The 2022 NFL preseason is over, and the regular season is finally, officially upon us. Most rookie quarterbacks will revert to the sidelines once the real games begin, but all of them got extensive action during the exhibition schedule. Several of them even made the case this weekend that they may belong on the field sooner rather than later.
Here’s how we’d rank the top five performances from first-year signal-callers in the final week of the preseason:…
5. Kenny Pickett (Steelers)
Stats: 10-14, 90 yards
Mike Tomlin has called the first-rounder “Steady Eddie” thanks to an efficient preseason, and he lived up to the name again against the Lions. The numbers didn’t pop, and veteran Mitch Trubisky had an equally effective outing to potentially secure the Week 1 starting job, but he continued to show nice touch, regardless of the O-line’s stability. Start the countdown on his debut.
4. Malik Willis (Titans)
Stats: 15-23, 131 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 79 rushing yards
New week, same stuff from the shifty third-rounder, who was erratic throwing the ball against the Cardinals but once again stole the show with his legs, specifically on a 50-yard scramble. Call him Trey Lance Lite — an elite mover with an unknown passing ceiling, confined to a No. 2 spot behind a pricey veteran to start his career.
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3. Skylar Thompson (Dolphins)
Stats: 7-10, 103 yards, 3 TD
Ladies and gentlemen, your preseason MVP? The seventh-round Kansas State product has been as composed as can be in Mike McDaniel’s offense, routinely delivering precise deep-ball strikes. His three-score showing against the Eagles‘ backups was effortless in a 48-10 rout, and he feels like a lock to stick behind Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.
2. Sam Howell (Commanders)
Stats: 24-35, 280 yards, 1 TD, 62 rushing yards
Funny enough, save for Pickett, this fifth-rounder might be best positioned to steal a job in 2022. Given a full workload against the Ravens, Howell was unable to lead a victory; a few errant passes kept him from a flawless night. But he still averaged eight yards per attempt and showed lots of grit moving around and outside the pocket, leading the club with 62 rushing yards. He and Taylor Heinicke are both high-energy insurance for Carson Wentz.
1. Anthony Brown Jr. (Ravens)
Stats: 15-19, 256 yards, 1 TD, 8 rushing yards, 1 rush TD
Maybe every QB who wears purple in Baltimore is a real-life “Madden” star? If Lamar Jackson is the NFL‘s most electric runner at QB, and Tyler Huntley is his up-and-coming backup, then Brown proved again, this time against the Commanders, that he belongs in the mix. The undrafted Oregon product showed nice moves on a short scoring run but was even more impressive flicking the ball deep, like he did on a 67-yard TD to Demarcus Robinson on his game’s first play.