As the 2022 NFL draft inches closer, we’ll hear more and more about prospects, their projections, and comparisons between current and former NFL players. Those comps can be based on a variety of attributes — physical measurements, collegiate production, future role, and other traits. Evaluators tend to do this for fans to better understand a particular prospect’s style of play. It’s not necessarily projecting how productive the prospect will be in the NFL because circumstances matter in the league.
Here are ESPN’s draft comps for a few prospects the Falcons have been attached to in reports and mocks:
Kenny Pickett to Tony Romo
Pickett has an unsettled, backyard style of play. The Pittsburgh QB consistently gets himself out of bad situations with his quickness and creativity. And when he is in rhythm, Pickett is highly operational. That likens him to the way Romo, the longtime Dallas Cowboys quarterback, played the game. — Dan Orlovsky, NFL analyst
Pickett is projected to go in the draft’s first ten picks, which is certainly in play for the Falcons’ first-rounder. He is one of the more pro-ready quarterback prospects but would assumingely be Marcus Mariota‘s backup for at least the 2022 season. As for the comp, Romo had an impressive career with the Cowboys, and if the Pittsburgh product can emulate his career, it’ll be an excellent pick for Atlanta.
Garrett Wilson to Stefon Diggs
A dynamic prospect with playmaking traits, Wilson can stretch defenses vertically or create after the catch. And with the high-level ball skills he shows on the tape, the Ohio State receiver can win isolation matchups. In a pro offense, look for Wilson to be deployed like Diggs (Buffalo Bills) as a three-level target with inside/outside flexibility. — Matt Bowen, NFL analyst
Now, I don’t necessarily agree with this comp, but it is a high compliment to be compared to one of the league’s best pass catchers. I see a lot of Terry McLaurin in Wilson’s game, which isn’t an insult at all. McLaurin is one of the league’s best up-and-coming receivers. Wilson has been mocked to Atlanta maybe more than any other single prospect because of the Falcons’ glaring need at the position.
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner to Antonio Cromartie
Gardner is a long and sudden cornerback, and he didn’t give up a single touchdown this season at Cincinnati. We had Cromartie on the New York Jets when I was their GM, and these two cornerbacks’ builds and physical traits are nearly identical. Gardner should be an elite man-to-man cover corner in the NFL, just like Cro. — Mike Tannenbaum, NFL analyst
Another prospect constantly mocked to the Falcons at No. 8, Gardner is suffocating at the line of scrimmage, so this comp makes sense. Cromartie played opposite Darrelle Revis in New York, which played more press-man coverage than any defense during that period. Opposite All-Pro AJ Terrell, Gardner would give Atlanta the best young cornerback duo in the league.
Alec Pierce to Jordy Nelson
Nelson was a really good receiver for the Green Bay Packers, and Pierce has similar physical traits. He wowed with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash and 40.5-inch vertical at the combine, and the Cincinnati pass-catcher can also run every route — and break tackles after the catch. Maybe Green Bay could steal Pierce with one of its two second-round picks. — Mel Kiper Jr., NFL draft analyst
Pierce’s 40-yard dash time was eye-popping, and he will surely be available for the Falcons in the second round. He can be the prototypical X receiver the offense has been missing since Julio Jones departed last offseason.
Derek Stingley Jr. to Marshon Lattimore
Both of these cornerbacks were known for their ball production in college. Stingley had a standout true freshman season at LSU that included six interceptions, while Lattimore had four picks in his final college season before the New Orleans Saints took him in the first round in 2017. Stingley has squeaky clean technique as a man corner but is also savvy with his eyes and instincts in zone coverage. The ability isn’t the knock with him. It’s his availability — he has missed 13 games over the past two seasons. If Stingley can recapture his pre-injury form, he has the talent to become a top-five corner in the NFL. — Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst
The only knock against the LSU product is his injury history. After being the best corner in the nation his freshman year, Stingley struggled to stay on the field the next two seasons. Outside of that, he’s a sure-fire prospect. The former Tiger possesses effortless hip mobility and recovery speed with the technique to play press or off man and zone coverages. Much like Sauce Gardner, Stingley would give Atlanta the best young corner tandem in the league.
Who are some of your favorite comps?
Photographer: John Korduner/Icon Sportswire
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