Yahoo Sports' Liz Loza and Eric Edholm discuss four quarterback prospects before the upcoming NFL Draft, including a Pittsburgh Panther who tossed 42 scores in 2021.
LIZ LOZA: The 2022 NFL draft is nearly here. So we're going to lightning round our way through the top quarterback prospects that you need to keep your eye on, if of course, you want a more in-depth view and conversation around these guys. And you can find that on the Yahoo Fantasy Football forecast. Eric, our Yahoo draft expert, are you ready to dig into the quarterback position?
ERIC EDHOLM: Let's do it.
LIZ LOZA: All right, let's kick things off with Kenny Pickett out of Pitt. He is probably, I would say, the most improved, if we're looking at the trajectory of his college career prospect among this class at the quarterback position. What do you like about him? Who you comping him to?
ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, I think he's had vast experience in college, 52 games. But as you pointed out, I mean, he really didn't flourish. You saw little hints to the talent before. But it was until this past season when he finally beat Clems and he finally had the team's success and also the individual numbers too. And he's a playmaker. He's kind of a grinder. He's got a little bit of athleticism. We saw it on that, the fake slide run, the famous one, one of the infamous plays of the college football season.
But pretty good arm talent, keeps the whole field in play, learned how to read defenses better, just became a more refined passer and just playmaker in general as a senior.
LIZ LOZA: But those hands though.
ERIC EDHOLM: They're little. Yeah. And Joe Burrow, which is a guy who I think style wise he compares to, he had 9 inch hands. There are other guys who are in the same sort of spectrum. Ultimately, I think even if his style is like Burrow, I don't think he's that good. I would say a little bit of Kirk Cousins in the sense that there will always be good production. I think you'll always see good numbers. But at the end of the season, you'll always ask yourself, can we do better? Is there someone out there we like a little more? So I think that's ultimately what his career arc is going to look like, good but not great.
LIZ LOZA: Well if Kenny Pickett is giving you a lot of floor, then Malik Willis is in the opposite direction because this guy is all upside. Super toolsy, out of Liberty by way of Auburn. What do you like about his game? What are you a little bit worried about since he's not maybe the most refined prospect? And who do you comp him to?
ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, he's such an interesting study. You could see him throw dimes across the field and say, wow this might be the best arm talent in the class. You can see him blast his way through tackle attempts or run around people too. So he's got kind of a rugged athleticism as a runner. But then you can also watch him take sacks needlessly, hang on to the ball, not know when to throw it away, not be able to read defenses. There's a lot of that refinement is lacking in his game.
But we're in a traits league, Liz. And teams are always going to gamble on the upside. They believe that there's a Josh Allen type prospect in there, they're going to take him high. If not, if they feel like this is a work in progress, or he may not ever get there, he could slide. I mean, I had to go way back because you can't find too many guys his size and his skill set. But kind of an early career Steve McNair, that thickness, that toughness, that country strong build. And McNair back in the old days had a gun. So that's kind of who I see a little bit of even if his career may end up a little differently.
LIZ LOZA: Country strong build. I don't need to do-- that is perfect branding. I love it. All right, let's move on to Desmond Ridder, the Cincinnati Bearcat who really has had his stock rising after an incredible showing at the combine. Wonderful kid, great story. You want to root for him. Seems like a genuine good person from Louisville. Talk to me about his game though. Because from a personal standpoint, he seems absolutely awesome.
ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, yeah. There's a lot to like about him. He's a family man now. And he stuck around an extra year in Cincinnati like Kenny Pickett did. And it really kind of benefited both guys well. They go to Notre Dame and win, they beat Indiana, they have a tremendous season, end up in the college football playoffs. And a lot of it was because of the steady play and a little bit of a exciting play too from Ridder. He's a good runner. I mean, he's a very, very good athlete. If you wanted to play him at wide receiver, I don't think he'd do a bad job of it. But he's a quarterback.
And his mechanics are really clean, really solid. That's why I see a little bit of Alex Smith in him, a little bit of Marcus Mariota with extra confidence. So is he ever going to be a dynamic playmaker, somebody who sets the world ablaze? Probably not. But one reason why I think he's rising, the trust factor. I don't think he's going to throw a ton of bad interceptions and put your defense in compromising positions just like Mariota and Alex Smith did. So there's a reason why he's rising. He's a very steady player who can be relied on.
LIZ LOZA: Well, if Desmond Ridder won me over and won a lot of scouts over, or maybe even front offices at the combine, Matt Corral won over the entire Ole Miss audience. I mean, this is a kid-- talk about a crowd pleaser. This kid looks like he is walking up to every game ready to throw hands. I've never seen someone-- we all know these players are competitive. But this dude where's his competitiveness on his face in his entire ethos. SoCal native, 23 years old, which is a little bit concerning to some. What do you like about Corral's game? Who does he remind you of? And where are you iffy about him?
ERIC EDHOLM: Yeah, he's definitely a firebrand. He's got some athleticism. He's got easy arm talent, real loose arm I think that can put a lot of the field in play. And he's talked about some of his early immaturity and how he's grown up. He had a long discussion with me about depression, and mental health, and taking care of himself. It was really revealing into a kid who was branded as immature at one point. But he and Lane Kiffin became sort of thick as thieves. And they were a terrific pair in Oxford.
And that's also a drawback too in the sense that the schemes they drew up were very well designed. There were a lot of open looks. The high percentage pass, he was a 50% passer at one point. Now closer to 70. So what does he do out of structure? That's the big question with him. When you have a system in place and play makers there, I think he can be a really good. He might be a little bit of a late bloomer. But there's some real talent in there to mind.
LIZ LOZA: That is our rookie snapshot for the quarterback position. Check out the "Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast" podcast to get more of our thoughts, and dig a little bit deeper on all of the positions in the 2022 NFL draft class.