The 2022 NFL Draft is not nearly as top-heavy with quarterbacks as last year’s class was, and there has been no real consensus about the order in which QBs will be selected. Mel Kiper Jr. has ranked Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett as his top QB prospect, but you may be surprised to hear which passer the longtime ESPN analyst thinks has the most upside.
Kiper said on Wednesday’s edition of “Get Up!” that he thinks Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati has more upside than any quarterback in the 2022 draft. Kiper had an extremely flattering comparison for Ridder, saying he is a lot like Josh Allen and that the concerns surrounding him are the same ones we heard with Allen in 2018.
.@MelKiperESPN says Desmond Ridder at Cincinnati is the QB with the most upside in this year's NFL Draft, and reminds him of Josh Allen 👀
Ridder has 2,121 yards, 20 touchdown passes and just five interceptions this season. He’s also rushed for four scores, though he is running a lot less this year than in years past. Ridder has 214 rushing yards this season after finishing with well over 500 in each of his first three years as a starter.
Though there have been a lot of concerns about Cincinnati’s schedule, Ridder is the type of player who could shoot up the draft board. Most analysts agree that Pickett and Ole Miss’s Matt Corral are the top two QBs in the class, with many also expecting Liberty’s Malik Willis to go in the first round. Ridder could easily sneak into the first round once the annual quarterback frenzy begins.
There are very few people who think Tim Tebow will prove himself to be worthy of an NFL roster spot this season, and Mel Kiper Jr. is among those who believe the Jacksonville Jaguars are wasting their time.
During an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!” Thursday morning, Kiper ripped Tebow for what the longtime draft analyst believes is a “desperation move.” Kiper noted that Tebow had zero interest in playing any position besides quarterback when he came out of college in 2010, even though several people suggested he should.
.@MelKiperESPN sounds off on Tim Tebow signing with the Jaguars, calling it a "desperation move."
“He didn’t want to be that guy,” Kiper said of Tebow’s refusal to play H-back or tight end. “So now at 34, all of a sudden he wants to be? He tried Major League Baseball, maybe try WWE, maybe be an assistant coach if you want that motivation or that leadership or that energy. But a strong GM would have said to Urban Meyer, ‘No.’ … This is the NFL. It’s not a hobby, it’s a full-time job.”
Tebow has not appeared in an NFL game since 2012. He’s now trying to prove he can play a new position nearly a decade later, so you can understand the skepticism. For what it’s worth, the former Heisman Trophy winner is said to be embracing that.
This year’s NFL Draft features five quarterbacks who are almost certain to be taken in the top 15 picks, and that is the most intriguing storyline to watch heading into the event. We may not see as deep of a QB class next year, but Mel Kiper Jr. has listed two players at the position who are worth keeping a close eye on.
During an appearance on the “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin” show this week, Kiper was asked to name the top quarterback prospects to watch this upcoming college season. He mentioned Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell.
“I think when you look at a guy like Spencer Rattler, I think he’ll be the No. 1 quarterback, coming out of Oklahoma,” Kiper said, via Garrett Stephen of 247 Sports. “I think Sam Howell, North Carolina, will be the second-highest-rated quarterback.”
Rattler, who was featured on Netflix’s “QB1: Beyond the Lights” series, had his first full season as a starter for the Sooners last year. He seems like a lock to continue the trend of Lincoln Riley-coached quarterbacks becoming high picks in the draft. Rattler completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season. He added another 160 rushing yards and six scores on the ground.
Howell has completed 64 percent of his passes for 7,227 yards, 68 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 25 games at North Carolina. He has a very strong arm and the ability to run, which is something NFL teams have seemed to focus on more and more in recent years.
Rattler has hit some speed bumps in his college career, as he was temporarily benched at one point last season. If he can put it all together this season, he was top overall pick written all over him. Coming from the same program as Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray should certainly help.
“What you need with a quarterback is competitiveness though the roof, Mac Jones has that. Tom Brady had that,” Kiper said. “You need to have an incredibly smart quarterback, that’s Mac Jones. That was Tom Brady. It is Tom Brady. Certainly, that leadership, that ability to galvanize, Mac has that — coming out of Michigan, coming out of Alabama. So, there are similarities there.”
Kiper recognizes that he is lifting expectations for Jones to a high level, but he explained why he thinks Jones can handle them.
“It’s going to be unfortunate that people are going to have those high expectations if he goes to New England that they are getting the next Tom Brady, but that is life in the big city as they say. No matter where you go you’re going to be expected to be really, really good.
“Mac playing at Alabama is probably prepared for that probably more than anybody else. This notion that they have all the talent around him allowed him to be successful is unfair. Tua had more talent around him than Mac Jones did, so there you go.”
There are many people who believe the Philadelphia Eagles should have tried to make things work with Carson Wentz rather than replacing him with Jalen Hurts, but few feel more strongly about it than ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Kiper has been very outspoken in criticizing the Eagles for trading Wentz. He reiterated his thoughts on Tuesday’s edition of “Get Up!” and ripped Philly for making the deal. Kiper also unloaded on the Chicago Bears for not making a real effort to acquire Wentz.
.@MelKiperESPN has made it abundantly clear that he is not a fan of Philly trading Carson Wentz
"Blame the QB and then send him packing for virtually nothing? … This was one of the most ridiculously stupid moves in the history of the NFL!" pic.twitter.com/8kIatWuRB3
“A ridiculously stupid move is the way to sum it up,” Kiper said. “Even dumber than that was the Bears not giving up the 20th overall pick and (a third-rounder) and trying to get Carson Wentz. … Carson Wentz is a young man, who is a proven MVP guy, who did things in three years that very few NFL quarterbacks have done.”
Kiper attributed Wentz’s struggles last season to all the injuries the Eagles had on offense.
“The injuries were catastrophic,” he added. “(Not all teams) have catastrophic injuries to offensive linemen before the season even begins — receivers, tight ends, running back — and we’re gonna blame the quarterback and send him packing for virtually nothing? This was, again, one of the most ridiculously stupid moves probably in the history of the NFL.”
The Colts traded a third-round pick and a conditional second-rounder that could turn into a first for Wentz. Kiper felt that was an “early Christmas present” for Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich.
Kiper was high on Wentz when Wentz was coming out of North Dakota State in 2016, and apparently his opinion has not changed much. There have been some reports that called Wentz’s work ethic with the Eagles into question, but Kiper clearly is not buying them. Time will tell if his enthusiasm about the trade is warranted.
The New York Jets lost the right to draft Trevor Lawrence by winning two of their final three games of the season, and now many are wondering what they will do with the No. 2 overall pick. While some consider Justin Fields to be the obvious choice, one longtime draft analyst is convinced the Ohio State star is not going to wind up in New York.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said on “Get Up!” Tuesday morning that he believes the Jets are sticking with Sam Darnold. He predicts they will either draft Oregon star offensive tackle Penei Sewell with the second overall pick or trade the pick to a team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who pick at No. 5 and are in desperate need of offensive line help.
“The only quarterback that would have forced Sam Darnold to be traded was Trevor Lawrence, and Trevor’s going No. 1 to Jacksonville,” Kiper said. “No. 2 is not going to be Justin Fields, in my opinion. It’s going to be Penei Sewell or a trade.”
Kiper believes Darnold has shown enough to prove he can be a capable NFL starter even as the Jets have assembled poor rosters around him.
“He has shown when he’s been out there in enough games, last year and this year, to know he’s got a chance to be a really good starting quarterback in the NFL,” Kiper added. “If I’m the Jets, Sam’s the man.”
Time will tell if the Jets agree, but it would not exactly be a shock. Darnold is still just 23, and he has never really been put in a position to win.
Fields had a legendary performance in Ohio State’s upset win over Clemson. He finished the game 22/28 for 385 yards with six touchdowns despite taking a bone-crunching hit (video here) that left him with a rib injury. He could further boost his draft stock if he duplicates that against Alabama in the national title game, so a lot could still change between now and the draft.
The Miami Dolphins have been generating the majority of the headlines leading into the NFL Draft on Thursday night, any many believe they are intentionally leaking information to fool teams into thinking they are not going to draft Tua Tagovailoa. ESPN’s Mel Kiper is now on board with that theory.
In his final first-round mock draft before the real event, Kiper predicted that the Dolphins will select Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick. His previous mock draft had former Oregon star Justin Herbert going to Miami at No. 5 and the Los Angeles Chargers taking Tagovailoa with the next pick, but Kiper has since changed his mind. He explained his rationale during an appearance on “Get Up!” Thursday morning, noting that he thinks the way the Dolphins missed out on Drew Brees years ago could push them toward Tagovailoa.
Tagovailoa has drawn comparisons to Brees. Former Dallas Cowboys executive and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt called Tagovailoa a “left-handed Drew Brees” and praised the former Alabama star for his accuracy. When Brees was a free agent in 2006, the Dolphins were on the verge of signing him before a doctor raised concerns about his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Miami traded for Daunte Culpepper instead, Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints and the rest is history.
Kiper and others believe the Dolphins will keep the Brees situation in mind when making a decision about Tagovailoa. If not for Tua’s injury history, he would have had as good of a shot as Joe Burrow to be the top overall pick. Drafting him will carry a risk, but Miami chose not to take a similar risk with Brees 14 years ago and has regretted it since.
One report this week claimed the Dolphins are looking to trade up for a non-QB, but it would be downright shocking if they actually did that. We’ve thought all along that they are enamored with Tagovailoa, and our opinion hasn’t changed.
The Oakland Raiders came into the draft with three first-round picks and lots of holes to fill. Their selections were not necessarily in line with where draft experts expected players to go. There was plenty of unfavorable reaction to the Raiders’ selection of Clelin Ferrell at fourth overall.
Mel Kiper, though, is fully in support of fellow former draftnik Mike Mayock, the Raiders’ GM. Appearing on “Golic & Wingo” Monday morning, Kiper went all-in on what the Raiders have done this offseason.
“That’s going to propel them to the AFC West title this year… I think they get to 10-6.”
The Raiders were 4-12 last season and ahead of only the Arizona Cardinals in point differential. We see worst-to-first stories every year, but the Raiders have a big challenge to make this prediction remotely close to coming true. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes and are still going to be explosive on offense. The Chargers were very good a year ago and have a deep roster.
The Raiders, meanwhile, had only 13 sacks combined (the lowest total since the 2008 Chiefs), so Clelin Ferrell has to make a big impact to get the pass rush to be serviceable. Even if they don’t fulfill Kiper’s lofty predictions, Jon Gruden and company better improve from last year’s disaster or things are going to look pretty bleak as the franchise makes the move to Las Vegas.
Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen have gotten most of the buzz as the two best quarterbacks in the upcoming NFL Draft, but one expert does not expect either player to be the first player off the board in April.
In fact, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. doesn’t even expect Darnold or Rosen to be the first player taken at their position. In his first official mock draft of the year, Kiper predicted that the Cleveland Browns will select Wyoming’s Josh Allen with the top overall pick.
I’ve gone back and forth a few times on Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Allen, but I just moved Allen up to my No. 1 quarterback. His numbers aren’t impressive, I know. But the NFL is all about projection, and he has a high ceiling. Coaches want to work with the 6-foot-5 Allen because he has all of the tools. I said last month that he is one of my favorite prospects in this class. The other top quarterbacks have warts, and there is no slam-dunk No. 1 prospect, which makes it a fun class.
Allen appeared in 11 games this season, throwing for 1,812 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. While his stats were nowhere near as impressive as Rosen’s or Darnold’s and he faced lesser competition, Allen is not going to be evaluated based on numbers alone.
Every person has their quirks, but Mel Kiper Jr.’s quirks may be a little more unusual than most.
As ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage was winding down on Saturday, the guys on the TV set gave Kiper a pumpkin pie with fat free whipped cream. Their gift to him followed a commercial where Kiper breaks down all the toppings at a salad bar just like he would analyze draft prospects.
It was at this moment that Trey Wingo revealed that Kiper eats pumpkin pie every day.
This revelation isn’t exactly new; it’s come out before during previous Kiper visits on TV.
Wingo also shared Kiper’s odd eating habits during the draft. According to Wingo, Kiper doesn’t touch food or water throughout the entire draft, and then he eats a pumpkin pie for dessert.
Other Kiper oddities? He does not eat cheese on pizza, he’s never written a check before, and he doesn’t have or use an ATM card. He also just started using a computer in 2009:
I sure would have liked to have been there when Kiper showed up at the bank with a gym bag full of hundred dollar bills to give them his down payment for his home.