We’re back! The BTSC Big Board crew has returned for a second consecutive season! Between now and April, numerous BTSC draft analysts will give you stats, grades, and in-depth scouting reports for over 300 prospects in this year’s class. Just like last year, we will be doing these rankings by position until the week of the draft, when we finalize the overall rankings and release our all-positions-combined big board.
This week, we are taking a look at the quarterbacks, the position that is discussed at nauseum. This class is not quite as top-heavy as the past couple classes, but there is better depth at the position than there generally is. With Ben Roethlisberger retiring, it certainly looks as if the Steelers plan on drafting his successor this year, especially when you consider the attention they have given to the quarterback class thus far.
The analysis is a collaborative effort of Ryland, myself, K.T. Smith, Jeremy Betz, skyfire322, Itz JustNoah, and NecksNation, while the stats are compiled by SNW via Sports Reference. Proofreading was done by our newest big board contributor, DoomzoneFF.
If you have any thoughts on these quarterback prospects and their potential fit with the Steelers, be sure to share them in the comment section below.
Let’s get to the Big Board!
1. Malik Willis | Liberty 6’-1”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 8
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 207, A 339, Pct 61.1, Yds 2857, TD 27, Int 12, RA 197, Yds 878, TD 13.
Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown on Willis, I talked about how special Willis had the chance to be, and I still stand by those comments. Every. Single. Bit. The numbers are not the prettiest, and having multiple 3 interception games is not something any quarterback wants on their résumé. However, Willis likely had the worst offensive line in the country, and it was on full display every single week. Willis was constantly running for his life before he had an opportunity to go through his progressions and make accurate reads. At the end of the day, not much has changed about my opinion of him. He is still an incredibly talented quarterback with a big arm and outstanding arm, but he needs to sit for a year. Sitting and watching on the sidelines will allow him to see the speed of the NFL game and the complexity of NFL coverages before having to face them himself. It will do wonders for his development. Footwork needs improvement, but that is a fixable issue. If a team is all in on Willis and willing to be patient, he could become one of the brightest young stars in the league.
Ryland B.: Willis is one of those prospects with the ceiling of a top-5 player at his position and the floor of someone who may not last in the league very long. It all comes down to his excellent athleticism but lack of technical refinement. Willis possesses a strong arm and excellent athleticism, being a threat to run on every play. I wouldn’t call him as big of a threat as Lamar Jackson was coming out of college, but he still is incredibly dynamic in the open field. Despite what some scouting reports would say, Willis’ accuracy isn’t completely terrible, but rather inconsistent. His arm strength and athleticism give him the ability to hit off-platform throws and deep passes perfectly, but he can also miss the “easy” throws as well. Far more concerning is Willis’ decision-making and processing. He often misreads coverages, attempts ill-advised throws, and struggles beyond his first read. Beyond that, his throwing mechanics will need to be improved at the NFL level. He’s also far too willing to run when a play breaks down, but it’s hard to blame him – he’s a dangerous runner, and besides, he’s one of the few quarterbacks in this draft class who would experience improved offensive line play if drafted by Pittsburgh.
2. Desmond Ridder | Cincinnati 6’-4”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 23
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 251, A 387, Pct 64.9, Yds 3334, TD 30, Int 8, RA 110, Yds 355, TD 6.
Andrew Wilbar: Ridder’s best attributes are his arm strength and athleticism. He puts good velocity on all his passes, whether they be short, intermediate, or deep. His accuracy can be really good at times and really bad at other times. He has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers, although that issue was not as bad in 2021 as it was in years previous. He did not turn the ball over as much in 2020, and ball placement was a big reason why. Much like we talked about with Zach Wilson this past season, Ridder can effectively deliver the ball from many different arm angles, which allows him to make the most difficult throws with ease. There is a lot of upside with Ridder as a passer, but he is also lethal as a runner, as evidenced by his 2,000 plus rushing yards during his collegiate career. The other primary concern with Ridder, accuracy being the other one, is patience. Too often you will see Ridder tuck it and run if he does not like his first read, and it has cost Cincinnati some big plays that could have been had downfield. You can check out my summer breakdown of Ridder here.
Ryland B.: Ridder is such a fascinating prospect. The first thing that stands out in his tape is his arm strength, and the way the ball just jumps out of his hand. He’s a natural thrower whose ability to make any throw, and touch passes as well, gives him an incredibly high ceiling. Ridder is also a great athlete who is mobile and a big threat as a runner. What’s very concerning about Ridder is his accuracy, which is incredibly inconsistent. He reminds me of Malik Willis in terms of that he can have moments where he throws perfect dimes down the field just to miss an easy crosser high and wide on the next play. Compounded with Ridder’s equally inconsistent decision making, there’s plenty of cause for concern regarding his bust potential. That being said, Ridder’s physical tools are undeniable, and he’s an experienced and successful leader with lots of poise. The stunning highs and lows of his tape show that Ridder is clearly a first round prospect — as well as one who will require a lot of work.
3. Kenny Pickett | Pittsburgh 6’-3”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 27
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 334, A 497, Pct 67.2, Yds 4319, TD 42, Int 7, RA 98, Yds 233, TD 5.
Andrew Wilbar: I have been a big fan of Pickett’s ever since he stepped foot on campus at Pitt. I stood up for him when fans were disgruntled with the offense, and before he decided to return to school for 2021, I was a big proponent of taking a late-round flier on him. I was not surprised when he had his breakout season in 2021, but he has risen too high on the national draft boards for my liking. Pickett is a very solid quarterback who has a decent arm and sneaky good athleticism, but he is older than some of the other quarterbacks in this class, and he does not have an incredibly high ceiling as a pro. The biggest issue, especially for teams that play in cold weather, will be his incredibly small hands. Pickett participated in the 2022 Senior Bowl, but he struggled badly in practices when it was raining. There is no denying that he lost his accuracy and struggled to push the ball downfield when the weather got rough. Rumor has it that his hands are right around eight inches, which would be historically small, but we will have to wait for the official measurement at the combine. Pickett’s accuracy improved by leaps and bounds this season, but he sometimes struggled to get off his first read and get through his progressions before the pressure got to him. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Cousins when it comes to his ability to roll out to his weak side, and his delivery and arm strength remind me of a Derek Carr or an Andy Dalton. The big question will be, “Is he capable of anything greater than that?”. That is what teams are going to have to determine over the next few months when it comes to Pickett and how high he should be taken.
Ryland B.: Pickett is a fearless competitor who reportedly interviewed excellently at the Senior Bowl. Despite what some would say, he’s plenty athletic with pocket mobility and decent running ability. His arm is certainly NFL caliber, but certainly a step below the likes of a Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen. Pickett generally has good accuracy although he has a tendency to miss high, which can put his receivers in dangerous positions. He’s shown the ability to check down but can be a little too eager to make the aggressive play, leading him to make some dangerous throws or hold onto the ball for too long. There are concerns revolving around his arm strength and hand size, but until it’s proven otherwise, Pickett seems to have what it takes to make the throws he’ll need to make at the pro level. Not to compare Pickett to Joe Burrow, but there were similar concerns regarding Burrow’s arm and hands yet the Bengals’ quarterback has still managed to turn into one of the league’s brightest stars. Overall, it’s clear that Pickett is a leader and competitor with NFL-level athleticism. He may not be as flashy as some other prospects in this year’s draft, but he definitely has a safer floor while still having the potential to be a franchise quarterback.
4. Carson Strong | Nevada 6’-4”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 31
2021 Stats: GP 12, C 367, A 523, Pct 70.2, Yds 4186, TD 36, Int 8, RA 51, Yds -201, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: In my summer breakdown of Strong, I talked about a knee injury he suffered in high school, and that injury has now become the biggest question mark surrounding his draft stock. As a prospect, the first thing that stands out about Strong is his arm strength. He puts good zip on short and intermediate throws and can sling it 60 yards down the field with ease. Over the past two seasons, he has learned to make quicker decisions with the football, and his delivery has become cleaner and quicker as well. Strong has also improved his accuracy, taking yet another step forward in 2021 with an impressive 70.2% completion percentage. Although his poise in the pocket has contributed to his success, his improved footwork has been the thing helping him become a more consistently accurate passer. At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Strong is primarily a pocket passer, but he has enough mobility to move around in the pocket and make an occasional play on the ground. Just don’t expect any designed quarterback runs with him at the helm. People close to him have also raved about his high IQ. My concerns lie in his clutchness and health. The most well-known issue with Strong is his knee problems, and that could be what keeps him from going in the top half of the first round. Fortunately for him, the latest reports indicate that teams do not see his knee issues as something that could plague his career. If his medicals come back positive, I would expect his stock to rise as we approach the draft.
5. Sam Howell | North Carolina 6’-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 39
2021 Stats: GP 12, C 217, A 347, Pct 62.5, Yds 3056, TD 24, Int 9, RA 183, Yds 828, TD 11.
Necksnation: A junior who has often been compared to Baker Mayfield, Howell was considered by many to be the top QB in this class prior to the 2021 season. However, his production took a notable hit in 2021. Although this was largely due to the departure of his top four playmakers to the NFL Draft, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t necessarily shown the ability to thrive without top talent around him. He had arguably his worst statistical season last year, putting up lows in TD:INT ratio, yards, and rating (per PFF) while also significantly regressing in completion percentage and yards per attempt. However, the loss of his top playmakers gave him the chance to make more plays with his legs, and he had by far his best season as a runner. Howell has very good arm talent, and his accuracy is pretty good as well. I did notice that he sometimes held on to the ball too long and tried to do too much, which is something that he could improve on at the next level. That said, he is more than capable of throwing on the run, leading the nation in TD passes thrown on the run. His tendency to try to make something out of nothing can be a double-edged sword, as it also created many of his interceptions. Howell needs to work on going through his progressions more, as I didn’t see him make too many throws that weren’t to his primary reads, but that may have also been due to scheme. This tendency to throw to his primary reads sometimes resulted in poor decision making, so he’ll need to work on his progressions in the NFL. Ball security seems like it could be a potential issue for Howell, as he fumbled 8 times in 2021 and 19 times across his three years at UNC. His pocket awareness is sometimes lacking, but he’s mobile enough to get out of difficult situations rather frequently, so while it’s something that he should work at, it’s not a huge concern for me. He is a little on the shorter side at 6’1”, but recently we’ve seen plenty of shorter QBs succeed so I’m not too worried about his height. I think that the Baker Mayfield comparison is a fair one, and I think that Howell has a similar ceiling in the NFL. I don’t think that Howell will ever be a true franchise QB, but he has enough upside to warrant a mid to late second round selection. He seems to me like a guy who will be a great backup but never a good starter, which is fine as long as no team reaches on him with their top pick.
6. Matt Corral | Ole Miss 6’-1”, 205 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 50
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 260, A 384, Pct 67.7, Yds 3343, TD 20, Int 5, RA 152, Yds 614, TD 19.
Necksnation: Corral is one of the more intriguing prospects in this class to me. Despite his smaller frame, he has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL thanks to his natural arm talent and mobility. Although he regressed in most statistical categories from 2021 to 2020, he looked like a better and more refined passer as a senior. Corral suffered an ankle sprain in the Sugar Bowl, but no long-term damage was done, and he should be fine for his rookie season. He certainly has sufficient mobility, although for the most part, he doesn’t rely on his scrambling abilities too much. He did have a game with 30 carries for 195 yards, but that was an outlier as that was the only game in 2021 where he had over 15 carries. He has great arm strength and accuracy, and he was able to trim his interceptions down by nearly one per game in 2021. Corral demonstrated nice touch on his intermediate and deep throws, and did an especially good job of hitting his receivers in stride on deep balls. I noticed improvement in progressions throughout his senior season, which should help him translate well to the NFL. He executed the read option and play action concepts nicely at Ole Miss, and in today’s NFL, those will be valuable skills for him. Corral is one of my favorite QBs in this draft, and he seems to have the best combination of upside and safety. He projects as a mid-first round pick to a QB needy team who could develop into a star at the next level.
7. Bailey Zappe | Western Kentucky 6’-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 109
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 476, A 687, Pct 69.3, Yds 5967, TD 62, Int 11, RA 51, Yds 17, TD 3.
Ryland B.: Zappe is a small-school star who put up video game-like numbers while at Western Kentucky. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he succeeded with pinpoint accuracy, even on his throws farther down the field. His decision-making is largely solid as well, and he puts good velocity on his throws, fitting passes into smaller windows downfield. Zappe possesses adequate athleticism and pocket awareness, being able to step up in the pocket to make throws and scramble away from defenders, although he’s definitely not an extremely mobile quarterback. He’s lacking in ideal size but has plenty of poise, and his production in 2021, which set several college football records, more than speaks for itself. The biggest worry with Zappe is the lower level of competition that he played against at WKU, and whether or not he has the athleticism to make that jump to a higher level of football. Zappe looked a little out of his league at the Senior Bowl, but it’s hard to judge a prospect based on one game, especially when Zappe was acclimating to a pro-style offense for the first time. If he can catch up to the speed of the NFL game, Zappe seems to have the potential to be a very solid backup in the pros – but his 62 touchdowns and 5967 passing yards in 2021 seem to indicate his ceiling might be slightly higher.
8. E.J. Perry | Brown 6’-2”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 153
2021 Stats: GP 10, C 296, A 445, Pct 66.5, Yds 3034, TD 23, Int 14, RA 111, Yds 402, TD 7.
Andrew Wilbar: Perry is a former four-star athlete who brings plenty of upside as a dual-threat quarterback. Not only does he have the mobility to move around in the pocket, but he also has the quickness to make things happen as a runner in the open field. After transferring from Boston College to Brown, Perry set an Ivy League record with 3,678 yards of total offense in one season. His ball placement and accuracy outside the hashes are surprisingly good, but he needs to do a better job of reading the middle linebacker when throwing across the middle. I would also like to see him show more patience in the pocket and not throw as many passes off his back foot. Nonetheless, there is a decent amount of athletic upside with Brown, and I would consider him a worthwhile pickup if he is still available in the fifth or sixth round.
9. Kaleb Eleby | Western Michigan 6’-1”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 177
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 230, A 363, Pct 63.4, Yds 3277, TD 23, Int 6, RA 87, Yds 64, TD 6.
Jeremy Betz: Talk about an interesting study. Eleby is an electric, but raw talent whose success is largely based on his athleticism. The Broncos offense ran a heavy RPO system that forced LBs and Safeties to follow the ball and allowed for a lot of open 1st read receivers. Quick decision-making, a live arm, and smooth mobility are some of his best traits. When you watch the tape, the ball comes out of his hand with zip and accuracy across short and midrange passes. He tends to float the deep ball and is often left scrambling if his first read isn’t there. The concerns with Eleby include inconsistent footwork and throwing motion as well, making him a developmental prospect with athletic upside. Watching his film will leave you thinking, “mini Cam Newton,” but he will require patient development at the next level. He is probably a mid Day 3 pick.
10. D’Eriq King | Miami 5’-11”, 195 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 194
2021 Stats: GP 3, C 81, A 122, Pct 66.4, Yds 767, TD 3, Int 4, RA 40, Yds 96, TD 0.
2020 Stats: GP 11, C 211, A 329, Pct 64.1, Yds 2686, TD 23, Int 5, RA 130, Yds 538, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: King is an incredibly polarizing prospect with an incredible ceiling. When you see him at his best, he is Kyler Murray 2.0. Unfortunately, his floor is as low as it can get. King’s 2021 season ended early due to a shoulder injury, and the medicals will likely determine whether or not he gets drafted. The offensive lines at both Houston and Miami did not give him the greatest protection, but while that should be put into account when evaluating him, he still made a lot of poor decisions with the football without excuse. His interception numbers are not overly high, but he threw too many high-risk throws. Decision-making is something the team he goes to will need to focus on while attempting to develop him. His stature does not work in his favor either, but if he falls to the sixth or seventh round, I would consider it more than worth the risk to draft him. He has too much talent and athleticism to simply ignore.
11. Brandon Peters | Illinois 6’-5”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 198
2021 Stats: GP 9, C 91, A 170, Pct 53.5, Yds 1170, TD 7, Int 4, RA 38, Yds 0, TD 0.
Andrew Wilbar: Peters transferred from Michigan after being in a crowded quarterback room, and he showed flashes of potential during his time at Illinois. The former four-star recruit possesses solid arm strength and good mobility, and he displays good toughness, displaying the size as well as the willingness to withstand a beating inside the pocket. I have also been impressed with the velocity on Peters’ throws to all levels of the field. He will need to improve his touch on shorter passes and quicken his delivery, but overall, I believe that Peters is one of the few late-round sleepers at the quarterback position. He has the upside of an average starting quarterback but will likely be a solid backup in the NFL when it is all said and done.
12. Levi Lewis | Louisiana 5’-10”, 210 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 210
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 236, A 391, Pct 60.4, Yds 2917, TD 20, Int 4, RA 100, Yds 343, TD 5.
Necksnation: The first thing that jumps out about Lewis is his size. At 5’10” and 184 lbs, he will certainly need to bulk up between now and his measurement at the combine. On the bright side, Lewis has very good mobility, reportedly running a 4.65, although his game speed appears to be even better. Although he doesn’t run as often as other mobile QBs, he certainly is a capable scrambler, and he was able to break off some impressive runs during his time at Louisiana. The lefty also has a strong arm, which he uses well to throw a nice deep ball, and he gets good zip on his throws. He isn’t very turnover prone, as he posted low numbers in both interceptions and fumbles throughout his time in college. However, his accuracy will need a lot of work for him to have any success at the next level. It’s his weakest trait in my opinion, and it led to only a 60% completion percentage as a senior. Lewis also doesn’t do a particularly good job of working through his progressions. Lewis turns 24 in May, which is older than you’d ideally want, but we’ve seen plenty of older QBs get selected much higher. I did notice a bit of an odd tendency to hesitate briefly after taking a snap, which could hurt him if he’s being free rushed by an NFL defensive end, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. I do see some Kyler Murray to Lewis’ game, but he isn’t as impressive physically, and is incredibly raw as a prospect. Lewis would need a lot of refining and weight training to succeed in the NFL, but he has the upside to be a solid, albeit inconsistent backup.
13. Brock Purdy | Iowa State 6’-1”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 232
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 292, A 407, Pct 71.7, Yds 3188, TD 19, Int 8, RA 85, Yds 238, TD 1.
Ryland B.: Purdy was a good college quarterback who projects as a backup at the NFL level. He doesn’t have great size but is a fairly athletic passer who found a lot of success rolling out of the pocket on pass plays. He has good accuracy and touch on short and mid-length passes. However, Purdy doesn’t seem to have an NFL arm and didn’t find a lot of success pushing the ball down the field. This greatly limits his ceiling, but Purdy has what it takes to effectively manage an offense if needed through short throws and a quick release.
14. Aqeel Glass | Alabama A&M 6’-5”, 215 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 247
2021 Stats: GP 10, C 259, A 414, Pct 62.6, Yds 3568, TD 36, Int 7, RA 50, Yds -90, TD 1.
Noah: Glass is a late round QB that I can get behind. He throws with excellent anticipation and is very good at leading his receivers. He played behind a bad offensive line at Alabama A&M and was successful throwing off-platform and on the run. His arm strength is something that could definitely discourage scouts but he has a quick release and puts a lot of zip on the ball on short passes. Glass is not a real threat as a runner but he can definitely pick up a first down if he needs to. He finishes his career as one of the most successful quarterbacks in Alabama A&M history, and it’ll be very exciting to see what he does in the NFL.
15. Chase Garbers | Cal 6’-2”, 225 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 354
2021 Stats: GP 11, C 223, A 347, Pct 64.3, Yds 2531, TD 16, Int 8, RA 104, Yds 456, TD 4.
Skyfire322: Chase Garbers is an intriguing prospect this year. While his numbers don’t have the ‘wow’ factor, the tape showcases the talent. One of Garbers’ greatest strengths is going through his progressions and knowing how to keep a play alive when given a chance. He also has solid footwork, and good arm strength. That aside, Garbers’ most significant issue is inconsistency. Ball placement and spirals can be erratic, particularly when throwing deep or under duress. What could be catchable turns into something contested. He also tries to thread the ball into windows that are too tight. And while his ability to extend the play is a strength, he often tries to keep it alive for too long, forcing erroneous throws or getting sacked. The California product has plenty of upside, and if placed in the right system with a good offensive line and is coached the right way, he has the makings of a solid backup whose name can be called upon if QB#1 goes down.
16. Dustin Crum | Kent State 6’-3”, 207 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 368
2021 Stats: GP 14, C 245, A 382, Pct 64.1, Yds 3257, TD 20, Int 6, RA 161, Yds 703, TD 12.
Andrew Wilbar: No MAC player is ever off the Steelers’ radar, so we cannot rule out a guy like Crum. Crum lacks ideal arm strength, but he has surprisingly good wheels. In fact, that is how he primarily won games for Kent State, as his vision and decisiveness in open field made him difficult to bring down one-on-one. He was an accurate quarterback at the collegiate level, but he was aiming his passes rather than anticipating his receivers open. He also lacks patience inside the pocket, as he is more comfortable tucking the ball and running it rather than hanging in the pocket and going through his progressions. Some team may see enough in Crum to sign him as an undrafted free agent and try to develop him into a solid backup, but I would not waste my time with him.
17. Jack Coan | Notre Dame 6’-3”, 220 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 377
2021 Stats: GP 13, C 253, A 386, Pct 65.5, Yds 3150, TD 25, Int 6, RA 57, Yds -100, TD 2.
Noah: If any team drafts Jack Coan thinking he could potentially be their starting quarterback they are terribly wrong. Coan shows some flashes with his arm strength and some good touch on his passes. However his mobility is very limited making him primarily a pocket passer and he frequently overthrows his receivers. He is terrible at reading the field, locking onto his target pre-snap and not working through his progressions like you expect from an NFL level quarterback. Despite all of this Coan’s biggest problem is his ability under pressure. He completely folds under pressure and has not shown any ability to make plays off-script. He could potentially be a solid backup because of his size and arm strength, but I think it would take a miracle for him to be a starter any time soon.
18. Skylar Thompson | Kansas State 6’-2”, 223 lbs
Andrew’s Overall Ranking: 398
2021 Stats: GP 10, C 162, A 233, Pct 69.5, Yds 2103, TD 12, Int 4, RA 47, Yds 4, TD 4.
Jeremy Betz: Prototypical size and a big arm made Skylar Thompson a fun watch at K State, and the former Wildcat enters the draft season as a probable UFA with the intent on raising his stock. He’ll get to show off his movement skills and arm at the combine and his pro day, where teams will want to see improved timing and footwork, as well as the ability to go through his progressions. Thompson owns the deep and intermediate sideline throws and puts up an impressive deep ball. He was assisted a lot by a quick read offense and rarely deviated from his 1st read on any given play. Plenty of mobility when the play breaks down. 2021 was his best season as a college QB, but he remains a raw prospect with an uphill climb to make an NFL roster.
Are there any quarterbacks in the draft class that you have fallen in love with, and if so, why? Which quarterback makes the most sense for the Steelers? Are there any late-round sleepers that intrigue you? Let us know your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft in the comment section below!