2022 NFL Scouting Combine: 3 QBs You’ve Never Heard Of
The 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class has been a wide-open one since before this past season ever kicked off, and that much about it hasn’t changed roughly two months away from the draft. Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh), Malik Willis (Liberty), Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati), Matt Corral (Ole Miss) and Carson Strong (Nevada) have all been declared QB1 depending on which mock draft one looks at, but there’s not really a consensus No. 1.
All of the above have been invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and will have a chance to continue making an impression and improving their draft stock there. But they aren’t the only quarterbacks on the list -- a total of 15 signal-callers make their way to Indianapolis this week.
Here’s a look into three of those that are largely unknown to the casual football fan and what to know about them:
EJ Perry, Brown: Perry has garnered a little bit more spotlight after he was named the East-West Shrine Bowl Offensive MVP after he completed 13-of-18 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns, also rushing the ball for two 2-point conversions in a comeback effort that came up just short.
But the place Perry played out his college career at could hardly have been more off the map, which is why he’s an unfamiliar name to most beyond scouts who study intensively. Those associated with the Bears football program call Perry “a different cat” and that’s because he is, a game-changer for a small school. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder began his career at Boston College in 2019 before transferring to Brown and spending two seasons there. Perry enters the draft coming off a career year in which he completed 66.5% of his passes for 3,034 yards with 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on over 400 attempts to go with 402 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. While there is some to be desired there with the touchdown-to-interception ratio, there are a host of good qualities Perry brings to the table as a developmental prospect between his level of athleticism, ability to throw with great touch and be generally accurate (though turnovers will be a point of emphasis) and his mobility within the pocket.
Kaleb Eleby, Western Michigan: Eleby prides himself in his ability to manage the game and get the ball into playmakers’ hands, something he did effectively as he helped lead the Broncos to just their second bowl victory in school history. He describes the offense he quarterbacked at WMU to be “a little bit of everything.”
“We did a little bit of everything (at Western Michigan),” Eleby told me earlier this offseason. “We were more of an RPO-based offense,” Eleby said. “We had a lot of different things, being able to check to runs and changing protections, I could do that when necessary. Just kind of looking at fronts and being able to put us in the best scenario and best play call. Coaches up in the press box would be able to see some things as well, something we utilized, being able to have a look up top from the press box to help us out some.”
One of his biggest statement games of the year was a 44-41 victory over Pitt, which helped show he could contend and compare with some of the better quarterback talent in the country with Pickett on the other sideline as Eleby completed 23-of-35 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He finished out the season with a 63.5% completion percentage, 3,277 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. Eleby was classified as a dual-threat passer coming out of high school but doesn’t project as a dynamic athlete but more of a well-versed passer who can make all the throws and place the ball well.
Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana: The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder quietly had a standout season that went almost entirely unnoticed because of small-school stigma as he completed 73.6% of his passes for 5,124 yards with 44 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on some 552 attempts. Kelley originally began his career with the Arkansas Razorbacks, who he played two seasons with before spending three years at Southeastern. He’ll catch attention between his multiple broken records in college, massive frame, level of mobility, arm strength and certain positive attributes as a passer. He’s mechanically a very developmental project and needs to get the ball out of his hand quicker. He should be expected to be an undrafted free agent that a team will sign because of low risk and potential upside after such a high level of recent success.