NFL Draft 2022: Day 2 Grades for Every Pick
For all of the attention the first round receives, the heart of the 2022 NFL draft can be found in the middle rounds, particularly during the latter portions of Day 2.
"I think it's very middle-of-the-draft heavy; third through the fifth round," Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told reporters before the start of the event. "First and second a little more thin than we're used to, but I still think we're going to have a great opportunity to really improve our football team."
To quibble with Jones' original point ever so slightly, some strange (looking at you, New England) and unexpected first-round moves make the top of the second round quite exciting.
Quarterbacks Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder, as well as top running backs Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker III, didn't hear their names called during the opening frame. Linebacker Nakobe Dean, defensive lineman Logan Hall, cornerback Andrew Booth Jr., edge Arnold Ebiketie, offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann, safety Jaquan Brisker and linebackers Chad Muma and Christian Harris held first-round grades on Bleacher Report's Top 300.
A ripple effect will occur throughout the rest of Friday's proceedings since talented players slid a little further than projected.
Follow along as Bleacher Report provides analysis and grades for every pick.
33. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Jacksonville)
Logan Hall, DL, Houston
Strengths: Physical interior defender with potential to play multiple spots, plays larger and stronger than lanky frame indicates
Weaknesses: Limited pass-rusher, inconsistent pad level due to height, non-defined role
The positives of Houston's Logan Hall can also be viewed as a negative.
As a member of the Cougars, Hall primarily played along the defensive interior and excelled in this role, too. The two-year starter grew throughout his time in Houston and became a physical force along the defensive front. Hall overwhelmed lower-level competition with his length, violent hands and consistent drive.
But his 6'6", 283-pound frame indicates he's more suited to play base end at the NFL level. Hall shouldn't be viewed as a typical edge-rusher because he's not. He's more of a straight-line defender with a lanky body type to fill run and throwing lanes.
His development should continue, of course. The next step is finding out exactly where he fits.
The versatility to play multiple spots along a defensive front can be invaluable. At the same time, Hall doesn't have a positional home upon entering the professional ranks. He told Justin Melo of The Draft Network that certain teams are looking at him to play end, while others would like him to add even more weight and start at 3-technique.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took advantage of trading back, adding a couple assets and still landing a talent who they could have reasonably taken with 27th overall pick.
Bleacher Report’s Scouting Department rated Hall as the 21st-best prospect in the entire class.
Considering the uncertain status of Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon, Hall adds the size, length and physicality necessary for the Buccaneers to consistently win at the point of attack and let the team’s talented edge-rushers go to work. Hall can line up on the edge if needed, play 5-technique and move inside, where he spent most of his time as part of the Cougars program.
34. Green Bay Packers (from Minnesota)
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Strengths: Perfect build for position, elite athletic scores, understands pro-style route concepts
Weaknesses: Doesn't always use size to advantage, concentration lapses, straight-line athlete who doesn't sink and bend out of breaks as well
There's only one other wide receiver in NFL history with better physical tools than North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson.
According to Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte, Watson's raw athletic score among wide receivers is second to the incomparable Calvin Johnson.
The FCS product stands 6'4", weighs 208 pounds, ran an official 4.36-second 40-yard dash and possesses 38.5-inch vertical and 11'4" board jumps. Physically, he's everything a team wants at the position.
However, he was far from a dominant target for the Bison. During his five years with the program, Watson never had more than 43 receptions or 800 yards in a season.
To be fair, North Dakota State employs a run-dominant offense, which has been wildly successful with nine national championships since the start of the 2011 campaign.
More will be asked of Watson in the NFL. His physical ability is evident. But he must show that he's more than only a gifted athlete and develop into a consistent target.
Thankfully, the Green Bay Packers finally made a strong move to address wide receiver by trading up and selecting Watson with the 34th overall pick.
Watson gives quarterback Aaron Rodgers a completely different type of target as an elite athlete who can stretch the field. He’ll need to refine some of his technique and become more consistent, because drops will find him in Rodgers’ doghouse very quickly.
Otherwise, the Packers landed first-round athletic ability at wide receiver after passing on the position twice on Day 1.
35. Tennessee Titans (from NY Jets)
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Strengths: Excellent in ball skills, fluid ball skills, effective in zone and man coverage
Weaknesses: Lack of top end speed and burst
Auburn’s Roger McCreary emerged as the country’s best cornerback last season. Well, at least Pro Football Focus graded him as such.
The competitiveness in his game is easily recognizable.
“McCreary excels when he can line up and cover the guy across from him,” scout Cory Giddings wrote. “He's a physical corner who has no problem guarding bigger receivers.
“McCreary is a calm defender who doesn't panic with the ball in the air. He pairs his patience at the line of scrimmage with hand placement and aggressiveness to control receivers and compete throughout the route.”
For the Tennessee Titans, they have to account for the fact that Caleb Farley, last year’s first-round pick, has an extensive injury history and is once again coming off a season-ending knee injury. McCreary immediately joins Elijah Molden and Kristian Fulton to give the team a solid trio. If Farley mends and reaches his potential, this group will be outstanding.
36. New York Jets (from NYG)
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Strengths: Elite vision, patient runner, quick feet with excellent lateral agility and contact balance, consistently maximizes what's available
Weaknesses: Heavy workload, must improve pass protection
Iowa State's Breece Hall dominated Big 12 competition for multiple years even though he won't turn 21 until after the NFL draft.
The two-time All-American amassed a whopping 800 total touches in three seasons, which raises concerns about the miles on his tires. However, he should still have fresh legs entering the NFL as one of the youngest prospects in this year's draft class.
Hall played in 36 of 38 possible games during his collegiate career. One of those missed absences came when he chose to opt out of the Cyclones' bowl game this past season.
In the NFL, Hall likely won't serve as a bell-cow. But he can have a similar impact thanks to his fantastic vision, which allows him to be extremely patient while waiting for a sliver to open and then explode through quickly closing holes.
Because of his style of play, Hall doesn't look like one of the most athletic ball-carriers in the last 35 years. But he is. According to Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte, the 217-pound back posted the ninth-highest relative athletic score during that period.
Basically, Hall is young, explosive and productive, with all of the inherent subtleties to play running back at a high level.
Michael Carter showed promise as a rookie, but Hall is a completely different type of runner. New York’s ground attack is predicated on the outside zone scheme the Shanahan family made famous, and Hall’s vision will make him deadly when running the scheme.
The Jets now have a true RB1.
37. Houston Texans
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Strengths: Positionless defender, strong tackler flying up from slot or safety, can handle man coverage, nose for the football
Weaknesses: Some hip stiffness, inconsistent zone coverage, can play out of control when flying to the football
Some defensive backs overcome their size limitations and serve as hybrid defenders. A positional designation would be a disservice to the likes of Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker.
Baylor's Jalen Pitre comes from the same mold.
Pitre is technically a safety, but he's also a nickel corner and a strong run defender and a gremlin attacking the football. He is a chess piece who allows defenses to do more because of the flexibility of his skill set.
The reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is only 5'11" and 198 pounds with sub-31-inch arms, but the eye test doesn't lie. Pitre is a fantastic player whose performances supersede any perceived physical limitations.
Last season, the consensus All-American posted the best run-defense grade of any Big 12 defensive back since the start of the 2014 campaign, per Pro Football Focus. His 34 run stops and 19 tackles for loss or no gain rank first among cornerbacks since 2020. Pitre didn't allow a single touchdown into his coverage over the last two seasons.
Pure coverage skills may have been a lingering concern coming out of Pitre's stellar senior year, but he didn't look outmatched at the Senior Bowl. He also ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at Baylor's pro day, per Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy.
Clearly, the Houston Texans made revamping their secondary a priority.
The took Derek Stingley Jr. with the No. 3 pick on Day 1. At No. 35, Pitre gives Houston even more flexibility. With Pitre, head coach and former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith has a chess piece to play at safety or line up over the slot or run the alley.
The Texans just needed to build up their roster. They’ve done an excellent job upgrading their defensive back line.
38. Atlanta Falcons (from NYG)
Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State
Strengths: Flexible with bend to shorten pass-rushing path off edge, very quick in short areas, long levers
Weaknesses: One year of production, smaller frame, lacks power as run defender and pass-rusher.
Four years at Temple didn't do much to place Arnold Ebiketie on the NFL map. But the pass-rusher clearly had the potential to become far more.
Ebiketie entered the Owls program as a linebacker and needed to put on the necessary weight to hold up as an edge-defender. But during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, Ebiketie registered 8.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in only six games.
Upon graduating from Temple, Ebiketie transferred to Penn State and exploded onto the scene.
In his lone season with the Nittany Lions, Ebiketie led the program with 18 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks on his way to being named to the All-Big Ten first team. According to Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey, Ebiketie finished fourth among all available prospects with a 32 percent pass-rush win rate on standard dropbacks.
Ebiketie has the burst, length (34⅛” arms) and flexibility to be a disruptive force. The NFL is a different animal, though. He still lacks bulk to hold up at the point of attack.
Ebiketie stands 6'2" and weighs 250 pounds. He'll need to be in the right system to become anything more than a situational pass-rusher.
The Atlanta Falcons saw a first-round talent still on the board and traded up to acquire him. The organization is doing the smart thing by building up the overall roster so it can eventually plop a young quarterback into the lineup.
Drake London gives Atlanta another weapon to work down the field and provide matchup nightmares. Ebiketie addresses a premium position on the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett can’t do it all. Ebiketie is an ideal fit as an outside linebacker in Dean Pees’ system with the potential to be a consistent nuisance as an edge-rusher. At Arthur Smith's previous stop, the Tennessee Titans found a similar talent in the second round when they chose Harold Landry III.
39. Chicago Bears
Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Strengths: Aggressive press player near line of scrimmage, downhill hitter, slot and outside capabilities, effective blitzer
Weaknesses: Sometimes too aggressive with hands down the field, little tight in his turn, short-area burst slightly lacking
Everything about Washington's Kyler Gordon screams elite cornerback, though he hasn't quite reached that level as a prospect.
Statistically, a more impressive defender is difficult to find. The first-team All-Pac-12 performer didn't allow a single touchdown over the last two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus.
Gordon's 2021 effort provided the best man-coverage grade in the last four seasons. Last year's red-zone coverage grade also ranked first among Power Five cornerbacks. Gordon finished third on a very good Huskies defense with 36 unassisted tackles and first with seven passes defended while playing opposite Trent McDuffie.
Athletically, Gordon tested well too. The 5'11½", 194-pound defender ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the combine. His 3.96-second short shuttle, 6.67-second three-cone and 39.5-inch vertical at Washington's pro day would have ranked second, fourth and second, respectively, among defensive backs at the NFL combine.
Gordon excels at being a physical defender at the line of scrimmage or in zone. A little bit of hip tightness might appear when he's asked to pedal and turn in coverage against top targets. He can also be slow to trigger and will miss some tackles in space. Generally, he thrives when asked to play the ball in front of him.
The Chicago Bears didn’t have a first-round pick this year thanks to last year’s Justin Fields trade. Yet, they still landed a prospect considered by some to be a first-rounder leading up to this year’s event.
Picking Gordon sets the tone for what the team plans to do on defense under the supervision of new head coach Matt Eberflus, who previously served as the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive coordinator.
However, the Bears are a long way away from actually placing Justin Fields in a position to succeed. The second-year quarterback needs pieces around him, and the Bears chose to go in another direction.
40. Seattle Seahawks
Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota
Strengths: Fluid pass-rusher, consistently works hands, athletic enough to drop into space
Weaknesses: Never a full-time starter, questionable instincts, lacks pops upon contact
Certain prospects elevate their games after the fact. In the case of Minnesota's Boye Mafe, his best moments came during his path to the 2022 NFL draft.
During Senior Bowl week, Mafe turned into a nigh-unstoppable edge-rusher against the best competition college football had to offer. As Pro Football Focus' Anthony Treash noted, his overall grade and pass-rush win rate topped 92 and 41 percent, respectively, throughout the week's festivities.
Mafe played relentlessly and showed a skilled pass rush. To cap his week, he won the Senior Bowl's National Player of the Game award.
At the NFL combine, the 261-pound defender posted a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, finished among the top five defensive ends in both the vertical (38 inches) and broad (10'5") jumps and moved effortlessly throughout the position drills.
Mafe's ability has always been present. It was just too inconsistent during his time with the Gophers. He deserves credit for improving every year on campus, but he could be a liability in certain situations, particularly against the run.
Mafe's ability to turn the corner and rush the passer is obvious. He still must prove that he can be on the field in more than a situational role, though.
To be fair, the Seattle Seahawks have been searching for a consistent pass-rusher for a long time. They’ve tried to address the position in every way possible, including drafting L.J. Collier in the first round three years ago. The Seahawks finished in the bottom-10 in the league last season in sacks.
Mafe’s selection doesn’t necessarily address the need. Yes, he’s an athletic pass-rusher. He played his best during Senior Bowl week and looked like a future dominant force. But he wasn’t always that guy, spending too much time as a part-time player in college.
41. Seattle Seahawks
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Strengths: Big-play machine, elite top-end speed, powerful lower body to consistently break arm tackles, enough wiggle to make defenders miss in tight spaces
Weaknesses: One year of high-level production, non-factor in the passing game, suspect protection
Kenneth Walker III made the most of the transfer portal when he left Wake Forest to join the Michigan State Spartans.
"At Wake, I felt like I couldn't show all my skills," Walker told CBS Sports' Shehan Jeyarajah in late October. "I think I can be versatile. I can cut. I can run downhill. I think I'm an explosive runner."
In two seasons with the Demon Deacons, Walker managed 1,158 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 217 carries. Last season with the Spartans, he carried the ball 263 times, led all Power Five ball-carriers with 1,636 rushing yards, scored 18 rushing touchdowns, won the Doak Walker Award and became a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Walker's 2021 season was even more impressive when looking at advanced stats. He led all running backs with 1,168 rushing yards after contact, 89 forced missed tackles and 46 runs of 10 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
Walker's athletic testing at the NFL combine backed his on-field prowess when he posted an impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash. The Walter Camp Award winner is a big play waiting to happen in the run game, although he must evolve as a pass-catcher and pass protector to become a well-rounded offensive threat.
The Seattle Seahawks simply couldn’t resist. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider saw a game-breaker at running back and had to select him. Seattle makes no bones about the importance of establishing its ground game.
Yes, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny are already on the roster. But neither is signed beyond the upcoming season. The Seahawks want a workhorse back to establish the run, especially without Russell Wilson in the lineup. They now have one once again.
However, they passed on quarterbacks Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder when they were right there. Priorities may be out of whack in the Pacific Northwest.
42. Minnesota Vikings (from IND)
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Strengths: Comfortable working in press to redirect receivers, fires downhill to attack first-level passes, excellent ball-tracker, good all-around athlete
Weaknesses: Can get sloppy, high with technique, build-up speed, still dealing with injuries
Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. received one of the truest evaluations among any prospect in this year's draft class because he didn't have the opportunity to work out in front of NFL teams. Instead, his status depended almost entirely on what he put on film.
Booth suffered a quad strain during his predraft preparation and couldn't go through workouts at the NFL combine. He also underwent sports hernia surgery in March, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, although he should be healthy for the start of training camp.
The eye in the sky doesn't lie, which is why Booth still received a high grade despite his recent injury history.
The first-team All-ACC corner has no hesitation whatsoever when it comes to flying up and making a play either against a short pass or a running play. Booth can press at the line of scrimmage, too. He also doesn't get nervous with the ball in the air.
However, evaluators never got to see what Booth's top-end speed really is. At times, wide receivers easily released and stacked him. He might possess excellent speed, but he can lose a step or two by playing a little high and tight.
The 6'0", 194-pound defensive back should thrive in a press/zone-heavy scheme because of his quick trigger and ball skills.
NewMinnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah may quickly earn a reputation as “Trader Kwesi” as he continues to manipulate the draft with numerous trades. In this instance, the Vikings moved up to address their biggest area of need.
The Vikings weren’t in a position to land either Derek Stingley Jr. or Sauce Gardner with the No. 12 pick, which likely played a part in them trading out of their original selection.
Adofo-Mensah worked the board and still landed a cornerback who earned a first-round grade from Bleacher Report’s Scouting Department. Booth’s slide to Day 2 is largely attributable to his offseason core surgery.
Booth can slide in as a starter at outside corner opposite Patrick Peterson while learning from the all-time great.
43. New York Giants (from ATL)
Wan'Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
Strengths: Shifty target who can create separation and slip through coverage; plays with good balance, toughness and play speed
Weaknesses: Slender frame, short arms (27⅝ inches), easily brought down when in a defender's grasp, not going to make many contested catches
Wan'Dale Robinson found new life when he transferred from the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Kentucky Wildcats. The Commonwealth native flourished when used in a variety of manners under offensive coordinator Liam Coen, who has since joined the Los Angeles Rams in the same capacity.
The second-team All-SEC performer grabbed a whopping 104 catches and recorded the third-best season by a receiver in the loaded conference since 2014, per Pro Football Focus. The staff used him all over, including as an outside receiver, in the slot and on fly sweeps and screens.
Size concerns are never going to go away. Robinson is 5'8", 178 pounds but has 4.44-second 40-yard dash speed. He led the SEC with 733 receiving yards when facing press coverage.
New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll came from Buffalo Bills, where head coach Sean McDermott affectionately referred to his wide receivers as “Smurfs” a few years ago. Clearly, the offensive scheme Daboll brings isn’t reliant on big, traditional targets, and his new team already has Kenny Golladay on the roster.
Even so, Robinson is a concerning selection because he’s redundant with Kadarius Toney yet less explosive. He’s not going to win for the Giants on the outside. He’s essentially a gadget player, whose slight frame will be more of a problem at the professional level.
44. Houston Texans (from CLE)
John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
Strengths: Varied, pro-style route tree, can make defenders miss to create after the catch, soft hands with ability to make difficult grabs
Weaknesses: ACL injury, can be overwhelmed some by bigger corners due to lack of size, not a burner
Like former Alabama teammate Jameson Williams, John Metchie III is also coming off an ACL tear, though he suffered his injury during the SEC championship game instead of the College Football Playoff national title game.
However, Metchie is expected to be ready before or near the start of training camp.
"Around June, in June, I should be cleared, I should be good to go," Metchie told reporters at the NFL combine. "Just ready to play football and run some routes. My recovery is going really well. All the doctors say it's going really well, so I shouldn't have any issues there at all."
Metchie led the Crimson Tide with 96 catches last season. Williams is a speedster who placed the fear of God in every opponent, while Metchie quietly went about his business and created separation due to his understanding of routes. That made him a consistent, reliable option.
As long as Metchie is ready for the start of camp, he can be an instant contributor working out of the slot.
As mentioned earlier, the Houston Texans built up their secondary with Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre. They also helped solidify the front with the Kenyon Green. The organization decided to jump into the fray of another wide receiver and get their guy in Metchie.
Obviously, Metchie’s injury affected his draft status after a stellar campaign. At the same time, the injury is what made him available for the Texans at this juncture.
Houston didn’t have much in the passing game beyond Brandin Cooks. Once Metchie is on the field, he’ll give quarterback Davis Mills another reliable target, which could be crucial in the second-year signal-caller’s development.
45. Baltimore Ravens
David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan
Strengths: Speed-rusher who can turn and bend the edge, closing quickness, different rhythm to pass rush
Weaknesses: Leg injury, below-average run defender, not instinctual
For NFL draft prospects, an injury is the worst possible outcome during the predraft process. Unfortunately, Michigan's David Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the Wolverines' pro day.
Considering the timing, Ojabo's rookie campaign could be over before it even begins. However, the fact that the Nigerian immigrant (by way of Scotland) plays a premium position with the natural bend and speed to consistently threaten the edge mitigates the potential of a lost year.
Even before the injury occurred, teams already viewed Ojabo "as a role rusher with upside to become a starter," according to ESPN's Matt Miller.
A prospect screaming off the edge to harass quarterbacks certainly has a place, which is why Ojabo had been considered a first-round talent throughout the evaluation process.
At the same time, he played limited reps and needs to round out his game. Ojabo is a natural athlete capable of affecting opposing passing games, but he's much further behind when asked to consistently win at the point of attack and provide the same type of impact against ground attacks.
The Baltimore Ravens crushed the first round with the additions of Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum. They continue down the same path with the addition of Ojabo in the second.
Ojabo was a slam-dunk first-round prospect before he got injured during Michigan’s pro day. In the short term, the unfortunate situation cost him. In the long run, the still-developing edge-rusher couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot where he can play with his friend Odafe Oweh. The two can eventually become a dynamic duo rushing off the edge once Ojabo is ready to return.
46. Detroit Lions (from MIN)
Josh Paschal, Edge, Kentucky
Strengths: Strong at the point of attack, shoots his hands, anchors well, outstanding run defender, interior pass-rushing capabilities, high character
Weaknesses: Lacks flexibility to bend edge as pass-rusher, stout build and shorter arms compared to tradition edge defenders
Josh Paschal is the type of player every NFL team should want on its roster and in its locker room.
"The way he empties his tank, the way he goes about his business, the way he impacts players, he leads, he is so selfless, he has overcome so much," Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops told reporters about Paschal in November. "Plays and empties his tank every day, one of the most special players if not the most, I've ever coached."
The first-team All-SEC performer gives everything he has because the game was nearly taken away from him.
Kentucky redshirted Paschal in 2018 after he was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors found malignant melanoma on his foot, which required three surgeries. He returned to play three games that season. One year later, he registered 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Paschal's game continued to improve throughout the 2020 and 2021 seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, his 48 defensive stops on runs and 25 tackles for loss or no gain over that span led all Power Five edge-defenders. He graded first among SEC edge-defenders last season, too.
The Detroit Lions are finding players who fit their head coach’s mentality, at least on the defensive side of the ball. Aidan Hutchinson is now the centerpiece of the unit and a potential culture-changer. As a second-round pick, Paschal won’t receive the same fanfare, but he brings similar qualities to the organization.
On the field, Paschal is one of the class’ most physical players. The Lions have searched for edge help since Ziggy Ansah couldn’t go anymore. The combination of Hutchinson and Paschal will provide a flexibility and far more potent front.
47. Washington Commanders (from IND)
Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama
Strengths: Stack-and-shed machine, long levers, bull rush, set strong base and anchor
Weaknesses: Poor first-step quickness, only effective in confined spaces
Some programs are known for producing certain types of prospects based on the system they employ and traits they look for in recruits. The Alabama Crimson Tide certainly have a type when it comes to their defensive linemen.
Christian Barmore, Raekwon Davis, Quinnen Williams, Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson, A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed were all massive interior defenders who were well-coached in the art of stacking and shedding blocks. The differentiation between those prospects tended to be their ability to collapse the pocket as a pass-rusher.
Phidarian Mathis fits closer to the mold of Tomlinson, Robinson and Reed, who were fantastic against the run, than Allen, Williams and Barmore, who created far more of an impact as interior pass-rushers.
The second-team All-SEC selection is a 313-pound plugger with some pass-rushing capabilities thanks to his long arms and a good bull rush. After tallying 1.5 sacks over his first three years at Alabama combined, he racked up nine during his final season on campus.
Overall, Mathis is far better at locking out blockers, tossing them to the side and working against the run because he has the power to do so. However, he lacks the explosiveness to be a consistent pocket collapser.
The Washington Commanders continue to invest in their defensive line. They also added yet another Alabama product after previously sinking high picks in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne.
Mathis’ particular inclusion allows him to join his fellow alumni and offset the losses of Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle.
Washington isn’t shy about selecting defensive lineman high in the process. The franchise built its reputation on its talented front. Mathis adds quality depth and will fit right into the rotation.
48. Chicago Bears (from LAC)
Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Strengths: Very physical player at or near line of scrimmage, forceful tackler, contributes at all three levels
Weaknesses: Some tightness in backpedal, inconsistent route recognition
As a whole, the safety class is arguably the weakest position group among the incoming crop. A well-rounded defensive back such as Penn State's Jaquan Brisker becomes more valuable as a result.
"Teams told me they like my versatility and effort," Brisker told reporters after Penn State's pro day. "You can't coach effort. They said they saw enough of me on the field [last season], to be honest. I showed them that I know the game of football."
Brisker does play with a significant effort and toughness. The first-team All-Big Ten performer can be found chasing down ball-carriers all the way across the field. He also played through a shoulder injury in 2021. These two things often endear players to coaches.
Brisker is also a complete defender with an excellent athletic profile. He ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at Penn State's pro day and posted solid change-of-direction numbers with a 4.19-second short shuttle and 6.91 three-cone drill, per The Athletic's Dane Brugler.
Overall, the second-team All-American may be best suited in the box because that's where he can create the greatest impact (pun intended). But he can help in a variety of manners, even if he's a little more inconsistent along the back line.
OK. Let’s take a second and look at what the Chicago Bears have done. The additions of Kyler Gordon and Brisker add significant talent to their defensive back line. Brisker, in particular, is one of the class’ best safety prospects.
The same problem must be brought up for the second time in this round, though. Brisker is a good football player and a very good value. At some point, quarterback Justin Fields is going to need more help. This is what happens when a defensive coach leads the way.
49. New Orleans Saints
Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
Strengths: Ideal height/length/speed combo, good vision, thrives in zone, flies up against the run
Weaknesses: Plays a little high, transition through backpedal can be a little stiff, doesn't always stay in phase down the field
Being on a disappointing team can affect a player's draft stock. Alontae Taylor endured four years of mediocrity with the Tennessee Volunteers, though he clearly has the tools to succeed in the NFL.
Taylor is a 6'0", 199-pound corner with 32¼-inch arms and 4.36-second 40-yard dash speed. He also bettered both his vertical and broad jumps at Tennessee's pro day with 39-inch and 11'1" efforts, respectively, per Senior Bowl executive Jim Nagy.
Physical attributes are only part of the equation. Taylor played the second-most red-zone snaps last year without allowing a reception, according to PFF. He's also one of the best in the class in flying up to defend the run.
However, Taylor often gambles to make plays, and he can be a little stiff transitioning when running at full throttle. His overall technique could use refinement since he transitioned from quarterback coming out of high school.
A team can never have too many corners. The New Orleans Saints already have Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo, Bradley Roby and P.J. Williams. Taylor’s inclusion isn’t the problem, though. The value of the selection is very questionable.
As noted, Taylor presents significant upside. As a prospect, Bleacher Report’s Scouting Department had him graded as a fourth-round option. Obviously, grades are subjective and they can vary widely. However, the Saints passed on more highly regarded athletes at the position, with Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen being prime examples.
50. New England Patriots (from KC)
Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
Strengths: Sprinter speed, good height (6'2") and catch radius, easily creates separation, springy athlete
Weaknesses: Press coverage can wipe him out due to thin frame, slow in and out of breaks, didn't run full route tree, concentration drops
Does a wide receiver need blazing speed to succeed in the NFL? Not necessarily. Cooper Kupp just had the greatest single season ever by a wideout, and he ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine back in 2017.
However, teams are always searching for explosive wideouts with the speed to tilt the field to their advantage.
Baylor's Tyquan Thornton ran the fastest 40 among wide receivers at this year's combine with a 4.28-second effort. That time tied for the second-fastest ever recorded by a wideout since the results became public.
Thornton will instantly be a vertical threat as soon as he walks onto an NFL field. However, he can be affected by more physical defensive backs jamming him. He needs to throttle down a bit when he's coming out of breaks, which makes him more susceptible to defensive backs gaining ground and making plays on the ball.
Speed kills, and that’s primarily what the New England Patriots are getting at this juncture, because Thornton needs time to prove himself as a consistent target. One elite trait is apparently enough after the Patriots invested free-agent deals in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne last offseason.
Bill Belichick learned his lesson when the franchise chose N’Keal Harry in the first round during the 2019 NFL draft. Explosivity is more important now than ever before, and Thornton can threaten every blade of grass. Right now, that’s all he needs to do. Over time, he may become a more complete target.
51. Philadelphia Eagles
Cam Jurgens, IOL, Nebraska
Strengths: Elite athlete at center, runs like few do at the position, generates power upon contact through his explosivity, tenacious, three-year starter before declaring early
Weaknesses: Still on smaller side for position, erratic hand placement, overaggressive and frantic at times
Where's the beef? OK, a decades-old fast food campaign reference probably isn't the way to introduce a draft prospect. But it fits so perfectly for Nebraska's Cam Jurgens.
First, Jurgens' actual size became the biggest question during his evaluation, as he was clearly a highly mobile and capable center prospect. The Cornhuskers program listed the center at 290 pounds, though. Jurgens showed up at the NFL combine, weighed 303 pounds and blew away the workout portion of the week's festivities.
The third-team All-Big Ten selection is bigger, longer (33⅜-inch arms) and an even better athlete than anyone expected coming into the predraft process. His on-field performance shows how those physical traits translate as a center capable of reaching defensive linemen, getting to the second level, making blocks all the way downfield and just flat out being more athletic than most at the position.
Interestingly, he made just as big of an impression off the field in Indianapolis when he met with teams and brought coaches his very own beef jerky, or Beef Jurgy.
With Jurgens’ selection, the Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for the inevitable. Jason Kelce seriously considered retirement this offseason but decided to return (a one-year, $14 million deal probably helped). Kelce turns 34 later this year, and this looks to be his last dance.
In the short term, Jurgens can compete to start at guard. Or, the rookie can provide quality depth to all three interior positions before taking a spot next year. His athletic profile certainly portends an easy transition from Kelce, who is one of the game’s most nimble pivots.
52. Pittsburgh Steelers
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Strengths: Vertical threat, sinks and drives out of stem, wide catch radius, physical blocker
Weaknesses: Missed majority of last season with torn ACL, build-up speed, route tree needs pruning
George Pickens is a roll of the dice.
The wide receiver's talent is obvious. Pickens chose to join the Georgia Bulldogs as a 5-star recruit. In his first year with the program, he caught 49 passes for 727 yards and coaches named him to the Freshman All-SEC Team.
An unspecified upper-body injury cost Pickens two games during the COVID-19-ravaged 2020 campaign. He then tore his ACL in spring practice prior to the 2021 season. He recovered for the team's run to a national championship, but he never quite looked like the same explosive weapon that he was earlier in his career.
A fully healthy Pickens can beat coverage deep with fantastic ball-tracking capabilities. The 21-year-old excels when asked to make catches outside his 6'3" frame. He can become a true X-receiver in any scheme, but he needs to become a more well-rounded target at all three levels.
Although Pickens' injury history stunted his overall development, he has the potential to emerge as a No. 1 wide receiver. Taking a chance on his traits is well worth the risk.
The Pittsburgh Steelers know what they’re doing when they invest a Day 2 pick in a wide receiver. While their track record says enough about Pickens’ selection, his addition to the Steelers lineup further underscores the organization’s belief in first-round pick quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Pickens can be the true X the Steelers currently lack. Ironically, the man who announced the selection, Chase Claypool, hasn’t adequately filled that role. Pickens and Claypool are big bodies and difficult matchups, and they will allow Diontae Johnson to consistently work the middle of the field.
53. Indianapolis Colts
Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
Strengths: Instant downfield winner, red-zone weapon, former four-sport high school athlete, tough enough to play linebacker for a stint
Weaknesses: Developmental route-runner, less effective on underneath routes
Very few prospects have the same well-rounded profile as Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Alec Pierce.
The 6'3", 211-pound target can provide instant offense as an outside vertical threat. He averaged 17.5 yards per reception throughout his collegiate career.
His size combined with outstanding athleticism make him difficult to handle on go routes and in the red zone. At the NFL combine, Pierce ranked among the top 10 wide receivers with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash (ninth), 40.5-inch vertical (first), 10'9" broad jump (seventh), 7.13-second three-cone drill (sixth) and 4.28-second short shuttle (fourth).
The 21-year-old does need further refinement within his route tree, so he'll take some time before becoming a complete target. However, he's exactly the type of player that every coach wants.
Pierce excelled on special teams as a true freshman and even got a shot at linebacker during the season. He's smart, too. The wide receiver received his mechanical engineering degree this past December. The second-team All-AAC performer improved every single year under Luke Fickell's tutelage and enters the NFL on an upward trend.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard believes in investing in elite traits. Pierce certainly fits the mold.
The Colts entered this year’s draft without a first-round pick—thanks to the ill-fated Carson Wentz trade—and a significant need at wide receiver. Somehow, the team patiently waited for their guy, traded down to net an extra third-round pick and still landed the prospect they likely would have selected earlier in the round.
54. Kansas City Chiefs (from NE)
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Strengths: Hands-catcher, 4.41-second 40-yard dash speed, short-area quickness for clean releases, doesn't throttle down through routes
Weaknesses: Lacks size/length for true outside receiver, limited route tree
In the past 16 years, the Western Michigan Broncos have surprisingly produced five wide receiver draftees.
WMU's run started with Greg Jennings, who pieced together a stellar career after the Green Bay Packers selected him 52nd overall in 2006. Meanwhile, Corey Davis set the bar by becoming the fifth overall pick in the 2017 class.
Skyy Moore will likely fall somewhere between those two. He wasn't a top-five pick, but he should become a long-term contributor thanks to his skill set.
Moore made an immediate impact at Western Michigan, earning a first-team All-MAC nod as a true freshman. After the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, he burst onto the NFL draft scene with 95 receptions for 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season.
The 5'10", 195-pound target is the type of security blanket quarterbacks crave. Moore graded better than any wide receiver last season against zone coverage and ranked first in forced missed tackles after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus.
In other words, the 21-year-old already knows how to find soft spots in coverage, and he creates once the ball is in his 10¼-inch hands.
When Patrick Mahomes drops back to pass this season, his wide receivers are going to look drastically different. Sure, Mecole Hardman is still on the roster. But the quarterback will now be throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Moore.
The Chiefs may not have Tyreek Hill anymore, but the offense still has a plethora of weapons for Mahomes to utilize. With all those options, Kansas City should be able to maintain its status as an offensive juggernaut.
55. Arizona Cardinals
Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Strengths: Consistently works to gain leverage in routes, one-size-fits-all tight end, strong hands, works to create after catch and finishes runs
Weaknesses: Compactly built without much length, inconsistent/inefficient blocker
Colorado State's Trey McBride is the reigning John Mackey Award winner, which is presented to the nation's top tight end. Others who recently won the award have been pretty successful upon entering the league.
Both Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson were top-10 picks. Mark Andrews and Harrison Bryant didn't come off the board until the third and fourth rounds, respectively, although the former has established himself as the Baltimore Ravens' top pass-catcher.
McBride wasn't a top-10 talent, but he's good enough to become a featured component with an offensive scheme.
Last season, McBride led all tight ends with 90 receptions and 1,121 yards. He proved capable of contributing in a variety of manners, whether as an in-line tight end, off the wing, in the slot or out wide.
McBride isn't an explosive pass-catcher compared to other tight ends. He's more of a Steady Eddie who's capable of playing multiple roles, running good routes, giving good effort and maximizing what's available to him. After all, he received the second-highest receiving grade (behind Pitts) since the start of the 2014 campaign, per Pro Football Focus.
The Arizona Cardinals are taking a different approach at the tight end position. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury came into the league as an Air Raid savant after learning under the wing of Mike Leach. But the Cardinals coach continues to adapt to the pro game.
Arizona already has Maxx Williams as one of the game’s best blocking tight ends. The organization traded for and re-signed Zach Ertz. The Cardinals now have the TE1 from the 2022 class in McBride, who is yet another weapon to join DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Rondale Moore and the recently acquired Marquise Brown.
56. Dallas Cowboys
Sam Williams, Edge, Ole Miss
Strengths: First-step quickness, threatens edge and sets up inside move, strong hands with long arms, varies pass-rushing approach
Weaknesses: Poor run defender, weak anchor, gives up chest and the snap is over when he does
Edge-defenders make their money by rushing the passer. Ole Miss' Sam Williams excels in that department.
The first-team All-SEC defender ranked among the top five overall last season with 12.5 sacks. He did so without much help, too. According to SIS Football, Williams racked up 40 pressures and 9.5 sacks when the Rebels rushed only three defenders. Both numbers led the country.
"Draft the rush and worry about the rest of it later," an AFC personnel director told NFL Network's Lance Zierlein. "He has the talent to get after quarterbacks and that will always have value in the league. Always."
Williams' get-off coupled with a strong bull rush and inside move make him difficult to handle in pass protection. The same can't be said for the run game, though. He can be easily reached and moved at the point of attack, which tends to make him a non-factor.
Teams also had to do their homework on Williams off the field. Police arrested and charged him with sexual assault in July 2020. The team subsequently suspended Williams. He returned to the program when charges were dropped seven weeks later.
A year later, the idea of risk involved with Micah Parsons’ draft selection seems silly. But the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year had a history of immature behavior during his high school and college careers. The Dallas Cowboys are a franchise willing to take chances with certain prospects.
As noted, Williams doesn’t have a clean history. However, his ability to rush the passer isn’t in question. He can take pressure off of Parsons. Or better yet, Williams can win his one-on-one matchups whenever opponents key on Parsons and slide protection his way.
57. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from BUF)
Luke Goedeke, IOL, Central Michigan
Strengths: Power and technique to consistently uproot defenders, keeps back flat and hands tight, tight end feet
Weaknesses: Short arms, still learning to locate defensive movement, can be too aggressive against speedy pass-rushers and whiff
Believe it or not, the Central Michigan Chippewas featured the nation's best pair of offensive tackles this past season.
Luke Goedeke didn't get the same national recognition as teammate Bernhard Raimann thanks to the Austrian left tackle's immense physical gifts and interesting story. Goedeke's story is noteworthy as well, though.
The tight end-convert transferred from Division III University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and walked onto the Chippewas program. Unfortunately, he dealt with injuries the last two seasons, including a knee surgery that cost him the entirety of the 2020 campaign.
When Goedeke was on the field, he was one of the nation's best right tackles. He proved to be the top-ranked tackle in pass-rush grade on true pass sets, according to PFF's Austin Gayle. He's an even better run-blocker, with a tenacity to finish plays.
Goedeke's lack of length (32¼-inch arms) and overall lack of starting experience will likely force him to guard, but he's already grown into one of the best offensive linemen in this draft class.
Aaron Stinnie could start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but clearly, the team wasn’t entirely comfortable with its offensive interior after Ali Marpet retired and Alex Cappa signed with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Buccaneers already added Shaq Mason via trade. Goedeke can immediately slot to left guard and cement the team’s new-look interior. The second-round rookie must stay healthy for the team’s plans to reach fruition.
58. Atlanta Falcons
Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
Strengths: Premium athlete, rare straight-line speed, fantastic range, ideal build, doesn't quit on plays
Weaknesses: Lacks natural instincts, runs around blockers, lacks physicality, still learning how to translate speed and athleticism into coverage
Troy Andersen presents a fascinating athletic profile.
The linebacker was named Big Sky Freshman of the Year while also playing running back. As a sophomore, Andersen converted to quarterback and set a school record with 21 rushing touchdowns. His 1,412 rushing yards ranked third at the time as well. He primarily spent his last two seasons at linebacker, where he amassed 201 total tackles (including 150 this past year), 25.5 tackles for loss and 12 defended passes.
As impressive as Andersen's resume is, his pure athleticism may be even more so. The 6'3½", 243-pound linebacker posted a scorching 4.42-second 40-yard dash and ranked fifth since 1987 in relative athletic score, per Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte.
Andersen's natural ability isn't in question. His ability to consistently play between the tackles is.
Specifically, the linebacker appears allergic to contact at times. The reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year filled up the stat sheet because he was clearly the most talented player on the field. He has the tools to flourish in the NFL. He simply must learn how to play linebacker at a much higher level for maximum growth potential.
The Atlanta Falcons basically added a more athletic Foyesade Oluokun. The comparison is a compliment in some ways, but it’s a negative, too.
Andersen will rack up numbers and plenty of tackles. How many of them will actually make an impact? It’s a legitimate question after watching the FCS product rely too heavily on this athleticism while regularly avoiding contact.
59. Minnesota Vikings (from GB)
Ed Ingram, IOL, LSU
Strengths: Thick, squared-off frame to punish defenders, plays with leverage and power, good puller in space, picks up movement and looks for work
Weaknesses: Some tightness in hips to affect lateral movement, could snug up better on double-teams
The LSU Tigers fell apart last season, which caused those still playing well to be overlooked in some capacity. Typically, the Tigers are known for producing high-end NFL talent on a yearly basis. That was true to a lesser degree, as cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. is considered an elite prospect. Otherwise, the program slipped into the abyss of mediocrity.
Guard Ed Ingram didn't follow the descent. He flourished while the squad bottomed out as the worst team in the SEC West. The left guard led the conference with an 82.6 pass-blocking grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Ingram experienced some ups and downs as well or his grade could have been higher. Even so, he's clearly a sturdy blocker who's tailor-made for the professional game.
The second-team All-SEC performer played well while starting in his freshman year.
A near-14-month suspension ensued after he was accused of sexually assaulting two minors when he was in high school. Charges were dismissed, which allowed Ingram to rejoin the team in September 2019.
Guard has been a regular sore spot for the Minnesota Vikings over the past few seasons. While Ezra Cleveland found a home along the interior, the other spot isn’t settled. The Vikings did sign Jesse Davis as a veteran swing lineman who can start at guard or right tackle.
Ingram is a natural guard who can immediately jump into the lineup. This selection is also an indication the team has already given up on Wyatt Davis after investing a third-round pick in the Ohio State product just last year.
60. Cincinnati Bengals
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
Strengths: Physical defender, excellent straight-line speed, safety versatility
Weaknesses: Suspect change of direction, not a reliable wrap-up tackler, poor angles, bites on fakes
Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt could succeed in the NFL as a cornerback, but he might thrive at safety. He played both positions during his time with the Cornhuskers program.
Primarily a corner, the two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection showed excellent ball skills with 27 defended passes and six interceptions throughout his career. In fact, his 18 combined interceptions and passes broken up ranked first among Big Ten defensive backs over the last two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. He also ran an impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
While both of those traits portend his staying on the outside, he has a muscular build, an aggressive demeanor and a level of physicality that would translate to safety, where he could use his speed to cover a lot of space and key on opposing quarterbacks.
Either way, the ability to do both only helps Taylor-Britt's case.
The Cincinnati Bengals can’t get Super Bowl LVI out of their minds. Odell Beckham Jr. and Cooper Kupp regularly ran free in the Bengals secondary as the Los Angeles Rams captured a championship.
Taylor-Britt brings more versatility to the Bengals’ defensive backfield after Cincinnati took Michigan’s Daxton Hill in the first round. While Hill is a safety with cornerback flexibility, Taylor-Britt is a cornerback with safety flexibility. An amorphous secondary is forming in the Queen City.
61. San Francisco 49ers
Drake Jackson, Edge, USC
Strengths: Athletic enough to beat tackles off the edge, can bend around corner, above-average lateral movement
Weaknesses: Lacks play strength, limited pass-rusher, particularly with countermoves
Self-awareness can be an underrated trait for an NFL draft prospect. USC edge-rusher Drake Jackson is an excellent example of a player who's aware of his strengths and weaknesses and where he can best help his new team.
USC didn't exactly have a plan for Jackson's usage. He technically played defensive end, but the coaching staff often dropped him into space, particularly during the 2020 campaign, or reduced him down in sub-packages.
USC listed Jackson at 250 pounds. He's since seen the light as a potential base end who continues to play along the interior in nickel and dime packages.
Since the combine, Jackson has added 19 pounds, according to CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso. The 20-year-old defender now weighs 273 pounds. In o