2022 Post-Senior Bowl Positional Re-Scouting/Re-Grading: The Quarterbacks (QB)
Here are the other Post-Senior Bowl positional reports: QB | RB | WR | TE
Every pre-Senior Bowl week, I do a preview scouting on each prospect attending. It’s a 30–60-minute review on each prospect (except OLs) of some of their background, looking over their college career outputs, and watching 15-20+ minutes of game tape and highlight reels, etc. It’s just the early stages of the scouting process. For many of the top names here we’ll preview again ahead of the NFL Combine and then do extensive work on many prospects after the Combine all the way through to August…on top of scouting them at the Senior Bowl week.
So, these positional preview scouting bytes…it’s a first reaction, a first handshake intro/greeting on them for us, so we can better watch/scout them all Senior Bowl week and beyond. After the Senior Bowl week, we’ll re-grade the group/update players who needed it coming out of the Mobile week, heading to the Combine week.
Here’s the post-event week grade reactions on these prospects (and some new ones added if they joined the Senior Bowl late/filled-in due to injury, etc.). The next scouting set of clues on these guys is in a few weeks at the NFL Combine.
QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt (Post-SB scouting grade: B/B+)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: A-/B+
Estimate = 6’3”/220
SB Measurements: 6’3.2”/217, ?” hands, 30.6” arms
Post-SB Note: Didn’t really hurt himself here, but more importantly (for his bank account) – he didn’t help himself. He could’ve seized the #1 QB pick issue and made a case for him to be the #1 overall…but he somewhat mailed it in for the week and didn’t show any moments of fire or gunslinger for people to get excited about. That doesn’t mean he’s not a really good QB, he is…just his perception took a hit this week, and the ‘hand size’ issue is going to haunt him…until we all get the measurement.
Still, he’s the best QB prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft, and with the lack of obvious elite prospects in this draft…he still can go #1 overall.
Pre-SB Note: Has the size, the arm, and good enough foot speed…he checks all the boxes of a starting NFL/franchise QB. Excellent senior season. We’ve thought for weeks that Pickett will leave the Senior Bowl as the clear top QB in the draft and the #1 overall pick to ____?
He will get Justin Herbert comps in Mobile, and he’ll be ‘lit’ from there with the draft public.
NFL Comp? = Carson Palmer-Joe Burrow mix.
QB Bailey Zappe, W. Kentucky (Post-SB scouting grade: B/C)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: B/C
Estimate = 6’0”/215
SB Measurements: 6’0.3”/213, 9.7” hands, 31.3” arms
Post-SB Note: Technically, I think Zappe is the best QB at quarterbacking of this group – but he has a less than optimal NFL body. However, he really ‘won’ the Senior Bowl week, to me, but no one noticed because they haven’t been instructed by ESPN to care – Zappe was taking 2nd-team snaps over Sam Howell day’s #2 and 3 of the practice week.
Zappe is one of the hidden gems of this draft for a team to take a chance on.
Pre-SB Note: Love, LOVE, LOVE this talent…a tremendous passer instinct with stunning accuracy. He won’t be much to look at, and he’ll be written off as ‘too small’ (while they love similar sized Willis) and dismissed as ‘Air Raid’, but there is so much more here. He’s the 2nd-best QB in the draft that I can see so far.
NFL Comp? = Gardner Minshew, Drew Brees, Joe Burrow
QB Malik Willis, Liberty (Post-SB scouting grade: C+)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+
Estimate = 6’0.5”/220
SB Measurements: 6’0.3”/220, 9.5” hands, 31.7” arms
Post-SB Note 2.0: The more I’m watching of Willis throughout the start of the scouting season, the more impressed I’m becoming…the less I’m ‘bashing’ him for his negatives. The negatives are real – he’s not a ready-made pocket passer, and probably never will be. But the stuff he is comfortable with – he’s good at. He’s a very good escape artist, better and better than I thought at first…and that mobility helps open up his passing with less pressure from the defense (worried about him running). I have said he’s a lesser or equal Tyler Huntley 9and I like Huntley) but I will now say he’s a better version of Tyler Huntley.
Post-SB Note: He’s a better runner/escape artist than I gave credit to initially, but he still has issues throwing from the NFL pocket…and it’s a real risk for the team drafting him, but the shaky-passer QBs with good or great scramble/mobile ability can work enough outside the pocket to be decent. I still think he’s not ready for being a franchise QB…he’s a lesser or equal Tyler Huntley, but that works OK enough in a pinch for a stretch.
Pre-SB Note: A very good runner at QB, but not a very good passer/pocket QB. He’s very shaky in the pocket. He’s a college spread gimmick QB wanting to make one predetermined read and then run if not clear and obvious. You can hang in the NFL with that skillset if you are a threat as a runner…and he mostly is. Not the greatest runner I’ve seen, but better than most.
Too shaky of a passer…and the Senior Bowl week is not built for the mobile QB. It forces them in the pocket and constantly throwing in drills. It’s a bad setup for Willis, if he goes through with it (his agent should pull him from playing, but attend for the meetings, etc.). Willis could look bad all week, and then win the actual game MVP because THEN the running is key because of all the confusion with all-star teams thrown together in a few days…the QBs taking off and running is dangerous in this game, but not during the practice week.
NFL Comp? = Better Tyler Huntley
QB Sam Howell, UNC (Post-SB scouting grade: C+/C)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C+
Estimate = 6’0”/220
SB Measurements: 6’0.2”/221, 9.2” hands, 31.2” arms
Post-SB Note: Had a weak week of practices…fell behind Zappe in the rotation, but just as his prospect flame was about to go out…he had the best performance in the game itself and steadied himself among scouts.
I just don’t see a legit, high-level NFL starter, face of the franchise here. He’s good/decent. He can play in doses. Nice backup if you need it – a real nice backup, fearless and can hit the ground running – he just doesn’t have that ‘it factor’ to be ‘the guy’ (for long).
Pre-SB Note: He is almost a spitting image of Baker Mayfield…a slightly more athletic one with maybe a tick less arm strength (but fine NFL arm strength). He’s a spread option, RPO/quick decision, quick passing QB who can throw it deep if you let him. The more I watched tape of Howell, the more I appreciated how talented a vision and mind he has for the game. He’s just a good player/QB mind – but not the ideal size, arm, athlete for the NFL so he’ll be discounted somewhat.
When the Baker comparisons start…how is that helping him for draft stock, considering what people think of Baker today? It won’t.
NFL Comp? = A similar, or slightly lesser Baker Mayfield. Ryan Fitzpatrick.
QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (Post-SB scouting grade: D+)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: C/D
SB Measurements: 6’3.0”/207, 10.0” hands, 32.8” arms
Post-SB Note: Looked very thin/skinny among the QBs here this week. Kinda blended quietly into the background of the practice week. He’s a guy that’s a good college QB, nice NFL backup or 3rd-string…but not a franchise guy. He’s a short-passing version of Kellen Mond.
Pre-SB Note: A talented college QB who will likely struggle transitioning to an NFL starter. Now, he can be an NFL fill-in or backup and hit the ground running OK…to be plausible, a game manager. But he’s not a radical, high-end QB talent. He’s a mediocre-armed or worse, non-reading-the-field-well QB who is very smart, very dedicated, very accurate (on quick, predetermined throws).
He could grow to be a Taylor Heinicke type OK/forced to play and is mostly bad but has some moments where some throws landed. But is this a franchise QB? More ‘no’ than ‘yes’.
NFL Comp? = Kellen Mond.
QB Carson Strong, Nevada (Post-SB scouting grade: D+)
*Pre-Senior Bowl scouting grade: D+
Estimate = 6’3”/215
SB Measurements: 6’3.6”/226, 9.1” hands, 31.6” arms
Post-SB Note: Didn’t do anything to get anyone excited here. He’s an OK pocket passer. He moved around OK enough, but that knee issue really lingers over his prospects and he’s just an OK passer. NFL-worthy but not franchise QB worthy. Will be a nice USFL QB for a stint.
Pre-SB Note: Decent QB. Has size and an average arm. He’s had serious knee issues which makes him slow as death moving around, which is an issue and limits his plant-and-throw in muddy pockets and is degenerative. He may look OK in the non-contact part of the Senior Bowl work, maybe even looking like a 1st-rounder…but when the contact begins, he’ll start to wilt because he’s an average/good QB mind with an average arm and little mobility to move around in the pocket or make off script throws.
If not for the knee…maybe he has a ‘C’ grade outlook.
NFL Comp? = Cody Kessler