Our 2022 NFL Draft All-Outlier Team: Why Size, Speed, or Production Can Affect These Leads’ Stocks

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As the NFL draft outlook is analyzed each year, the numbers always come out: how big, how high, how short, how heavy, how fast, how slow, and so on. But there are always a few who force a double-thank you because their numbers are staggeringly rare, or they have played the game far beyond what their numbers say they should. It’s the deviants – the guys who make scouts go hmm.

Previous examples include linebacker Josey Jewell, whose 4.82 clocking in 40-yard dash at the 2018 combine caused him to drop to the fourth round despite three 120-tackle seasons in Iowa. He has since started 30 games for the Denver Broncos. Another example is 5-foot-6 receiver Deonte Harris, who was signed by the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted rookie in 2019 and led the league in point return yardage that season. Or Orlando Brown Jr., the two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, who delivered what is still considered one of the worst workouts in the history of the combine; The Baltimore Ravens selected him 83rd overall, and he has been selected to three Pro Bowls and has been traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a massive four draft pick tails, including a first-rounder.

Sometimes there are outliers whose numbers, for better or worse, just do not match what the player can bring to an NFL team. Here are some from the 2022 class who have already shaken up the war rooms around the league and will endure to follow when the draft unfolds at the end of the month.

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Outlier of outliers: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Scouts Inc. location: 16

If a person can truly be the “most unique” in any endeavor, Davis is the player in this or any draft.

There are big guys in every draft, fast guys in every draft and guys with shocking physical features in every draft. But Davis’ combination of all these elements makes him a shortlist prospect, even for the most experienced staff evaluators.

See, people sometimes misunderstand the whole 40-yard line thing. Most long-term scouts do not overestimate it in the draft, but it is a number that can be easily compared from one year to the next, and any scout with a bucket of hotel points will take any information about a customer. When a 6-foot-6 and 341-pound defensive tackle roars through 40 yards in 4.78 seconds, as Davis did in Indianapolis, it will get attention.

His 10-foot-3-inch standing wide jump was better than many wide receivers placed at the combine, and his 32-inch vertical jump was better than some of the running backs. It’s the rarest air for a great lineman. Davis was already considered a top prospect for his performance on the field in a ridiculously charged Georgia defense, but the numbers confirm at times, and Davis’ numbers confirmed that there is no other player like him on this draftboard.


Biggest-of-the-big differs: Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota

Scouts Inc. location: 60

The NFL is inherently a big lighthouse in many places, so most of the league is in a way immune to the simple size of the players around them on a daily basis. That’s just part of it. But Faalele – at 6-8 and 384 pounds, with an 85 1/8-inch arm span – is the biggest player in this draft and one of the biggest players ever evaluated.

He is believed to be the heaviest player to have participated in the combine since Wisconsin’s Aaron Gibson weighed 386 pounds in 1999. Faalele said at the combine that he actually weighed 426 pounds when he came to Minnesota before continuing to play 34 games. (31) starts) at right tackle.

Faalele is likely a day 2 pick in this draft, though some scouts have wondered how big is too big for the NFL. When his size affected his game, Faalele said, “No matter how strong I am. When I’re asked for a bigger body, I have longer arms, so I just use these intangible things to my advantage. … The biggest challenge is always pillow level. I can always get lower. It’s something I’ve been working on all my career. “


Better-look-again outlaws: Isaiah Weston, WR, Northern Iowa

Scouts Inc. location: 360

When a player’s production does not move the needle as much, but his training numbers do, those in the evaluation industry will say that he has “traits” that give him potential. It often forces scouts and general managers to go back and watch the game video again. In this draft, Weston may have forced most see-again discussions.

The 6-foot-4 and 214-pound ran 4.42 in the 40 at the combine, had a 40-inch vertical jump and posted an 11-foot-3 standing wide jump – all elite results for any receiver, but rarely for a receiver of his size. Throw his 78 3/4-inch arm straps, significantly longer than many tackles and defensive linemen in this draft, and he is the training / measurable outlier.

Weston had just 37 catches last season, with six games with two or fewer receptions, yet he was a second-team pick for the All-Missouri Valley Conference team. But keep in mind that his Northern Iowa team ran the ball more than it threw it (433 rush vs. 345 passing attempts) en route to a completion rate of 54.5% from the three quarterbacks who played in 2021. He is a upside player who runs his routes at one speed and needs to add some texture to his game, but he is just the kind of player some teams will choose much faster than many expected because of his qualities.

A bonus: Virginia tight-end Jelani Woods – a 6-foot-7 and 253-pound who ran 4.61 on the combine – also fits into this category.


The smallest of the small outliers: Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis

Scouts Inc. location: 80

Austin is one of the dubious players for many in the league, simply because he is 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, even though he was listed on an optimistic 5-foot-9 in Memphis. He is certainly fast, considering he ran 4.44 40 on the combine. And he has produced two 1,000-yard seasons for the Tigers to go with a career-high 16.3 yards per game. catch average. Austin also got the most out of his Senior Bowl week as he consistently played against more notable players and showed scouts a top-tier understanding of the game.

But when he will be selected during the draft weekend can be determined by how quickly a team can see past Austin’s height.


Outfield without combination: Eric Johnson, DT, Missouri State

Scouts Inc. location: 154

For many, Johnson is the highest rated customer in this draft, who was not invited to the scouting combination. But for the most part, he played well enough during his college career to be invited to the combine and tested well enough in the weeks after that to show that he should have been there. Still, the list of non-combo players selected each year is usually quite short.

Johnson has made the most of appearances at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Senior Bowl. People loved the 40-yard dash time from his pro-day (4.87 hand-timed), which is one of the fastest for an inside defensive lineman in this draft. But they wonder about his playing strength – he had 20 repetitions of 225 pounds in bench press – and was not so explosive in other parts of his test.

Either way, Johnson has a significant playing resume with 48 career games, including starting in the last 42 games of his college career. He only had 5.5 sacks in his five seasons, but he is a player who crawls up the plank while evaluators continue to study his game.


Pile-up-the-stats outlier: Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky

Scouts Inc. location: 139

There is always a quarterback on the board who is considered too small, too light and / or maybe even too slow, but who has a pile of passing yards and touchdowns. This year, the quarterback is Zappe, who will be pushed down the board for some because he is barely over six feet tall at 6 feet 1/2 and 215 pounds. And while that is almost the same goal for Liberty’s Malik Willis, who is one of the best quarterbacks on the board at 6-foot 1/2 and 219 pounds, Zappe will need a quarterbacks coach or an offensive coordinator to beat the proverbial table for him far more than Willis will.

Zappe chose, unlike many quarterbacks, to run the 40-yard line on the combine and got a ho-hum 4.88. He has also been saddened by scouts for a slow delivery at times to go with a selection of what-was-he-thought interceptions. But if the job is to throw the ball, Zappe set FBS records for passing yards in one season (5,987) and touchdowns in one season (62) in Hilltoppers’ high-volume passing game. He had two games with at least 500 passing yards along with eight of at least 400 yards.

“I don’t think there is a single quarterback in history who would not want to throw 680 times in a season,” Zappe said. “It’s great. Coach [Zach Kittley] gave me, as he said, keys to a Lamborghini. I was able to check in and out of play whatever I found appropriate, whatever I saw the defense do. And I think how that translates to the NFL is only partially a knowledge of the game. To be able to read defense, be able to see what the defense sees, what the defense is in pre-snap. And I think it will continue to help me throughout my career in the NFL. ”

The story has not always been friendly to those kinds of QBs, but Zappe has shown NFL teams that he knows the game and understands much of what he sees from defense. And his NFL future will depend on whether a coach thinks there is enough work to move forward.

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