The 2023 NFL Draft is quickly approaching, and it is during this time when fans become enamored with the quarterback class. While the current crop of quarterbacks is considered to be elite, the same wasn’t said about the quarterback class in 2022.
Of course, fans of teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers knew plenty about the quarterbacks who were viable options for the team last season, but it is worth taking a look back at what happened to the quarterbacks who were considered the cream of a very questionable crop in 2022.
Below you’ll see the quarterbacks who were drafted, when they were drafted, some instant analysis from CBS Sports after the draft concluded, and how they did during their first season in the NFL.
Let’s get started...
Pick: No. 20 (Round 1)
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
“He gets dinged for being the “safest” option of a comparatively weak QB class, but the fit is tremendous. A reliable, if unspectacular, pocket passer who already called Heinz Field home, he should be a plug-and-play (and more athletic) successor to Ben Roethlisberger for a team built to compete now. Who knows what his ceiling is, but the floor seems relatively high.”
No quarterback was selected until pick No. 20, and Pickett was also the first rookie to start a game when he quarterbacked the Steelers vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 5. Pickett’s rookie season was filled with ups and downs, and most of the downs happening before the team’s Week 9 bye. After the bye Pickett put together his best work. His stats weren’t mind-blowing, but improvement was evident. Steelers fans feel confident with Pickett being “their guy” moving forward.
Pick: No. 74 (Round 3)
Team: Atlanta Falcons
“They needed someone to push Marcus Mariota, their proclaimed post-Matt Ryan placeholder. Ask some scouts, and Ridder is the smartest, savviest, most selfless QB of the class. Ask others, and they point to middling accuracy and passing touch. It’s a fine gamble for Atlanta, but you might’ve liked to get a bit more upside through the air. He could prove us all wrong very early.”
If fans thought it was crazy Pickett wasn’t picked until No. 20, they likely thought it was crazy there was no other quarterback selected until the 3rd Round. The next quarterback wasn’t Malik Willis, who most viewed as a Round 1 prospect, but Ridder out of Cincinnati. Ridder got starting experience when the Falcons were done with the Marcus Mariota experience, and is viewed as the QB1 heading into 2023.
Pick: No. 86 (Round 3)
Team: Tennessee Titans
“Plenty had Willis pegged as a top-10 pick going into the draft, which tells you exactly the kind of upside Tennessee is getting. Yes, he hails from a small school and simple offense, and yes, he’s unlikely to see meaningful snaps (at least as a traditional QB) right away. But you can’t teach electric arm and leg talent. Willis has shades of Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts in terms of dual-threat athleticism. If he succeeds Ryan Tannehill, either in 2022 or right afterward, that’s a steal in the third round.”
As stated earlier, most viewed Willis as a Round 1 prospect, so when he fell all the way to the 3rd Round people were shocked. The Titans took a flier on Willis, and when Ryan Tannehill was injured Willis was called into action. While it would seem to be a great time for the rookie out of Liberty to prove any doubters he had wrong, he did little to silence those critics. Willis was eventually replaced by recently acquired Joshua Dobbs, and found himself as a backup once again during the Titans’ lone playoff game.
Pick: No. 94th (3rd Round)
Team: Carolina Panthers
“Like the Ridder/Falcons pick, Carolina needed to add to its QB room, which was “headlined” by Sam Darnold. And Corral, by all accounts, has starting-caliber confidence, arm strength and athleticism. He also has a smaller frame and haphazard tendencies, which don’t necessarily bode well for a Panthers team transitioning the O-line. Might Baker Mayfield have been a better bet?”
With a late run on quarterbacks, the next signal caller selected was Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. Another player who was slotted to be taken in Rounds 1-2 fell to Round 3. Corral was selected by the Panthers, and an unfortunate Lisfranc injury ended his season before it ever began. Now, the Panthers possess the top draft pick in the 2023 draft, and it looks as if Corral’s chance to show what he can do could already be behind him.
Pick: 137th (4th Round)
Team: New England Patriots
“Hey, maybe New England will make us all look foolish down the road (they did select a certain future Hall of Fame QB in the sixth round once), and Zappe certainly brings the on-schedule production they crave. But scouting reports suggest he lacks starting-caliber throwing power, and they just spent the 15th overall pick on Mac Jones a year ago. A fourth-rounder for, in the best-case scenario, a long-term backup is perhaps a bit pricey.”
With Sam Howell still on the board, most were shocked to see Bailey Zappe be the next quarterback taken off the board. Zappe wasn’t just drafted by the Patriots, but saw playing time during an injury to Mac Jones. Zappe played well enough Bill Belichick was peppered with questions about him becoming the full-time starter, and this offseason is filled with questions surrounding Zappe potentially becoming the starter for the 2023 season.
Pick: No. 144th (5th Round)
Team: Washington Commanders
“Good on Washington for grabbing some Carson Wentz insurance, and even better on them for halting Howell’s slide. The stocky Tar Heels product has inconsistencies in his game, and he may well end up being a feisty “relief pitcher” a la Ryan Fitzpatrick, but you can do a lot worse in the fifth. Howell’s bruising running ability and deep-ball touch could promise big-play potential.”
Howell was a 5th round pick by Washington, and it seemed as if Howell wouldn’t have much of a chance to prove his worth in 2022 behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke; however, after Wentz’s poor play and injury resulted in Heinicke following the same path, Howell was given the chance to start the regular season finale for Washington. He was able to win the game for the Commanders, but the organization has not followed Atlanta’s lead and named Howell the starter in 2023. Instead, they are leaving their options open this offseason, with Howell being one of those options.
Pick: 241st (7th Round)
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
“He’s not guaranteed a spot on their final roster, with Mason Rudolph and Mitchell Trubisky set to compete behind Pickett, but this is the kind of late-round flyer you wanna be taking: despite average size and inexperience, Oladokun boasts NFL arm talent and a knack for off-script plays — two requisites in today’s league.”
Still can’t believe Oladokun was drafted before Brock Purdy, but he spent almost an entire training camp doing absolutely nothing other than individual drills with the Steelers as QB4 on the depth chart. After his release with the team’s first round of cuts, he was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad, where he then went on to get himself a Super Bowl ring.
Pick: 247th (7th Round)
Team: Miami Dolphins
“No foul in bringing in some added depth for the new regime, and Thompson reportedly brings functional arm talent and athleticism. But he’s known to bail from the pocket (a potential no-no for new coach Mike McDaniel) and, more importantly, will already be 25 as a rookie.”
If you are like me, you forgot all about Thompson as one of the quarterbacks selected in the 2022 quarterback class. However, when Tua was forced out of the lineup due to concussion issues, and Teddy Bridgewater was injured, it was Thompson time in Miami. Regardless of how he got there, Thompson started the Dolphins’ Wild Card playoff game, which is something only one other quarterback in this draft class can say.
Pick: 262nd (7th Round)
Team: San Francisco 49ers
“Mr. Irrelevant won’t be threatening Trey Lance anytime soon, entering with questions about his build and athletic profile. But he’s drawn high reviews for his smarts, experience and timing-based success — all key traits for a Kyle Shanahan offense.”
Mr. Irrelevant was drafted by a team who already had a solidified quarterback ranks, but after injuries to both Trey Lance and Jimmy G., Purdy was thrust into the lineup...and thrived. Purdy didn’t just take the 49ers to the NFC Championship game, but also finished third in Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Now, the only thing stopping Purdy from being the 49ers QB1 in 2023 is an elbow injury suffered vs. the Philadelphia Eagles which is going to require surgery and possibly six months of rehab. Either way, Purdy made a name for himself, but can he pick up where he left off in 2023? It all depends on his health...
When looking back, do you still think the same about the quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft? Or do you think they were better than you thought? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.