Situation matters. Everyone knows it. But after spending countless hours evaluating prospects before every NFL Draft, no one re-ranks those now professionals factoring in the team that drafted them. It needs to be done. So here it is.
Of course, the baseline for these rankings came from my own pre-draft Top 300, not a consensus board or anything similar. Therefore, the post-draft Big Board you’ll see below isn’t too drastically different from my Big Board before the draft. It’s important to keep that in mind.
I first attempted to move players up and down the board based on feel alone, and that was a futile exercise. Basically impossible.
Instead, I assigned a point to each prospect from my pre-draft Big Board in reverse order of the rankings (for example, Kyle Hamilton was my No. 1 prospect, so he was given 300 points. Derek Stingley was No. 2, he was assigned 299, etc.), then generated a “Situation Score” key to add to each prospect. Of course, that was subjective. No way around it. I gave boosts to players I felt are now in decent, very good, and amazing team situations. In the Situation Score key, players could also get point reductions if I deemed their team situations as somewhat bad, really bad, or not conducive to future success.
A player’s Situation Score factored in likely opportunity/playing time, responsibilities they’ll have instantly, teammates who will have direct impact on their productivity, scheme fit — all that.
One last thing before I begin — in every draft class I do seem to value running backs much less than the NFL. Therefore, as a counter to that, for this post-draft Big Board I gave the running backs a separate Situation Score key in which they could earn even more points than other players. After all, in most scenarios, when a team drafts a running back (relatively early), it plans to use that running back often right away.
That should have explained everything. Here is my post-draft Big Board for the 2022 rookie class.
1. Kyle Hamilton, S, Ravens
2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Giants
3. Evan Neal, OT, Giants
4. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Texans
5. Skyy Moore, WR, Chiefs
6. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Jets
7. Chris Olave, WR, Saints
8. Jameson Williams, WR, Lions
9. Garrett Wilson, WR, Jets
10. Drake London, WR, Falcons
Hamilton remains at No. 1. Him playing safety in Baltimore is a match orchestrated by the football gods. Thibodeaux and Neal are both in tremendous scenarios with the Giants. Neither will be completely counted on to be “the guy” in Year 1, and expectations at their respective positions on that team have been rather low recently.
My adoration for Moore assumed a new, heightened form over the weekend. With Patrick Mahomes? On a team that has veteran options but no one who outwardly stands out as a star? Perfect. Olave in New Orleans with Jameis Winston throwing him the ball and a healthy Michael Thomas is quite the luxurious landing spot, too.
11. Kaiir Elam, CB, Bills
12. Logan Hall, DL, Buccaneers
13. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Lions
14. Treylon Burks, WR, Titans
15. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Vikings
16. Kenny Pickett, QB, Steelers
17. Devonte Wyatt, DL, Packers
18. Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Ravens
19. Daxton Hill, CB, Bengals
20. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Falcons
21. Lewis Cine, S, Vikings
22. Charles Cross, OT, Seahawks
23. Jalen Pitre, CB, Texans
24. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, Panthers
25. Roger McCreary, CB,Titans
26. Zion Johnson, IOL, Chargers
27. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Chiefs
28. George Pickens, WR, Steelers
29. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Colts
30. Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Jets
31. Jordan Davis, DL, Eagles
32. Jahan Dotson, WR, Commanders
Elam in Buffalo’s cornerback-friendly system that’s gotten quality results out of late-round and UDFAs during the Sean McDermott represents a golden opportunity to Elam to shine immediately in front of Bills Mafia. Hutchinson has everything it takes to be a superstar at the next level. But beginning his career as the Lions’ No. 1 outside rusher is a tall task. Hall in Tampa Bay, next to Vita Vea, couldn’t be more perfect. He’s a long, burst-based pass-rusher who’s going to eat on that defense immediately. I feel similarly about Wyatt next to Kenny Clark with the Packers and Davis next to Fletcher Cox in Philly.
I also like how Burks feels like he’ll be the Titans’ No. 1 wideout with the reasonably efficient Ryan Tannehill throwing him the football, but we can’t forget about the newly acquired Robert Woods and the presence of Derrick Henry.
I was lower on Johnson than most. Being coached by Robert Saleh and getting Carl Lawson to rush opposite him on the Jets defensive front represent big wins for the rookie. Dotson in Washington alongside Terry McLaurin is fantastic. Carson Wentz just doesn’t excite me much. Pass-blocking specialist Cross being asked to be the No. 1 offensive tackle with the Seahawks, a team that wants to run the ball into oblivion, is worrisome.
33. Trevor Penning, OT, Saints
34. Christian Watson, WR, Packers
35. Travon Walker, EDGE, Jaguars
36. Jaquan Brisker, S, Bears
37. Daniel Faalele, OT, Ravens
38. Kyler Gordon, CB, Bears
39. Kerby Joseph, S, Lions
40. Nakobe Dean, LB, Eagles
41. Zyon McCollum, CB, Buccaneers
42. Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Broncos
43. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cardinals
44. Sam Williams, EDGE, Cowboys
45. Malik Willis, QB, Titans
46. Marquis Hayes, IOL, Cardinals
47. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Seahawks
48. Breece Hall, RB, Jets
49. Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Bengals
50. Chad Muma, LB, Jaguars
51. Tyler Smith, OT, Cowboys
52. Trent McDuffie, CB, Chiefs
53. David Ojabo, EDGE, Ravens
54. Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, 49ers
55. Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Ravens
56. Tyreke Smith, EDGE, Seahawks
57. Damarri Mathis, CB, Broncos
58. Dylan Parham, IOL, Raiders
59. Devin Lloyd, LB, Jaguars
60. Matt Corral, QB, Panthers
61. Desmond Ridder, QB, Falcons
62. Max Mitchell, OL, Jets
63. Cam Thomas, EDGE, Cardinals
64. Trey McBride, TE, Cardinals
65. Logan Bruss, OL, Rams
66. Kenyon Green, IOL, Texans
67. Cam Jurgens, OL, Eagles
68. Rasheed Walker, OL, Packers
69. Cordale Flott, CB, Giants
70. Khalil Shakir, WR, Bills
71. Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, Packers
72. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Commanders
73. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Jets
74. Charlie Kolar, TE, Ravens
75. Drake Jackson, EDGE, 49ers
Watson has loads of available targets staring him in the face. Is he ready to be a nuanced route runner and thrive after the catch? I don’t think so. The presence of Aaron Rodgers provided a sizable boost for the former North Dakota State receiver. Obviously.
Walker, the No. 1 overall pick, did not do it for me whatsoever on film. Josh Allen entering the season as the No. 1 rusher in Jacksonville should help the rookie’s acclimation process and provide him more one-on-ones out of the gate. That’s huge. Huge boost for McBride, who was my TE3 before the draft, landing in Arizona with Zach Ertz and a now suspended DeAndre Hopkins. McBride will get favorable coverage matchups in two tight-end looks, and there are plenty of targets to go around in Kliff Kingsbury’s wide-open system.
Of course, a monstrous slide for Willis, my pre-draft QB1, as he was a third-round pick and finds himself behind Tannehill in Tennessee. Ridder’s in a similar scenario in Atlanta, although he probably has a smoother road to starting with Marcus Mariota as the Falcons penciled-in starter currently.
76. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Chargers
77. Nick Cross, S, Colts
78. Tyquan Thornton, WR, Patriots
79. Sam Howell, QB, Commanders
80. Zach Tom, OL, Packers
81. Cole Strange, OL, Patriots
82. Velus Jones Jr., WR, Bears
83. Joshua Paschal, EDGE, Lions
84. Marcus Jones, CB, Patriots
85. Troy Andersen, LB, Falcons
86. Jelani Woods, TE, Colts
87. Darian Kinnard, OT, Chiefs
88. Bryan Cook, S, Chiefs
89. Jalen Tolbert, WR, Cowboys
90. Joshua Williams, CB, Chiefs
91. Alex Wright, EDGE, Browns
92. Sean Rhyan, OL, Packers
93. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Steelers
94. Montaric Brown, CB, Jaguars
95. Braxton Jones, OL, Bears
96. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seahawks
97. Chris Paul, OL, Commanders
98. Matt Waletzko, OL, Cowboys
99. JT Woods, S, Chargers
100. Brian Asamoah, LB, Vikings
Spiller in Los Angeles with the Chargers is a nice fit. Crazy to think, though — Austin Ekeler only turns 27 this month. Howell going in Round 5 doesn’t bode well for his NFL future.
The fact the Patriots picked Thornton over the likes of Pickens, Moore, and others signals New England has big plans for him in Year 2 of the Mac Jones era. I wish Walker landed elsewhere besides Seattle. The Seahawks really like Rashaad Penny and I don’t know if I can trust that offensive line to block well enough for the super-talented former Michigan State back to succeed early in his career when he’ll be the most fresh.
Jones has the athletic makeup and coverage instincts to be a feisty productive slot corner with the Patriots, and his return ability fascinates me. Wright in Cleveland learning from Myles Garrett? Stock up.