The South Florida Sun Sentinel continues its 10-part series looking at top prospects with a lead in the upcoming NFL Draft (April 28-30). Players who put pressure on the quarterback are the second most sought-after positions in football, so don’t be surprised if the top five picks in the 2022 draft class include three edge players.
Travan Walker of Georgia
Walker lined up across Georgia’s talented defensive line, creating the most favorable mismatch for the Bulldogs. His stats weren’t impressive (65 career tackles, 9.5 sacks in three seasons), but his overall athleticism is off the charts. He is not a full-fledged sprinter, so any team that picks him will need to be patient with his development. But the sky is the limit. He is a boom-or-bust pick.
Aidan Hutchinson of Michigan
Hutchinson’s tenacity, character and impressive physical traits make him a contender for the No. 1 overall selection, and it shows that he may have All-Pro talent. Of greatest concern, 14 of his career’s 18.5 sacks came in his senior season, his fourth year of college football. But there is no doubt that he has the talent to start the first day.
Kayvan Thibodaux of Oregon
Thibodaux is reminiscent of some former Oregon standout Dion Jordan, without the off-field character concerns. He is a tall and lean sprinter who bends and turns corners with ease. He converts speed into power well, and can be strong on the sides. The injuries he suffered in his final college season require a thorough investigation.
Purdue’s George Karloftis
Karloftis is a phenomenal athlete who conquers with strength and physicality. He is effective in taking the lead in the run game and plays with an offensive nature that will allow him to work as a 3-4 defensive edge. He uses his hands well when attacking and has a variety of countermoves that allow him to deliver 14.5 sacks in his three seasons at Purdue.
Jermaine Johnson II of the State of Florida
Johnson is a one-year full-time starter with an underdeveloped pass rush whose awareness is sometimes missed. But the level of athleticism and talent is evident and was reflected in his one season as a Seminole, when he recorded 70 tackles and 12 sacks. He’s technically crude, so his position will be coached for a long time.
the best of the rest
Michigan’s David Ojabo may be a first-round pick had he not tore his ACL at his pro day in April. Whichever team picks it up on Day 2 or possibly 3 can get a steal. Minnesota’s Boye Mafe, USC’s Drake Jackson, San Diego State’s Cameron Thomas, South Carolina’s Kingsley Ngbare and Houston’s Logan Hall all have the talent to make rookie starts, if not standouts in the right planning.
Class Grade: B
This is one of the darkest areas of the 2022 draft. It is filled with an abundance of top-100 talent in this draft, many of whom have the potential to start in their first two seasons. But the key players in this draft don’t have the same sex appeal as the Waite and Bossa brothers. They will likely become solid professionals, but not the defensive end. Teams build their entire defenses.
There isn’t a single team in the NFL that can’t use another edge player, and won’t consider picking one with their first three draft selections because of how hard they are to find. But the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, Bears, Lions, Packers, Falcons, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Broncos need to find players with an edge that suits their plan. Don’t be surprised if teams have to trade jockeys for top choices.
Emmanuel Ogba is Miami’s second best defender, but the Dolphins need to find someone credible to hold them against. Jalen Phillips, Miami’s 2021 first-round pick, flourished when Miami scrapped their plans to make him an outside linebacker and vigorously used the former Hurricanes standout as a pass rusher last season. Behind them are only linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel and two development projects with Dashon Hall and Darius Hodge as edge players.
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Quarterback
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Running Backs
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Offensive Linemen
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Choices: Tight Ends
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft substitutes: Receiver
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Linebacker
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Cornerbacks
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Choices: Safety