2022 NFL Draft Day 1 Takeaways: Willis reaches Day 2, receivers go early and often, staggering number of trades

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, the draft is finally here! Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

Willis was the No. 15 player on NFL Mock Draft Database’s Consensus Big Board. (Wikimedia Commons)

Rough day for quarterbacks as Malik Willis drops to Day 2
Kenny Pickett became the first (and only) quarterback selected at No. 20 overall. That was the latest the first passer came off the board since 1997. Pickett ended up being the only quarterback selected in the first round as well, the first time that has happened since 2013. It was a bit of a shock given the hype around Malik Willis leading into the draft. He is a high-character guy with great arm strength and impressive mobility. He is a bit of a project, but I have a feeling he won’t last long on Day 2. Tampa, Seattle, Tennessee and maybe the Giants are all in play in the first 10 picks of the round as it currently stands. I am stunned that he is still on the board. He is my top remaining player.

Receivers fly off the board
We knew this was a good receiver draft. The NFL is treating it like a great receiver draft. Four receivers went in the top 12 picks. Six went in the top 18. A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown also got traded (more on that in a moment). The Eagles immediately paid A.J. $100 million. In short, it was another wild day of receiver movement. The offseason saw Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill moved followed by mega extensions. That came on the heels of huge contracts for Mike Williams and Christian Kirk. With the cost of keeping good receivers skyrocketing, it should come as no surprise that receiver prospects are in high demand. Perhaps the most surprising move was Jahan Dotson going at No. 16. The Commanders clearly covet speed, but it was a bit of a surprise to see him go ahead of Treylon Burks. Dotson was also the biggest reach of draft slot versus ranking on my board.

Questionable trades by the Cardinals and Vikings

I can’t figure out what the Cardinals are playing at. Sure, Hollywood Brown might be better than some of us think and a good fit for the offense, but why on Earth are you parting with a first-round pick to acquire a receiver who has averaged 51.3 yards per game in his career. This is also just one year after selecting Rondale Moore, who has a very similar skill set. I don’t question the fit. I do question the value proposition here. Especially when you see what A.J. Brown was traded on the same day. The Ravens have the best front office in football.

Then there are the Vikings, who traded down 20 spots AND gave up their second-round selection and only received a pair of Day 2 picks to do so. It was such an odd trade, no matter how you slice it. For one, they did not recoup enough draft capital in the move. Secondly, they allowed their division rival to grab one of the most explosive and dynamic players in this draft. What was the biggest need Minnesota had heading into the draft? Cornerback. So they allowed their rival to grab a receiver they do not have anyone to cover. Not sure what the thinking was there.

Trades, trades and more trades
A whopping NINE trades went down on Day 1 of the draft. This is just two years removed from a draft where we had zero trades in the first round. I think it really underlines how much opinions vary on this draft class. Keep in mind, we already had a ridiculous number of trades leading up to this draft. In the end, only 23 teams made a first-round selection.

Aidan Hutchinson became the highest drafted Michigan player since 2008. (Wikimedia Commons)

Defense reins supreme early
Five defensive players opened the draft. It was the first time since 1991 that we had at least five straight defensive players selected. There were six straight that year. In a loaded draft of corners and edge rushers, it should not be a huge surprise, but given how much the NFL has shifted towards the offense in the past 20 years, this is a huge departure from the norm. We did immediately go on a run of seven straight offensive players. I don’t think this is a sign of things to come. It simply highlights how talented this draft is from a defensive perspective.

Jermaine Johnson II’s surprising slide
Johnson was the No. 10 player on my board. He was No. 11 on the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board. With plenty of teams needing edge rushers (Eagles, Ravens, Texans and Cowboys), it was a big surprise to see him fall all the way to the 26th pick. As a Jets fan, I’m thrilled New York traded back into the first round to grab him. There is no question that Johnson was not quite at the same level as his counterparts when it came to winning consistently in pass-rush situations. Still, I think he is the best run defender of any of the top four edge players (Walker, Hutchinson and Thibodeaux). He wasn’t bad as a pass rusher either, posting 11.5 sacks this season. He just might not be elite. Either way, this was one of the biggest surprises of the night outside of Willis.

Best players available
I actually feel pretty good about how my board lined up with the league’s. Only Kenny Pickett, Jahan Dotson, Tyler Smith, Lewis Cine and Cole Strange fell outside my top 32 prospects. I fully expected Pickett and Dotson to go in the first. Smith and Cine were a little more unexpected, but not shocking. Strange was really out there. I like him a lot as a prospect, but I thought he would go at the end of the second round, not the end of the first. Here are my top remaining prospects.

20. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
21. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (first-round cut off)
24. David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
29. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
32. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
33. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
34. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
35. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
36. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
38. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
39. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
41. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
42. Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
43. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
44. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
46. Travis Jones, DL, UConn
47. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
48. Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
50. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
52. Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
53. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
54. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor (2nd-round cut off)
55. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
56. Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
57. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
58. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
59. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
60. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
61. Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
62. Logan Hall, DL, Houston
63. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
64. Sam Howell, QB, UNC
65. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
66. Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
67. Cade Otton, TE, Washington
68. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
69. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
70. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
71. Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
72. Josh Paschall, EDGE, Kentucky
73. Nicholas Petit-Frère, OT, Ohio State
74. Cameron Jurgens, C, Nebraska
75. Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia Tech
76. Cordale Flott, DB, LSU
77. Dylan Parham, G, Memphis
78. Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
79. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
80. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
81. James Cook, RB, Georgia
82. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
83. Nick Cross, S, Maryland
84. Domonique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (Ohio)
85. Wandale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
86. Sam WIlliams, EDGE, Ole Miss
87. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
88. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
89. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
90. Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
91. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida
92. Bryon Cook, S, Cincinnati
93. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
94. Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
95. Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
96. JT Woods, S, Baylor
97. Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa
98. Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
99. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State
100. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.


Quarterbacks of the 2022 NFL Draft: Rankings, Projections, Grades and Predictions

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, there are only 2 days until the 2022 NFL draft. Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 1,000 times: this is not a good quarterback class. It is likely the worst we have seen since the 2013 draft that produced E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith and Mike Glennon. In short a who’s who of backups and future analysts. This class has a bit more promise than that, but has confounded draft analysts and amateur mockers alike. No one seems to have a great read on where these players will land exactly.

A telling sign for how the league views this quarterback class is the mad dash to add veteran quarterbacks this offseason. Now, some of those moves won’t preclude teams from adding quarterbacks in this draft, but no one seems to be heading into this year counting on a rookie start, except maybe Carolina.

Everyone has their own order for how they think these players stack up. But beyond that, I go through the floor, ceiling, my grade and my expectation for where these players will be selected on draft day. Let’s get started.

1. Malik Willis, Liberty
Floor: Bust who is out of the league in four years
Ceiling: Pro Bowl level starter
Grade: Top-25 prospect
Draft Day Prediction: Top-10 selection
To me, there is Willis and then everyone else. That actually says more about the competition than it does about Willis himself. He is a plus athlete with a live arm. His arm strength is impressive and he can make every throw. He is accurate and on time more often than not as well. However, he has zero pocket awareness and a penchant for holding onto the ball for way too long. Willis is also terrible under pressure. He took 52 sacks this past season, including nine against Ole Miss. People want to make the comparison to Lamar Jackson, but Lamar is a much better athlete. The upside is tantalizing, but there is a ton of work to do in order for Willis to be successful at the next level.

2. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Floor: Top-tier backup
Ceiling: Above average NFL starter
Grade: Early 2nd-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: Top-20 selection
Like it or not, you have to give Pickett credit for the incredible rise he had this season. He went from off the radar to a Heisman finalist and potential first-round pick. Widely viewed the safest quarterback in this class, there are some limitations to his game, much like seemingly every quarterback this year. For Pickett, it’s his hand size and his arm strength. He has enough zip over the middle, but struggles on throws outside the boundaries. There is also something to be said for the fact that he will turn 24 in June. He is much further along in his development as a quarterback than anyone else in this class. That being said, he is far and away the most pro ready passer available in this draft. His athleticism makes up for some of his shortcomings in the pocket though, with the ability to throw on the move and pick up yards with his legs. He is the only quarterback in this group that feels completely scheme versatile, which also ups his appeal.

3. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Floor: Career backup, locker room guy
Ceiling: Fringe Pro Bowl player
Grade: Early-to-mid 2nd-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: Late 1st-round selection
This is high praise, but there is something about Ridder that is reminiscent of Josh Allen coming out. He is an underrated athlete, posting an impressive 4.52 40-time at the combine and also blowing the competition away in the broad jump and vertical jump. He has a good arm and is built like a tight end. He can run you over smaller defenders and bang for extra yardage. There is definitely some room for him to add weight on his frame though. The issues with Ridder stem from his inconsistency on throws over the middle. His short-to-intermediate accuracy is very inconsistent. There are also some mechanics you would like to see him clean up. I would love to see him change his release point more as well. He is a project, but teams love his leadership skills and his demeanor.

4. Sam Howell, UNC
Floor: Career backup
Ceiling: Fringe Pro Bowl player
Grade: Late 2nd-round or early 3rd-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: Late 2nd or early 3rd-round selection
If you want a more athletic version of Baker Mayfield, I have just the guy for you. Keep in mind that Mayfield was the No. 1 overall pick and led the Browns to a playoff victory. Howell has a strong arm and good physicality to him. He is special as a runner, breaking tons of arm tackles and showing really impressive balance. Definitely a bit undersized, Howell does not let that impact his play much. He is more than capable of airing it out down the field. However, he gets a bit too casual sometimes when he lets the ball go and his footwork is a bit sloppy. He also has a tendency to stare down his first read and then bail with his legs when it doesn’t work out. There are not a ton of instances on film where he actually goes through his progressions, which is definitely worrisome. Physically, he is NFL ready. Mentally, there is a long way to go.

5. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Floor: Injury prone, out of the league in four years
Ceiling: Fringe Pro Bowl player
Grade: Early 3rd-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: Early 2nd-round selection
There are some that love Corral and have him as the top quarterback in this class. My assessment: Corral is a system quarterback that struggles to push the ball down the field. His accuracy is probably the best in this class even though his ball placement is a little spotty sometimes. Corral is a plus athlete though and can scramble to pick up a few yards with his legs. A major red flag is his ability to handle the blitz. He is one of the worst in this class when faced with pressure. He can excel in a West Coast offense, but he is not going to be a fit everywhere. On top of that, he has a slight frame and has already dealt with injuries in college. He could be a solid NFL starter, but there are clear limitations to his game and a lot of concerns about his durability. My fear is that he will constantly get banged up and try to play through injury, resulting in drop offs like we’ve seen from players like Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield when not at full strength. There are too many red flags for me to take him before the third round.

6. Carson Strong, Nevada
Floor: Career backup
Ceiling: Above average starter
Grade: 4th-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: 4th-round selection
Strong is a throwback to 90s and early 2000s football. He commands the pocket well and has the arm strength to make every throw, but he is a statue that struggles any time he is forced outside the pocket. Not only does he lack good mobility, but he does not do well throwing on the run. He throws a nice deep ball, but there are moments where he misses on short and intermediate routes. We’ve seen players like Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan succeed despite limited mobility, but Strong’s arm is not on the same level. In today’s NFL, where RPOs, play action and moving pockets are fairly common, I see him having a tough time adapting.

7. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky
Floor: Career backup, pseudo quarterbacks coach
Ceiling: Spot starter
Grade: 5th or 6th-round prospect
Draft Day Prediction: 5th or 6th-round selection
Who threw for the most passing yards of any player in this class in 2021? That would be Zappe. He is on the doorstep of the NFL after taking a very unique route to get to this point. He transferred to Western Kentucky after spending his career prior to that at FCS Houston Baptist. Zappe is a product of the Air Raid system, which the NFL has a bit of a love/hate relationship with. He is a rhythm player who could thrive in the NFL if he is not asked to do too much, but lacks the physical tools to make you believe he has true starter potential. He tested well enough to make me believe he will be a Day 3 pick. Look for him to be an offensive coordinator down the line. That’s the type of player we are talking about here. Really bright and a great understanding of the playbook.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

NFL Mock Draft 2022: Vikings trade up, Panthers acquire Mayfield, Samuel lands with Packers

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, there are only 3 days until the 2022 NFL draft. Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

At long last, it is draft week! The months of speculation are finally going to come to an end on Thursday, but until then, let’s keep speculating.

For the first time this year, I am allowing trades in my mock draft. The following trades were executed in this mock.

Minnesota trades 1.12, 2.44 to Carolina for 1.6, 5.144

Los Angeles trades 1.17, 3.79 and 6.195 to Baltimore for 1.17, 4.119

San Francisco trades Deebo Samuel, 6.221 to Green Bay for 1.22, 2.59

New York trades 2.35, 3.69 and 4.117 to Tennessee for 1.26, 3.90

Baltimore trades 2.45 and 4.141 to Indianapolis for 2.42

Carolina trades 2023 3rd-round pick, 6.199 to Cleveland for Baker Mayfield

As a reminder, these mocks are what I would do as a general manager, not necessarily what I think will happen on draft day. I will be releasing a predictive mock later this week.

With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my final non-predictive mock of the 2022 draft cycle.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
I have been saying this for a while and I stand by it: Neal is the best player in the draft and Jacksonville should invest in protecting Trevor Lawrence. Neal has the experience to kick inside for a year with Cam Robinson on the franchise tag. He will be the team’s long-term answer at left tackle.

2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
This is exactly what Detroit is hoping for on draft night. They want Hutchinson badly. I think finding a high-motor, polished edge rusher will give this defense a major boost. You can count on him being an impact starter from Day 1.

3. Houston Texans – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There are a number of ways that this could go. I’m going with the highest-rated player left on my board in Gardner. He is a true shutdown corner with the size, speed and physicality you expect to see from top prospects. He would transform the Texans defense. In a deep edge class, count on them finding some help in the later rounds.

4. New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With Gardner off the board, I think this one is pretty clear cut. New York has lacked a pass rush for about 15 years. Carl Lawson is on the mend after tearing his Achilles last August, but he will need some help. Thibodeaux is the type of athletic pass rusher Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas love. Pairing him with Lawson would be an ideal scenario.

5. New York Giants – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
New York will be hoping one of the top two tackles is on the board when they pick at No. 5. Ekwonu is a mauler with plus athleticism. He has some room to clean up some technical aspects to his game, but I think he will translate well. Putting him on the right side across from Andrew Thomas would give the Giants talented bookends on their offensive line.

6. Minnesota Vikings via Carolina Panthers – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
With the board falling this way and Carolina acquiring Baker Mayfield from Cleveland, a trade down makes sense. Minnesota is more than happy to move up for the top corner on the board. The Vikings are willing to bet on Stingley returning to his 2019 form after showing out at his pro day. He could wind up being the best player in this draft class.

7. New York Giants via Chicago Bears – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
There is definitely a bit of projection involved with Walker, but I don’t think the Giants would mind gambling on his upside here. He has physical traits defensive coaches dream about. On top of that, he is incredibly scheme versatile and has the flexibility to line up in a few spots. I think New York will be able to find a good fit for him within their defense.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This is a perfect situation for Willis. For one, it would be a return home after he started his high school career at Westlake High School in Atlanta. Additionally, Atlanta is in a rebuild and has a stop-gap solution at the position in Marcus Mariota. Willis has some enticing potential, but will need some time to get up to speed in the NFL. This would allow to sit on the bench for a year while the Falcons rebuild the roster around him.

9. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
With Willis off the board, I think Seattle should address its defensive line. Johnson is an elite run stopper with room to grow as a pass rusher. He has three-down potential and some impressive tape. I really like his physicality. After moving on from Carlos Dunlap, this feels like a smart move to bolster the front seven.

10. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks – Drake London, WR, USC
I considered Kyle Hamilton here, but I think the Jets need to focus on finding more weapons for Zach Wilson. London is my top receiver thanks to a great catch radius and an exciting blend of size and playmaking ability. He would be a nice complement to Elijah Moore and would give New York a true No. 1 receiver.

11. Washington Football Team – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Washington could absolutely go receiver here, but I think Hamilton should be the pick. He has incredible size for the position and would likely be gone even earlier if not for a poor 40-time at the combine. His instincts and versatility make him the top safety in the draft by a wide margin. Expect him to be a high-level starter for a long time in the league.

12. Carolina Panthers via Minnesota Vikings – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Carolina picks up some extra draft capital and still addresses its biggest need at offensive tackle. Cross is a well-tested pass blocker from his days at Mississippi State. He anchors well, but needs to improve on his technique and hand placement. The limited run blocking snaps is also a concern. In time, I think he could be a quality starter, which the Panthers desperately need.

13. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With the top edge rushers off the board, I think Houston should target a receiver to give Davis Mills a chance to show that he is truly a franchise quarterback. Wilson and Brandin Cooks would give the Texans an exciting tandem. His speed and run-after-catch ability should provide a major boost.

14. Los Angeles Chargers via Baltimore Ravens – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Los Angeles can’t risk Penning not being there at No. 17 with a major need at right tackle. Upgrading along the offensive line has to be a huge priority in order to protect Justin Herbert. Penning definitely has some refining to do once he reaches the NFL, but the intangibles and physicality make me believe he has a lot of untapped potential.

15. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Why not grab another Alabama receiver. Williams actually never shared the field with DeVonta Smith because he spent his first two seasons at Ohio State. Unfortunately, Williams likely will miss the beginning of the season as he continues to rehab the torn ACL he suffered in the National Championship Game. Once he is healthy though, he could be a game-changer in this offense.

16. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
New Orleans does not want to miss out on the top receivers in this draft. Adding another Buckeye to this offense would do wonders for its potential. I think Olave, who has great straight-line speed and solid separation skills, would excel playing with a strong-armed quarterback like Jameis Winston. If Michael Thomas can finally get back on the field, the Saints would have a very talented tandem to rely on.

17. Baltimore Ravens via Los Angeles Chargers – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Picking up another mid-round pick is something the Ravens love doing. Adding a long, athletic corner also seems to fit their MO. Booth is recovering from offseason surgery, so we did not get a chance to see him test, but I believe he is the best of this second tier of corners after Gardner and Stingley. After injuries ravaged their secondary a year ago, Baltimore will be all in on finding more depth.

18. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Philly will be disappointed to see Booth go off the board just before their pick, but McDuffie is a heck of a consolation prize. He lacks elite size, but he plays bigger than he is listed. He would be a great pairing with Darius Slay to help reshape the secondary. Adding talent on the boundaries is never a bad idea.

19. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
Ideally, there would be an offensive tackle here, but alas, the top four prospects are all off the board. Instead, New Orleans turns to the other side of the trenches to find someone to pair with David Onyemata, who is entering a contract year. The Saints could also trade down from here or go quarterback, but I think they are planning to ride with Winston for this year, especially after signing Andy Dalton as a backup.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Another example of a team drafting a local kid. No, this doesn’t make up for them passing on Dan Marino, but it should give them a bit of stability at the quarterback position. Pickett is pro ready and has above average mobility, something the Steelers offense has desperately lacked in Ben Roethlisberger’s final years. He should be a solid NFL starter, even if he seems to lack the upside to become a star.

21. New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
There are a couple directions I think the Patriots could head, but I think Lloyd makes the most sense. He is a top-10 player on my board. He drops this far because of positional value, but I could see him being a perennial Pro Bowler under Bill Belichick. His versatility and athleticism makes him a really solid value in this spot.

22. San Francisco 49ers via Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
San Francisco looks to address some glaring needs with the picks acquired in the Deebo Samuel trade. Green is the top offensive player available at this point and helps soften the blow of losing Laken Tomlinson and Tom Compton this offseason. Regardless of who is starting at quarterback this season, they need to be upright.

23. Arizona Cardinals – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
This is great value for Davis, who I have as a top-15 player. That being said, he projects best as a two-down run stuffer, with the potential to improve as a pass rusher. There are some concerns with his weight, but his speed is off the charts for a man his size. Putting him between J.J. Watt and Zach Allen sounds very appealing.

24. Dallas Cowboys – Zion Nelson, OL, Boston College
I considered an edge rusher here, but instead, I’m opting for Nelson. Dallas’ offensive line took some major hits this offseason. Nelson has the versatility to line up at either guard spot or center. Keeping Dak Prescott healthy should be a huge priority after the string of injuries he has dealt with over the past two seasons.

25. Buffalo Bills – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
For a team that has Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, this might feel like an odd pick, but I think Buffalo wants to do whatever it can to push this offense over the top. Burks is a tough evaluation, but the film shows a player capable of taking over a game. If he can consistently perform in the NFL, he will be an absolute steal in this spot.

26. New York Jets via Tennessee Titans – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
New York gets aggressive with a ton of draft picks to utilize. With Hill still on the board, they jump at the opportunity to add a dynamic defensive back. Hill can line up at slot corner or either safety spot. He is a sure tackler in the open field and has impressive speed. After losing Marcus Maye, the Jets need to shore up the backend of the defense.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
There is no question that Karlaftis is a bit of a project, but the Buccaneers have a good track record of developing front seven players. Todd Bowles will love adding another pass rusher to his defense. Karlaftis needs to drastically improve as a run defender to get on the field on every down, but should be a situational pass rushing option from Day 1.

28. Green Bay Packers – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
If you have been reading my content regularly, you know I am a big fan of McBride. I think Aaron Rodgers could be too if Green Bay selects him. McBride posted a ridiculous 90-catch, 1,100-yard season en route to the Mackey Award. He is pro ready and fairly well-rounded. Adding him and Deebo Samuel to the offense would transform the outlook for 2022 and beyond.

29. Kansas City Chiefs via Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Kansas City has put off meaningfully addressing the cornerback position for a few years now. In a defense that loves to get after the passer, Elam is a perfect fit. He is long and fast, excelling in press-man coverage. There is a bit to be desired when it comes to his understanding of zone concepts and open-field tackling, but those are skills that can be improved with coaching. He would allow Steve Spagnuolo to dial up pressure, especially once their next pick gets on the field.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Prior to tearing his Achilles at his pro day, Ojabo was on the trajectory to go in the Top-10 of this draft. The Chiefs will gladly grab a player capable of having that type of impact on the defense when he is healthy. His long-term upside and immediate pass-rushing ability make him a great value at this spot.

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Sometimes, the best thing to do is continue to address the offensive line. Linderbaum slid during the pre draft process after measuring in much smaller than teams had hoped for. There are definitely some limitations to his game, but he looked like a baller at Iowa. His athleticism and ability to finish blocks should keep him in the first round.

32. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Another one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, Walker is a big, rangy linebacker who can do just about anything you ask of him. He is a capable blitzer, solid in coverage and a decent tackler. The biggest test for him will likely be playing in a defense where not everyone is a superstar. He is the fourth Georgia defender I have coming off the board in the first round.

33. Jacksonville Jaguars – Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
After addressing the offensive line at No. 1, Jacksonville finds an edge rusher to pair with Josh Allen. Ebiketie put together a great season with Penn State after transferring from Temple.

34. Detroit Lions – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Another Penn State defender as Detroit continues to revamp that side of the ball. Brisker would compete for the starting job right away.

35. Tennessee Titans via New York Jets – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Tennessee adds some more draft capital after initially entering the draft without a second-round pick. Raimann is a developing tackle who could compete for the starting spot on the right side immediately.

36. New York Giants – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
New York needs to rebuild its cornerback room with rumors that James Bradberry could be traded. McCreary lacks elite length, but put together some impressive tape against SEC competition.

37. Houston Texans – Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
One of the most toolsy edge rushers in this class, Mafe is a popular prospect with teams that love “height, weight, speed” players. His physicality and speed makes up below average length off the edge.

38. New York Jets via Carolina Panthers – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Jets grab another defensive playmaker to plug into Robert Saleh’s defense. Dean is undersized, which I think will drop him out of the first-round, but excels when allowed to play downhill.

39. Chicago Bears – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Make that six Georgia players and counting. Chicago grabs a high-upside receiver to pair with Darnell Mooney. Pickens barely played this season after tearing his ACL in spring ball, but he has the physical traits to develop into a No. 1 option.

40. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Seattle finds a mobile quarterback with great leadership skills. No, he won’t replace Russell Wilson, but he gives them someone else to compete for the starting job with more upside than Drew Lock or Geno Smith.

41. Seattle Seahawks – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Seahawks lost D.J. Reed this offseason and don’t have much in the way of proven talent at corner right now. Gordon checks all the physical boxes you want in a starting corner and would give Seattle some much-needed size at the position.

42. Baltimore Ravens via Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders – Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Baltimore has a ton of mid-round picks to use, so moving up to address a big need makes sense. Thomas is a strong edge defender with really good production. I think he would fit well across from Odafe Oweh.

43. Atlanta Falcons – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Another receiver off the board, Watson is an exciting blend of speed and size. At just over 6’4″, he ran a 4.36 40 at the combine. He needs to improve his hands, but I think he can be an instant impact player.

44. Cleveland Browns – Travis Jones, DL, UConn
The Browns first pick of the draft will likely be on defense after trading for Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper this offseason. Jones is rising up draft boards after a good pre draft process. Cleveland’s interior defensive line is very unproven as well, so this fills a need.

45. Indianapolis Colts via Baltimore Ravens – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Indy has a lot of needs and not a ton of draft capital after trading a number of picks to acquire Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan in successive offseasons. Sliding down and finding a playmaker to boost this offense accomplishes two goals. Dotson has great hands and has a good understanding of how to beat zone coverage.

46. Carolina Panthers via Minnesota Vikings – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Harris brings plenty of speed to the table and plays akin to a box safety. He is good in coverage as well. Carolina could use an injection of youth at linebacker.

47. Washington Commanders via Indianapolis Colts – Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
After going defense with its first pick, Washington goes offense here. I’m staying away from quarterback to give Carson Wentz some confidence. Instead, I think grabbing a receiver for him to work will go a long way. Pierce put up elite testing numbers and some solid tape at Cincinnati. He would pair nicely with Terry McLaurin.

48. Chicago Bears via Los Angeles Chargers – Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
Chicago needs to protect Justin Fields in the worst way. Rhyan is a college tackle that seems destined to kick inside. Still, that experience at tackle makes him even more valuable.

49. New Orleans Saints – Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
With Terron Armstead now in Miami, the Saints are searching for a new left tackle. Smith is a bit of a tweener, with scouts split on where he fits best at the next level. Worst-case scenario, he competes with Cesar Ruiz, who had a rough 2021 season.

50. Kansas City Chiefs via Miami Dolphins – John Metchie III, Alabama
After going defense in the first round, Kansas City opts for an offensive weapon in the second. Metchie likely would be off the board by now if it was not for the fact that he is coming off a major injury. Assuming he returns to full health, he would be a solid addition to the Chiefs receiver room.

51. Philadelphia Eagles – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
The Eagles need more playmakers in the secondary. Safety is definitely a weak spot. Cine put on a show in the National Championship Game, showcasing his speed and instincts.

52. Pittsburgh Steelers – Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Another “draft crush” for me, Woolen is a bit raw, but has outstanding intangibles. Finding corners who are 6’4″ and run a sub 4.3 40 is nearly impossible. On top of that, he has a 42-inch vertical. Bet on the upside and hope Mike Tomlin and company can develop him.

53. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas Raiders – Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Green Bay’s offensive line has been a weak point of late with injuries really taking a toll on the unit. Lucas has a ton of starts under his belt and looked solid at the Senior Bowl. He could probably start at either tackle spot in the NFL.

54. New England Patriots – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
New England traded away Shaq Mason this offseason, creating a hole at guard. Kinnard played tackle in college and has long arms to contend on the outside. However, his play style is best suited to be on the interior. He could bring some nastiness to the Patriots run game.

55. Arizona Cardinals – Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
With the loss of Chandler Jones this offseason, Arizona needs to find some pass rushing help. Bonitto is a good athlete with 16 sacks in his final two seasons at Oklahoma.

56. Dallas Cowboys – Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
Another team in need of an edge rusher following a free-agent departure, Dallas hopes Barno can provide a boost. He tested out of his mind at the combine, which points to a lot of untapped potential.

57. Buffalo Bills – Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
At long last, the first running back comes off the board. Hall is an all-around back with solid hands and impressive speed. I might be sleeping on these backs a bit, but this would be a great fit for him in Buffalo.

58. Atlanta Falcons via Tennessee Titans – Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
The best way to take the pressure off a young quarterback is to give him a running game. Walker is a downhill runner with good speed. He hits the hole with authority and should give the Falcons offense a reliable back.

59. San Francisco 49ers via Green Bay Packers – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
With Samuel gone in this mock, San Francisco goes after a potential replacement. Moore is not the same type of player as Deebo, but he can still be a fun chess piece for Kyle Shanahan to move around.

60. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga
Tampa Bay lost both its starting guards from a year ago. They already filled one spot by trading for Shaq Mason. The other is still up for grabs. Strange has the skills to compete for the job and the versatility to play any spot on the interior of the offensive line. I considered quarterback here, but I think going all in with Brady makes more sense.

61. San Francisco 49ers – Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
George Odum is a special teams ace who is better off playing in a rotational role on defense, so safety is definitely a need. Pitre had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and looks like a future starter.

62. Kansas City Chiefs – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Leal did not have the same kind of season many were expecting of him, but he has position versatility at edge or defensive tackle. Building in the trenches, especially on defense, feels like a smart move for Kansas City.

63. Cincinnati Bengals – Cade Otton, TE, Washington
Here is a player that I think is being slept on big time. Otton is a fantastic blocker with upside as a pass catcher. After losing C.J. Uzomah, I think the Bengals need to address the tight end position beyond signing Hayden Hurst.

64. Denver Broncos via Los Angeles Rams – Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Denver does not have a ton of clear needs, the Broncos can go with the best player available here. Muma has the makings of a sideline-to-sideline off-ball linebacker. He tested well at the combine and looks the part on tape.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

NFL Draft Daily: How could a Deebo Samuel trade shake up the NFL draft?

Another wide receiver seems set to shake up the NFL world. News broke Wednesday that Deebo Samuel wants a trade away from the 49ers. This comes on the heels of Samuel, DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and Dionate Johnson all sitting out voluntary offseason workouts in hopes of securing a new contract. Samuel seems to be taking his requests a step further.

The former second-round pick in 2019 has certainly done enough to show he deserves to be paid. After an injury-plagued 2020 season, Samuel posted incredible numbers in his most recent campaign. The 49ers turned him into a hybrid receiver and running back as he totaled 1,770 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. He was recognized with his first Pro Bowl selection and a spot on the AP’s All-Pro first team. 

Needless to say, there will be a few teams interested, even if San Francisco is not inclined to let him leave. Given how the wide receiver market has taken off this offseason, it is going to cost the 49ers or whoever acquires him a lot to keep him. That being said, he is the best wide receiver available right now, including any of the prospects in this draft class. We could very well see teams that we expect to target receivers in the draft focus on acquiring Samuel instead.

Let’s say Samuel gets his wish and the 49ers agree to trade him. Where could he land? Any team that makes an offer will have to part with significant draft capital to make the move. After all, this is a 26-year-old receiver coming off an All-Pro season. Here are a few teams that could be interested and what they might give up to make a deal happen.

New York Jets
Jets receive Deebo Samuel, 2022 5th-round pick (No. 172)
49ers receive two 2022 2nd-round picks (No. 35 & No. 38) and 2023 4th-round pick

One of the obvious suitors for Samuel, New York was in discussions to acquire Tyreek Hill before he landed in Miami. However, Joe Douglas has shown a reluctance to part with significant draft capital to acquire a player he will then have to give a big extension to. Maybe he will feel differently with Samuel being just 26 compared to Hill, who turned 28 in March. The Jets also run a similar system to the 49ers. Mike LaFleur was an assistant under Kyle Shanahan before landing the Jets offensive coordinator job when Robert Saleh was named head coach. 

New York clearly feels it needs to find Zach Wilson more weapons. Will they be willing to sacrifice potentially finding interior offensive line help or a top-tier safety in the second round to do so? That remains to be seen. Their two second-round picks are roughly equivalent to the No. 15 pick based on draft trade value. For San Francisco, this move would allow them to target a long-term replacement at receiver and find some interior offensive line or cornerback help in the early second round.

Green Bay Packers
Packers receive Deebo Samuel, 2022 6th-round pick (No. 221)
49ers receive 2022 1st-round pick (No. 22), 2022 2nd-round pick (No. 59)

Aaron Rodgers lost his favorite receiver this offseason when Davante Adams was traded to the Raiders. The Packers also lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency. They clearly need receiver help. Green Bay has plenty of draft capital to work with and has a roster that feels close to competing for a championship. While drafting a receiver certainly makes sense, acquiring a veteran receiver ready to contribute and potentially transform the offense right away lines up well with the Packers timeline.

Samuel would definitely be a fit in Green Bay’s offense. Coach Matt LaFleur is a former Kyle Shanahan assistant as well. He will certainly find some creative ways to deploy Samuel that does not involve him playing running back, which is reportedly a source of Samuel’s frustration with the 49ers. The biggest hang ups to getting a deal done will be cap space to sign Samuel and the concept of trading Samuel to an NFC rival. 

Green Bay was willing to hand Adams a huge extension, so I think they will be willing to spend big for Samuel. The bigger issue is the potential to face him in a Packers uniform come the playoffs. These two teams have met in the postseason multiple times in the past few years. The idea of strengthening an NFC rival might not sit will with John Lynch. That being said, the prospect of landing a first-round pick and having another second-round pick. This move would allow San Francisco to address all of its biggest needs by the time it reaches the end of the third round.

Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs receive Deebo Samuel
49ers receive 2022 1st-round pick (No. 30), 2022 2nd-round pick (No. 50)

How about another team that traded away its star receiver this offseason. Kansas City has made moves to restock its receiver room, bringing in JuJu Smith-Schuster and the aforementioned Valdes-Scantling. That being said, this team still lacks a true No. 1 receiver. With the Chiefs not picking until 29th overall, it seems like that the team will need to make a trade to acquire a true No. 1 receiver. If they don’t want to move up in the draft to do so, Samuel could become a clear target.

Andy Reid has a penchant for designing offensive sets that maximize the skill sets of the players at his disposal. I’m sure he would relish the opportunity to work with Samuel. The main issue would be cap space. Kansas City does not have much wiggle room and a big reason for trading away Hill was because the team was unable to give him the type of money he eventually got in Miami. That could take Kansas City out of this deal altogether. 

It would definitely take some very creative massaging of the cap to make this move happen. That being said, I expect the Chiefs to at least call about Samuel. With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, this has to be a destination Samuel would be interested in. On top of that, Kansas City would still have picks in the first two rounds to address needs at corner and edge rusher.

New Orleans Saints
Saints receive Deebo Samuel, 2023 4th-round pick
49ers receive 2022 1st-round pick (No. 16), 2022 3rd-round pick (No. 98)

The Saints made a big move to acquire more draft capital this season. It is a bit unclear how they plan to spend it. Moving up to take a quarterback is certainly in play, but I think they are committed to Winston for 2022. Instead, they could use one of their first round picks to land Samuel. Michael Thomas should finally be healthy, but he needs a running mate. Samuel would give New Orleans one of the best receiver duos in the league. 

Making this move also still leaves the Saints with a first-round pick to target an offensive tackle. If New Orleans is going all in on building this team to contend this season, might as well swing for the fences. Cap space once again becomes an issue for a team that was over the cap at the beginning of the offseason. That being said, Spotrac has the Saints at $19 million under the cap. They would find a way to make it work.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

2022 NFL Draft Big Board: A pair of quarterbacks help round out the Top 50

NFL Draft Daily looks at top stories, historical trends, player performances and more all through the lens of the NFL Draft. After all, there are only 8 days until the 2022 NFL draft. Check back in tomorrow for another entry.

We have reached the single digits in the countdown to draft day. I posted my top 25 players on Monday. I am continuing those rankings here.

A few things to note about how I do my big boards. I rank the best players in the class based on talent and ability to translate to the NFL, not necessarily where they will be drafted. Let’s use Malik Willis as an example. I expect him to be drafted well above where I have him ranked, but that is because the league puts a premium on the position he plays. Same thing goes for Kyle Hamilton, but in reverse. He is a top-five player in this draft class, but he will probably drop out of the top 10 on draft day because the NFL does not value safeties as highly.

26. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
One of the best interior linemen in this class, Linderbaum was a lot higher on my board prior to the pre draft process. He fell well short of the measurables you want from an NFL offensive linemen, ranking in the first percentile for wingspan and arm length, the fifth percentile for weight and the sixth percentile for height. That does not mean he cannot translate to the next level, but it does point to him being a bit more limited with what we can expect, especially as a run blocker. He still has incredible athleticism for the position and the drive to finish blocks. Since 2010, there have been no centers drafted in the first round that weighed under 300 pounds. Linderbaum weighs 296 pounds.

27. Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
One of my favorite prospects in this class, appearing on my draft crushes list for 2022 as well, Walker is a rangy linebacker with great size and instincts. He ran well at the combine, which backed up the speed you see watching him on film. He has true sideline-to-sideline capability. He is a plus in coverage as well. While he did not produce much as a pass rusher, he is still an effective blitzer when his number is called. All-around solid linebacker with great traits. I think he will fit into just about any defense at the NFL level.

28. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
One of the most exciting edge rushers in this draft class, Karlaftis flashes all kinds of a pass rush ability on film. The biggest challenge for NFL teams will be getting him to produce consistently. His technique as a rusher is all over the place and his run defense leaves a lot to be desired. So far, he has not been able to match his freshman season where he posted 7.5 sacks, totaling just five in his final 15 collegiate games. He measured in with shorter than ideal arms as well, but that is something he can overcome with his speed and quickness off the line. There is a lot of room for growth, which should see him go in the first round.

29. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
This is one of the trickiest evaluations of this draft process. On film, Burks showcased impressive playmaking skills with an exciting blend of size and speed. He posted impressive numbers for the Razorbacks, eclipsing 1,100 yards receiving to go with 11 touchdowns. He torched Alabama for 179 yards and two scores. That being said, he also had four games this season where he was held under 50 yards receiving, including a 16-yard outing against LSU and a 10-yard day when facing Georgia. That paired with a lackluster 40-time and a disappointing three-cone time and you get to where we are now. He could end up being a really solid playmaker, but there are a couple of red flags.

30. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Another Georgia defender makes the top 50. Dean is an explosive playmaker who excels playing downhill as a blitzing linebacker. He is decent in coverage and shows good range in run defense. He is a bit undersized at 5’11”, which is one of the only real knocks on Dean. If he can continue to play with good technique and capitalize on his speed, I think he will still be successful. There will be some teams who will not have him high on their boards because of his size. I think he can still be a solid starter with the capability to contribute right away.

31. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
Another edge rusher still learning to play the sport, Ebiketie’s draft stock skyrocketed in his one season at Penn State after transferring from Temple. He only started playing football during his sophomore year of high school. He didn’t start at Temple until 2020, but did enough to impress James Franklin and his staff. It paid off with 9.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss during his redshirt senior season. He is a bit small by NFL defensive end standards at about 6’3″, 250 pounds, but he has ideal length and impressive athleticism. However, he is one of the older prospects in the draft, having turned 23 in January. He is going to be a very scheme specific fit early on unless he can learn to play in more of an outside linebacker role.

32. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Another player that I have struggled in evaluating, Elam checks a lot of boxes for what I look for in a corner. He is tall at 6’1″ and ran sub 4.4 for his 40 time. He excels in press man with solid length and good fluidity in his movement. I can see him being a really good fit for any team that runs a lot of Cover 1 or Cover 0 sets. So that’s the good news. The bad news is he struggles in zone coverage and has some work to do as an open-field tackler. He won’t be a fit for everyone, but if lands in the right spot, he could be a starter on the outside right away.

33. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
The first tight end to appear on my big board, McBride is a bit of a mix between new age and old school when it comes to the position. He is capable of lining up split out on the boundary, in the slot or inline next to the tackle as a receiver. He posted ridiculous numbers this past season with 90 receptions for over 1,100 yards, practically unheard of for a college tight end. What’s more, he is an above average blocker with solid speed. He was clocked running somewhere in the mid 4.5s at his pro day. He might not be on the same level as Kyle Pitts, but he is scheme versatile. I think he has Pro Bowl potential.

34. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Kyle Hamilton gets all the publicity, but this is a deep class of safeties. Brisker is one of a few I expect to see drafted in the second round come draft day. He is big at 6’1″ and he tested well at the combine. He flies around the field on his tape, making plays from a variety of positions in Penn State’s defense. I think he has the physicality and instincts to play strong safety and the range to play free safety. That versatility will be coveted at the next level.

35. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
NDSU is becoming quite the breeding ground for NFL talent. Watson should be the latest player to earn his way to the next level. He is a rare combination of size and speed, measuring in at 6’4″ and running a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine. He is a bit limited as a route runner, but he showcased his ability to win in one-on-one coverage at the Senior Bowl. There will be some growing pains as he continues to improve his hands and quickness, but the potential for him to become a matchup nightmare is enticing.

36. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The next quarterback to come up on my board, Pickett is the most pro ready passer of this group. He has a good arm, a consistent throwing motion and the mobility needed to succeed in today’s NFL. He took a massive leap in his development during his redshirt senior season at Pittsburgh. His completion percentage jumped six points and he threw for more touchdowns (42) than he did in his first four seasons (39). Was he a one-season wonder? Only time will tell. There are a few other concerns with Pickett as well. He has the smallest hands in the league, which could prove to be an issue when the weather gets cold late in the season. He will also turn 24 this June. It is hard to tell exactly how much more room for growth there is.

37. George Pickens, WR, Georgia
One of the most tantalizing prospects in this draft class, Pickens is a bit of an unknown. He had a fantastic freshman season in a limited role before turning in a much more muted sophomore campaign. Expecting a big junior season, he tore his ACL in spring practice, but worked his way back to appear in the final few games of the season. He only recorded five catches in those four games. He posted solid, but not spectacular numbers at the combine, but the fact that he participated gave a good indication that he is back to full strength. Pickens has the body type and skill set to be a No. 1 receiver. It will be on whatever team drafts him though to help him take that next step in his development.

38. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Ridder is not just a fairy tale story anymore. Cincinnati showed it truly belonged in 2021, even if they did come up short against Alabama in the College Football Playoff. Ridder showcased in that game both what makes him an enticing prospect and why he is a bit of a project. He stood in against a heavy rush all night and delivered some solid passes outside the numbers. Unfortunately, we also saw him struggle to adjust when his passes were getting batted down at the line and his inaccuracy over the middle became a problem. There is a lot to like about his leadership, mobility and arm strength, but it will take time for him to put them all together.

39. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
Yet another Georgia player. Kirby Smart sure knows how to recruit and develop NFL talent. Cine was already on the NFL’s radar, but he really caught the nation’s attention with the performance he put on in the National Championship Game against Alabama. He racked up seven tackles, including one for loss against the Tide, making plays in space the whole game long. It capped off a season where he recorded 73 tackles and showcased his speed. He has great size for the position and checks just about every box from a physical standpoint.

40. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
An up-and-coming pass rusher in this draft class, Mafe turned in a seven-sack performance in his senior season. He is a speed rusher who flashes moments of power on film. His quick first step makes him tough to combat for slower tackles. He also showed that he can drop into coverage in both man and zone on film, so I think he could comfortably play outside linebacker at the next level. Mafe is also very comfortable playing with his hand in the ground as a defensive end. He has some room to improve as a run defender, but I think he will find his way onto the field early in his career.

41. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann feels like an athlete who just so happens to play offensive tackle. He put together a very impressive workout at the combine, dominating the three-cone, broad jump and bench press. My biggest knock on him would be his arm length, which was a bit below average. Still, I think he has the athleticism to make up for that. There will be a bit of a learning curve jumping from Central Michigan to facing NFL talent every week, but he has the look of a future starter in the league, especially if he can fill out his frame a bit more.

42. Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
Another college tackle whose future likely lies at interior lineman, Rhyan is close to NFL ready. He has good play strength and is a clear asset as a run blocker. He does sometimes lack a clear plan in the ground game, which leads him to miss a few blocks. Additionally, he does a solid job of keeping pass rushers in front of him. Unfortunately, he lacks the length to likely survive at tackle, but he could be a potential backup at the position given his history there in college.

43. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
NFL teams should probably just set up scouting posts in Seattle, because Washington continues to produce NFL caliber defensive backs. Elijah Molden, Byron Murphy, Taylor Rapp, Marcus Peters, Budda Baker and Kevin King are some of the more famous Huskies in the NFL right now. But I digress. Gordon seems poised to join that group, with recent buzz suggesting he might not get out of the first round. He is a bit bigger than his teammate Trent McDuffie at 5’11” and a half. However, he lacks the same kind of explosiveness that makes McDuffie such a coveted prospect. He shows a willingness as a run blocker. The more I watch him, the more I think I might be a little too low on him.

44. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
At long last, we have a running back in the rankings. Hall is a well-rounded back with potential home run speed. He broke 4.4 on his 40-time and had a really impressive workout all the way around. On top of that, his production at Iowa State was impressive. He scored 50 touchdowns on the ground and hauled in 83 catches over three years. He will certainly be a factor in the passing game even if he isn’t quite on the same level as Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara. To me, he is the clear top back in this class and could even sneak into the end of Round 1 if a team like Buffalo decides it needs an upgrade in the backfield.

45. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
This is a really tough one for me. From a production standpoint, I think Dotson is closer to a first-round pick. He has a great set of hands and posted over 1,100 yards on 90 catches with 12 touchdowns. The measurables are where I start to have an issue. He is only 5’10” and weighed in under 180 pounds at the combine. He also posted a dismal three-cone time. I think he can still be a very productive player at the next level, but I don’t know that he will ever be a true No. 1 option, which pushes him into the second round for me.

46. Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
At this point, it is tough to project exactly where Kinnard will best fit in the NFL. He started three years at right tackle for Kentucky. However, he tested really poorly at the combine, showing he might lack to requisite athleticism to play tackle at the next level. That being said, he has long 35-inch arms and massive 11-inch hands. Those are incredible numbers. His play style probably points to a future on the interior, but only time will tell. Either way, I think he has a future as an NFL lineman with his raw power and size.

47. Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Thomas broke out in his junior season, recording 20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. He has really solid play strength, which allows him to sort through traffic well against the run. San Diego State asked him to play inside a lot more than I think he will at the NFL level. He will likely be a 4-3 defensive end. He still has a lot of work to do as a pass rusher as he mostly wins reps based on effort at this point. The one thing he does really well as a pass rusher is use his hands to create leverage. If he starts adding a few moves, he will be a very effective player.

48. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Definitely a bit of a project, Woolen has exciting intangibles. He showed out at the combine, measuring in at just over 6’4″ before running a 4.26 40 and a 42-inch vertical. Mix in roughly 33 and a half-inch long arms and you have the makings of a potential superstar at the position. It is all going to depend on his development. He had a good year at UTSA and has a good understanding of how to break up passes without getting called for interference. I think I would like to see him get a bit more physical and improve when it comes to mirroring receivers. He is a really exciting prospect though.

49. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
One of the largest human beings to ever be at the combine, Faalele became the heaviest player to weigh in over 20 years. He tipped the scales at 384 pounds. At 6’8″, he carries that weight pretty well, but those numbers are just mind boggling. That size alone makes him an asset, but it comes with its drawbacks. He lacks elite quickness and struggles with his pad level given his immense size. There is a lot to work with, but those limitations likely will keep him on the right side of the line for his career. Still, I think he can be a quality starter if he keeps his weight under control and works on his pass protection.

50. Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
Opinions seem to be split on Pierce. On one hand, he has an enticing blend of size and long speed. He posted elite numbers in the vertical and broad jump. He was a big-play threat all year long at Cincinnati. On the other, can he really be more than just a big-play option? His film shows the ability to get open if he does not have elite quickness. Some of it can be blamed on a quarterback who seemingly struggled on intermediate routes over the middle. There is enough there that I think you can take a second-round flier on him and see if he can develop into a mid-tier No. 1 option.

Follow the Aftermath via email to get every article delivered right to your inbox. Enter your email in the text box to subscribe. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also check out our weekly podcast Draft Season Never Ends with new episodes every Friday, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.