With the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, it’s the rookie draft season. As has been discussed, it’s not an incredible draft class. But if you’re late in a rookie draft—or three—trying to make lemonade with the lemons you’ve been dealt, here are a couple of later-round options I find interesting.
Matt Corral, Carolina Panthers
About: Some had Corral high heading into the draft, but he slid to the end of the Third Round, where the Carolina Panthers traded back in to snag him with the 30th pick in the round. Corral had a strong career at Ole Miss, throwing for better than 67 percent, 3,300 yards, and 20 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Quarterback isn’t a great value in drafts in general, even in Superflex, but Corral often slips behind Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, and Malik Willis in drafts. The interest for me comes from the situation. While it wasn’t a lot of draft capital, the Panthers traded back in to get Corral. Currently, on the roster, the Panthers have only Sam Darnold—in the last year of his rookie deal—and P.J. Walker. Neither seems to be locked for the Panthers or long-term options. Corral may not be either, but the Panthers want to make something happen on offense, and Matt Rhule seems to be on the hot seat. If I can get Corral late in the Second or the early Third Round of my rookie draft, I’m jumping on the possibility.
Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
About: This is more of the kind of pick you make if you don’t need anyone to play in 2022, even better if you have a Taxi Squad. Howell was once thought to be a top option at the position but slid to the Fifth Round, taken by the Commanders. On paper, it’s not an incredible fit. The Commanders have Carson Wentz, who they acquired via trade, and Taylor Heinicke, who started several games the last two years. With Fifth Round draft capital, Howell will not likely challenge either of those two in 2022. Howell threw for 10,283 yards and 23 touchdowns in three years for North Carolina. His numbers dipped in 2021, which could account for the slide, but there’s still a chance he gets a hard look. The Commanders are another franchise that doesn’t seem set at QB yet. To me, that’s someone worth snagging in the late Third or Fourth Round of a rookie draft to stash.
Tyrion Davis-Price, San Francisco 49ers
About: Davis-Price was a surprise selection in the Third Round of the NFL Draft. Even more surprising was the team that took him—the 49ers. The 49ers have Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson, Jr., and JaMychal Hasty already on the roster, and many weren’t high on Davis-Price heading into the draft. He did end up with 1,003 yards on 211 carries in 2021 with LSU. We learned with Mitchell and Sermon that draft capital means less for the 49ers than most other teams, but we’ve also learned through experience that having a back on a Kyle Shanahan team isn’t bad. If Davis-Price is going in the Second Round, I’ll pass. If he’s there late in the Third Round or the Fourth Round, I’m taking a flier.
Keaontay Ingram, Arizona Cardinals
About: Ingram is a Sixth-Round draft pick going to a team with an uncertain depth chart in the NFC West. We’ve heard this story before, but it’s the Cardinals this time. Arizona signed James Conner to a new three-year deal, and he’s undoubtedly the starter. But beyond him is an uncertain group of backs, including late-round pick Eno Benjamin and journeymen Jonathan Ward and Jaylen Samuels. Ingram started at Texas before coming to USC for his final year, rushing for 911 yards and five touchdowns on 156 carries. I’ve done nearly a dozen rookie drafts, seeing him go at the end of the draft, if at all. In that range, I’ll take the risk the Cardinals add a veteran back before Training Camp.
Justyn Ross, Kansas City Chiefs
About: Wide receiver is a challenging position to find good value as it’s about the only position that feels solid heading into drafts. Ross was a tough-luck case on Draft Weekend as he didn’t hear his name called. In his first two years at Clemson, he caught 112 passes for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns. Then injuries and inefficiency took a toll. Still, it was a mild surprise to see Ross go undrafted. As an undrafted free agent, he landed with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s an ideal landing spot for Ross to get a chance. It is only a chance, so where I’ve seen Ross go in the early Third Round, I’m not buying. But if I can get him at the end of the draft, it’s worth taking a swing.
Jeremy Ruckert, New York Jets
About: It isn’t a strong draft for TEs, so only a couple may go in your rookie drafts. Ruckert was a late Third Round selection, landing with the New York Jets. He has talent, but it wasn’t an incredible landing spot. This off-season, the Jets invested heavily in TE, signing veterans Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah to multi-year deals. Zach Wilson also has a question of passing volume, especially with four decent receivers and two decent pass-catching running backs. TEs often take a couple of seasons to come around, too. If Ruckert is there at the end of drafts or on the wire after, he’s someone I’d look at hard for my Taxi Squad.
Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants
About: This is another player that comes to mind because of opportunity. In this case, a dearth of locked-in options at his position. The Giants let Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph walk. A veteran could always be added, but as of now, the Giants’ position group is led by Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins. Bellinger wasn’t a high pick, but he’s got a shot, especially in a Brian Daboll system that helped get the most out of Dawson Knox. There are worse Taxi Squad options.
Matthew Fox is a member of the FSWA. He’s a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.