Naturally, everyone circles the big names in the 2022 NFL Draft and pays attention to their team’s first pick, but we often don’t know where the big name is. real milking meat between: The second round and below.
To be honest, I think we win a bit too much from the first round. Obviously, making the right choice is important, but picking high in the draft is more about not making mistakes than showing brilliance every year. The difference between a decent team and an elite team is the ability to find players deep in the draft who can become rookies or even Pro Bowl-level talent.
This is why watching sleepers is so interesting. No one thinks of the Seahawks taking Bruce Irvin in the first round of 2012, but they certainly remember that was the draft where they took Bobby Wagner in the second round and Russell Wilson in the third. So let’s dive into the players we’re not thinking about right now, but who could define the league in a few years.
Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
It’s not a good draft for the quarterback, we know, but Strong has really fallen on the boards, going from a potential first-round pick to a major sleeper. At this point, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be caught in the first two rounds, opening the door for someone to potentially get a steal.
It is important to know what you are getting from it. Strong has never been a super mobile QB, and following a leg injury, he’s basically a statue. He won’t be able to escape pressure or pick up yards with his legs – but that’s not what you would take him for.
In terms of pure arm talent, only Malik Willis compares in this class. Strong has a cannon for one arm and has also shown an ability to hit passes, a trait normally armed QBs struggle with. At 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, he’s got the size to stand in the pocket and shoot, but he’s got a lot of things he needs to work on to be a top-tier QB.
Ceiling: Ben Roethlisberger of the poor
Strong needs to learn how to manipulate defenses better with his eyes and stop staring at his primary receiver, but he could have the potential to fit well into a passing scheme that doesn’t require a lot of creativity in the quarterback’s pocket.
Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
Austin III will likely be a late Day 2 or early Day 3 player – and I think someone is going to get a hell of a deal.
Any team that picks Austin III thinking they’ll get a jack-of-all-trades receiver is doomed. That’s not how he will win at the next level. Instead, the former track star is better suited as a gadget player in a scheme more concerned with putting the ball in the hands of a gun and letting it run. At 5’8” and a slight 170 pounds, he’s not beefing up defensive backs or battling for the ball – but his straight-line speed and sneakiness could see Austin III become a player of higher level as a third or fourth weapon.
I’m a huge fan of Austin III landing in the right system.
Ceiling: Mecole Hardman, with risk
While Hardman better resume his college exit with plenty of movies against SEC defenses, I think it’s not hard to imagine Austin III having the same impact on the field. While he may not be as versatile as the Chiefs wide receiver, he could potentially develop those skills and complement his game.
Tyler Allegier, RB, BYU
It’s really hard to predict where Allegier will go, but I suspect he’ll be a late Day 2 pick due to his position. He absolutely could be taken sooner, but this is a case of RBs being de-emphasized in the NFL to the point where even the best all-around guards are going to be taken late in 1st, at best.
Allegier isn’t a player who can offer much in the passing game, but as a powerful second back he could find a place among the league’s best in goal-line situations. His size of 5’11”, 224 pounds and his talent for finding gaps could make him an asset.
There are things he needs to work on, including showing more momentum against the stack to fend off the inside linemen. I still see a lot of potential as a change of pace back.
Ceiling: Nick Chubb
A team looking to pair an all-around back with a short-range workhorse could find incredible mid-range value in Allegier, who could become an asset at the next level.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
I’m very big on Likely, who will probably be thrown in the fourth or fifth round. A former catcher, he’s learning a lot of real tight traits where he’s a below-average tackler and needs NFL conditioning — but as a work in progress, I think he could get special.
A game master who fills the stat sheet, Likely finished with 912 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He’ll fall due to an outright lack of next-level projection, and while his run isn’t good enough to become a dedicated receiver, I think he could become a great weapon.
Ceiling: Dan Arnold Plus Level
Although Arnold works best in small spaces, we’re talking about the same solid receiving core that’s not much of an asset for blocking. I think Likely could learn more on the next level, and with a bit of training and conditioning it could be a huge steal on day 3.
Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
He’s a bit of a different sleeper, because I think most people know he’s great. It’s more that I see guys like Kyle Hamilton and Lewis Cine go much, much earlier – and the gap between those guys and Joseph isn’t so pronounced that it’s not worth a flyer.
Joseph is a plus level ballhawk with great instincts. He also showed major locking ability in the back end of Illinois’ season, giving up just 24 yards in the final seven games of the season. I think he could become a very good player who can have an impact.
Ceiling: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Similar ball skills and playing ability from safe position. Must develop his instincts to the next level to adapt to the NFL, but every rookie does.
Neil Farrell Jr, DT, LSU
At this point, he’s not a threat in the passing game, where he really doesn’t have the feeling of pushing inside and collapsing the pocket. However, watching Farrell on film, it seems more due to lack of technique than reluctance.
I think an NFL team can instruct and develop those abilities because he has an above-average engine for a 330-pound defensive tackle that needs NFL-caliber conditioning, which can speed him up. At the very least, a team will get a potentially elite run stopping defensive tackle that can stop teams on the goal line.
Farrell is probably a 4th or 5th round pick, where I think he would be a great pick.
Ceiling: Leonard Williams
An elite-level run stopper without a lot of rushing passing passes, I think Farrell can still improve and be incredible value for a team that needs help in the trenches.