What Sony Michel Brings to the Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins have signed running back Sony Michel, and his role is one the team was desperately looking for.

The Miami Dolphins signed former Patriots running back Sony Michel on Monday. Following a brief stint in Los Angeles, the Broward Native will be coming back to play in his home state.

Miami Dolphins sign Sony Michel.

Following a solid first couple seasons in New England, 2020 was a rough year for Michel. Battling injury, he only played in nine games, racking up just over 200 yards.

However, when Rams running back Cam Akers went down, Los Angeles called about the struggling back, whose job was being taken over by Damien Harris. Michel was thus dealt for a pair of day three picks, and began to revitalize his career in Los Angeles.

Under offensive mastermind Sean McVay, Michel saw his role expanded. While he was mainly seen as a power back in New England, there were several skills that were uncovered in his game.

Outside Zone and Pass Protection

Rather than running between the tackles, McVay’s system (very similarly to Mike McDaniel’s), calls for more outside zone run. This put more emphasis on his ability to make quick cuts and find cutback lanes, which was rarely seen during his tenure in New England.

Sony Michel makes a big run.

Michel appeared to have regained some burst following his injury, and it showed in his speed. He was more decisive than ever, and was making quick moves, turning big holes into bigger gains.

This is crucial for a Dolphins offense that, under the aforementioned McDaniel, is basing their offense in the inside zone. They signed running backs Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds in free agency, but they both fit more niche roles, and Miami still needed an early down back.

Michel can bring exactly that. His mixture of power and a newfound knack for hitting the hole is a match made in heaven for McDaniel. Running behind a left side of new additions in Terron Armstead and Connor Williams should open up several lanes that Michel has shown the ability to hit.

Michel’s collaboration with Miami’s linemen won’t stop there. Coming from a New England scheme that emphasizes the little things, Miami’s new addition takes pride in his pass protection. He has shown an aggressiveness and, just as importantly, a willingness to take a hit to protect his quarterback. The Miami Dolphins struggled to protect Tua last year, and that could soon change with Sony Michel in his backfield.

Sony Michel makes a huge block against the Bucs.

The Bottom Line on the Sony Michel and the Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are clearly committed to the “running back by committee” approach, and they now have the backs to do it. The three newcomers join Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, who have both shown spurts of starting-caliber production.

However, this doesn’t mean that the Michel pickup isn’t significant. While Edmonds and Mostert are talented, Miami was lacking an early-down back. With this signing, they now have someone who can run between the tackles and take the tough hits, while also being able to perform on outside-zone concepts.

Michel’s versatility and willingness to do the little things will come in handy for a Dolphins team that looks to be in win-now mode this season.

These Raiders’ concerns still have to be addressed before Week 1

The Las Vegas Raiders have come a long way this off-season. They have found their new head coach, new general manager, next elite wide receiver, and made many more franchise-changing moves. Now, it’s been one week since the 2022 NFL Draft, and training camp is just around the corner. Las Vegas has made some big moves since February, but the Raiders concerns are becoming increasingly more clear ahead of off-season programs.

Front office stability

More than an improved defense or red-zone offense, the 2022 Raiders need stability. They pushed through the most unpredictable NFL season ever in 2021, dealing with challenges in every sense of the word. And while the playoff loss was disappointing, it also served as a reminder that stability and personnel improvement were finally on their way.

The hiring of Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler, and Champ Kelly was a massive step in the right direction. They brought on primarily their own staff and now have executed extensive change in the scouting department as well. All seemed to be looking brighter in Sin City, until this week when it was announced that the Raiders have parted ways with both their vice president of human resources and their team president. It is unclear what lead to the departure of both parties, but new information suggests it may be due to a hostile work environment.

In a newly released statement former president, Dan Vantrelle, suggests he was met with hostility when he brought up concerns regarding the female staff. Vantrelle made clear he stands by his actions and intends to get legal representation regarding his termination.

The Raiders have been involved in many lawsuits over the last year, which makes the latest even more disappointing.

The secondary

The Raiders added a lot of talent in free agency and the draft this year, but one group they hardly addressed was the secondary. Outside of trading for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas only signed three other players to their secondary, and none of them are known to be game-changing players. For the most part, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have hung on the pieces that were already there for them.

While some of the pieces they have in place are solid, like Nate Hobbs, most of the pieces could use an upgrade. Starting cornerback Trayvon Mullen and safety Jonathan Abram are both coming off season-ending injuries and surgeries, making their play in 2022 relatively unpredictable.

Despite these injuries and questions, the new front office tandem decided against drafting a rookie cornerback or safety, in hopes that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can upgrade the players he has on the payroll already, or they can find a steal in the remaining free agents.

That free agent steal may come in the form of Giants’ cornerback James Bradberry, who is rumored to be released from New York in the coming weeks. The former Pro-Bowler is coming off a season with four interceptions, more than any one player had for the Raiders in 2021. If Mullen is out for the beginning of the season, Bradberry gives the Silver and Black a fighting chance and will be a wildly dependable piece of the puzzle upon Mullen’s return.

The offensive line

Unlike the secondary, the Raiders did choose to address the offensive line during the draft. With their first pick, they took Memphis offensive guard, Dylan Parham. Parham’s skill set is unique because he brings the ability to play both center and guard. Prior to the draft, the widespread assumption was that Andre James would remain at center this season, thanks to a somewhat convincing campaign in 2021. Now, it’s less clear than ever what the starting five will look like in September.

Second-year veteran Alex Leatherwood brings his own set of questions, as he was incredibly undependable his rookie season. After playing at both right tackle and right guard, he came away without much success in either. Head coach Josh McDaniels told the media he is unsure where Leatherwood will play next season, but sees him as a “contributor”.

The questions at center come with equal questions at both guard and tackle. The only solidified position on the front line seems to be left tackle, Kolton Miller. Thankfully, with a new offensive line coach comes new hope for an improved line.

The Raiders live in the hardest division in football, inside the hardest conference in football. Their successes and downfalls next season will come at the hands of the problems still unsolved. If they can choose to make smart decisions and do the right thing, these Raiders’ concerns should be mitigated by September.

NFL Draft: Thoughts On Packers Day 3 Picks

Finally, my thoughts on the Green Bay Packers day 3 picks from the NFL draft are here! The Packers had two picks in the 4th, one in the 5th (that they traded down), and four in the 7th. Below are my thoughts on every day 3 pick. If you haven’t already, check out my thoughts on the teams day one and day two picks. Now, let’s get to the show!

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Packers NFL Draft Day 3: Picks and Analysis

Romeo Doubs:

Romeo Doubs is a player who I had as a fit for the Packers way back on October. He has the size, physicality, and speed they like. He also showed flashes of the blocker that he could be at Nevada, occasionally burying defenders while blocking. Other times he would look either unsure of his assignment or unengaged. While he ran mostly deep routes at Nevada, when he was given a chance to run other routes he showed that he could and the potential was there for him to get better.

I had Doubs projected as a 3rd round pick, but he wasn’t able to work out at the combine or Nevada’s pro day due to an illness. He did have a private workout later where he reportedly ran in the 4.47-4.52 range. On film he looks closer to 4.47 — maybe even faster. He has speed and he knows how to get deep. An underrated part of his game is his ability to get YAC, or yards after the catch. He may not be a YAC monster, but he can get yards with physicality and his sneaky agility.

As far as a rookie, he projects to be the #4 or #5 receiver. He should also compete for the punt return job and maybe the kick return job, too. He also helps bring speed to the offense that has been lacking. Even Matt LaFleur mentioned this in his pre-draft press conference. Doubs also brings the big, strong body type the Packers like. If he improves his short and intermediate routes, he has #2 receiver potential. You could even consider him more pro-ready today than Watson.

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Zach Tom:

Zach Tom was one of the most Packers offensive linemen in the draft. He brings versatility to the field, having started two seasons at center and two seasons at left tackle — something you rarely see. He doesn’t have the greatest size at 6’4 304 with 33 1/4″ arms, but that has never been something to scare off the Packers.

The most important thing to them is movement skills; especially agility drills. Tom tested out elite in those categories. He does lack a bit of an anchor, and his body looks mostly filled out. That shows up on film where you can see him getting bull rushed at times. However, his feet and his ability to mirror are on another level. He held down Jermaine Johnson, who was destroying every one.

I would expect Tom to get a shot pretty much everywhere, maybe even left tackle. I do expect him to settle in at guard and center. Kind of like Lucas Patrick, but a better athlete on the field and he could back up at tackle as well. He reminds me a little of former Packer center Mike Flanagan.

Flanagan was 6’5″ 295-ish and was long, with a thin frame and not much of an anchor. He would get bull rushed on occasion, but was so quick and technical that he gave defensive linemen fits. He also was able to kick out to left tackle for a few games with Chad Clifton was injured. That is the kind of role Tom could have on the roster.

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Kingsley “JJ” Enagbare:

Kingsley or “JJ” Enagbare is a player who never produced big sacks numbers , but always produced pressures. He had 45 pressures in 2021 alone. Enagbare also had 24 in a shortened eight-game season in 2020.

He has good size at 6’4″ 258 pounds with long 34 3/4″ arms. While his 40 speed is on the slow side, his short area burst or explosion is very good on film. JJ, as he is known, also shows very heavy hands on film. He will knock back blockers with his strong hands. He still has some rawness to him. His pass rush moves and counters need improvement. Kingsley does set a good edge, though.

As as rookie, I would expect him to man the #3 edge rusher spot to give Rashan Gary and Preston Smith a break. He will probably also end up on some special teams. If he can hone his craft and work hard at it, he could develop into a starter down the road. He will probably never be a big sack guy, but should be a good all-around edge defender.

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Tariq Carpenter:

Tariq Carpenter is an interesting study. He played only safety at Georgia Tech, but has the size of a linebacker. He has the speed of a safety, but not the agility. Carpenter is kind of in middle. Even though his agility testing wasn’t great, because his speed and explosion testing were so good he still tested out as a elite athlete. Carpenter did give up 12 touchdown passes and allowed a completion percentage of 71 in his career at Georgia Tech. So it is probably best he moves to linebacker, which LaFleur has seemed to indicate.

This pick was a pure Rich Bisaccia pick. He will be a special teamer, and that’s about it. He is just a big, fast, strong athlete. The former Yellow Jacket may be able to develop into a decent #3 linebacker. If so, that’s just a bonus to what they expect out of him. Carpenter may even be able to develop into a nickel backer.

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Jonathan Ford:

Jonathan Ford is a pure nose tackle. 6’5″ 335 pounds plus with poor athletic testing. He is big and strong, and can clog up the middle. Career wise he was a disappointment at Miami. He started for three seasons but had little impact. He has three sacks in 2019 and none the rest of his career.

There were whispers of him being lazy and unmotivated. His poor testing points to that to an extent, because he doesn’t look sloppy. Maybe going so late in the draft will motivate him to work hard? We will see.

He doesn’t fit on this roster as a rookie. Even if he works his butt off, there is almost no room for him on the roster. The Packers already have three guys who can play nose tackle in Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, and TJ Slaton. Plus, there’s Dean Lowry, Jack Heflin, and the recently drafted Devante Wyatt. The Packers use a lot of two DL packages, so there is not a need for four nose tackles. Especially not one who offers nothing as a pass rusher.

They usually keep either five or six defensive linemen. If they keep a sixth, it will be someone who can play some 4i or even 5-tech, not a 0-tech/nose tackle. He will be stashed on the practice squad with the hopes he can develop and make the roster in 2023.

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Rasheed Walker:

Early on in the process, Rasheed Walker was looking like a mid-round pick with some developmental potential. However, he didn’t play well in 2021, and also had an injury that hampered him and that didn’t allow him to work out at the combine or Penn State’s pro day.

Walker started three seasons at left tackle for Penn State. He gave up 26 pressures this past season, and seems to really struggle with speedy/bendy edge rushers. But in 2020 he only gave up 14. So, the knee injury probably did affect him some in 2021. He has great size at almost 6’6 313 pounds with 33 5/8″ arms.

The former Nittany Lion seems to have some similarities to Yosh Nijman. He was a multi-season starter at tackle for a major program. He has great size and good athleticism, with a lot of potential — but his technique is a mess. Walker is probably going to need a year or two on the practice squad to clean it up. But, due to Green Bays lack of depth at tackle, he probably makes the roster as a “redshirt”. He could back up right tackle and could be cross-trained for guard. I don’t see him being able to play left tackle long-term or as a starter in the NFL.

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Samori Toure:

Samori Toure was a transfer from Montana where he had 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2019. His 2020 season was lost due to COVID. He transferred to Nebraska for the 2021 season. Toure put up 896 yards and five touchdowns, which doesn’t sound like a lot but Nebraska is still a very run oriented offense, so the fact that he was able to put up those numbers in that offense — with not a very good quarterback — speaks to his skill level.

Toure also averaged 19.5 yards per catch. 80% of his snaps he lined up in the slot, but he can play outside. He has average size at 6’1″, 191 and looks like he could maybe add a few pounds to his frame. He has struggled some with getting off press coverage. That is something he will have to work on, along with getting stronger in the upper body. Athletically overall, he is average to slightly above average. The former Husker also has some special teams experience, which is a plus.

Toure probably doesn’t make the roster as long as everyone ahead of him can stay relatively healthy. He has kind of a redundant skill set right now, with there already being two slot receivers on the roster and Allen Lazard who sees snaps there as well. Until he can get stronger I don’t think they can trust him outside.

Toure has Sammy Watkins, Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Christian Watson, and Doubs ahead of him on the depth chart. LaFleur rarely keeps more than six receivers on the roster. He would need to show he could come in and play special teams and possibly be a returner. Even still, it’s more likely he spends a season on the practice squad. Eventually, though, he could develop into a solid #3/slot receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Grades

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 NFL Draft
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The Pittsburgh Steelers begin a new chapter in 2022. Not only are they moving on from franchise quarterback and future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, but the 2022 NFL Draft was also the final one for general manager Kevin Colbert. As one of the best general managers in the NFL for the last two decades, it seems only fitting that Colbert received the honor of shepherding Pittsburgh into a new era. Therefore, let’s dive into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 draft grades.

Round 1, #20: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Many expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to use their first selection on a quarterback. The question was which ones would be available at #20 overall. However, an unpredicted situation occurred when the Steelers came on the clock. No quarterbacks had been taken, and Pittsburgh could take whichever one they pleased. Keeping with the theme of surprises, they selected Kenny Pickett. 

At face value, Pickett seems like a natural fit for the Steelers. He is obviously very familiar with the city and the team. Many regarded Pickett as one of the more pro-ready quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. However, his biggest drawback was his perceived lack of upside. In an ideal world, Pickett ends up somewhere in the Kirk Cousins/Ryan Tannehill range.

This begs the following question: is that player worth a first-round pick? Furthermore, when the next quarterback was not selected for more than 50 picks, could the Steelers have gotten their quarterback, or a quarterback, in the second or third rounds?

Nevertheless, I will be rooting for Pickett. Regardless of what you think of the value of the pick or his standing in the quarterback class, it is exceptionally cool that Pickett will be staying in Pittsburgh. As Mike Tomlin said, the Steelers scoured the country looking at quarterback prospects; but at the end of the day, they went with the guy from next door. They made significant efforts to surround him with an improved offensive line and a diverse arsenal of weapons.

If Pickett beats out Mitch Trubisky for the starting gig, he should be able to pilot this offense more effectively than the reanimated corpse of Ben Roethlisberger that was under center the last two years. 

Grade: B

Round 2, #52: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

From an on-field talent and team fit perspective, this might be the best pick in the entire 2022 NFL Draft. George Pickens was on a trajectory toward being an early first-round pick after a stellar true freshman season in 2019. But injuries and poor quarterback play robbed him of his 2020 and 2021 seasons.

When he was healthy and on the field for the Dawgs, Pickens was an absolute monster. His best ability was getting vertical and making spectacular catches downfield and in the air. He only had two drops on 139 career targets and improved as a contested-catch receiver. 

The Steelers have spent multiple second-round picks on wide receivers they wanted to use as vertical threats. But James Washington struggled to develop chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger and find a role in the offense. Chase Claypool started off hot but cooled off significantly in 2021; the offense sputtered around him, but Claypool also struggled to win in contested-catch situations. Pittsburgh has not had a true vertical receiving threat since Martavis Bryant, someone who Pickens compares relatively favorably to in terms of skill set and play style. 

Obviously, the Steelers are famous for their ability to identify talented wide receivers on the second and third days of the NFL Draft. Claypool, Washington, and Bryant are among their more recent finds. But Diontae Johnson, Juju Smith-Schuster, Sammie Coates, and Markus Wheaton are also among their more recent finds.

While not all of these players became superstars — some of them even failing to complete their second contracts — they were at least competent NFL receivers, something the Steelers desperately needed. Furthermore, a receiver that makes contested catches outside his frame is something that can help a young quarterback who lacks great arm strength. 

Grade: A+

Round 3, #84: DeMarvin Leal, DE, Texas A&M

When healthy, the Steelers have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Of course, the issue during the 2021 season was staying healthy. Stephon Tuitt missed the entire season after rehabbing his knee injury was delayed by his brother’s untimely demise. Tyson Alualu missed almost the entire season with a broken ankle. This forced the Steelers to turn to free agents off the street and practice squad players on the defensive line.

Even with Alualu and Tuitt returning to the lineup this season, some predicted that the Steelers would use an early pick on a new nose tackle. Therefore, selecting a hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker in the third round came as a surprise. 

DeMarvin Leal came into the 2021 season with a massive amount of hype, considered a first-round lock, and arguably the best interior defensive lineman in the class. But his play took a significant drop relative to his 2020 performance. He struggled to consistently defend the run and couldn’t settle into a positional role. Leal also tested quite poorly at Texas A&M’s pro day, although so did every other player at the pro day, so there may have been a confounding factor at play. 

Nevertheless, getting Leal in the mid-late third round is excellent value. Leal still needs to develop as a player and round out his skill set. On the Steelers’ defensive line, he can be brought along slowly as an apprentice to Cam Heyward.

If everyone on the roster is healthy and available, Leal would be the fourth or fifth option, which indicates excellent depth. He can be used as a dynamic matchup nightmare in specific situations. By the end of his rookie deal, Leal should be able to receive the torch from Cam Heyward as a leader along the defensive line. 

Grade: A

READ MORE: 2022 NFL Draft Live Tracker, Analysis, Grades
Round 4, #138: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis

Typically, the Steelers like to double-dip at one position in any given draft. Last year, they selected offensive linemen in consecutive rounds. In 2019, they picked an inside linebacker in the first and sixth rounds.

Going into the 2022 draft, many expected the Steelers to take a wide receiver, but not many predicted they would double-dip at the position. But the board fell tremendously for the Steelers at their compensatory selection in the fourth round, landing them Memphis wide receiver and return specialist, Calvin Austin III. 

Calvin Austin III exploded onto the scene with his performance at the Senior Bowl, consistently getting open during practices and making spectacular catches downfield. He then followed it up with an outstanding Scouting Combine performance, with elite testing numbers across the board.

But Austin is more than just a practice phenom or workout warrior. He put up over 1000 receiving yards each of the last two seasons for Memphis, helping him finish in the top-five across most career receiving categories for the Tigers. 

Furthermore, the stories emerging post-draft concerning Austin have validated the Steelers’ selection. Firstly, according to Peter King, Pittsburgh stole Austin from their division rival, the Baltimore Ravens, who would have taken Austin had the Steelers not. Secondly, the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Sauce Gardner, name-dropped Austin as one of his most difficult match-ups in an interview with Chris Simms of Pro Football Talk.

These two stories indicate how valuable this selection was. While Austin will most likely not be an immediate starter, he can make an immediate impact on special teams and carve out a niche role on offense. 

Grade: A+

Round 6, #208: Connor Heyward, FB/TE, Michigan State

This pick was more of a meme than anything. I’m sure thousands of Steelers fans thought they were geniuses for mocking Connor Heyward to the team with one of these final three picks. Call Kevin Colbert Dom Toretto because for the Steelers, family is everything.

This gives Pittsburgh four sets of brothers on their roster. Interestingly, only one of those pairs are on the same side of the ball (Carlos and Khalil Davis are both defensive tackles). Connor Heyward is a fun pick, as he a former running back that switched to fullback and eventually tight end. He was also an All-Big Ten kick returner earlier in his career before bulking up. 

Even though most picks after 200 don’t matter very much, I don’t love this selection. Even though Heyward will be listed as a tight end, at 5’11” and 233 pounds, he is essentially a fullback. The Steelers already have a fullback who is the brother of a star defensive player in Derek Watt. Watt is entering a contract year and will turn 30 by next season. But I have to imagine the Steelers will be one of the few, if not the only, teams to keep two fullbacks on the active roster.

Even though Heyward is very versatile, I just don’t see the point of drafting and rostering a second fullback. I’m sure he will make the team and will have some fun plays; I just don’t love the process behind it. 

Grade: C

Round 7, #225: Mark Robinson, ILB, Mississippi

The Pittsburgh Steelers love drafting linebackers. They have drafted at least one linebacker every year since 2009. Granted, this covers off-ball linebackers and edge defenders, but they still value spending draft capital on inside linebackers.

Mark Robinson was a late visit for Pittsburgh, and these kinds of visits should set off alarm bells for fans. Robinson is essentially Vince Williams’ brain/spirit in Devin Bush’s body. He’s a converted running back who walked on at Ole Miss and earned a starting role quickly, despite switching positions. 

With all that being said, this pick comes off as redundant and unnecessary. The Steelers currently have seven inside linebackers on their roster, several of whom have very similar skill-sets to Johnson. At least three of those players are already significant contributors on special teams, along with safety-linebacker hybrid Miles Killebrew.

It seems unlikely that Robinson will even make the roster, leading to the question: why use a draft pick on a practice squad player? They could have used more depth at cornerback, running back, tight end, or outside linebacker. Again, seventh-round picks are almost equivalent to throwaways, so it’s not an awful pick, but it could have been better. 

Grade: C

Round 7, #241: Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State

Like Robinson, Chris Oladokun visited the Steelers in the pre-draft process and stuck out like a relatively sore thumb. As with most of their late-round picks, Pittsburgh reached on a guy they had a personal connection with. This was also telegraphed by Kevin Colbert’s and Mike Tomlin’s comments in the pre-draft process, indicating that they carry four quarterbacks into training camp.

As for the player, Chris Oladokun is a productive, yet undersized, FCS quarterback with a strong arm and good athleticism. He will be their practice squad or scout team version of divisional rivals Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson. 

Regardless, I can’t look positively on this pick because it wastes scarce resources. Granted, seventh-round picks, especially late ones, generally do not matter. But using one on a fourth quarterback whose entire role will be a scout team replica on a practice squad is ridiculous in my opinion.

This is only made worse by the fact that the quarterback finished his career at his second FCS school and third overall. There were still plenty of valuable players on the board who would be able to help this team in a much more meaningful way than a fourth quarterback who will only get a helmet on game day if two of the other quarterbacks are injured.

Even if the Steelers felt that Oladokun would not be available or acquirable as an undrafted free agent, his skill set is not special enough to warrant using a draft pick on him, no matter how late. 

Grade: D

Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Grades: Overall

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2022 NFL Draft seeking a franchise quarterback, offensive weapons to surround him with, and depth pieces on defense. From a bird’s eye view, they accomplished these goals. They added two dynamic receivers to the offense, found some developmental players on defense, and added a quarterback with their first-round pick.

However, they left a significant amount of value on the board. One could write an entirely separate article on whether Kenny Pickett was the right quarterback to take in the first round; another perhaps on whether they should have taken one in the first round at all. Finally, they squandered their late-round picks on redundant or unnecessary positions.

However, at the end of the day, they solved their primary needs. Even though Pickett may be relatively uninspiring, he has a high floor and should make the offense competent. Furthermore, the picks where they reached were not especially valuable. Therefore, Kevin Colbert’s final draft grades out as good, but not great.

Overall Grade: B

The Myth of the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft is behind us, and it reveals a modern scouting trend at the league’s most important position.

The NFL draft has come and gone, and there were plenty of surprises, notably at the quarterback position. Among them, not a single quarterback was picked in the second round.

After Kenny Pickett was drafted by the Steelers at 20, the next QB didn’t go until 54 picks later, even though there were several who analysts believed were capable of going in round two.

There’s just one small problem: second round quarterbacks don’t exist.

I know it sounds like an odd — or maybe blatantly false — statement, but there is a case to be made. The success rate on round two signal-callers is pretty horrendous, and it all seems to lead to this one conclusion.

In order to come to that conclusion, however, there are a variety of different criteria. First, the types of quarterbacks and draftable skills. Second, the structure, and third, the history of these picks. Those three, when looked at together, bring a pretty shocking revelation that made me conjure up that statement above.

Drafting a Quarterback

Teams who find themselves drafting quarterbacks highly may be in a variety of spots, but there are three that are the most typical:

  1. One of the league’s worst teams, holding a high draft pick.
  2. Middling franchise, looking to make a change.
  3. Top of the league, finding the protégé for an older (on the verge of retirement) leader.

When teams find themselves in any of these positions, they must find the traits they value in a quarterback. Among those are arm talent, rushing ability, composure, ability to read the field, and more. However, there are two categories that those fall into, which, for the sake of the argument are production and potential.

To put it simply, teams judge what a quarterback is right now versus what he could be in a few years.

Scenario one

The top guys usually have a combination of both. Trevor Lawrence, who went number one to the Jaguars last year, combined national championships and Heisman ballot appearances with a 6’6″ frame and a cannon of an arm. Thus, he went to a team that I would place in the first set of criteria. The Jaguars were easily one of the worst teams in the NFL, and thus received a generational talent.

Scenario Two

Those with one of the two traits, however, have a wide range of options. For a team that’s just good enough to be picking outside of the quarterback window, they might be willing to take a chance on a potentially huge swing in their franchises history. Kenny Pickett is a prime example of this. While he doesn’t have the strongest arm or the highest ceiling, his production last season was hard to ignore. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 9-7-1 last year, decided that he was worth it at 20.

Kenny Pickett goes 20th overall.

Following that pick, there were other quarterbacks on the board, who, like Pickett, possessed one of the two main traits. Malik Willis, who some suspected may go as high as number two overall, had one of the highest ceilings in the draft, however, if he wasn’t going to go in the first, it seemed he wasn’t getting drafted until later on day 2.

scenario threE

Teams that fall in the third category (such as the Packers in 2020) have a tough decision. While they could take their chances on a high-potential pick like Jordan Love, it makes the most sense to maximize their championship window. Green Bay took that chance in 2020, and passed up elite talent because of it. Now, teams have learned from that mistake, while quarterbacks brunt the blow to their draft position.

Thus, Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, and all of the quarterbacks who many expected to go in round one, are now available in the dreaded first half of day two.

The Structure of the Second Round

On the typical draft boards, teams have a wide range of grades on prospects. It’s common to see someone who’s viewed as a top prospect by one team be a day two pick for someone else. Due to this disparity, many “first round talents” fall into the beginning of day two.

These players are quickly scooped up in what makes up roughly 25 percent of the round. This leaves the last 24 picks for guys truly viewed as round two prospects, which doesn’t leave much room for quarterbacks.

If a team would have believed in someone enough to draft them with those first eight picks, it’s unlikely he would have slipped to begin with. Teams rarely risk the opportunity of missing out their guy. This is why it’s common to see teams move up to 32. They guarantee themselves the player they want with an extra year of team control.

Lamar Jackson was drafted 32 overall.

If a team wasn’t willing to take that chance, it’s unlikely they viewed them very highly. That idea is exactly what makes the second round the worst for the quarterback. Would a team take a player who, at the most important position in the sport, they aren’t fully invested in or comfortable with — especially when there is still high-end talent on the board?

The last 24

Once you find your way out of those first eight picks, it becomes time for teams to ask themselves that question. As this draft has shown, the answer has been a resounding “no.” The later picks, which are usually the teams competing for playoff spots, would rather choose someone who can contribute right away. Bubble teams are always looking for their next big acquisition, and their philosophy is that is can come then.

Quarterbacks, as a result, usually fall by the wayside. However, there are some instances where they are picked. The results of which are rather interesting.

Modern History of the Second Round Quarterback

Over the last 20 years, there have been 20 quarterbacks selected in the second round. 20 different times, teams have weighed the ideas of production and potential, and in the last two decades, have determined it’s time to take a quarterback who likely only had one of those traits.

A list of second round quarterback selections of the last 20 years.

Of those, the results are typically a failure of epic proportions. Kellen Clemens, Deshone Kizer, Drew Stanton, Chad Henne, Brian Brohm, John Beck, Jimmy Clausen, and Geno Smith all have more career interceptions than touchdowns, while Christian Hackenberg and Kyle Trask (who’s only in his second season) never played a recorded snap.

The other options aren’t great either. Tavaris Jackson, Brock Osweiler, and Kevin Kolb all showed some flashes, but never lived up to their selection.

Five of the remaining six are polarizing. Jalen Hurts has shown flashes, but fell apart in the playoffs. Drew Lock is still young, but was just traded by the Broncos and has been shaky. Jimmy Garoppolo was able to succeed in the Kyle Shanahan offense, but was just replaced and hasn’t shown an ability to transcend the system. Andy Dalton is a similar story, having rough stints in limited playoff appearances. Lastly, Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, but has been out of the league for the better half of the last decade.

This leaves Derek Carr, who, while having only one playoff appearance and zero playoff wins, has safely cemented a spot as the Raiders quarterback for eight years. He has made three Pro Bowls, and has continued to improve. Thus making him the only second round quarterback selected in the last 20 years who can safely be called a hit.

The Bottom Line on the Second Round Quarterback

The 2022 NFL Draft was a prime example of a philosophy at work. After a quarterback goes in the first round, teams have learned from mistakes of the past. Rather than picking signal callers with clear holes in their game in the following round, they’ve gone for contributors at other positions.

Several teams would love to have the next Derek Carr, but with that comes the chance of Brian Brohm or Deshone Kizer. Just like every other selection, the second round has it’s fair share of bust potential. However, it seems that the combination of quarterback traits, draft tendencies, and a simple history lesson will tell you that it simply isn’t the same.

General managers across the league will continue to take swings on quarterbacks, but when doing so, it’s important to look at the most glaring fact:

Second round quarterbacks don’t exist.