The 2022 NFL Draft is fading into the rearview mirror as rookie camps will begin shortly.
This is the first-time teams get to unwrap their new gifts to the franchise. Every practice facility across the NFL will anxiously anticipate the best results from this current collection of draftees.
Prior the to the NFL Draft, Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis was considered the odds-on favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but this drastically changed as the former Liberty dual-threat signal-caller slid out of day one and ended up being drafted midway through round three.
His exit out of the first round without being selected knocked him easily out of contention to be the favorite to win rookie of the year honors.
His odds plummeted down while USC rookie Drake London soared up the oddsmakers list after going eighth overall to the Atlanta Falcons. London was the PAC-12 Offensive Player of the Year and now the current betting favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
London and 261 other rookies got drafted.
That doesn’t include the cornucopia of rookie undrafted prospects eager to establish themselves in camp and outplay those selected in the draft.
The Pro Football Writers of America NFL All-Rookie Team is filled with numerous first-round talents. Seldomly does a mid to late-round prospect get included amongst this distinguished group of young NFL stars, but every now and then they break through.
Last year sixth-round pick Trey Smith out of Tennessee was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Two years ago, the Chiefs once again struck gold with a late-round gem in defensive back L’Jarius Sneed making the all-rookie team. Sneed was a fourth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech.
So, do not be surprised to see one or two mentioned below.
With no further ado, here is the Way-To-Early NFL All-Rookie Team preview.
Atlanta Falcons | Desmond Ridder | 3rd round | Cincinnati
Incumbent Marcus Mariota the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 NFL Draft, may have more pressure on him than rookie Ridder. Mariota is aiming to resurrect his career with a high-profile quarterback waiting in the wings. The Falcons should struggle mightily and pressure to play Ridder should build quickly. Ridder finished his career with a 44-6 record. He was a perfect 26-0 at home. Ridder’s winning attitude and demeanor will make it hard for Atlanta to not give him an early audition to start.
New York Jets | Breece Hall | 2nd Round | Iowa State
What do Blaise Bryant, Dwayne Crutchfield and Hall have in common? All three played their college career at Iowa State and were drafted by the Jets. Clearly, New York anticipates their latest Cyclones selection far exceeds his predecessors. The Jets invested heavily early in the 2022 NFL Draft on offense. The 10th overall pick was used on Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson and followed up with the Jets moving up in the second round of day two to select Hall. Standing on stage at the NFL Draft, Hall said New York tried but was unable to take him on day one, showing their intent to get their full usage out of their new three down back.
Baltimore Ravens | Tyler Linderbaum | 1st Round | Iowa
Technique, toughness, and athleticism make Linderbaum look like a can’t miss type prospect. The only concern is the long lineage of massive sized centers that have played in Baltimore’s system prior to the Iowa rookie. Previous centers Matt Birk (6-4 310) or Bradley Bozeman (6’4 325) are just two examples of the supersized fixtures at the position. Absent of the particular concern, its hard to imagine this pick now becoming one of the best in the draft due to Linderbaum’s exceptional traits.
Dallas Cowboys | Tyler Smith | 1st Round | Tulsa
The Cowboys took the right step in trying to resurrect an offensive line that has been a shell of its once formidable self. Smith played left tackle at Tulsa but should find himself playing left guard in Dallas. Massively built at 6-foot-5 and 325-pounds, he’ll help put the Cowboys get back on track to a dominate running force. Dallas has taken plenty of pushback on the pick, since Smith is one of the youngest players in the 2022 draft class and committed 16 penalties, in 2021. Twelve of those were holding calls. That’s why teams have coaches. Right?
Carolina Panthers | Ikem Ekwonu | 1st Round | N.C. State
Some project the long-term value of Ekwonu at guard and not tackle. His brut strength to manhandle defenders is one of his top traits. Running back Christian McCaffrey should benefit enormously from having this 6-foot-4 and 310-pound road grader up front, who ran a sub 5.00 40-yard dash (4.93) at the NFL Scouting Combine.
New York Giants | Evan Neal | 1st Round | Alabama
New York now have a ‘Giant’ pair of bookends along the offensive line that exceed 13 feet in height and 650-pounds. Andrew Thomas the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and Neal should provide the Giants with quality pass protection along with open running lanes for the skills guys to thrive. Neal’s physical presence (6’7 334) alone should help him become a force.
Seattle Seahawks | Charles Cross | 1st Round | Mississippi State
Perhaps the best pass protector in the class once the dust settles. In a league that is addicted to throwing the football this former Mississippi State tackle will find his best qualities suit him just fine in the NFL. Pete Carroll and company pride themselves on having a potent running attack. Cross will need to learn to master another blocking technique to set himself apart from others in the league.
Denver Broncos | Greg Dulcich | 3rd Round | UCLA
Former Broncos tight end Noah Fant was a productive weapon in Denver. He was part of the trade that brought Russell Wilson to the mile high city and now Dulcich will be the benefactor of the big offseason trade. His ability to play in-line or the slot will get him on the field quickly and could enable him to quickly become a favorite of Wilson’s in the passing game. Averaging 18.6 yards per catch, he is a big play threat vertically.
Atlanta Falcons | Drake London | 1st Round | USC
How good is Drake London? When you elect not to run your 40 at the NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Day and go eighth overall (first wideout taken) speaks volumes on how teams perceived the former Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. London joins second-year tight end Kyle Pitts for a youthful and dynamic duo for the Falcons. Finishing 31st in the league in rushing at 85.4 yards per game and very little off-season bolstering of the unit should force Atlanta to utilize London early and often.
Green Bay Packers | Christian Watson | 2nd Round | North Dakota State
Drafted in round two, Watson has the luxury of entering the league with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. With a depleted receiver unit, the North Dakota State rookie should see a heavy dose of targets in an offense missing playmakers at the position.
Detroit Lions | Aidan Hutchison | 1st Round | Michigan
Everyone loves the intense demeanor of Lions head coach Dan Campbell. His passionate response to Fox 2 Detroit following the Lions’ selection of Hutchison should ease any concerns about his potential in Detroit. "Shoot, man. He's a football player. He brings a motor. He brings tempo. He brings relentlessness. He brings rush. He brings run production. He's quick, he's powerful, he's explosive. I mean, he's really everything we're looking for," Campbell said.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Logan Hall | 2nd Round | Houston
The Buccaneers opened round two of the NFL Draft with the selection of his former Houston defensive lineman. Ndamukong Suh remains unsigned and will be 36 years of age by Week 17 of this upcoming season. Hall slides into a nicely built defense with lots of bodies for offensive coordinators to contend with, which can help elevate the individual matchups in store for Hall his rookie campaign.
Philadelphia Eagles | Jordan Davis | 1st Round | Georgia
Arguably one of the most underrated prospects in the draft, Davis went 13th overall to the City of Brotherly Love. The last Eagles lineman with his much potential entering the NFL via the Memphis Showboats of the USFL. That guy was Hall of Fame tackle Reggie White. If anyone could stir up the memories of that Philly sports Legend, Davis has all the earmarks to make it come to fruition.
Green Bay Packers | Devonte Wyatt | 1st Round | Georgia
The Packers should have Wyatt penciled in starting line-up day one. Wyatt (6’3 304) with teammates Jarran Reed (6’3 306) and Kenny Clark (6’3 314) provide Green Bay with a massive 3-4 defensive front. Wyatt could flourish in the Packers system and relies on linebackers flying to the quarterback as the tackles collapse the pocket.
New York Giants | Kayvon Thibodeaux | 1st Round | Oregon
This is the biggest boom or bust pick on the all-rookie team. The football world really got a taste of the fun and flamboyant personality of Thibodeaux during his time in Las Vegas during the NFL Draft. The “Big Apple” can make him one of the most polarizing players in the league if he pans out and by this early proclamation to the all-rookie team. I think it can happen.
Atlanta Falcons | Arnold Ebiketie | 2nd Round | Penn State
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees enters his second season in charge of Atlanta’s defense. Ebiketie will be coming off the edge in his 3-4 scheme. Desperate for playmakers on both sides of the football, Pees should afford Ebiketie every opportunity to make good on being the 38th overall pick in the draft.
Houston Texans | Derek Stingley Jr. | 1st Round | LSU
Texans head coach Lovie Smith usually relies on an elite front four to maximize his defensive system, but Stingley is simply too good to pass on third overall in the draft. I feel if Stingley plays his best, he’ll walk away from this draft class with aspirations of entering the Hall of Fame.
New York Jets | Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner | 1st Round | Cincinnati
The Cincinnati star went one slot behind Stingley in the NFL Draft. Gardner makes everyone gush with his size and ability. Famous for not allowing a single touchdown in college football, he’ll have veteran receivers eager to be the first to catch a six-point pass on the talented rookie. The Jets needed playmakers and selected a player who can retrieve the ball for the offense via the interception.
Baltimore Ravens | Kyle Hamilton | 1st Round | Notre Dame
It always seems like the Ravens get some of the most coveted players in the draft and Hamilton is another in that category. Considered by some draft analyst as the top prospect available the ultra-talented safety will provide the Ravens with a diversified weapon on the backside.
Chicago Bears | Jaquan Brisker | 2nd Round | Penn State
Heard a lot of rumblings surrounding the Bears draft. Chicago failed to add weapons early for second-year quarterback Justin Fields, but instead applied to picks to the secondary. Defensive back Kyler Gordon out of Washington and Penn State’s Brisker were both second round additions for the Bears. Brisker is a safety who should thrive at being an extra linebacker near the line of scrimmage.
Cleveland Browns | Cade York | 4th Round | LSU
The saying goes ‘Third time’s a Charm’ and for York and the Browns let’s hope that holds true. Cleveland has the dubious track record of drafting three kickers over the last five years. York was a starter day one once he arrived in Baton Rouge and the same should hold true in Cleveland. Hence the honors of being name an all-rookie should in store for the former Tigers kicker.
Chicago Bears | Velus Jones | 3rd Round | Tennessee
Jones was the first weapon Chicago chose to help fast track Justin Fields progression into the league. Jones finished as one of the top kick return men in college football. His 900 combined (kick/punt) returns yards was third best in FBS. He’ll also have a tremendous opportunity to seize a significant role in the offense.
Philadelphia Eagles | Britain Covey | Undrafted | Utah
Covey went undrafted and signed with the Eagles immediately following the NFL Draft. He is an undersized slot option with quick twitch ability. Odds are stacked up against him coming from the undrafted ranks, but one thing skill that will help him secure a position on the roster is his return ability. His 427 punt return yards led the FBS, and his two touchdowns tied for lead nationally.