NFL Draft

by npatano on April 21, 2022

Professional Sports

Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

For two teams every year, the Superbowl is the most exciting date on the NFL calendar. For everyone else, who were not quite good enough or fell just short of making the big game, the offseason represents a time of hope. It provides a clean slate, a chance for a team to get better and address weaknesses, and a time for rivals to get worse. And the pinnacle of hope and talent acquisition is the NFL Draft.

Photo Courtesy of USATSI

The 2022 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, April 28, features a particularly deep class of rookies alongside a weak class of quarterbacks. Combine that with the fact that eight teams have two first round picks (16 picks, or half of the first round, is controlled by a quarter of the league), this year’s draft is shaping up to be as interesting as ever. So, what do you need to know before April 28?

First off, if you are in the market for a quarterback (looking at you, Carolina Panthers), then this is not the best year to take one in the first round. The class has some solid players featuring University of Pittsburgh product Kenny Pickett, Liberty University dual threat Malik Willis, and University of Cincinnati veteran Desmond Ridder. All of these guys, along with Sam Howell and Matt Corral, have the potential  to be fine pros. However, their talent and ability do not seem to be equivalent to being seen as a “future star.” There are some interesting guys later, such as Carson Strong, who has a cannon of an arm but is very raw. Bailey Zappe is also interesting as he is coming off a historic season numbers wise but played at Western Kentucky University which did not face much strong competition in Conference-USA.

Photo Courtesy of AP Photo

While QB’s may not be going early, offensive linemen and pass rushers certainly are available in abundance. Typically considered the two most important positions outside of the QB, those who pressure and protect the QB, if your team needs an EDGE or OT, this is the class for you. 

Evan Neal out of the University of Alabama is a tried-and-true product that has started multiple years, at multiple positions, in the rigorous SEC conference for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. Right up there alongside him is NC State product Ikem Ekwonu, who is nasty and physical, especially in the run game. Mississippi State University’s Charles Cross, however, is the better pass blocker of the two. 

In terms of pass rushers, you can pick your poison. University of Michigan Heisman finalist Aidan Hutchinson provides a good blend of pass rush talent and athleticism. However, his athletic ceiling isn’t comparable to the University of Georgia EDGE Travon Walker who is an athletic freak, even if his role in college didn’t translate to stunning pass rush numbers. The University of Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux was the consensus number one overall pick going into and throughout the year. Athletically, he has all the tools and dominates on the field, but off the field, concerns and consistency issues may allow him to drop a little further than he should. Jermaine Johnson from Florida State University and George Karlaftis from Purdue University also provide solid depth to the position in the first round.

All of this does not mention receivers, of which the first round has many. If you are the New York Jets or Green Bay Packers, both of whom have multiple first round picks and needs a receiver, this is draft is key. You can get speed with Alabama’s Jameson Williams, route running and star potential in both Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave from the Ohio State University, or a jump ball threat in the University of Southern California’s Drake London.

There are many names to watch out for in this year’s draft. These are just a few that everyone should know before the festivities begin. But one thing is for sure: this year’s draft is shaping up to be very exciting and promises a lot of unexpected moves, picks, and trades.