It’s time for the 2022 NFL Draft. No need for a fancy introduction on this one. These are the guys that I would stand on a table for to encourage my team to draft. I tried to find somebody at every position, so I’ll rank them by least conviction to most conviction. These are all players that I want, but the top of the list is definitely somebody I need on my team, and I’m willing to pay well-above the currently believed value of the player in order to get him.
11. Charlie Kolar – Tight End – Iowa State
This tight end class is boring, so I picked one of the most boring players at the position. He’s a big boy with good hands that consistently produced at the position. He’s not going to be a game breaker. If things work out, you might find yourself with Kyle Rudolph-lite, which is pretty nice and you can likely get it on day three of the draft. Nothing fancy, just a nice solid addition for a team.
10. Matt Araiza – Punter – San Diego State
Is this man the greatest punter ever? Possibly. He brought legitimate value to the Aztecs last season with his ridiculous ability to both kick it far and leave it close to his opponents’ goal line. Still, he’s a punter, so I don’t know exactly where to take him. But here’s what I would say. If he is available on Day 3 of the draft, I will guarantee that he outvalues at least half the guys in Round 4. He’s not going to be the most valuable guy on Day 3, but he’s guaranteed value. That’s a really nice thing to have on the final day of the draft.
9. Dane Belton – Safety – Iowa
As an Iowa alum, Belton is close to my heart. He’s a versatile safety that can play in the box and deep as he played part of his time as a third linebacker/nickelback role for the Hawkeyes during his three years in Iowa City. I don’t think he’s quite on the level of former Hawkeye, Amani Hooker—who if you were paying attention, took a huge step forward this year—but he’s got the ability to be a versatile starter on the defense. Getting that on day three is going to make a coaching staff incredibly happy.
8. Matt Corral – Quarterback – Ole Miss
If you have strong opinions on any of the quarterbacks in this class, good for you. I picked Corral, mostly because I feel like nobody is talking about him. Malik Willis is the most talented. Kenny Pickett is the most polished. Sam Howell is more like his 2020 self than 2021. Desmond Ridder is late riser. And you gotta love Carson Strong’s big arm. Then there’s Matt Corral, who has traits that would indicate that he might be the best guy early on. He played in a major conference and put up major numbers. Also, he’s got a quick release and the athletic ability to make plays when things break down. All of these quarterbacks have issues, but if I was gambling man, Corral would be where I put my money.
7. Jordan Davis – Defensive Tackle – Georgia
So, hot take here: I think Georgia was a good team this past year. Hence, this is not the end of my Bulldog love on this list. But we watched Jordan Davis this past season, right? The dude in the middle destroying everything in his path and making everything collapse around opposing offenses? Yeah, he’s good, and still I see him consistently falling to the back half of the first round. I know his numbers aren’t eye popping, and it’s so valuable to have somebody to rush the quarterback, and blah, blah blah. This isn’t complicated. Jordan Davis is so big, fast, and strong that he’s nearly impossible to block for a single human being. If you double team him, it frees up a rusher, and if you don’t, he’s going to collapse the pocket, even if he can’t make the sack himself. Vita Vea is one of the best defensive tackles in football, and Jordan Davis might be a more athletic version of Vea. There is no need to overthink this one.
6. Derek Stingley Jr. – Cornerback – LSU
I originally had Stingley much lower as I assumed that most people still had him in the Top 10, because it’s not like the draft-groupthink has gone that far off the rails. Sure enough, I couldn’t find a mock draft with him in the top 10 picks. That’s just dumb. I really like Ahmad Gardner, but are we sure he’s the best corner in this draft? I’m not sure about that, even though I don’t hear any debate going on. That’s not a knock on Sauce; it’s just giving credit to Stingley who was electric as a freshman, and then people stopped passing towards him in 2020 before he got injured early in this past season. As his pro day showed, he’s fully healthy, and he’s a top-5 talent who could fall ten picks below that.
5. David Bell – Wide Receiver – Purdue
Is David Bell’s inclusion on this list partially due to him destroying the Iowa Hawkeyes every time he played against them? No, it’s exclusively due to him destroying the Hawkeyes every time he played against them. He just whooped their asses so badly that I had no choice but to fall in love with him as a prospect. I have seen mock drafts where he falls to Day 3 which is just ridiculous. Although he’s probably not a #1 receiver, he reminds me so much of Tyler Boyd as a guy who just gets open and produces for a team. Flashier guys will go ahead of him, but he has such a high floor with a decent ceiling that he’s likely to outproduce at least half the guys taken before him.
4. Tyler Linderbaum – Center – Iowa
I’m hoping it’s just noise. Somehow, Tyler Linderbaum has dropped from potential top-10 pick to the second round after the season ended. This was caused by him not working out at the combine, and that’s all. He did just recently complete a pro day workout, and it was, as anyone would have guessed, pretty damn great, because Tyler Linderbaum excels at football stuff. He was an ass kicker throughout his entire college career. Even nerd sites like Pro Football Focus back that up. He’s going to be an ass kicker at the next level, and it’s stupid that anybody is considering any other interior offensive lineman over Linderbaum. Dude’s a beast. Draft him and enjoy the ride.
3. James Cook – Running Back – Georgia
I get the urge to start off every player’s description with, “HOW ARE PEOPLE NOT SEEING THIS?” My only explanation is that he split the load with Zamir White, but Cook’s versatility makes him ideally suited for the NFL. I’m not sure if he’s ideally suited to be an “every down back,” but the way the NFL has changed, that definition is in flux anyway. What I see is a team giving him between 200-250 touches very similar to the way that Alvin Kamara was used early in his career (he saw a significant uptick in carries this past season). He can hit home runs on the ground, but he’s going to make his money on what he can do in the passing game out of the backfield. He has a shockingly diverse route running ability, and the guy just knows how to get open. Much like Kamara, people are going to be wondering how a guy this talented could slip so far in the draft.
And if that’s not enough, he’s the younger brother of Dalvin Cook. Being a great running back is literally in his blood.
2. Leo Chenal – Linebacker – Wisconsin
It’s because he’s from Wisconsin, right? Like, you can’t be athletic and go to Wisconsin? You have to be a grinder. You have to have grit. But when it comes down to it, if you’re at Wisconsin, you’re a slow-ass, corn-fed mofo that will have to get by with your smarts at the NFL level. I still read scouting reports that say that Chenal will be limited by his lack of athleticism. This is where he stacked up among linebackers at the combine.
Unless athleticism is now determined by arm length, I feel like Chenal probably has the athletic ability to survive at the next level. So if he’s this athletic, there must be a problem with his production? But nope, he had 115 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks. Oh, and that’s despite him missing the first two games of the season due to Covid. I feel as if Chenal got slotted in the 3rd-4th round off of perceived weaknesses that don’t actually exist. I can’t quite put him at the top of my inside linebacker list, but even in the second round, this guy is going to be a great addition to the middle of a defense.
1. George Karlaftis – Defensive End – Purdue
I know I’m higher on Karlaftis than basically anyone else in the world, but hey, I like what I like, and I think Karlaftis is going to be far better than people think at the pro level. Yes, I put him above Aidan Hutchinson on my personal board, and I don’t regret it. Do I think he should be the #1 pick? No, but I do think he should go top-10, and everything I’m seeing is end of the first round. I truly believe the way he is able to generate power against offensive linemen is being underrated. He’s going to wreck house when he’s surrounded by more talent. No opponent had any reason to do anything but focus their gameplan on stopping Karlaftis. On those rare occasions when he found himself in one-on-one matchups, he made offensive linemen look silly.
If Purdue had more team success, he would be ranked higher in this draft, but it’s hard to fall in love with a guy on an average defense. And guess what? Purdue having an average defense is an incredible accomplishment, and they’re likely to fall off a cliff without Karlaftis on the roster. He manhandled offensive tackles, has excellent get-off at the snap, and has a nonstop motor. There’s no need to overthink this one. This guy is going to make some team in the first round incredibly happy.