ACC 2022 NFL Draft prospects and scouting reports

Tony Pauline continues his annual Preseason Summer Scouting series with scouting reports on the 2022 NFL Draft prospects from the ACC.

Louisville Cardinals Draft Prospects

The majority of early draft selections from Louisville in recent years have come from the offensive side of the ball. That’s about to change.

Kenderick Duncan, S | Grade: 3.6 | Projected Round: 3rd

Safety Kenderick Duncan transferred to Louisville from Georgia Southern, where he struggled through an injury-plagued 2020 campaign. Prior to that, he looked like the best defensive back in what was a loaded GSU secondary.

Duncan is a big, explosive safety with terrific ball skills and a knack for impacting games. Speed is an issue, as he runs more like a linebacker than a safety. I love his potential as a strong or zone safety and have stamped Duncan as a third-round prospect, much earlier than scouts who’ve given him a last-day grade.

Kei’Trel Clark, CB | Grade: 3.52 | Projected Round: 4th

Kei’Trel Clark is a developing cornerback with terrific ball skills that opponents rarely challenged. I grade Clark as an early Day 3 pick, but the underclassman comes with upside.

Qwynnterrio Cole, S | Grade: 3.38 | Projected Round: 6th

Keep close watch of Qwynnterrio Cole, a safety who transferred to Louisville from Alcorn State. He’s an explosive hitter with next-level size.

Miami Hurricanes Draft Prospects

Like interstate and conference rival Florida State, there was a time when the Miami Hurricanes placed five and sometimes six players in the first round of the draft. While the school did have two players drafted in the top 32 picks last year, my board for 2022 is littered with Day 3 selections.

Bubba Bolden, S | Grade: 3.58 | Projected Round: 4th

Safety Bubba Bolden sits atop the Hurricane prospects, as he’s a tough, instinctive defender who violently stuffs the run while showing solid skill in coverage. Bolden doesn’t have mental lapses on the field and gets the most from his ability.

Speed is a concern and could push the senior out of Day 2 of the draft. Bolden lacks both closing and recovery speed, limiting his appeal and the number of schemes he can play in.

Bradley Jennings Jr., LB | Grade: 3.47 | Projected Round: 5th

Junior linebacker Bradley Jennings Jr. flashed a lot of skill last season, as he’s a sideline-to-sideline defender who can play on all three downs.

Will Mallory, TE | Grade: 3.43 | Projected Round: 5th

Will Mallory is a nice-sized, pass-catching tight end who can be called upon to block on running downs. Like Bolden, he’s a one-gear player who lacks the deep burst.

Charleston Rambo, WR | Grade: 3.41 | Projected Round: 5th

I’m higher than most on receiver Charleston Rambo — an Oklahoma transfer — as he looked like a legitimate top-100 pick in 2019.

Dee Wiggins, WR | Grade: 3.29 | Projected Round: 7th

Dee Wiggins offers terrific size and above-average speed at the same position, but he must elevate his game. I once called Wiggins the next great receiver from Miami and still believe he has that potential. Still, he has yet to meet expectations.

Zion Nelson, OT | Grade: 3.4 | Projected Round: 5th

Coming off the 2019 film, offensive tackle Zion Nelson really excited me with his play. And while he still excites some scouts who’ve graded him as a second-round prospect, I was not impressed with his play last year.

Nelson is a large, quasi-athletic tackle who controls opponents at the point — when he wants to. In 2020, I saw a non-aggressive blocker who fumbled around the field and fell off blocks more than he buried opponents. Nelson has tremendous upside, and I hope the light goes on soon.

Tyrique Stevenson, DB | Grade: 3.53 | Projected Round: 4th

Defensive back Tyrique Stevenson made the curious decision to transfer from Georgia to Miami at the end of last season. In watching the Georgia film of 2020, you could not help but notice Stevenson making plays all over the field, against the run and pass.

The position he plays at the next level is a bit of a question mark. Stevenson is listed as a cornerback on the Hurricanes’ depth chart but graded as a safety on my board. Regardless, he’s an explosive defensive back with great upside and a prospect who will rise up draft boards as he improves his game.

North Carolina Tar Heels Draft Prospects

The last North Carolina player selected in the first round was quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who has been a bust. The next UNC player who will be selected in Round 1 is also a quarterback, but I’m much more confident in his ability to succeed at the next level.

Sam Howell, QB | Grade: 4.03 | Projected Round: 1st

Sam Howell gets a lot of love inside and outside of the scouting community, and it’s well-deserved. The strong-armed passer has been excellent the past two years, showing progress in his game all the way through. Howell can make all the throws, accurately delivers the ball, and shows the ability to place passes nicely.

Furthermore, Howell uses all his targets. He has great command of the offense, and though he’s not super elusive, he’s fleet-footed enough to escape the rush and pick up yardage with his legs.

My main concern about Howell’s game is that he holds the ball too long on occasion, and the results are not good when he does. Despite this, he’ll enter the 2022 NFL Draft with a nice body of work if all goes well this season. He possesses the physical skills and mental acumen to lead a franchise in the NFL.

Asim Richards, OT | Grade: 3.45 | Projected Round: 5th

It helps that Howell has several next-level prospects blocking for him up front, with junior left tackle Asim Richards being the highest-rated on my board. Richards is fundamentally sound, terrific in pass protection, and strong at the point. He’s also relatively mobile and effective in motion.

Marcus McKethan, OT | Grade: 3.38 | Projected Round: 6th

Senior Marcus McKethan is taller and bigger than his teammate, as well as much more powerful at the point. He’s a dominant blocker who jars defenders and knocks them back off the line of scrimmage. McKethan is much more of a small-area blocker who has scheme limitations, but he’s someone I believe will flourish.

North Carolina State Wolfpack Draft Prospects

NC State had just one player selected in April’s draft, third-round defensive tackle Alim McNeill. The defense once again leads the way in 2022, though I expect it will be highlighted by Day 3 selections.

Cory Durden, DT | Grade: 3.51 | Projected Round: 4th

I stamped former Florida State defensive tackle Cory Durden as a potential third-round pick off his 2019 film. But I was not impressed with his play last season, as was the case for most of the Seminoles’ prospects. A change of scenery could help Durden, who comes with excellent size, quickness, and movement skills. He’s a scheme-versatile defensive lineman with a high upside.

Isaiah Moore, LB | Grade: 3.46 | Projected Round: 5th

Linebacker Isaiah Moore is someone I’ve graded as draftable the past three seasons, and I grade him much higher than scouts. Moore is a fierce run defender with enough athleticism to make plays in pursuit or space. He’s a little stiff, but I like the possibilities he brings to middle or inside linebacker.

Payton Wilson, LB | Grade: 3.43 | Projected Round: 5th

I grade junior linebacker Payton Wilson slightly below his teammate, but I believe he has more upside than Moore. Wilson is better in coverage and covers more area.

Vi Jones, LB | Grade: 3.35 | Projected Round: 6th

A third linebacker, Vi Jones, is worth keeping an eye on. The senior is the most athletic of the trio and has tremendous upside, but he also needs the most work on his game.

Pittsburgh Panthers Draft Prospects

The Panthers fell below expectations in April’s draft, when three of their defensive linemen dropped further than expected. The team’s top-rated prospect could see a repeat of that performance next year.

Kenny Pickett, QB | Grade: 3.39 | Projected Round: 6th

Quarterback Kenny Pickett draws a variety of opinions, as scouts grade him as a late-rounder and some outside the scouting community stamp him as a Day 2 pick. I presently have Pickett graded as an early sixth-round prospect.

Pickett is a terrific leader of the offense, and he protects the ball and accurately delivers throws with solid placement. I like his intangibles a lot, but his arm strength concerns me. Pickett struggles to deliver the ball with speed and cannot drive deep throws, nor is he a threat to pick up yardage with his legs. I like Pickett, but I like him as a third quarterback on Sundays.

Marcus Minor, OG | Grade: 3.3 | Projected Round: 6th-7th

Pittsburgh has two offensive linemen I grade as late-round picks, starting with Maryland transfer Marcus Minor, a mobile blocker who would fit a zone-blocking system.

Carter Warren, OT | Grade: 3.27 | Projected Round: 7th

Carter Warren is massive, yet he’s a relatively athletic tackle prospect with long arms. He’s strong and doesn’t move badly on his feet. Moreover, he offers potential as a developmental right tackle.

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