After recently accepting an invite to the Senior Bowl, Sam Howell has entrenched himself in the 2022 NFL Draft class. See where he succeeds, struggles, and how he fits into the NFL below.
After spending the last three years in Chapel Hill, Howell was the first true freshman to start at quarterback for North Carolina. He would start the next two seasons as well and currently holds 21 program records. In 2021, he threw for 3,056 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions while leading the Tar Heels to a 6-7 record. Physically, he is short for an NFL quarterback. Listed at just over six feet tall, he may have measured shorter than that throughout the pre-draft process.
I believe this is what you'd call an "NFL throw" from Sam Howell pic.twitter.com/L5wdKxAgm4
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) January 13, 2022
A confident passer, Howell plays hard at all times, even to his own detriment. Rarely going down easily while scrambling, he often prefers to put his shoulders down and try to run through defenders. When throwing the ball, he displays great touch on all levels of the field, in addition to terrific ball placement. His ball placement down the field is especially exciting. Howell does all of this with a quick release as well. Perhaps the most exciting thing about Howell’s play is his ability to get through reads on full-field passing concepts. While he was not asked to do so as often as he will be in the NFL, he shows the ability to throw with anticipation. This is not often seen at the college level, so this is a major boost to his draft stock.
Sam Howell fights for every yard pic.twitter.com/C8MggeTUDG
— Baylor Bryant (@baylorbbryant) December 31, 2021
While he does have experience running full-field reads in college, much of his offensive output comes on RPO’s. While RPO’s are run in the NFL, he will have to make adjustments to how he attacks defenses as a whole. Furthermore, he does not always react well to pressure. It often seems as if he is lost in the pocket and routinely brings his eyes down from the field and to the pass rush. All of this, coupled with his poor physical skill set, makes him tough to project in the NFL. While he doesn’t have a bad arm, it is nothing special. He struggles to really drive the ball to the sideline as well. As mentioned, he is also on the shorter end of the quarterback spectrum.
Going into the NFL draft, Howell is going to receive many Baker Mayfield comparisons, and, truthfully, these are pretty spot on. While he is a solid player, and I believe you can win with him, he just isn’t a true difference-maker. Occasionally, you will win a game simply because you have Howell. However, he still has a good chance of being a first-round pick in 2022’s NFL draft. While I personally would not feel comfortable selecting him there, he would represent an improvement for many teams. All of Washington, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans would be better off with him behind center in 2022. Howell is also attending the Senior Bowl, where he will have a chance to raise his draft stock with a good week.
*Top Photo: Justin Berl/Getty Images
2 thoughts on “2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: North Carolina QB Sam Howell”
I could see someone like Howell being a round 5-7 guy, but a first rounder? For under 6 feet tall with just an OK arm and a 24/9 TD/Int ratio? No thanks. The QB pickings must be slim this year.
Could certainly be a project for the Raiders if he’s available in the later rounds, thanks for weighing in!