Updated Feb. 1, 2022
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
With all the general managers, coaches and scouts in attendance for the Senior Bowl, there is a lot of chatter going around. Here are some of the highlights from around the league on Day 2 of the 2022 Senior Bowl week.
Many times in the NFL players who were shopped or available at the trade deadline remain on the market and end up moving on to a new team in the offseason. WalterFootball.com reached out to some team sources to see which players were shopped at the deadline but were not moved. NFL sources said one of the more high-profile players who was shopped to teams but not traded was Miami wide receiver DeVante Parker.
Parker has two years left on his contract, and not being in the last year of his deal helps make him more appealing to other teams. He missed seven games in 2021 from a hamstring injury, however, and over his seven seasons, he has only played in every game once. His contract won't preclude a trade, but Miami has a ton of cap space at $70 million, so the organization does not need to trim Parker for cash considerations. With Jaylen Waddle as their long-term No. 1 receiver, the Dolphins were considering moving on from Parker because he was a pick of a prior regime. While Parker was not traded last season, he could be available again this spring.
At the beginning of the 2021 season, Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux was considered a heavy favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and first non-quarterback to be selected. While Thibodeaux still is projected as a top-10 pick, multiple NFL teams picking high in the first round are not in love with Thibodeaux and some think he is overrated.
"I watch Thibodeaux and I see Whitney Mercilus," said an area scout. "I do not see a Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Bosa brother, Myles Garrett, etc. I see an athletic tweener on the edge who beat some average college offensive tackles on occasion. I see a solid starter level guy who could have - like Whitney - a couple good seasons if whoever drafts him has a running mate to help Thibodeaux. I don't see a guy that will cause teams to change protection when going up against a good tackle like Trent Williams, Ronnie Stanley, Laremy Tunsil, Ryan Ramcyzk, and those guys. I don't know where the top-10 noise came from, other than he was a No. 1-ranked high schooler who had a solid college career. Jadeveon Clowney, for all his flaws, at least had arguably the greatest sophomore season in college football history before he shut it down as a junior - in large part because he was encouraged to by everyone, including some pro folks, because he was seen as by far the best player in the country. Thibodeaux is not close to that kind of size, speed, length, freak that Clowney was."
Some sources say they have question if Thibodeaux loves football, and they are worried that he is distracted with "his brand." Thibodeaux was injured in 2021, and they also see stiffness as an edge rusher. Thibodeaux still looks like a likely top-10 pick, but teams picking at the very top of the 2022 NFL Draft could end up passing on him despite all the franchises in the top five needing pass-rushing help.
Another consensus top-10 pick is Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. Not all NFL teams, however, view him as a pro left tackle. Neal played on the right side before moving to left tackle as a junior. "He definitely is not a left tackle for us," said an assistant general manager of a team picking in the top 10. "We think he could be a really good right tackle and we are considering him for our pick, but we would play him on the right side." Neal is viewed as a safe pick to turn into a good pro, so regardless of the side he is on, Neal looks safe to be a top-10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Yesterday in the Hot Press, we talked about how multiple team staffers think USC wide receiver Drake London could be a riser. On Monday, I spoke with a NFC director of player personnel who said: "If the draft were held today, I think London would go in the teens, but he could definitely rise into the top 10 in the months to come."
After hearing that and asking around some more, one team that is high on London is the New York Jets, which holds two top-10 selections. London could be a consideration with the ninth-overall pick for the Jets because they need more receiving weapons for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. The organization's front office knows that 2022 season will be critical, and the seat could be getting hot under general manager Joe Douglas. The front office needs Wilson to improve to save their jobs, and adding a weapon like London could help Wilson. The Jets scouts are high on London, and he could be a candidate for the New York in the top 10 if he continues to rise.
A number of NFL team sources told WalterFootball.com that two players who evaluators are excited to see are LSU linebacker Damone Clark and Cincinnati wide receiver Alec Pierce. "I think Clark and Pierce could make themselves some money this week," said an AFC director of player personnel. "Pierce is long and can run. He has some stiffness but so do a lot of good pros. Teams like Clark more than the media has caught on. He's big, fast, and productive, so I could see him becoming a riser from these practices."