By Jeremy Hritz
This is the third mini-preview that I have done regarding potential quarterbacks the Steelers could select in the 2022 version of the NFL Draft. Yes, I know it is super early, but I’d rather be well-prepared and knowledgeable about this quarterback class to a) have an idea of the quality of signal callers who will be available, and b) which QBs skill sets could potentially align with what the Steelers look for.
While many are calling this year’s crop of QBs to be average, some even below average, the difficulty of determining how well a quarterback can adapt and transition effectively to the NFL game is a real thing, and it may be the most challenging position to project from the college game to the NFL.
Today, I take a look at Sam Howell out of the University of North Carolina.
Name: Sam Howell
Birthdate: 9/16/2000 (21 years old)
40-Yard Dash (estimated): 4.99
Howell is a player who, heading into this season, was touted as one of the best signal callers, if not the best in all of NCAA Football. Not a big man at 6’1 (which seems a bit generous) and 220 pounds, Howell offers both arm strength and mobility, something the Steelers are in desperate need for at the quarterback position.
Howell has the production in college, and has demonstrated over a period of time statistically, that he can play the game. Howell has thrown for over 10,000 yards and 91 touchdowns, while on the ground he has totaled over 1000 rushing yards. His first two years as a starter, he wasn’t as active as a runner, but this season, he has accounted for 815 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. While not as fast as some of the other mobile quarterbacks in the 2022 class, Howell has shown that he can succeed in this area. While he hasn’t had the best season in 2021, there is still much to like about his game.
Howell possesses a quick release and above average arm talent, and at times, flashes accuracy and precision on his throws, though more consistency is needed in his game in this domain. He is also a tough player, able to be physical at the position, escape to create time to extend a play, and convert when structure breaks down.
Some critics argue that he is not “natural” at the position and appears mechanical at times, especially on short throws in which he struggles with placement and accuracy. There is also the element of his stature, and though he is reported to be 6’1, there are some reports that have him more realistically being 5’11. He also has some wasted movement, as he has the tendency to pat the ball prior to throwing deep. As with mostly all young collegiate signal callers, there are questions about Howell’s accuracy and consistency, but that is something that grows and develops over time, and will be addressed by NFL coaches. If Josh Allen’s putrid completion percentage and accuracy at Wyoming can be overcome by college coaching, the same is possible for Howell.
There is much evaluation that needs to occur with Howell before determining what his status will be in the upcoming draft, though some have him rated as no higher than between a 5th or 7th round selection.
Stay tuned for more coverage on Howell later this offseason.