A Newbie’s Guide to Playing Fantasy Football

Fantasy football can be enigmatic, even to players who have been doing it for a few years. Playing fantasy football well does take skill, but a lot of success is just pure luck. The NFL only has 17 games a season, compared with 82 for the NBA or NHL, and 162 for MLB. Because of that, fantasy football is subject to more severe year-to-year deviations.

Yet, within those seemingly random deviations, one can figure out patterns that emerge. While these tips won’t help new players dominate right away, they will be able to keep their heads above water against more experienced players.

It is also important to note that these are guidelines. A player that is good enough will be someone a player can buck the trend with. For now, though, a new player should memorize these five concepts.

No QBs in the first round

New players come into fantasy football thinking that if quarterbacks score the most fantasy points, why aren’t they the first to go off the board?

Of course, the answer to that question is simple, but not intuitive for the beginner. Quarterbacks do score the most fantasy points, but they’re a better value later on in the draft. After the top five or so, quarterbacks score about the same amount of points all the way down to 25th. In other words, you can have someone like Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo and score decently.

Other positions, like running back, are hard to come by. After the top five backs, the talent level drops off significantly. This increases the importance of getting a top-tier back early on. Hence, running backs are a better target than quarterbacks or receivers in the first couple of rounds.

There are exceptions, though, as Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen may be worth a first-round pick, especially in leagues that have 14 teams or more.

No QBs that are 35 or older

Older players in general are a gamble. Even though they’re a known quantity, the quality of play they offer can drop off at any time. Worse off, a player’s quality will drop off much faster the older a player is.

Picking a quarterback aged 35 or older is a slot machine to avoid. Even with players like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, talent could fall off very quickly and without warning. Stick to QBs that haven’t gotten that old, yet.

An example of this is Peyton Manning’s twilight years. In 2014, Peyton Manning was QB4 and showed only modest signs of decline. By 2015, though, Manning had fallen off the face of the Earth. His arm and neck had given in, and he would have to be relieved by Brock Osweiller. This led to him going from QB4 to QB34.

The reason why this happens is easy to understand. Schematically, a coach will plan around his player’s weaknesses. At first, this looks like a subtle game plan change. Yet, as arm strength and touch continue to fade, the coach cannot run the same plays or offense anymore. This puts a team at a crossroads; either play like the older QB is used to and risk him losing the game, or play differently.

Most coaches will dance with the one that brought them, though.

Grab the youngest back possible early on

Running backs fall off very, very quickly. By their late 20s, most backs are washed, and picking them up is a recipe for disaster. PFF recommends that dynasty fantasy football players trade any back over the age of 25. The position is brutal on a back’s body, and moderating their touches must be done the older they get.

Hence, go with the youngest back possible who can still be a quality starter, and do it early. It seems odd to pick a rookie or a second-year player, given they haven’t proven themselves yet. But, running backs are fairly easy to project even before they play a down.

For example, Saquon Barkley is a perfect case study, as it was obvious he was going to be special. As a rookie in 2018, he ran for over 1,300 yards and got into the end zone 11 times. By 2021, though, he ran for only 593 yards and two touchdowns. Players who drafted Barkley in 2018 came out much better than players who drafted him in 2021. At 25, his peak looks to already be well past.

If one can find a back that is projected high and is under 25, that is the best course of action. Avoid picking anyone over 27, though, like the plague.

Kickers can be worth a 10th or 11th round selection

Nerds would call the kicker position a market inefficiency. Kickers are often overlooked in fantasy football, as it isn’t the sexiest position, and they can be erratic from week to week.

However, a top-five kicker is worth a high-end double-digit round draft slot. In 2021, the top five kickers averaged 9.7 fantasy points per contest. That point total is equivalent to the 25th ranked running back, or a top 15 receiver. This is also a guaranteed starting position, too, so it will deliver production nearly every week.

Kickers are also age-resistant, so don’t feel hesitant to draft 37-year-old Nick Folk with an 11th or 12 round pick, if you can.

Do not pick anyone with any consistent injury history. Ever.

This is arguably the most important thing to learn.

Injuries are common in football. When we talk about injury history, we aren’t talking about the minor bruises and sprains that a player can play with. Instead, if a player has any sort of injury history that has kept him off the field more than one time, pass on him. Even if that player is Christian McCaffery, taking him is going to open a novice up to the variance that can demolish new players.

But, players should also give lesser priority to players that have been hurt seriously just one time. These players don’t have to be avoided outright, but avoiding them if possible is a prudent decision.

While these tips are not going to help a newbie win their fantasy league in year one, they are useful pitfalls to avoid early on. Ultimately, these tips can help someone playing fantasy football gain skills in it for the future, and be a building block to winning something down the road.

Handing Out the Tennessee Titans 2022 Draft Grade

Top Image: Former Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks in uniform with the football
Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Handing out the Tennessee Titans 2022 NFL draft grade – or any team’s, really – is a futile prospect this soon in the game. Careers have yet to be played, and we don’t even know how these prospects are going to fit into their current systems. As always, then, handing out draft grades this early in the game is a vanity project.

But, there’s a certain charm in grading a team’s gets immediately after a draft. While careers are unknown, it’s easy to form educated guesses about which direction they’ll take. Those guesses won’t always be right, but they will be good enough to form early judgments.

The Titans had one of the more interesting drafts. While commentators thought they’d draft Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green in the first, they did something far more bold — and foolish.

Titans select Treylon Burks with the 18th pick

Did the Titans select a younger, cheaper version of A.J. Brown? Probably not. But, they weren’t going to pay A.J. Brown the money he thought he could get from another team. So, they traded him to Philadelphia, who immediately gave him $100 million over the next four years.

Compare that with the Titans, who were only going to commit $16 million a year for Brown’s services. Christian Kirk may well have caused the biggest player realignment in living memory, and the Brown trade is fallout from that.

Enter Treylon Burks, who was selected with the 18th overall pick. Burks is a big receiver, weighing in at 225 pounds. The speed he shows in the open field is decent, and he was able to get separation against college defensive backs. What really stands out, however, is his hand strength, which allows him to go up and grab whatever ball he wants.

Those skills propelled him to 11th on my own big board. He’ll be a top NFL receiver, but won’t have quite the same speed or explosiveness that Brown has.

As well as the 18th pick, the Titans also got a third round pick at 101st overall, which was then flipped to the Jets.

Grade: D+

There’s no sugarcoating this; the Titans got worse in the first round of the draft. Burks is a wonderful prospect, but arrives in Nashville as an unproven WR2.

Then, the Titans ship out their 26th pick to the Jets

This was actually prudent. After getting their guy in the first round, the Titans were able to move back to 35th overall in the second round. As well as the 35th pick, they got the 69th pick, and the 163rd pick. The Jets got the 26th pick and the 101st pick.

Grade: B

Not spectacular, but good enough for them to get a position of need.

In the second round, the Titans selected Roger McCreary

Jackrabbit Jenkins became a cap casualty, and was cut after just one year with the team. Kristian Fulton was solid last year at corner, while 2021 first rounder Caleb Farley hopes to find the field this year. With only one proven corner, the Titans needed depth.

They got said depth with Roger McCreary. Although McCreary is a 5-foot-11 corner who played mostly in a cover-three scheme at Auburn, he’s got some good tools. His ability to keep strong against bigger opponents will be a plus in the NFL. When he did have the chance to play man-up on someone, he never let receivers get much separation from him.

Grade: C

It’s a perfectly fine selection, and gives you another guy you can spot start if need be. Yet, McCreary is unlikely to be a standout or steal, even if some mocks did have him as a first rounder coming into the draft.

He’s no little brother: Petit-Frere goes 69th overall

The Titans must know they drafted a lemon in 2021.

Coming into 2021, Dillon Radunz was drafted out of corn-fed power North Dakota State, and the Titans hoped he would be a starter. But, 2021 didn’t play out that way for Radunz. The tackle only appeared on offense in six out of 17 contests, and didn’t impress very much when he did get offensive snaps.

With Nicholas Petit-Frere, the Titans hope they’ve solved their right tackle issues.

Petit-Frere is a prototypical tackle at first glance. At 6-foot-5, and weighing 316 pounds, he moves very well. He has great lateral quickness and agility, and can reach block effectively. That skill especially will serve him well with the Titans’ stretch zone run they like to run, which requires a tackle to execute that block consistently.

There are holes in his game, namely how deep he sets up in pass protection. But, he would have been a 2023 first rounder had he stayed, and the Titans can afford to see out his development.

Grade: A-

Tennessee gets a tackle who can start right away for them, but also gets the benefit of a high-upside developmental prospect.

The next episode: Malik Willis is a Titan

In the biggest move for the franchise’s direction in this draft, the Titans traded up to get Malik Willis.

Ryan Tannehill will be 34 at the start of the 2022 season. With his age and a relatively streaky 2021 season playing against him, the Titans needed new blood. Tannehill will still be the starter for this season, but Willis will sit behind him and develop as his heir apparent at quarterback.

Willis was projected as a first round pick before the draft. His precipitous drop into the third round speaks more to reality, but he’s still an impressive quarterback prospect. The zip he puts on the ball is unlike anyone else in this class. Most notable though, is his running ability, which is absurd. He is unbelievable in the open field with the football, and is stout enough to take hits.

So what did NFL teams see, then, to cause his drop? His processing under pressure is not always the greatest. He can make basic passing reads, but Liberty’s simplistic offense under Hugh Freeze hurt his ability to learn more advanced passing concepts.

Grade: A

What’s not to like? The Titans are in a win-win situation with Malik Willis. Either he develops well and they got a bargain, or he isn’t the guy, and the Titans only invested a third round pick in him.

Michigan back Hassan Haskins gets drafted at 131st overall

Derrick Henry going down for the Titans last year showed the weakness of the Titans’ offense. With the team acting as an 11-man battering ram, the hope is that Henry’s size and volume will wear down the defensive front seven. The Halloween injury to Henry made the Titans use dollar store versions of Derrick Henry, though. That only got them so far, and they nearly blew the top overall seed because of a sterile, impotent offense.

Hassan Haskins is not Derrick Henry. But, what he showed at Michigan proves he could be a good backup for him. The former Wolverine is massive, coming in at 6-foot-2 and weighing 228 pounds. While not the quickest guy, he has a little open field ability that should be tested out this off-season.

Grade: C+

It isn’t an impressive pick, or even really at a position of need. But, it’s an insurance pick, and that’s perfectly suitable for a day three guy.

Maryland tight end Chig Okonkwo gets drafted at 141st overall

A staple of the Titans franchise is a good pass-catching, do-it-all tight end. In an offense where two tight ends are needed, the Titans didn’t have many options after Jonnu Smith left.

Chig Okonkwo, though, is an underrated prospect. He’ll be on the field early and often for the Titans, thanks to his good combination of size and athletic ability. This former Terrapin may blossom in a Titans offense that needs downfield options for Tannehill at tight end.

Grade: B

With their third fifth-round pick, the Titans grabbed receiver Kyle Philips out of UCLA

Receiver depth is looking dire for the Titans in 2022, and Kyle Philips will have a chance to compete for the fourth wide receiver slot right away. While Philips isn’t ever going to be a starter or even a WR3, it’s a fine pick.

Grade: C

Nashville native Theo Jackson heads to Titans in the sixth round

The former Tennessee Volunteer played the nickel corner position in college, and was awarded All-SEC honors for his play. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 200 pounds, Jackson could end up with the same role with the Titans. He could also end up as a fine gunner on special teams.

Grade: C+

With their last pick, the Titans selected Ole Miss linebacker Chance Campbell 219th overall

Chance Campbell is worth taking a flyer on, given his production at Ole Miss. But, given his lack of athleticism and pass coverage ability, it will be an uphill battle for him to make the 53-man roster.

Grade: C-

The Titans 2022 draft grade is?

There are four potential starters in this class, and two of them will surely start on opening day. Tennessee’s picks were for good value, and that’s boosted their grade as well.

On the downside, Tennessee didn’t get a great return for A.J. Brown, which hurts the Treylon Burks pick significantly. Burks will always carry that trade on his shoulder for as long as he’s a Titan.

Overall, though, the Titans had a solid draft. They’ll get good production from this group in the future.

Titans overall draft grade: B

2022 NFL Draft Big Board: The Top 105 Prospects

Kayvon Thibodeaux celebrating with both hands outstretched
Sean Meagher/The Oregonian

With the 2022 NFL Draft mere days away, it’s time for the big boards to be locked in. After months of hard work, evaluation, and armchair scouting, Thursday will be a term-ending exam for NFL franchises. They just hope they’ll get it right.

A big board is always an ambitious project. Watching close to 200 players in all kinds of different positions with wildly different rubrics seems wild for any layman. But, through the noise, a sense starts to come as to why a player is NFL-ready or not. A certain stance, a certain trait that isn’t obvious, it will show itself.

But, don’t overthink it. The top players are the top players for a reason. That will show itself quickly.

Here’s the 2022 NFL Draft big board.

The Top 5

#1 – Kayvon Thibodeaux – Edge – Oregon

As an edge player, Thibodeaux is perfect. His get-off out of his stance is insane. He plays assignment football very well, and understands the little nuances about quarterback containment. The strength he shows to shove an offensive tackle back is also absurd.

Concerns about his motor are lazy, and he’s the top player in the draft.

#2 – Jordan Davis – Defensive tackle – Georgia

Admittedly, this is ambitious. But, Jordan Davis is a true game-breaker at defensive tackle. He’s the most athletic defensive tackle that Kent Lee Platte’s RAS database has ever seen. That may not come in a every-down package, but the way he blows up plays is so systemic. He may end up being the best player in this draft.

#3 – Evan Neal – Offensive tackle – Alabama

Neal is perhaps the most fluid of the three big offensive tackles in the top of the first round. He moves like no other offensive tackle, his first punch is fantastic, and he anchors fantastically on pass rushes.

#4 – Charles Cross – Offensive tackle – Mississippi State

Cross seems to be lagging in mocks compared to his actual talent. On film, he’s a big ol’ rock at left tackle who has the footwork to almost always stay in front of his man. Perhaps the strongest of the three big time offensive tackles, he’s also a force in run blocking.

#5 – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner – Corner – Cincinnati

The ideal corner prospect for the modern NFL, Gardner is a towering 6-foot-3, and can stay with any receiver on the field. He’s a big hitter too, and brings instant hot sauce to any secondary.

6 to 10

#6 – Aidan Hutchinson – Edge – Michigan

Hutchinson is a stellar pass rusher, is as strong as an ox, and is as athletic as any player in the draft. While there are “tells” in his game that offensive coordinators will pick up on, it’s hard to imagine him not having a very productive NFL career.

#7 – Kyle Hamilton – Safety – Notre Dame

A wildly athletic safety prospect, Hamilton’s ranginess is his biggest gift. At 6-foot-4 and weighing 220 pounds, he was a decent run defender, and has versatility in the defensive backfield. As well as safety, he was often called upon to play slot corner in a man-to-man defense, and he performed well.

#8 – Nakobe Dean – Linebacker – Georgia

Dean is a never-ending battery of effort who is also gifted with great vision. He flies through gaps to blow up plays with ease. As a pass defender, he does well against back releases and tight ends. He is a tad short at 5-foot-11, but that won’t hinder him a bit.

#9 – Derek Stingley Jr. – Cornerback – LSU

Twelve months ago, I thought Stingley would be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. He’s fast and sticks to receivers like maggots on meat. Yet, his injury history is a concern, and staying on the field will be his biggest task in the NFL. The talent, however, is there.

#10 – Ikem Ekwonu – Offensive tackle – NC State

Ekwonu lags behind Neal and Cross at tackle. While he’s very intelligent at the position, and is able to adjust to defensive rip and swim moves, he does have a overall lack of agility on film. Quicker edge players may have a matchup advantage on him in the NFL.

11 to 16

#11 – Treylon Burks – Wide receiver – Arkansas

On 2022 NFL draft big boards, Burks comes in consistently in the 20s. Yet, when one watches, he looks every bit of a top 10-15 pick. His physicality and body stands out the most on film, as he’s able to out-muscle any defender to the ball. While he doesn’t have quite the same explosiveness as other receivers, his floor is far higher and he’s a far safer bet for multiple pro bowl seasons.

#12 – Tyler Linderbaum – Center – Iowa

Don’t overthink the arm length concerns, Linderbaum is a great center prospect. He is strong enough to shove interior players off the ball extremely well and anchors well on passing downs.

#13 – Garrett Wilson – Wide receiver – Ohio State

Wilson is an exceptionally fluid receiver. He sees the ball well, can look and reel in absurd catches, and has great open-field speed too. He’s just a complete receiver prospect.

#14 – Kaiir Elam – Corner – Florida

Elam tends to lag around in the high 20s and early 30s in most mocks, but he should be considered a top half of the first round player. He’s long, has great hip-turn ability, and tracks the ball well when it’s up in the air. Although it isn’t as important for a corner, he’s perhaps a bit too contact-averse.

#15 – Jelani Woods – Tight end – Virginia

While Jelani Woods is considered a second day steal prospect, his ceiling and current ability says he’s better than that. When one puts on the film, it’s easy to see Woods as a Kyle Pitts-esque player. At 6-foot-7, he’s a massive body, but has enough speed to be a dangerous receiver in the open field. He can play in the slot, but can also stay in to block well enough, too.

#16 – Kenyon Green – Guard – Texas A&M

Even against Alabama’s complement of pass rushers, nothing got past Green. What’s even wilder about that is he was playing out of position at tackle. At guard, he’s a natural, and will be a block of granite there for years to come.

17 to 24

#17 – Arnold Ebiketie – Edge – Penn State

Ebiketie’s tape is a blast to watch. He’s got impressive get off and blows by any tackle there is.

#18 – Devin Lloyd – Linebacker – Utah

Long, athletic linebacker who has a good nose for the football. Potential is very high at the NFL level.

#19 – Jameson Williams – Wide receiver – Alabama

Speedy receiver who played all over the field in Alabama’s offense. A true deep threat, and if he can recover from his ACL tear, he’ll be just as good in the NFL as he was at Bama.

#20 – Calvin Austin III – Wide receiver – Memphis

Austin is just 5-foot-8, but his potential is otherworldly. Extremely fast receiver who can beat press coverage at flanker, or could be a menace at slot.

#21 – Chris Olave – Wide receiver – Ohio State

Dynamic receiver who could be a great deep threat from day one. Sometimes does struggle with seeing the ball in, however.

#22 – Bernhard Raimann – Offensive tackle – Central Michigan

Raimann has serious upside, given he just started playing the position a few years ago while still in college. Yet, when one watches the film, everything is good. He’s a fluid athlete, and can anchor very well.

#23 – Lewis Cine – Safety – Georgia

Cine is a sideline-to-sideline safety who plays deep effectively, can run up in a big hurry to defense the run, or play man up on slot receivers.

25 to 32

#24 – Daxton Hill – Safety – Michigan

Hill is slightly built and very quick, but can also play defense in the box as well.

#25 – Jalen Pitre – Corner – Baylor

Pitre is a nasty, physical nickelback, who will translate to corner in the NFL extremely well.

#26 – Devonte Wyatt – Defensive tackle – Georgia

A ridiculously athletic rusher who knocks in offensive linemen with regularity.

#27 – Jaquan Brisker – Safety – Penn State

Brisker is a massive safety who excels in run defending. Yet, his pass coverage is solid as well.

#28- Nick Cross – Safety – Maryland

Cross is far underrated by draftniks. A strong, stout safety, Cross is an effective pass defender, and could very well play nickel in the NFL as well.

#29 – Jahan Dotson – Wide receiver – Penn State

Dotson is a serious deep threat at flanker, but could also make for matchup advantages at slot receiver.

#30 – Christian Harris – Linebacker – Alabama

Great pass-rushing linebacker, but unproven in pass coverage, which he’ll need to do to stay on the field in the NFL.

#31 – Kenny Pickett – Quarterback – Pitt

Pickett is a one-year wonder, but in that one year, he showed great athleticism and accuracy that makes him QB1 heading into the draft.

#32 – David Ojabo – Edge – Michigan

Ojabo would be higher on this list, if not for the Achilles tear. If he recovers back to 100%, he’s a top 10-15 talent at edge rusher.

Top Half of Second Round Grade

#33 – Christian Watson – Wide receiver – North Dakota State

#34 – Kenneth Walker – Running back – Michigan State

#35 – Channing Tindall – Linebacker – Georgia

#36 – Sam Williams – Edge – Ole Miss

#37 – Malik Willis – Quarterback – Liberty

With Wills, the physical tools are there in bunches. Yet, he does struggle with pressure in his face, and also sometimes doesn’t read the field as well as he should. He’ll need some development time to be a good NFL quarterback.

#38 – Trent McDuffie – Cornerback – Washington

#39 – Nicholas Petit-Frere – Offensive tackle – Ohio State

#40 – James Cook – Running back – Georgia

#41 – Roger McCreary – Cornerback – Auburn

#42 – Kyler Gordon – Cornerback – Washington

#43 – Charlie Kolar – Tight end – Iowa State

#44 – Drake London – Wide receiver – USC

A true possession receiver in the NFL, London is a big body who doesn’t possess deep ball play ability.

#45 – George Pickens – Wide receiver – Georgia

#46 – Ty Chandler – Running back – North Carolina

A dual threat out of the backfield, Chandler is a great pass-catcher, as well as a powerful, straight-ahead runner.

#47 – Obinna Eze – Offensive tackle – TCU

#48 – George Karlaftis – Edge – Purdue

Massive, strong, but not a particularly smart edge rusher, and also has trouble with play recognition.

Bottom Half of Second Round Grade

#49 – Zamir White – Running back – Georgia

#50 – Josh Paschal – Edge – Kentucky

#51 – Bryan Cook – Safety – Cincinnati

#52 – Luke Godeke – Offensive tackle – Central Michigan

#53 – Trey McBride – Tight end – Colorado State

#54 – Martin Emerson – Corner – Mississippi State

#55 – Travon Walker – Edge – Georgia

Walker is a massive, freakish athlete, who has also put very little on tape that shows those traits off. His penetration at edge was negligible against NFL-caliber offensive linemen. Even at edge, he was never as prolific as others on the Georgia defense.

#56 – Zyon McCollum – Corner – Sam Houston State

#57 – Jermaine Johnson – Edge – Florida State

Johnson is quick, has good moves, but is perhaps a better run defender at edge rather than a great pass rusher. Any team that plays a 4-down defensive package would be well served to pick him up.

#58 – Nik Bonitto – Edge – Oklahoma

#59 – Alex Pierce – Wide receiver – Cincinnati

#60 – Jalen Tolbert – Wide receiver – South Alabama

#61 – David Bell – Wide receiver – Purdue

#62 – Dylan Parham – Guard/Center – Memphis

#63 – John Metchie III – Wide receiver – Alabama

#64 – Isaiah Likely – Tight end – Coastal Carolina

Third Round Graded Players

#65 – Cam Jurgens – Center – Nebraska

#66 – Skyy Moore – Wide receiver – Western Michigan

#67 – Trevor Penning – Offensive tackle – Northern Iowa

Penning is a massive 6-foot-7 tackle prospect with ostensible unlimited upside. Yet, his lack of side-to-side agility when pass blocking is evident, and his intellect when playing the position is a step or two behind most prospects in this draft.

#68 – Jayln Armour-Davis – Corner – Alabama

#69 – Darian Kinnard – Tackle – Kentucky

#70 – Kingsley Enagbare – Edge – South Carolina

#71 – Tariq Castro-Fields – Corner – Penn State

#72 – Perrion Winfrey – Defensive tackle – Oklahoma

#73 – Carson Strong – Quarterback – Nevada

#74 – Abraham Lucas – Tackle – Washington State

#75 – DeAngelo Malone – Edge – Western Kentucky

#76 – Tyler Allgeier – Running back – BYU

#77 – Isaiah Spiller – Running back – Texas A&M

#78 – Khalil Shakir – Wide receiver – Boise State

#79 – Andrew Booth – Corner – Clemson

Booth has good vision at cornerback, but his balance and hip-turns are big no-nos, and he’ll suffer mightily in the pros for a while because of it.

#80 – Breece Hall – Running back – Iowa State

#81 – Matt Corral – Quarterback – Ole Miss

#82 – DeMarvin Leal – Defensive tackle – Texas A&M

#83 – Kennedy Brooks – Running back – Oklahoma

#84 – Rachaad White – Running back – Arizona State

#85 – Sam Howell – Quarterback – North Carolina

#86 – Quay Walker – Linebacker – Georgia

#87 – Chig Okonkwo – Tight end – Maryland

#88 – Cole Strange – Guard – Chattanooga

#89 – Amare Barno – Edge – Virginia Tech

#90 – Brian Robinson – Running back – Alabama

#91 – Derion Kendrick – Cornerback – Georgia

#92 – Markqueese Bell – Safety – Florida A&M

#93 – Daniel Faalele – Tackle – Minnesota

#94 – Myjai Sanders – Edge – Cincinnati

#95 – Dameon Pierce – Running back – Florida

#96 – Jamaree Salyer – Guard – Georgia

#97 – Troy Andersen – Linebacker – Montana State

#98 – Cam Taylor-Britt – Corner – Nebraska

#99 – Sean Rhyan – Guard – UCLA

#100 – Darrian Beavers – Linebacker – Cincinnati

#101 – Zion Johnson – Guard – Boston College

Johnson is way too stiff and and unagile to be a clear starting-caliber NFL interior lineman.

#102 – Jeremy Ruckert – Tight end – Ohio State

#103 – Wan’Dale Robinson – Wide receiver – Kentucky

#104 – Kyren Williams – Running back – Notre Dame

#105 – Dohnovan West – Center – Arizona State

Answers to the Biggest Questions in the 2022 NFL Draft

The stage for the NFL Draft back in 2011, with the NFL logo in the foreground.
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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?

Absolutely not.

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?

No.

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.

Dwayne Haskins’ Death Shows the Disease of NFL Culture

Dwayne Haskins death was sullied by people representing the league’s media and former executives. That isn’t how Haskins should be remembered.

Dwayne Haskins throwing the football while with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, Dwayne Haskins tragically lost his life, after he was struck by a dump truck on the side of the interstate in Florida. At just 24 years old, he still had the great majority of life in front of him. Joys, pains, the glories of life; all of which were stripped away in crushing suddenness.

While the great majority of the NFL community showed their support, the league’s culture reared its ugly head again. As Saturn devoured his son, a portion of the league’s media devoured a man’s honor in death.

Zero Empathy from NFL Media

Adam Schefter was, for most people, the first person to break the news. He did so in a way that focused on Haskins’ struggles in the NFL, rather than a person who just died.

Dwayne Haskins, a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh, died this morning when he got hit by a car in South Florida. . .

Adam Schefter

Schefter deleted the tweet, and posted a new one that focused on Haskins’ accomplishments. The damage was done, though. Adam Schefter had taken a terrible situation and made the worst of it. Haskins’ failures in the NFL were the first thing that came to his mind.

Not even two hours later, Hall of Fame executive Gil Brandt appeared on SiriusXM NFL radio to discuss Haskins’ death. What resulted was a disturbing diatribe about Haskins’ character.

Brandt said that “he was a guy that was living to be dead,” and placed the blame for Haskins being hit on the interstate on Haskins himself. At one point, Brandt launched into a story about Haskins wanting to hang out with friends and family at a bowling alley on draft night. This was somehow supposed to be a knock against his character.

Yes, Brandt is 90 years old. No, that doesn’t excuse him from launching into this rant. Even if he was asked about him from a purely scouting standpoint, he could have turned it down until a later date.

Brandt eventually apologized, but phrased it as a “poor choice of words.” Yet, the problem is that the words reveal a mindset far too common in this league. Players, even in death, are looked at as assets to be judged.

A Chronic Problem

Of course, race is the great divider in how the league treats players, and always has been. White players enjoy a standard of humanity in death. That humanity is looked at through the lens of football, but it still exists. When Colt Brennan died last year, Schefter did not focus on his pro failures, but on his successes in college at Hawai’i.

Meanwhile, the ugly saga of Sean Taylor’s treatment in death rears its head again. Taylor, despite being the victim of a burglary, was blamed for his own death by the media. Famed troll Colin Cowherd delivered his racist id’s invective, saying that one should “ask yourself realistic questions….Just because somebody cleans the rugs doesn’t mean there aren’t stains.”

Taylor was famous for not caring about what the media thought of him. At points, he was even combative. For this, the shadows of the NFL’s media saw themselves fit to judge him for his own demise.

It is no wonder, then, that players like Marshawn Lynch refused to give access to the media during their playing career. They understood that the league only cared about access, and little about them. Whatever story that they, as Black men, brought to the game, didn’t matter to the media or the league as a whole.

Haskins Deserves Sweet Remembrance

With Black athletes and coaches degraded in the NFL as such, it is logical that former Dolphins coach Brian Flores is suing the league. Black executives get no redoubt from racism because of their supposed authority. Black athletes put their bodies on the line for white owners, who care little for what happens to those players.

All these people suing for change, demanding respect from the media, and asking for people to care are just that; people. They have lives, loves, ambitions, and dreams.

Whatever there is to say about his career, Haskins has achieved so much in his short life. To play quarterback for Ohio State, and at the NFL level, is a life most would give anything for.

Dwayne Haskins was a dreamer who achieved, and that is the way he should be remembered.

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