Each week from here on out during the college football season, we'll be stacking the quarterbacks with 2022 NFL draft eligibility based on their pro potential — and nothing else.
Some of the players we list below may not enter next year's draft, but we'll list anyone who we think has even a remote shot to declare early.
Here's how we see the NFL QB prospect hierarchy stacking up after three weeks of college football.
1. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral had five- and six-INT games last season. But he’s been on fire the first two games, taking care of the ball beautifully and flashing some big talent. If he keeps it up, Corral could be this year’s Zach Wilson.
We think he’s an absolute bargain over at BetMGM with odds of +4000 to be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. Even with work to do to solidify his standing with NFL scouts, Corral is worth the long-shot wager, we suspect. He has some electric ability, with a loose arm, a fearless approach and ample athletic traits to excite the NFL.
2. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Rattler was too fast and loose in the win over Tulane and has been good, not great, to start the season. We’re not worried, however, and believe he has as good a chance of any quarterback to earn QB1 honors if he plays more like the way he did down the stretch last season.
3. Carson Strong, Nevada
His game against Cal was a terrific first effort. Last week he shredded Idaho State and had a baseball cap on by the early fourth quarter. This week Strong and the Wolfpack draw a solid Kansas State team that hasn’t allowed a 30-yard completion through two games.
It’s Strong’s final Power-5 game of the regular season and could be a popular stop this weekend for scouts wanting to see more of what the Nevada QB is made of.
4. Sam Howell, North Carolina
Howell entered the season with some tangible QB1 buzz. A brutal opening loss against Virginia Tech has derailed that talk for now. Even after a strong game both running and throwing from Howell and the Tar Heels last week, it came against Georgia State.
This week, UNC gets an interesting Virginia squad that has outscored William & Mary and Illinois by a combined 85-14. Its intriguing lefty quarterback, Brennan Armstrong, could force Howell and Co. into shootout mode. Howell can rebuild his draft stock with a big game in this one.
5. Malik Willis, Liberty
Willis had an efficient game in the win over Troy on Saturday, completing 13 of 18 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, also running for 93 yards and another score. He’s no longer a secret, displaying better accuracy and touch so far this season, and we expect the hype to reach a rolling boil by the time the Flames head to Ole Miss on Nov. 6 to take on Matt Corral and the Rebels. We guarantee that press box will be packed with scouts.
6. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Ridder came back to school and could have close to 60 college starts by the time he’s prepping for the NFL. He played a strong opener (outside of a bad third quarter) and a good (but hardly special) game Saturday against Murray State.
But we want to see more from Ridder, who has some plus traits. The meat of the Bearcats’ schedule starts with Saturday’s game at Indiana, followed by a bigger one at Notre Dame.
7. Kedon Slovis, USC
NFL scouts generally like Slovis, even after his tough 2020 campaign. He entered this season earning some Day 2 grades, but we suspect a lot of that comes from Slovis’ terrific freshman season. Can he get back to that level?
USC has the receivers to help him there, and the passing game wasn’t the reason the Trojans got blasted by Stanford this week. But we are a little less hopeful on a big bounceback campaign now, even having seen Slovis connect a few pretty passes so far this year. He’s not all that physically blessed, even if Slovis’ feel for the game and football IQ appear strong. Plus his head coach Clay Helton was fired Monday.
8. Phil Jurkovec, Boston College
Jurkovec was emerging as a major draft sleeper with an unconventional style, a huge frame, a live arm and some underrated athleticism. That optimism, however, has been derailed in a major way because of the injury he suffered in the win over UMass.
This isn’t the kind of update on Phil Jurkovec that Boston College fans were hoping for (via Jurkovec’s Instagram story). pic.twitter.com/jrFSxIM3aV
— Tyler Calvaruso (@tyler_calvaruso) September 13, 2021
The Eagles are expected to update his status later Monday. But seeing Jurkovec miss the next two months won’t be a shock. If that’s the case, he’ll miss big games vs. Mizzou, Clemson, N.C. State and possibly Virginia Tech. Brutal.
9. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
We spotlighted Pickett heading into the Tennessee game, and he lived up to his billing with a fine outing to help pull the upset in the type of setting where the Panthers frequently have not been able to capitalize in recent years. Pickett isn’t for everyone, but his toughness, ability to throw on the move and underrated arm talent give him a shot.
tie-10. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
McCall has been the more dangerous of the two so far, but he’s only a redshirt sophomore. Still, we’re talking about a QB who has a career 30-3 TD-INT ratio, has completed more than 80 percent of his passes through two games this season and can be a threat with his legs. The biggest worry? Three fumbles so far in 2021, bringing his total to 10 over his past 13 games.
Thompson-Robinson seems to have kicked the fumbling issues that plagued him earlier in his career, and he’s developing into a better thrower over time. But we still have yet to see his best as a passer in 2021, completing only 19 of 36 passes (with three drops) for 390 yards, four TDs and one INT. He’s been OK but has big-play ability that has yet to be displayed this season.
Just missed the cut
JT Daniels, Georgia; Brock Purdy, Iowa State; Jayden Daniels, Arizona State; Jake Haener, Fresno State; D’Eriq King, Miami; Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan; Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky; Dustin Crum, Kent State