NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 NFL Draft: 17 underrated prospects who could go earlier than expected

With the 2022 NFL Draft just over a week away, we asked scouts to identify prospects they view as underrated heading into the event.

We also reached out to sources around the league to identify where these prospects could wind up being taken in the draft.

Read on to learn more about this year’s underrated class:

DB Jalen Pitre, Baylor

PFF Big Board Rank: 31st

Pitre was identified by league sources as a player who could go higher in the draft than initially expected. PFF already has him ranked higher than most sites inside our top 35.

Pitre ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at his pro day after clocking a 6.74-second three-cone at the NFL Scouting Combine. He primarily played out of the slot with the Bears and earned a 92.7 run-defense grade in 2021, the best among FBS cornerbacks. His current projection, per sources, is anywhere from late in the first round into the middle of the second round.

EDGE Josh Paschal, Kentucky

PFF Big Board Rank: 44th

Paschal is a PFF and scout’s favorite. The accomplished run defender's 90.0 overall PFF grade ranked fourth among draft-eligble FBS edge defenders last season.

At 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds, Paschal played everywhere from nose tackle to edge in 2021 at Kentucky. He tested extremely well for his size and earned a 9.70/10 relative athletic score.

He’s projected as an early Day 2 pick, per a source. He looks like a prototypical New England Patriot.

LB Troy Andersen, Montana State

PFF Big Board Rank: 51st

Andersen comes with a fascinating story. He started his college career at running back, moved to quarterback, then switched to running back/linebacker before flipping to defense full time in 2021. He has ideal size and athleticism for a linebacker at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds, and he ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash (98th percentile) with a 1.49-second 10-yard split (100th), 6.77-second three-cone, 4.07-second short shuttle, 36-inch vertical leap (73rd) and 10-foot-8 broad jump (95th).

Andersen will likely be a second-round pick, per multiple sources, though one source believes he could sneak into the first round.

OT Luke Goedeke, Central Michigan

PFF Big Board Rank: 62nd

Goedeke is another player who a team source identified as someone who could be selected earlier than expected. One source indicated he could go as high as the top 45 picks. Another source penciled him in for the late second round.

Goedeke played right tackle with the Chippewas but projects to guard in the NFL. He didn’t let up a sack in 2021 and earned a 94.3 run-blocking grade.

OT Zach Tom, Wake Forest

PFF Big Board Rank: 64th

Tom began his career at center before moving to left tackle in 2020. He stuck at left tackle in 2021, and teams believe he could stay there in the NFL despite being slightly undersized at 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds with 33 1/4-inch arms. He tested very well with a 4.94-second 40-yard dash (93rd percentile), 1.63-second 10-yard split (99th), 33-inch vertical leap (93rd), 9-foot-10 broad jump (99th), 4.47-second short shuttle (94th) and 7.32-second three-cone (96th).

He let up just 13 pressures, including three sacks, two quarterback hits and eight hurries in 2021, and earned a 92.1 pass-blocking grade. He’s likely an early Day 2 pick, per a source.

WR John Metchie III, Alabama

PFF Big Board Rank: 74th

Metchie tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game but is still expected to be taken in the second round, per a source. He’s 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds and earned a 78.2 overall PFF grade in 2021. He split his time between the slot and outside and earned his highest grades in the short (94.2) and intermediate (92.7) parts of the field.

DI Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

PFF Big Board Rank: 84th

Winfrey is slightly undersized at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, but he has massive 35 1/4-inch arms and could be a surprise late first-round pick, per a source. He ran a 4.89-second 40-yard dash at the combine and excelled as a pass-rusher in 2021, earning a 79.3 pass-rush grade with 29 pressures, including six sacks, six quarterbacks hits and 27 hurries, on 285 snaps. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team to watch.

WR Calvin Austin III, Memphis

PFF Big Board Rank: 87th

Austin, another player identified by a scout as someone who could be drafted earlier than expected, is undersized at 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, but he was one of the most impressive players at the 2022 Senior Bowl. He then ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash (97th percentile) with a 1.44-second 10-yard split (100th), 39-inch vertical leap (89th), 11-foot-3 broad jump (99th), 4.07-second short shuttle (91st) and 6.65-second three-cone during the pre-draft process.

Austin’s size is a detractor, but we’re also just one year removed from Tutu Atwell, who’s 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds and didn’t test as well as Austin, being selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Austin is projected as a late second-rounder, per a source.

C Cam Jurgens, Nebraska

PFF Big Board Rank: 93rd

Jurgens is another scout’s favorite. One source projected him for the second round.

He didn’t allow a sack in 2021 and tested extremely well, running a 4.92-second 40-yard dash (96th percentile) with a 1.71-second 10-yard split (92nd), 34-inch vertical leap (6th), 9-foot, 11-inch broad jump (100th), 4.49-second short shuttle (84th) and 7.19-second 3-cone drill (99th) at 6-foot-3, 304 pounds.

EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

PFF Big Board Rank: 119th

Sanders is an undersized edge at 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, but he’s a scout’s favorite. He earned an 87.3 pass-rushing grade with 62 pressures, including five sacks, three quarterback hits and 54 hurries, in 2021. He registered 10 pressures against Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

One source projects him for the third round.

RB Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M

PFF Big Board Rank: 150th

Spiller is one of the rare players on this list who didn’t test overly well. At 6-feet and 217 pounds, he ran just a 4.64-second 40-yard dash.

PFF views Spiller as a three-down back who had his best season in 2021. He didn’t drop a pass last season and ranked 10th in both missed tackles forced and 15-plus yard runs. Two sources predicted he’ll be an early second-round pick with an outside shot of sneaking into the first.

CB Chase Lucas, Arizona State

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

Lucas tested well overall with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash (55th percentile), 1.52-second 10-yard split (84th), 39-inch vertical leap (86th), 10-foot-8 broad jump (85th), 4.16-second short shuttle (67th) and 6.78-second three-cone (83rd) at 6-feet, 188 pounds.

Lucas didn’t allow a touchdown in 2021. He could wind up being selected as early as the third round, per a source. The Patriots are a team to watch.

LB Devin Harper, Oklahoma State

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

Harper wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine or any of the top all-star games but is now a late riser in the draft process. He’s visited the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals and will visit the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions this week, per a source.

Harper is 6-feet, 235 pounds and ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash (98th percentile) with a 40.5-inch vertical leap (97th), 9-foot-11 broad jump (58th), 4.03-second short shuttle and 6.84-second three-cone at his pro day.

He received just 89 pass-rushing snaps in 2021 and registered 39 pressures — eight sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 18 hurries. His 39.3% pass-rush win rate ranked first among FBS defenders with at least 30 pass-rush snaps.

Harper could go as high as Day 2 of the draft but will more likely be taken early on Day 3, per sources.

EDGE Luiji Vilain, Wake Forest

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

Vilain was a combine snub who one source predicted could be selected anywhere from late in the third round to the fifth round of the draft. A Canadian who transferred from Michigan, Vilain earned an 81.8 pass-rush grade in 2021. He’s a scout’s favorite who stands 6-foot-4, 255 pounds with 34-inch arms.

OT Zach Thomas, San Diego State

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

Yes, there’s a Zach Tom and Zach Thomas in this draft, and they’re both offensive tackles.

Thomas is a projected Day 3 pick and could go as early as the fourth round, per sources. He ran a 4.96-second 40-yard dash (90th percentile) with a 7.40-second three-cone (92nd) and 4.65-second short shuttle (72nd) at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds. He earned an 87.2 overall PFF grade in 2021 and let up three sacks, two quaarterback hits and eight hurries.

WR Samori Toure, Nebraska

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

Another scout’s favorite, Toure is a Day 3 pick who could go as high as the fourth round, per a source. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 191 pounds and hit the necessary marks in his testing with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash (61st percentile) and 6.77-second three-cone drill (84th).

Toure was used in the slot and dropped just two passes on 75 targets in 2021. He caught 46 passes for 896 yards with five touchdowns, including 13 catches for 552 yards and four scores on deep balls. He earned a 99.6 deep ball grade last season.

LB Daniel Hardy, Montana State

PFF Big Board Rank: NR

And yes, there are two Montana State linebackers who could be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Hardy is a potential Day 3 pick, per a source. He’s had visits with the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears and received strong interest from a dozen teams.

Hardy began his college career at linebacker before moving to the edge in 2021. He earned an 86.3 pass-rush grade and registered 77 total pressures, including 17 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 46 hurries in 2021.

At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Hardy was clocked at 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 1.57-second 10-yard split, 40-inch vertical leap, 10-foot-7 broad jump and 6.71-second three-cone.

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