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My Guys: Anthony Treash's top targets in the 2022 NFL Draft

Mobile, AL, USA; National Squad wide receiver Christian Watson of North Dakota State (1) runs with the ball in the first half against the American squad during the Senior bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NFL Draft is now just one week away. Big boards are being finalized. The last mock drafts of the year are hitting the presses. Pre-draft evaluations are coming to an end.

Whether it’s within an NFL franchise or in the media, no big board is ever the same. Every individual has their own set of prospects they like more or less than others. Today, I will focus on the positive and highlight some of “my guys” — the players I am higher on than most.

LB NAKOBE DEAN, GEORGIA BULLDOGS

Dean is one of the most instinctive players to come out of college in recent memory. And, in my opinion, he was the most important player in Georgia’s historically good defense this past year.

Any defense predicated on pressure will want Dean and his flawless blitzing technique. But not only is he a weapon in the pass rush, but he’s also a playmaker in coverage. Last season, the Georgia product became the only off-ball linebacker in the PFF College era to earn a 90.0-plus single-season PFF grade in coverage and as a pass-rusher.

The 5-foot-11, 229-pound off-ball linebacker racked up 31 pressures and 15 passing stops in 2021, top-10 marks among Power Five linebackers. He also ranked sixth in the Power Five in pass-rush win rate (22.3%), allowed a first down at the lowest rate among linebackers (13.5%) and didn’t surrender a single touchdown. Dean may be on the “smaller” side, but it shouldn’t be that big of an issue in the NFL, given his skill set. 

EDGE GEORGE KARLAFTIS, PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

Karlaftis turned in a 90.6 pass-rush grade as one of the few game-wreckers in college football last season. Also known as the college football Greek Freak,  the 6-foot-4, 266-pounder boasts some of the best hand usage in the class and plays with big-time power and an impressive get-off.

Karlaftis turned in the fourth-best win rate in the Power Five on true pass-rushes this past season despite being consistently chipped, doubled and cut. He is worth a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

WR CHRISTIAN WATSON, NORTH DAKOTA STATE BISON

Watson has been one of the pre-draft process' biggest winners, thanks to impressive performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. In fact, one Power Five head coach told PFF that the 6-foot-4, 208-pounder was the best wideout in attendance at the Senior Bowl, and he followed that up with a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, a 1.46-second 10-yard split, a 39-inch vertical and an 11-foot-4 broad jump at the combine. For a man his size, those times and measurements are almost hard to believe.

The North Dakota State product was a part of a run-heavy offense, but he still managed an 89.5 receiving grade and an astounding 4.33 yards per route run in 2021. He’s still a relatively raw player but has shown improvement in all areas, from his ball skills to his route running to his ability to get off press coverage. 

Watson has the potential to develop into a true “X” receiver but can be used in creative ways from the get-go — much like the San Francisco 49ers do with Deebo Samuel.

EDGE BOYE MAFE, MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

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