In the last regular 2022 NFL Draft Notebook article of the 2022 season, we make five predictions about this year’s draft including why the New York Giants might have the best draft of 2022. In addition to making predictions on the year’s class, this week’s 2022 NFL Draft Notebook also looks at the following.
- The 2022 cornerback class
- A mid-round prospect for each NFC West team
- And much more
2022 NFL Draft Predictions
Biggest Winner: New York Giants
A team that should significantly improve its roster in the 2022 NFL Draft is the New York Giants. The team should be in a great position to address its offensive line and defensive line with their two first-round picks which are both inside the top ten. The Giants also have several mid-round picks including two third-round and fifth-round picks. If the Giants draft well they should be able to form a solid supporting cast for whoever their quarterback of the future is.
Player Who Gets Drafted Too High: Malik Willis
It seems like every year at least one quarterback is drafted too high and this year that quarterback will likely be Malik Willis. If a team does move up the number two spot or Detroit takes him they will likely regret it. This is due to the fact that Willis is far from a consistently accurate passer and had trouble reading even a college defense last year.
Great Value On Day Two: Wan’Dale Robinson
While Treylon Burks draws the most comparisons to San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuels the player who is more likely to fill a role similar to Samuel’s is Wan’Dale Robinson. Robinson started his career off seeing significant time at running back and led Nebraska in total yards in 2020, and set a Huskers true freshman record with 1,029 all-purpose yards in 2019. After his time with the Huskers he became one of the most dominant slot receivers in the SEC last season. A creative offensive coordinator should be able to find a way to get the ball in Robinson’s hands in multiple ways next season including from the slot and in the backfield which is how the 49ers use Samuel. In addition to helping out in those areas, Robinson will also be a boost to any team’s special teams unit as a return man.
The player who will be a day three steal: Christopher Allen, Alabama
While Christopher Allen might be an injury risk having missed most of this season with a foot injury when he is on the field he has been outstanding. In 2020, he was named second-team All-SEC after recording 41 tackles and 13 tackles for loss. If he can stay healthy he should be able to become a starter in the NFL, which is outstanding value for someone projected to go in the seventh round.
Top Draft Pick in 2023: C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
While the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t have any franchise quarterbacks in it that will likely change in 2022. Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud is a smart quarterback who displays both a strong arm and excellent accuracy. He also has the advantage over Alabama’s Bryce Young when comes to prototypical size.
2022 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings
Top prospect: Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner has been the textbook definition of a shutdown corner. This past season he only allowed 13 receptions on the season and has not given up a touchdown pass in his entire college career. Part of the reason Gardner has been so successful is his high football IQ which allows him to play on the hip of most receivers he faces. He also does a terrific job of using his hands well in coverage which allows him to break up his share of passes.
Sleeper: Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska
A player who should excite NFL scouts especially if they can get him on day three of the draft is Cam Taylor-Britt of Nebraska. Britt is a physical corner who is one of the better corners in the draft when it comes to playing press coverage. In addition to his ability to challenge wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, he also displays good ball skills having broken up 11 passes last year. If he can improve his football IQ especially when it comes to taking proper angles he should be able to become a starter in the NFL.
Most overrated: Tariq Woolen, UTSA
A player who gets the dreaded looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane label is Tariq Woolen of UTSA. Woolen put up outstanding numbers at both his pro day and NFL Combine including posting a 4.26 40-yard dash, and a 42-inch vertical jump while measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. However, when you turn on the film it is hard to not be disappointed. He is very raw when it comes to technique especially when it comes to playing press coverage. He also displays only average ball skills having picked off just two passes the last two seasons, and his overall football IQ leaves something to be desired. Woolen is the type of player you let someone else draft while you go get the better football player.
Biggest risk: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
There is no doubt who the most physically gifted corner in the 2022 NFL Draft, however, there are some serious questions about how much Derek Stingley Jr. wants to be great. After his outstanding freshman season, his play has dropped. It also concerning with how much time Stingley has missed the past couple of seasons. This past season he missed all but three games due to a foot injury and over the past two years has only played in ten games.
Player who had a breakout year: Marcus Jones, Houston
After spending his first two seasons at Troy, Marcus Jones became one of the biggest impact players in the AAC the last two seasons with Houston. His best season was last year when he won the Paul Hornung Award which goes to the most versatile player in college football. He finished the 2021 season with 18 pass deflections, five interceptions, and four kick returns for touchdowns.
Outstanding tester: Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
According to his Relative Athletic Score no cornerback has tested better since 1987 than Zyon McCollum. Some of his impressive testing numbers include a 4.33 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical jump, and a 6.48 3-cone time. To go along with his impressive measurables he has also been dominant on the field. He was named a second-team FCS All-American last year and has accounted for 13 picks during his career.
2022 NFL Draft Cornerback Overall Rankings
1. Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati (first round)
2. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (first round)
3. Kaiir Elam, Florida (first round)
4. Andrew Booth, Clemson (second round)
5. Trent McDuffie, Washington (second round)
6. Kyler Gordon, Washington (second round)
7. Roger McCreary, Auburn (third round)
8. Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska (third round)
9. Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State (third round)
10. Josh Jobe, Alabama (third round)
11. Marcus Jones, Houston (fourth round)
12. Coby Bryant, Cincinnati (fourth round)
13. Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh (fourth round)
14. Jalyn Armour-Davis, Alabama (fourth round)
15. Mykael Wright, Oregon (fourth round)
16. Martin Emerson, Mississippi State (fourth round)
17. Tariq Woolen, UTSA (fifth round)
18. Derion Kendrick, Georgia (fifth round)
19. Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State (fifth round)
20. Kalon Barnes, Baylor (fifth round)
21. Akayleb Evans, Missouri (fifth round)
22. Josh Thompson, Texas (fifth round)
23. Jaylen Watson, Washington State (fifth round)
24. Josuah Williams, Fayetteville State (fifth round)
25. Alontae Taylor, Tennessee (sixth round)
26. Decobie Durant, South Carolina State (sixth round)
27. Shaun Jolly, Appalachian State (sixth round)
28. Chris Steele, USC (sixth round)
29. Samuel Womack, Toledo (seventh round)
30. Mario Goodrich, Clemson (seventh round)
31. Vincent Gray, Michigan (seventh round)
32. DaMarcus Fields, Texas Tech (free agent)
33. Chase Lucas, Arizona State (free agent)
34. Damarion Williams, Houston (free agent)
35. Jack Jones, Arizona State (free agent)
2022 NFL Draft Mid-round Prospect For NFC West Teams
A look at one prospect who would be a good day three selection for each NFC West team.
A team that needs to add depth in the secondary is the Arizona Cardinals. One player the Cardinals should consider on day three of the draft is Derion Kendrick. Kendrick was considered a second or third-round prospect after the season but his horrible 4.75 40-yard dash time saw his draft stock plummet. Despite his poor testing numbers, he is a player with good ball skills who wins with his high football IQ.
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles doesn’t have a draft pick until the third round so the team will have to do a great job with their mid-round picks. One of the team’s biggest needs is running back and a player the team could consider in the third round is Isaiah Spiller. Spiller is a bigger running back who shows good footwork and has the power to consistently break tackles.
San Fransico 49ers
While the 49ers have two solid receivers in Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk they need to add depth at this position. A player who could be outstanding value on day three is Purdue’s David Bell. Last season, Bell caught 93 passes for 1,286 yards and was one of the best receivers in the Big Ten.
Seattle lost Ethan Pocic this offseason to the Clevland Browns and while Austin Blythe will fill his role as the starting center the team needs to add depth at this spot. Memphis’s Dylan Parham is an athletic center that the team could get in the third or fourth round.
2022 NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— A late-round prospect to watch for the Green Bay Packers is Texas cornerback Josh Thompson, who the team had in for a visit last week. Thompson is a good-sized corner whose physical style of play could make him an ideal fit as a press corner or even as a safety in the NFL. To go along with his size and physical style of play Thompson also displayed surprising speed at his pro day running the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. On the downside, Thompson has battled some injuries during college and only posses average change of direction ability.
— It would not be a shock but it could be a major reach if a team takes Desmond Ridder at the end of the first round. Ridder has already had meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, and Carolina Panthers. It would not be a surprise if the Steelers took Ridder with the 20th pick overall or if the Seahawks traded back into the late part of round one. While Ridder is an intriguing developmental quarterback he is more of a prospect you look at the end of round two and not round one. The main reason he would be a reach in the first round is that his accuracy needs work and he also needs to improve his decision-making on the field.
— Look for the New York Giants to address the running back position in the middle rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. The main reason the team will likely add a running back is that Saquon Barkley is entering the last year of his contract and his future is uncertain at this time. A couple of the running backs the team has shown an interest in are Georgia’s James Cook and Alabama’s Brian Robinson who the team brought in for visits last week. The team also brought in Iowa State’s Breece Hall but taking a running back in the second round which they would likely have to do to get Hall is unlikely.
— While Auburn’s Roger McCreary has been one of the highest grader corners in college football his lack of elite measurables makes him more of a third-round prospect than a first-round prospect some people grade him as. One of the biggest concerns with him is his lack of length coming in at only 5-foot-11 and to make matters worse he only has 29-inch arms. In addition to his lack of length, he also posses only average quickness and can have trouble with explosive wide receivers. While he will likely have a long career as a nickel corner that is someone you would take in the third round.
— As we enter the final stages of the 2022 NFL Draft cycle it is time to break down what NFL Draft Notebook will look like over the next few months. Next week I will publish my final position rankings of the year and then after the draft have one article breaking down the draft. After that, I will take about a month off while I stack the 2023 Draft board with the first article on the 2023 NFL Draft coming out in early June.
Quote of the Week
“I want to be a great man. You don’t want to be a great athlete and an okay man, you know?”
-Missouri cornerback Akayleb Evans, via Pro Football Network