As we get closer to the 2022 NFL Draft it is time to unveil the second annual All-Underrated team. The prospect who make this team are individuals who are being overlooked for different reasons including coming from a small school, seeing limited playing time, or not posting the best testing numbers. Despite these concerns though they are players who should make an impact in the NFL next season just like most of the players from last year’s team did this season.
Last year’s team was led by Kendrick Green who was drafted late in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, yet became a consistent starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Overall, eight of the eleven members who made named to the 2021 All-Underrated offensive team were drafted on the third day of the draft or signed as free agents. Despite most of them going so late in the draft, all but one of the players is on a current NFL roster.
In addition to naming the members of the All-Underrated offensive squad this week’s NFL Draft Notebook takes a look at the following
- The top outside linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft
- A mid-round prospect for each AFC North team
- Some prospects who are seeing their stock fall
- And much more
Quarterback: Cole Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana
Southeastern Louisiana quarterback has been the top small-school quarterback since the start of the season, and all he has done this year is show why he earned this spot. This year he threw for a very impressive 5,124 yards and 44 touchdowns while completing 74% of his passes. He also has proven he can play against NFL level competition being named the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl MVP and also looking like one of the best pure passers at the NFL Combine. A team that is looking for a developmental quarterback would be wise to take Kelley late in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Running Back: Zamir White, Georgia
Every year a running back is drafted on the third day of the draft and makes an impact in his rookie season. The prospect who has a good chance of doing it this year is Zamir White of Georgia. White is a physical runner who shows surprising speed. If he can develop more as a receiver he could become a starter by the middle of his rookie year.
Fullback: Connor Heyward, Michigan State
The most versatile fullback in the 2022 NFL Draft is Connor Heyward of Michigan State. Heyward played tight end for the Spartans in 2021 and led the team in receptions with 35 catches and in 2020 he led the team in rushes while playing running back. As a prospect, he is a player who can play H-back, fullback and even some tight end at the next level.
Wide Receiver: Tre Turner, Virginia Tech
While Tre Turner is not going to impress many people with his pure athletic ability only posting a vertical jump of 27-inches and a 4.51 40-yard dash he is a player who should find a home in the NFL. What does stand out with Turner is his outstanding ball skills. He does a great job of going up and getting the ball in traffic. He also has very reliable hands having dropped only two passes last season and consistently coming away with the tough catch.
Wide Receiver: Charleston Rambo, Miami
Another wide receiver who could be great value on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft is Charleston Rambo. One of the biggest reasons Rambo will fall in the NFL Draft is his poor testing numbers. The number that will scare scouts away is his 4.57 40-yard dash which raises concerns about his deep speed. However, if you turn on his film from this season you see a player who can develop into a third or fourth receiver in the NFL.
Tight End: Cade Otton, Washington
The top tight end on my board is also one of the most underrated players in the 2022 NFL Draft. The reason I am so high on Cade Otton is that he is a complete tight end who can help in all areas of the game. As a blocker, he shows the strength and tenacity to play the traditional in-line tight end position. In the passing game, he has very reliable hands and can catch in traffic.
Offensive Tackle: Bamidele Olaseni, Utah
There is a good chance Bamidele Olaseni will not hear his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft but it would be a big surprise if he was not on a roster next year. Olaseni had an outstanding East-West Shrine Bowl showing impressive strength, and the ability to play offensive tackle or guard. To go along with his strength and versatility he also has the length offensive line coaches love coming in at 6-foot-7 with an 88-inch wingspan.
Offensive Guard: Cole Schneider, UCF
Another prospect who will likely go undrafted yet shows the ability to make a team next season is Cole Schneider of Central Florida. While Schneider is not a standout in any area he is solid in all areas. As a run blocker, he shows the strength to win at the point of attack. In pass protection, he shows good agility and quick feet. In the NFL he should be a good backup who can fill in as a starter from time to time.
Center: Luke Wattenberg, Washington
While Luke Wattenberg is not going to blow teams away with his natural athletic ability or strength, he does have one thing NFL teams will love which is a high football IQ. He does an outstanding job of making the line calls for the Huskies and is rarely fooled by the different line stunts he has seen during his college career. In addition to his football intelligence, he has shown nice versatility during his career having played all tackle, guard and center during his time with the Huskies.
Offensive Guard: Cordell Volson, North Dakota State
While Christian Watson is the prospect from North Dakota State who is getting the most hype he will not be the only Bison who will hear his name called in April. The other prospect who should be drafted is offensive lineman Cordell Volson. Volson is a physical run blocker who does a great job of finishing his blocks. While he had a below-average NFL Combine his strong week at the East-West Shrine Bowl should be enough for some team to take him late on day three.
Offensive Tackle: Braxton Jones, Southern Utah
The second offensive tackle to make this team from the state of Utah is Braxton Jones who played his college ball at Southern Utah. While Jones is raw in terms of his overall technique he has the upside to compete for a starting job in a couple of years.
2022 NFL Draft Outside Linebacker Rankings
Top prospect: Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
While Nik Bonitto is average against both the run and in pass coverage his ability to get after the passer should make him a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. In this area, he shows excellent explosion off the ball and also has the bend to get around the corner. To begin his career he may be limited to a situational pass rusher but he does show the fluid hips and natural strength to develop into a starting linebacker down the road.
Sleeper: Baylon Spector, Clemson
While Baylon Spector might be on the smaller side he is an outstanding overall athlete who plays with a great motor. At the NFL Combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and also posted a 36-inch vertical jump to go along with the 19 reps he did on the bench press at his pro day. On the field, Spector plays like his hair is one fire playing with intensity down after down. He plays with sound fundamentals as well and is one of the surest tacklers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Most overrated: Terrel Bernard, Baylor
While NFL teams love the work ethic and overall football character Terrel Bernard has how well his game translates to the NFL is a concern. The biggest red flag with Bernard is his lack of size coming in at only 6-foot-1 and 224 pounds. His lack of bulk makes it hard for him to hold up against the run. In order for him to hold up in the NFL he will need to play in a two-gap defense that keeps blockers off of him otherwise he will likely be just a special teams player.
Biggest risk: Christopher Allen, Alabama
Alabama’s Christopher Allen might be the most physically gifted outside linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, he has had trouble staying on the field missing all but the season opener this year with a foot injury and missing the entire 2018 season with a knee injury. When on the field though he has been a very productive linebacker being named second-team All-SEC in 2020 after recording 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Top small school prospect: Troy Andersen, Montana State
Montana State’s Troy Anderson is one of the most unique athletes in this year’s draft. The first thing that stands out with Anderson is his ability to do pretty much anything on the football field. This past season he was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year, and in 2018 he was named All-Big Sky as a quarterback and in 2017 he was all-conference as a running back. To go along with his versatility he is an outstanding athlete who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds despite being 243 pounds.
Player who had a disappointing year: Durrell Johnson, Liberty
A player who entered the 2021 season with some hype yet failed to live up to expectations is Durrell Johnson of Liberty. In 2020, Johnson led the Flames with 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. His strong effort got the attention of scouts and earned him a draftable grade going into the season. However, this season Johnson did not account for any sacks and will now be lucky to be signed as a priority free agent.
Outstanding tester: Kyron Johnson, Kansas
To say Kyron Johnson had a strong pro day is an understatement. He blew away scouts with his 4.36 40-yard dash which would have been the best mark ever among linebackers if he had run it at the NFL Combine. He also posted a 39.5-inch vertical jump and a 6.98 3-cone time both of which would have been top five among linebackers at the NFL Combine this year.
2022 NFL Draft Outside Linebacker Overall Rankings
1. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma (second round)
2. Brandon Smith, Penn State (second round)
3. Troy Andersen, Montana State (second round)
4. Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State (fourth round)
5. JoJo Domann, Nebraska (fourth round)
6. DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky (fifth round)
7. Zakoby McClain, Auburn (fifth round)
8. Baylon Spector, Clemson (fifth round)
9. Christopher Allen, Alabama (sixth round)
10. Mike Rose, Iowa State (sixth round)
11. Terrel Bernard, Baylor (sixth round)
12. Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Boston College (sixth round)
13. Kyron Johnson, Kansas (seventh round)
14. Aaron Hansford, Texas A&M (free agent)
15. James Houston IV, Jackson State (free agent)
16. Carson Wells, Colorado (free agent)
2022 NFL Draft Mid-round Prospect For AFC North Teams
A look at one prospect who would be a good day three selection for each AFC North team.
While the Baltimore Ravens are set at tight end with Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle the team will likely look to add a number three tight end late in the draft. A prospect who can fill this role is James Mitchell of Virginia Tech. While Mitchell missed most of this season with a torn ACL he is an athletic tight end who can stretch the field. He also is a good blocker for a player only 249 pounds.
While the Bengals signed La’el Collins and Alex Cappa in free agency look for them to continue to address the offensive line in the NFL Draft. One player who they met with at the NFL Combine and could get on day three of the draft is Georgia’s, Jamaree Salyer. Salyer played left tackle for the Bulldogs but he will likely slide inside to offensive guard in the NFL.
Another team that already addressed one of their biggest offseason needs is the Cleveland Browns who traded for Amari Cooper. However, they will need to add some depth to this position in the 2022 NFL Draft. A wide receiver who could be had late in the 2022 NFL Draft yet is an ascending player is Miami’s Charleston Rambo. Rambo had a breakout season for the Hurricanes last year catching 79 passes for 1,172 yards after seeing limited time his first couple of seasons at Oklahoma.
While outside linebacker is not a position of need for the Steelers they should still consider a player like DeAngelo Malone early on day three of the draft. Malone would be a great fit in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. He shows good explosion off the ball and shows the flexibility to get around the edge. He also had oustanding production in college recording 349 tackles, 60 tackles for loss and 34 sacks during his time a Western Kentucky.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— Not often do you find a linebacker who can cover as well as Nebraska’s JoJo Domann. What makes Domann standout in this area is his high football IQ, especially when playing in zone coverage. He does a great job of keeping his head on a swivel and has the fluid hips to match up with most tight ends. Along with his strong play in coverage, Domann is a hard-nosed linebacker who is not afraid to come up and support the run or deliver the big hit. The biggest concern with him is that he is on the smaller side coming in at 228 pounds and could have trouble getting off blocks at the next level due to this.
— A player who is seeing his stock fall is Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick. The main reason he is seeing his stock nose dive is his poor testing numbers. At Georgia’s Pro Day last week, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds which would have been the worst time of any defensive back at the NFL Combine. He also only post a 31-inch vertical jump which again would have been the worst number among defensive backs. While his poor testing numbers will certainly cause him to fall in the draft, it would be a surprise if a team didn’t take him early on the third day due to his strong play on the field this season.
— Speaking of players seeing their stock falling another player who will likely fall in the draft is Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo. Unlike Kendrick though, Ojabo will not fall in the draft due to poor testing numbers instead he will fall due to a significant injury he suffered at his pro day. While doing position drills Ojabo collapsed on the field and was later diagnosed with a torn Achilles. This injury will likely cause him to fall to the second round of the draft since he will miss most if not all of next season due to the injury.
— One of the biggest moves last week was the Green Bay Packers trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. This move has to make adding a wide receiver early in the 2022 NFL Draft a top priority for the Packers. Luckily the team will have plenty of opportunities to add pass catchers for Aaron Rodgers as they have four picks in the top 60. One player who would make a lot of sense if he is still available is Chris Olave. The reason he would be such a good fit in Green Bay is that he is a good-sized wide receiver who is a crisp route runner.
Quote of the Week
“I don’t want my mom to ever have to work again. So, that went into my mindset every day going into training and making sure I knew the numbers to hit to help with that goal.”
-Oklahoma linebacker Nik Bonitto on preparing for the NFL Draft