Washington’s season is over, and we’re already heading into the 2nd week of the NFL playoffs. The college playoffs ended, but we still have some bowl games next month and of course the NFL Combine the first week of March. Free Agency begins on March 16th and the draft will finally happen in Las Vegas April 27-30. Washington needs a QB, and they will have plenty of options. If they can’t land a veteran through a trade of free agency, the draft will be their path to finding a signal caller. This year’s class has a lot of QBs that will be available, but they all have issues.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his first mock draft of the season, and he doesn’t have a QB coming off the board until Washington picks at #11. If this goes down in Vegas, Ron Rivera will have his choice between guys like Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral, Sam Howell, and more. Kiper doesn’t go the fan favorite route here and slots Liberty’s Malik Willis in at the #11 spot, calling him the most talented QB in the draft.
We have 5 different QBs going to Washington in our first mock draft roundup. Their draft stock will shift after the Senior Bowl, the Combine, and the rest of the draft process. Right now this class looks weak, but QBs always rise in the rankings whether they deserve it or not. We only have three non-QB 1st round selections this week, and only one of those a defensive player. Expect this trend to continue unless Washington acquires a veteran in the next few months.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Time for the first quarterback off the board. You might be surprised that it’s Willis, but you really shouldn’t be. He was in the QB1 mix all fall before he faded a little bit in the last stretch of the regular season. The more tape I watch of his past two seasons and the more I talk to evaluators in the league, the more I like him. Put simply, Willis is the most talented quarterback in this class. He didn’t always get to show that at Liberty, which didn’t have much NFL talent around him. (He was sacked an astounding 51 times in 2021.) This is a dual-threat signal-caller — he rushed for 1,822 yards and 27 touchdowns over the past two seasons — with a powerful arm. I’m really excited to see him compete against the other top QBs in the Senior Bowl in a couple weeks.
Like Denver, Washington could be in the veteran QB market, but I like the fit with Willis. Washington can’t go into the season with Taylor Heinicke as the starter.
Malik Willis has a thicker, more well-built frame than some people may give him credit for. He is a dynamic runner who can execute on designed run plays and also extend plays with his legs to save a bad situation.
Willis checks every box when it comes to arm strength, athleticism and playmaking ability, he’s just raw, and didn’t have a lot of help around him at Liberty. The math for QB-needy NFL teams: How will Willis’ skills translate to the next level? Clubs that love him will take him in this range; others may wait to see if he slips into Round 2. Either way, WFT needs to find a long-term answer to its quarterback plans.
Like the Broncos, it feels like the Washington Football Team is just a quarterback away from consistently contending in the NFC East. Here, they roll with the tools of Malik Willis. Willis has the chance to show off the tools down at the Senior Bowl and get a team to fall for those tools. Washington does here and will give him time to get to NFL speed.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Washington has a poor track record of drafting quarterbacks in the early rounds. Since the merger in 1970, the franchise has drafted eight quarterbacks in the top 100 picks, and only one (Jay Schroeder) of the eight had a winning record with the organization. That means Washington is due, right? Pickett doesn’t have an explosive arm, but he is accurate from various platforms and his football IQ makes him NFL ready.
Round 2: Darian Kinnard, OT/G, Kentucky
There will be plenty of teams talking themselves into QBs in this draft and WFT (along with Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver, Pittsburgh and Detroit) will be in the running in a decidedly weak class. Pickett had a great 2021 season for Pitt and he’ll have several opportunities during the pre-draft process, starting with the Senior Bowl, to prove he’s QB1.
Washington got some flashes from Taylor Heinicke while Ryan Fitzpatrick’s bridge season was a total injury washout. But it cannot move forward and expect to tap fully into its promising passing game without a confident franchise QB made for a big market. Pickett has surged into first-round consideration with other big-name QBs fading thanks to outstanding play, which made the Panthers a formidable ranked offensive-minded power in the ACC. He has natural deep-ball accuracy and football intelligence. He also has that underrated Joe Burrow-like swagger.
Washington attempted to bring consistency to the quarterback last offseason when it signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that did not work out. There are probably mixed opinions on what the team should do with Taylor Heinicke, but I think it should be in the market for an upgrade. Pickett gives them a chance to be that player on a rookie deal.
The team formerly known as Redskins badly needs a franchise quarterback. The accurate Pickett would be a great fit in Scott Turner’s offense.
Pickett caught fire in 2021, ripping up opponents on a weekly basis and boosting his draft grade. He is a dangerous rhythm passer in the short to intermediate part of the field while also showing superb deep-ball accuracy. When plays break down, Pickett has mobility and is a willing, tough runner. Pickett shows excellent accuracy, developed field vision, an ability to work through progressions, can buy time with his feet, and is able to throw vertically with a soft deep ball that is easy to catch. He has definite NFL arm talent. While he generally shows good decision making, there are 2-3 passes per game where he makes poor choices, looking like a risky gunslinger. That issue could likely be worked out of him by a pro staff.
In 2021, Pickett took the Panthers to new heights with their first ACC Championship, and he surpassed Dan Marino as the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes. Pickett completed 67 percent of his passes in 2021 for 4,319 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He notched five rushing touchdowns as well.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder has quality size for the NFL and is known to have good character. One negative is Pickett is said to have small hands, which is why he wears gloves, including on his throwing right hand. After seeing some action in 2017, Pickett was the Panthers’ starter from 2018-2020, so he will enter the next level with a lot of starting experience, but he will also be a 24-year-old rookie.
Round 2: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
There was a rumor for a minute that the Washington Football Team could be targeting Baker Mayfield this offseason, and they would dangle this No. 11 pick as trade bait. The rumor disappeared as quickly as it surfaced but the need for a new quarterback in the nation’s capital remains.
For that reason, they use their day one pick on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett. He’s another player who took a major step forward this past season and has shown enough to warrant taking a flier on him as a potential starter.
Washington has a decent roster and adding a quarterback who can elevate their offense might be the only thing they need to become contenders in the NFC East once again.
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Taylor Heinicke had his moments, but Washington needs a better long-term solution at quarterback with more upside. Corral dealt with some injuries, so his durability could be a question for NFL teams, but he’s got a dynamic skill set, and was able to find success against top competition in the SEC.
Round 2: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
Round 3: Alec Lindstrom, OL, Boston College
Washington needs to get aggressive when it comes to upgrading the quarterback position. The Taylor Heinicke experiment has run its course following a 2021 campaign that resulted in a bottom-five finish in PFF grade.
Ole Miss’ Matt Corral will be in the conversation for top quarterback in the 2022 class after wrapping up his Rebels career with back-to-back 85.0-plus PFF grades (2020 and 2021). He is currently ranked as the No. 21 overall player and No. 2 quarterback behind Kenny Pickett on PFF’s draft board.
The Washington Football Team will not be the Washington Football Team for much longer and for that we weep. But I have a hard time thinking the franchise will be sad to see a new face manning the quarterback position next season after this pick. Taylor Heinicke was fine this past season, but I have to imagine Washington is aspiring for a little more than fine.
In Matt Corral, Washington gets a similarly statured player, but someone who played on a bigger stage at the college level and appears to be a little bit more of a true two-way threat (11 rushing touchdowns in 2021). Corral isn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but he is someone who answered his biggest questions this season with flying colors.
Washington went the veteran free agent route last year, and to no fault of its own, it completely backfired with Ryan Fitzpatrick suffering a season-ending injury in the first half of Week 1. Taylor Heinicke performed extremely well considering where he was a little more than a year ago (his couch), but he is a sturdy backup — not a starter. However, the free agent quarterback market isn’t much better, so Ron Rivera and Co. go with Corral, a dual-threat playmaker who improved his pocket presence and decision making at Ole Miss this past season.
This selection would make for a fun quarterback competition between Corral and Taylor Heinicke in training camp. They have similar skill sets.
Matt Corral has improved every year as the Rebels quarterback and should hear his name called early in the 2022 draft. Corral has tremendous feel for maneuvering around in the pocket and while keeping his eyes downfield he gets low to slide up, back, or to the side to evade incoming defenders.
Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Taylor Heinicke’s performance as a starter this season was admirable, but it’s become clear late in the year that Washington could do better. The undersized Howell had a mixed junior season after losing some weapons last year, but he’s a duel-threat playmaker with over 3,000 yards passing and 800 yards rushing in 2021.
A quarterback finally goes off the board! Sam Howell entered the preseason in a battle for the QB1 mantle in all of college football with now-South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler. Oh, how times have changed. Nevertheless, what Howell was able to do with a neutered supporting class this season (outside of Josh Downs) was remarkable.
The lack of star power at the quarterback position in the 2022 NFL Draft is well documented. However, the Washington Football Team needs a quarterback like they need a new name. In 2022, they’ll get both.
Sam Howell had Heisman aspirations entering the season, but it never came to fruition for him and the Tar Heels. Howell’s the type of prospect who needs the tools around him to be successful. With Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and hopefully a healthy Curtis Samuel in Washington, he could be the piece head coach Ron Rivera needs to right the ship.
The Washington Football Team grabs their future franchise quarterback in Sam Howell, as he’s the second quarterback off the board in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Howell has an incredibly talented arm and understands how to properly use it across the field. He can diagnose defenses quickly and make snap decisions with accuracy. Howell failed to elevate his cast in 2021, but the accuracy and power never left him.
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinatti
Washington has to feel good about the talent scheduled to return along the offensive line, skill positions, and defense in general. Plus, they have plenty of cap space to continue adding. What is missing is an exciting direction at quarterback. Taylor Heinicke is a perfectly fine backup and spot starter, but he isn’t the type of talent worth building around.
Desmond Ridder is arguably the most complete package of size, arm talent, athletics, and pedigree in the rising crop of quarterbacks. He has a big arm and is a dynamic athlete. I love the way he would fit into Scott Turner’s offense, which features plenty of manufactured throws and deep shots. Ridder’s big arm can elevate the scheme and help advance the Washington offense forward.
Drake London, WR, USC
At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, London is no stranger to Mossing defenders. He led the nation with 19 contested catches on only 28 opportunities this past year.
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Redskins will use an early pick on a quarterback, especially after Taylor Heinicke’s dreadful performances in the first half of the season. However, with the top three signal-callers off the board, the Redskins may decide to wait until Round 2. Cornerback is a huge need.
Ahmad Gardner is a 6-foot-2 cornerback with great length.
Round 2: Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Which QB are you taking at #11?
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