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On 11/13/2021 at 11:24 PM, ArmyBengal said:

Can this team please address the linebacking corps in some fashion or another ??  You know, those guys that play in between the front four and the secondary ??

For how long TJ has been staying, “Gimme a lineman” is the same amount of time they have ignored that group.

I disagree? Logan Wilson, ADG and Pratt all 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round picks in the last few drafts. LBers not really a round 1 target anymore generally. 

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A random 2022 draft thread present - Dane Brugler's first mock of the 2022 season in the Athletic:

Kayvon Thibodeaux or Aidan Hutchinson at No. 1? Dane Brugler's 2022 NFL mock draft, version 1.0 – The Athletic



I wouldn’t call the 2022 NFL Draft a bad draft.

There are plenty of first-round-caliber players, and the depth at certain positions will stretch well into Day 3 on draft weekend. However, something that has been echoed by evaluators around the NFL is the lack of elite-level talent at the top. Most drafts don’t have 10 prospects considered no-brainers for the top-10 picks, but this year’s class doesn’t have more than one or two, according to feedback from some NFL scouts.

Maybe hindsight will prove that opinion to be silly. Maybe there is a T.J. Watt or Aaron Donald or Patrick Mahomes in this class — players who weren’t considered slam-dunk top-10 picks pre-draft but obviously proved that assessment wrong in retrospect.

Despite the perceived lack of top-tier talent, 10 players must go in the top 10, starting with an interesting decision for the Detroit Lions, who currently own the No. 1 overall pick. The volatility at the top of draft boards from team to team will be the story of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The next five months will be a fun, fascinating process.

1. Detroit Lions — Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan

The winless Lions need a long-term answer at quarterback, weapons at wide receiver and help at every level of the defense. This draft class doesn’t have a quarterback or pass-catching option worthy of a top-five pick, but there are several defensive players worth considering at No. 1. While Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux is the favorite to be drafted first, Hutchinson, who grew up just outside of Detroit, checks every box for the Lions as they rebuild the roster.

Athleticism? Hutchinson was No. 2 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List for a reason and will test well at the combine. Production? Hutchinson set the Michigan single-season sack record (13 sacks and counting) and currently ranks No. 2 in college football with 68 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Intangibles? This is what truly sets Hutchinson apart. His competitive makeup is rare and raises the level of his teammates. If you included the players from this past April’s draft in the 2022 class, Hutchinson might not be drafted in the top 10. But he embodies a lot of the traits that head coach Dan Campbell craves and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a team like Detroit settles on Hutchinson at the top of its board.

2. Houston Texans — Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon*

Although he isn’t in the same prospect tier as Myles Garrett, Chase Young or the Bosa brothers, Thibodeaux is a disruptive pass rusher due to his upfield burst and quick feet. He is a strong run defender and should continue to improve as a pass rusher as his rush moves evolve. Thibodeaux reminds me of a stronger, longer version of Harold Landry. The Texans will also be in the quarterback market this off-season, but hard to see them drafting one this early.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama*

Surrounding Trevor Lawrence with the support system to flourish should be priority No. 1 for Jaguars. Left tackle Cam Robinson is currently playing on the franchise tag, and neither Jawaan Taylor nor Walker Little are established starters. Neal has played at a high level at three different positions (right guard, right tackle, left tackle) in his three seasons in Tuscaloosa and offers a unique blend of size, strength and flexibility.

4. New York Jets (from Seattle) — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU*

With a defense that ranks last in the NFL and an offensive line that still has weak spots, the Jets need plenty of help. With two picks in the top five, the Jets are in a position to address both areas. After an All-American freshman season and solid sophomore year, Stingley played in only three games in 2021 before foot surgery put him on the shelf. The interviews and medicals are the unknown aspects of his projection right now, but his talent warrants this pick.

5. New York Jets — Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State*

The Jets have addressed the offensive line in the first round in each of Joe Douglas’ first two drafts as general manager, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he keeps the streak going. Similar in ways to a “smaller” version of Mekhi Becton, Ekwonu is a freakishly explosive blocker for his size (6-foot-4, 322 pounds) with the raw power and movement skills to execute outside zone with ease. He can play tackle or guard interchangeably and would give the Jets a long-term answer at right tackle.

6. New York Giants — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Giants saw first-hand what a versatile linebacker with explosive traits can do for your defense when they met the division-rival Dallas Cowboys with rookie stud Micah Parsons. Lloyd isn’t quite on Parsons’ level, but his blend of instincts and speed helps him impact the game in multiple ways. Linebacker might not be the top need for the Giants, but adding defensive playmakers is never a bad idea.

7. New York Giants (from Chicago) — Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa*

Since the merger in 1970 only once has a center been drafted in the top 10 — and that is only if you include Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, who was drafted as an “interior blocker” ninth overall in 1983. But in this class, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Linderbaum this high, especially to a team like the Giants who need to add tough, athletic blockers in the trenches.

8. Philadelphia Eagles — Kyle Hamilton, DS, Notre Dame*

Based on talent, Hamilton is one of the best this draft class has to offer. But his draft projection is going to be interesting because not every team will value his hybrid skill set. With his athletic range and diagnose skills, Hamilton frustrates quarterbacks because of the different ways he impacts the game. He has missed the second half of Notre Dame’s season due to a minor knee injury, so the medical evaluations will be important.

9. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) — George Karlaftis, edge, Purdue*

With Derek Barnett likely headed elsewhere in free agency and Brandon Graham coming off an injury (and about to turn 34), the Eagles will be looking for pass rusher help this offseason. Karlaftis might not have elite length or twitch, but his persistent power and skilled hand work allow him to be disruptive.

10. Carolina Panthers — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Flash back six years ago: Pickett, then a high school junior, committed to play quarterback at Temple for head coach Matt Rhule. Pickett re-opened his recruitment once bigger programs showed interest and chose Pitt, but this time around, Rhule might decide Pickett’s next destination. To fix its hole at quarterback, Carolina has unsuccessfully tried the former first-round pick route with Teddy Bridgewater in 2020 and Sam Darnold and Cam Newton this season. Unless they lure Aaron Rodgers to Charlotte this offseason, using a first-round pick of their own on a promising quarterback like Pickett might be the Panthers’ best option.

11. Atlanta Falcons — Travon Walker, edge, Georgia*

The Falcons need to get better on the defensive line, and one of the possible answers is right down the road. Walker, who grew up just south of Atlanta, has remarkable fluidity for a 275-pound athlete and has been one of the Bulldogs’ most valuable defenders this season. He is long and powerful to set a hard edge and shows the bully strength and quickness to be disruptive as a pass rusher. Falcons’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees values versatility up front and Walker has the skill set to line up at multiple positions.

12. Minnesota Vikings — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson*

With Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland playing on one-year deals, the Vikings could be in the market for a starting cornerback. Booth has is a long athlete with controlled hip movement and the ability to find the football. His tape from this past weekend against South Carolina will get NFL teams excited.

13. New Orleans Saints — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State*

The first wide receiver off the board in this mock, Wilson has only average size (6-0, 186), but his body control is special, and his athletic instincts help him separate before and after the catch. He would be an immediate weapon for whoever is lining up at quarterback in New Orleans next season. Ohio State has basically been a minor-league feeder system for the Saints, and that continues in this scenario.

14. Philadelphia (from Indianapolis) — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia*

I know, I know, the Eagles don’t draft linebackers in the first round (or at least they haven’t since 1979). But maybe Jonathan Vilma 2.0 can change their minds. Dean is an athletic pursuit player and blitzer with excellent diagnose skills to key and attack. His football character will make him an immediate fit wherever he is drafted in April.

15. Cleveland Browns — David Ojabo, edge, Michigan*

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a wide receiver like Treylon Burks or Chris Olave here, but Ojabo might be too enticing to pass up for Cleveland. The Nigerian and Scotland native is remarkably disruptive for a player who is still a football novice. Ideally, the organization would like to bring back Jadeveon Clowney, which would give Ojabo a chance to be a sub-package rusher as a rookie as he realizes his sky-high potential.

16. Pittsburgh Stealers — Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina*

If this is Ben Roethlisberger’s final season in Pittsburgh, will the Stealers look towards the draft? Or add a free agent to compete with Mason Rudolph in the short term? General manager Kevin Colbert has traveled to see Howell multiple times this fall, and he might be their top option available at this point in the draft. In addition to his arm strength and accuracy, Howell gives the Stealers much-needed athleticism at the quarterback position.

17. Denver Broncos — Jordan Davis, NT, Georgia

A dominant run defender, Davis is a massive human (6-6, 360 pounds) with range (might run sub-5.00 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and the upper-body power to stack the point of attack, toss blockers and find the football. He has a low ceiling as a pass rusher but is able to create push by bullying interior blockers into the pocket.

18. Las Vegas Raiders — Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Finding an upgrade at right tackle needs to be a top priority for the Raiders this offseason. As long as they plan to keep Alex Leatherwood at guard, general manager Mike Mayock might look to find their new right tackle in the draft. Penning, who has experience at left and right tackle, is a “small school” prospect, but he has the traits to start in the NFL next season. At 6-7 and 329 pounds, he has impressive movement skills, length (35-inch arms) and competitive play style.

19. Washington Football Team – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss*

Taylor Heinicke has been a great story, but enough for Washington to bypass drafting a quarterback? Probably not if they view someone like Corral as the long-term answer. He doesn’t have ideal size, and his post-snap processing is still in the development phase, but Corral is an instinctive athlete with NFL-level arm talent and playmaking skills. General manager Martin Mayhew spent time in Oxford this month to see Corral, who would be a comfortable fit with Scott Turner’s style of play-calling.

20. Los Angeles Chargers — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida*

Even with positive play from rookie Asante Samuel Jr., the Chargers’ cornerback depth chart will need some work this offseason. Although you wish his tape showed more plays on the football, Elam has the intriguing traits that should land him in Round 1.

21. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco) — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State*

It feels like the offensive line has been a trouble area for the Dolphins since the Dan Marino era. Cross is still very young and needs to continue and get stronger and cut down on the penalties, but his movement patterns and handwork are outstanding foundation traits.

22. Buffalo Bills — Kenyon Green, OT/G, Texas A&M*

Green to Buffalo is one of my favorite team-prospect fits in this mock draft because of his versatility to interchangeably play guard or tackle. He plays with above-average balance before and after contact with the functional strength to sustain his blocks. His position flexibility gives the Bills starter-quality depth across the offensive line.

23. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles) — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas*

The Lions’ most productive wide receiver is Kalif Raymond, who currently ranks 79th in the NFL in receiving yards. Burks is a unique talent who creates mismatches with his combination of size and athleticism. Detroit could address quarterback here with Liberty’s Malik Willis or Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder if it evaluates either as a worthy long-term option.

24. Cincinnati Bengals — Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati*

If the Bengals look to bolster their cornerback depth chart in the draft, they will have a few options in their own back yard. Gardner is a tall, long athlete who can flip his hips and stay on top of routes. Shifty route-runners will give him trouble at times, but he has been a lockdown player in college with zero touchdowns allowed on his watch.

25. Dallas Cowboys — Cameron Thomas, edge, San Diego State*

The Cowboys drafted three front-seven defenders in the top 100 last season and might be in the market for more pass rush in next year’s first round. Whether lined up inside or outside, Thomas has been nearly unblockable this season for the Aztecs, currently leading college football with 72 pressures (just ahead of Michigan’s Hutchinson and Alabama’s Will Anderson). His lateral quickness, nose for the football and non-stop hustle are traits that will translate to the NFL.

26. Kansas City Chiefs — Drake London, WR, USC*

The Chiefs don’t lack for speed at wide receiver, but could use more size on the outside. A former basketball player at USC, London plays like a power forward with his ability to high-point and play above the rim. He is fluid with his ball adjustments to snatch and get upfield, showing the toughness to finish through contact and break tackles.

27. Tennessee Titans — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama*

One of the most explosive weapons this draft has to offer, Williams has blazing route speed with the ability to separate due to his 90-degree cuts that don’t require a gear down. His athleticism would add another dimension to the Titans’ offense.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M*

A toolsy, productive player, Leal, who currently leads the Aggies with 12.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, has true inside-outside versatility on the defensive line. He is stout vs. the run with his physical hands and rushes with impressive body control for a 290-pounder. Although he needs to be more consistent, Leal’s highlights and traits give off Jonathan Allen vibes.

29. New England Patriots — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Wide receiver isn’t a glaring need for the Patriots, especially considering Bill Belichick has only drafted one wide receiver in the first round since he became New England’s head coach in 2000. But Olave is the type of prospect who can change plans if he is available. A smooth athlete, Olave is already on an NFL level with his route transitions and catch-point skills.

30. Green Bay Packers — Darian Kinnard, OT/G, Kentucky

The Packers’ offensive line is holding up well considering they are without several injured starters. But there is no such thing as too much depth, and Kinnard will eventually break into the starting lineup, either at tackle or guard.

31. Baltimore Ravens — Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Would Baltimore draft a Gopher in back-to-back first rounds? It’s possible if the Ravens target an offensive tackle late — for a humongous human, as Faalele is a verified 6-foot-8 and 379 pounds with 35-inch arms and 11-inch hands. He is relatively new to football and is still learning how to get the most out of his unique skills, but he moves surprisingly well for his size and his anvil hands thump defenders into tomorrow.

32. Arizona Cardinals — Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

McCreary has average size (6-0, 187) with sub-30 inch arms, but he is a quick-twitch athlete who can line up inside or outside and play sticky coverage. He has produced several impressive tapes this season (Penn State, Arkansas, Alabama) that could push him into the first round.

Beyond the first round

Day 2 selections for teams that currently do not own a first-round pick:

Second Round

Seattle Seahawks — Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State*

Petit-Frere needs to develop his play strength and keep his weight centered, but he has big-man twitch and the movement skills of a long-term NFL starter.

Chicago Bears — David Bell, WR, Purdue*

The Bears have their speed receiver in Darnell Mooney, and Bell would give them a polished route-runner who can get open and win the catch point.

Indianapolis Colts — Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

A native of Austria, Raimann moved from tight end to left tackle during the pandemic and has blossomed into a Day 2 prospect due to his reactionary quickness and awareness.

San Francisco 49ers — Logan Hall, DL, Houston

A defensive lineman with inside-outside versatility, Hall needs to improve his hand exchange, but he is alert, nimble and the motor is always revving.

Third round

Los Angeles Rams — Jamaree Salyer, OT/G, Georgia

The starting left tackle for the Bulldogs, Salyer is more of a guard than a tackle with his physical hands and mobility, but he offers the versatility to provide depth at multiple spots on the offensive line.



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Mel's latest big board:

1. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

HT: 6-6 | WT: 265 | Previously: 5

Yes, Hutchinson makes the leap to the top of my Big Board. He has been unreal down the stretch and is now a Heisman Trophy finalist. Since I last updated my rankings, he has doubled his sack total. He now has 14 and two forced fumbles, showing powerful moves and relentless pursuit of quarterbacks. Three of those sacks came in the win over Ohio State, as he dominated the Buckeyes' O-line. Hutchinson played only 144 defensive snaps last season before he injured his leg against Indiana and had to have surgery; the Michigan defense cratered after he was hurt. He was outstanding as a sophomore in 2019, putting up 4.5 sacks and creating havoc in the backfield (10.5 total tackles for loss). It's going to be a real battle between Hutchinson and Thibodeaux for the No. 1 pick.

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

HT: 6-5 | WT: 250 | Previously: 1

After missing a few games because of an ankle injury he suffered in the season opener, Thibodeaux was spectacular in his return. In a win at UCLA, he had a strip sack, another sack and nine total tackles. Against Cal the week before, he had a sack and 10 total pressures. He finished the regular season with seven sacks and two forced fumbles. Thibodeaux, the No. 1-ranked high school recruit in 2019, is an elite pass-rushing talent with the quickness and bend to get double-digit sacks annually at the next level. He had nine sacks as a true freshman in 2019 and had three more and 9.5 total tackles for loss in seven games last season. He drops one spot here, but he's going to be in contention to be the top pick. And he officially declared for the draft on Monday night.

3. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

HT: 6-7 | WT: 360 | Previously: 4

Neal is another prospect I mentioned in my mailbag in September. He's an elite left tackle prospect with a massive frame and stellar physical traits. Check out this clip of him showing off those skills. Neal started at right tackle last season and was Bama's starting left guard as a freshman in 2019. He has moved over to the left side this season, taking over for first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. He is the complete package, excelling as a run-blocker and also in moving his feet as a pass-protector.

4. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

HT: 6-4 | WT: 219 | Previously: 2

Hamilton hasn't played since he suffered a right knee injury on Oct. 23 against USC and might not return this season. He's one of the most versatile defenders in the country. He had two interceptions against Florida State and added another in the win over Purdue. He now has eight in his career since 2019. Hamilton has the size to move up to the line of scrimmage and help in the running game and the speed and range to cover pass-catchers out of the slot. He's exactly what NFL teams want in their first-round safeties.

5. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

HT: 6-1 | WT: 195 | Previously: 3

Like Hamilton, Stingley hasn't played in a while, as he's dealing with a foot injury. I wrote about him and his ceiling earlier this fall, and he's the top corner in this class even though he hasn't been consistently great since 2019. This ranking is all about his upside. His freshman film, when he was one of the best players on LSU's national title team, is tremendous. He didn't play as well in 2020, but that can mostly be attributed to the entire LSU defense being dreadful. He has shown that he can lock down SEC receivers. There are going to be questions about his up-and-down play, but NFL teams will see more good tape than bad and draft him based on his ceiling.

6. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

HT: 6-2 | WT: 185 | Previously: 11

Williams made my list of potential first-round sleepers in October, and he just keeps getting better. He's averaging 21.3 yards per reception and ranks 10th in the country with 554 yards after the catch. He can take the top off the defense with his speed, and he has shown that he can track the ball and adjust while it's in the air. Watch him on this 76-yard score against Mississippi State and on this 55-yard TD in the SEC title game. Williams has been Alabama's best receiver this season, and I didn't expect the Ohio State transfer to have such an immediate impact. Plus, he has two kickoff return touchdowns.

7. Drake London, WR, USC

HT: 6-5 | WT: 210 | Previously: 7

London was having a phenomenal season before fracturing his right ankle against Arizona on Oct. 30. He had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 11 catches and 136 yards per game. London, who played on the USC basketball team in 2019-20, towers over Pac-12 defenders, and he can outleap just about any corner. He had 72 catches for 1,069 yards and eight touchdowns from 2019 to 2020. I noticed a few concentration drops this season -- he has five after just one the previous two seasons -- but he does have soft hands and a huge catch radius.

8. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

HT: 6-3 | WT: 235 | Previously: 8

Lloyd has been incredibly impressive for the Utes, filling the stat sheet each week. He has 107 total tackles and has added seven sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions (two pick-sixes, including one in the Pac-12 title game) and a forced fumble. He penetrates past linemen at the snap, but Utah also uses him often in coverage, showing off his range as an off-ball linebacker. Lloyd was used more as a pass-rusher in 2019, racking up 6.5 sacks. He has 15.5 for his career. The versatility stands out as a major plus. I've compared him to former top-five pick Devin White, though I'm curious to see what he runs at the combine to see whether he has the same elite speed as White.

9. David Ojabo, DE, Michigan

HT: 6-5 | WT: 250 | Previously: 10

Ojabo has been one of the most impressive newcomers in the country. A third-year sophomore who spent his youth in Nigeria and Scotland (check out my new colleague Jordan Reid's piece on him for more), Ojabo has 11 sacks and five forced fumbles playing on the other side of Aidan Hutchinson. He has flashed advanced pass-rush moves -- check out this spin on the right tackle for a strip sack against Indiana -- and his athletic traits pop on tape. While Ojabo needs to work on his all-around game, there's a lot to like. He's still young; he could develop into a elite edge rusher.

10. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

HT: 6-5 | WT: 310 | Previously: 6

Cross has taken the next step. He has allowed just one sack and five pressures this season, and that's with playing in a pass-heavy Mike Leach offense. He was dominant against a good LSU front earlier this season and more than held his own against the mega-talented Alabama defense. He stalemates edge rushers. Cross has long arms and good feet, and his coaches rave about his work ethic and attention to detail. He showed potential last season, his first as a starter, but he's also asked to do a lot in Leach's offense, and so he had some poor pass-blocking reps. He allowed five sacks and 13 pressures on 556 pass blocks in 2020. Based on his 2021 tape so far, I see a top-10 pick.

11. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

HT: 6-4 | WT: 290 | Previously: 12

Leal is one of my favorite prospects in this class, a versatile defensive lineman who could play in any defense at the next level. I like his potential as an interior penetrator a little more than I do as an edge rusher, and he has the frame to put on a few more pounds. But he plays incredibly hard and is always in the right spot. Leal has 8.5 sacks this season after having 2.5 last season, when he also had a forced fumble and an interception off Alabama's Mac Jones. He has 15 tackles for loss.

12. Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia

HT: 6-0 | WT: 225 | Previously: 9

In October, I picked Dean as a rising prospect to watch, after he was tremendous in the Bulldogs' shutout of Arkansas. He's the leader of one of the best defenses in recent college football history. Even after the Bulldogs allowed 41 points to Alabama in the SEC title game, they've given up an FBS-best 4.0 yards per play this season. Quarterbacks playing against the Bulldogs have posted a 117.3 QBR, which is worst by far in FBS. Dean runs sideline to sideline to blow up plays and is a sure tackler once he finds the ball carrier. He has 61 tackles, five sacks -- he's a great blitzer -- and two interceptions this season.

13. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

HT: 6-4 | WT: 270 | Previously: 21

Don't be fooled by Karlaftis having only 4.5 sacks this season. He affects games in other ways, and his pressure numbers (13.7%) stack up well next to the best edge rushers in the country. He gets double-teamed often along the Purdue front, and he is physical in fighting through them. He's tough -- he plays to the whistle and runs down whoever has the ball. Karlaftis played just three games last season; a positive COVID-19 test in November cut short a promising campaign. As a freshman in 2019, he had 7.5 sacks and 17 total tackles for loss. I think he will test well at the combine, too.

14. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

HT: 6-3 | WT: 290 | Previously: 13

Linderbaum is one of the best center prospects in recent memory. He can do everything, and he excels as a puller to either side. He's a fantastic run blocker. He doesn't have many weaknesses. Linderbaum allowed just one sack in the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined. He has allowed two this season, but I'm still huge fan of his game and upside regardless.

15. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

HT: 6-0 | WT: 193 | Previously: 16

Wilson played mostly out of the slot last season, catching 43 passes and averaging almost 17 yards per reception, but he has done most of his damage outside in 2021. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands and can run away from defenders after the catch. Here he is doing that against a Minnesota defensive back for a 56-yard score. He has 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, including six in the past three games. His versatility will help at the next level. Wilson and Chris Olave form one of the best wideout tandems in the country.

16. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

HT: 6-3 | WT: 200 | Previously: NR

I'm pumped to see Gardner lined up against Alabama's Jameson Williams in the College Football Playoff. Gardner has long arms and is physical in press coverage. He doesn't give up big plays. As the nearest defender in coverage this season, he has allowed quarterbacks to complete just eight passes on 29 targets -- for 60 total yards. He has three picks this season and nine in his three-year career with the Bearcats. He's also not afraid to make a tackle in run support. Gardner is a really good player.

17. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

HT: 5-11 | WT: 184 | Previously: 14

Dotson is explosive. He had an incredible leaping catch against Illinois, and look how open he is on this 49-yard touchdown against Wisconsin. Plus, check out Penn State's first offensive play against Villanova, a 52-yard strike to Dotson in which he showed acceleration at the catch. While he had a few drops in 2019 and 2020, he has dropped only two passes this season. He has 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 scores, including six in his final four games.

18. Ikem Ekwonu, OT/G, NC State

HT: 6-4 | WT: 320 | Previously: 17

Ekwonu bullies pass-rushers. He toys with them. He has played both guard and tackle in his career, but he has excelled at left tackle this season. He moves his feet well in the run game and can get to the next level. My only question is his arm length and whether he might move inside to guard at the next level. He can be a really good player at either position, but I could see teams preferring him inside.

19. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

HT: 6-7 | WT: 321 | Previously: 15

Penning destroys edge rushers at the FCS level. He's consistently dominant in both the run and pass game. "Rugged" is the word I'd use to describe his game. And though he's not playing against NFL-caliber players every week, I think he has a chance to be an elite guy. He has played mostly at left tackle for the Panthers, who had 2021 third-rounder Spencer Brown on the right side from 2017 to 2019. Penning has flashed more than Brown did. He could be an early NFL starter.

20. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

HT: 6-3 | WT: 220 | Previously: 20

Pickett remains my top quarterback, but the reality is that I'm not enamored with this QB class so far, as I wrote last month. I don't see an elite, top-10 pick in this group. Now, we see every year that quarterbacks rise based on need at the top of the draft; just because I don't have one ranked in the top 10 doesn't mean all 32 teams agree. Pickett or Malik Willis or Matt Corral could still rise. Fifth-year senior Pickett has been incredibly impressive this season, throwing 42 touchdown passes with seven interceptions. He ranks seventh in the country in QBR (81.5). Pickett was up and down the past two seasons, with 18 picks and an average of 6.9 yards per attempt. He's up to 8.7 this season. He is accurate to all three levels of the field, has shown patience in taking the checkdown throws when necessary and has good zip on his throws.

Now, he has started 49 games in his Pitt career, so NFL teams will like that he has experience. (The last first-rounder with that many starts was Baker Mayfield with 46.) But Pickett dealt with an ankle injury in an inconsistent 2020 season, so scouts and execs are going to have to be comfortable with his improvement and believe that he's an improved quarterback. The signs are there, and his ability to use his legs to maneuver the pocket and scramble when he has to is underrated.

21. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

HT: 6-4 | WT: 215 | Previously: NR

Welcome back to the Big Board, Mr. Ridder. I wrote about him after the Bearcats' big win over Notre Dame, and he was really impressive down the stretch, even if he does have a couple head-scratching throws every game. (Check out this interception against Navy.) Overall, Ridder has taken the next step, throwing 30 touchdown passes and eight picks while completing 65.9% of his throws. His counting stats won't totally wow you, but he has the arm talent and mobility that put him in the first-round conversation. Like Pickett, Ridder has started more than 45 college games, and so I'd like to see him have better ball placement on tight-window throws at this point. He's not the perfect prospect, but he does have upside. NFL teams will bet on upside.

22. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

HT: 6-1 | WT: 188 | Previously: 22

Ohio State's pass-catching group is one of the best in the country, which means Olave and Wilson don't have huge counting stats. I'm not worried; just turn on the tape and watch Olave get open. I wrote in May that he could have been a Day 2 pick had he entered the 2021 draft, and now he has a chance to be the No. 1 wideout in 2022. He's one of the best deep threats in this class -- he averaged 15.0 air yards per target from 2018 to 2020 -- and is an improved route runner with stellar hands. He can make defenders look silly in coverage and with the ball in his hands. Olave has 13 receiving scores this season, giving him 35 for his career.

23. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

HT: 6-0 | WT: 200 | Previously: NR

Like Ridder, Corral is also back on my Big Board. I went deeper on his upside in September and wrote about what I liked about his game in October. He's not the biggest quarterback, but he has touch and accuracy and a good-enough arm. He's tough. He has limited his mistakes this season, throwing 20 touchdowns and just four picks. He puts the ball on the money on schedule. What doomed Corral last season were two total disaster games in which he threw 11 combined interceptions against LSU and Arkansas. He hasn't had those in 2021. I also love his ability to use his legs to maneuver the pocket, and he has shown some speed once he does escape the pocket. He even had 195 yards on a whopping 30 carries in a win over Tennessee. Corral is firmly in the mix to be the No. 1 quarterback.

24. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

HT: 6-3 | WT: 232 | Previously: 24

I wrote about Burks earlier this season, as he tore up Texas A&M and gave the Aggies' defensive backs fits. Check out his speed on this 85-yard touchdown catch. He has a big catch radius and can play inside or outside, though he's doing most of his damage out of the slot. He has 66 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had seven scores a year ago. Concentration drops are an issue, but he's going to battle for the top wideout spot in a deep class. I want to see how he tests at the NFL combine next March.

25. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

HT: 6-0 | WT: 195 | Previously: NR

I wrote in May that Booth was overshadowed nationally last season by Derion Kendrick, who is now at Georgia, but the tape showed something different. He was really, really good. If you just looked at his counting stats in his first two seasons -- two interceptions, four total pass breakups -- you didn't see how he locked up wideouts. Quarterbacks rarely threw his way. Booth had three picks this season, including two in the Tigers' win over South Carolina. He has allowed only one completion for more than 20 yards this season.

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Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Updated Top 100 Big Board

There’s a big Post-It note stuck to the speaker—about 7” tall—between my two monitors that sit in front of me right now. It reads, “remember good football players”.

That’s my motto for this NFL draft cycle and honestly my resolution as an evaluator. And it might sound super cliche’ or obvious—that in a job where you evaluate and project hundreds of players each year that “remembering good football players” would be something you need to remember.

Oh, but it is.

Every draft cycle “we”—a draft industrial complex—fall in love with the traits and upside over what the players actually did on Saturdays. We fall for the upside of Mitchell Trubisky over the Jordan-esque Deshaun Watson. We fall for the YOLO ball of Zach Wilson over the steadiness of Mac Jones. And oh my sweet baby Jesus we fall for speed over athleticism—at nearly every position group.

So yes, it is quite important for this evaluator, to remember good football players. That’s my goal for 2022 and a big part of the reason for some major shifts in my latest Big Board.

I went back to the drawing board with this one—removing my previous ranking for each player and simply looking at my notes and in some cases re-watching players to put a new grade on them. One that values them as both prospects and as football players.


1. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
2. EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
3. SAF Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
4. OT Evan Neal, Alabama
5. OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
6. CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
7. WR Drake London, USC
8. DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
9. EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
10. OC Tyler Linderbaum,,Iowa
11. OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
12. LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
13. WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
14. OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
15. EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
16. WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
17. QB Matthew Corral, Ole Miss
18. WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
19. CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
20. WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
21. LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
22. EDGE Drake Jackson, USC
23. QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
24. QB Malik Willis, Liberty
25. CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

26. EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
27. CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
28. CB Derion Kendrick, Georgia
29. QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
30. EDGE Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
31. LB Henry To'o To'o, Alabama
32. WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
33. TE Trey McBride, Colorado State
34. DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
35. DT Devante Wyatt, Georgia
36. OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
37. EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
38. LB Christian Harris, Alabama
39. WR John Metchie III, Alabama
40. SAF Daxton Hill, Michigan
41. SAF Lewis Cine, Georgia
42. EDGE Logan Hall, Houston
43. OT Darian Kinnard, Kentucky
44. OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
45. CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
46. OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
47. CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
48. EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
49. RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
50. TE Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
51. LB Damone Clark, LSU
52. SAF Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
53. OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
54. EDGE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
55. EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
56. CB Martin Emerson, Mississippi State
57. DT Phidarian Mathis, Alabama
58. OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
59. WR David Bell, Purdue
60. QB Sam Howell, North Carolina
61. SAF Jordan Battle, Alabama
62. SAF Jalen Pitre, Baylor
63. OT Max Mitchell, Louisiana
64. SAF Jalen Catalon, Arkansas
65. EDGE Sam Williams, Ole Miss
66. RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
67. CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
68. RB Breece Hall, Iowa State
69. CB Josh Jobe, Alabama
70. RB James Cook, Georgia
71. SAF Brandon Joseph, Northwestern
72. SAF Verone McKinley III, Oregon
73. QB Carson Strong, Nevada
74. TE Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama
75. CB Riley Moss, Iowa
76. CB Marcus Jones, Houston
77. CB Coby Bryant, Cincinnati
78. RB Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
79. EDGE Amare Barno, Virginia Tech
80. RB Kyren Williams, Notre Dame
81. EDGE Will McDonald, Iowa State
82. LB Chad Muma, Wyoming
83. OG Jamaree Salyer, Georgia
84. TE Cade Otton, Washington
85. WR Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
86. WR George Pickens, Georgia
87. EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
88. OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
89. EDGE Josh Paschal, Kentucky
90. LB Channing Tindall, Georgia
91. OG Dylan Parham, Memphis
92. EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
93. LB Brandon Smith, Penn State
94. WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
95. OT Zion Nelson, Miami (FL)
96. WR Khalil Shakir, Boise State
97. LB Jack Campbell, Iowa
98. OT Nick Zakelj, Fordham
99. TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
100. WR Justyn Ross, Clemson

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I get Miller's thoughts there and agree for the most part, but if there was an easier, more sure fire way to evaluate talent, there wouldn't be so many 1st round busts.

For example, what was his evaluation process that had him put Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia ahead of Devin Lloyd, LB Utah ??
Is it that Dean played for Georgia, a team going to the CFP and plays in the SEC against top competition, where Lloyd plays for Utah in the PAC 12 ??
For wanting to remember what they do on Saturday's, that seems to fly in the face.

Dean has 157 total tackles in 3 seasons, with 6.5 sacks.  He's also 6'0, 225lbs.
Lloyd has 246 total tackles in 3 seasons, with 15.5 sacks.  He's also 6'3, 235lbs.

I watch a ton of college football and Lloyd jumps out at me as the better player and has produced a better rate.
I would LOVE to see the Bengals take Lloyd in the 1st round, but I don't think he falls that far.

There's always the exception, but i'm not sold on 6'0 linebackers any more than I am a 6'0 QB.
I simply think there's limitations when stepping up to the next level.  THAT also has to be a consideration.
My point is, I don't think Miller can pick and choose when he wants to pay attention to that Post-It Note on his speaker.

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I wasn't aiming that at you Mem, it just seemed odd, that's all.
Personally and for as much as I love the draft, it's damn near impossible for anyone to come very close most years.
I actually agree with his thoughts, like I mentioned.  He just seemingly went against them when giving his top 100.

I'm certainly not complaining, because I seemingly read more of that shit year in and year out than almost anything else.
Good stuff and I appreciate seeing any of it, so thanks !!

You are the one that got me addicted to The Draft Network.
Been doing mocks for a while now.  LOVE IT !!

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McShay's first mock is up (paywalled, of course). His pick for Cincy:



16. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6)

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa*

No-brainer here. No quarterback has been sacked more than Joe Burrow (41), which of course isn't what you want to see for your second-year franchise QB who already has a knee injury as a pro. Linderbaum anchors well and would help take the Bengals' interior line from among the NFL's worst to one of its best within a few years. Plus, he has good range at the second level, which would open things up more for running back Joe Mixon.


He has Sauce going to Minny right ahead of the Bengals pick.

He gives Pit Pitt QB Kenny Pickett at 12 (first QB off the board), the Brown USC WR Drake London at 18 and the Ravens OT Trevor Penning at 22.

Any questions just ask I'll look 'em up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

McShay's latest top 32:

1. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon*

3. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama*

4. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU*

5. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame*

6. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama*

7. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M*

8. Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia*

9. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State*

10. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

11. David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan*

12. Drake London, WR, USC*

13. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa*

14. Travon Walker, DE, Georgia*

15. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati*

16. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

17. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss*

18. Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah*

19. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue*

20. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

21. Ikem Ekwonu, G/OT, NC State*

22. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

23. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson*

24. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

25. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida*

26. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

27. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty*

28. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa*

29. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas*

30. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

31. Cameron Thomas, DE, San Diego State*

32. Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State*

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Outside of the o-line, we need to figure out how to improve with turnovers.
I think we are still on the bad end of the turnover difference
Top of the bottom half with both interceptions and fumbles.

A ball hawking CB sure would come in handy opposite Awuzie.
Then there is the pass rush.  Interesting to see what getting Ossai back does for them, but I don't want that to be the only plan.
Improved LB talent wouldn't hurt either.

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