Here is my first ‘horizontal’ draft board for the 2022 class.
This is based on tape study and the Senior Bowl. I will continue to adjust the board right through until the end of April — with the combine, pro-days and subsequent medical reports impacting any changes.
I have highlighted a collection of ‘gold’ players I wanted to talk about in this article. These are currently prospects I would be prepared to shout about in a draft room. That’s not to say I don’t rate none-highlighted players very highly. For example, I have graded some players a lot higher than the consensus.
As with the overall grades, these ‘gold’ players might change after the combine etc.
Click on the image to expand the board:
Well over 150 players are included on the board. Players who are absent I either see as UDFA prospects or I simply haven’t had a chance to study yet. Players in red have existing injuries or known character flags. Testing will have a big impact on future changes. For example, poor testing in the short shuttle and three cone is a no-no at tight end. I agree with Seattle’s approach of receivers needing to be sudden, with 4.4 speed a must. Explosive testing will impact the O-line board. You’re looking for special athletes on the D-line. There will be significant changes after the combine.
Abraham Lucas (T, Washington State)
The prototype NFL tackle prospect. Lucas has a very athletic, long frame with the necessary agility (4.30 short shuttle at SPARQ) to handle the speed rush off the edge. His drop is very good, enabling him to gain position and then use his length to play inside/out. When he connects he usually wins and he has a powerful base to drop the anchor and stone pass rushers. He can get stronger but that will come in time when he gets into a pro-weight training programme. He played right tackle at Washington State but he looks like he could easily shift over to the left. For me, he’s a top-15 pick and a very exciting player within this class.
Dameon Pierce (RB, Florida)
A player who is capable of providing an emotional presence to the locker room, who can impact team mates with his passion for the game and running style. Pierce is a bulldog of a competitor — capable of breaking through contact and finishing runs to demoralise opponents and lift his own sideline. He is extremely explosive (37 inch vertical) and quick (4.50 forty) with ideal size (220lbs) and he’s willing to put a helmet on a pass rusher in pass-pro. He might not have the upside of an Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook or Derrick Henry but he could easily be a Javonte Williams and is worthy of a second round grade.
Tyrion Davis-Price (RB, LSU)
Like Pierce at Florida, it’s surprising that LSU didn’t ride TDP more than they did. He is a big, bruising, explosive back with plus size (6-1, 225lbs) and surprisingly quick feet. He ran a 4.53 at 227lbs at SPARQ and added a 4.40 short shuttle. He can bulldoze through tackles for yards after contact but watch how he avoids second-level defenders with subtle footwork and great agility. He’s flying way under the radar and has a chance to be an impact player in the NFL. Third round grade that could rise based on his combine performance.
Greg Dulcich (TE, UCLA)
Dulcich has a complete profile for a tight end. He can burst down the seam and extend his arms to make difficult catches. He competes for the ball. He can run shorter routes and create separation with a great release and he’ll be a major threat when asked to run a wheel route. You can use him on TE screens. There are plays on tape where he’s broken off long, rampaging runs for YAC. Adding to it all is a complete willingness to block both in the passing and running game. He has fantastic size — 6-3, 248lbs with 34 inch arms and 10 inch hands. I would expect a strong testing performance at the combine. He could be the top TE in a deep draft class at the position. Second round.
Cole Strange (C, Chattanooga)
This is a decidedly poor class at center with only really Taylor Linderbaum warranting a draftable grade. For that reason, I feel obliged to bang the table for Cole Strange. He was challenged to kick inside to center and acquitted himself well at the Senior Bowl. He had some ugly reps, let’s be clear about that. But he also had his fair share of big wins and there were positive signs to take away from Mobile. For starters, he has the ideal frame for a center. He’s 6-4 1/2, 304lbs and he has 33 1/8 inch arms. He sits in his base comfortably, does a good job anchoring with a strong back and his footwork coordinates well with his hands. I would be very intrigued to see what he can do with pro-coaching and a permanent switch to center. Explosive testing will be important at the combine. I’ve given him a third round grade based on potential and would very much want to take a chance on him.
Zach Tom (C, Wake Forest)
I’m listing Tom as a center and accept this is a projection. He played left tackle for Wake Forest but he simply doesn’t have the size to stick at that position (6-4, 297lbs, 33 2/8 inch arms). However, Wake Forest believe he can play any spot on the line and it’s testament to his talent that he’s ended up at left tackle. I couldn’t have been more impressed watching him play outside. His footwork and hand use is good, he locks on to blocks and finishes. His agility and sets are good. He’s a little bit lean in the bottom half but his anchor still seems a strong point. He knows how to turn defenders to create running lanes. There’s an absolute ton to work with here. His frame is much more suited to moving inside and he could be a terrific project at center. His body fits the position and he has 10 1/8 inch hands. This is a horrible center class so we’re having to look for options. Tom has a ton of upside. I’d even be willing to give him a go at left tackle. His tape was that good. Third round grade pre-testing.
Jermaine Johnson (DE, Florida State)
I don’t really need to explain this one. Johnson rocked up at the Senior Bowl and proved he is the complete pass rusher. He has a great repertoire of moves. He can win with speed, power, he engages and disengages with ease, he has deadly agility and quickness and can both set the edge in the running game and attack offensive tackles with a classic speed rush. He has 34.5 inch arms and at 6-4 and 260lbs — he has better size than a lot of the other edge rushers in this class. Johnson is a potential top-10 pick based on what he showed in Mobile.
Boye Mafe (DE, Minnesota)
There’s just a natural fluidity to the way he rushes the passer which I’ll take any day as a starting point. He’s as smooth as silk when he attacks the edge with a speed rush. He’s incredibly quick off the snap and challenges tackles before they’re comfortably in their set. He makes it look easy — when it’s anything but. The way he clears the corner and accelerates to the quarterback carries a ‘wow’ factor. When he needs to engage and play with hands and power — he can do that too. In several 1v1’s and in the Senior Bowl game he brushed off attempted blocks by simply being faster and stronger. On tape you can see him drive into an opponents chest and walk them backwards. It’s said he can jump a 40.5 inch vertical and a 10-6 broad, plus run in the 4.5’s. You’re looking at a player who can probably effectively rush in a rotation as a rookie and then develop and grow his role over time. It won’t be a surprise if, within 2-3 years, he’s one of the more feared pass rushers in the NFL. There’s a bit more of a projection here compared to, say, Jermaine Johnson — but I think you could justify taking Mafe in the first round. If he’s there in the early second, he should be a serious option for the Seahawks.
Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)
It’s easy to forget that last summer, the national media considered Davis a mid-round, bog-standard nose tackle. For some reason they were completely blind to what Davis was — the most athletic big-man to enter the league since Vita Vea. Now, I think Davis and Vea are different players. I saw Vea live and I’ve never seen a player with his size run around in space like he did. It was super-human. Davis’ change of direction skills are what you’d expect from a 6-6, 340lbs defensive tackle. That’s the difference — Vea is far superior here. That said, Davis has remarkable quickness for his size to shoot gaps and get into the backfield. He surprises blockers with his quickness and how he combines his brute force with niftiness to break through gaps. He’ll be able to hold the point and make life easier for your linebackers. He’ll remove lanes in the running game. Yet he’s also a plus straight-line runner — and his motor runs hot enough that he’ll even chase ball-carriers down given half a chance. For me you have to take him in the top-20. Expect an amazing combine.
Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)
Simply put, Wyatt is a freakish athlete who has flown under the radar for too long. His superb outing at the Senior Bowl has finally garnered some attention but the reality is he’s been a first round talent for months. There simply aren’t many players with his combination of explosive power and quickness at 6-3 and 307lbs. He will legitimately run a 4.8 at the combine and the only question seems to be whether he can crack the 4.7’s. He’s already jumped a 31-inch vertical and a 9-3 broad — so we know he’s explosive. In Mobile you could see the way he used his hands to jolt, disrupt and disengage and once he creates any kind of separation, the speed kicks in and he can finish. He can play any down and distance and he has a shot to be a rare thing in the modern NFL — a pass-rushing, any-down defensive tackle. First round.
Quay Walker (LB, Georgia)
If you want an attacking linebacker who can burst into the backfield and make plays within an aggressive front seven, Walker is your man. While team mate Nakobe Dean is better off playing in space off the edge and Channing Tindall is at home acting as a run-and-hit dynamo from the middle — Walker has a versatility and range that means he can play pretty much anywhere. He can rush off the edge, he can blitz, he can drop and cover, he can close quickly and hit. He’s bigger than Tindall and Dean too and will have broader appeal to teams given he can fit into all schemes. If he tests as well as expected at the combine he will be a top-40 pick.
Channing Tindall (LB, Georgia)
Tindall is everything you want to see in a linebacker. He’s decisive but still reads the game very well. His closing speed is incredible — he flies to the ball-carrier from 0-60 in no time at all. He spots the little quick passes and screens and goes flat-out to make a stop. He’s brilliant at racing to the sideline on anything to the outside. He’s very prepared to race up to the LOS and put a helmet in a gap. People won’t like this — but he plays the game with the kind of destructive abandon that Bobby Wagner no longer possesses. There is zero hesitation to his game. During the Senior Bowl game he flashed his range, tenacity and desire on a special teams tackle where he flew from one side of the field to the other to make a big stop. Tindall jumped a 40-inch vertical at SPARQ and ran a 4.19 short shuttle. He’s comfortably a top-50 prospect for me.
Kerby Joseph (S, Illinois)
I was incredibly impressed by Joseph’s range at safety, despite his longer, leaner frame. From a single-high position he can sprint to the sideline to break up passes. His read/recognition is good at free safety and he can easily handle slot duties and play tight coverage. His arm length (33 1/4 inches) is a difference maker as he leaps and reaches out to break up passes. He had five interceptions in 2021 — among the national leaders. During the Senior Bowl they lined him up in the box and had him cover tight ends — with one memorable break-up of a pass for Trey McBride. I like his personality and measured approach. He’s the type of versatile defensive back you need in the modern game. Second round with room to go even higher with a good combine. A very impressive prospect.
Montaric Brown (CB, Arkansas)
I watched a fair bit of Arkansas at the start of the 2021 season and Brown stood out in a big way. He has a long, lean frame and looks like a Seahawks cornerback. He’s highly competitive for the ball in the air, tracks it well and generally does a good job gaining position in order to make a play on the ball. He had five interceptions in 2021 and for me is one of the most underrated players in the draft. I would bang the table for him in round three and if he’s available any later — take him, develop him and he could compete to start very quickly.
Cam Taylor-Britt (CB, Nebraska)
I love CTB’s attitude and physicality. He is a sledgehammer of a tackler at corner. I expected him to be slightly bigger than the 5-10, 200lbs listed at the Senior Bowl. He does have more-or-less 32-inch arms though and for me, he’s your best bet to add a ‘Brandon Browner’ type aggressive corner to your roster in this draft. He punishes ball-carriers and loves a hit. He can cover and make plays on the ball too — but you’re drafting him for his intensity. CTB broke up 11 passes in 2021 but only had the one interception (he had six in total for Nebraska in three seasons). I just want to get him in the building and have someone willing to put a bit of fear into the opponent again. Third round.
I think Perrion Winfrey is exactly the type of player Seattle lacks. An interior force with great athleticism, size and an X-factor. He plays with passion and emotion — he looks like the kind of guy who wants to go to war in the trenches. He was terrific at the Senior Bowl but his play is just so bloody inconsistent on tape, I can’t make him a gold player. A second round grade will have to do for now.
Regulars will know I’m a big fan of Trevor Penning and Bernhard Raimann. I think at the Senior Bowl both players showed positives but also a lack of technical refinement at times. They will need some development work at the next level and that just tempers my willingness to put them in the round one bracket for now. That said, I think both will test well enough at the combine to ultimately end up in the first frame.
Jake Ferguson has been a blog favourite for years and the fact he ran a 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ makes me think he’ll test very well at the combine in the key agility drills and will end up providing excellent value for the team lucky enough to draft him. I think Wisconsin squandered his college career. That said, he’s only 6-4 and 244lbs with shorter 32 1/4 inch arms. At that size, he better test well. I need to see that before being able to put a gold star next to his name.
David Anenih does a great job rounding tackles to create pressure. He has a lot of what you look for — he’s 6-2 and 251lbs with 34.5 inch arms and a nice 83 1/8 inch wingspan. He uses his length well, he’s quick to burst around the edge and he had a productive career at Houston. He can get smothered at times and you want to know he’ll test as well as the Myjai Sanders, Sam Williams, Boye Mafe types. If he does, he’s certainly one to watch.
Sanders warrants a mention. The Seahawks love those long limbed, lean, explosive pass rushers. He’s a little lighter than ideal (242lbs) but so was Brian Burns and Seattle, apparently, really liked him. Reports suggesting he can run a short shuttle of 4.10 will catch the eye. If he manages that at the combine, he’ll get a gold sticker.
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