As a part of our April mission to keep you better-informed than your friends about the NFL draft, here is a list of the top eight DB prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft Class.
1: Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The only prelude here is how dope ‘Sauce’ is as a nickname.
Sauce is big and long, has good speed and maintains good awareness on the field. He is also a strong tacklers and a good blitzer. In short, he has great tools and the workman’s belt to recover from mistakes.
He makes mistakes sometimes. He can leave small windows on cuts that takes him a second-and-a-half to close.
Sauce belongs in a game-playing defense. It would be disrespectful to his potential to do anything else.
2: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Stingley is going to bee a great.
Derek Stingley just hits all of the major checkpoints in technique. He carries or finds the best possible leverage, always knows when to look for the ball, and he finds the ball in the air. He’s just a smart, sound player. Think Trevor Lawrence but at the CB position.
There are some who are concerned about injuries, but I wouldn’t focus on that too much. The only real point of concern is that his play over the last two seasons doesn’t match the best of him that we’ve seen on film.
This guy can play anywhere, though ideally it would be a team that loves to play man coverage. That’s how Stingley could differentiate himself.
3: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Let’s all be post-modernist philosophers for a second: 3 = 1. Hamilton could easily be at the top of this list, but we’ll keep star corners over playmaking safeties because 1 = 3 as well.
Hamilton can do it all: man, zone, and run support. He reads the field incredibly well, tackles well, and makes the smart decision that often leads to big plays.
He plays safety. Other positions are more valued.
A team that has safeties won’t spend a top 15 pick on him, but that’s just because of the process that is building a team. Hamilton is so good he can make any team better.
4: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Trent is bent on paying rent via the NFL. Though he will be able to afford a house by April 29th.
McDuffie has shown himself to be a beast in zone coverage. He has the awareness needed in the scheme and can close and attack the ball well. He is also good at the line of scrimmage.
There really isn’t much to snipe about here. The only point worth noting is that McDuffie doesn’t have a lot of tape in man coverage, and that limits his draft stock.
The team that adds this man will be in the zone. Seriously, though, they will be in a lot of zone.
5: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida Gators
He may not have a dope nickname, but who needs it when your name is Kaiir?
Elam is handsy and physical, with the size to do it. He has good awareness and good recovery ability, with good tackling skills and an understanding of where his help is to boot.
He can over-rely on his help sometimes and doesn’t have the hips of Derek Stingley.
Elam may find his full potential in zone, but he isn’t limited to it. His stat line would love it if he joins a good secondary, but he can be one of the better CB1’s as well.
6: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
Cine may not get signed as a Day 1 pick, but he could be.
Cine plays with good speed, has good fundamentals for man coverage, is a good tackler and has good recognition around the line of scrimmage.
Unfortunately, he struggles a bit in zone and is on the smaller side.
I would expect Lewis Cine to move to a nickel spot on a game-playing defense. He can bring a lot of value there.
7: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Gordon is the surprise of this list, much like Dotson was as the 5th WR. But like Dotson, he deserves this spot.
Gordon is very raw, but did a great job playing zone opposite McDuffie and shows good basic skills to carry into man coverage. In fact, his potential scheme-versatility could make him more valuable than McDuffie after a few years of coaching.
Gordon is very raw and struggles while breaking out of blocks to make tackles.
Gordon would be a great CB2 or CB3 with a team that has an established but aging CB1.
8: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
I thought about leaving this list at 7, but 8 is a nicer number, isn’t it?
Pitre has some skill in run-support. He has good closing speed, is a good tackler, has a good football IQ (especially around the line-of-scrimmage). He also has talent as a blitzer.
He is only okay in coverage, with his biggest struggles coming in man coverage. His IQ helps, but it isn’t quite enough.
Pitre’s best hope is to be a cheaper version of Jamal Adams.
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