Remember when Washington practically couldn’t wait to get rid of Kirk Cousins?
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
Since 2018, the Washington Football Team has started 12 quarterbacks, including:
With Fitzpatrick’s injury – he’s expected to miss at least the next three games with a hip injury suffered in the season-opener – Taylor Heinicke will get the nod and will be backed up by Kyle Allen. Heinicke went undrafted out of Old Dominion in 2015 and has played for five teams (six if you count the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks in 2020).
Of course, none of this would matter if Haskins had panned out, but he’s currently listed as the third-string QB by the Pittsburgh Steelers after Washington released him last season. Haskins was the team’s first-round selection at No. 15 overall out of Ohio State in 2019.
So it would be surprising if the WFT went in any direction other than quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft.
But, as Haskins proves, there’s always a “buyer beware” element to drafting franchise signal-callers.
These five QBs all have exciting traits that could make them the top QB drafted, but each has issues that give some evaluators pause:
- Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt sophomore is still the presumed top QB in this draft class, but he’s starting to fall down evaluators’ draft boards after an inauspicious start to the season. Rattler has completed 50 of 65 passes for 547 yards, 6 TDs and 2 INTs in the team’s first two games for a QB rating of 171.92. While Rattler looked great in the team’s 76-0 drubbing of Western Carolina – who didn’t for OU? – he went 30-for-39 for 304 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs in the season-opening, nail-biting win against Tulane (the same Tulane squad that had the 115th-ranked pass defense last season). Fansided’s NFL Mocks cited Rattler’s ability to read defenses as his major concern. Likewise, Pro Football Network’s latest big board ranks Rattler as its No. 13 overall prospect but still has him as the top QB. And Pro Football Focus ranks him as its No. 2 QB. From PFF: “He gets away with so many bad habits because of Lincoln Riley’s offense. Three turnover-worthy plays against Tulane simply won’t fly in the league. While Rattler isn’t a complete ‘project,’ it might take his tools a little while to adapt to the NFL game.”
- Sam Howell, North Carolina: The 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior could return for his senior season if his supporting cast doesn’t pan out, PFF says, adding that Howell went from an 82.0 grade as a freshman to a 92.3 grade last year to a 56.8 grade after the team’s 17-10 loss to Virginia Tech in the season opener. Howell, of course, looked much better last weekend against a Georgia State team that went 6-4 last season. Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell wrote in July that scouts may be concerned with Howell’s mobility, size and arm strength.
- Matt Corral, Ole Miss: At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, Corral has rocketed up draft boards and is now considered the top QB by some evaluators. But he still comes with his share of warts. From The Athletic’s Dane Brugler in his preseason top-50: “(Corral) makes stubborn decisions and lacks ideal size.”
- Carson Strong, Nevada: At 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, Strong has ideal size for the position and NFL-ready arm strength. Brugler, though, says Strong needs to clean up some mechanical issues and also cites some durability concerns regarding Strong’s knee. From Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports: “Strong suffered a knee injury in high school in 2017 that wiped out his senior season, and it revealed osteochondritis dissecans (a joint condition often found in children and younger adults where the bone underneath the joint cartilage can die because of a lack of blood flow) and a crack at the tip of his femur.” Edholm says Strong played through knee pain last season that is believed to be related to that injury and has had his knee drained more than once. “This is an issue that won’t go away,” Edholm says.
- Will Levis, Kentucky: Only the most hardcore football fans had heard of Levis before the season started, but he’s now on everyone’s radar. At 6-foot-3, 232-pounds, Levis has good size, athleticism and arm strength. The problem? Levis’ lack of playing time coming into this season. The graduate transfer played three years at Penn State, completing 61-of-102 passes for 644 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs in 15 career games. His 473 rushing yards ranks 10th all-time for Penn State QBs. And he didn’t exactly light things up last weekend versus Missouri, completing 10 of 18 passes for 179 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, but he passed for 367 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT on 18-of-26 passing against Louisiana-Monroe in Week 1. Still, it’s enough to get some evaluators excited. From Pro Football Network: “When you’re talking about the next Zach Wilson, this is who you pick. Not Corral or Phil Jurkovec, but someone who was essentially off the radar entirely heading into 2021.”