A quarterback has been selected first overall in each of the past four NFL drafts. There won’t be a fifth consecutive year where a franchise takes a signal-caller at No. 1, but Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule does believe there will be a quarterback drafted within the first 10 picks in April.
Matt Rhule – A hunch or something stronger?
So, is Matt Rhule basing his statement off a mere hunch, or is he going off something stronger?
Will a QB be taken in the top-10 picks? Rhule would know, likely better than anyone else, being that the Panthers have the sixth overall selection and have a strong need for a better starting quarterback than Sam Darnold under center.
The Panthers have been known to be heavily scouting the incoming QB draft class, and Rhule already has a relationship with Pitt’s Kenny Pickett from when he initially committed to play for Rhule at Temple in college. The connection ultimately didn’t work out as Pickett would eventually transfer to Pitt, but Rhule has undoubtedly kept an eye on the young QB.
Recently we’ve heard rumors of the Detroit Lions even being enticed by Malik Willis at No. 2, but that still seems like a stretch, especially after general manager Brad Holmes threw support in Jared Goff‘s direction at the NFL league meetings. Yet, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and just because the Lions may publicly be stating they want to stick with Goff, it doesn’t mean others don’t have great interest in selecting Willis or Pickett in the top-five (after a trade), or even top-10.
Still, just because a QB may not get drafted at pick No. 1 or No. 2, doesn’t mean there aren’t other teams with great interest in the quarterback draft class of 2022.
- Carolina Panthers – Sixth overall
- Atlanta Falcons – Eighth overall
- Seattle Seahawks – Ninth overall
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if any of the three teams listed above took a quarterback with their scheduled selection once they’re on the clock. Along the same line of thinking, it also wouldn’t surprise anyone if any of the three teams tried to leapfrog one another in an attempt to secure the top player on their draft board.
But these are just teams who already have a top-10 pick. As we’ve seen in the past, teams currently outside of the first 10 picks could just as well jump up. At No. 20, the Pittsburgh Steelers come to mind, who don’t appear sold on Mitchell Trubisky at QB1.
Basically, what Rhule suggests, could very well come true. After all, it’s the quarterback we’re talking about. If you don’t have a franchise solution yet, you’d better get one, or risk being on the hot seat, before eventually being shown the door.
Why would Matt Rhule state a QB will be taken in the top-10, when the Panthers need one?
There are a few different reasons why Matt Rhule could benefit from speaking out about the likelihood of a QB landing within the top-10. For one, if the Panthers decide to select a quarterback with their first-round selection, now the move won’t be received with as much public backlash as he’s already warned them of the possibility.
With many analysts knocking this incoming draft class for not featuring a headlining quarterback who can compare to the likes of Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence, there is a perception that a good QB can’t be found in the 2022 NFL Draft. This take is simply not true. Or if it is, nobody knows it as fact yet.
Instead of letting that negative narrative marinate, Rhule is getting out ahead, squashing that notion before it gains more traction. Now Panthers fans will spend the next few weeks dreaming of one of the top collegiate quarterbacks playing in Carolina blue in 2022.
As far as the rumor of the Lions being interested in Willis at No. 2, well that could be a simple smokescreen. There’s belief the team is willing to trade down and generating more interest about a prospect who currently falls outside of the top-five picks in most mock drafts is a great way to do so. Especially if they play the most premium position on the field, as Willis does.
Or maybe, Matt Rhule’s admission is a smokescreen, hoping another premier prospect falls to Carolina at No. 6?
How many quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round?
It’s a question the football world likes to debate all offseason leading up to the player selection process.
A season ago, we say three quarterbacks go in the first three picks, with five taken in the first round overall. Then suddenly there was a 49-pick gap before an organization took the next QB.
In 2020, four quarterbacks went in the first round, with three in the top-10. Similar story in 2019, when three quarterbacks were selected on Day 1, with two in the top-10.
Going back to 2018, four QBs were drafted in the top-10, and five in the opening round. In 2017, two QBs went in the first 10 picks with three total signal-callers landing in the first.
In the end, what does this data mean for this year’s draft? Absolutely nothing. Each prospect is an individual case. The same teams, scouts, and decision-makers aren’t repeating this process from the past five years. They’re all unique scenarions.
It all comes down to need, player evaluation, and projection. How many first-round quarterbacks will there be in 2022? Nobody knows, but chances are it will be more than two, and less than four.
The bigger question is, just how desperate are some of these NFL organizations to potentially find their next franchise quarterback this year, and who can maybe afford to wait another season while seeing what their in-house competition offers? That’s what everyone will be watching come draft day.