There’s no set career arc that applies to every prospect. Some guys hit the NFL more refined than others, but that doesn’t mean those who aren’t as far along in their development are doomed to fail. It does, however, make them a touch riskier as prospects.
The following are the players in the 2022 NFL Draft class who have all the tools to succeed but aren’t quite NFL-ready in one aspect or another.
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While Liberty‘s Malik Willis has been discussed as the boom-or-bust quarterback prospect in the class, his elite rushing ability gives him some semblance of a floor. Howell isn’t near that caliber of athlete and won't be able to rely on his legs to make plays in the NFL. He’s going to have to win consistently from the pocket first, and that’s a big TBD hailing from the offense he played in at North Carolina.
Over the past three seasons, 1,096 of Howell’s 2,505 snaps were RPOs, with 333 of those pulled for pass plays. That was 285 more called RPOs and 94 more RPO dropbacks than any other Power Five quarterback. That type of offense simply doesn't exist in the NFL. He’ll have to basically relearn the position once he gets to the league, and that won't be easy if he's thrown to the fire.
White ticks every box you could possibly want physically. Size, speed, explosiveness, elusiveness, receiving ability — you name it, White has it. The thing he doesn’t have is a running style conducive to success at the NFL level. He’s one of the biggest freelancers in the draft class and often runs in search of the big play rather than what’s blocked. That is a quick way to never see the field once you get to the NFL. He has only been a starter for a year, though, after transferring from junior college to Arizona State.
Burks was the focal point of the Arkansas offense, and the vast majority of his touches were “schemed” as a result. That means he didn’t need to beat coverage to rack up yardage. He just had to out-athlete others when he did get the ball in his hands. The thing is, his combine performance was not that of a player who is going to continue to out-athlete players at the NFL level. He’s going to have to refine his game on the outside after taking 67.7% of his snaps from the slot in 2021, but he offers the tools of a true “X” receiver at the next level.