You don’t have to go back very far to find North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell’s name at on top of mock drafts. He earned a lot of attention for an outstanding season with the Tar Heels in 2020, throwing for 3,586 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, putting him in the top 10 among FBS passers, while giving up just seven interceptions. He was a finalist for the Manning Award that year.
Howell struggled a little during his 2021 season, thanks in part to attrition of several offensive skill players. He did have three games during his college career with 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards, but the drop in his stats last season were enough to push him down in the rankings as he heads to the pros in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Still, the demand for quarterbacks is high in the NFL, especially this year, and Howell has the skills to develop into a capable starter at the next level. While he’s currently being projected, mostly, as a second-round pick, positional value and demand could send more than a few teams chasing him in the first round. He’s certainly generating plenty of interest in the pre-draft process.
At least six NFL teams have had Howell in for one of their top 30 prospect visits. (As a reminder, each team may bring up to 30 players to its facility for interviews, meetings and physicals in the lead up to the draft.) Those teams include the Panthers, Steelers, Falcons, Giants, Saints, and Colts, all teams in need of a quarterback for the long term.
Sam Howell Visits
Team(s) most-likely to draft Howell
Mel Kiper had Howell going to the Saints in his most recent mock draft, with a second-round pick. Howell’s quick release and smaller stature is going to remind more than a few people of former Saints signal caller Drew Brees. New Orleans would have the luxury of letting the rookie learn the game while Jameis Winston handles the starting duties.
The Colts are another team to keep an eye on here too. He’s a good fit there, with Jonathan Taylor still being the focal point of that offense.