2022 NFL Draft Stock Up & Down: Kenneth Walker III, Chris Olave, Kyren Williams
With the NFL Free Agency here and a crazy trading week last week, it is time to review whose stock has gone up and whose has gone down over the course of the last seven days since the end of the combine.
- College: Michigan State
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 211 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.38 seconds
Walker III is someone who does not check all the boxes. There is significant concern over his usage, his catching ability, and his ability to be a consistent producer. However, since the combine, there has been no real movement at the running back position. Also, this free agency class of running backs is deep but lacks high-end talent. That means more teams will be looking to the draft to find their running back for the next few years, rather than a temporary solution.
With Walker III running a 4.38 40 time and having a 34-inch vertical jump at the combine, he has vaulted himself into the second-round conversation. As a result, he will be taken alongside Breece Hall (RB) and Isaiah Spiller (RB) at some point in the second round. In fact, don’t be too shocked if they all get taken within 10 or so picks of each other.
- College: Ohio State
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 187 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.39 seconds
Olave was very much seen as the inferior wide receiver of the Ohio State duo to Garrett Wilson (WR) coming into the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. However, these two receivers separated themselves from the rest of the wide receiver class in Indianapolis. He produced a faultless performance at the Combine to showcase why teams will be prepared to take him in round one in April.
Also, the NFL free agency pool was heavily depleted when Davante Adams (WR – GB) and Chris Godwin (WR – TB) were given the franchise tag. However, that is not all. This weekend saw Amari Cooper (WR – CLE) traded to the Cleveland Browns after it became known it was likely the Dallas Cowboys would be releasing him prior to the start of the new football year. And then, with the cap savings from Cooper, the Cowboys announced they are extending Michael Gallup (WR – DAL) to a five-year, $62.5 million contract.
All of this news leaves very few star players on the free agency market. Allen Robinson (WR – FA) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – FA) will garner interest. However, everyone else of interest appears to be past their prime or yet to prove their full worth in the NFL. That will lead to potentially five wide receivers going in round one of the 2022 NFL Draft.
- College: North Dakota State
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 208 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.36 seconds
Another wideout who had an incredible Combine to add to an incredible Senior Bowl is Christian Watson. His 4.36 40 time and 38.5-inch vertical jump really stood out for his size. Watson was the beneficiary of some of his larger counterparts not taking part at the combine such as Drake London (WR). In the last six weeks, Watson has gone from someone almost nobody was talking about to the receiver that intrigues outside of the first-round graded talent.
Watson also benefits from an average free agency class as mentioned above. Don’t be surprised to see Watson become a top-50 pick at the NFL Draft in April.
- College: Northern Iowa
- Height: 6’7″
- Weight: 325 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.89 seconds
The race for the fourth offensive lineman to be drafted in round one of the 2022 NFL Draft in April was always going to be very close. However, it appears Penning has edged that race. His 4.89 40 time and performance in the other drills showed the scouts that he is polished and ready to execute in the NFL.
The free agency class at tackle has very few players under 30 available to select. Therefore, if you are rebuilding your offensive line for the next few years, the draft is where you are going to have to get your offensive tackles. Luckily for the NFL scouts this year, there are a ton of talented tackles. Penning will be making a general manager a very happy man when he gets the opportunity to select him around the middle-to-end of round one.
- College: Georgia
- Height: 6’5″
- Weight: 272 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.51 seconds
Walker cemented his first-round pedigree with an absolutely incredible Combine. Walker ran a 4.51 40, a 4.32 short shuttle, and a 6.89 three-cone drill. All of these highlighted his incredible athleticism and burst.
Once again, another area where this 2022 NFL draft is stacked, correlates with a weak free agency. There are a couple of really big names in free agency such as Von Miller (LB – FA), Jason Pierre-Paul (DE – FA), and Jadeveon Clowney (DE – FA), to name a few. However, there is also plenty of talent for general managers to draft their future. And Walker will be one of the top edge rushers off the board come April.
All Quarterbacks except Malik Willis (QB)
All the quarterback movement this week, as well as some movement yet to be completed, is certainly going to take some quarterbacks out of first-round contention come April. This past week has seen Russell Wilson (QB – DEN) getting traded to the Denver Broncos, Carson Wentz (QB – WAS) getting traded to the Washington Commanders, Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) signing a new deal worth a reported $50 million per season, Tom Brady (QB – TB) un-retiring and announcing he is coming back to the Buccaneers, Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN) signing a new one year deal, and Seattle getting Drew Lock (QB – SEA) as part of the Russell Wilson trade.
Also, there is still the potential Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) trade still to occur. The Houston Texans want to move on from Watson and it is looking more and more likely that his future destination will be in the NFC South, with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints as the two favorites in the betting markets as it stands. However, there are also whispers that the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers are also interested.
As a result of all this movement, the number of viable landing spots for a quarterback is dwindling. At the end of the Combine, the talk was five quarterbacks could be taken in the first round. That seems incredibly unlikely now.
With Malik Willis being the consensus number one quarterback in this class, he will still have the optimism of being selected in round one. As for everyone else, it’s a case of four quarterbacks looking to be taken in the first round. However, how many seats will there be for them to contend for a starting job in 2022?
- College: Michigan State
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 194 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.65 seconds
When you look at players who flopped at the combine, Williams might be perhaps the biggest name. In the conversation for a solid day two draft selection, Williams ran a 4.65 40 time. However, whilst that doesn’t tell the full story of his speed because he is only 194 pounds, it means his speed score is 83, which puts him in the 8th percentile of this class. That is not good at all.
A speed score like that will be too much risk for some general managers on day two, and he will be moved down a lot of boards. The Combine appears to have potentially cost Williams millions of dollars, as well as a legitimate shot at an NFL starting job. Whilst it is only the 40-yard dash, the issue for Williams is that the time correlates and predicts success reasonably well.
- College: Purdue
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 212 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.65 seconds
Few players would have had as bad a combine as David Bell. His 4.65 40 time mixed in with his average performance in the receiving drills means he becomes a very risky day two pick. There are some general managers that will love his character and love the person. However, when it came to performing in a big way on the big stage, on multiple occasions now he has just not delivered. And, unfortunately for him, the likes of Watson, Skyy Moore (WR), and others certainly did.
Based on his metrics, Bell has a 15th percentile 40 time, a 38th percentile speed score, a 20th percentile burst score, an 8th percentile agility score, and a 10th percentile catch radius score. None of these are even average. How can Bell be projected to be anywhere near day two after the Combine? Simply put, it’s extremely unlikely he gets selected on day two.
- College: Penn State
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 199 lbs
- 40 Time: 4.49 seconds
Brisker was starting to look a lot like a first-round pick. That was until the Combine happened. Not only did his rivals all perform to the best of their ability, but Brisker injured his back during his bench press, where he achieved 22 reps. This meant he had to withdraw from all the positional drills and miss his shot at really boosting his draft status.
This is a stacked safety class. For Brisker, that means he has probably seen his chances of being selected in the first round drop significantly due to that lower back injury. However, Brisker will get another opportunity at the Penn State pro day. But, he will need to be flawless and hope a scout falls in love with him if he is to revive those first-round hopes.
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