2022 Draft Preview: Most, Least, Worst and Best

Diamond In the Rough

This Diamond in the Rough has me thinking back to the George Kittle draft. As an aside, I think TE is a position where late-round diamonds can routinely be found. Teams draft polished players in rounds 1-3. Deficiencies like ”not a refined route runner” can push a toolsy WR out of the first round. TEs have too much to learn and too little time to learn it in college. It is impossible for them to become a refined run blocker, refined pass blocker and a refined rout runner. College coaches do not prioritize TEs, as the ”bang for buck” return on developing WRs and QBs normally draw more of their efforts. The variance between offensive systems in college also means that the best TE in the country could be under-utilized and have no stats to highlight their merits. Accordingly, TE requires the most projection but can also be where you simply look for exceptional traits. In comes Jelani Woods, the 6’7, 259 pound TE from Virginia that ran a 4.61 at the combine. Oh, also, he looks like this:

He was a good inline blocker in college, which already puts him ahead of most TE prospects. His college receiving stats are underwhelming, at 959 yards and 12 TDs. People knock his athleticism because he ”runs funny.” However, the few times the ball came his way resulted in some spectacular looking ”man amongst boys” moments. He is a decent TE coach away from becoming “if Antonio Games could block.” The only thing that might keep him from being a diamond in the rough is that talent evaluators might actually have caught on. Normally, this designation is for players drafted rounds 4-7, which is where he was headed before the combine. I fear that he will be drafted in the middle of the 3rd round, now.

Biggest Freak

Jordan Davis (DT) measured at 6’6, 341 pounds, and had a 4.78 forty and 34 inch vertical. As incredible as the forty is, the vertical is even more impressive, as a measure of overall explosiveness. The knock on him was a lack of pass rush production, and the fact that he was taken off the field on third downs. I would counter that his role on that Georgia squad was as a 360 pound run stopper, and you can tell that his technique is even designed to minimize penetration. There is a chance that he is this year’s Micah Parsons, which make people say ”I didn’t know he could rush the passer.” At twenty pounds lighter, he is likely to have more stamina than he had at 360. In a different scheme, with different technique, he might turn into a force capable of at least collapsing the pocket, if not a ”monster sized Fletcher Cox.

Surest Bet

Guard Zion Johnson is going to be exactly what you think he is. QBs often do not work out, OTs sometimes never develop the technique to match pro pass rushers, and DEs sometimes never develop counter moves. Really, though, what do you expect out of guards? You want them to occasionally move lighter DTs, and be able to pass block in a phonebooth. Johnson has already shown the ability to do both, and has an advanced understanding of footwork technique. At worst, he will be a starting guard that plays out his rookie contract as a starter that might not get re-signed. At best, he gets that second contract. The floor and ceiling are not that far apart for Zion Johnson.

Biggest Gamble

Holy smokes, I am going to have to cheat here and name several. Arkansas WR Treylon Burks has raw route running and pedestrian speed in testing. He can’t get separation through speed or route running, and a WR can only live on so many screens and handoffs. Dan Brugler favorite Travon Walker has insane measureables, but relatively little pass rush production or film showing any nuanced pass rush technique. Cowboys Draft Show darling, Center Tyler Linderbaum from Iowa, is undersized. Although he manhandles college DTs, it is unclear whether his slight frame will play in the NFL. LSU CB Derek Stingley has had inconsistent production due to injuries and other issues, and we have already spoken about the crapshoot that is the QB class.

Match Made in Heaven

Jameson Williams is a secondary-burning, route running killer. He was who Nick Saban turned to in every crucial situation…until he blew out his knee. If healthy, he would likely have run a forty int he low 4.2s, and been drafted in the first 15 picks. As is, I can see him becoming a ”rich get richer” pick for the chiefs, who have two late-round picks. Paired with Pat Mahomes, he would essentially be a Tyreek Hill plug and play. Speaking of injured players falling, the Chiefs could make it a double play with David Ojabo, forming a team with way more talent than any late-drafting team has any right to have.

Biggest Bust/Biggest Reach

If you saw the post on QBs, you realize now that this section should be titled ”Which QB will be drafted the highest, and not turn into a regular starter.” Of the top 5 QBs, the over/under on ”long time starters” is at “.5”. Carolina’s GM is under the hot seat and has to at least give the fans hope that the answer at QB is on the roster. He is likely to talk himself into thinking that Pickett’s stats mean he is pro-ready as a day 1 starter. Pick number 6 is way too high for any of these QBs, but he is living in a ”just survive today” state, so the long term outlook is not really the concern. Do not expect him to draft BPA.