Scouts, agents, players and media have pointed to the 2022 NFL Draft to be special in a way that few have been, historically. The reason? Hundreds of players took advantage of their Covid year to skip the 2021 NFL Draft and enter the ’22 draft instead. Some scouts I’ve spoken to even feared that numerous players would slip through the cracks entirely due to the talent logjam.

So that’s the theory, but was it really true on draft weekend? I asked several NFL evaluators this week, and a couple were emphatic that the late talent pool was better than normal. “I would say that you had a bigger UDFA pool than you ever had, so it wouldn’t shock me if you see more UDFAs make teams this year,” said one scout. “You might have had 20 guys left on your draftable board in previous years. You probably had 30-35 guys left on your draftable board this year.” Said another, “Yes, heavier than normal talented player pool in 6th/7th and UDFA’s!, and a third added, “We signed a couple of guys that would have gotten drafted last year.”

However, others were just as adamant that it was a false narrative.

  • “I think the initial thought a lot of people had going into the year was the draft would be really strong because of all the players going back to school for an extra year, but in reality, most were late round-to-(free agent) players. . . I think it was a little stronger Day 3 compared to the year before, but not like I think a lot of people thought it would be initially.”
  • “I think the narrative was that, for sure, but once it came down to the end, it seemed like a regular amount of guys left after the draft. For sure, more names, but wouldn’t say more talent than years past.”
  • “Only time will tell, but no, I don’t think (that was) true. I thought the high picks, three-quarters of the first round was light, weak. QB, RB, TE and DL (were below standard). The second round thru the end of Round 4 was stronger. . . I did not think it was over-stocked. Here and there, a few players might have got pushed (down).

It’s one of those things we won’t know for sure for 3-4 years, but it’s interesting that there are mixed opinions on something that seemed so certain a year ago, when only 716 players signed with agents (about a third of the number who signed this year). 

We’ll talk more about scouting and player evaluation, including a roundup of the week’s hirings and firings, in this week’s Friday Wrap, which comes out (you guessed it) Friday. Go here to sign up if you don’t already receive it.