2022 NFL Draft Sleepers: David Anenih, Luiji Vilain lead the under-the-radar edge rushers

Even in a talented class of EDGE prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, you can still find sleepers that will provide value at the next level.

While the primary focus has been on the top of the edge class in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are a number of sleepers to be found littered throughout the three days of the annual selection event. If your team misses out on one of the top-tier prospects, fear not. We have some names to console yourself with who aren’t getting the respect they deserve in this class.

2022 NFL Draft Sleepers at EDGE

While this edge class may not possess a standout prospect, there’s a deeply talented group of pass rushers duking it out at the top. They’re commanding the eyes and attention of everyone from NFL teams to national media and even the casual fan. Scrape below the surface of the established names like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jermaine Johnson II, Travon Walker, and Aidan Hutchinson, and you’ll find an undercurrent of NFL Draft sleepers.

Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina

While Isaiah Likely commands attention in the tight end class, Coastal Carolina teammate Jeffrey Gunter heads up our NFL Draft sleepers at the EDGE position. Boasting excellent athleticism, dominating strength, and disruptive length, Gunter possesses some traits that will leave NFL defensive coordinators drooling and offensive coordinators quaking in their boots. With experience at defensive end, outside linebacker, and on special teams, Gunter could be a steal in the 2022 NFL Draft.

David Anenih, Houston

Houston edge David Anenih is the definition of an NFL Draft sleeper. Per Mock Draft Database, the Cougars prospect has an average draft position of 269th — in other words, undrafted. According to the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board, Anenih is the 167th overall prospect. With length, strength, bend capacity, and explosion, he has the potential to be disruptive at the NFL level despite his relatively diminutive size. Coming off the most productive season of his career, Anenih should have multiple suitors this weekend.

Cameron Thomas, San Diego State

I honestly believe that if Cameron Thomas had been healthy at the Senior Bowl and been able to test at the NFL Combine, we wouldn’t be describing him amongst the sleepers in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Dubbed the Aidan Hutchinson of the Mountain West and drawing comparisons to Wisconsin-era J.J. Watt, Thomas has the straight-line power, fast handwork, and explosion to be an impact maker on Sundays. While the San Diego State standout is a top-100 player on the PFN Big Board, he’s my 35th overall prospect in the class.

Alex Wright, UAB

Although he’s had relatively meager college production, UAB’s Alex Wright possesses an NFL build and skill set. He’s strong against the run, with his size and strength forming a formidable anchor. Yet, he’s deceptively athletic for a bigger pass rusher. Wright can fly around the edge and comes fully loaded with a bag of pass-rush tools. He’s demonstrated burst and explosion, and when he gets to the quarterback, he rarely misses. Despite this, he doesn’t appear to have the same buzz as his former teammate Jordan Smith did last year.

Luiji Vilain, Wake Forest

Having spent his college career at Michigan before 2021, Luiji Vilain had a productive season as a one-year starter for Wake Forest. The Canadian showcased an alluring skill set by tallying 9 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in 2021. Strong and long, his testing performance with an 8.83 Relative Athletic Score is a testament to his on-tape athleticism. Vilain appeared to develop the technical aspect of his game as the season progressed. As a result, he offers tantalizing potential as a sleeper in this NFL Draft class.

Honorable mentions

  • Esezi Otomewo, Minnesota
  • De’Shaan Dixon, Norfolk State
  • Josh Paschal, Kentucky
  • Arron Mosby, Fresno State

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter: @ojhodgkinson.

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