With summer scouting now in the books, we at The Draft Network had the distinct pleasure of announcing our TDN100 on Monday. Many, many hours of film study took place between our scouting staff, and we ended up watching a little more than 400 players overall and assigned preseason grades to those players.
Summer scouting is one of my favorite things about the evaluation process because it’s the purest part of the evaluation. There’s no hype, no combine measurables, no Heisman awards... just film. As evaluators, it’s easy to get caught up in the noise and put too much stock in Pro Day workouts or awesome Senior Bowl practices, and summer scouting really is the only time you’ll have an opinion of a player without all the extra fluff.
Our top 100 wasn’t an easy list to put together. Between myself, Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, Drae Harris, and Keith Sanchez, there are decades worth of scouting experience and an infinite amount of ego. There were numerous instances where we had big disagreements on where players should be slotted and some of the conversations became quite spirited. However, through it all, we trusted our cross-check process and feel strongly that this list accurately encompasses the 2022 class as it stands right now.
Now, as we know, this list is going to look drastically different come the end of the season. Players develop and step up to help their stock and will have the opportunity to rise up the board. There are quite a few players on this list who are very talented and will have every bit of opportunity to move up the board with a strong season.
Below are five players I believe have the best chance to shoot up the TDN100 big board with a strong 2022 campaign.
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (No. 38)
Unlike the last three years, it doesn’t appear that there will be a consensus No. 1 quarterback when the draft comes around in April. Our group had Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler as QB1, but that’s not written in stone. A player who I know has gotten a fair amount of love from evaluators this offseason is Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. Our scouting staff had very mixed reviews for Corral with the highest grade coming in as a late first-rounder and the lowest grade as a fifth-rounder. I personally had Corral with a second and third-round split, but his upside is easy to see.
Corral is a smooth, athletic quarterback who has good accuracy and arm strength. Corral isn’t the biggest quarterback by any means, but he has enough size to get the job done within the pocket. Corral’s biggest strength, and why I think he is a strong candidate to move up the board, is his instincts, vision, and creativity in the pocket. Similar to Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson, Corral plays that brand of backyard style of football where he simply has an innate feel for pressure, and he can evade and elude in the pocket with subtle movements while keeping his eyes down the field to deliver strikes. His playmaking ability is outstanding and if he can just keep his turnovers down (14 interceptions in 2020), he will be one of the best quarterbacks in this class.
George Pickens, WR, Georgia (No. 42)
From a pure talent perspective, I could make a strong argument that Pickens is the best receiver in this draft class. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Pickens has excellent size to be a difference-maker on the outside. He offers outstanding body control and ball skills and has consistently shown an ability to win 50/50 balls. An excellent athlete, Pickens has very good speed and change of direction. He runs above-average routes and is a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
Pickens' issues are truly all off the field. He is coming off a torn ACL, which he suffered last spring, that leaves him with a mid-season targeted return. Additionally, reports about Pickens' behavior off the field are well documented and will be something to monitor. If Pickens can return healthy and show that he can be a good teammate and person in the community, he will likely rise into the top 20 on our big board.
Isaiah Taylor-Stewart, CB, USC (No. 64)
One of the players I knew the least about heading into summer scouting, Taylor-Stewart was extremely intriguing to learn more about. Harris was the scout who first brought Taylor-Stewart up in our meetings and he painted a very good picture of his skill set. A long and extremely athletic cover man, Taylor-Stewart has it all from a physical skill set perspective. He has proven to be excellent in press-man coverage and is also a willing player in run support.
At this stage in his career, Taylor-Stewart is more athlete than a football player, and there is a ton of room for improvement from a technique and production standpoint. With his physical tools, if Taylor-Stewart continues to put it all together, he will fly up our rankings.
Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College (No. 74)
As I mentioned with Corral, the top quarterback spots are certainly up for grabs entering this season and Jurkovec is as good of a bet as any to claim a spot. He offers prototypical size and arm talent and is also a very underrated athlete. From a pure arm talent standpoint, few have higher flashes than Jurkovec, but his inconsistency from the pocket is a concern at this point. He has huge upside with his physical gifts but needs to do a better job with his setup and release to consistently deliver accurate passes. If he continues to fine-tune his game, Jurkovec can not only rise up our board, but I can easily see him going in the top 15 picks of next year’s draft.
Tyler Davis, IDL, Clemson (No. 80)
A player I had the pleasure of scouting for our team, Davis is a very talented interior defensive lineman who offers excellent size and strength. He was a very highly touted recruit when he stepped foot on Clemson’s campus back in 2019 and was an instant difference-maker for the Tigers. As a true freshman, Davis recorded 5.5 sacks, which led all freshman interior defensive linemen in the country. The upside he showed as a freshman didn’t translate as a sophomore as he dealt with an MCL injury that caused him to miss significant time. If Davis can return healthy, he has the power and athleticism to be a difference-maker in both phases of the game. Plus, in a weak interior defensive line class, Davis has plenty of room to rise.