Saturday, December 2

Four players I’m unsure about for the NFL Draft – The Daily Free Press


Yvonne Tang / DFP Staff

We are officially less than 24 hours away from the 2022 NFL Draft, and while I gave my love list last week, there are also a few players I am a bit more skeptical about than the consensus. Let’s hop in. 

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge

Oregon

Look, I love Thibodeaux as a player. He consistently wins one-on-one matchups in the pass rush thanks to incredible explosiveness and strength. He even looked unguardable at points last season in Eugene and has the ability to completely take over games. So what’s with the hate, Ethan? 

Well firstly, Thibodeaux does not seem to have the consistent competitiveness essential at the professional level. While he has dispelled these rumors, many people around the league are concerned about Thibodeaux’s work ethic. At times last season, he looked disinterested and just uninvolved in the play. This is a major concern for me, as there is a huge jump in competition from the middling Pac-12 conference to the NFL. Thibodeaux reminds me a lot of former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who, after having a blazing start to his career, has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Much like Clowney, though, Thibodeaux’s talent will keep him within the draft’s top-10. 

Drake London, Wide Receiver 

USC

I touched on this last week with Garrett Wilson, but there are too many people saying “all the receivers at the top of the class are in the same tier.” Not only is Wilson the clear No. 1 in the class, but I think Drake London is also the distant fourth or fifth guy compared to the rest of the tier. 

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This is due to some fans and analysts, who look at London’s 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame and immediately compare him to perennial pro-bowler Mike Evans. Their frames are certainly comparable, but London relies on his frame to get open whereas Evans uses it to diversify himself as a receiver. London consistently struggles to get open at the top of routes, and while he is good at winning jump balls against smaller corners, that type of play will be hard to replicate at the NFL level where defenses can scheme double-coverage or larger defensive backs into coverage. London resembles Marques Colston, who had quite a few quality seasons in his NFL career but was never the game-breaking talent that Mike Evans is today.

Derek Stingley Jr., Cornerback 

LSU

Hindsight is obviously 20/20, but Stingley would have been a locked-in top-10 pick if he committed to the draft after his freshman season. Given the team, he could have even made the case for top-five. After leading the SEC with six interceptions and 15 pass breakups as a freshman in 2019, Stingley struggled to stay on the field in 2020 and 2021. Even when he was on the field, he looked like a shell of himself. While I definitely buy the idea that Stingley has top-end upside, I doubt his ability to consistently stay on the field.

Stingley’s ceiling is reminiscent of another young corner in A.J. Terrell, who broke out last year in his second season in Atlanta. His injury woes, mixed with his top-end talent, remind me of Jason Verrett, who has shown the ability to be a top corner for both the Chargers and 49ers, but has yet to deliver a healthy season for either team. This all makes Stingley a player I would rather take in the latter half of the first round instead of risking one of my top-10 picks. 

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Isaiah Spiller, Running Back

Texas A&M

The once-positive consensus on Spiller has already dropped severely over the last two months due to a disappointing NFL Combine, but his name is still getting thrown around as a second-round pick. What made Spiller so appealing is that he not only had two — almost three — 1,000-yard rushing seasons at Texas A&M, but he also displayed the ability to catch passes with effectiveness, giving him the skill set for a three-down role. 

While many scouts already had their doubts, Spiller’s 4.69 40-yard time drives home the point that he simply will not be able to generate the same separation that he was able to in college at the line of scrimmage. Spiller’s size is the clear difference between him and other third-down running backs, so it would not surprise me if he gets taken on day two by a team who believes in his upside. My player comparison for him is Mike Davis, who has had a solid career, but has never been the featured back and is primarily used in the passing game or in a substitution role for starters during long drives. 

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