Our writer Craig Strachan takes a look at some of the overhyped prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft
Having done this last year and listed the likes of Jamin Davis, Kellen Mond and Benjamin St-Juste, I figured 4 weeks before the draft was a good time to bring it back for 2022.
It is worth saying that everyone assesses draft talent differently. As a result every analyst has guys they will generally be higher or lower on than the accepted consensus view and that someone who makes this list isn’t a good player or won’t make a good pro. But, is more that my evaluation of them has them lower than I’m hearing or seeing that others have got them.
So, with all that said, who makes the list this year?
Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
Let’s start with one of the darlings of this year’s Senior Bowl shall we? I’m completely on board with the idea of Jermaine Johnson as a 1st round pick, and heck I could probably get my head around someone drafting him in the first half of round one. But people saying he should be drafted ahead of Kayvon Thibodeaux – something I’m seeing far too often now – is just crazy talk.
KT’s production is far more consistent over his college career. He’s got better athleticism at pretty much exactly the same size and is simply suffering from being at the top of draft boards for too long.
Johnson is my EDGE6, though given David Ojabo’s injury (I have him at EDGE5) I do expect JJ to go ahead of him. There is a lot to like in terms of his skill set. He’s powerful at the point of attack, can play both the run and pass effectively, and has a relentless quality about him when it comes to getting after the quarterback.
But he’s not worth a top 10 pick.
Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Let’s stay with the overhyped edge rushers and talk about Travon Walker. I’m seeing and hearing people suggesting the Georgia prospect could be taken in the top 3 come draft day.
Everyone is getting too focussed on the athleticism. Which based on RAS (Relative Athletic Score – a system that looks at all players at a given position from the 1987 draft onwards and their recorded athletic statistics) is equivalent to that of Myles Garrett.
The biggest difference between the two though is production and those hyping Walker at the next great NFL edge rusher are conveniently missing that fact. Walker had a sum total of 8.5 sacks over the last three years of his college career. Garrett had at least that number in each of his last three years in college.
Let that sink in a moment. Garrett used his athleticism to completely dominate year in, year out while at Texas A&M. Walker didn’t. So why do so many people assume Walker is suddenly going to be able to turn it on and become a dominant force in the NFL?
Again, there are plenty of tools to work with if you do draft Travon Walker, and with that athleticism I’d certainly be keen to work with him if I was a defensive line coach to see what I could get out of him. But he’d be such a huge risk as a top 5, maybe even as a top 10, pick that I just don’t understand the hype.
Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
Moving across the trenches to the offensive line, I’m seeing and hearing more and more suggestions that Tyler Smith should be a 1st round pick.
This feels exactly like the point of last year’s draft cycle when we had people suggesting Cincinnati’s James Hudson, who was ultimately drafted 110th overall by the Browns, could be a 1st round pick. I wrote about Hudson last year that anyone suggesting such a thing “needs to recognise how raw of a prospect Hudson truly is” and the same is true of Tyler Smith.
Smith is a good mover for someone who stands at over 330lbs. He uses the physicality that his size creates for him very well. But he’s still young, quite raw and his tape shows you that he’s still got a number of flaws in his game that he needs to clean up. Not least the penalties that he consistently gives away.
I’ve got a 3rd round grade on Smith. I can definitely see him developing into a good starting NFL guard, but don’t believe the 1st round hype.
Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
Last year the Washington Football Team (now the Commanders) fell in love with an overhyped off ball linebacker, so much so that they took him 19th overall. This year there are now rumours that some teams might repeat that mistake with Wisconsin’s Leo Chenal.
Jamin Davis might well still come good. But, it is already apparent that he wasn’t worth a 1st round pick, and whilst Chenal is an absolute machine when it comes to playing run defense in between the tackles he doesn’t have the sideline-to-sideline speed to be able to chase down runners on the outside and he offers very, very little in coverage.
The Wisconsin Badger no doubt has a role to play in the NFL. But, at least initially that role will be limited and the positional value isn’t there either – so he really shouldn’t be in anyone’s 1st round consideration.
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Last but by no means least is Trent McDuffie – yes, 5’10” cornerback Trent McDuffie. I’ve seen suggestions from some renowned draft sites who have him ranked in their top 10 (cough…PFF…cough) ahead of both Andrew Booth and Kaiir Elam.
If you’re going to have a cornerback rated that highly then you’re going to need to be sure that they can play out on island against your opponents #1 receiver every week. At his height McDuffie is going to be at a significant disadvantage against taller pass catchers and while can make up for it slightly with a 38-inch vertical jump, he’s going to have to be pretty much perfect in coverage in order to avoid being picked on at the next level.
I like the physicality he brings and the press man style he is renowned for but given his shortcomings he’s someone who is right on the borderline of the 1st and 2nd round for me and is definitely not worth a top 20 pick.
He talks a good game. His interviews at the Senior Bowl were great fun – and his tape is impressive, but I don’t project him to be anything like as good as some might be hyping him up to be.
So, there you have it – my top 5 overhyped prospects. Let me know what you think over on Twitter @UK_draft. Whether you agree or disagree, or indeed if you think there’s anyone else getting too much hype!
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