Atlanta Falcons – Can the Falcons 2022 NFL Draft – Day 2 draft picks fix the pass rush?
To say the Falcons pass rush have been disappointment over the last 10 years is an understatement. Since John Abraham’s departure in 2012, the Falcons have only had one player with double digit sacks in a single-season (Vic Beasley – 2016). To make matters worse the Falcons have had less than 30 sacks the last three seasons. Including an NFL worst 18 sacks last season. To put that into context, the Steelers led the league with 55 sacks (T.J. Watt 22.5) and the second worst sack total was held by the Philadelphia Eagles with 29. This is unacceptable for a Dean Pees defense. Enter the Falcons 2022 NFL Draft trio of Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen, and DeAngelo Malone to help rectify this issue.
Ebiketie has the athleticism, plus hand usage, speed to power, and closing ability to be the first Falcon to get to double digit sacks since Beasley. Andersen albeit an off the ball linebacker has the speed, versatility, and traits to be used as a blitzer in Pees’ aggressive system. Malone has the first step, shedding ability, and hustle to create havoc for quarterbacks. I’m not sure the Falcons can challenge for the league lead in sacks in 2022. But I’m pretty certain they can improve upon their 18 sacks in year two under Pees with the help of these new additions.
Carolina Panthers – When will Matt Corral replace Sam Darnold?
The biggest question for the Carolina Panthers is not if, but when will their third round draft selection Matt Corral supplant Darnold? The Panthers have a young and talented defensive unit, one of the best running backs in the league in Christian McCaffrey, and capable receivers that can make plays. However, the biggest thorn has been the quarterback position since the departure of Cam Newton.
Not for lack of trying Carolina has attempted to address the issue multiple times by drafting Will Grier in the 3rd round in 2019. Carolina quickly pivoted to Teddy Bridgewater signing him to a $63 million contract in 2020. Then the Panthers traded three draft picks including a 2nd round draft pick for Sam Darnold in 2021. Darnold started the 2021 season hot with a 3-0 start, then reverted back to the turnover prone version of himself throwing 13 interceptions to only 9 touchdowns. The Panthers finished the season 5-12 (last in the division) and still have a huge question mark at the QB position.
Enter Corral who had a very productive 2021 season under Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. Corral played in an RPO based system. The offense created huge passing windows, afforded easy completions, and allowed Corral to throw to his first read consistently. Will the Panthers adopt a similar offense to help their young QB? Or will they try to make him adjust to their scheme? This is an important question for Corral’s development. If he can learn the offense quickly and adjust to the speed of the NFL, he has the arm talent and flair to succeed at the next level. We will see how long Darnold can hold onto the starting spot, but one too many multi-turnover performance and we could see Corral sooner than expected.
New Orleans Saints – All in 2022 NFL Draft! Are the Saints a WR away from a ring?
The Saints were aggressive this off-season bringing in former LSU Tigers Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry back home to Louisiana. Before those additions they traded their 2023 1st round pick and 2nd round pick in 2024 to the Eagles for an additional 1st round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. New Orleans then moved up even further in the draft trading with the Washington Commanders to select wide receiver Chris Olave.
A busy off-season of trades for the Saints really shows they are in win now mode with QB Jameis Winston and they believed they were a wide receiver away from a Super Bowl run. Some folks thought perhaps they were being aggressive to potentially draft a QB but on the contrary, Olave was the pick. Chris Olave has a great feel for zone defenses knowing when to slow or speed up his routes. He’s a smooth route-runner who is always under control. More importantly he complements Michael Thomas as a field stretching deep-threat, with ball skills that makes the difficult look easy.
Whether the New Orleans Saints are a playmaker away from making a Super Bowl run will ultimately boil down to the quarterback play. Jameis Winston’s 14:3 TD to interception ratio last season was the best we’ve seen from the former 1st overall pick. He was 5-2 as the starter and looked impressive despite a lack of receiving weapons. However, the Saints will be without their offensive guru head coach Sean Payton. Let’s see the offense without Payton calling plays before we say the Saints are ready to make a run in 2022.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – How fast can 2022 NFL Draft Logan Hall develop to get that inside rush alongside Vita Vea?
Logan Hall is a 2022 NFL Draft favorite of mine. He can be a force in the middle utilizing his length, size, and athleticism. Simply put a man that big should not be able to move that fast. Hall will be replacing Ndamukong Suh along the Bucs defensive line and possesses some of that same nastiness Suh brought up front. However, Hall has some technical things he needs to sure up as he plays high which can compromise his pad level and his effectiveness. Furthermore, there are questions regarding the level of competition he faced in the American Athletic Conference (AAC).
Which begs the question, “How fast can Logan Hall make an impact?” He will be playing against grown professionals at the next level. The good news is that he was dominant in the AAC. Additionally, the Bucs field a talented defense that won’t put too much pressure on Hall immediately. Still, the Bucs pass rush is currently without Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. Therefore, Hall and last years first round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will need to grow up quickly.