2022 NFL Draft Brings New Class of Threats to QBs

Last years NFL The Draft was created as a big party for quarterbacks. This year’s is riding QBs to get pissed off, harassed, scolded and attacked.

In 2021, it looked like everyone tried to grab their figurehead for the future. This time, the overwhelming focus is on trying to snatch talent capable of getting in the way of everyone else’s offensive leader.

Go back 12 months and remember that the top of the annual selection extravaganza saw QBs won with each of the top three picks.

It included a predictable Trevor Lawrence and Trey Lance, who the San Francisco 49ers dropped a trove of assets to acquire. Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Mac Jones left the board and no one wanted to talk about any other positions. It seemed like all quarterbacks, all the time.

Not this year. At least, not quite the same. It’s still all about the signal callers, but it’s mostly about funding and unbundling the skills of other teams’ stars rather than adding to your own.

It’s going to look different this time around, and not just because Roger Goodell will be doing his thing from a stage set up in the middle of a Las Vegas lake.

The early stages of the draft will be loaded with a growing crop of pass rushers, coming out of college determined to get their hands on some of the league’s elite QBs.

If we can’t improve in the most important position – the thought leans – let’s try to mitigate the impact of those in front of us.

That’s why physical monsters Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker lead most predictions for the first overall pick, each with the skill, strength and footwork to turn life on the line of scrimmage into a nightmare for those who face them.

Hutchinson finished second in the Heisman Trophy poll after an excellent final year in Michigan, while Georgia’s Walker jumped many boards due to his versatility, which includes superior ability to defend the race.

“Any team that wants to sign a player, they’re really starting from three things,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said on “HUTCH,” a podcast that delved deep into Hutchinson’s story. “They’re missing out on talent — which is production, intangibles and measurables. They’re going to look for a guy who checks every single one of those boxes.”

Walker is now a betting favorite, however, with FOX Bet’s price tag at -250.

It would come as a surprise if Florida’s Jermaine Johnson, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Purdue’s George Karlaftis also don’t generate strong initial interest, and it’s possible that as many as seven pass rushers could find themselves shaking hands with the commissioner on the night. of opening.

There is some copy-cattery at play here. Of course, everyone talks about how the last two Super Bowl champions bounced back in the same season they got a new superstar quarterback (Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford).

However, it should also be noted that these teams were also exploding with firepower in the passing rush department, factors that were of monumental importance when they really mattered. Remember how Patrick Mahomes was troubled beyond belief at Super Bowl LV? Or how Joe Burrow was fired seven times when the Cincinnati Bengals fell short of the Rams?

Thursday is going to be the kind of draft-watching experience where you’ll see lots of footage of quarterbacks being sent to the turf rather than montages of standout touchdown throws.

In fact, there isn’t any big buzz about any of the youth at the center. Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis and Matt Corral can be forgiven for feeling a little irritated by the widespread disrespect bestowed on this year’s QB class, which has routinely been described as “weak” by even the kindest of advisors.

While the Carolina Panthers hold the 6th pick and have informed Sam Darnold that they can pick a QB, many mock drafts predict that the first signal caller won’t come until beyond the mid-stage of the first round. Others predict only one being taken on the first night.

The Jaguars have the first pick and have had months to deal with the reality that there is no obvious choice this time around. Last week, GM Trent Baalke admitted that four players were still in contention, which most observers considered at least two to be top rushers on his roster.

“The choice doesn’t have to be made today, so there’s no point in forcing it now,” Baalke said. “We continue to dig up and do research on these guys. We’re ahead of last year’s schedule in terms of preparation. We’ve worked hard to get there. The decision doesn’t have to be made now, so why do it?”

Decision time will come soon, and the draft never fails to entertain more than you’d expect for something that’s essentially a bunch of names being read.

And it will be a rare occasion when we can feel sorry for quarterbacks, destined to be left on the shelf longer than usual, and this time joined in the league by a band of marauding rushers ready to do some damage.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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