2022 NFL preseason rookie QB roundup: Desmond Ridder, Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell shine; Matt Corral struggles

Week 1 of pre-season always brings excitement with the return of football, especially as teams get their first glimpse of rookies on their roster. This year’s rookie quarterback class wasn’t as strong as in years past, but many young flaggers got their first taste of NFL action over the weekend.

Kenny Pickett, the only quarterback picked in the first round this year, is battling for the starting quarterback position with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Desmond Ridder could be the Atlanta Falcons starter, while Matt Corral and Sam Howell wait patiently with the Carolina Panthers and Washington Commanders, respectively.

Although not a rookie, Trey Lance enters the season as the No. 1 quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Given Lance’s lack of play in the past two seasons (one in college and one in the NFL), let’s group Lance with the rookie flaggers for this experiment.

Below is a look at how all of the rookie quarterbacks fared — with a special exception given to Lance — this weekend.

Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers, sophomore)

Playing just 11 snaps was enough for 49ers fans to get a taste of what Lance brings on offense, as he completed 4 of 5 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. Lance threw a perfect through pass to Danny Gray for 76 yards to cap off his night, giving the 49ers a 10-7 lead when he left the field.

Lance finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3 in his debut as the No. 1 quarterback, with the 49ers scoring on both of his possessions. The 49ers have no plans to play Lance next week, so that may be it for him this preseason.

Not a bad cameo appearance.

Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers)

headshot-image

What an impressive performance from Pickett, who took over in the second half of his Steelers debut. Battling for the starting quarterback position, Pickett entered the game after Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph but went 13 of 15 for 95 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions (132.6 rating).

Pickett threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Tyler Vaughns with three seconds left to give Pittsburgh a 32-25 win over Seattle. The pass went for 24 yards, as Vaughns used his yardage ability after the catch to find the end zone.

Maybe Pickett will move up the depth chart next week.

headshot-image

Willis showed flashes in his debut for the Titans, going 6 of 11 for 107 yards (88.1 rating) with a rushing touchdown during his two and a half quarters of action. Also having five carries for 38 yards, Willis showed his dual-threat ability at quarterback – but ran a little too much for Mike Vrabel’s liking.

The Tennessee head coach pulled Willis out of the game in the middle of a third quarter practice because he wanted his quarterback to throw the ball.

“He has to try to throw the ball when the guys are open,” Vrabel said. “Be more decisive so we’ll assess that and see if there’s a timing issue or what’s going on. I wanted to take him out and see how he responded. He did well. There were some good plays “Obviously some plays that we’ll have to look at when it comes out and if we make the right decisions.”

Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons)

headshot-image

Ridder had arguably the best showing of any rookie quarterback in Week 1, even though Cincinnati’s third-round pick won’t win the starting job in Atlanta. He made a great first impression, going 10 of 22 for 103 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions (89.8 rating) while also leading the Falcons with six carries for 59 yards.

Adding to his solid play, Ridder threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jared Bernhardt in fourth-and-9 with 1:30 remaining to give the Falcons a 27-23 victory over the Detroit Lions. Maybe head coach Arthur Smith might have something to think about with his starting quarterback in the coming weeks if Ridder keeps his game solid.

headshot-image

Howell made an impressive debut for Washington, going 9 of 16 for 145 yards (86.7 rating) while rushing for two touchdowns (three carries for 19 yards). He threw a few defenders on his 17-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and also scored on a 1-yard run to give Washington a point with 2:26 left.

Howell is listed as the No. 3 quarterback behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke, but the fifth-round pick showed why he was considered a top-10 pick a year ago at this time.

headshot-image

Mississippi’s third-round pick went 1 of 9 for 11 yards for Carolina but led the Panthers in scoring that resulted in a 45-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez in the final minute. Corral is the No. 3 quarterback behind Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold as the pair battle for starting jobs.

headshot-image

No matter how the call-to-play duties were distributed, Zappe had an impressive showing for the Patriots in his debut. His 20-yard touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey gave New England a 21-20 fourth-quarter lead against the New York Giants – capping a 19-for-32 performance.

Zappe entered the game midway through the second quarter and threw for 205 yards with one touchdown and one interception (75.6 rating). The Patriots scored two touchdowns on his eight possessions.

headshot-image

An undrafted free agent signing with the Ravens, Brown entered the game in the second half of Baltimore’s 23-10 win over Tennessee. Brown went 10 of 15 for 117 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions (90.1 rating), leading the Ravens to field goals on all three of his possessions.

With Lamar Jackson not playing the preseason opener, Brown relieved Tyler Huntley to open the second half. He’s vying for the No. 3 quarterback position with Brett Hundley.

headshot-image

An undrafted free agent, the former Washington State quarterback went 7 of 10 for 54 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Cardinals. Guarantano also had four carries for 10 yards in the victory.

Guarantano played the second half and led the Cardinals on two touchdowns. He is the fourth quarterback on Arizona’s depth chart.

headshot-image

An undrafted free agent rookie for the Bengals, Plitt led Cincinnati for an impressive 11 games and 94 yards in his only streak late in the fourth quarter. He capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Kendric Pryor, finishing the night 6 of 6 for 76 yards with a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

Plitt is currently the fourth-string quarterback on the Bengals’ depth chart, but may have played his way into consideration for the No. 3 spot.

headshot-image

Iowa State’s seventh-round draft pick finished 3 of 6 for 36 yards and a touchdown (106.6 rating) in his only series for the 49ers. With Jimmy Garoppolo on the trading block, Purdy has the opportunity to make the roster as the No. 3 quarterback — which was what he charted as in Week 1 of the preseason.

headshot-image

Crum went 6 of 11 for 18 yards (60.0 rating), entering the game midway through the third quarter for Kansas City. The former Kent State quarterback was an undrafted free agent signed by the Chiefs, but he’s a long way off the roster right now as the No. 4 quarterback.

headshot-image

Coan was 1 of 5 for 0 yards on cleanup duty for Indianapolis. The undrafted free agent from Wisconsin and Notre Dame is the fourth quarterback on the depth chart, behind Sam Ehlinger for the No. 3 spot.

headshot-image

Thompson played the full game for the Dolphins, going 20 of 28 for 218 yards and a touchdown in the 26-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The seventh-round pick hit Lynn Bowden on a 22-yard pass in the second quarter for the score.

The No. 3 quarterback had a good look at the preseason opener.

Leave a Comment