Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, ESPN Experts Share 2022 NFL Draft Pro-Player Comparisons

Adam WellsApril 13, 2022

Quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) goes through passing drills during Pittsburgh's football pro day , Monday, March 21, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

One popular part of the NFL predraft process is the pro-player comparison for incoming players. It gives fans an easy one-to-one way to evaluate traits of the rookie class and what they could turn into if everything goes right. 

ESPN rounded up several of its NFL writers and analysts, including draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, to make 10 player comps for the 2022 draft class. 

Here is the list of pro-player comparisons cited in the article:

  • QB Kenny Pickett: Tony Romo (Dan Orlovsky)
  • WR Garrett Wilson: Stefon Diggs (Matt Bowen)
  • LB Devin Lloyd: Fred Warner (McShay)
  • CB Ahmad Gardner: Antonio Cromartie (Mike Tannenbaum)
  • WR Alec Pierce: Jordy Nelson (Kiper)
  • OT Ikem Ekwonu: Tristan Wirfs (Matt Miller)
  • CB Derek Stingley Jr.: Marshon Lattimore (Jordan Reid)
  • DT Jordan Davis: Vita Vea (Steve Muench)
  • OT Trevor Penning: Jon Runyan (Jeff Legwold)
  • TE Chigoziem Okonkwo: Jonnu Smith (Turron Davenport)

Given how volatile everyone believes this quarterback class to be, Pickett being compared to Romo would actually strengthen his argument to be the top signal-caller taken. 

"Pickett has an unsettled, backyard style of play," Orlovsky said. "The Pittsburgh QB consistently gets himself out of bad situations with his quickness and creativity. And when he is in rhythm, Pickett is highly operational."

In his scouting report about Pickett for B/R, Nate Tice did cite some of those traits while also highlighting some of the reasons to be concerned about him in the NFL:

"Pitckett's ability to make defenders miss in the pocket and down the field and also throw off-platform on broken plays is a clear strength. He is not a statue by any means, and he can truly create plays for an offense. But he is not an overwhelming athlete, and NFL defenses will punish that tendency if his anticipation and willingness to operate from the pocket doesn't improve."

Romo went from being undrafted out of Eastern Illinois to playing 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times and finished third in MVP voting in 2014. 

Matt Bowen didn't necessarily correlate Wilson's skill set to Stefon Diggs but cited the way a team can use him "as a three-level target with inside/outside flexibility" to make the comparison. 

Stingley has been regarded as one of the most talented players in this class. The concerns about him are related to injuries and his best season coming as a true freshman in 2019. 

Stingley put together a strong performance at LSU's pro day last week to solidify his status as a top-10 pick. He is still in a battle with Sauce Gardner as the best cornerback prospect in this draft. 

Jordan Reid's comparison of Stingley to Lattimore is apt because Lattimore dealt with injuries in his college career at Ohio State. He had surgery to repair a hamstring injury in 2014 before the start of his freshman year. 

After playing just seven games in 2015, Lattimore was named to the All-Big Ten first team as a junior in 2016. He parlayed that performance, along with his talent, to being the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft by the New Orleans Saints. 

Gardner's comp of Cromartie is appropriate because they are both tall and long cornerbacks. Gardner measured in at the 96th percentile of all players at the position at 6'2¾" with 33½" arms. Cromartie was exactly 6'2" with 33" arms. 

Davis stole the show at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. Muench noted his size (341 pounds) and athleticism allow him to handle "one-on-one matchups and occupy double-teams" similar to Vea, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star.