My Top 21 ‘Off-the-Grid’ 2022 NFL Draft Prospects (who likely won’t be drafted)…
The following is just a quick hit list of prospects I’m most interested in seeing in the NFL preseason…players I assume that will go undrafted or be late-round picks -- and are prospects I’ll be studying deeper all throughout the offseason. Guys I see ‘something’ in either on tape and in the output/on-field data from their careers and their pre-Draft workout numbers, etc.
I put together a list of the names and then I did a kinda-sorta ‘draft’ of my personal ‘feeling’/interest level in the player. I’m displaying them in order of my personal interest level…my gut ‘feeling’/emotion…not a draft ranking or Dynasty Rookie rankings – just my personal attention level…and I’m going in descending order…building the list going to the prospect of my most personal interest.
21) QB Cole Johnson, James Madison
6’4”+/220…a multiple award winning QB at the FCS level. 41 TDs/4 INTs, 289.3 passing yards per game in 2021 season…along with 6 rushing TDs, but he’s not a runner-thrower (but has decent feet), he’s a pretty solid, traditional pocket passer – good size, OK arm, decent ability to read the field.
Johnson was a pretty quiet prospect his first five seasons of college play but broke out in his COVID-allowed bonus season, year six, in 2021.
In the first round of the FCS 2021 playoffs, he threw for 6 TDs. In round two, he threw for 5 TDs and rushed for another. Here are some highlights of his round two game: https://youtu.be/HwMFVpDjnls
Not an amazing, obvious prospect…but a guy who might get himself drafted 7th-round. A project QB who is getting better as he goes.
20) ILB J.J. Russell, Memphis
A four-year starter. #1 in the American Conference in solo tackles in 2021 (78), which was 4th best in the NCAAs as well. #1 in total tackles in the American Conference (123) and #7 all-time career tackles (306) in the Conference (since 2005).
6’0”/227, a 4.70 40-time, 26 bench reps, 7.27 three-cone…athletic enough for the NFL, at ILB.
He’s a pretty smart, instinctive, energetic interior linebacker. https://youtu.be/VHyuaBG2854
19) DE Carl Igweh, Frostburg State
6’4”/265 with bad Pro Day numbers: 4.98 40-time, 8.34 three-cone, but he was the conference co-DPOY with 16.0 sacks and 21.0 TFLs in 11 games…and his tape shows movement skills better than the Pro Day says are there. Could be something but is for sure a long-long shot.
You be the judge if anything is here: https://youtu.be/dkZUfMYDndw
18) WR TyShuan James, Central Connecticut State
One of several Pro Day measurables standout WRs on my list – 6’2.2”/214, 4.49 40-time, 7.07 three-cone with 22 bench reps and a 37.5” vertical.
James didn’t tear it up statistically in 2021 – 45 rec., 674 yards, 5 TDs…but his passing game only threw for 16 TD passes and less than 200 yards per game. He made the best of the situation.
He’s a pretty solid receiver in hands and routes, for a lower-level college WR: https://youtu.be/CddPJVrcIFM
17) WR RaShaun Henry, Virginia
I love the way this guy looks and moves on the field, and he posted a 4.46 40-time with a 6.70 three-cone (at 6’1.5”/185) with a 38.5” vertical at his Pro Day. What I don’t understand is why the weak results on a pretty nice passing game – just 34-603-3 in 12 games. Had a 9-catch, 179-yard game vs. Louisville and then a bunch of bland results otherwise.
16) WR Devin Heckstall, UVa-Wise
You’ll be hooked from the first play on his highlight reel, and then it goes to just good/normal from there with another ‘wow’ blip or two. But a 6’5”/6’6” (no official measurements) that moves pretty well playing on dirt fields for a college I forgot existed – I wanna learn more. https://youtu.be/EeM3ic5BSvc
15) DT Prince Emili, Penn
Two-time All-Ivy League DL. Emili just has a great get-off and pursuit ability at 295 pounds. 49 tackles, 13 TFLs, 5.0 sacks (in 10 games) are very active for a DT at any level…and we’d expect him to dominate this level.
6’0”/295, a 5.12 40-time, 28 bench reps, 7.58 three-cone and academic honors. He’s got NFL ‘chops’.
I like his movement skills despite the lower level: https://youtu.be/nGAKcMD7ol4
14) RB/TE Alexander Horvath, Purdue
A 6’2”/228 FB-RB-H-Back-TE who ran a 4.61 40-time with a 6.75 three-cone and threw down 31 bench reps.
Sure, you know the NFL will try to make him a fullback but…
He is pretty nimble as a ballcarrier AND he’s got really nice hands in the passing game. In 2020 season, 6 games, he ran the ball 89 times for 442 yards (5.0 ypc) and 2 TDs…while also catching 30 passes (5.0 per game) for 304 yards.
I watched tape of the Purdue Pro Day, looking to see George Karlaftis finally get timed…but then I saw Horvath there looking like he’d eat Karlaftis for dinner – Horvath is totally chiseled and more athletic and stronger than Karlaftis in every key category.
13) WR Tanner Conner, Idaho State
A track & field guy who bulked up and is a very physical, capable WR.
6’3”/220, 4.50 40-time, 7.15 three-cone, 19 bench reps 39” vertical.
Of all the lower-level/not likely to be drafted WR prospects – Conner is the most polished and a good blocker, and his speed shows on tape. There are a few guys more athletic (on paper) but Conner, I have a funny feeling, is the best ready-to-go UDFA shocker to make a team outright in 2022. He’s not as much of a ‘project’ WR as the other WRs on this list. https://youtu.be/CddPJVrcIFM
12) CB Jaylon Jones, Ole Miss
Plagued by two knee injuries in his college career…if his medical was clean, he might be a top 100 prospect.
5’11”/190 and ran a 4.41 40-time with a 6.70 three-cone at his Pro Day.
Returned two kicks for TDs in his college career. A starter in the SEC. Has the size and tape of a legit NFL prospect, if not for the knee injury past: https://youtu.be/jg8x1fBc8Gg
11) RB Bryant Koback, Toledo
5’10”+/209 and ran a 4.49 40-time with a 7.03 three-cone, and with a whopping 28 bench reps (better than any RB at the NFL Combine) and a 40.5” vertical (better than any RB at the NFL Combine). That’s a pretty hot set of measurables for a guy not invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Combine.
1,400 rushing yards (6.7 ypc) and 15 rush TDs with 30-334-3 in the receiving game in 13 games last season. Ran for 114 yards on 20 carries at Notre Dame in 2021.
The Pro Day and college output are terrific…the tape is just ‘good’, not as electric as you’d hope when you see all the other data. https://youtu.be/Z4cL3Wd7pxA
Ross Jacobs is working on a full scouting report study here…he LOVES him.
10) OLB Kyron Johnson, Kansas
63 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles in 12 games in 2021…but it’s the Pro Day that puts him on the map: 6’0”/231, 4.40 40-time, 1.50 10-yard, 39.5” vertical, 6.98 three-cone. High end speed/agility/athleticism…if he were a little taller, he’d be a top 100 pick edge rusher speculation. At 6’0” he’s likely an NFL OLB playing in all facets. https://youtu.be/EzpkMeO1wCI
9) SAF Joey Blount, Virginia
He should be a top 100-125 prospect for the draft. He’s as good/better than most of the consensus top 10 safeties in this draft.
6’1”/201, 4.45 40-time, 6.90 three-cone, 20 bench reps, 38” vertical.
15th all-time in the ACC in solo tackles for a career (184). He can tackle and cover, and has NFL size and higher-end NFL movement: https://youtu.be/z4uCDAuuiQw
8) OLB/edge James Houston, Jackson State
Three seasons at Florida, before transferring to Jackson State with Deion Sanders, and crushing it in his one season. 70 tackles (52 solo), 24.5 TFLs, 16.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles in 2021…and FCS All-American edge rusher.
He also had a solid, NFL-worthy Pro Day: 6’0”/244, 4.74 40-time, 30” vertical, 22 bench reps, 7.41 three-cone.
Houston has a chance to make it: https://youtu.be/y_UhlfEceig
7) TE Derrick Deese, San Jose State
One of my favorite tapes from the likely undrafted prospects…the guy catches everything. He’s so long and catches contested/off-target passes with ease. He looks and plays like he’s 6’6”, but he’s 6’3”/244…with 10.25” hands and an 82” wingspan (that’s a 7-footer-like reach).
He ran a 4.93 40-time, which is a bummer…but he plays faster (on tape) and injured his ankle in January and tried to work out through it in April. He may be more a 4.75 40-time hiding behind an ankle-issued 4.93 Pro Day.
This guy’s tape makes you wanna fall in love. This game against UNLV is so good…better than watching his highlights to get a feel for his solid+ blocking and unreal catch ability. Wait for the mid-tape TD catch with no helmet on, at least. https://youtu.be/scCvrwHtr20
6) WR Dareke Young, Lenoir-Rhyne
This one starts (and ends) with the measurables…
6’2”/224 with 10.1” hands. Ran a 4.44 at his Pro Day with a 6.88 three-cone while benching 22 reps and posting a 37” vertical and 11”3 broad jump. Will likely be the best athlete (on paper) to not get drafted in 2022.
He didn’t tear up the stat sheets in 2021, but he only played five games…scoring 4 TDs but only averaging 60.6 rec. yards per game.
In 2022, just two games (COVID year) and he scored 2 TDs in his two games while averaging 114.0 rec. yards per game.
In 2018 and 2019, he ran the ball 2-3x a game and played receiver and racked a bunch of a TDs – 4 rush TDs, 2 rec. TDs in 45 touches in 2018, 8 rec. TDs and 4 rush TDs in 2019, on just 74 touches.
There’s a nice, raw piece of clay to work with here. https://youtu.be/FgcczIJuWGI
5) WR/TE Dee Anderson, Alabama A&M
Went to LSU as a WR where he was up against Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrence Marshall among others for playing time. He decided to transfer to Oklahoma State for playing time…having to sit out a year…and it was the magical 2019 LSU title year he missed. He got to Oklahoma in time for COVID season, then took advantage of the bonus season afforded to go to Alabama State for 2021 where he set the team’s TD record for a season (12).
I’m not sure if there are some off-field issues here or not with all the transfers and failed/lacking D1 efforts, but he seems nice enough in this interview and all I can see when I watch his tape (and this news piece) is a future NFL TE convert (6’5”/218…4.52 40-time, 7.18 three-cone): https://youtu.be/xog4mxhsxsA
4) WR Jequez Ezzard, Sam Houston State
The tape is terrific. The measurables came in so-so – 5’9”/193, 4.59 40-time, 7.18 three-cone…but he just looks better than the Pro Day, so I’m sticking with him. He’s got great hands and vision and toughness.
18 TDs in 20 games (past 2 seasons) for Sam Houston…15 receiving, 2 return scores, and a rushing TD.
3) CB/DB Dallis Flowers, Pittsburgh State
6’1”/196 running a 4.43 40-time, 1.47 10-yard, and a 6.98 three-cone at his Pro Day. Transferred up to Pitt State for 2021 from some no name college prior. Returned two kicks for TDs…picked off 4 passes in his debut season for Pitt State. Could be a big corner ‘project’ or a convert to safety.
The tape kinda grabs you right away: https://youtu.be/2rn1kpxScNM
His background might be shaky, as to why he didn’t transfer higher up than Pitt State…but I will be researching it more this summer.
2) OLB/Edge Daniel Hardy, Montana State
Best edge rusher movement skills of any of the lower-level guys that I’ve watched…one of the best edge rusher movement skills of guys going top 25-50-100 in the NFL Draft. 6’2”/235 with a 4.69 40-time and stellar 6.71 three-cone backs up what you see on tape.
See for yourself: https://youtu.be/6KFC_wgF7Qc
1) OLB/SAF Sterling Weatherford, Miami (OH)
The better-than Kyle Hamilton ‘tall safety’. Why scouts weren’t fawning over Weatherford’s size at safety like Hamilton, is a typical…and a crying shame. Weatherford is just as tall, a little thicker…and much faster, and stronger…and all you have to do is put on the tape and see that Weatherford is a FAR superior tackler and much better/more aggressive in coverage.
Weatherford really held up well at the Senior Bowl…as an OLB or big safety. He might ILB chops as well. Love this player: https://youtu.be/2rn1kpxScNM