Thursday night, in primetime, the underwear olympics, better known as the NFL Scouting Combine. The quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends took to the field on opening night of the event, meaning that we got a look at the most talked about member of this 2022 Tar Heel NFL Draft class, as Sam Howell looked to climb the quarterback board and solidify himself as a first rounder. While it wasn’t a bad night for Howell, he wasn’t quite as dominant amongst his group as one would have hoped.
Howell did not run or jump on Thursday due to a tweaked calf that he suffered out in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. That should really be any concern, especially the 40-yard dash because of how few quarterbacks at the event actually ran. He will almost certainly run on his pro day in a couple of weeks.
In terms of his performance in drills, he was solid but really didn’t seem to blow anyone away. NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah did say he not a nice change in how Howell shifts his weight from his back foot to his front. Kurt Warner, NFL Scouting Combine quarterback analyst for the NFL, also liked the way that the ball came out of his hands. However, Howell did miss some touch throws to the sideline and didn’t quite dominate the deep passing drills like we thought he might be able to because of his ability to layer the football. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t hit some throws, but this was a place where I thought he could show out and move up those draft boards, which I don’t think he did tonight.
When it comes to those around him, it appeared that Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett separated themselves as the top two quarterbacks in the class. That isn’t all that shocking, though, especially after what they did with Mobile and isn’t that harmful to Howell’s stock. In terms of the guys right around him in that second tier, the only guy who the analyst really seemed to be excited by was Desmond Ridder, but even he missed some throws while going through drills.
Tonight didn’t really do anything to damage his stock, but it did seem to lock him into that fringe 1st-2nd Round spot. Depending on where he lands, though, that might not be the worst thing for his NFL career.