The 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is right around the corner. The Combine is the biggest single week in the entire draft process, and one of the biggest events on the NFL’s calendar.
While the on-field workouts get the overwhelming amount of attention and coverage, the Scouting Combine was originally conceived as a clearing house for teams to pool medical data. It has since evolved into one of the highlights of the off-season, and place where millions of dollars can be earned or lost.
There’s really only one place to start our preview of the 2022 Scouting Combine, and that’s with the quarterback position. The New York Giants aren’t expected to target the quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, but we can’t rule out the possibility of them drafting one if the value is undeniable.
Perhaps more importantly, the quarterbacks could prove to be hugely influential on the overall draft board. Will they show enough to convince teams to draft them highly? Or will players the Giants might have hoped would fall to them be selected earlier because the quarterbacks fell?
Let’s take a look at some of the passers with the most to prove in Indy.
Matt Corral (Ole Miss)
The NFL Scouting Combine could be a make-or-break affair for Matt Corral. Not only will NFL teams be taking a keen interest in his medical exam following the sprained ankle he suffered in the Sugar Bowl, but his interviews and on-field workouts will also be key.
Teams will want to know if Corral can execute a more sophisticated NFL offense after living in Ole Miss’ RPO-based attack. Can he digest and recall complicated plays? Can he decipher coverages and make read progressions? He is sure to have a very full schedule as teams try to figure out just where he is in his development.
And then his on-field workout. He should be over the sprained ankle that knocked him out of the Sugar Bowl, but does his athleticism live up to the tape? More importantly, Corral wasn’t eligible to participate at the Senior Bowl, so this is his chance to show that he is every bit the passer that Senior QBs are — or better.
Malik Willis (Liberty)
It will be interesting to see whether Willis even does the measurable events at the Combine. In recent years we saw Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray both skip the measurable portions of their workouts.
As with Jackson and Murray, we already know that Willis is a fantastic athlete — one look at his tape should be enough to tell anyone that. The questions about Willis have more to do with how he’s able to execute in the live drills that simulate actual football.
Can he throw with consistent, repeatable mechanics? Can he throw with good accuracy, timing, and rhythm. We already know he has one of the strongest arms in the draft class, but can he throw with touch and trajectory when necessary?
He made strides in answering many of those questions with a good week at the Senior Bowl, but he needs to keep the momentum going. Willis is in the conversation to be the first quarterback selected, but he’ll need to show that he’s more than just raw potential.
Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)
Pickett is the current favorite to be the first quarterback off the board in April, but his hold on the “QB1” title is far from certain. He needs to seize any opportunity to compete with the other quarterbacks in this class — and show his skills.
He doesn’t have Willis or Corral’s athleticism, nor does he have Strong’s size and arm strength. He does have a quick, compact release, good accuracy, and the ability to throw with touch or drive the ball. He improved every year, and capped his college career with high water marks in completion percentage, yards per attempt and completion, and a stellar 42 to 7 touchdown to interceptions ratio.
And yet there are questions about Pickett. He needs to show that he has enough athleticism, and that his arm compares well on the same field as the other top quarterbacks. His hand measurements will also be important, so long as he comes in above teams’ thresholds. In short, Pickett needs to leave evaluators thinking that he’s more Joe Burrow than Jared Goff.
Carson Strong (Nevada)
I fully expect Strong to have a good day throwing the ball. Incompletions are generally discounted at the Combine (this is the first time many of these QBs and WRs are seeing each other), and everyone is just doing drills against air.
Carson Strong probably has the strongest (no pun intended) arm on the property, and it would behoove him to show that off at every opportunity to throw down the field.
But the really important part of Strong’s Combine will take place off the field. As I mentioned above, the Combine’s roots all go back to medical exams, and there are real questions regarding Strong’s knee. He could rocket back up draft boards with a clean bill of health and a good prognosis, or he could continue to drop if teams aren’t sure about his long-term health.
E.J. Perry (Brown)
Perry has quietly been building steam over the draft process. He was largely unknown after transferring from Boston College to Brown for his senior year, but the Ivy League Offensive Player of The Year has been impressive so far.
He’s coming off a season that saw him complete 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,034 yards and 30 total touchdowns (23 passing, 7 rushing). Perry had an impressive week of practices and capped that with an MVP performance at the Shrine Bowl. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns (and a rushing 2-point conversion).
This is the NFL’s chance to see Perry on the same field as the top quarterback prospects. He could go a long way toward improving his draft stock if he shows that he is their peer in arm talent and accuracy.