With the all-star games having passed and the Scouting Combine approaching quickly, it’s a good time to take a look at the updated big board for the 2022 NFL Draft.
While many question how working out without pads can significantly impact these players’ final grades, I argue that it’s not so much the testing numbers as much as living up to the expectation. These workouts are like the final exam at the end of a school year. The process is vital. It’s much more than the “Underwear Olympics,” as some have deemed them.
With that in mind, here are my top 2022 NFL Draft prospects leading up to the next month and a half of workouts.
2022 NFL Draft Prospects: 81-100
81. Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis
While Calvin Austin’s size (5’7”, 173) makes him a tough player to evaluate, his speed is elite. Not every team will value him this high, but for those with more progressive offensive coordinators, Austin should be on their radar on day two.
When you’ve got his combination of size and speed, screens and jeet sweeps are bound to be part of the role. Still, I was impressed with his work in the slot, both in college and at the Senior Bowl. He’s a smart receiver who understands the work he needs to put in to increase his snap count. I think he can be a top-three option on a team.
82. Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
Channing Tindall is a tantalizing prospect, as possibly the most physically gifted linebacker in this class. He is an explosive athlete, and his closing speed jumps out on tape. Tindall’s motor is always running hot, and he’s also a disciplined tackler.
However, playing next to an instinctive guy like Nakobe Dean really shined a light on how much quicker he needs to process what is happening in front of him. In fact, his overall feel for the game has to get better, as he is often a candidate to over pursue and take himself out of the play.
Still, part of that could be the fact that Tindall hasn’t played a ton of snaps over the past four years because of Georgia’s insane depth on the defensive side. Even in 2021, he was part of a rotation that included Quay Walker, who is also on this list. The trick for any team will be getting him as many reps as possible to speed his eyes up, even though he is not NFL-ready in that department.
83. Jesse Luketa, OLB, Penn State
Yet another defender from this Penn State defense, Jesse Luketa played several different positions during his time in Happy Valley. Whether as a traditional linebacker or playing on the edge, Luketa proved to be an explosive playmaker for the Nittany Lions.
The question will be, where is his best fit in an NFL defense. In Mobile, he did a lot of work on the edge. There, Luketa showed the ability to not only win the edge but also alter his speeds and change direction. At 261 pounds with 33-inch arms, I think he can handle the edge in a 3-4 or hybrid front.
84. James Cook, RB, Georgia
While James Cook has never led Georgia in rushing, he’s got the kind of versatility and big-play ability that most of the backs in this class lack. He’s a terrific pass-catcher with the ability to run routes from the backfield, slot, or on the perimeter.
As a runner, he’s got terrific burst and change-of-direction skills. Cook may not have a huge frame, but he’s a slippery runner with good vision. I could see him thriving in a role like Alvin Kamara filled during his early years in the league.
85. Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
Braxton Jones is one of the really big risk-reward prospects in this class. Everything is there to be a franchise left tackle. He’s 6’5” and 306 pounds with 36-inch arms. Jones is also an easy mover for that size.
Still, while being dominant at the FCS level, there is a lot to work on to make the jump to blocking NFL defenders. He’s got big hands with solid grip strength when he latches on, but we saw in Mobile that his hands don’t always hit the mark.
In addition, his pad level needs to get lower, and he could add more muscle to his frame. Whoever drafts him will have to be patient, but the tools are there to be one of the biggest steals in the 2022 NFL Draft.
86. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
It’s not always easy to evaluate an FCS prospects’ physical traits, but Christian Watson backed up his terrific tape with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl. The speed he shows for being 6’4” is very good, and it especially shows up when the ball is in his hands.
Watson is also a solid route-runner for his size and uses his sturdy frame to body out smaller defenders on contested throws. He made some terrific plays during the practices in Mobile, but we also saw that there will be some growing pains as he learns to adjust his releases and routes against more disruptive defensive backs. Still, he can grow into a top-three receiver on an NFL roster.
87. Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Quay Walker is another prospect whose draft stock will vary from scout to scout. Like Tindall, he got stuck behind several future NFL players and rotated as a starter this year. Still, his physical gifts are impressive.
Walker has exceptional size for a linebacker, including long arms he employs as one of the most consistent tacklers in this class. He is also a powerful player that is physical at the point of attack, and while he may not be as fast as his teammate Tindall, Walker is still a fantastic athlete. He’s got a better feel for the run at this point but needs more time to develop instinctually. His 2022 NFL Draft stock will be determined by how quickly teams think he can turn that corner.
88. Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
It’s easy to watch Marcus Jones and see some Adam “Pacman” Jones. He’s one of the most explosive players in this class, albeit in a small package. His athleticism not only makes him a dangerous player in coverage but also with the ball in his hands. Because of that, Houston not only inserted him into the return game but also certain packages on offense.
Still, his size is going to cause a lot of concern. Listed at 5’8” and 185 pounds, playing on the perimeter will be difficult in some schemes. Also, while his quickness and speed are elite, there are times he’s a bit late reacting, especially when lined up in off coverage. In the end, his NFL position may be limited to the slot and return duties.
89. Kerby Jospeh, S, Illinois
Kerby Joseph has had a very intriguing history as an athlete. He’s spent time as a safety and wide receiver while in Champagne. In addition, Joseph played volleyball in high school, and that skill set helped aid him in a breakout campaign in 2021.
Not only does Joseph show terrific range, but his ability to high-point passes is a testimony from his volleyball days. He tracks the ball well and gets them at their highest point, resulting in five interceptions last fall. He’s also a bit twitchy in coverage when matched up one-on-one, and I think he will thrive on passing downs.
He doesn’t always take great angles in the run game, and Joseph also fails to wrap up at times. Still, with more reps as a deep safety, that has a chance to improve.
90. Britain Covey, WR, Utah
This class has several receivers that are ready to contribute in the slot right away, and Britain Covey fits in the conversation. He’s exceptionally quick as a route-runner and with the ball in his hands, and has the kind of big-play speed that can strike from anywhere on the field.
Covey also shows excellent ball skills, both as a pass-catcher and in the return game. I also love his toughness. He plays at full speed over the middle of the field and is tougher to tackle than you might think for a guy listed at 5’8”.
The big knock is going to be his age. Covey will turn 25 a month before the 2022 NFL Draft. After being a Freshman All-American in 2015, he went on a church mission to Chile before returning to football in 2018. Because of that, some teams may have him much lower than this on the list.
91. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana
Typically, when players switch positions midway through their college careers, their scouting reports are full of terms like “projection” and “continued development.” However, after starting his career as a quarterback, Troy Andersen really hit the ground running when he moved to linebacker in 2019.
He didn’t play during the COVID-shortened year, which perhaps helped him bridge part of the mental gap of the transition. Still, Andersen has impressed this past year. He’s physically imposing, with a combination of great size and strength.
However, he also plays with great balance, allowing him to make the most of his athleticism. In Mobile, he not only showed quick reactions against run designs but also looked quite comfortable in coverage. Sure, there is still more room to develop, but no more than most prospects heading into the NFL.
92. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Tariq Woolen will not fit every system, as he lacks twitchy athleticism thanks to his lengthy build. Still, at 6’3” with 33 ½-inch arms, he can be very disruptive at the line of scrimmage, and his rumored-4.3 speed gives him the ability to recover that will make him highly-coveted for a team that employs a lot of press-man.
His footwork is better than you’d expect for a player that long, but he’s not nearly as comfortable in off coverage. Still, Woolen’s size could also come in handy matching up against tight ends, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he went much higher than this.
93. David Bell, WR, Purdue
David Bell is a receiver that isn’t going to blow us away with any physical trait. His speed should be good but not great, and he’s not going to be overly explosive. Still, he’s committed himself to being as polished as possible with his releases, routes, and ball skills.
Bell has terrific footwork and sinks his hips making him especially effective at the top of his routes. He understands the proper angles in the body of the route that will gain him position leverage in his route and accelerates out of his breaks well to gain optimal separation. He’s also tough over the middle and can play the slot as well as on the perimeter.
94. Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA
Otito Ogbonnia is a classic nose tackle at 6’3 ½” and 326 pounds, and his 35-inch arms will give interior linemen a lot of trouble. There are times when he looks unlockable, thanks to his explosion of the snap and powerful hands.
His effort is typically good, but like any nose tackle, his conditioning can limit his effectiveness. He also doesn’t show much versatility as a pass rusher. His power can help him collapse the pocket, but Ogbonnia’s career will likely be spent as an often-underappreciated run-stuffer. Still, I could see him starting as a rookie in that role.
95. Dominique Robinson, OLB, Miami (OH)
While Troy Anderson made a seamless transition from one position to another, Dominique Robinson is still learning how to be an edge rusher after spending his first two years at receiver. Because of his time as a pass-catcher, some techniques carried over to his new position.
He’s explosive off the snap and uses his hands well to deflect the strike of his opponents. Robinson changes direction with ease and can stutter-step or alter his speeds to create problems for blockers. Still, he’s pretty raw reacting to a key, taking on blockers, and disengaging from them.
Robinson will need to continue to get stronger from the pop in his hands to his leg drive, and overall, he’s got to continue to develop techniques that can keep his opponents from getting latched on to him. Still, in a game where pass rushers are vital, he’s got the potential teams covet.
96. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
There is a lot to like about Brian Asamoah, from his feel in the run game to his physical approach on the field. The guy is a punishing finisher and shows good range to patrol the field from sideline to sideline. However, his eyes aren’t as good in coverage, whether playing in man or zone.
Also, Asamoah can be physical early on in the route, but he needs to develop that clock that tells him when he’s too far downfield to make contact. I can also see some future struggles finishing plays because he has a high approach at the point of attack. Still, a lot of his issues are correctable, and he plays with the kind of physicality it takes to be a linebacker in the NFL.
97. Neil Farrell, DT, LSU
Nail Farrell is another nose tackle that I thought raised his value while in Mobile. He’s got terrific size to play inside, at over 6’3” and 338 pounds, and I like the natural leverage he plays with to limit any movement his opponents try to get.
My biggest issue is that he doesn’t have the exceptional length as some of the other big run-stuffers in this class, which can lead to a lack of involvement in the play. Yes, a nose tackle’s primary objective is to make the job of the guys behind him much easier, but you’d still like to see him disengage to get in on the play.
Farrell’s hands will have to be that much more active and powerful to increase his involvement. Also, in the scenarios where he’s in on passing downs, those active hands can help him counter when his bull-rush doesn’t get the desired result.
98. Dylan Parham, OL, Memphis
While Dylan Parham is one of the more undersized linemen on this list, he uses his stature to his advantage. I love how Parham lines up in a low stance, allowing him to fire out with natural leverage. Also, while he may be only 6’2”, he’s got 33 ½-inch arms and over 10-inch hands that routinely hit their mark and latch on.
He’s also got excellent mobility at 313 pounds and has a keen understanding of proper angles. While some teams may view him solely as a center, others will see his ability to get to the second level and make blocks in open space, and envision him staying at guard. He’s never going to be an imposing player, but the skills and physical traits are there to be a starter in this league.
99. Damone Clark, LB, LSU
There are a lot of similarities between Damone Clark and Brian Asamoah, who I’ve got just a few spots higher. Clark makes quick reads in the run game and wastes no time filling open lanes. He’s bigger than Asamoah and has very good range. Both are physical at the point of attack as well.
Also, while Clark will never specialize in coverage, he is disruptive coming on the blitz and prefers going through his opponent instead of around them. The most significant area Clark can improve is with his discipline. He is often too aggressive, whether it’s biting on fakes or overrunning the play. He could also get better with his angles of pursuit.
100. Sam Williams, DE, Ole Miss
The narrative of Sam Williams’ 2022 NFL Draft stock will revolve around his impressive combination of size, length, and athleticism. There is no doubting how physically gifted he is, and those gifts were on full display in 2021 as he had a breakout campaign.
Still, his success was overly-reliant on those raw gifts, and he needs to develop a better technical aspect of his game. Too many times on tape, he was quickly neutralized because he gave up his chest too easily or was ineffective with his hands or off balance. That has to change if he’s going to be the kind of impact edge player he’s capable of being. Still, his numbers were impressive this fall, despite playing out of position as an interior-shaded end somewhat often.
2022 NFL Draft prospects that just missed the cut:
– Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
– Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
– Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
– Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee
– Zachary Carter, DL, Florida
– Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga
– Andrew Stueber, OL, Michigan
– Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
– Damion Daniels, DT, Nerbaska
– Marquis Hayes, G, Oklahoma