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2022 NFL Draft preview: 5 quarterbacks that could interest the Lions

This year's quarterback draft class lacks the star power of recent years, but that doesn't mean there aren't future starters available.

History shows that teams have found gems outside the first round. Two examples of that are Russell Wilson, drafted in the third round by the Seahawks in 2012, and Derek Carr, a second-round pick by the Raiders in 2014.

Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, who signed free agent Mitchell Trubisky – drafted second overall by the Bears in 2017 to replace franchise icon Ben Roethlisberger – sees value in this year's QB class.

"I believe it's a quality class," Colbert said at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year. "It might not be the number of players (in recent years), but there's certainly going to be quality quarterbacks coming out of this class."

Following is a look at the 2022 quarterback draft strength, the Lions' depth and draft priority, and five quarterbacks who could fit the Lions.

Quarterback class draft strength: There are no so-called "franchise quarterbacks" this year, as opposed to last season when the first three picks and five of the first 15 were quarterbacks. This is more of a "draft and develop" class.

Lions' QB depth chart: Jared Goff (starter); 2021 backups Tim Boyle, David Blough; Steven Montez (2021 practice squad).

Lions' QB draft priority: Moderate, considering they're set with Goff as the starter for 2022 and who's available in the draft. However, given the right player in the right position, the Lions could draft a QB higher than expected for development. That's part of what makes Malik Willis an intriguing prospect.

View photos of the top quarterback prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Five quarterbacks who could fit the Lions:

(40-yard dash times are from Combine and Pro Day workouts as available.)

1. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh:

6-3.25, 217. 4.73 40-yard dash.

Adequate size for a quarterback, but hand size of 8.5 inches is a concern because of ball security issues.

Four-year starter after 2017 red-shirt season. Closed out career in 2021 with 4,319 yards passing, 42 TDs, seven interceptions and career-high 67-percent completion rate.

2. Malik Willis, Liberty:

6-0, 219.

The most intriguing quarterback in this draft because of his background and potential. Transferred to Liberty after playing sparingly for two seasons at Auburn – 11 completions in 14 attempts.

Posted a 17-6 won-loss record in 23 starts in two seasons at Liberty, with 47 TD passes against 18 interceptions. Also ran for 1,822 yards and 27 TDs.

At 6 feet and 219 pounds, size is an issue for Willis. He possesses a strong arm and throws deep balls without effort.

3. Sam Howell, North Carolina:

6-1, 218.

Howell was a limited participant at the Combine because of a calf injury sustained in North Carolina's Orange Bowl appearance, but he did leave a mark by recording the fastest pass ever – 59 miles an hour – on one throw during his workout.

Howell threw 68 TD passes against 14 interceptions in 25 games as a two-year starter at North Carolina. Not known as a scrambler, he ran for 181 yards and six TDs.

4. Matt Corral, Ole Miss:

6-2, 212.

A three-year player and 2018 redshirt, he was the full-time starter in 2020-21. He threw for 3,337 yards with 29 TDs and 14 interceptions in 10 games in 2020 and came back in 2021 to throw for 3,347 yards, 20 TDs and five interceptions in 13 games.

One of the more mobile quarterbacks in this draft, he ran for 506 yards in 2020 and 614 in 2021.

View photos of NFL prospect Malik Willis.

5. Carson Strong, Nevada (Sleeper):

6-3, 226.

Strong has been compared to Drew Bledsoe in's analysis of prospects. That's high praise, as Bledsoe played 14 NFL seasons after being drafted first overall by the Patriots in 1993.

Strong has good size. He also has good touch combined with the ability to throw deep. In 32 games in his last three seasons Strong threw for 9,368 yards and 74 TDs, with 19 interceptions and a career completion rate of 68 percent.

He passed for a career high 4,175 yards in 2021.

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