Every single draft, there are at least a couple players that hear their name called day one that no one ever saw coming. The 2022 NFL Draft figures to be more of the same. In this article, I attempt to name some guys that have a good chance of shaking up mock drafts everywhere. Not only that, there are also a few players that I’ve highlighted that have a distinct possibility of falling out of round one. Without further ado, let’s get this thing started!
2022 NFL Draft: Players That Could Sneak Into Round One
Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
No, this is not a typo. While one Walker from Georgia (Travon) is a lock to go in the first round, there’s another Walker that could hear his name called in the first 32 selections. Quay Walker gets lost in the shuffle when talking about the vaunted 2021 Bulldog defense, but he has as much potential as any at the next level. Walker isn’t a master at any one trait, but he can do everything well, and with his athleticism, there’s reason to believe he’s just scratching the surface. Do not be surprised if the versatile, rangy defender goes off the board before his teammate Nakobe Dean does.
Logan Hall, DL, Houston
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints shocked the draft community by taking Houston pass rusher, Payton Turner, on the opening day of the event. His former teammate, Logan Hall, is hoping to repeat that this year. Hall has garnered rave reviews throughout the offseason from scouts and draft analysts alike. He is a massive human that is still growing, and uses as much finesse as he does pure strength to get into the backfield. Teams will no doubt covet his ability to play all over the defense line. Keep an eye out from 27-32, as there are a handful of teams that could use Hall’s services.
Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
Full disclosure, Arnold Ebiketie is one of my favorite players available in 2022. The twitchy pass rusher broke out to the tune of 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in his only season with the Nittany Lions. Displaying a natural ability to get to the quarterback, Ebiketie possesses playing strength that few at the position can match. Sure, he’s a bit smaller than you’d ideally want, but watching him on tape, size was never a concern for me. He’s on the older side, but the teams picking in the backend of round one are contenders that would welcome a sack artist that can contribute immediately.
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Depending on who you ask, maybe this isn’t too much of a surprise. In draft circles though, the majority do not expect to see a running back taken on Thursday evening. Most agree that Breece Hall, the bowling ball out of Iowa State, would be the guy to go if any do. Hall utilizes a patient running style, showcasing elite vision and a strong top gear. He was an every down back for the Cyclones, showing that he can pick up a blitz and catch passes out of the backfield at a high level. The Bills are the team consistently connected to Hall, but there are a number of quarterbacks that would love to have a multi-dimensional leader in the backfield.
Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
Tyler Smith is a bulldozing offensive lineman from Tulsa. Smith has been steadily rising ever since the college football season concluded. He is one of the youngest players in the draft class, as he just turned 21 years old earlier in April. Smith has a picturesque physique for a lineman, featuring a monster wingspan (83 1/4”) while standing at an impressive 6’5 and weighing in at 324 pounds. Smith is also versatile, and can play on the inside while he develops the rest of his game. He checks every box from a physical standpoint, but has a ways to go in terms of technique. With a major drop off after the first three offensive tackles in this draft, it wouldn’t surprise me if a team decides to bet on Smith’s traits in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
2022 NFL Draft: Players That Could Fall Out of Round One
Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum is probably better at playing center than any other prospect is at their respective position. So how in the world is an All-Pro caliber talent in jeopardy of tumbling down the board? Well, unfortunately for Linderbaum, center is not a position that front offices view as premium. He is also a tad undersized, and thus isn’t likely to be able to hold up anywhere else. There are a number of other linemen that have the versatility Linderbaum lacks. The Jaguars, Jets, Texans and Giants all pick at the top of round two and all would be thrilled to see the Iowa Hawkeye still available.
Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
Devonte Wyatt is an exceptional athlete for his size. He showed as much during the NFL Scouting Combine in March, posting a stellar RAS of 9.56. Wyatt was a menace on the gridiron during his time with Georgia, playing everywhere from 1- to 7- technique on the defensive line. So what’s the deal? The answer to that question is two-fold. First, Wyatt is one of the oldest prospects available (24). Secondly, (and much more concerning) Wyatt had some domestic violence issues, and not just one. What was described as “family violence” resulted in his 2020 arrest. A slew of teams have removed him from their board altogether, giving credence to the thought that he could slide on draft day.
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The final prospect that I’m highlighting in this article is the talented cornerback from Clemson, Andrew Booth Jr. Last season was not a great one for the Tigers as a whole, but Booth led the charge for a unit that finished in the top-eight for total defense. He plays a physical brand of football, both in coverage and as a tackler, all the while boasting the quintessential frame for a lockdown cornerback.
The reason for Booth’s potential fall to day two of the 2022 NFL Draft is rooted entirely in medicals. He missed out on testing at the Combine and recently underwent sports hernia surgery that is expected to keep him sidelined until training camp at the earliest. This isn’t a deal breaker, but for interested teams, it could be enough to make them second guess using an early pick.