In the lead up to the 2022 NFL Draft, analysts have made note that this year's quarterback class isn't as attention-garnering as what the league experienced in 2021. But hey, we're still two months away from the 2022 NFL Draft, and between Pro Days and the scouting combine, players have the opportunity to raise their draft stock and draw interest from quarterback-needy teams.
As for the San Francisco 49ers, the team believes it has found its quarterback of the future after offering up three first-round picks and some additional draft capital to ultimately select Trey Lance.
Lance was regarded as an extremely raw talent with just 318 pass attempts under his belt as a one-year starter at North Dakota State.
Instead of returning to the Bison in 2021, Lance became one of eight signal callers taken in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, the most in draft history. He was also one of five that were taken within the first 15 picks last April.
The quarterback garnered NFL experience as he awaited his first season as a full-time starter while the 49ers were able to help the emergent quarterback develop behind veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
Lance appeared in six games with two starts as a rookie. He completed 41-of-71 passing attempts (57.7 percent) for 603 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added 138 yards rushing and one touchdown on the ground in 38 attempts.
But should Lance have waited an additional season to declare himself for the NFL Draft, it might have been a completely different outcome for both ends in a less-enticing quarterback class.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah suggests Lance not only would have been the best signal caller coming out of the 2022 class, but would likely garner the attention of the first-overall pick in this year's draft.
"(Trey Lance is) more talented than any quarterback in this draft class coming out, and I don't even think it's particularly close," Jeremiah said. "If he had a chance to go back to school and continue to grow and play and develop, I think he would have been the first pick in this draft."
According to Jeremiah, this year's rookie signal callers are a "mixed bag" compared to last year's wealth of NFL-ready quarterbacks. He went as far as projecting none of the top options landing within the top 10 picks in this year's draft.
However, between now and the draft, players will have the opportunity to move up draft boards through the scouting combine and their respective Pro Days.
But fortunately for San Francisco, the quarterback position is one area the 49ers can confidently scratch off their list during the draft process.
"But I can go through and look at last year's draft and how loaded it was up there at the top that I could make a case… You could go through and I could find probably 10 guys that would have an opportunity to be the first pick in this year's draft. This year's draft has got a lot of depth and there's a lot as you go outside of the top 10 that you love as you go through it. But in terms of being top heavy, I think last year's draft, man, again, you could come up with probably 10 names that would have a chance to be the first pick this year, and Lance would definitely be one of them."