Week 7 saw Iowa drop from the ranks of the undefeated after Purdue hammered them. The Hawkeyes’ hopes for a berth in the College Football Playoffs are all but over. Meanwhile, several lesser-known prospects who are gaining momentum in the scouting community highlight this week’s column. Who were the individual risers and sliders from last week? Whose 2022 NFL Draft draft stock report changed the most?
2022 NFL Draft Stock Report: Risers from Week 7
Cornerbacks highlight the risers from Week 7.
Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
The Bearcats dominated their game against Central Florida from the get-go. Jerome Ford — a player I spoke about at length during last week’s Between the Hashes podcast — was the most dominant player on the field. He finished the game with 189 rushing yards on 20 carries and 4 touchdowns. Ford’s highlight was a 79-yard touchdown run on which he ran away from the UCF secondary in the open field.
He’s someone I mentioned earlier this season, as he’s building a lot of momentum in scouting circles. An Alabama transfer, Ford is likely to enter the draft and is poised to end up as a mid-round choice.
Mekhi Garner, CB, Louisiana
Mehki Garner could be the best cornerback you’ve never heard of. In my summer Sun Belt preview, the junior graded as my top player from the program and a sixth-round prospect. I mentioned Garner’s huge upside, and the talented corner is now exceeding expectations. His stat line isn’t great, as he’s managed 0 interceptions and just 3 PBUs this season. But Garner’s low productivity is primarily due to opponents purposely not throwing in his direction.
This was apparent during Louisiana’s victory over Appalachian State as Garner and Co. held the usually lethal App State air attack to just 133 passing yards. Garner is flying up draft boards and is presently graded as a Day 2 selection by a number of scouts. As one scout from the area told me, shutdown corners with Garner’s size and athleticism are impossible to find.
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Several scouts graded Roger McCreary as one of the top senior prospects in the nation before the season. And while that ranking was a bit rich for my draft board, McCreary has definitely played well this season. He was credited with 5 tackles and 3 PBUs in Auburn’s victory over Arkansas.
McCreary deflected a pass away from receiver Treylon Burks in the end zone as Arkansas was driving for the tying score late in the game. Best facing the action, McCreary is a physical corner with a great feel for coverage. He’s a solid Day 2 selection.
Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
It’s been a difficult campaign for Nebraska as they’ve given away several games in 2021. Yet, the Blackshirt defense has played well, and Cam Taylor-Britt is having a solid season. The junior corner finished the Minnesota game with 7 tackles (including 2 for loss), 1 sack, and his first interception of the year.
Coming into the game, Taylor-Britt had registered 6 PBUs. He’s a good-sized prospect with terrific ball skills and a developing game. I graded Taylor-Britt as a Day 3 prospect entering the season, but he’s definitely improved his draft stock.
Jaylan Alexander, LB, Purdue
The Boilermakers didn’t just pull an upset over Iowa — they dominated the game from the get-go. Jaylan Alexander and the rest of Purdue’s defense led the way, holding Iowa to 7 points and 86 rushing yards. The junior finished with a team-leading 10 tackles, including 1 for loss. Alexander did more than stuff the run, as he was continually making tackles in space.
He sits at the top of Purdue’s tackle list, recording 37 in six games with 4 PBUs to his credit. Stamped as a run-of-the-mill undrafted free agent by some scouts, Alexander has consistently held a mid-Day 3 grade on my board.
Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia
Few teams in the nation are as hot as Georgia, and while their defensive line gets all the headlines, let’s give the team’s best offensive lineman some props. Jamaree Sayler is a wide-bodied blocker with guard size, yet he displays left tackle footwork. He’s athletic for a 335-pound lineman, and he blocks with great fundamentals.
He did his part helping hold the usually active Kentucky pass rush to just a single sack on Saturday. In many ways, Salyer reminds me of a shorter version of former Bulldog Ben Cleveland, the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie third-round pick who is now starting at left guard.
Sleeper Prospect | Lucas Krull, TE, Pittsburgh
Lucas Krull, someone I’ve had on my radar the past three seasons, is starting to meet my expectations. A massive tight end who looks like a power forward on the football field, Krull was dismissed by scouts before the season — and someone should lose their job for that. His production in six games this season betters his combined totals of the prior three years.
Thus far, he’s caught 15 passes for 193 yards and 5 TDs while turning into a lethal red-zone threat. Krull has the size to be used as an inline blocker, and I expect he will compete for a spot as a third tight end in the NFL.
Small-School Prospect | Matt Waletzko, T, North Dakota
Trevor Penning of Northern Iowa is the first name mentioned when anyone brings up future NFL offensive linemen from the small-school level. Yet, Matt Waletzko is another highly rated — if not underrated — small-school blocker who happens to play in the Missouri Valley Conference like Penning. Waletzko is a large and fundamentally sound left tackle. He has incredibly long arms which reportedly stretch 36 inches, and he blocks with terrific fundamentals.
Waletzko is not only strong, but makes great use of angles, body positioning, and those long arms to knock opponents from the action. He stood out during North Dakota’s close loss to Southern Illinois — he was outstanding both in pass protection and in the run game. I don’t think Waletzko can play left tackle in the NFL, but I firmly believe he’s a solid mid-round choice who will compete for a starting job on the right side.
Week 7 Sliders
Which NFL Draft prospect slid the most in Week 7?
Will Mallory, TE, Miami (FL)
After former Hurricanes tight end Brevin Jordan exited for the 2021 NFL Draft, most thought it would be Will Mallory’s time to shine — but it has yet to happen. Mallory has just 10 receptions for 75 yards and no touchdowns in five games this season, well below expectations and behind his pace from a year ago.
He has the size and previously displayed the pass-catching hands worthy of a late-round pick. With the tight end position expected to be among the strongest in the 2022 NFL Draft, Mallory needs to step up, or he could go unselected next April.
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