The best 3 2022 NFL Draft QB prospects who fit the Seahawks ACTUAL NEEDS right now
Seaside Joe 1114: How the "Manning-Leaf" narrative changed the NFL draft's yearly storylines, and potentially created busts along the way
The 2022 NFL Draft didn’t have a single first round quarterback when the 2021 college season concluded. Then, once teams got eliminated from Super Bowl contention and the media started desperately searching for “the next Joe Burrow and Josh Allen,” a once-starving quarterback class got gluttonously full overnight.
Despite what you’re hearing there are zero first round-quality quarterbacks in 2022.
For those readers who have been subscribed to Seaside Joe since last year, you know that I spent week after week covering updates on the 2022 quarterback class. It wasn’t that I expected the Seahawks to need to replace Russell Wilson, it was only because the NFL Draft is my favorite thing and I particularly have always enjoyed the debates centered around “Who will be the next great quarterback?”
I also found myself obsessed with the development of Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall, a sleeper on all fronts who I swear to the fans—of any team lucky to draft him in 2023—you won’t be disappointed.
It’s not that I want to brag on my track record with picking quarterback prospects, because I know that my best strength as a prognosticator is the knowledge that I don’t know enough to fairly judge. But I have found that it has become increasingly easy to pick out a likely “reach” based on how media-driven narratives can obfuscate a prospect’s strengths and weaknesses in order to create “the next great quarterback” before our very eyes.
You will click on “THIS IS THE NEXT GREAT QUARTERBACK” and so if a draft class lacks one… that’s a problem for the NFL.
From 1972 to 1997, six of 26 number one draft picks were a quarterback.
From 1998 to 2021, beginning with Peyton Manning and ending on Trevor Lawrence, 18 of 24 number one picks were a quarterback.
If all goes according to plan and the Jacksonville Jaguars keep the number one pick in this year’s draft, it will only be the second time in the last eight years that a position other than quarterback went first in the NFL Draft.
If that’s not the only signal you need that 2022 is a weak year for quarterbacks, time to buy a new antenna.
Now consider how much the sports world changed from the seventies to the 2000s with the creation of ESPN and the explosion of the internet and digital communication over the past five decades. It was in 1980 that ESPN first aired the NFL Draft and it was this pact that eventually caused the draft to be moved to weekends in 1988.
Then that’s when the ratings exploded and now the NFL Draft wasn’t just an NFL event anymore. It was an ESPN event too.
Of course the Seahawks are among the teams that have a lot to gain and lose when the first round of the NFL Draft begins next month. What we don’t talk about is what ESPN and the NFL Network—which started covering the draft around 2006—have to gain.
What other monumental changes to the NFL can you think of over the last 30 years other than the rise of the internet, cable television, and 365 media coverage?
That’s why I think that the NFL and sports media’s insatiable obsession with first round quarterbacks, causing more than twice as many to be drafted per decade now as in the 90s, may be tied to fan obsession with quarterbacks.
As I said earlier, the NFL Draft is my favorite thing. That weekend is the weekend that I’ve lived for since I was thirteen. I have a lot of draft memories, as I am sure you do too, but probably no major draft decision stands out more than the Colts picking Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf.
“Manning vs Leaf” was the NFL’s own version of Magic vs. Bird or Dan & Dave. Duos were all the rage during the decade (Double Team, Doublemint gum, Monica and Bill) and Manning vs Leaf gave us two distinct personalities that divided strangers about 10 years before that became Twitter’s job.
Manning was white collar, in that he was more “prototypical” and “traditional” and an “old school pocket passer” for the older generation.
Leaf was blue collar, in that he was “less by the book” and “athletic” and played “schoolyard-style football” for the next generation.
And it’s never about which style is the “right style” to root for either. Whether Manning or Leaf became successful was of no consequence to the goal of creating a vast separation of character and style going into their major television debuts into the NFL.
Imagine Saturday Night Live holding a draft and televising Lorne Michaels choosing the next season’s cast. That is literally what the NFL Draft is, except it’s for football instead of sketch comedy.
(And a free idea for SNL to get a ratings bump.)
Isn’t it funny how often we’ve been pitched a similar narrative to the NFL Draft in more than two decades of football since? Because let’s make this clear: a battle of “which of these two QBs goes first?” was NOT a narrative prior to 1998 and it is THE MAIN STORYLINE of most drafts since.
1999 - Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, and Akili Smith
2004 - Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger
2005 - Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers
2006 - Vince Young and Matt Leinart
2011 - Cam Newton and a load of bad quarterbacks
2012 - Andrew Lock and Robert Griffin III
2015 - Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota
2016 - Jared Goff and Carson Wentz
2017 - Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson
2018 - Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson
2019 - Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones
2020 - Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert
2021 - Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones
The 2022 NFL Draft didn’t have any first round quarterbacks a few months ago. We know this because NFL Mock Draft Database keeps a record of how the media is tracking “the value” of these prospects and it is mock drafts that give fans the perception of how good each NFL prospect is. Here is Liberty’s Malik Willis:
In early January, he was mocked as a second round pick. As of March, he’s often labeled as a top-10 pick and potentially going as high as number two. I realize that Willis got A+ marks at the combine despite not doing any of the physical tests, but would that one week of glowing reports be enough to wipe away an uneven final season at Liberty, his fifth at the collegiate level?
Or that he’ll already be 23 when his rookie season begins? Or that he lost out to Jarrett Stidham and then essentially Bo Nix for the starting job at Auburn? Or that as Bleacher Report put it, he “Played in an elementary passing attack built of run-pass options and three-man route concepts” at Liberty? Or that he played at Liberty?
What you will most often hear about Willis is that he has “the highest ceiling of any QB in this draft” and though that may be true, the quest for “best case scenario” often leads to disappointment. I have no idea if Willis has actually been held back by his college opportunities and on the brink of “Josh Allen-ing”—I hope that he does—I just know that prospects with similar resumes didn’t used to be first round picks.
Said Bleacher Report:
Overall, Willis is more of a toolsy player than a viable starting NFL quarterback at this point in time. He will be a big project for whichever NFL team selects him—albeit a fun project. He played in a simple offense in college, so he'll be facing a huge jump in complexity of not only the offense he plays in but the defenses he will be facing. And his lack of anticipation and consistency even on simpler route concepts is worrisome.
Lance Zierlein compared Willis to Jay Cutler and Jalen Hurts.
As you can see from the list above, the duos turned to trios, the trios to to cincos, but now the NFL has run into a problem: No clear stars at quarterback to promote in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud were not eligible, but they’ll be the stars of the TV show next April. You see, there’s kind of an interesting problem that football has run into recently, which is that quarterbacks used to rarely play as redshirt freshman, let alone as true freshman. Now college coaches see that they can’t waste the opportunity to lose a season of a premium quarterback recruit, so true freshman are playing with more regularity, even winning the Heisman.
This means that they’re starting to look ready for the NFL Draft before they’re eligible to be drafted—the NFL has a “three year rule” that says a player must be three years out of high school to be drafted; super freshman Quinn Ewers is among those who left high school early so that he could be eligible for the draft earlier—and that’s causing certain players to lose reasons to play and risk injury.
Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields gained and lost nothing by playing another year.
But this year’s draft has no stars because the eligible players were all either underwhelming or overachievers during their college careers. It doesn’t mean that Willis, Kenny Pickett, or any other quarterback can’t become the next Patrick Mahomes or Tom Brady. As I said, what I know is that I don’t know anything.
I also know how to compare quarterback prospects from the past 30 years and judging them only as prospects with draft resumes, the 2022 class features no typical top-10 picks, maybe one or two first rounders, and a number of interesting players worth a day two or day three selection.
That’s one reason why I could not endorse the Seahawks selecting a quarterback with the ninth pick. The reason that I don’t expect and wouldn’t advise Seattle to draft a quarterback with any of their picks in the top four rounds is that the roster isn’t built to support a quarterback. It can only hope to improve by exchanging those draft picks to Roger Goodell for players at all the other positions.
It may disappoint ESPN’s Seattle audience a little bit, but that’s Hollywood.
The Seahawks may yet draft a quarterback at some point. John Schneider wanted to make it clear in a recent press conference that he regrets not picking more quarterbacks in the draft. Seattle might as well take their shot later on in the draft if they think that a special player like Russell Wilson has dropped. These would be my top-three most advisable selections of a quarterback by the Seahawks.
I will clarify not just who the QB is, but the time in the draft when the VALUE makes sense too.
I’ll make it short because this email is already long. Please help support a small Seahawks newsletter business if you can this month:
1. QB Kenny Pickett, 40th overall pick
I know I said that the Seahawks shouldn’t use a pick in the top four rounds on a quarterback, but at least Pickett might be an understandable risk if he falls out of the first round. The reason why I’m not thinking this is going to happen is that Pickett has been my highest rated 2022 quarterback since November and he should not drop out of the top-12.
I do like Kenny Pickett but I would not use a first round pick on him. And he’s the best quarterback in the draft.
I don’t even know if I would actually use the 40th overall pick on Pickett if I were the Seahawks and he was on the board. There would probably be edge rushers, offensive linemen, cornerbacks, linebackers, and wide receivers that would be difficult to pass on for a low-percentage pick at quarterback.
But I wanted to say that I do think highly of Kenny Pickett. I don’t think highly enough of any quarterback in this draft for him to potentially block Seattle from picking a quarterback early in 2023 because that’s what they should do.
2. Carson Strong in the fourth round (116th)
“Who is the best QB prospect for 2022?” was a question that carried a lot of different answers in 2021, depending on the day. So many fell off, including Spencer Rattler, Kedon Slovis, and Phil Jurkovec, among others. Strong had his day in his court too and honestly I’m not sure why he rarely gets mentioned in the top-five for this class, but he’s had multiple surgeries on his right knee already.
Strong might have the best arm in the draft. He has a medical red flag and needs plenty of development into an NFL system. Whichever team that drafts him shouldn’t be one that needs an immediate starter, so the likely road with Seattle would be a year behind Drew Lock to find out how attainable that “best case scenario” is.
3. E.J. Perry in the seventh round (229th)
The best athlete in this QB class is E.J. Perry and it’s not that close.
Perry’s considered a high-character leader. He has scraped from being a two-star recruit out of high school, to transferring from Boston College to Brown, setting an Ivy League record for total yards in his first season on the team, and now he’s a legit NFL prospect after his combine performance and noted “Good guy” moment:
As long as you set low expectations from the jump and be happy if he’s an energetic career backup with skills to fill in when necessary, Seahawks fans should be happy if E.J. Perry is the only quarterback that Seattle picks this year.