Kicking off the Big Ten scouting reports for the 2022 NFL Draft is the Illinois Fighting Illini. This list is headlined by Senior Bowl standout Kerby Joseph. The safety made a name for himself with his athleticism and hard hitting at Illinois. Who else stands out next to Joseph from the Illini?
Illinois 2022 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
The 2021 Illinois team had a mixed bag of success at essentially every position. While there were some highs, there were also some lows. Former Illinois (and Michigan) quarterback Brandon Peters will likely end up battling it out on an NFL roster at some point.
Behind Peters, or should we say in front of Peters, is the star-studded offensive line unit. The Illini have certainly been known for their hard-nosed approach and above-average offensive line over the past few years. Featured in that group are Doug Kramer and Vederian Lowe.
Here are the full scouting reports for the 2022 NFL Draft from those that once called Illinois home.
Brandon Peters, QB
Positives: Poised, patient pocket passer who remains disciplined under the rush and buys time for receivers. Takes snaps from underneath center, effectively sets up screen passes, and keeps his eyes downfield rolling outside the pocket. Sells ball fakes, accurately hits receivers in stride, and lets them run to the throw.
Negatives: Not a threat to pick up yardage with his legs. Has struggled with inconsistency and injury the past two years.
Analysis: Peters looked like a legitimate next-level quarterback off the 2019 film, but he has watched his game level off and even regress since then. He’s a nice-sized pocket passer with a next-level arm who played in an NFL-style offense, but Peters must quickly impress in camp this summer.
Doug Kramer, C
Positives: Underrated, high-effort center who is effective blocking in motion. Sinks his butt, quickly pulls across the line of scrimmage, and gets out in front blocking in motion. Stays square, keeps defenders in front of him, and seals opponents from the action. Quick off the snap and explosive at the point. Keeps his head on a swivel and does a terrific job quarterbacking the offensive line.
Negatives: Must improve his blocking balance, doesn’t finish blocks, and possesses short arms.
Analysis: Kramer is an intelligent center with potential in a zone-blocking system. He must learn to finish off opponents but comes with an upside.
Jake Hansen, LB
Positives: Smart, instinctive linebacker who shows a sixth sense on the field, seemingly diagnosing plays before they unfold. Resilient, takes proper angles, and gets after the action even when blocked. Breaks down well, effectively uses his hands, and stays with coverage assignments. Rarely off his feet and shows ability in zone coverage. Sells out on the blitz.
Negatives: Easily blocked from the action by opposing running backs. Lacks a closing burst. Was never fast and now must return from injury.
Analysis: Many were surprised when Hansen returned to Illinois for another season on the college field, and now he enters the draft as a medical concern after an injury cut his senior season short. He makes plays more with instincts and hustle rather than athleticism, and the injury makes it an uphill battle for Hansen.
Kerby Joseph, S
Positives: Former part-time player who pulled it all together last season. Explosive, tough, and sells out to make plays. Quick to diagnose, fires up the field, and drives his shoulders through ball handlers. Explosive and hard-hitting. Tracks the pass in the air, moves decisively to the throw, and quickly gets to the flanks. Displays solid range in center field.
Negatives: Not a stout safety. Was not a factor for Illinois until last season.
Analysis: Joseph is a fast-rising prospect who turned in a terrific season and then showed well during Senior Bowl practices. He possesses enough ability to be a traditional free safety once he polishes his game and comes with a large upside.
Want more information on Joseph? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Kerby Joseph, Illinois S | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Khalan Tolson, LB
Positives: Tough run-defending linebacker with average size. Quickly locates the ball handler, fires up the field in run defense, and wraps up tackling. Fluid moving laterally, breaks down well and takes proper angles. Fast in pursuit with the ability to catch ball handlers from the backside and gets depth on pass drops. Remains disciplined with assignments. Forceful up the field, sells out on the blitz, and shows himself to be a good pass rusher.
Negatives: Undersized and easily blocked from the action. Has to run around blocks and doesn’t take them head-on.
Analysis: Tolson is a run-and-chase linebacker with limited size and growth potential. He offers possibilities on the inside of a 3-4 alignment, but Tolson will have to make his mark on special teams.
Owen Carney Jr., EDGE
Positives: Relentless college defensive end with average size and speed. Resilient, stays with plays, and easily changes direction. Breaks down well, works hard as a pass rusher and run defender, and shows good mobility. Occasionally stands over tackle and easily gets down the line of scrimmage in pursuit.
Negatives: Lacks strength as well as bulk and gets driven off the line by a single blocker. Lacks an explosive closing burst.
Analysis: Carney was a solid defensive end for Illinois, but he lacks the size to stay at the position and does not have the speed to be moved to linebacker.
Roderick Perry II, DT
Positives: Short, explosive, and wide-bodied lineman who is best as a three-technique tackle. Fires off the snap with an explosive first step, gets leverage on opponents, and works his hands throughout the action. Keeps his feet moving, penetrates the line of scrimmage, and makes a lot of plays in the backfield. Possesses good change-of-direction skills and fluidly moves about the field. Gets down the line of scrimmage, flows to the action, and works to make plays outside the box.
Negatives: Struggles getting off blocks despite his size. Easily out-positioned from the action by opponents. Did not show much improvement last season.
Analysis: Perry was highly rated coming into the 2020 season after transferring to Illinois from South Carolina State. He possesses the size and the ability to be used on the inside of a four-man front but must really get his game back on track.
Tony Adams, DB
Positives: Tough, physical cornerback with solid size. Quickly reads and diagnoses the action, immediately picks up coverage assignment, and works hard. Mixes it up with receivers throughout the route, quickly flips his hips in transition, and displays a burst to the ball out of his plant. Fires up the field and gives effort defending the run. Squares into ball handlers and wraps up.
Negatives: Does a lot of face guarding and does not get his head back around to locate the pass in the air. Overmatched by taller receivers. Poor speed.
Analysis: Adams gets the most from his ability, yet he lacks next-level speed and must play in a system where he faces the action.
Vederian Lowe, OL
Positives: Athletic college left tackle who projects as a zone-blocking guard. Quickly sets up off the snap, immediately gets his hands into defenders, and works to bend his knees. Stays square, anchors in pass protection, and adjusts to pick up the blitz. Keeps his feet moving, fires his hands into defenders, and knocks pass rushers from their angles of attack. Quick to the second level and disrupts linebackers and even defensive backs from the action. Possesses long arms and big hands.
Negatives: Doesn’t get much movement run blocking and falls off opponents rather than finishing blocks. Late with his hands on occasion.
Analysis: Lowe was a productive lineman at Illinois the past three seasons and possesses the size, smarts, and athletic ability to play at the next level. He must shed some weight and learn to finish blocks, but Lowe owns a large upside.