You’ve heard about guys like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Derek Stingley Jr., Kyle Hamilton, Evan Neal, and Aidan Hutchinson every week this season. You’ve seen quarterbacks like Malik Willis and Matt Corral in every first-round mock draft. So let’s get away from the mainstream and discuss the guys who don’t have as much buzz. Let’s talk about some of the biggest sleepers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
2022 NFL Draft Sleepers: Week 7
Every week going forward at Pro Football Network, we’ll hit you with a new squad of 11 sleepers. This week, since it’s the first edition, we’ll name-drop some players who have a bit more buzz than you’d expect for a sleeper. These players may no longer be true sleepers in the 2022 NFL Draft class, but they still deserve more hype.
Ohio State OT Nicholas Petit-Frere
Nicholas Petit-Frere has been on the radar for a while, but he’s at his peak right now. A former five-star recruit who flourished down the stretch in 2020, Petit-Frere has developed into a legitimately dominant left tackle in 2021. He consistently paves open lanes in the running game, and his combination of athleticism and length pops as a pass blocker.
Petit-Frere’s buzz is growing, but you don’t always see him in the first-round conversation. That should change soon. He’s already in my top 20 prospects as the OT2 behind Alabama’s Evan Neal. He’s an incredibly smooth, light-footed athlete at 6’5″, 315 pounds, and he hits the second level with great burst. When he latches onto players, he shows off menacing leg drive and power. He can be an early first-round pick at this rate.
Michigan EDGE David Ojabo
David Ojabo is another player who’s quickly shedding his sleeper status. Coming into the year, Ojabo was a virtual unknown. But he’s quickly morphed into an imposing, productive pass-rushing threat opposite Hutchinson. Over the past three games, Ojabo has 11 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles.
At 6’5″, 250 pounds, Ojabo has impressive size and length, and he’s also an elite athlete. He ran a 10.93 100-meter dash in high school. For reference, Devin Hester ran a 10.62 in college. Ojabo’s explosiveness is vital to his game, but so too is his bend and torso flexibility. He can shrink under blockers, then explode toward the quarterback. Furthermore, his length provides an excellent conduit for power generation.
Ojabo isn’t at Hutchinson’s level yet, but he clearly has a growing arsenal of hand moves. And his physical traits are in the highest echelon. He has early-round potential, and he’s shoving his way to the front in a strong EDGE class.
Nebraska WR Samori Toure
Nebraska’s passing offense hasn’t been completely inept under Adrian Martinez, and Montana transfer Samori Toure is perhaps the biggest reason why. Toure has been electric so far this season, with 26 receptions for 520 yards and 3 touchdowns in five games played. Toure dominated at Montana with his combination of 6’3″ size and blazing speed. He’s a great deep threat with his ability to track the ball downfield, but he also brings nice RAC ability in the short ranges. He’ll be an older rookie, but he has talent.
Kentucky WR Wan’Dale Robinson
Ironically, our next 2022 NFL Draft sleeper is a wide receiver who transferred away from Nebraska. Wan’Dale Robinson has been the lifeblood of Kentucky’s passing offense so far. He’s a much smaller receiver than Toure at just 5’11”, 185 pounds, but he’s been an electric, versatile playmaker in 2021. He has great speed and explosiveness in the open field, but he’s also agile, well-balanced, and a home-run threat at any level. If you’re looking for the next Kadarius Toney, Robinson can be that guy.
Pittsburgh TE Lucas Krull
Whenever a quarterback breaks out, there’s often at least one pass catcher who ascends alongside him. This year, Kenny Pickett is the breakout quarterback, and one of his premier pass catchers is Pittsburgh tight end Lucas Krull. Krull, a former Florida commit, is a great athlete with a strong 6’6″, 260-pound frame. He has the burst to work in the seam, but he also has the body control and toughness to haul in contested red-zone targets. With his size and athleticism, Krull is set to keep rising up the draft board.
Boston College CB Josh DeBerry
This cornerback class is insanely strong. Thus, it can be easy for some 2022 NFL Draft sleepers to get buried on the big boards. Boston College’s Josh DeBerry might be one of those players. DeBerry has long been labeled an under-the-radar cornerback, but he’s delivering on that with his best season yet. He already has 2 interceptions and 2 pass deflections. In the words of PFN Draft Analyst and resident Boston College fanatic Oliver Hodgkinson, DeBerry is “a ball hawk who’s tough, instinctive, and a decent athlete.”
Texas A&M DL Micheal Clemons
Micheal Clemons flashed a ton in Texas A&M’s win over Alabama. On the same line as DeMarvin Leal, that’s not always easy to do. Clemons is a versatile lineman at 6’5″, 270 pounds, but he compounds his imposing length with a great first step. He’s also incredibly violent stylistically, and his extensions carry a lot of power. In a weaker DL class, Clemons is a 2022 NFL Draft sleeper who could go on to have a crucial role.
Alabama CB Jalyn Armour-Davis
Josh Jobe gets the name recognition, but Jalyn Armour-Davis might be the best Alabama CB prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Jobe’s physicality pops, but it also gets him into trouble at times. Armour-Davis, meanwhile, is much smoother as a cover man. He has good burst and mobility in open space, and he also has the length to make plays on the ball. Jobe is more fiery, but Armour-Davis’ floor is higher, and he has upside as well.
UTSA CB Tariq Woolen
Tariq Woolen is one of the most exciting sleepers in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s not often you find a 6’4″, 205-pound cornerback who runs a 4.34 with a 137-inch broad jump. But Woolen has all that. A wide receiver convert who made Feldman’s Freaks list, Woolen is an awesome physical specimen. He’s extremely long and looming but also fast, explosive, and surprisingly fluid. On the year, he already has 2 tackles for loss, a pick, and 3 deflections. Woolen will be another fascinating case study regarding taller cornerbacks.
2022 NFL Draft sleepers at the FCS level
To close out our 11-man roster, let’s take a look at some 2022 NFL Draft sleepers at the FCS level.
Eastern Washington QB Eric Barriere
I won’t say the 2022 quarterback class is outright bad — but it is very uncertain. And that uncertainty could potentially yield opportunity for a player like Eric Barriere. Barriere is a shorter, compact signal-caller at 6’1″, 210 pounds. While he may not be an elite athlete, he has a slippery brand of mobility in the pocket. He also flashes arm strength, as he can drive the ball downfield with a flick of his wrist. He can also generate off-platform velocity.
Most recently, Barriere completed 78% of his passes and threw for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns in a blowout win against Northern Colorado. His Eastern Washington squad is rolling at 6-0, and with Barriere at the helm, they’re showing no signs of stopping.
Chattanooga DT Devonnsha Maxwell
Much like the quarterback class, the 2022 NFL Draft’s interior defensive lineman class is also somewhat underwhelming. There’s a great deal of ambiguity further down the board. In the late rounds, teams may ultimately bank on production. That’s something that’ll play in Chattanooga DT Devonnsha Maxwell’s favor.
Already this season, Maxwell has 7.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks in five games, bringing his career totals to 34 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks over four seasons. That’s impressive production, and it could help grant Maxwell an opportunity at the next level. Maxwell has some intriguing traits as well. His motor is strong, but he also has a sturdy, well-leveraged build at 6’2″, 295 pounds, and he flashes a solid first step. He could be a riser late in the process.