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NFL Draft

5 NFL Draft Prospects Who’ll Outplay Draft Slot

  • Ryan Fowler
  • May 9, 2022
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With an overwhelmingly deep pool of talent, the 2022 NFL Draft did not disappoint under the bright lights of Las Vegas. From eligible underclassmen to fourth, fifth-year, and even some sixth-year talents, value and pop were to be had on all three days of draft weekend. 

While seven rounds have come and gone, and 262 players have settled into new homes over the past week, here are a few players—with draft position in mind—that I expect to outplay where they heard their name called on NFL Draft weekend. 

1. EDGE George Karlaftis, Kansas City Chiefs (No. 30 overall)

Karlaftis’ pro projection enjoyed its fair share of ups and downs in the weeks and months leading up to Vegas. One of the least-sexy edge threats in this year’s class, Karlaftis won’t blow you away with sub-4.6 speed at 260-plus pounds, jump out of the gym in the vert, or turn heads in the broad jump, but if you’re Kansas City in search of an uber-physical prospect whose aggressive style of play and high IQ allows him to turn the edge with consistency, Karlaftis is the guy. 

After three years of standout play at Purdue following a move from Athens, Greece in eighth grade—when he initially began playing football—Karlaftis, in comparison to his fellow rookie classmates, remains in the honeymoon phase with the gridiron While he wasn’t granted the opportunity to compete in the trenches at a young age, where prospects today first put on the pads before they ever learn to tie their shoes, his grace period to learn the intricacies of football from the inside-out allowed little room to finagle his way from position to position. And while the saying goes that it takes nearly 10,000 hours to truly master a craft, the expeditious approach to his learning process and ability to transfer it within the hashes has introduced a prospect with one of the highest performance floors in the entire 2022 class. 

Double and triple-teamed throughout his time as a Boilermaker, while his sack and intricate analytical numbers won’t jump off the screen in comparison to some of the class’s other 5-tech defenders, sometimes the old-fashioned eye test is all you need to sell yourself on a player. He’s often been compared to Washington Commanders’ sack artist Ryan Kerrigan—a former Boilermaker in his own right, and if anything rings true of the two pocket pushers, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to have success at the sport’s highest level, and I expect Karlaftis to develop into a force to be reckoned with early in his career. 

2. EDGE David Ojabo, Baltimore Ravens (45th overall)

With all the tools in the world to progress into the premier pass rusher in the 2022 class, grabbing Ojabo in the second round was flat out highway robbery from Ravens GM Eric DeCosta. Although many expected Ojabo to redshirt his rookie campaign, he’s expected to be good to go by October and will immediately become a threat to push the pocket working opposite of 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh. His performance ceiling is truly uncapped if everything comes together. 

3. QB Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans (86th overall)

The league really let Willis slip to the third round, huh? The most gifted athlete in the class with the skill set to become a top-10 quarterback in football with the necessary skill development, I don’t expect his tenure working behind Ryan Tannehill to last long. At some point, the Titans will have to deliver the ball through the air with some success, and adding Willis’ dual-threat ability will keep defenses honest in defending both the ground game and countering Willis’ elite arm strength. 

4. WR Danny Gray, San Francisco 49ers (105th overall)

Who knows what will happen with Deebo Samuel moving forward, but Gray has been a popular name within league circles for a while, and if Samuel does depart, I expect he and Brandon Aiyuk to holster the majority of targets from Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo this fall. A smooth, fluid route runner on the perimeter, Gray’s best football remains down the road, and his game should jigsaw nicely in a heavy play-action, shot play offense under Kyle Shanahan.

5. IDL Thomas Booker, Houston Texans (150th overall)

A versatile lineman that can slide up and down the defensive front, Houston needs players, and Booker fits the script—and then some. A locker room culture changer who stood out throughout the week at the East-West Shrine Bowl, it won’t take Texans fans long to become enthralled with their versatile stalwart along the guts of their front seven.

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Ryan Fowler