The 2022 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away. Every year, evaluators like myself get to this point and are finalizing their boards. However, you can’t get to this point without irrationally clinging to players you like. I wrote earlier this year about two of my favorite prospects that I have ever scouted, Luke Staley and Josh Rosen, and why they inevitably failed. Last year, despite warnings from others, I ranked former Maryland RB Jake Funk as a Top 100 player. In my defense, he did make the Rams roster after being drafted in the seventh round.
Well, the 2022 NFL Draft will be no different. There are players that for one reason or another, I have watched tape of either this season or multiple, and then decided I love these players.
Below, I will list five of those players.
2022 NFL DRAFT: FIVE FAVORITE PROSPECTS
EJ Perry, QB, Brown
I watched my first game of Perry’s when Brown took on Harvard in September. It was one of the best examples I had ever seen where a quarterback nearly singlehandedly kept his team in it. When people complain that Malik Willis had no weapons surrounding him at Liberty, they should have had to watch EJ Perry at Brown for a little perspective. Later in the year, I watched him against Yale and it was more of the same.
Despite all of this, Perry went on to earn an invite to the Shrine Bowl where he was the game’s MVP despite being on the losing team. He then went on to the combine where he tested as the second most athletic QB in the class. I don’t think I am crazy to think that EJ Perry will get drafted as early as the 5th round. He has already had visits with several teams.
Velus Jones Jr, WR, Tennessee
I have been tracking Jones’s career for a while now. I always like to keep tabs on local Mobile area kids, especially the ones that go all the way to Southern Cal to play. Jones never really made an impact for the Trojans outside of the return game. He later transferred to Tennessee where he had minimal impact as a receiver. Well, as they say, the 6th-year is the charm. Finally working with a competent QB (Hendon Hooker), Jones evolved as a go-to target this year. His route running skills dramatically improved in 2021.
Jones caught more passes in 2021 than he did his other five collegiate seasons combined. He excelled during Senior Bowl practices and then ran a 4.31 forty at the combine. Jones will enter the draft as an older prospect but should still be able to make an early impact for any team that selects him.
Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia
I am not sure I talked up any prospect more than Jelani Woods on the Draft Countdown podcast this year. Woods was barely used at Oklahoma State his first three seasons, catching only 31 passes in three seasons. For some reason, Oklahoma State couldn’t find a way to utilize a 6’7” 260-pound beast that tested as the MOST ATHLETIC TIGHT END EVER!
Virginia had no issues unlocking that skillset, however. Woods caught 44 balls for 600 yards and 8 scores this season. He was also a rare oversight in the Senior Bowl scouting process. Woods would shine at the Shrine Bowl. I have no doubt at this point that Jelani Woods will be taken somewhere on day two of the draft.
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Anything I say about Trevor Penning would be redundant at this point. I feel like I have written about him so many times that it is just overkilling at this point. Penning has proved to be one of the most dominant blockers in this class and one of the most athletic as well. He could find himself being selected in the top ten.
Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
You didn’t think we would get to the end of this list without a Gamecock, did you? Are you new here? Enagbare has been the best South Carolina pass rusher since Jadeveon Clowney roamed the sidelines in Columbia. His career started slowly but you could see the flashes as a true freshman.
Enagbare hustles every down and he sets the edge well in the run game. If PFF is something you take a lot of stock in, Enagbare has the best pass rush win rate of any edge defender in this class. Would I have liked to see him test better? Sure. He had a good week at the Senior Bowl and I still think he will be a day two pick.