By Aaron Ussery
Round 2, Pick 55 - Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
McBride appeared to be the consensus TE1 in this class, and Arizona is a landing spot where he'll get a good shot at earning a starting job. Zach Ertz is likely around for another year, but not much more than that. McBride is a well rounded Y-TE type with upside as a receiver and a blocker, projecting as a solid multi-contract starter in the mould of a Kyle Rudolph or Delanie Walker.
Round 3, Pick 87 - Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Thomas has every chance to earn one of the team's starting EDGE jobs. He won't be enough to make up for the loss of Chandler Jones, but he is a high floor player who can easily become a quality number two rusher. The problem, of course, is that the team still doesn't have a number one rusher.
Round 3, Pick 100 - Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Sanders adds to the spaghetti that Steve Keim is tossing at the wall in order to try and replace Chandler Jones' production. He's a different sort of player than Thomas, projecting more as an exclusive stand-up five tech type. He'll challenge Devon Kennard and Dennis Gardeck for reps in that role, while Thomas contends with Markus Golden and Victor Dimukeje for reps at the true base end role.
Round 6, Pick 201 - Keontay Ingram, RB, USC
Nearly 100 picks later we see Arizona add to the backfield. Chase Edmonds left town, leaving Eno Benjamin as the only real backup to James Conner. With Conner's age and injury history, another body was needed. Ingram brings more size and contact balance than Benjamin, which could help him take a larger chunk of snaps in the rotation.
Round 6, Pick 215 - Lecitus Smith, IOL, Virginia Tech
Smith was good value in the sixth round, in my opinion. He fits what Kingsbury likes to do in the running game, offering tremendous value as a pulling guard. He's likely a year one backup, but I wouldn't be surprised if he takes a starting job from either Justin Pugh or Will Hernandez come 2023.
Round 7, Pick 244 - Christian Matthew, CB, Valdosta State
A pick that left me scratching me head, as Matthew wasn't someone I was familiar with prior to the draft. He's a bigger corner, standing 6'2" and weighing in at 195 lbs, which in theory could help him compete for a backup spot at the outside CB position behind Marco Wilson and Jeff Gladney.
Round 7, Pick 256 - Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State
Steve Keim can't seem to help himself when it comes to hybrid linebacker types. Luketa looks most comfortable when rushing off the EDGE, but he has ability to play some off ball. He doesn't have the range to leave him there full time, but he'll likely flash enough ability in camp to stick on the roster as a backup rush linebacker behind Zaven Collins.
Round 7, Pick 257 - Marquis Hayes, IOL, Oklahoma
The second of two late round guard selections, Hayes was seen by some as a Day 2 caliber player. He's antithetical to Smith, who is a more technically based blocker but a bit lacking in strength. Hayes, on the other hand, is incredibly strong. He plays with a wild streak, which leads to more penalties than you'd like to see, but his physicality and vision as a puller makes him a good fit. Like Smith, I could see him eventually taking over as a starting guard come 2023 (when both Pugh and Hernandez are set to be free agents).
Los Angeles Rams
Round 3, Pick 104 - Logan Bruss, IOL, Wisconsin
The latest in a long line of NFL caliber Wisconsin O-Linemen, Bruss has tackle experience but likely will play guard for the Rams. Austin Corbett left town in the offseason, and Bobby Evans hasn't shown much so far in his career. There's a good chance Bruss is one of the team's starting five some September.
Round 4, Pick 142 - Decobie Durant, CB, South Carolina State
Durant is undersized, but with high-level ball skills that make him a worthy gamble in the fourth round. He projects best in the slot, where the team also managed to bring back Troy Hill for at least the 2022 season. There's an easy to envision scenario where Durant takes over long term as LA's nickel corner.
Round 5, Pick 164 - Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
Williams' stock fell heavily during the draft process following some very disappointing athletic testing. He seems to play much faster than he tests, however, and comes with some of the best third down skills of any RB in the draft. Darrell Henderson is in the final year of his rookie deal, leaving Williams a great chance to prove himself as a long-term RB2 to Cam Akers.
Round 6, Pick 211 - Quentin Lake, S, UCLA
Lake adds to the mix at safety, where both Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp are coming up on the final year of their contracts. The Rams will likely opt to try and keep one of the two, but certainly not both. Lake is a smart, instinctual player who helps keep the cupboard stocked at a position where the team has had a strong history of draft success as of late.
Round 6, Pick 212 - Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
Like Kyren Williams, Kendrick's draft stock absolutely tanked following some bad testing numbers. However, while his recovery speed never looked elite, you'd have to think a 4.78 40 time is a bit misleading. Kendrick has great ball skills as a former 5-star wide receiver, and lead the Georgia defense in interceptions last year. I see him as a boom-or-bust prospect, where he will either be starting for this team in two years or will be off the roster entirely.
Round 7, Pick 235 - Daniel Hardy, LB, Montana State
Hardy fits the team's mould as a pass rushing linebacker. The fourth EDGE spot behind Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, and Justin Hollins is up for grabs. Hardy's best trait is his sheer length, possessing an 81" wingspan. The team may still sign another veteran pass rusher before the season begins, but as of now Hardy looks like he's got a good chance to stick.
Round 7, Pick 253 - Russ Yeast, S, Kansas State
Listed as a safety but functionally more of a hybrid nickel defender, Yeast's ball production exploded his final year of college. There's a lot to like about his anticipatory skills, and his bloodline as the son of former NFL receiver and college head coach Craig Yeast. Still, the DB room for the Rams is awful crowded, so Yeast will likely need to stand out on special teams in order to stay off the practice squad in year one.
Round 7, Pick 261 - AJ Arcuri, OT, Michigan State
Andrew Whitworth's retirement has left the offensive tackle position a little dicey. Joe Noteboom is penciled in as his replacement, while Rob Havenstein is back once again to man the right tackle job. But behind them? Yeesh. As of now, Arcuri only needs to out-compete Alaric Jackson, Adrian Ealy, and Max Pircher for one of the backup tackle jobs. In other words, it's open competition.
San Francisco 49ers
Round 2, Pick 61 - Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Jackson is a textbook LEO/standup type for DeMeco Ryans' defense. He possessed some of the best bend and ankle flexion of this year's pass rushing class, and couples it with a lethal first step. His main competition for reps figures to be Samson Ebukam and Dee Ford, who both have lots of NFL experience but at this point lack the same type of athletic upside. I see Jackson as an early contributor along this defensive line, despite how crowded it is.
Round 3, Pick 93 - Ty Davis-Price, RB, LSU
Davis-Price is a different sort of player than who you normally think of in Shanahan's backfield. He's not a slasher, instead projecting more as a physical north/south runner who can grind a defense down. Along with Trey Sermon last year, Davis-Price reflects an evolving philosophy for Shanahan as he works to integrate QB Trey Lance into the offense. David-Price certainly figures to contribute, but trying to guess his ratio of carries alongside Eli Mitchell, Sermon, and Jeff Wilson is a fool's errand.
Round 3, Pick 105 - Danny Gray, WR, SMU
Gray gives the offense something it's lacked ever since losing Emmanuel Sanders back in 2020 -- a true downfield threat. Which isn't to say Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk can't create big plays (lord knows they certainly have), but neither possesses Gray's type of speed. He's somebody who can truly make teams pay over the top if they sell out to try and stop this team's notorious rushing offense.
Round 4, Pick 134 - Spencer Burford, OT, UTSA
Burford has the type of tackle-guard flexibility that this suddenly very thin O-Line was in need of. He's very fleet of foot, which makes it easy to project him into this scheme, but will likely need to spend a year honing his play strength before he's ready to compete for starting reps. There's a world where he takes over from Mike McGlinchey as the starting RT in 2023.
Round 5, Pick 172 - Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo
Womack is a consummate nickel corner, at 5'9" and 190 lbs. He's got the speed and quickness to match the Justin Jeffersons and Hunter Renfrows of the world, and comes with measurable ball production (18 pass deflections in 2021). His size limits him, but he's got the tools needed to carve out a career as a decent slot corner.
Round 6, Pick 187 - Nicholas Zakelj, OT, Fordham
Zakelj will likely wind up at guard for San Francisco, where his aggressive demeanor will fit well. He doesn't have much experience at guard, having started at tackle all four years in college, so he will need some time to gel before he's ready. He's a depth piece, and may even end up on the practice squad in year one.
Round 6, Pick 220 - Kalia Davis, IDL, UCF
Davis is a gap shooter, projecting as a plus-level interior pass rusher in the most ideal scenario. It's likely he ends up competing with Maurice Hurst and Kevin Givens for a similar role. Developing some more consistency will be key for him, but the skillset is there.
Round 6, Pick 221 - Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State
Castro-Fields is another nickel corner type, similar to Womack but in possession of A) more experience and B) a much more impressive wingspan. That length may give him some opportunities to line up on the boundaries for San Francisco, improving his chances at making the roster.
Round 7, Pick 262 - Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
The final pick of the 2022 draft, Purdy has a chance to stick on the roster in terms of what happens with Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan prefers keeping 3 QBs on the roster, and it's not hard to see Purdy stick behind Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld should Jimmy G leave town. It will depend on what he shows in camp, because if he doesn't impress the team may still decide to sign another veteran backup and place Purdy on the practice squad.
Round 1, Pick 9 - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
This isn't hard to figure out. With Duane Brown no longer in the picture, there was a wide open spot at the left tackle position. Cross has all the makings of a franchise OT, with silky smooth pass sets and some underrated strength and anchor ability when dealing with power rushers. His awareness and processing is high level, and he should plug right in as the team's starting left tackle for the next four years.
Round 2, Pick 40 - Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
Mafe is a textbook stand up EDGE rusher, with some incredible spring in his step and vicious, active hands. He's still developing his run defense (and at 24 years old you have to wonder how much better he's going to get there), but if he hits his ceiling as a pass rusher than this is well worth the pick. With the team's shifting defensive philosophy, Mafe can slide in as a contributing rotational outside linebacker right away -- with a chance to develop into an eventual starter opposite of Darrel Taylor.
Round 2, Pick 41 - Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
Another easy one to figure out, as Walker was one of the draft's top running backs. Chris Carson is dealing with a potentially career-ending neck injury, and despite an impressive 2021 season the team is still rightfully hesitant about putting all their eggs in the Rashaad Penny basket. Walker has rocket boosters attached to his shoes, possessing elite speed and explosiveness to go along with veteran level vision and patience. I'd place money on him being the lead back come Week 1.
Round 3, Pick 72 - Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Take what was said about Cross at the left tackle position, and apply it to Lucas at right tackle. Again, there was a wide open spot there -- with only former UDFA Jake Curhan looking like real competition. Curhan has had some decent snaps thus far, but Lucas has all the physical tools you want from a starting tackle. I'd be surprised if he doesn't win the job in year one.
Round 4, Pick 109 - Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
Bryant won the Jim Thorpe award in 2021 as college football's top defensive back. Teams tended to throw his way when facing the Bearcats, rather than test Sauce Gardner on the other side of the field. Bryant, however, often made teams pay for doing so. He demonstrated elite ball production, aggressive run defense, and plus-level instincts and reactiveness. His length and agility aren't quite what you want, but he's a good player and could easily start for Seattle as a rookie.
Round 5, Pick 153 - Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
The second of two straight corner selections, Woolen is the antithesis of Bryant in many ways. He possesses a frankly unheard of combination of size, length, speed, and quickness -- but he's still learning a lot about playing the position. He'll be a Pete Carrol pet project, but if he can develop his game then the Seahawks may have stumbled upon a very special player come 2023.
Round 5, Pick 158 - Tyreke Smith, EDGE, Ohio State
Smith is a very bendy, flexible EDGE with a built out frame and superior run defense than that of Mafe. He doesn't have the same type of athletic ceiling, but he's a more developed player right now. He should compete for snaps as a rookie behind names like Mafe, Darrell Taylor, and Uchenna Nwosu.
Round 7, Pick 229 - Bo Melton, WR, Rutgers
A pick many thought of as a steal, Melton was a highly productive receiver in an anemic Rutgers offense. He has exceptional downfield speed and ball-tracking ability, but lacks developed play strength. Still, there is a wide open competition for WR3 reps in this offense behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Melton is talented enough to push Dee Eskridge and Freddie Swain for that job, and could easily win it despite his seventh round pedigree.
Round 7, Pick 233 - Dareke Young, WR, Lenoir-Rhyne
Young is a project, but a fun one. He's a height/weight/speed guy, with a 6'2" 220 lbs frame and 4.45 speed. It'll be an adjustment for him, coming form Lenoir-Rhyne, but it's not hard to see him sticking around as a special teamer early on. His size, speed, and physicality reminds me a lot of Ricardo Lockette - who excelled for the 'Hawks in the early 2010s as both a gunner and a WR4 type.