In his 2022 Sophomore Quarterback Preview Tyler takes a look at how the values have changed in just a year. This will be a series as we are closing in on the start of the 2022 NFL Regular season. We’re going to be looking at sophomore players position by position and looking at what they’ve done in their rookie season, plus their outlook for this upcoming year and the future. For this article, we’ll be looking at the sophomore wide receivers and comparing where I have them ranked now versus where they were ranked for me last preseason. If you missed the running back preview, check it out here!
“The first ‘generational’ quarterback we’ve seen since Andrew Luck.” This is what the media and many analysts preached when Trevor Lawrence entered the NFL Draft. I wasn’t necessarily on the opposite end of that spectrum and still think there is plenty of hope left after, by all accounts, a disappointing rookie season. There are plenty of reasons that Lawrence is on the rise. Urban Meyer was an obvious cancer to that locker room and his departure only bodes well for Lawrence and the team as a whole.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t quite take the measures many in the community had hoped the team would with a large amount of cap space they had to build around Lawrence, they at least did something. Evan Engram, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones are at least an improvement from last year, plus we should see a fully healthy Etienne be a weapon for the offense this year. Hopefully, there will be some uptick in this offense and Lawrence takes another step in his development under a real coaching staff. That should lead to more scoring opportunities and fewer mistakes.
I personally still believe in Lawrence’s talent, and while he may not be generational like we thought, he showed in college that he is more than talented enough to be a staple in the league. I don’t think he just fooled almost every scout and media outlet in the nation out of college. He has the tools, he just needs to continue to grow and let the game come to him, and an actual coaching staff and consistency should help.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB1
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB1/QB12
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB2/QB11
While the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t do much of anything to improve the supporting cast around Trevor Lawrence to support his development, the Bears did even less. They lost one of their top receivers in Allen Robinson and replaced him with a hodgepodge of receivers that consist of 25-year-old rookie Velus Jones, Equanimeous St. Brown, N’Keal Harry, and Byron Pringle. He does have Darnell Mooney who looks like a stud in the making and Cole Kmet, a promising tight end entering his third (and hopefully breakout) season. But the offensive line is still atrocious.
Neither team did much to help their young quarterback, both quarterbacks will be under new coaching staffs, and while they both showed occasional flashes of what their prospect profile showed us, neither were overly impressive over long stints of time. At this point, I’m leaning with my priors and sticking with Lawrence as my QB1 in this class and Fields right behind him. The upside is still there for both quarterbacks, but it’s going to be an uphill battle and it seems like both Fields and Lawrence will have to succeed despite their situations.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB2
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB2/QB12
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB3/QB14
While the rest of the top quarterbacks in this class didn’t impress, Lance had the benefit of not being thrust into the starting position in his rookie year and therefore, not given the opportunity to disappoint the community. He looked better than I expected in the games he did play. He made rookie mistakes and relied on his legs a bit more than I’d like, but overall was encouraging even as a passer. While his legs are definitely a threat, he will need to clean up a bit in the passing game. And by all accounts, he’s been doing well throwing the ball in training camp. I’m still hesitant on Lance as I was not in on him as a prospect. He was raw and relied on his legs too and big arm talent against inferior competition.
Hopefully, with a full season sitting and watching and a full offseason as the starter, he has made strides as a passer and will solidify himself as the 49ers’ future. They have weapons all around the offense and a solid offensive line to protect Lance. Lance probably has one of the best situations out of the sophomore quarterbacks, but he still seems like a very boom or bust investment. A lot needs to improve from his prospect profile for him to be a long-term and legitimate fantasy contributor. But the upside and value insulation is undeniable.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB4
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB3/QB13
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB1/QB8
Another sophomore quarterback taken in the top half of the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and another disappointing rookie season. While Zach Wilson had a disappointing rookie season by all accounts, there is a bright spot in his situation. The team already took a step in the right direction when they drafted an exciting rookie class in 2021 that included Zach Wilson, another first-rounder to help with the offensive line in Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore who showed flashes as a top-end wide receiver talent, and a pass-catching specialist that can get it done on the ground as well in Michael Carter. They compounded their class last year with more offensive firepower in this draft class with first-rounder Garrett Wilson and second-rounder Breece Hall, by all accounts the best running back in the class.
Now, Zach Wilson is surrounded by a young and exciting supporting cast. Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore should combine for a great future 1a/1b receiving room, plus Corey Davis is a nice 3rd option and veteran presence. Breece Hall should step in right away and provide a lethal ground game in tandem with Michael Carter to lighten the load on Zach Wilson. This offensive core is very young and inexperienced with their main skill position players in their first or second season in the NFL but is loaded with potential.
There will undoubtedly be growing pains as the core matures, but Zach Wilson needs to take a step forward and be the glue for this offensive unit. He needs to show consistency and improve his play. He has minimal excuses for not taking a big leap in production at this point as everyone is looking at the Jets for the first time in a long time as a team with multiple fantasy options people actually want to target.
That being said, as a prospect I was not overly high on him as he was a tier 2 quarterback for me in this class. He had the tools, but I worried about consistency and nothing from 2021 alleviated those concerns for me. He has upside in this situation that I don’t mind taking a bet on at his depressed acquisition price when compared to the other quarterbacks in this class. But his profile appears to be riskier than the other top-end sophomore quarterbacks at this point.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB3
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB4/QB19
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB5/QB19
Mac Jones had the best rookie season out of all of the rookie quarterbacks, yet here he is still at QB5. The issues with his prospect profile still apply here today and that’s the fact that he’s a statue in the pocket. He’s going to be a really good starting quarterback in the NFL and for the Patriots for a long time. He had almost 4,000 yards with Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne as the team’s leading receivers. That’s super impressive! But realistically, Mac Jones is most likely going to be a mid QB2 to low-end QB1 for fantasy without that elite top 5 fantasy quarterback upside for most of his career.
That’s not to say it’s impossible that he becomes Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or even Joe Burrow and accrue top 12 quarterback status while also sitting around 100 yards rushing (not being a Konomi code quarterback). But the main difference is either uber efficiency (TD/INT ratio, etc.), high passing volume, and at least a couple of rushing touchdowns.
I don’t necessarily see the odds of any of those happening, and it just doesn’t seem like a great bet to place on Mac Jones, especially at his acquisition cost at this point in the offseason. I feel like his most likely outcome in terms of fantasy production is Kirk Cousins or Derek Carr. Which is definitely valuable in Superflex leagues, but won’t be a true difference maker, like I think the four quarterbacks above him on this list have a chance to be. That being said, I do think Mac Jones has the highest floor of the group and is a very safe option. But safe doesn’t always win you fantasy leagues, aiming for upside does.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB5
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB5/QB20
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB4/QB16
Davis Mills was a very nice surprise coming out of a class that was deemed generational, but disappointed almost across the board. Mills was a second-round quarterback that was more of insurance in case Deshaun Watson sat out or was suspended at the time. Even when that came to fruition, the team went with Tyrod Taylor to start the season, but Taylor went down with an injury in week three when Mills took the reigns. Once Taylor came back from injury in Week 9, he was subsequently benched in Week 13 in favor of Davis Mills. Mills wouldn’t let go of the starting gig again, and the team even decided to forego this, albeit lackluster, quarterback class in favor of incumbent Davis Mills.
While the writing seems to be on the wall that Mills most likely isn’t in the long-term
plans for the Houston Texans, there is at least a chance. If Mills continues what was, by all means, a surprisingly impressive rookie season, he could very well force the organization to keep him around as the starter again. Despite the second-year quarterback at the helm, this team is still a dumpster fire in most aspects and will undoubtedly be a bottom-of-the-barrel team. That means they will have a very good shot at one of the top quarterbacks in the 2023 class. It’s going to be hard for the Texans to pass up on a potential Bryce Young or CJ Stroud or any darkhorse quarterback that jumps up draft boards in favor of Mills, a second-rounder.
We’ll see if Davis Mills has what it takes this year as the team will have to open up their playbook more and give him more control of this offense to really see if he has what it takes. He was near the bottom of the league in yards per attempt, air yards, and expected points added (EPA). He’ll have to prove that he can push the ball down the field and utilize the entire field to keep defenses honest, not operate in a limited playbook for a rookie quarterback. It’s realistically a long shot that Mills is the quarterback of the future in Houston, but there is still a decent chance that he holds onto the job. The job security just isn’t there like the top-end quarterbacks in this draft, and a lot of that has to do with his draft capital and prospect profile coming out of college. He just has to prove that he has overcome those previously conceived limitations and ball out.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB8
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB6/QB23
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB6/QB23
Tom Brady’s clock is ticking on his retirement, but analysts and media alike have thought that clock was going to run out every year for the past five years. Everyone was almost right this offseason until Brady unretired. Even when he was retired, it seemed apparent that the Bucs were not overly confident in Trask as the heir apparent to Brady. So even if we see Brady eventually retire while Trask is still the backup, I doubt that we see Trask become the long-term backup plan in Tampa Bay. He provides some backup/handcuff value, but if you can get anything for him while he stashed on a bench somewhere, take it while you can.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB7
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB7/QB44
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB7/QB43
Kellen Mond was a decent bet at the end of the third round, fourth round, or even a waiver wire pick up in Superflex leagues. He was a rushing quarterback that showed decent flashes in the SEC against top-tier defenses. But we all knew it was a long shot and he shouldn’t have been treated as anything other than a dart throw with upside. At this point, it doesn’t appear that he’ll ever have his chance to start for the Vikings and is probably going to be relegated to a long-term backup in the league. Maybe we get to see some action from him if there is an injury in front of him, but it’s doubtful he’ll ever be a valuable asset to dynasty teams.
2021 Rookie Rank: QB6
2022 Class/Overall Rank: QB8/QB45
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: QB8/QB46