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Paul Duncan's Top 2022 FCS Quaterback Rankings

  Special to Draft Scout - Paul Duncan is the current Scouting Director for Expand The Boxscore. In addition to compiling scouting reports of his own, he was a driving force behind the 2020 XTB NFL Draft Guide, coordinating and assisting in all 378 total reports in the guide. Additionally, he produced a scouting podcast series, hosting several prominent figures in the industry and picking their brain on experience and scouting tips. Paul has past experience as a video scout for two seasons at PFF, and five seasons as a game charter overall. He received scouting training from former Browns GM and Senior Bowl Director Phil Savage, and former Browns and Saints scout Matt Manocherian. Paul Duncan Twitter

* Click player name for profile in separate window. Click college name to view all players in 2022 for that college. * - Underclassman

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #1  Cole Johnson  James Madison  Virginia Beach, VA  Cox
  Leading the pack for FCS QBs is Cole Johnson, the QB for James Madison. After serving 4 seasons as the backup and then playing well in the Covid-shortened season, he broke out in a huge way in his final season. Johnson passed for 3779 yards and 41 TDs with only 4 picks while leading his team to the FCS semi-finals. For his efforts, "He finished fourth in the running for the Walter Payton Award, which is given to the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS."

Johnson's best trait is his accuracy. Accuracy is more than just completion percentage. Some FCS QBs have better completion percentages or even accuracy percentages in this class, but Johnson separates himself by having the best and most consistent ball placement of any FCS QB. Not only does he throw catchable passes, but he understands how to put the ball in places where the receiver can make plays after the catch. He is aggressive downfield and has a natural touch to hit big plays down the field. His arm is solid but unspectacular. It could probably best be described as a backup-level arm. With a good base, he can push the ball 55 yards downfield with relative ease.

The last trait that makes me really believe in Cole Johnson is his decision-making and how well he takes care of the ball. Johnson only had 4 interceptions the entire season. It is very rare to find a QB who is both aggressive downfield and as safe with the football as Johnson is. If you want to see Cole Johnson at his best, watch his game against Southeastern Louisiana in the FCS playoffs. There he outduels Cole Kelley by accounting for 6 touchdowns in the first 38 minutes of the game.

One reason that Johnson is getting looked over in this draft cycle is that he played a very wiry frame. Luckily he's been able to put on weight growing from 207 pounds at the Hula Bowl to 220 pounds at his Pro Day. It will be crucial for him to prove that this weight will stick and not hinder him on-field, as he looked too slender. Another reason for concern is that he hasn't really shown much as an improviser. A lot of his best plays were in a clean pocket. Regardless, Johnson is one of the more NFL-ready QBs coming from the FCS ranks and he should make a 53-man roster or a practice squad at worst. He has good potential to be a backup long term.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #2  Cole Kelley  Southeastern Louisiana  Lafayette, LA  Teurlings Catholic
  Cole Kelley started his career in the SEC where he was briefly Arkansas' starting quarterback before an arrest for a DWI and a new head coach led to his benching. He then transferred to Southeastern Louisiana in order to have a chance to start, and play closer to home. Kelley broke out during the 2021 spring season earning the Walter Payton Award. He followed that season up by having one of the most productive seasons in FCS history passing for 5124 yards, nearly breaking the record for most passing yards in a season. He played in both the Hula Bowl and the NFLPA Bowl after the season.

The first thing that stands out about Cole Kelley is that he's built more like a blocking tight end than a QB. Standing at almost 6-foot-7 and a half and weighing 249 pounds he has the rare size that some teams crave at the position. Interestingly he doesn't play like most QBs with a bigger body. Kelley played in a West Coast system and did his best work throwing short passes and avoiding turnovers. He showed a high level of consistency proving that he's able to hit the right guy at the right time, as long as it wasn't too far down the field. His arm was not dynamic. He would underthrow a lot of deep balls and passes thrown outside the numbers from the far hash lacked velocity. He'll likely need to prove that his arm can grow stronger with better technique if he wants to get drafted and he may do so. I've heard from people close to the program that he flashes excellent arm strength during practice.

His size could also be of some use in goal-line situations but would need to add more strength to his frame. He was routinely able to bowl over smaller defenders at the FCS level, but he won't have the muscle to do the same to NFL defenders without some real commitment to the weight room. Athletically he doesn't have the speed or coordination to be a threat scrambling or to potentially convert to tight end like Feliepe Franks. He looks very uncoordinated in the open field and hasn't shown any second gear. While he is very refined as a processor and decision-maker one flaw that he'll need to correct is his tendency to stare down receivers. This trait really hurt him against James Madison where he threw 3 terrible picks that ended the Lion's season.

Kelley is the FCS QB most likely to be drafted due to his rare size and excellent production, but I'm concerned that his arm and athleticism could limit the ways he can be used. Expect Kelley to stay around the NFL as a third-stringer as teams try to unlock his potentially unique tools.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #3  EJ Perry  Brown  Andover, MA  Andover
  EJ Perry was originally the backup QB at Boston College before he transferred to Brown University in the Ivy League to play under his uncle who was the head coach. The team did not have success as the Brown Bears went 4-16 in Perry's two seasons with the team. Perry as an individual did have success breaking the Ivy League record for most total yards in a season in 2019. In 2021 Perry won the Asa S Bushnell cup awarded to the Best Offensive Player in the Ivy League despite his poor record. Perry was invited to the East-West Shrine Game for his efforts and proved he belonged there, by throwing for 241 yards and 3 touchdowns in a near 19-point comeback against the West.

When watching EJ Perry the first thing that jumps out to you is how little help he had. His receivers struggled to get open and his offensive line struggled to keep him clean. This lack of help forced him into playing a very aggressive style of play where he had to force passes into tight windows. This led to some great NFL-level completions but also a lot of turnovers. His arm is good when his feet are set and he's able to generate good velocity, but too many of his balls will float when pressured. While he flashes great accuracy, he would often overthrow passes in the short and intermediate areas of the field.

His best trait by far is his athleticism. This showed at the Combine where he finished second among all QBs in the 40, broad, and vertical jump and topped all QBs in the agility testing. Surprisingly this only flashed on tape as he preferred staying in the pocket more in his senior year. That athleticism to go along with a solid body at 6015 height and 211 pounds plus his Ivy League brain could be enticing to some offensive coordinators. He would fit best in a Shanahan/Kubiak-style offense where he can boot out away from pressure and use his athleticism but he will need to improve his accuracy and decision-making in order to make anything more than a practice squad.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #4  Aqeel Glass  Alabama AM  St. Louis, MO  Lutheran North
  Next in my rankings is Aqeel Glass, the 4-year starter from Alabama A&M. Glass is a QB who got better every year and finished his career on a high note, passing for 3568 yards, 36 TDs, and only 7 picks. He finished 9th in the Walter Payton Award and was invited to the HBCU Legacy Bowl and the NFLPA Bowl. Like Johnson, the best trait Glass possesses is accuracy.

Glass is at his best when targeting deep crossing routes and seams 20-30 yards downfield. He has great footwork and rarely misses on easy passes. He's also very good at reading the defense and making sure the ball goes to the right receiver at the right time. Has a strong 6-foot-4 frame that is built to last in the NFL. The issue that separates Johnson and Glass is Glass' lack of athleticism and weaker arm.

Glass and Johnson are close to even when discussing accuracy, and Glass has the edge in frame, experience, and decision making. However, the physical traits of Glass are troubling. Glass provides no utility as a runner on scrambles or designed runs near the end zone. He is an awkward runner with no explosion and will have a lot of trouble escaping congested pockets. And while Glass throws with good velocity on intermediate throws, his release tends to elongate and his balls tend to flutter when he tries pushing the ball more than 40-50 yards downfield.

Glass is the most NFL-ready FCS QB in this class due to his size, accuracy, and decision making. If he can overcome his limited traits, Glass can be a solid "safe" backup option over his career.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #5  Davis Cheek  Elon  Matthews, NC  Butler
  Davis Cheek is a 4-year starter with the Elon Phoenix. Cheek has been a consistent performer throughout his career and probably would have gotten more recognition if he didn't suffer season-ending injuries in 2018 and the Covid shortened 2020 campaign. Cheek attended both CGS and the NFLPA Bowl but couldn't participate due to injury.

Cheek is a very clean player. He has great footwork and can consistently step forward to evade the rush. He is a good processor who has shown the ability to go through reads. One thing that's really nice about Cheek is that all of his balls are perfect spirals. Shows good velocity on short and intermediate passes but hasn't shown he has the juice to push the ball downfield. Accuracy wise he's good enough to be a backup. He's consistent on short throws but will sometimes overthrow passes when having to throw further than 15-20 yards. Athletically he has more wiggle than Glass but won't be a threat on scrambles or designed runs.

Cheek is a very refined player who has proven himself as a smart player and a leader. He has a solid chance of making a 53-man roster who can be a low-end safe backup at best and a great USFL or XFL QB at worst.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #6  Eric Barriere  Eastern Washington  Inglewood, CA  La Habra
  While Davis Cheek is safe, consistent, and a bit boring, Eric Barriere is reckless, aggressive, and fun. Barriere has been very productive over his 4 seasons as a starter including an incredible 2021 season where he threw for 5070 yards and 46 touchdowns earning himself the Walter Payton Offensive Player of the Year Award.

The first thing that stands out about Barriere is his arm. He has an absolute and it's easily the best in the FCS and is probably a top 3 arm in this entire class behind only Willis and Strong. The best thing about his arm is that he doesn't need to look mechanically sound for him to push the ball 50+ yards in the air. He can hit bombs without his feet set, when moving backward, or from different arm angles. He's also a very fiery leader that commands attention. As an athlete, he's more quick than fast. He has the quickness to duck under and around rushers but doesn't have the long speed or explosiveness to be an option on designed QB runs.

The biggest issue with Barriere is his size or lack thereof. He has a muscular build but stands only about 5-foot-11. His poor mechanics have a detrimental effect on his accuracy. Too often he misses on easy throws because of poor footwork or just relying on his upper body to make throws. He also loves playing hero ball, doing things like throwing up passes up for grabs, or trying to scramble to extend plays when he should just throw the pass away. He will make game-losing mistakes if continues to try to play at the next level like this.

Barriere is a very aggressive QB whose play style may be a better fit for the CFL than the NFL. A team like the Cardinals take a shot at him. Or he could follow Vernon Adams, the QB who preceded him at Eastern Washington up north in the CFL where his height won't be as much of an issue, and his arm could be better utilized due to the CFL's wider hashes.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #7  Chris Oladokun  South Dakota State  Tampa, FL  Sickles
  We're at the point of the list where we've reached the dart throws. Guys That aren't likely making a 53-man roster for any NFL team. They may have the traits to be a camp arm, or make the practice squad but will need significant improvement to stay in the NFL for long. Chris Oladokun is a QB who had a long journey to get to the Draft. He started out at USF before transferring to Samford with little success.

He finally broke out with South Dakota State during the 2021 season. Oladokun's best trait is his arm which is good enough to be a starter in the NFL. He also has good athleticism and should be able to evade slower defenders in the NFL. The issue is just about everything else. He is very thin and lacks the frame to play QB all though he has some room for growth. He abandons pockets too often and lacks consistent accuracy. Like Barriere he sometimes tries to play hero ball in the pocket leading to bad sacks and interceptions. He was invited to the NFLPA bowl but struggled in the game.

Look for a team that believes they can bulk him up to take a chance on him for the practice squad. Traits are there but he is still very raw mechanically and mentally. He could be a good fit for the CFL.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #8  Zerrick Cooper  Jacksonville State  Jonesboro, GA  Jonesboro
  Before the 2021 season, Cooper was expected to be the best FCS QB in the class. He started his career at Clemson before transferring due to Jacksonville State dur to the arrival of Trevor Lawrence. His career started out very well with the Gamecocks as he passed for 3416 yards and 32 TDs in 2018 and had a similar season in 2019. He suffered a season-ending injury toward the end of his spring season.

Expectations were high for Cooper in 2021 but he regressed dramatically completing only 53.5% of his passes and 13 TDs. Cooper was invited to play at the NFLPA bowl. Cooper has a sturdy NFL-ready frame to bounce off defenders in the pocket as well as a good arm. The issue is that his accuracy was poor at all levels of the field.

Cooper has good physical traits like Oladokun but has even worse accuracy than him. Cooper's best bet is to land with a team as a developmental QB on a team's practice squad or prove himself in the USFL or XFL first.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #9  Daniel Smith  Villanova  Leesburg, VA  Tuscarora
  Daniel Smith is a little different from Oladokun and Cooper. While all three of them have good arms, Smith also has decent accuracy and decision making. The only issue is his lack of size. At 5-foot-11 and under 200 pounds Smith would be one of the smallest QBs in recent times. Smith is a 5 year starter who has had success wherever he's gone. He started his career at Campbell University where he was more of a running QB but went on to break multiple records with the Fighting Camels before transferring to Villanova.

At Villanova Smith became one of the most aggressive QBs in all of FCS. He loved attacking deep and had the accuracy to do it consistently. Out of structure he was electric as he had the quickness to evade pressure in the pocket and the ability to keep his eyes downfield. Has the ability to find almost impossible arm angles to get his receivers passes. Athletically he looked very quick and explosive. He looked like he could run in 4.6s or 4.7s but ended up running 4.9. My guess was that he bulked up too much in training and lost his speed.

Daniel Smith is a good quarterback who could be draftable if he was 2 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier but is not going to make a roster at his current size and athleticism. Perhaps he can be a Doug Flutie type player in the CFL or USFL with his arm, elusiveness, and playmaking ability.

 Player Name  College Hometown, State High School
 #10  Rogan Wells  Western Carolina  Fort Mill, SC  Fort Mill
  Rogan Wells completes our list of top 10 FCS QBs. Rogan Wells started out his career at Division 2 Valdosta State where he dominated over 2 seasons. He led his team to a 25-game winning streak over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons including a championship win in 2018 to go along with a second-place finish for the Harlon Hill Award (the d2 Heisman). For the 2021 spring season, he transferred to Tusculum and played well there. He then transferred to Western Carolina to play under his old coach.

Wells has a big and tall NFL-ready frame and some athleticism too. The issue was his passing. He was not accurate and threw a lot of questionable passes. Arm-wise he didn't have the same juice as the other guys on this list like Cooper, Oladokun, or Smith. Rogan is a good size/speed QB who will likely get a tryout for the NFL or could compete for time in secondary leagues.