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Sam Howell
NFL Draft

Sam Howell: ‘I’ve Got The Best Arm In The Class’

  • Crissy Froyd
  • February 3, 2022
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The 2022 Senior Bowl presents a huge opportunity for quarterbacks to separate themselves within a class that’s remained very open all year. Former UNC signal-caller Sam Howell is one of them, starting last year off as the QB1 or QB2 for most analysts. Howell showed some good things this past season despite shortcomings from his offensive line and supporting cast and has impressed with his accuracy, velocity, and pure arm strength (which is more than several gave him credit for) throughout the Senior Bowl. The Tar Heel quarterback’s stock is on the rise and he’s more than self-assured in what he brings to the table, especially in comparison to the rest of the quarterbacks set to be taken off the board in April. “I feel like I’ve got the best arm in the class,” Howell said. “I have the ability to make every throw on the field.” “I think I bring great leadership. I think I can rally a team better than anyone else. I have no limitations mentally or athletically. I can make any throw, I can run the ball, and mentally, I can handle anything an offensive coordinator wants to do.” Although some of it had to do with the tough circumstances he was under, Howell was knocked for inconsistency this past season and footwork issues—areas he’s shown to have gotten better in during the Mobile showcase. Howell comes from a version of the Air Raid offense run by Phil Longo that doesn’t harp a lot on messing with a quarterback’s footwork so long as it isn’t causing egregious issues. That’s because they want the focus to be on the trigger and on the throw to avoid any tension in the upper body caused by overfocusing on lower-body mechanics. Longo has noted how good Howell’s trigger time has been on his routes dating back to the time when he was a true freshman. While Howell is focused on learning NFL footwork and making the adjustments, he’s not looking to overhaul anything fundamentally—he wants to do things the right way every single rep. “I just want to be more consistent. I’m not trying to change anything fundamentally. It’s just doing it consistently—have good fundamentals on every play,” Howell said. “There’s definitely a little bit of an adjustment from the footwork we did in college that’s going to be a little bit different in the NFL. So, it’s been just trying to get more comfortable with that. There’s a lot more timing throws in the NFL so I’m going to have to be a lot more consistent with my feet and that’s something I’ve been focusing on is NFL footwork.” Like all other prospects preparing for the draft, Howell is aware of the differing opinions that surround him, but his focus is simple and he isn’t paying it any mind—he’s taking things one day at a time. “I can’t speak for what people expect—I don’t really know what they say,” Howell said. “I just try to go out there each and every day being myself, showing people what type of player I am and what type of person I am. I think I did alright (in the first day of practice). I definitely left some throws out there too. Just trying to get better every day.” Howell says a lot of the offense he’s running at the Senior Bowl is similar to what he did at UNC and feels he’s making the adjustment quickly—something he thinks will also come quickly at the NFL level. He’s in a good position to make the jump considering the power he held at the line of scrimmage with the Tar Heels. “We had a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage at UNC,” I had the authority to change plays and things of that nature. I had a lot of freedom. There were Air Raid passing concepts but he added a power run game to it and play-action off of it. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Howell, but there’s no doubt he’s laid a solid foundation and between his gritty mobility and talent as a passer, he should have no issue fitting into a number of schemes at the NFL level as a prospect with potential to build upon.

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Crissy Froyd