Big names left in the first round, but there is still plenty of talent available to teams for the start of the second round of selections
The first 32 shifts of the 2020 NFL Draft, and there is no doubt that they will be the most remembered in the future. The images of the arrivals of the prospects at the event, the reactions on stage when hearing their names from the podium, are experiences that remain in our memory for a long time.
However, that in no way means that the most significant players from the current crop of prospects will be the ones chosen on the first day of selections. Quite the contrary. There’s plenty of talent available to teams before the first-round kickoff, with several names that seemed on their way to becoming first-round picks who, for one reason or another, weren’t drafted Thursday night.
It’s not often that you can talk about the best player in a positional group still available for the second round. That can be said this year, with absolute certainty, at running back and tight end, which had no representatives among the top 32 picks. Also, it can be debated with some confidence as to whether the best inside linebacker and the best quarterback of the current crop remain unknown to their fates. NFL.
In the case of other players, the great depth at the position forces, in one way or another, to slide some prospects who, in any other year, would have had a good chance of leaving in the first round. That could be the case with wide receivers. and quarterback chasers.
As is our annual custom, we present in strict alphabetical order the 10 best players still available for the second day of selections of the 2022 NFL Draft:
Andrew Booth Jr., esquinero, Clemson
Four cornerbacks were selected in the top two picks, but the reality is that after the two highest-rated prospects — Derek Stingley Jr. and Ahmad Gardner — there was a significant gap to those in the next tier, a larger group, who it included Kaiir Elam and Trent McDuffie, who were selected in the first round, and Booth, with Washington’s Kyler Gordon as another possibility. Booth is a schematically versatile defensive back who isn’t afraid to defend against the run. He has adequate size and good instincts when it comes to attacking the ball.
Nakobe Dean, linebacker, Georgia
Perhaps the best player on our entire list, a lack of ideal size at inside linebacker likely hurt Dean’s draft bonuses. Five Georgia defenders got their names heard in the top 32 at-bats, and Dean, who was arguably the heart of the Bulldogs’ championship defense last year, was left waiting. We don’t expect to see Dean sitting around waiting much longer for his NFL fate after he starts the first round.
Arnold Ebiketie, ala defensiva, Penn State
If there’s one thing that was clear from the days leading up to the draft, it’s that teams looking for quarterback chasers were going to have a vast and varied offering to choose from. Ebiketie was one of the prospects who ended up suffering from talent overcrowding among blue-chip prospects, even at a position where he’s never too talented on NFL rosters. Ebiketie doesn’t have the long frame that scouts like Kayvon Thibodeaux covet, but he doesn’t lack functional size to play the position, either.
Breece Hall, corredor, Iowa State
The best running back available this year still does not know where he will play as a professional. Hall is the most versatile prospect at the position, and he’s looking to become a solid three-down runner. Although there was hope for him to leave in the final stretch of the first day, he kept waiting. After the first four or five second-round picks, there are a number of teams that could use a prime running back or at least a backfield addition. Hall won’t have to wait much longer.
Boye Mafe, linebacker, Minnesota
As in the case of another Big Ten defender, Ebiketie, above, Mafe may have been hurt a bit by the vast number of quarterback-hunting specialists available at the top of this draft. He doesn’t have the brute strength of some of the other prospects who were picked above, and he relies more on his speed, but he’s still an element that can contribute as a rookie, particularly if he finds a scheme that helps isolate him on the perimeter.
David Ojabo, linebacker, Michigan
Basically, it is a case similar to that of Mafe. They play the same position, and both rely on speed rather than strength or inside technique to break screens and make plays. Likewise, a defensive scheme that protects him from massive tackles will serve him well at the next level.
George Pickens, receptor abierto, Georgia
More than a case of talent, Pickens’ case has more to do with concerns about his maturity, and those with the kind of red flags that can drop a prospect dramatically. Nobody wants to deal with unnecessarily complicated cases, and the current situation of Kadarius Toney with the Giants can serve as an example. There is great talent here, but not everyone is sure there is the right disposition to make it work.
Kenneth Walker III, corredor, Michigan State
Walker is a different back than Hall. Although they weigh roughly the same, Walker is a bit shorter, and possibly less elusive, though there’s no question he runs hard and explosively. There isn’t the same certainty that he can be a three-down running back to the next level, but starting his career as part of a committee backfield seems like the path Walker will take in the NFL.
Christian Watson, receptor abierto, North Dakota State
A long wide receiver with fastball speed and a wide catching radius, Watson can contribute to a team looking to add a deep threat capable of fighting contested balls. Most of his work could come on the outside, and he may not contribute as much on interior routes, but he will serve teams looking for options to move safeties away from the line of scrimmage.
Malik Willis, quarterback, Liberty
To more than one draft analyst, Willis is the best quarterback prospect available this year. I agree. As a passer, he has the ability to connect at different levels of the field, showing better than expected touch on long passes. His field vision is good, and he is not afraid of pocket protection. All of that, without even mentioning his extraordinary abilities running the ball, which brings an additional facet to the attack. Yes, he is less polished than Pickett, but he also has a higher ceiling.