2022 NFL Draft Positional Rankings, Per Analytics (Offense)

Apr 21st 2022

Hayden Winks

My analytics only 2022 NFL Draft Positional Rankings are just that -- the results of what my model spits out at me. I have my personal RB and WR rankings after watching their film. But this process is at least interesting and at best actionable.

My model takes projected draft capital (essentially a film grade), age, college production, team strength, and athleticism to create an NFL projection. I then compare that projection to all drafted players since 2005 at that position to create prospect percentiles. The best prospects will have a 100th percentile score. Bad prospects will have 5th percentile scores. 50th percentile is average obviously. The best prospects in my model often hit the following:

  • Projected to go early in the draft

  • Are 20 or 21 years old with a bonus for early declares

  • Played on elite college teams and were 4- or 5-star recruits

  • Were very productive players in their final season

  • Were early producers if they didn't go to elite football programs

  • Tested well at the Combine

In this column, you'll see two primary metrics: 1) "Adjusted Production" is a combination of the most predictive on-field stats, college team strength, and age, so an older prospect who had more yards at a bad school very well could have a lower adjusted production score compared to a younger prospect on a good team. That's because the latter is more predictive of NFL success. ... 2) "Adjusted SPARQ Athleticism" is an all-encompassing workout score, but unlike other athletic measurables, this one is specific to each position. This is key because the athleticism required at CB is far different than it is at DT. I even have split RB and WR into two different models because small RBs typically are used out in space as pass-catchers and big RBs are asked to run up the middle. Ditto for small and big WRs.

In general, the most predictive stat is draft capital, followed by adjusted production and then adjusted SPARQ athleticism.

2022 QB Prospect Rankings

Overall, this is a bad QB class.

Pickett is a late-Round 1 prospect (89th percentile) to me. He is in a tier of his own here after posting 94th percentile total expected points added (EPA) as a redshirt senior, and his 83rd percentile rushing EPA is on par with the rest of the consensus top-five QBs. But he's older and faced a poor strength of schedule when he popped off. My full Kenny Pickett report is here.

There are upside cases with Matt Corral (83rd percentile) and Malik Willis (78th percentile), but they require system changes and development (see my Malik Willis report). Desmond Ridder (74th percentile) and Sam Howell (71st percentile) are likely backups after posting mediocre scores in all passing categories. Beyond that, Bailey Zappe (60th percentile) and Carson Strong (54th percentile) are complete QB2 dart throws on opposite sides of the physical spectrum.

2022 RB Prospect Rankings

I guess the RB class is fine because there is a lot of depth in that Round 4 range, but it's really a class of two at the top -- Breece Hall (96th percentile) and Kenneth Walker (89th percentile). Both are 88th percentile or better athletes, Power 5 players, and early declares. The primary difference in their analytical profiles is receiver. Hall has 80th percentile receiving yards per game. Walker, 19th percentile. Even with this, I'm in the minority by ranking Walker as my RB1 in this class.

There are seven RBs that are in the 50th to 70th percentile range, with a wide variety of playing styles. Isaiah Spiller, Zamir White, Tyler Allgeier, and Brian Robinson are the bigger backs. James Cook, Rachaad White, and Kyren Williams are pass-catching options.

2022 WR Prospect Rankings

Once again, the incoming WR class is good, both in Round 1 and into Day 2.

Jameson Williams (97th percentile), Garrett Wilson (97th percentile), and Drake London (97th percentile) all offer different skill sets, but they are all productive Power 5 early declares projected to go inside the top-15 overall. I personally have London ranked as my WR1 after he had 98th percentile PPR points per game as a true junior at USC. Chris Olave (94th percentile) isn't an early declare and is a finesse Z receiver, but other than that, his profile is rock solid. I'm in as long as expectations aren't super high.

Treylon Burks (90th percentile), Skyy Moore (89th percentile), George Pickens (86th percentile), and Jahan Dotson (82nd percentile) are also in the Round 1 mix depending on how early the inevitable WR run starts. All of these prospects have one primary weakness -- Burks (slot to X projection), Moore (size translating against tougher competition), Pickens (injuries), and Dotson (size). Christian Watson (72nd percentile) is not an analytics prospect due to age, team strength, and average production. It's possible a team gets desperate for his 96th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism late in Round 1, however.

There are seven other WR prospects in the Day 2 mix. Wan'Dale Robinson (77th percentile), David Bell (71st percentile), and Khalil Shakir (61st percentile) are slot options. Tyquan Thornton (66th percentile), Alec Pierce (63rd percentile), and Jalen Tolbert (55th percentile) are downfield threats on the perimeter. John Metchie (71st percentile) is somewhere in between.

2022 TE Prospect Rankings

I don't see a stud TE prospect in this class.

Trey McBride (86th percentile) had the highest team share of receiving yards of any TE prospect in my model, but that was at Colorado State against a bottom 4th percentile strength of schedule. His 23rd percentile weight is another concern, though he did surprise me with his 72nd percentile adjusted SPARQ athlete. Ultimately, he's probably an average NFL starter.

Greg Dulcich (82nd percentile), Charlie Kolar (78th percentile), Isaiah Likely (75th percentile), Daniel Bellinger (66th percentile), and Jelani Woods (64th percentile) are the other Day 2 interesting prospects. The first five listed here all had 73rd percentile or above adjusted production. Woods is 23.9 years old with 33rd percentile career receiving yards per game, but he is a 97th percentile adjusted SPARQ athlete. Josh Norris wasn't impressed with Woods' tape.

This doesn't help us for fantasy football purposes, but Jeremy Ruckert (36th percentile adjusted production) and Cade Otton (10th percentile adjusted production) could easily sneak into Day 2 as Power 5 alpha run blockers.

2022 OT Prospect Rankings

Evan Neal (97th percentile), Charles Cross (95th percentile), and Ikem Ekownu (95th percentile) aren't rare LT prospects. They might be solid at left tackle or be really good at other positions along the OL. Ekwonu (40th percentile arm length) and Neal (53rd percentile arm length) in particular could be options at LG or RT. Cross (64th percentile arm length) has 91st percentile speed as a fluid LT prospect coming from the air raid system. He won't be a fit for everyone. Despite the potential drawbacks, all remain top-end prospects in general.

The model likes Tyler Smith (91st percentile) over consensus OT4 Trevor Penning (87th percentile). Smith is nearly two years younger (21.07 vs. 22.95), played against better competition, and while not quite the 99th percentile athlete that Penning is, still checked in with 79th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism. Penning is all tools right now, making him a boom-bust prospect for Round 1.

There's a big drop off after them. Bernhard Raimann (58th percentile) has received the most Round 1 buzz of the remaining names, but he appears to be overrated. The Central Michigan product is 24.6 years old with 7th percentile arm length. North Dakota's Matt Waletzko is a better bet on athleticism (97th percentile with 97th percentile arm length) at a much cheaper cost.

2022 IOL Prospect Rankings

Tyler Linderbaum (98th percentile) is by far the best center prospect in the draft, with Cam Jurgens (71st percentile) ranking second at the position. Linderbaum has 97th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism with 94th percentile speed, but he's not for everyone. He has bottom 1st percentile weight and is a zone-blocking fit only. The Iowa product will be ranked very highly on some boards and won't be in consideration for most teams.

The consensus top two guard prospects seem fine. Zion Johnson (95th percentile) has 87th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism and played at OL power house Boston College. Kenyon Green (94th percentile) is more physical with 85th percentile weight and is only 21.1 years old. He just doesn't move as well (15th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism) as Johnson.

Jamaree Salyer (89th percentile) is popping in the model. The 21.8-year-old played for the best team in college football and just ripped 31 reps on the bench press. His 82nd percentile weight makes him a target for power-based rushing offenses. The rest of the class is meh.