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NFL Draft Review: What happened with the quarterbacks?

Star QB Malik Willis

The story of the NFL Draft that happened this past weekend was the quarterbacks. For some reason, many of them slid way past where they were expected to go, and many NFL draft experts were dumbfounded with what happened. After five signal-callers were taken in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft, only four went in the first three rounds this year.

Sure, there was chatter that the QBs in this class were not up to snuff, but most betting sites had the line set at 3.5 quarterbacks selected in the first round and it didn’t even come close to that. Regardless, let’s look into the top quarterbacks’ landing spots and whether it actually affects the landscape of this upcoming NFL season.

Kenny Pickett: Pick 20 to Pittsburgh Steelers

This is an interesting fit. Pickett is a talented QB and went to school at the University of Pittsburgh. He will be familiar with the area but may struggle on the NFL field. Pickett was in college for five years and only succeeded in his final year when he was older than most of his opponents. In the NFL, he will not have that advantage. Regardless, he will compete with Mitch Trubisky for the starting job and will likely be starting for the Steelers by the end of the season.

The Steelers have had remarkable consistency with coaches and quarterbacks during their lifespan as an NFL franchise, so this is a great team to get drafted to. Pickett will be outfitted with all the tools to succeed. The only question is his own talent. He has a high floor and likely won’t be a complete bust, but he’s nothing special. Whether that works for the Steelers remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t bet against it given their track record.

Desmond Ridder: Pick 74 to Atlanta Falcons

This was a pretty surprising pick. Ridder had first-round buzz heading into the draft but was widely considered the fourth-best QB. He ended up being the second off the board and will have an opportunity to start right away. His only competition is a struggling Marcus Mariota, who hasn’t started in three years. Ridder is nothing special but could take over a rebuilding team with low expectations. The Falcons won’t be good, so there’s no pressure on Ridder to succeed right away. Things could be worse for the QB out of Cincinnati.

Malik Willis: Pick 86 to Tennessee Titans

Willis was thought of as the best quarterback in the draft. BettingPlanet’s 2022 NFL Draft preview singled him out as a great chance to wind up at Pittsburgh, while some even thought he would go second overall to the Lions. That would’ve been aggressive, but his slide to the third round was crazy. The Titans may have gotten a steal, and while Willis won’t start this year, he could be a factor next year. The Titans are a reigning playoff team and will stick with Ryan Tannehill at QB. For Willis, out of a small school in Liberty, this may be an ideal situation. He will get to sit and learn, which could work out in the long run.

Matt Corral: Pick 86 to Carolina Panthers

The Panthers desperately needed a quarterback and some thought they would take one at sixth overall. They didn’t, however, and ended up getting a really solid QB from Ole Miss. Halfway through the college football season, Corral was expected to go first overall, but he struggled down the stretch. He is immensely talented and will immediately compete with Sam Darnold for the Panthers’ starting job. He probably will sit for a portion of the season, but the Panthers will have nothing to lose if they put Corral in. Carolina is not in a position to win, so might as well let Corral cook and see what he can do.

What does it mean?

Ultimately, none of these quarterbacks were put on teams that are ready to compete, and that makes sense. Sure, the Titans and Steelers were in the playoffs last year, but they are still a couple of years away from being true title contenders. The Steelers’ Super Bowl odds of +7000 could be worth a shot as they have a strong defense and supporting cast for Pickett, but the rookie would need to drastically exceed expectations for that bet to hit. In any case, the draft positions of the quarterbacks this year would suggest we will see a lot of familiar faces under center around the league next season.

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