The 2022 NFL rookie class was filled with many intriguing talents. The class included some of the most well-defined route runners in years, such as Garett Wilson, Skyy Moore, Chris Olave, and Jahan Dotson. On the defensive side, the defensive end’s got the bulk of the pre-draft hype. Travon Walker out of Georgia, and Aidan Hutchinson out of Michigan were taken one and two overall. Other positions of strength in the class include offensive tackle, edge, and cornerback.
Throughout recent years in the NFL, a common thread between rookie Pro Bowlers is an abundance of opportunity. When given a larger workload, rookies have more chances to display their talent. Despite this many teams hold back on fully displaying their rookies in their first year. So, in this article, many of the players left out are very possibly more talented than those included. All players drafted are extremely talented, but the question is who will make the immediate impact that teams hope for?
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Evan Neal, OT, New York Giants
Coming out of Alabama Neal was regarded as one of the most physically talented tackles in years. Neal stands an enormous 6’7″, and weighs 350 lbs. Unlike the past tackles that provide the athletic upside Neal does, he also provides some of the best mechanics at the position. In pass protection, Neal does a phenomenal job with his hand placement. He seemingly always gets his hands right under the pads of the defender, giving him the power advantage often. Not only does Neal pass the eye test, but he produced extremely well at Alabama. In his senior year, he allowed just 15 total pressures. With his combination of athleticism and technique, Neal will be very translatable at the NFL level.
The Giants so far have been very smart when it comes to transitioning Neal to the NFL. Drafting Neal filled a huge positional need for the Giants, at tackle. Despite the fact he played left tackle all of his senior year, Neal will play right tackle for the Giants. Playing right tackle will help smoothen Neal’s transition to the NFL, as he will play the slightly less demanding position between the two. Right tackle is considered less demanding as it does not require the tackle to cover the quarter back’s blindside. Between Neal’s outlandish size, freak athleticism, refined technique, and high-volume projected workload it would be no surprise if he is a pro bowler.
Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons
London is a great example of a rookie who is very talented, but even more so has an extremely high projected workload. The Atlanta Falcons coming into the draft were extremely deficient at the wide receiver position. Specifically due to Falcons star wide receiver Calvin Ridley being suspended for the upcoming 2022-23 season. It did not help that just weeks later, the Falcon’s other young receiver Rusell Gage signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the drafting of London, he will surely see many snaps at the team’s wide receiver one position. This is all said to show the workload that is about to come London’s way, but by no means is it saying he is not an extremely talented receiver. Just based on the load he will have to carry, London is a great pro bowl candidate.
Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Moore defines the term “lighting in a bottle”, no matter where he is on the field Moore is always the most shifty player on it. Throughout his time at Western Michigan, although only 5’10” Moore showed off his unique skillset. Moore is one of the most silky-smooth route runners for a rookie. He maintains a swiftness in and out of breaks throughout his route, while never over-exaggerating his movements.
As if that were not enough Moore also is one of the best rookies at reeling in balls from all levels. At the combine his hand size tested extremely well, measuring in the 92nd percentile. As a rookie Moore will be stepping into the “Tyreke Hill” role of the Chief’s mastermind offense. Just the Chief’s offensive scheme alone will be enough to give Moore lots of volume throughout the year. When you combine the Chief’s scheme with Moore’s talent it is a formula for rookie year success.
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Baltimore Ravens
If Linderbaum did not play center, there is a very good chance a player of his caliber would have been taking number one overall. Throughout the pre-draft process, many were awed at Linderbaum’s raw athleticism. At Iowa, he was often seen running in front of his running back, paving a path downfield by pancaking defenders. Even off the field, Linderbaum is athletic. Despite weighing a whopping 291 lbs, Linderbaum ran a 4.98 40-yard dash and can windmill dunk. Just seeing the raw size and mass of Linderbaum, he will have no problem adjusting to NFL-sized defensive linemen. In the upcoming 2022 NFL season, the young center has success written all over him.
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