NFL rosters are beginning to solidify with the NFL’s passing of Cut Down Day. While many careers suffered setbacks, many rookies are getting their first shot at making a roster. This marks the beginning of a new draft cycle, where we turn back to the college game to look for the next breakout stars to be drafted in April. But, before we purge our brains of this past draft, let’s revisit where each prospect landed and their prospects of making an impact this coming season. So turn on your Sarah McLachlan, lean back in your wolverine costume, and let’s revisit the draft class that was.
|3||88||Jalen Tolbert||WR||South Alabama||Active|
|5||155||Matt Waletzko||OL||North Dakota||Active|
|5||167||DaRon Bland||CB||Fresno St.||Active|
|6||193||Devin Harper||LB||Oklahoma St.||Active|
UDFA: S Markquese Bell, TE Peyton Hendershot, WR Dennis Houston, S Juanyeh Thomas
After a disappointing free agency period, the Cowboys entered the 2022 Draft looking for immediate plug-and-players. OL Tyler Smith was expected to start at LG and eventually move out to OT, but that timeline is accelerated now with Tyron Smith’s injury. He is a developmental player who will need to learn to avoid penalties after being the most penalized OL in college football a season ago. A match made in heaven for the most penalized team in the NFL. Similarly, EDGE Sam Williams and WR Jalen Tolbert will have to contribute sooner than expected due to a lack of free agent activity and injury, respectively. Both have burst but are stiff in the hips. Cowboys fans were irate after the team drafted Williams earlier than many had him evaluated, but Tolbert was drafted a round later than projected, evening out the sentiment.
LB Damone Clark and OL Matt Waletzko will likely start the season on IR. Clark is recovering from spinal fusion surgery. I am no medical expert (unless you count having watched all 18 seasons of Grey’s), but I’d imagine it’s not an enjoyable recovery. Waletzko was already recovering from an injury from college when he suffered a setback during camp. This gives him time to develop while on the shelf. iDL John Ridgeway also spent most of the preseason hurt but is expected to be back sooner than an IR stint would allow. The Joneses love Arkansas prospects, and they finally drafted one from their alma mater this year.
TEs Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot were both bright spots in the preseason. The B1G is known for producing TEs with similar profiles, and these two fit the same mold. Hendershot needs to work on his blocking, but his receiving skills are why he was selected over Sean McKeon, yet another B1G TE. Ferguson and Hendershot should have opportunities to contribute right away. CB DaRon Bland was relatively unknown during the process but showed out in the preseason. He’s a prototypical Dan Quinn DB with long arms and good closing speed. Speaking of the future Dallas HC, Quinn also couldn’t pass up two undrafted 6’3″+ safeties in Ss Juanyeh Thomas and Markquese Bell. LB Devin Harper was the lesser of the two LB prospects from Oklahoma but showed enough on special teams to make the roster, for now.
WR Dennis Houston is another of the many bandaids the Cowboys are putting on the WR position until Michael Gallup returns.
New York Giants
|3||67||Joshua Ezeudu||OL||North Carolina||Active|
|4||112||Daniel Bellinger||TE||San Diego St.||Active|
|5||147||D.J. Davidson||iDL||Arizona St.||Active|
|5||173||Marcus McKethan||OL||North Carolina||PUP/NFI/IR|
UDFA: EDGE Tomon Fox
The Giants have been described as “open for business” considering the number of vacancies they need to fill on the roster. EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux’s recent injury has brought up the question of cut blocks. He’s listed as “day-to-day”, but MCL sprains often take a bit of time to heal (again, not an expert but I am watching Chicago Med). He joins an exciting young rush group of varying skill sets. Thibodeaux will be the brawn and provide a counterpunch to Azeez Ojulari’s bend and twitch. OL Evan Neal should come in and start at RT right away. His draft evaluation a year ago was murky with all of his experience coming from protecting a lefty QB’s blind side. Luckily, he slots right in at that position with OT Andrew Thomas manning the left.
WR Wan’Dale Robinson was drafted a round or two earlier than my evaluation. The diminutive but shifty WR should see some action right away with the WR room in shambles from injury and lost potential. Much of his college production was prescribed touches and he’ll get more of the same on Sundays. If he can just find a runway, get ready for takeoff. The Giants also drafted both UNC iOL, Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan. Neither will start, but with some development, they could compete in a year or two. The two guards helped three UNC RBs get drafted, and Brian Daboll hopes that they can help keep Saquon Barkley off the IR. TE Daniel Bellinger, on the other hand, could start right away with the departure of Evan Engram. Like his predecessor, he doesn’t provide much in the way of blocking but has soft hands and a big frame.
The Giants got a steal in S Dane Belton in the fourth round. One of the better coverage safeties in the draft, Belton helps bolster a secondary that is looking for youth and speed. They also add a lanky, high-effort DB from LSU, CB Cordale Flott. While he will be a decent depth piece, his uses are limited as he doesn’t add much in the speed department. The defense also adds two undersized, scrappy LBs in Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers. Not much is expected from either, with McFadden providing depth and Beavers injured. iDL DJ Davidson should compete with newcomer Justin Ellis to fill the NT position that the Giants have been looking for for years.
UDFA: S Reed Blankenship, CB Josh Jobe, OL Josh Sills
One of the biggest questions in the evaluation of LB Nakobe Dean was whether he could maintain his production without a mountain of a DT to eat up blocks in front of him. GM Howie Roseman heard this concern and addressed it by also drafting Dean’s iDL, Jordan Davis. Davis had one of the more impressive showings at the Combine, running faster than some skill position players at 6’6″ and 341 lbs. He’ll need to develop his pass rush, but for now, the team will be content with him taking up two blockers on any given play. Dean is like Christina Yang’s scalpel, precise and easily cutting through the surface to get to the play underneath. However, he lasted until the third round on draft day due to medical concerns and has since been outplayed by Kyzir White and TJ Edwards this preseason. Dean will need a year or two to bulk up considering his small stature.
LB Kyron Johnson rounds out the defensive side of the draft. A converted EDGE, Johnson will need plenty of time at the bottom of the depth chart to learn the position. CB Josh Jobe out of Alabama was highly touted at one time, but injuries and poor showings in the postseason dropped his stock considerably. Jack of all trades, master of none, Jobe is on the fringe of a roster in serious need of CB help. S Reed Blankenship has some semblance of athletic traits that might eventually be worked out into coverage skills. But for the near and foreseeable future, he is a special teams contributor.
On Offense, the Eagles add Nebraska iOL Cam Jurgens. Many considered him a better value than the first-round iOL Tyler Linderbaum. With good movement and feet along with superior play leverage, Jurgens offered a similar skillset and deficiencies to Linderbaum almost a round later. TE Grant Calcaterra joins a paper-thin TE room with only one proven weapon in Dallas Goedert.
|1||16||Jahan Dotson||WR||Penn St.||Active|
|5||144||Sam Howell||QB||North Carolina||Active|
|7||240||Christian Holmes||CB||Oklahoma St.||Active|
UDFA: TE Curtis Hodges, TE Armani Rogers
The surprise of the first round in 2022 was Washington’s selection of WR Jahan Dotson at pick 16. The tiny wideout from Penn State has the speed to burn but was by no means considered a Day 1 pick by the vast majority of evaluators. However, he is a good addition to a revamped offense featuring the newly-acquired Carson Wentz and recently-paid Terry McLaurin. With quarterbacks dropping in the draft like stones in the ocean, Washington was able to scoop up QB Sam Howell from UNC in the fifth round. Despite three productive years in Chapel Hill, Howell’s evaluation suffered from an injury, an average final year of production, and comparisons to Baker Mayfield. Some claim the Commanders’ offense would have a much higher ceiling with Howell at the helm.
RB Brian Robinson making the roster may come as a surprise to some. Recently the victim of a shooting, he may start the season on NFI. Robinson was getting some hype after taking first-team snaps over Antonio Gibson during the preseason. The team will use an RB committee that will be bolstered when Robinson returns. Robinson gained favor from the staff by showing a knack for getting exactly the yardage needed to move the sticks. OL Chris Paul adds depth. Although he played OT in college (across from Cowboys draft pick Tyler Smith) he likely moves inside.
Washington added three(!) TEs this offseason. All will sit behind Logan Thomas and John Bates, but there are some interesting storylines. TE Cole Turner comes from the explosive Nevada offense that featured Carson “Peg-leg” Strong and Romeo Doubs. Turner could contribute right away as a red zone threat to make up for the lack of verticality in the WR corps. QB-turned TE Armani Rogers may be the most intriguing storyline of this roster. He was the signal-caller for UNLV and Ohio in college, though he has more than enough athleticism to play TE. Rogers holds the record for the longest run in NCAA history at 99 yards. How he adjusts to the physicality of playing TE will be worth monitoring.
Name a better duo than Washington and drafting Alabama defensive linemen. This year’s iteration comes in the form of 6-4 310 lb iDL Phidarian Mathis. Not likely to show up on the highlight reel, he was one of the better two-gapping linemen in the draft. The hope is that he contributes on the second line to help keep the disappointing LB corps clean. S Percy Butler may one day take over for Bobby McCain as the single-high safety. But for now, he will be leaned on as the ST gunner. With sub-4.4 speed, decent length (31 ⅝ inch arms), and hard-striking ability, he also has the versatility to fill other roles in the meantime as well.