Within each position on a football field, there are multiple archetypes that dig deeper into a player’s attributes. One size does not fit all.
Wide Receivers who are smaller, but elusive and great at producing Yards After Catch (YAC) tend to be Slot or Z WRs, while other players at the position can be bigger, win more dominantly at the catch point, and facilitate as more of a possession receiver —typically an X WR. The same applies to physical, press-man CBs and twitchier, smaller zone CBs and many more examples at various positions.
Here, we profile 2022 NFL Draft prospects who fit some of these specific archetypes and link them to teams who require a player of their skillset. We’ll look at three players in each archetype, including an early-round, mid-round, and late-round projected player.
Jordan Davis – 6063, 341lbs – UGA
Jordan Davis is a freak of nature; it jumps off film, but his combine numbers were incredible. He ran a 4.78 40-yard dash and had a 10.0 RAS (Relative Athletic Score), the highest of any of the 1378 Defensive Tackles between 1987 and 2022. Davis played in a versatile system at Georgia under Kirby Smart where he was required to play at 0/2i Tech and 2-Gap a lot of the time. He pushed the pocket with ease, forcing QBs into rash decisions and covered so much ground in a short amount of time to hawk down RBs in the run game. He is a projected First Round Pick but may go in the top half of the First Round depending on how desperate a team is to shore up their run defense and interior pass rush.
Neil Farrell Jr. – 6041, 330lbs – LSU
Neil Farrell Jr. is a big, thick 3-4 NT with outstanding size and toughness. Farrell is an older prospect relative to his peers and lacks elite length, but his ability to plug the A gap will allow him to carve out an immediate role in the NFL. His very good stoutness at the point of attacked, coupled with heavy hands and a quick get off will enable him him to win on the interior consistently in the NFL.
Otito Ogbonnia – 6037, 323lbs – UCLA
Ogbonnia is a ball of muscle, and a lot of mass is stored around the middle of the body. He uses this to stabilize when explodes out of his 4-point stance at the snap and creates a great push on Interior O-Linemen. He has work to do after this initial punch on ensuring he fights with the hands and maintains a low pad level until the end of the rep, but he has tremendous upside. He is expected to be drafted on Day 3.
Teams that need a Run-Stuffing NT: Chargers, Broncos, Steelers, Texans, Lions
Nakobe Dean – 5110, 229lbs – UGA
Dean is an undersized and very fast Middle Linebacker. He doesn’t fit the mould of a prototypical run-thumping MLB of years gone-by, instead displaying great processing speed and then actual athleticism and functional speed to hawk down ball-carriers. He has the vision to read screens developing and stopped an almost certain TD against Kentucky by taking on two O-Lineman and winning with speed between them to shut down the play. He possesses extremely fluid hips and He had 72 tackles in his 15 starts in 2021 and 10.5 TFL while allowing 0.39 yards per coverage snap.
JoJo Domann – 6007 – 228lbs – Nebraska
Domann was used in a hybrid role for the Cornhuskers whereby he played as the apex defender on most snaps, meaning he covered the first routes out to the flat, but also was required to set an edge against the run and occasionally blitz. His ability to cover routes just long enough and then flip his hips and get back into a more central position to try and prevent any late, in-breaking completions is impressive and he can hit hard when able to line up the ball carrier too.
Aaron Hansford – 6025, 239lbs – Texas A&M
Teams that need a Coverage LB: Falcons, Eagles, Seahawks, Dolphins
Press, Cover 2 CB
Ahmad (Sauce) Gardner – 6030, 190lbs – Cincinnati
Gardner has never allowed a TD in his whole college career, which is an incredible stat, but his physicality down at the line of scrimmage is impressive. The ability to 2-hand punch and not allow an inch on some downs, squeezing the WR outside to the sideline and then on other reps, striking with his outside hand to force a WR inside before showing off his fluid hips and tracking them right across the field appears easy for “Sauce”. He allowed only 0.29 yards per coverage snap in 2021 and was responsible for 8 Pass Break Ups.
Tariq Woolen – 6040, 205lbs – UTSA
Woolen is a converted WR who has an incredible length and overall athleticism. He ran a 4.26 40-yard dash at the combine and possesses 33 5/8 Arms. While Woolen occasionally lacks in Press technique with a poorly aimed strike, and slow hips to turn, the athleticism alone is a reason to draft him on Day 2, and with a good Cornerback coach, it could make him into one of the best Press-Man CBs in the league because with that ridiculous length, it makes life easy for Woolen to stay with WRs.
Damarri Mathis – 5110, 196lbs – Pittsburgh
Mathis is a very twitchy, explosive CB and has seen a split of snaps in off-coverage and press-man coverage. He looks most comfortable when he is able to get hands on the WR, and then trail and follow the route from there. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and possesses the athleticism required to play as a press-man CB in the league. He will need to fill out a bit, as currently he has a lanky frame, and added weight would help him be even more physical at the catch point, but a great Day 3 Pick Up.
Teams that need a Press, Cover 2 CB: Chiefs, Vikings, Steelers
Quick, YAC WR
Garrett Wilson – 5116, 183lbs – Ohio State
Wilson ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine and had 418 Yards After the Catch in 2021 out of his total 1055 Receiving Yards. OSU used him on multiple concepts under 5 yards to get the ball in his hands and make defenders miss to create bigger plays. Wilson is also an exceptionally good route runner, who comes out of his breaks extremely low and creates instant separation, but then can also win physically at the catch point. A truly well-rounded WR who has the pace to take the top off the defense too.
Wan’Dale Robinson – 5080, 178lbs – Kentucky
Despite being undersized, Robinson certainly has explosiveness in abundance. He ran a 4.44 40-yard dash and was a versatile weapon all year for Kentucky whether it be from a RB or WR alignment. Robinson’s benefit is how many spots on the field he can be used, across the span of one game. Multiple reps out of the backfield, the slot and Z WR. He amassed 599 Yards After Catch out of his total 1342 Receiving Yards during the season. He also made countless defenders miss during the season and is incredibly elusive.
Bo Melton – 5110, 189lbs – Rutgers
Melton showed out at the Senior Bowl and impressed many with his release package and route running ability- forcing many to look back to the film. What is on display is a good blend of speed (4.34 40-yard dash) and an explosiveness and burst off the snap to blow by defenders as seen with his 38” Vertical Jump. Melton racked up more than half of his yards as YAC (376/664 yards) but a slight concern for Melton is the amount of dropped passes as he caught just under 90% of catchable passes. However, the burst, release package and long speed will be enticing to many teams around the league as a Day 3 Pick with plenty of upside.
Teams that need a Quick, YAC WR: Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs, Chargers
Big, Possession WR
Drake London – 6037, 219lbs – USC
An early prediction by many before the 2021 season as one of the best players in College Football, the big WR is not just a player to put on the outside. He can win from the slot as a “Power Slot” which is becoming increasingly popular. Extremely physical at the catch-point, and towers above DBs when going up to bring in the ball, using his body as a weapon and making DBs go round to make plays on the ball. There are some questions regarding the separation he creates via actual route-running, but his tempo of routes often wins for him anyway (similarly to Ja’Marr Chase at the catch). Must bear in mind he is coming off a serious ankle injury.
Alec Pierce – 6026, 211lbs – Cincinnati
Pierce had a great connection with fellow 2022 NFL Draft Prospect Desmond Ridder and Pierce had 856 Receiving Yards, 8TDs and only 3 Dropped Passes in 2021. Pierce is an explosive receiver, not off the snap, he won’t turn many DBs “inside-out” and beat them for route-running, but he will force them into a position whereby he can buy the QB just enough time to deliver the ball and then he uses his big frame to box out the defender. Serious vertical threat, going up to high-point balls, using his 40.5” Vertical Jump to haul in the ball.
Erik Ezukanma – 6017, 206lbs – Texas Tech
Ezukanma works best at the catch-point to win physically, he shows off impressive balance and stability while running routes and doesn’t ever let DBs dominate the route. He fights well with his hands throughout the route to combat press CBs and while route-running can be refined, he wins well at the top of the route with a nice release package to create instant separation.
Teams that need a Big, Possession WR: Bears, Texans, Lions, Packers
Kenneth Walker III – 5092, 211lbs – Michigan State
Walker is naturally gifted with a combination of speed and the power which groups him in this category, making him incredibly hard to bring down in games. The ability to slightly change direction without losing a lot of momentum is what makes Walker make so many defenders miss, but equally he has run through plenty of tacklers this year on his way to an 18 Rushing TD season. The most impressive stat is that 1,202 of his 1,669 Rushing Yards in 2021 were Yards after contact, showing his balance and power through tackles and continuing downfield.
Rachaad White – 6004, 214lbs – Arizona State
White is a very patient runner, doesn’t get too close to his OL before holes open, but he can handle a heavy workload between the tackles due to his strong, lower build. He has great balance through contact, managing to stay on his feet during tackles and climb to the next level with ease. More than 600 yards after contact and a willing pass protector – the perfect combo for a power back, especially one who can be used as a 3rd Down RB initially.
Hassan Haskins – 6020, 228lbs – Michigan
Haskins averaged 4.91 YPC in 2021 behind arguably the best OL in the country. Haskins is a powerful downhill runner, occasionally reaching the LOS too quick and making life difficult for himself as he has to react quickly to where the lanes are opening, and he is very much a 1-cut RB but his functional play strength when he does meet defenders is very impressive, often ploughing through them and getting up to the third-level defenders. He lacks long speed, but in short yardage situations and when presented with enough of a gap, Haskins gains yards and 1st Downs with ease. He will most likely play a role on Special Teams and in a Goal line Package initially after being drafted.
Teams that need a Power Back: Bengals, Panthers, Jaguars, Eagles
All data courtesy of PFF