Which rookie quarterback has the best chance to play in 2022?

2022 NFL Draft American quarterback Malik Willis of Liberty (7) throws during American practice for the 2022 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
2022 NFL Draft American quarterback Malik Willis of Liberty (7) throws during American practice for the 2022 Senior Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports /

Among the top signal-callers drafted in 2022, which rookie quarterback has the best chance to be the first to see the field?

The 2022 NFL Draft was a weaker one among the quarterback position.  Even with most of the football world agreeing on this, many still mocked quarterbacks as high as the second overall pick.

Even with some quarterbacks like Malik Willis being given a bunch of hype pre-draft, some didn’t hear their names called until the third, fourth, or even fifth round.

Quarterbacks who were viewed as, at worst, a second-round pick, went completely undrafted.

It was an interesting year for the top quarterbacks in 2022.  The 2023 class is poised to be much better and will be a breath of fresh air for teams looking for their long-term answer.

However, many eyes will still be on the 2022 class as they head into their rookie seasons.

Even though some of them weren’t drafted until the middle or late rounds, a few might be able to see the field in 2022.

The most likely rookie quarterback to see the field in 2022 is probably Kenny Pickett, who was the 20th player taken in the NFL Draft.

Playing at the University of Pittsburgh surely helped the Steelers in taking Pickett.

Going into training camp, there’s reason to believe that Pickett could begin camp as the QB2, behind Mitchell Trubisky and in front of Mason Rudolph.

Given the Steelers’ current roster, they could be in a spot where they’re still wanting to compete and try to win a bunch of games.

They added a few pieces along their offensive line, drafted a receiver, and will surely still have a decent defense.

The other nugget here is the gross uncertainty of their QB position.  Trubisky has proven to be mildly effective at his best, but I’m not sure anyone would be shocked if Pickett beat out Trubisky for the starting spot?

Pickett was seen as the most pro-ready player, and given the high price the Steelers paid for him, it makes sense that he could be the first to see the field.

Another quarterback who could see the field in 2022 is Desmond Ridder, who is likely to start as QB2 to Marcus Mariota.  Mariota is reuniting with Arthur Smith.  The Falcons are in a total rebuild and are a few years away from being relevant.

This could be a situation like we saw in Chicago in 2021, where Andy Dalton began the season as the starter, but the fans and other NFL-related folks were eventually clamoring for Justin Fields to get some run.

We all know what Marcus Mariota is; he isn’t going to be a team’s QB of the future, so Falcons fans are going to want to see Ridder at some point.

Given that Atlanta is a ways away from competing, this makes a ton of sense.

I then look at quarterbacks like Sam Howell, Malik Willis, and Carson Strong.

Howell was drafted in the fifth round and has some desirable qualities.  His NFL comp is Baker Mayfield, so there’s definitely some talent to work with.

The other quarterback in this equation is Taylor Heinicke, an exciting but below-average QB.

I think Wentz is going to do well in 2022, so I don’t see anyone other than Wentz starting games unless he gets hurt.

I’m also not sure if Howell ends up as the QB2 in Washington given that Taylor Heinicke still exists.

Howell’s chances of playing in 2022 are slim, along with Malik Willis.

The Titans went 12-5 last year and were the number one seed in the AFC.

They shipped AJ Brown to the Eagles, but also traded for Robert Woods, signed Austin Hooper, and drafted Treylon Burks.

They’ve essentially overhauled their pass catchers and will see the return of Derrick Henry as well.

Given how much better the AFC got this year, the Titans may not win a ton of games, but they’re in a very winnable AFC South division even with Ryan Tannehill, who is limited.

Looking at the situation in Tennessee, I see this potentially playing out a lot like the Chiefs’ situation in 2017, the year before Patrick Mahomes took over.

Alex Smith was a fine QB, but it was clear the Chiefs’ ceiling was greatly limited with him under center.

They went to Mahomes in 2018, and the rest is history.

What would stop the Titans from, let’s say, winning 10 games in 2022, clinching the playoffs, and then moving on from Tannehill in favor of Willis?

In fact, the Titans’ dead cap number will decrease to just over $9 million if they want to move on from Tannehill in 2023.

This would be nothing when you also consider Malik Willis being on a third-rounder rookie quarterback contract.

Don’t expect Willis to see much time if any in 2022 unless Tannehill gets injured.

The last rookie quarterback in this piece is Carson Strong, who went undrafted and signed with the Eagles.

Between Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew, the Eagles are going to be fine at QB in 2022.

I’m not sure there’s any single scenario where Strong sees the field in 2022 unless both Hurts and Minshew play and get hurt.

Looking at this entire situation, don’t expect to see a ton of rookie QB action in 2022, unlike what we saw in 2021 with the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones playing most of the season.

The 2022 rookie quarterback class is not the best, and their draft placements reflected that.