learn to throw the change up even when he always throws the fastball at his receivers. He also needs to learn to trust his protection, will drop eyes looking for the pass rusher.
Questions will arise with his 15-21 record over his three years in Colorado. He has a tendency to lock onto a target rather than move through his progressions. Slow to go through progressions. Will need to speed up his release at the NFL level.
Everything NFL draft fans need to know about Washington State quarterback prospect Anthony Gordon
Anthony Gordon | QB | Washington State
In recent years, air raid quarterbacks in the NFL haven’t fared very well until the likes of Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes. Gordon played in Mike Leach’s offense and put up some huge numbers. He waited his turn which is unique in the transfer portal era. He has the tools to be a backup at the NFL level.
Gordon is a player who can win from different platforms throwing the ball. This allows him to complete passes despite the pass rush and coverage down the field. He can extend plays from the pocket, not a huge candidate to run the ball but will move around to allow his receivers to find soft spots in the scramble drill.
Gordon throws with consistent touch underneath and in the intermediate areas of the field. Can drop the ball in the basket. He shows the toughness to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball despite pressure from pass rushers. Does a good job of going through his progressions.
Only one year of production at the college level, in which he put up some big numbers in the Air Raid offense. He lacks the arm strength to be a starter at the NFL level. Velocity can be truly lacking. Not sure how well his frame would hold up against the pounding a quarterback takes in the NFL.
The easiest way to rattle Gordon is the interior pressure. Getting out of the pocket allows him to create some but that is more of a weakness as he is not consistent enough to make teams pay. Gordon is really a developmental project and could wind up being a quality backup in the league.