Drake Jackson, Edge Rusher, USC
Team: Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are another team entering a new era this offseason. After trading future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, and cutting ties with linebacker Bobby Wagner, the “Legion of Boom” phase is officially over. They say all good things come to an end, so what’s next for Jon Schneider, Pete Carrol, and company? The true answer is “I don’t know”. My best guess is that they’ll use the 2022 NFL Draft to load up the roster as much as possible, while keeping an eye towards the 2023 NFL Draft for their next signal-caller of the future.
Assuming that is, indeed, the case, then the Seahawks will be in a position to go with the best player available at each slot. Drake Jackson from USC is polarizing in draft circles, but with picks No. 40 and No. 41 in the second round, that feels like the sweet spot of Jackson’s expected range of outcomes in the draft. Jackson is still learning how to put his elite traits together, but Seattle would be a great place for him to get a footing and make a name for himself in the league.
Daniel Faalele, Offensive Tackle, Minnesota
Team: Chicago Bears
Justin Fields was set up for failure in 2021, plain and simple. It felt like former head coach Matt Nagy held some sort of vendetta against Fields considering how nonsensical the game plan was in each of Fields’ starts. Granted, the offensive line was not strong as a unit and the pass catching options underwhelmed across the board, sans Darnell Mooney who eclipsed the 1000-yard mark in only his second season.
Teven Jenkins battled through injury but looks to be 100%, and Larry Borom shows potential. However, more above-average players are needed to construct an offensive line capable of keeping the young quarterback clean. Daniel Faalele is built like a Mack truck. He is a mauler in the run game and still progressing in pass protection. Getting a guy like Faalele to protect Justin Fields is worth it every time.
Jalen Tolbert, Wide Receiver, South Alabama
Team: Green Bay Packers
The Packers are in a nearly identical situation as the Chiefs. Both are Super Bowl contenders, both lost their All-Pro wide receiver this offseason, and both are armed with a treasure trove of draft picks. As is the case with Tyreek Hill, the Packers cannot expect to replace Davante Adams with one player, so even after taking a day one wide receiver at No. 22 or No. 28 overall, Jalen Tolbert is the ideal pick in round two/three. Tolbert can come in instantly and give reigning back-to-back NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers a big-play specialist. The South Alabama alum stands at 6’1, 194 pounds so he’s not as big as Adams, but he goes a long way towards overhauling the wide receiver core in Green Bay.
Sam Howell, Quarterback, North Carolina
Team: New Orleans Saints
The Saints could very well address the quarterback position on day one of the 2022 NFL Draft, but if they opt to add a left tackle and a wide receiver instead, there should still be a few guys available on the second day to challenge for snaps at the most important position in football. Sam Howell from North Carolina has a lot of the traits necessary for being a starter in the NFL. He has one of the prettiest deep balls in the entire class, something he regularly put on display in college.
Also, in 2021 Howell became a real threat on the ground, chipping in 828 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The dual-capability and big arm is worth betting on in round two, especially for a franchise with as good of a roster as the Saints possess.