Week 7 of the college football season has finished, and what a week it was. With the 2022 NFL Draft now just a few months away, let’s open up the mailbag to talk about the latest news and rumors surrounding college football.
2022 NFL Draft Rumors and News: The Tony Pauline Mailbag (10/20/21)
What’s the latest with Matt Corral? Is he continuing to project up draft boards?
As I mentioned last week during the Between the Hashes podcast, some scouts like Matt Corral while others are not that high on his next-level potential. Is he continuing to project up draft boards? It’s a matter of who you ask.
If you had to guess right now, how many Georgia defenders will be taken in the first three rounds?
Right now, I say four, with an additional four on the cusp.
Cornerback Tykee Smith is Day 2 material but was lost for the season to a knee injury. Cornerback Derion Kendrick has been inconsistent and has character questions. Defensive end Travon Walker and linebacker Nolan Smith will get Day 2 consideration if they enter the draft.
Which MAC players are you highest on? And why?
I’ve written and mentioned Kaleb Eleby, the Western Michigan quarterback, multiple times since early summer MAC scouting. Furthermore, he rebounded well against Kent State after a terrible performance the week prior against Ball State.
There’s a huge drop-off after that.
I was very high on Central Michigan safety Willie Reid based on the 2020 tape, but he’s not played this season for what’s been described as off-the-field issues.
Northern Illinois tackle Marques Cox is someone I’ve graded as draftable the past two seasons, and he continues to improve.
After that, it’s a handful of guys who grade as late-rounders or PFAs (preferred free agents).
Multiple ‘experts’ have an early first-round grade on NC State offensive tackle/guard Ikem Ekwonu. What are your thoughts on where he might be drafted?
I don’t see Ikem Ekwonu as a first-round prospect, never have.
He’s a powerful college LT who projects as a guard for a power-gap system at the next level. He struggles to adjust, can’t handle speed rushers, and gave up a ton of sacks last season (7, I believe).
Ekwonu is very good at what he does — burying opponents into the ground. Yet, the inability to move or cover any amount of area on the field won’t make him attractive come draft day.
What’s going on with the 2022 NFL Draft QB class?
Who has had a bigger fall this season: Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell, or Malik Willis?
Pick your poison with this one.
Sam Howell’s play has hurt North Carolina at times this year and has resulted in Tar Heels’ losses. Spencer Rattler was not playing poorly; he just couldn’t move the offense. Now, he’s not playing at all — not good.
Has anyone grasped the QB1 spot this year?
No, there is no default No. 1 at the position a la Trevor Lawrence. As a result, there are no quarterbacks zipping up draft boards a la Zach Wilson, Joe Burrow, or Baker Mayfield.
Rather, it’s a lot of bad or uninspired play at the position.
You mentioned on the podcast last week that potential small numbers on the hand size measurements are killer for QBs. Is there anything else that is a killer for any other specific positions?
Lack of arm strength and the inability to read defenses.
Regarding team evaluations, the former is worse than the latter, as coaches feel they can teach young quarterbacks to read defenses and see the field. More times than not, it doesn’t happen — that’s why so many drafted quarterbacks go bust, in my opinion.