This new section highlights which players have improved or worsened their 2022 NFL Draft stock as the draft approaches.
By Charlie Campbell.
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2022 NFL Draft Stock Up
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Pickett continued his prolific senior year on Thursday night, becoming Pittsburgh's all-time leader in passing yards, surpassing Dan Marino and Alex Van Pelt for the honor. More importantly for the 2021 season, Pickett led the Panthers to an overtime win over North Carolina. He completed 25-of-43 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. If it weren't for dropped passes, Pickett would have had an even bigger night. In 2021, Pickett has completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,517 yards, 32 touchdowns and four interceptions.
While Pickett is not a freak athlete with running ability like a Lamar Jackson or Cam Newton, Pickett has some functional mobility and toughness as a runner, similar to Joe Burrow. Pickett does not have a cannon for an arm like a Josh Allen or Matthew Stafford, but he has a capable arm that can make all the throws, similar to Derek Carr. What Pickett has that really stands out is excellent accuracy. He also throws a very catchable arm, processes information quickly, makes good decisions, and has natural feel as a passer. Additionally, Pickett is a leader, hard worker, good teammate, and a competitor. Thus, he has the skill set to be a starter in the NFL. Pickett could end up being a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson absolutely dominated the Purdue Boilermakers over the weekend. They had no answer for Ohio State's explosive playmaker, who partied Al Bundy style, racking up four touchdowns in a single game. On the first drive of the game, Wilson moved the chains before getting wide open in the flat for a short catch. He then darted down the field for the 21-yard score. In the second quarter, Wilson made a leaping touchdown grab over a defensive back that displayed excellent body control. Later in the first half, Wilson showed his explosiveness and deep speed by taking a jet sweep for a 51-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter on a fourth down, Wilson caught a quick slant for a short catch, and after the catch, he made a great move to cut back the other direction and darted into the end zone with a 24-yard touchdown. Wilson finished the day with 10 receptions for 126 yards and three touchdowns alongside his 51-yard touchdown run.
Wilson's performance against Purdue should help him to end up a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He showed his game-breaking speed and electrifying playmaking ability. Wilson ran superb routes, showing suddenness in-and-out of his breaks. Along with being fast playmaker, Wilson had good body control to adjust to the ball. Obviously, Wilson was phenomenal after the catch. Wilson looks like a future first-round pick next April.
Will Mallory, TE, Miami
Miami is known as "tight end U," and tighe tnedWill Mallory flashed impressive ability as a backup last year behind Brevin Jordan. Mallory got off to a slow start this season, but he has played better in recent weeks as his freshman quarterback has gotten more comfortable. Versus Florida State over the weekend, Mallory was impressive. He did a nice job of contributing as a blocker and came up with some clutch receptions that got the Hurricanes into the game after they fell behind 17-0.
In the first half, Mallory made a very tough catch in traffic that showed great hands to help move the chains on Miami's first scoring drive. Later before halftime, Mallory got open along the sideline and took off for a 45-yard gain to set up a Hurricanes score. Early in the fourth quarter, Mallory got open running to the flat for a four-yard touchdown reception that put Miami up 21-20. Mallory finished with five receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.
For the NFL, Mallory has quality speed to go along with size, strength and athleticism. He could be a really good No. 2 tight end who develops into being a pro starter.
David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has commanded a lot of attention this season, but that has allowed teammate David Ojabo to break out. Ojabo entered the Penn State game over the weekened with eight sacks in 2021. He then continued his hot streak against the Nittany Lions, having his way with their right tackle and making some big plays in the backfield. On the first drive of the game, Ojabo came completely unblocked to get a sack. Just before halftime, Ojabo added a strip-sack thanks to a rip move that let him get leverage on the right tackle and then hammer the arm of Clifford.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Ojabo could stand to get stronger and add more weight to his frame to hold up as a run defender in the NFL. Ojabo was a backup in 2020 and on the scout team in 2019, so this is only his first year of extended playing time, and he has a ton of upside to improve as he gains experience. If Ojabo enters the 2022 NFL Draft, he could be an early-round pick. Tf he were to return to Michigan instead and continue to improve, he might have high first-round potential for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Hutchinson and the Wolverines defense carried Michigan to a tough road win in Happy Valley last Saturday. On the second play of the game, Hutchinson dodged Penn State left tackle Rasheed Walker and closed in a hurry to almost get a sack, but Sean Clifford broke the tackle. Hutchinson was facing some extra attention, but in the second quarter, he used speed to get upfield and power to push through the right tackle to get a back-side strip-sack of Clifford. In the third quarter, Hutchinson used a bull rush to go through Walker and notch his second sack of the day.
Hutchinson looks like a future top-20 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He has good size, speed, and athleticism on the edge. With his quality first-step and a burst to close, Hutchinson presents speed off the edge and is constantly working upfield. He also has developed hands that he is adept at using ay the same time as his feet to shed blocks. Hutchinson is adequate as a run defender, but could stand to get better defending downhill runs coming straight at him. That is the big area of improvement for Hutchinson entering the next level.
2022 NFL Draft Stock Down
Adam Anderson, OLB, Georgia
Anderson looked like he was on his way to being a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but his draft status and NFL future have been thrown up in the air due to a rape allegation that has him indefinitely suspended from Georgia. Anderson vehemently denies the accusation. Last week, an arrest warrant was issued and Anderson turned himself into police.
Multiple NFL sources said that they have spoken to recent Georgia staffers and recent former teammates of Anderson, and that all of them have said they are surprised and don't believe he is that kind of guy. Anderson had the reputation of being a good guy and teammate. As Deshaun Watson and others have proven, however, nobody knows for sure what people will do privately. Some pro team sources are wondering about the timing of the incident, which occurred the night before the Georgia versus Florida in Jacksonville. Sources are wondering why Anderson was at home and not at the team hotel. They wonder and question if he snuck out after curfew and bed check, so Anderson's situation is a huge mess for his draft stock.
If Anderson is exonerated, he could return to high first-round status given precedence such as Jameis Winston, who was able to weather a similar allegation before going No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. Even if Anderson is cleared, however, this incident is going to be scrutinized repeatedly by NFL teams leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft and could cause some teams to shy away from Anderson. If the legal process drags out, as it probably will, Anderson could easily fall undrafted.
Rasheed Walker, LT, Penn State
Walker had problems against Wisconsin to open the season. Versus Ohio State, he allowed two huge plays that resulted in point being produced for the Buckeyes. And last Saturday, he was embarrassed by Michigan. On the second play of the game, Aidan Hutchinson dodged Walker and closed in a hurry to almost get a sack, but Sean Clifford broke the tackle. In the third quarter, Hutchinson used a bull rush to go through Walker and get his second sack of the game. Walker really struggled in pass protection versus the Wolverines.
The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Walker has a good skill set with size, speed and athleticism, but his technique needs work. His hands get too wide, which leaves him vulnerable to bull rushes. He also can be late to react to speed around the corner, which can catch him flat-footed. Walker could be in trouble against NFL edge rushers next year. He should definitely return to school to improve before going to the next level via the 2023 NFL Draft.
Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
Entering the 2021 season, Smith was one of the highest-graded preseason non-pass-rushing linebackers. He had an excellent 2020 season as the replacement for Micah Parsons, but this season, Smith has not been making as many big plays. While he has shown pass-coverage skills, Smith has missed some tackles, and that could be seen at times versus Michigan last Saturday. Smith should probably return for his senior year to improve before entering the NFL.
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