With the 2022 NFL draft a mere six days away, months of burning questions about this year’s group of players will come to an end. Instead of speculation, the cold reality of the final draft results will take hold soon enough. Teams will convince themselves they’ve drafted the class of players who will be the future of the team. Fans will sell themselves on botched picks and decry good ones.
All in all, the draft is a time of wonder. It is poetic that it occurs in spring, when hope blossoms the easiest. But, that hope is often dashed. When fall arrives, fans and teams get their first cold winds of reality. Sometimes the crop of players picked will last the winter. Sometimes they fail and leave teams hungry for more football come December.
While evaluating people in their early 20s is always hard, there are answers to the biggest questions, if one knows how and where to look.
Who will be the best overall player from this draft?
That honor will go to Jordan Davis, the massive defensive tackle from Georgia. While Davis isn’t number one on anyone’s board, he should be. At 350 pounds, he moves like someone who weighs 100 pounds less. He can shoot the gaps well, and it doesn’t matter whether he plays a 1 or 0 technique either. On passing downs, he’s able to move virtually anyone off the ball, even powering through double teams.
Concerns over him boil down to him being a player that only thrives in special situations, as well as his lack of true three-down ability. Yet, as athletic as he is, he’s not just a traditional 3-4 nose tackle. Even with defenses that run four down linemen as their base, Davis could fit in.
While his lack of three-down play is noted, he’s still worth a top 10 pick just based on what he can do with the two downs he’s given.
Who will be the biggest bust from the 2022 NFL Draft?
It has to be Travon Walker.
Ever since Travon Walker’s combine performance, he’s shot up draft boards like a busted water main through a road. Ranking 3rd in RAS out of every single defensive end since 1987 in combine drill stats will do that, but the hype around him has grown far too much.
Yes, Walker has freakish weight room strength and great speed, but none of that really stands out on film. In Georgia’s scheme, he played much the same role as Devonte Wyatt or 2023 prospect Jalen Carter did. Yet, Wyatt and Carter both were far more active at disrupting plays compared to Walker. His play is even pedestrian at times, as guards and tackles can move him off the ball without trouble.
Driving Walker’s hype is the idea he can adjust totally to another position without suffering for it. Sure, he’ll be far ahead of the game as an edge rusher compared to any other 3-4 defensive end who transitions to that role. But, taking him at second or even first overall implies that he’s ready now. He isn’t, and if his film is anything to go by, he won’t be for a long time.
Will Kayvon Thibodeaux’s “lack of motor” concerns matter at all?
Concerns over his efforts are not based in reality. He’s no different than any other edge player in this draft as far as motor. If Aidan Huchinson and George Karlaftis have a motor, so does Kayvon Thibodeaux.
On film, it’s obvious why Thibodeaux was considered the best prospect in the 2022 NFL draft class for so long. His body is long, but he still possesses a massive frame. At the snap, he looks like he’s been shot like a rocket out of his stance. Offensive tackles look helpless against him in a full-on pass rush. Against the run, he stays with the play and is able to effectively control his gap.
Oh yeah, he’s also strong as an ox, too, and can bull-rush if the need arises. He’s got all the tools to not just succeed, but become one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers in the next three seasons.
Is Malik Willis Worth a Top 10 Pick?
Malik Willis had an incredible two year run at Liberty after transferring from Auburn. In his role as Flames starter, Willis threw for over 5,000 yards and ran for over 1,800 yards.
Yet, there are issues when his game tape is broken down. He’s got a live arm, and can put good zip on the ball, but composure against pressure is a knock on him. Additionally, he has trouble seeing the whole field at times, something a quarterback who gets selected top 10 cannot have huge issues with.
Using just his physical tools in evaluating him will lead to an overinflated gauge of his ability. While examples like Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen provide evidence that drafting just based on pure physical traits can work, Malik Willis is in a different situation. Those quarterbacks played in an air raid scheme and a fairly conventional scheme, respectively.
Meanwhile, Willis has played in a scheme that has very simple passing concepts that don’t require the ability to read the field. While it’s possible he makes a good NFL quarterback, he’ll need significant development time to do so.
Which team will win the 2022 NFL draft?
While the New York Jets have two top ten picks, the franchise is terribly mismanaged. The Houston Texans have a better shot, but that franchise’s management is only a tad better.
With many starting caliber prospects in the middle of the first round on back to the third round, a team that can have multiple picks in each of the first two rounds has the highest shot of success.
Thus, the Kansas City Chiefs will draft the best. With the 29th and 30th picks in the first round, as well as the 50th and 62nd picks in the second round, the Chiefs look like they’ll bolster a roster that will need reshuffling.
Players such as receiver Jahan Dotson or offensive guard Kenyon Green will be on the board late in round one. With reinforcements like Nick Cross at safety available deep into round two, Kansas City can add needed depth that will put them back in AFC contention.