It is that time of year again, folks, where the NFL converges upon the great city of Indianapolis, Indiana. GMs and scouts will conduct the single greatest evaluation of talent all year, the NFL Scouting Combine.
Some lovingly call it the underwear Olympics. Some question the value in it. Still, others can’t get enough of it as they are glued to the stream of it all. What people do need to understand, though, is that both lines of thought are right; they do matter, and they don’t.
On one hand, they matter for certain positions, and the testing can confirm athleticism seen on film. While on the other hand, some tests, such as the 40-yard dash, can skew perceptions of players and affect grades in ways they shouldn’t.
As for the positions it matters for, the quarterbacks, it doesn’t matter as much from the on-field workout side of things. What does matter is the measurements we get from the medicals the reports we get from all the agents and teams getting together on the value of these quarterbacks. This year more than ever, rumors and splitting hairs will make a difference with this class.
Before we hear those rumors and measurements, it is worth showing where the rankings are heading into the big week in Indianapolis.
1). Malik Willis, Liberty
Coming off a big Senior Bowl week where it was reported that teams started to fall in love with him, Malik Willis could have this quarterback class in the palm of his hand with a good combine. Willis has the physical tools and natural arm talent to be successful in the NFL. However, it is his accuracy and decision making that is concerning. Several teams, especially the Steelers, have shown a big interest in Willis. Depending on how his combine goes, he may have even more teams clamoring for his talents over other NFL Draft prospects.
2). Matt Corral, Ole Miss
A joke coming out of the Senior Bowl was the biggest winner was Matt Corral because he simply wasn’t there, so he gained traction among NFL Draft prospects. No one consistently showed out there, and all the while, Corral was working on and training for the combine. Corral will have some questions on decision-making to answer during interviews. Still, his live arm projects to be quite the project for an NFL team to undertake. His combine will be big for his overall projection and value as a prospect.
3). Carson Strong, Nevada
No quarterback needs a good combine more than Carson Strong, especially after the reports of his interviews coming out of Mobile. He is reported to have performed poorly during interviews. At the combine, he needs to rebound by showing off his rocket launcher of an arm. Strong has a chance to make some really “wow” type throws, the types of throws that make Daniel Jeremiah chuckle during the live broadcast. If he does that, then maybe those interviews and their questions get forgotten.
4). Sam Howell, North Carolina
Nine months ago, Sam Howell appeared to be one of the front runners for the top pick in this draft. Fast forward to 2022, and we don’t know where he goes if in round one at all. Howell isn’t as physically gifted as the guys listed ahead of him here, but he may have the most complete arm. It is his arm that is what may earn him some major points at the combine.
5). Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
The man being mocked in the top ten consistently lands at number five in my rankings. Pickett is an absolute gamer, and he proved it by betting on himself by coming back to school this last year and becoming a Heisman finalist, and leading Pittsburgh to one of its best seasons to date. Now he has to finish out this season with a strong draft cycle as well. The talk will be about hand size. Ignore that. What needs focusing on is his age. He is just one year younger than Sam Darnold. We feel like we have Darnold figured out, but what about Pickett? It is these things that can tip the scale when evaluating NFL Draft prospects.
Where is Desmond Ridder?
I have made it very well known that I am not a Desmond Ridder believer. His arm talent scares me, and sometimes his decision-making can be worrisome. Yes, he is physically gifted with the size you want from an NFL quarterback. I don’t see his arm being anything better than that of Colt McCoy or a Deshone Kizer. Neither of those men won anyone a fantasy title or are on the teams that drafted them, for that matter. What is important to keep in mind is this quarterback class is not worth betting on.
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It’s a little ridiculous to say Ridder doesn’t have a better arm than Kizer or McCoy. That’s a pretty wide range. Neither were viable fantasy assets, but they were also two entirely different QB archetypes. McCoy was physically limited coming out of college whereas Kizer oozed physical talent but was super raw. It’s like saying he doesn’t have a stronger arm than Mac Jones or Trey Lance. Those are two entirely different types of prospects.
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