Five Quarterbacks Poised to Make the Leap in 2022

The mindset in the NFL around the quarterback position has changed drastically over the last ten years. Quarterbacks used to be drafted as high as in the top three by teams, and given years to prove that they can live up to the expectations, but that league is long gone. Players such as Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Carson Wentz, or Josh Allen, who were able to make huge leaps from their rookie season to their sophomore season, or sophomore season to their third year, coupled with the talent pool of NFL quarterbacks being more filled than ever, quarterbacks are being given less and less time to prove they belong in the NFL. With the window being shorter than ever for a quarterback to find success, here are five quarterbacks who seem to be in position to have a season that will cement them as the face of their franchise going forward, and can potentially drive their team into the Super Bowl conversation for the 2022 season and beyond.

Number 5: Zach Wilson, New York Jets

This spot was a toss up between Mac Jones and Wilson, but with the rookie year Mac Jones had it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, or a giant leap, for Jones to have a solid year in New England. Zach Wilson is in a great position to show more improvement in his game than Jones from his rookie year to his second year, as the Jets have done more to build around Wilson this entire offseason and the Jets actually have an offensive play caller in their offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. The Jets also invested in giving Wilson someone to throw the football to in Garrett Wilson, who many people saw as the best pure pass catcher in this year’s draft. While the rookie may need some time to find his stride in the meadowlands, the Jets also signed Zach Wilson tight ends to throw to in C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, as well as running backs Tevin Coleman and Breece Hall. The Jets have gone a long time without anything going their way, not even appearing in the playoffs since 2010. General Manager Joe Douglas has done a fantastic job of building a solid roster with plenty of young talent, and the hopes of success for the Jets rests on the shoulders of Zach Wilson. Wilson plays like a gunslinger and is not afraid to make any throws. This has led the BYU product to show flashes of greatness, making throws from angles that not many quarterbacks can do, and if Wilson can become more selective with his passes and protects the football, Jets fans may be in for their most promising season in over a decade, however, the question will still remain if Zach Wilson taking a leap will be enough to propel the Jets into the postseason.

Number 4: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

The media and the fans have not been kind to Tua. While it isn’t Tua’s fault that he had to share a quarterback room with Ryan Fitzpatrick, suffered from injuries, or played in perhaps the greatest college football system we have ever seen, Tua has to put it together this season. It’s no secret the Dolphins were heavily involved in the Deshaun Watson saga prior to Brian Flores departure as the head coach of the Dolphins, which Tua handled spectacularly, never publicly voicing anything but love towards the Dolphins organization. Tua now has a true offensive minded head coach in Mike McDaniel, a true number one receiver in Tyreek Hill, and a true blindside blocker in Terron Armstead. McDaniel was a big part of helping the 49ers offense be what it was during their season in 2019 that ended with a loss in the Super Bowl as the run game coordinator. That same rushing attack that was able to rush for 285 yards against the Packers in the 2020 NFC championship game. McDaniel was promoted to the 49ers offensive coordinator position for the 2021 season. McDaniel played a huge part in the emergence of Deebo Samuel as an anomaly who can contribute as an elite pass catcher and an elite rusher. McDaniel will no doubt be finding new ways to play to Tua’s strength every year, and that will be an easier job in Miami than in years prior due to the current roster. Everyone knows Tyreek Hill has elite speed and is incredible at creating space between himself and defenders, and Hill was added to a receiving core that will now feature Jaylen Waddle going into his second season, as well as tight end Mike Gesicki, who has had over 50 catches and 700 yards each of the last two seasons. Tua will also have an improved offensive line going into 2022, featuring Connor Williams and Terron Armstead. In 2021 Tua had the third best average time from the snap to throw, or a sack, of 2.52 seconds (behind only Tom Brady and Ben Rothelisberger, according to NFL next gen stats). Tua has an amazing football IQ that he has been able to showcase through his timing and accuracy. If Tua is able to improve his arm strength and able to prove to the Dolphins that he has the mentality to be the franchise quarterback, he can succeed given a coach who will play to his strengths, an improved offensive line, and an elite receiving core.

Number 3: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Hurts did not play spectacular football in 2021, but the Eagles didn’t need Hurts to be a world beater as the Eagles were able to sneak into the playoffs as the NFC’s seventh seed before looking outmatched against the Buccaneers in the wildcard round; especially at the quarterback position. So why is Hurts at number three on this list? Hurts may have one of the best work ethics of any quarterback in the NFL, and the Eagles may have done the most out of any team in the league to help their quarterback succeed. Hurts and newly acquired star wideout AJ Brown already have a stellar friendship, and the Eagles were able to convince future hall of fame center Jason Kelce to return to Philadelphia for at least one more season. Miles Sanders will also hopefully begin 2022 completely healthy and receiving the touches he deserves from the get-go. The Eagles have also greatly improved their defense, adding Hasson Reddick, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, and Jaquiski Tartt who will all see significant snaps this year. The Eagles were also able to retain Boston Scott, Fletcher Cox, and Derek Barnett. The Eagles have been incredibly active this offseason and may have had the best offseason of any team in the NFL, and believe Hurts has earned the opportunity to lead this team. Hurts is loved in the locker room in no small part of his desire to get better and if Hurts can show improvement in his arm while still being one of the biggest rushing threats in the league, the Eagles can be a sneaky good team to start the year and could potentially end there year with a playoff win or two. Hurts will also be motivated by the fact that the Eagles have made it clear that it is now or never for Hurts. The Eagles were very active trying to trade for Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson who ultimately both chose to play elsewhere, seemingly without ever considering Philly as a real option, and the Eagles even traded one of their first rounders in 2022 for one in 2023 in case they need draft capital to bring in a quarterback who may be available for trade or if they need to trade up for a signal caller if Hurts struggles in 2022. Hurts knows Howie Roseman is not afraid to bring in quarterbacks and will do everything he can to make sure everyone knows who the starter for the birds should be, and he has been put in the best position to take his opportunity and run with it.

Number 2: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

It seems as if the only thing that Urban Meyer did for the Jaguars was make people forget just how good of a football player Trevor Lawrence really is. Lawrence spent his time at Clemson making throws that looked either on par or perhaps even better than the majority of starting NFL quarterbacks. Lawrence has the accuracy, timing, strength, and IQ to be an elite NFL quarterback and it would not be a shock to see him put on a show in Duval County this fall. There’s a reason Lawrence went right back to playing like an NFL quarterback once Urban Meyer was fired. Meyer was undoubtedly the problem for the Jaguars and it is no surprise Lawrence posted his season best passer rating of 111.8 (his previous best of 96.5 came in week four) and touchdown to interception ratio (2-0) without Meyer in week 18 against the Colts. The biggest question remaining for Jaguars fans is have the Jaguars given Lawrence a good enough supporting cast to bring out his full potential? Which it seems like they have. While the offseason started with the Jaguars becoming a laughing stock for paying Christian Kirk $21 million per year, after a deeper look into the contract, Kirk is only guaranteed $37 million over four years, with a base salary for 2022 of $7.5 million according to Lawrence’s college teammate Travis Eitienne will also be making his NFL debut this year after missing all of 2021 to injury, who is an electric running back who has potential to drastically improve the rushing and receiving game for the Jaguars. Other notable additions for the Jaguars offense this offseason include former All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff, tight end Evan Engram, and receiver Zay Jones. Trevor Lawrence showed throughout his college career that he can elevate players around him and the Jaguars have done a fantastic job of giving Lawrence an array of players with different skill sets, and Jacksonville also did a really good job of giving Lawrence talent without bringing in one superstar receiver that Lawrence will feel pressured to give the ball to constantly. Overall, the Jaguars may be the most slept on team in the league going into 2022 and if they can pick up where they left off at the end of 2021, the Jaguars may even be able to sneak into the playoffs this year if Lawrence is able to put together the strong season I believe he will have.

Number 1: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers

Yes. Not only does Trey Lance have all the tools to prove he is a legit NFL starter this year, but he should also be everyone’s pick for a dark horse MVP candidate and the 49ers should have Super Bowl aspirations when it comes to Lance. The 49ers gave up three first round picks to trade up for Lance in 2021. With a quarterback who took them to a Super Bowl in his first full season as a starter. The 49ers wouldn’t have gone all in to acquire Lance if they didn’t believe he is a bona-fide future star who can win them a Super Bowl, and anything else will be viewed as a failure. After the 49ers drafted Lance they were able to make another deep playoff run with Jimmy Garrappolo as the primary starter, reaching the NFC championship game and holding a lead going into the fourth quarter before eventually losing to the eventual Super Bowl winners, the Los Angeles Rams. Lance hasn’t had any true opportunity to be the unquestioned starter of a team, which makes him different from the quarterbacks before him. Lance has the knowledge and familiarity that comes with being in an NFL building for a year, as well as experience from appearing in six games and starting two, but he hasn’t put much on tape. Even going back to college Lance did not have as much on film as the other quarterbacks in his class, and still managed to be a top three pick despite being from a small school. At North Dakota State University, Trey Lance only started one full season, which was his sophomore year. Lance was a backup his freshman year, and then lost his junior season to the covid-19 pandemic,only playing in one game that was more or less a showcase before declaring for the draft. In his one full season starting in Fargo, Lance was phenomenal. Lance threw for 2,786 yards, 28 touchdowns, zero interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 66.9% over the course of 16 games. Lance also rushed for an additional 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns during the 2019 season where Lance led the Bison to a 16-0 season where North Dakota State won the Division I FCS Championship. Lance was nothing short of phenomenal in college and the 49ers have given Lance everything he needs to earn his seat at the table of the NFL’s elite young quarterbacks.

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