2022 NFL Draft Stock Up & Down: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jordan Davis, Christian Watson (Fantasy Football)
Now that the NFL Scouting Combine is in the rearview mirror, we are less than two months away from the 2022 NFL Draft. Much still needs to happen, including pro days for all the prospects. However, draft boards have started to take shape, with several players moving up and down on the board. Let’s look at three players whose stock has risen and three whose stock has fallen so far this offseason.
Desmond Ridder (QB – Cincinnati)
The biggest winner of the combine at the quarterback position was Ridder. He didn’t finish the college season on a high note, playing arguably the worst game of his career against Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. However, he has turned this around since that game. Ridder was arguably the best quarterback in the Senior Bowl game, throwing for 68 yards and two touchdowns on only six pass attempts. He then had a 127-inch broad jump at the combine, the third-best ever for a quarterback. More importantly, his 4.52 40-yard dash time was fastest at the combine. Thanks to his athleticism and toughness, Ridder could end up turning into a late first-round pick. Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions might end up taking the former Bearcat.
Christian Watson (WR – North Dakota State)
Watson’s stock was already on the rise before the combine. However, after putting up the numbers he did in Indianapolis, Watson could get selected in the top 40 picks of the draft. The 6’4″ 208 lb wide receiver ran a 4.36 40-yard time. He also had a 38.5-inch vertical jump and a 136-inch broad jump. Some had concerns Watson would struggle against top NFL competition after playing four years at North Dakota State. However, Watson had an impressive week at the Senior Bowl last month. North Dakota State’s pro day is March 24, and if Watson has a strong performance there, he could sneak into the bottom third of the first round of the draft.
Jordan Davis (DL – Georgia)
Men at 6’6″ and 340 lbs should not be able to run the 40-yard dash in under 4.8 seconds. However, that’s exactly what Davis did at the combine, running an impressive 4.78 40-yard dash. He also had a 123-inch broad jump and a 32-inch vertical jump. By comparison, his teammate Travon Walker had the same broad jump and only 3.5 inches higher vertical jump despite weighing 69 pounds lighter than Davis. After playing a critical part of Georgia’s dominant defense last season, Davis was already a likely first-round pick. However, after his combine performance, Davis might become a top-15 pick. While he had only seven sacks during his college career, Davis is a few pass rush moves away from becoming a nightmare for offensive linemen in the NFL.
Matt Corral (QB – Ole Miss)
Many will harp on Kenny Pickett‘s 8.5-inch hand size. However, that seems to be a media-driven narrative and not league-driven. Pickett still projects as one of the top quarterbacks in the draft despite the hand size. While we’ve seen other quarterbacks shine, it has been two months since we’ve seen Corral. Many viewed Corral as the top quarterback in the draft during the college football season. However, the past two months have hurt him. Malik Willis, Pickett, and Ridder all had strong combine performances. Meanwhile, Corral sat out dealing with the ankle injury he suffered in the Sugar Bowl in January. If he has a poor showing at Ole Miss’ pro day, Corral could end up sliding out of the first round.
Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE – Oregon)
Early in the 2021 college football season, Thibodeaux was the clear-cut No. 1 pick in every mock draft. However, Aidan Hutchinson‘s play in the second half of the season has him the favorite to be the first defensive player off the board in April. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Thibodeaux as the third edge defender off the board in his latest mock draft, behind Hutchinson and Walker. Furthermore, several scouts have expressed concern that Thibodeaux “doesn’t play with the same fire as some other top prospects,” according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline. Thibodeaux was a slam dunk No. 1 pick at one point in time. After skipping the on-field drills at the combine, there is a chance Thibodeaux falls out of the top-10 picks.
Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)
Elam had five interceptions over the three years at Florida and 20 passes defended. Furthermore, his 11 passes defended in 2020 were the most in the SEC and the third-most in college football. However, Elam’s draft stock has been impacted by the depth at the cornerback position this year. Ahmad Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. are likely top-10 picks. Behind them include players like Andrew Booth from Clemson and Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon from Washington. While Booth was a projected first-round pick in January, McDuffie and Gordon have joined the first-round conversation at the expense of Elam. While he hasn’t done anything to lower his stock, the emergence of the Washington duo has dropped Elam on draft boards.