2022 NFL Draft Big Board: Defensive Line & EDGE (Pre-Combine)

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This is a group of prospects I expect Atlanta to scout heavily. Luckily for Falcons fans, these are positional groups that look to be loaded with talent. The Falcons have had trouble getting to the quarterback and generating consistent pressure for a while, and a lot of these names will be in play for the 8th pick. I don’t think one guy will truly fix Atlanta’s defense, so hopefully these players, if picked, are supported by free agent additions.

The EDGE group is insanely deep, while the defensive line prospects appear to be more top heavy. Regardless, there should be multiple talented guys available in the later rounds that can help rebuild Atlanta’s trenches. I didn’t get a chance to get to everyone, but after the combine, this list will be updated.

 

 

Defensive Line

6. Phidarian Mathis — Alabama

Mathis finally broke out at Alabama in 2021, and it felt like he had been a key part of Nick Saban’s squad forever. He’s a guy who can play inside-out on the defensive line, and that’s something a lot of teams are going to value.

 

5. Perrion Winfrey — Oklahoma

I actually really love Winfrey’s tape and build, and although this is a top heavy group, he’s a potential impact player. He has a quick first step and violent hands and can really have his way with smaller interior offensive linemen. I expect him to go pretty early on day two.

 

4. Travis Jones — Connecticut

Jones had a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl, and he showed his ability to rush the passer alongside plugging holes up the middle at 6’4 and 330 pounds. He’s a stout run defender and a plus athlete — he’ll be a guy teams are very interested in on day two.

 

3. DeMarvin Leal — Texas A&M

There are some concerns about Leal. Some scouts see him as a tweener, but I still like the upside of the former top prospect. Leal has nice bend for a guy his size, and I don’t see very many issues with his arm length in an odd front or hybrid defense. He may fall in the draft due to something like arm length, but whatever team scoops him up will be getting an impact player.

 

2. Jordan Davis — Georgia

I’m really interested to see how Jordan Davis pans out in the NFL. Typically, larger nose tackles taken in round one haven’t done well outside of a few exceptions like Vita Vea. Davis is a fantastic athlete for his size and can command a double team at all times. He will immediately improve the run defense of any team that drafts him, and if he can collapse the pocket at a high level in the NFL, watch out.

 

1. Devonte Wyatt — Georgia

Yes, I have Devonte Wyatt over Jordan Davis, but it’s actually a pretty close race between the two former Bulldogs. I love Jordan Davis, he’s one of my favorite players ever, but I like the versatility of Wyatt. Davis is better at what he does best, but Wyatt is better all around in my opinion. When I see his tape in college, I see a lot of Grady Jarrett when he was at Clemson.

 

EDGE

13. Sam Williams — Ole Miss

Williams had some off the field allegations that have been disputed, but those things seem to be behind him. He has a great frame and moves well in space, but he needs to work on his leverage when engaging with bigger blockers. There’s still a lot of potential there.

 

12. Drake Jackson — USC

Jackson has taken a tumble down draft boards, but make no mistake, he’s still a quality prospect. He has good get-off and bend but needs to add some functional strength and work on his pass rush arsenal. Jackson wins off athleticism alone a lot, but this can be coached up. He’s going to be a great pickup if he makes it past round two.

 

11. Boye Mafe — Minnesota

I’m very interested in Mafe as a prospect. He’s more of a developmental player, but he has incredible athletic traits and rarely quits on plays. This is a deep class, but Mafe has a chance to be one of the better players in this group if he can be coached up properly.

 

10. Logan Hall — Houston

Hall showed his stuff at the Senior Bowl, and his frame is perfect for a team that wants to use a pass rusher in multiple ways. He has a fantastic build and good get-off to boot. If his technique and hands come along, watch out.

 

9. Myjai Sanders — Cincinnati

Sanders had a great Senior Bowl, and most of that is thanks to his lightning quick first step. He needs to add to his bag when it comes to pass rush moves, but there’s loads of potential there with Sanders.

 

8. Kingsley Enagbare — South Carolina

If Enagbare goes in the second round, he’s going to provide great value for whatever team picks him up. He still needs to clean up his technique, but he’s a long pass rusher with excellent athleticism off the edge. If an NFL team can harness his raw potential, he’s going to make for an excellent pro.

 

7. Cameron Thomas — San Diego State

I think Cam Thomas will have a combine that launches him into the conversation with the guys above him on this list. Thomas is massive for a guy that moves as well as he does, and he has a motor that burns red hot. He was a key player for a good San Diego State team, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he found himself getting picked in the first round.

 

6. George Karlaftis — Purdue

It’s a testament to this group that Karlaftis is sixth on this list. Karlaftis is a great athlete, but he gets a ton of push up front and has powerful hands than can help him set the edge against the run. He has one of the higher floors in the entire group.

 

5. David Ojabo — Michigan

While Ojabo is one of the more underdeveloped prospects on the list, he has one of the highest ceilings in this entire class. He has incredible bend and athleticism, especially for a guy that only started playing football a few seasons ago.

 

4. Kayvon Thibodeaux — Oregon

I really don’t buy into a lot of the “concerns” some of the media has about Kayvon Thibodeaux, but this is just where he lands in a very talented group. He still has one of the best blends of size and athleticism in this entire class, and I don’t see him falling in the draft like some have predicted. He has franchise pass rusher written all over him.

 

3. Jermaine Johnson — Florida State

Johnson was one of my priority targets for the Falcons in round two, but after an incredible Senior Bowl, they may have to consider him with the 8th pick. Johnson has an ideal blend of size, speed, and length for an NFL pass rusher. The fact that he dominated at the Senior Bowl and looks to crush the combine is going to rocket his draft stock.

 

2. Travon Walker — Georgia

This is going to be one of my more controversial rankings, but you’re really splitting hairs when you get to these top guys. Travon Walker’s versatility really sells him for me. Walker is an elite athlete with a fantastic first step, and he can even drop into coverage and disrupt against running backs if you need him to. He can set a strong edge in the run game and get after the quarterback at a high level. His motor runs very hot. Not only do I think he’s the safest player out of this group, but he also still has the upside to develop into an All Pro.

 

1.¬†Aidan Hutchinson — Michigan

Hutchinson truly has it all when you’re looking for a pass rusher — size, speed, power, technique. I could easily see Hutchinson having a Joey Bosa impact as a rookie. He’s one of the safer picks in this class and should be able to contribute at least eight sacks almost immediately.

 

 

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