What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (2023)

Although one of them is on the brink of possibly making NFL history, the 2022 quarterback draft class never was considered among the best. It might end up being one of the worst when it’s all said and done.

For just the third time in the past 30 years, only one quarterback was selected in the first two rounds. It was Kenny Pickett, who went 20th overall to the Steelers. It marked the latest a quarterback was selected in the first round of the draft since 2013, when the Bills picked E.J. Manuel at No. 16.

Pickett wound up unseating Mitch Trubisky for the starting job in Week 5. He was 34 of 52 for 347 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in a 38-3 loss to Buffalo. Afterward, he told reporters, “It’s one game at a time and it doesn’t get easier.”

He was right, of course. Though Picket went 7-5 in his 12 starts for the Steelers this past season and is seen as Pittsburgh’s answer at the QB position, he ended up throwing more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (7).

The ninth and last quarterback selected in the 2022 NFL draft — in fact, the last player selected overall with pick No. 262 in the seventh round out of Iowa State — has had far more success.

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (2)

Brock Purdy, “Mr. Irrelevant”, has passed for 14 touchdowns against just two interceptions in seven starts for the 49ers since Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a broken foot on San Francisco’s first drive in a Week 14 game against Miami. Purdy, the former Gilbert Perry High School standout, stepped in for Garoppolo and threw two touchdowns to lead the 49ers to a 33-17 victory that day.

Since then, Purdy has been unbeatable. After helping the 49ers to playoff victories over the Seahawks and Cowboys, he will become just the fifth rookie quarterback to start a conference championship game when San Francisco meets Philadelphia on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

(Video) "Mr. Irrelevant" is Brock Purdy | 2022 NFL Draft

No rookie QB has ever won a conference championship game and further still, no rookie QB has ever won a Super Bowl. Purdy is within striking distance of being the first.

“I’m just so proud of the team and playoff football is not easy, so to go and pull off a win like that against a great team like Dallas and now going to the NFC Championship, it means a lot to us and to myself,” Purdy told reporters. “When I take a step back, it’s pretty cool. Very thankful.”

As Purdy prepares to keep the amazing start to his rookie season rolling, we take a step back and evaluate the 2022 quarterback draft class overall. Here’s some of the good, the bad and the unknown regarding each pick.

Pickett, first round (No. 20 overall), Steelers

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (3)

The statistics might not show it, but Pickett proved to be a capable and confident leader of the Steelers’ offense once he got his feet wet. He drew praises from teammates and coaches about his leadership and he didn’t crack during pressure-packed moments.

Coach Mike Tomlin declined to call Pickett the Steelers’ “franchise quarterback,” saying it’s unfair to saddle a player with such a lame and silly label. But what he did say was Pickett is and will remain the Steelers’ No.1 quarterback moving forward, which basically says it all.

Evaluation: Trending upward

Desmond Ridder, third round (No. 74 overall), Falcons

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (4)

We got an in-person look at Ridder during the Cardinals’ Week 17 matchup in Atlanta against the Falcons on New Year’s Day. The rookie out of Cincinnati completed 73% of his passes that day in a 20-19 win. It was his third start, and he was 19 of 26 for 169 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. But he didn’t really stand out or shine.

(Video) The Quarterback Nobody is Talking About...

In four starts, he only threw for two touchdowns as the Falcons went 2-2 to close the season. Coach Arthur Smith said he was encouraged by the progress he saw out of Ridder from week to week but added he wasn’t ready to determine if Ridder is the Falcons’ long-term answer at quarterback.

Evaluation: Way too early to tell

Malik Willis, third round (No. 86 overall), Titans

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (5)

Projected as a likely first-round pick coming out of Liberty, where he passed for 2,857 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushed for 878 yards and 13 more TDs, Willis slipped in the draft and didn’t do enough to make the Titans think he’ll be ready to eventually replace Ryan Tannehill, who has one more year on his contract.

Willis possesses some uncanny athletic abilities that might be developed in time, but in his three starts as a rookie he showed he clearly isn’t ready yet. He held onto the ball too long in passing situations, got rattled when under pressure and didn’t seem fully capable of reading the defense. He completed just 50% of his passes for 278 total yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Evaluation: Needs more time

Matt Corral, third round (No. 94 overall), Panthers

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (6)

The former Ole Miss standout suffered a serious foot injury during Carolina’s preseason finale against the Bills and spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve. Interestingly, Corral is the only quarterback currently under contract with the Panthers, who tried and failed with Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker.

With the team also searching for a new head coach, it will be curious to see what Carolina plans to do at quarterback this offseason. General Manager Scott Fitterer told reporters that the Panthers will keep all their options open and that includes not only bringing in a veteran QB presence, but perhaps snagging one of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft by trading up from the No. 9 overall spot in the first round.

(Video) The (Insane) Rise of Brock Purdy.

Evaluation: Cloudy at best

Bailey Zappe, fourth round (No. 137 overall), Patriots

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (7)

With Mac Jones out following an ankle injury in Week 3, Zappe unexpectedly found himself running the offense the following week against the Packers at Lambeau Field when backup Brian Hoyer left the game with a head injury. Zappe, selected out of Western Kentucky, nearly helped the Patriots pull off a victory but they would end up losing in overtime.

Zappe won his next two starts and showed a lot of poise in his four appearances overall, which included five touchdown passes. He became a fan favorite and Patriots fans kept chanting his name when Jones retuned under center. Time will tell if Zappe gets an honest look to compete for the starting job in 2023, but Bill Belichick wasn’t ready to commit to anyone at season’s end.

Evaluation: To be determined

Sam Howell, fifth round (No. 144 overall), Commanders

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (8)

Washington has big decisions to make at quarterback, especially with unsteady veteran Cason Wentz. Taylor Heinicke, who started nine games, is set to hit free agency. Howell, who appeared in one game as a rookie, mostly ran the scout team and rarely, if ever, got any reps with the first-team offense. He is guaranteed nothing at this point and must wait things out.

Evaluation: Way too early to tell

Chris Oladokun, seventh round (No.241 overall), Steelers

The former South Dakota State signal caller was released by Pittsburgh on Aug. 23 and joined Kansas City’s practice squad a week later. With star QB Patrick Mahomes just 27 years old, it’s difficult to see how or when Oladokun will get his chance. He’s the Chiefs’ No. 3 option, at best, and that’s not a given whatsoever.

(Video) Why Everyone Loves 49ers QB Brock Purdy

Evaluation: Looks like a long shot

Skyler Thompson, seventh round (No. 247 overall), Dolphins

With injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater, the rookie out of Kansas State saw action in seven games for Miami and stated three games, including the Dolphins’ playoff loss to the Bills in the AFC Wild Card round. All signs point to Tagovailoa remaining the starter in 2023, assuming he stays healthy, so Thompson just needs to develop, study and work hard.

Evaluation: He might surprise

Brock Purdy, seventh round (No. 262 overall), 49ers

What we know now: Examining the 2022 NFL quarterback draft class, where Brock Purdy shines (9)

If Purdy and the 49ers advance to the Super Bowl and win it all, General Manager John Lynch may have a very hard time with the fanbase trying to sell Trey Lance as the long-term answer or even just as the starter in 2023. At the very least, Purdy’s arrival makes it seem clear the team can and will finally move on from Garoppolo.

Evaluation: Thriving in the perfect system

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