2022 RSO Pre-Draft Rookie Rankings

Updated: April 16th 2022

Context is always a major factor in the success of an incoming rookie’s performance as it relates to immediate production. While we wait for the external factors to be determined such as team composition/competition and coaching staff philosophy, we can try to sketch out which players from the incoming 2022 class stand out in terms of broad-spectrum talent. Those that fit with a wider range of usages often yield the most immediate translation to the NFL but specialists can also thrive in the right systems. Lamar Jackson’s success is largely due to the Ravens changing a large part of their philosophy to commit to what Jackson’s talent was rather than trying to mould him into a prototypical quarterback.

Like the NFL, RSO managers need rookies to produce immediately upon entering the league to gain a competitive advantage under the rookie wage scale compared to the veteran market. Hitting on draft selections, especially first-round selections which carry the closest value to the mid-tier veteran market, is what often separates the championship tier teams from the playoff hopefuls.

Below are our pre-draft rankings based on the standard PPR, one (1) starting quarterback league for the first four (4) rounds of rookie drafts. A few players will be highlighted in each round that are targets to watch where and how deep they are drafted as it could affect their rankings in the final, post-draft rankings.

Round 1

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
1.01 Breece Hall RB Iowa State RB1
1.02 Jameson Williams WR Alabama WR1
1.03 Drake London WR USC WR2
1.04 Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State WR3
1.05 Kenneth Walker III RB Michigan State RB2
1.06 Chris Olave WR Ohio State WR4
1.07 Treylon Burks WR Arkansas WR5
1.08 George Pickens WR Georgia WR6
1.09 Christian Watson WR North Dakota State WR7
1.10 Jahan Dotson WR Penn State WR8
1.11 Isaiah Spiller RB Texas A&M RB3
1.12 Skyy Moore WR Western Michigan WR9

 

Jameson Williams, Alabama – If you are a contending team who lucked into their choice of anyone but Breece Hall at 1.02 I would not fault anyone for passing on Williams coming off an ACL surgery. In terms of BPA though, he stands above both London and Wilson in terms of dynamic upside that fits with where the NFL has been trending with receivers over the last half-decade. Because of his injury, he could also slide down NFL draft boards to be paired with better quarterback talent.

Kenneth Walker, Michigan State & Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M – It seems more this year than any other year the likelihood of “nuked” landing spots for running backs could drop almost all running backs not named Breece Hall. Running back is the lifeblood of fantasy though and both Walker and Spiller showed enough talent that unless they fall behind far superior talent in the NFL, they will likely be first-round rookie picks. Spiller is the most likely to fall out of the first round due to how the community has been treating him since the end of the season.

Skyy Moore, Western Michigan – Every year there are players in the first round that in hindsight seemed like obvious candidates to avoid but we are still intrigued enough that we just have to grab them in the first round. While many think this reflects more for Christian Watson my candidate this year is Skyy Moore who I think needs to land in an offense that fits his playstyle more than the other top 10 receivers. A Jarvis Landry/Golden Tate type of prospect he could have tremendous value in PPR leagues if used properly. His team will ultimately decide for me whether he stays in the first round.

Round 2

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
2.01 Rachaad White RB Arizona State RB4
2.02 Alec Pierce WR Cincinnati WR10
2.03 Khalil Shakir WR Boise State WR11
2.04 David Bell WR Purdue WR12
2.05 Brian Robinson RB Alabama RB5
2.06 Zamir White RB Georgia RB6
2.07 James Cook RB Georgia RB7
2.08 Matt Corral QB Mississippi QB1
2.09 Justyn Ross WR Clemson WR13
2.10 Malik Willis QB Liberty QB2
2.11 Jerome Ford RB Cincinnati RB8
2.12 John Metchie WR Alabama WR14

 

David Bell, Purdue – Bell has been one of those players in free fall all offseason going from a mid-first round talent to a mid-second round player that most have just taken off their boards completely. While the metrics are not great he is a player that I kept watching on film and wondering if the combine really is who he will be in the NFL. Ultimately, NFL teams will tell us what they think of Bell and if he falls to Day 3 he will fall further in rookie rankings.

Matt Corral, Ole Miss – Watching tape I think Corral, in a “meh” QB class, has the opportunity to be the most productive and long-standing quarterback in this class. He has all the modern NFL QB traits and projects as a Derek Carr/Andy Dalton level of talent. Both were second-round talents that beat the odds to be relevant in the league and Corral can be the same under the right tutelage.

Justyn Ross, Clemson – The amazing breakout metrics at Clemson keeps my eyes wide for a player like Ross. His scary neck injury reminds me a lot of fellow Clemson receiver Mike Williams who people questioned whether he would be able to come back to full speed. While Ross will not have the draft capital that Williams had Ross, like Bell, is a player that I likely will continue to be higher on than most. Ultimately, how far down the NFL board he falls will decide if he stays in my round two (2) or if he falls to the back half of rookie drafts.

Round 3

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
3.01 Dameon Pierce RB Florida RB9
3.02 Wan’Dale Robinson WR Kentucky WR15
3.03 Trey McBride TE Colorado State TE1
3.04 Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh QB3
3.05 Pierre Strong Jr. RB South Dakota State RB10
3.06 Kyren Williams RB Notre Dame RB11
3.07 Zonovan Knight RB North Carolina State RB12
3.08 Jalen Tolbert WR South Alabama WR16
3.09 Sam Howell QB North Carolina QB4
3.10 Romeo Doubs WR Nevada WR17
3.11 Tyler Allgeier RB BYU RB13
3.12 Calvin Austin WR Memphis WR18

 

Dameon Pierce, Florida – outside of the top 25 guys it is always about a landing spot that can make or break a player’s immediate fantasy value. If Pierce can find a backfield that is relatively open either late Day 2 or the start of Day 3 he has the opportunity to be the late-round gem of this draft. His Damien Harris comps are comparable in that while primarily the “thumper” back he also could be used in the passing game more than most believe if in the right system.

Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky – While ranked 26th overall, my fantasy teams will have zero shares of Robinson who would have the land in the perfect situation to break the mould of 5’8” receivers being relevant. Could there be a chance a team moves him to be their third-down, slot running back which could profile better for success? His production at Kentucky is the only thing that keeps him viable in the eyes of fantasy football.

Tyler Allgeier, BYU – Immediately watching Allgeier I saw Samaje Perine as this wrecking ball of a running back. Many will cringe at the thought of Perine as a prospect but with Allgeier being taken closer to the 3/4 turn rather than the mid-second round value Perine held this is more reflective of what their talent levels are. A team that focuses on the running game around the goal line without a quarterback threat to steal sneak opportunities would be ideal for Allgeier.

Round 4

Overall Ranking First Name Last Name Position School Positional Ranking
4.01 Charlie Kolar TE Iowa State TE2
4.02 Tyler Badie RB Missouri RB14
4.03 Kevin Harris RB South Carolina RB15
4.04 Carson Strong QB Nevada QB5
4.05 D’Vonte Price RB Florida International RB16
4.06 Desmond Ridder QB Cincinnati QB6
4.07 Greg Dulcich TE UCLA TE3
4.08 Kennedy Brooks RB Oklahoma RB17
4.09 Hassan Haskins RB Michigan RB18
4.10 Kyle Phillips WR UCLA WR19
4.11 Cade Otton TE Washington TE4
4.12 Tyquan Thornton WR Baylor WR20

 

Charlie Kolar, Iowa State – Kolar has zero value as a blocker which might make it difficult for him to stay on the field initially but he profiles as one of the better receiving tight ends in this class, which is where the fantasy points are. Will he produce in a way that will make him worthy of a draft pick, who knows, but with a guaranteed four (4) years to see what happens the best place for lottery picks is at the end of your draft.

Tyler Badie, Missouri – I wrote in my notes that Badie seems like the running back who will never have a coaching staff give him the full workload but under the right two-back system could be a Giovanni Bernard/Tevin Coleman type of receiving back. Any offense that uses a primary pass-catching back like Washington with J.D. McKissic could make Badie the depth running back to have at the end of drafts.

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati – If a team takes Ridder in the first round I hope it is later where he can sit and watch a year’s worth of practices from a veteran starter before he has to lead the team. He is being compared to Jalen Hurts in terms of his athletic upside but I think in any other year Ridder would be a Day 3 selection that has a long shot at a consistent starting role. Even in Superflex leagues, I would be hesitant to see what his situation is before even considering drafting him at Supeflex prices.

More Analysis by Nick Andrews

The Watch List 2021: Spring Scouting, Stud Sophomores

Updated: June 26th 2020

Welcome to The Watch List for the 2021 NFL Draft season. a resource to help RSO owners identify the players from the college game that deserve your attention.  To view my observations, follow me on Twitter @robertfcowper.  Check back throughout the Summer as The Watch List will preview the top prospects and let you know who is fantasy relevant and worth your valuable draft capital.

Each spring when I start the research on the next draft class, I keep an eye out for any true sophomores who should be on my radar. Those players may not be eligible for the upcoming draft but they are likely to be the stars of the season and are worthy of a quick look now to help set future expectations. In my 2019 season previews, I included coverage of a few sophomores who now find themselves squarely in the middle of my draft prep: namely Justyn Ross, Rondale Moore and Jaret Patterson. (Note: Clemson announced on June 1 that Ross would miss the season due to a neck injury.) I have included ten true sophomores below who I’ll be watching closely in 2020.

Hank Bachmeier, QB, Boise State

  • Measurables: 6010/202
  • 2019 Stats: 8 games, 137-219, 62.6%, 1,879 pass yards, 8.6 ypa, 9 pass TDs, 6 INTs, 142.7 rating; 41 carries, 69 rush yards, 1.7 ypc, 1 rush TD

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State’s highest rated recruit since 2014, started his college career strong with a comeback win against Florida State. He played well over the next four games before getting hurt against Hawaii. He returned to finish the season and will start 2020 as the top quarterback in the Mountain West. Bachmeier is poised in the pocket, has functional mobility and can throw fastballs. Home matchups against Florida State and BYU will give us a good midseason barometer for Bachmeier’s progression; a potential NY6 bowl game would also help increase his national name recognition heading into the 2021 NFL Draft season.

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

  • Measurables: 6010/225
  • 2019 Stats: 13 games, 259-422, 61.4%, 3,641 pass yards, 8.6 ypa, 38 pass TDs, 7 INTs, 160.2 rating; 94 carries, 35 rush yards, 0.4 ypc, 1 rush TD; 3 receptions, 23 rec yards, 7.7 ypr, 1 rec TD

Sam Howell, a North Carolina native, was everything Mack Brown and Tar Heels’ faithful hoped he would be. He finished a superb freshman season with 3,641 passing yards, 38 TDs and just 7 INTs. UNC’s new air raid offense may not necessarily prepare him for a “pro style” offense but who cares, it’s fun to watch and makes for great highlights. Howell throws pinpoint deep passes with beautiful weight and touch. When he needs to, he can zing a quick hitter on a slant or screen. He didn’t get too many rushing attempts in 2019, probably because they wanted to keep him upright, but I think he has potential there as well. Howell’s intangible swagger means there are plays he just simply wills into success. I don’t mean to damn with faint praise but some of Howell’s highlights remind me of Aggies-era Johnny Manziel. The sky’s the limit for Howell who should be the early favorite for QB1 in 2022.

Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

  • Measurables: 6020/200
  • 2019 Stats: 12 games, 282-392, 71.9%, 3,502 pass yards, 8.9 ypa, 30 pass TDs, 9 INTs, 167.6 rating

Kedon Slovis had an interesting and unexpected 2019 season. He started the season as the backup to incumbent sophomore starter JT Daniels but an early injury got Slovis on the field and he didn’t look back. Fast forward a year and Slovis is clearly the Trojans starter with Daniels transferring to Georgia. Like Sam Howell, Slovis benefited from a new air raid offense installed by coordinator Graham Harrell. In his first game as starter, he threw for 377 yards and 3 TDs, one of five games where he had 300+ yards and 3+ TDs. Slovis can chuck it half the field without exerting obvious effort. I had to watch one highlight against Fresno State three times; he threw it 50 yards, perfectly placed, from the opposite hash mark. It’s not a throw too many college passers can make regularly, let alone after coming in off the bench in the season opener as a true freshman. Slovis may not be able to make his own case for the NFL Draft this year but he’ll surely help the stock of WRs Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Zach Charbonnet, RB, Michigan

  • Measurables: 6010/220
  • 2019 Stats: 13 games, 149 carries, 726 rush yards, 4.9 ypc, 11 rush TDs; 8 receptions, 30 rec yards, 3.8 ypr, 0 rec TD

Zach Charbonnet is a throwback to the days of the 90s and early 2000s when Michigan always seemed to have a powerful RB1 pacing the offense. As a Wolverines fan, it pains me to admit it but Michigan has whiffed on a number of top running back prospects over the last ten years (see: Green, Derrick and Hayes, Justice). Charbonnet walked onto campus as a 4-star recruit and the fourth best running back in the nation per 247Sports. In just the second game of the season, against Army, Charbonnet made his presence known by shouldering a 33 carry load for 100 yards and 3 scores. He didn’t crack the 20 carry mark again in the season, and only topped 100 yards once more, but I’ll spin that positively and hope that he’ll be fresh for 2020. He’s a strong tackle breaker who could be deadly if he adds a stiff arm to his repertoire. Charbonnet looks like a prototypical between the tackles runner and yet he had plenty of success out of the shotgun in Michigan’s spread attack last year. I expect Charbonnet to excel in Year Two of Josh Gattis’ offense and to surpass 1,200 yards and 15 TDs.

Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

  • Measurables: 6010/205
  • 2019 Stats: 12 games, 186 carries, 897 rush yards, 4.8 ypc, 9 rush TDs; 23 receptions, 252 rec yards, 11.0 ypr, 1 rec TD

By mid-October, Breece Hall had assured Cyclone faithful that they didn’t need to wait long for somebody to fill the fissure left behind by the beloved David Montgomery. In his first three games as the primary ballcarrier, Hall rushed for 391 yards and 7 TDs; he also added 10 receptions for 120 yards. I absolutely loved Hall’s highlight reels. He’s a silky smooth runner who seems to be playing at a higher frame rate than his opposition. He runs with great contact balance, deploys a useful spin move and has enough power to score from the goal line. He’s also a plus receiver who has 30+ reception potential. Somehow I missed seeing Hall play in 2019 so I am very excited to see him ball in 2020.

David Bell, WR, Purdue

  • Measurables: 6030/210
  • 2019 Stats: 12 games, 86 receptions, 1,035 rec yards, 12.0 ypr, 7 rec TDs; 3 carries, 12 rush yards, 4.0 ypc, 1 rush TD

David Bell was thrust into a starring role early in 2019, after teammate Rondale Moore went down with an injury, and went on to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. In nine Big Ten games, Bell racked up 80 receptions for 904 yards and 6 TDs. His three best games came against each of the Big Ten West’s 10-win teams: Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. In those three huge games, Bell’s average line was 11-140-0.6, an unfathomable output for a true freshman on a middling team. Bell is formidable at 6030/210 and uses that frame to box out his defender. He’s a jump ball and contested catch specialist who isn’t afraid to come across the field. Bell has enough speed to stretch the defense deep when his quarterback can deliver the throw accurately. I doubt that the Boilermakers will challenge in the Big Ten West but every team on their schedule is going to have to gameplan for the dynamic duo of Bell and Moore in 2020.

George Pickens, WR, Georgia

  • Measurables: 6030/190
  • 2019 Stats: 14 games, 49 receptions, 727 rec yards, 14.8 ypr, 8 rec TDs

As a true freshman, George Pickens led the Dawgs in receiving so there’s no doubt that he’ll be the top target in 2020. What is in doubt, however, is who will be throwing him those passes. Earlier this spring, it seemed likely that that would be Jamie Newman, a dual-threat grad transfer from Wake Forest. Recently, though, former USC quarterback JT Daniels announced he would transfer to Georgia and it’s unclear if he’ll have immediate eligibility. Pickens looks to have great hands, above average strength and body control, and a flair for the spectacular catch. My only nitpick is that I hope we get to see him in more YAC situations this year to see him excel after the catch. Pickens is long — I’ll bet his wingspan outpaces his 6030 listed height — and has the potential to be an alpha outside receiver.

Wan’dale Robinson, WR, Nebraska

  • Measurables: 5100/190
  • 2019 Stats: 10 games, 40 receptions, 453 rec yards, 11.3 ypr, 2 rec TDs; 88 carries, 340 rush yards, 3.9 ypc, 3 rush TDs; 11 kick returns, 21.5 ypr, 0 return TD

Wan’dale Robinson is a running back-wide receiver tweener who is bound to rack up all-purpose yards in 2020. Robinson started his freshman season off a bit slow, totaling 146 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches, but, like David Bell above, he flourished once conference play started. In his premiere Big Ten contest against Illinois, Robinson rushed for 19-89-1 and went for 8-79-2 as a receiver. He had 12 or more touches in four of the next five matchups. Unfortunately he got hurt in November and injuries limited him to just one half of football down the final stretch. Robinson is a spark plug — he’s got 4.40 speed and bounces off tacklers. He can be deployed creatively: taking handoffs, lining up in the slot, featuring on gadget plays and returning kicks. Robinson’s versatility will allow him to flourish as a college player but what does it mean for his NFL potential?

Joshua Simon, TE, Western Kentucky

  • Measurables: 6050/230
  • 2019 Stats: 12 games, 30 receptions, 430 rec yards, 14.3 ypr, 4 rec TDs

Joshua Simon was recruited out of high school as a wide receiver and landed with the Hilltoppers as their fourth-best recruit at the position in the 2019 class per 247Sports. And yet, Simon exploded as a true freshman, while lining up at tight end, finishing the season with a 30-430-4 line and leading the team in yards per reception at 14.3. Unfortunately, highlights of Simon are nigh impossible to find online so I’m including him here based solely on size and output, which are both encouraging for a young tight end. Western Kentucky figures to be in the running for the C-USA East title so I hope a game or two of his will be available nationwide this season.

Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

  • Measurables: 6050/260
  • 2019 Stats: 13 games, 32 receptions, 447 rec yards, 14.0 ypr, 6 rec TDs

Talk about a successful start to your college football career: four of Jalen Wydermyer’s first nine receptions went for scores. He ultimately led the Aggies in receiving touchdowns last season and also surpassed the other pass catchers in yards per reception. I found a highlight package that included all of his receptions from 2019 and it’s clear that Wydermyer is a talented receiver. He has soft and reliable hands. He’s also a big dude at 6050/260 so he’s tough to bring down after the catch. The highlight package didn’t show any of Wydermyer as a blocker so that aspect of his game remains to be seen, but he’s got the frame for it so I’m not concerned. I’ve got a feeling about Jalen Wydermyer and I can’t wait to see more of him in 2020.

 

Notes: Heights listed are using a notation common among scouts where the first digit corresponds to the feet, the next two digits correspond to the inches and the fourth digit corresponds to the fraction, in eighths.  So, somebody measuring 5’11” and 3/8 would be 5113.  This is helpful when trying to sort players by height. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample.  There are a lot of analysts out there who have a deeper depth of knowledge about certain players but I pride myself in a wide breadth of knowledge about many players.  When researching my articles I use a number of valuable resources. I would recommend bookmarking the below sites:

  • Stats: espn.com, sports-reference.com, pro-football-reference.com, cfbstats.com, herosports.com, fcs.football, mcubed.net, expandtheboxscore.com, washingtonpost.com
  • Recruiting: 247Sports.com, espn.com, sbnation.com, rivals.com
  • Film: 2021 NFL Draft Database by Mark Jarvis, youtube.com
  • Draft info and mocks: draftcountdown.com, draftscout.com, mattwaldmanrsp.com, draftek.com, thedraftnetwork.com, nfl.com
  • NFL rosters, depth charts and contract info: ourlads.com, spotrac.com
  • Draft history: drafthistory.com
  • Combine info: pro-football-reference.com, espn.com, nflcombineresults.com, mockdraftable.com
  • Season preview magazines: Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Street and Smith’s, Athlon Sports
  • Podcasts: ESPN’s First Draft, The Audible by Football Guys (specifically episodes w/ Matt Waldman), UTH Dynasty, Draft Dudes, Saturday 2 Sunday, Locked on NFL Draft, Cover 3 College Football
  • Logos & Player Media Photos: collegepressbox.com
  • Odds & Gambling Stats: vegasinsider.com

Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey.  He is a proud member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.  Robert works as a certified park and recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.

More Analysis by Bob Cowper