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2022 Combine preview: Quarterback

The quarterback class usually drives the top of the NFL Draft, but it will be interesting to see how much that's the case this year.

There isn't a generational talent in this draft like there has been the last couple drafts with the likes of Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow, but a team who needs a quarterback could fall in love with one of this year's prospects and make a play for him at the top of the draft.

Top 5 quarterbacks to watch at the Combine:

1. Matt Corral, Mississippi, 6-2, 205

The top underclassman in a mostly senior group of quarterbacks, Corral has all the physical traits NFL teams like at the position. He's got a strong arm and quick release, and he showed terrific accuracy the last two seasons. He improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio from 2-to-1 as a sophomore to 4-to-1 this past season. He threw 20 touchdowns and also rushed for 633 yards and 11 scores in 2021.

2. Malik Willis, Liberty, 6-1, 225

Willis really helped himself at the Senior Bowl with a solid week down in Mobile, showing off command, poise and the ability to use his legs as a weapon to extend plays and gain yards. He played up to the better competition, which is what NFL talent evaluators really wanted to see out of him. He was the best quarterback among the Senior Bowl quarterbacks that included Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder and others. He's a dual-threat weapon with probably the highest ceiling of anyone in the class.

View photos of the quarterback prospects who were invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, 6-3, 220

A four-year starter in college, Pickett has a ton of experience and might be the most ready to play right away in the NFL. He broke most of Dan Marino's Pitt passing records this past season, throwing for 42 touchdowns with just seven interceptions, while completing better than 67 percent of his passes. There are some technique things he can clean up with his feet, but like Willis, he also had a good Senior Bowl and helped his stock.

4. Sam Howell, North Carolina, 6-1, 220

Howell is a pretty savvy player in the pocket with terrific mobility. He rushed for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns, which could really be a nice weapon for him in the red zone at the next level. He lost receivers and running backs to the NFL in last year's draft and was still able to throw for over 3,000 yards with 35 total touchdowns with less talent around him, which speaks to his raw ability. Teams will like how he operated in 2020 with all those NFL-caliber weapons around him.

5. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati, 6-3, 207

Some guys are just winners, and that's what Ridder has been the last four years for the Bearcats. Nothing physically about Ridder jumps off the page, but he wins and makes people around him better with his play style and leadership. Ridder is a technician at the position with terrific footwork, and it allows him to get through his progressions quickly and accurately. He led Cincinnati to the College Football Playoffs throwing for 30 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He threw 87 touchdowns in four seasons as a starter.

Combine sleeper to watch: Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan, 6-1, 210

Eleby showed up on the NFL radar in 2020 as a sophomore after throwing for 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions in six games. This past season, he threw 23 touchdowns vs. six interceptions for 3,277 yards for the Broncos. He is strong and accurate, and has a chance to put himself squarely in the Day 2 conversation of the draft with a good showing in Indianapolis.

Lions need at the position: Moderate

Jared Goff is expected to be the Lions starting quarterback in 2022, especially considering how he finished the season with Dan Campbell calling plays and new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson taking over the passing game. Goff was 3-2-1 with 11 touchdowns vs. only two interceptions with a passer rating north of 100.0 in his last six starts.

The decision Detroit GM Brad Holmes has to make this offseason is whether to draft a young quarterback to start to develop behind Goff now, or go with a veteran backup. Goff is under contract through 2024.

Right now only Goff and practice squad quarterback Steven Montez are under contract for next season. Veterans Tim Boyle and David Blough are headed for free agency. Will Holmes opt to sign a veteran backup or go young behind Goff? The Lions have three picks in the top 34 in this draft.

Key stat: In Week 13 vs. Minnesota, Goff completed 21-of-25 passes (84 percent) for 171 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 84.0 completion percentage marked the second highest in a single game in franchise history with a minimum of 25 pass attempts.

Two weeks later against Arizona, Goff completed 21-of-26 passes for an 80.8 completion percentage.

His two games with an 80-plus completion percentage tied for the most in a season in team history (25 pass attempt minimum).

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