Any opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
In just a few days, college football's top prospects will be at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2022 Scouting Combine.
The event, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be one of the best opportunities for players to get noticed by scouts and improve their stock, and with more than 300 athletes getting ready to converge on Indianapolis, it's time to get more acquainted with them.
Commanders.com has been taking a dive into each position to see what they have to offer. Here are the positions we've looked at so far:
Finally, we're wrapping things up with a look at each of the top quarterbacks available this year.
Malik Willis, Liberty
- 2021 stats: 207-339 (61.1%), 2,857 yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs (197 carries for 878 yards, 13 TDs)
Analysis: Willis didn't play against the same level of competition as some of the other signal-callers in this year's class, but he's clearly one of the most athletic. He put up 3,735 yards, including a team-leading 878 rushing yards, and analysts like Mel Kiper Jr. see him as the most talented among his fellow quarterbacks. It might take him more time to adjust to the professional level than others, but many believe his skillset is worth the wait.
Matt Corral, Ole Miss
- 2021 stats: 262-386 (67.9%), 3,349 yards, 20 TDs, 5 INTs (152 carries for 614 yards, 11 TDs)
Analysis: Corral isn't working out at the Combine this week, but he doesn't need to for scouts to see that he doesn't make many mistakes. He only threw five interceptions, which was tied for fourth-lowest among all quarterbacks in 2021. His ability as a runner is an added bonus, and it was often on display in Ole Miss' RPO-driven offense. Like Willis, he'll likely have to adjust to the NFL, but what he has to offer should be enticing to teams.
Sam Howell, North Carolina
- 2021 stats: 217-347 (62.5%), 3,056 yards, 24 TDs, 9 INTs (183 carries for 828 yards, 11 TDs)
Analysis: Howell isn't the tallest quarterback this year with his 6-foot, 220-pound frame, but he does have one of the biggest arms and has the ability to stretch the field. He did plenty of that in 2020, when he had Dyami Brown as his top receiving threat, but it wasn't seen as often with fewer weapons. There are some that view him as a first-round pick, while others see him as a Day 2 selection. Either way, there are some tools that could be useful with some development.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
- 2021 stats: 334-497 (67.2%), 4,319 yards, 42 TDs, 7 INTs (97 carries for 241 yards, 5 TDs)
Analysis: Pickett is by far one of the most experienced options among the top quarterback prospects and looked the part with the sixth-most passing yards in 2021. While he's not as mobile as some of the other prospects, he makes up for that with his ability as a passer with the fourth-most touchdowns. The biggest concern with Pickett is his consistency. He made improvements throughout his career, but his last year saw a drastic jump in his production. If he can convince scouts 2021 wasn't a one-year blip, he could be viewed as a Day 1 starter to a quarterback-needy team.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
- 2021 stats: 251-387 (64.9%), 3,334 yards, 30 TDs, 8 INTs (110 carries for 355 yards, 6 TDs)
Analysis: There are some prospects who have a better arm or possess more athleticism, but Ridder has made the most of his confidence, command of the Bearcats' offense and mechanics. Like Pickett, Ridder has had plenty of time to develop his skillset, and it showed in 2021 with Pro Football Focus giving him a 90.7 overall grade. He'll likely need to work on his ball placement, but he can rely on his football I.Q. to make the correct decisions.
Carson Strong, Nevada
- 2021 stats: 367-524 (70.0%), 4,186 yards, 36 TDs, 8 INTs
Analysis: Let's get the obvious out of the way: Strong is not a strong mobile quarterback. However, there's a lot to like about his ability as a passer. He's a gunslinger who knows how to attack defenses and has completed 70% of his throws since 2020. What's more, he has exhibited a high level of leadership throughout his career. His durability might deter him from being a first-round pick, but he could present plenty of value in later rounds.
Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
- 2021 stats: 475-686 (69.2%), 5,967 yards, 62 TDs, 11 INTs
Analysis: Zappe only spent one season at Western Kentucky after four years at Houston Baptist, and the change in scenery clearly did him some good. He threw for the most yards and touchdowns in college football last season, and the Hilltoppers got to a bowl game because of it. He does have some issues with his mechanics, though, and most analysts see him as a Day 3 pick. If he gets picked up by the right team, perhaps he can turn into a project with some upside.
Full list of prospects
- Jack Coan, Notre Dame
- Matt Corral, Mississippi
- Dustin Crum, Kent State
- Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan
- Sam Howell, North Carolina
- Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana
- D'Eriq King, Miami
- EJ Perry, Brown
- Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
- Brock Purdy, Iowa State
- Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
- Carson Strong, Nevada
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
- Malik Willis, Liberty
- Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky