2022 NFL Draft Sleepers Based On Analytical Profiles

Apr 24th 2022

Hayden Winks

There are a million parts to each prospect's profile, one of them being analytics. There are probably reasons why the consensus around the following players is lower than what my Offense and Defense models spit out, but these 12 prospects check a lot of the boxes that productive NFL players have, including youth, production, and athleticism. The goal of this isn't to debate positional value, it's just to highlight players who should be moved up a little higher in positional rankings.

Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal

94th percentile vs. 82nd percentile expected draft capital

The 2nd round is the sweet spot for off-ball linebacker, and my model likes Chenal best. Yes, even over consensus Round 1 prospect Devin Lloyd. Chenal is a 21-year-old early declare from a Power 5 school. He had 90th percentile tackles per game among drafted LBs since 2005, and then he flashed 100th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism at the NFL Combine. He has 85th percentile speed and a 40.5-inch vertical despite 90th percentile weight. If he can cover better than expected, something his athletic profile suggests, then Chenal looks like a three-down value.

Tulsa OT Tyler Smith

91st percentile vs. 79th percentile expected draft capital

The only major negative here is that he’s not a Power 5 player. Everything else looks good. Smith is a 21-year-old early declare with NFL arm length (34 1/8 inches), weight (324), and athleticism (79th percentile in adjusted SPARQ). Smith had a 93.9 PFF run grade and a 75.3 pass grade, and our own Charles McDonald slacked me saying “this tackle from tulsa is super solid”. Sold.

Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore

89th percentile vs. 83rd percentile expected draft capital

From my WR Rankings column: “Moore (5’10/195) was a 3-star recruit and 3-year contributor before declaring early after averaging 107 yards per game as a junior at Western Michigan. The 21-year-old had 96th percentile adjusted production on 96th percentile yards per team pass attempt. He did so lining up out wide on 65% of snaps after playing in the slot on 88% of snaps the year prior. Moore has inside/outside versatility with plenty of burst (4.41 forty and 125-inch broad) for his stocky frame. Unlike other potential slot receivers, Moore doesn’t have elite bend (63rd percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism), which means he has a vertical slot projection at the very worst. His upside is hidden with wild releases at the line of scrimmage, arguably the best in the class. It’s possible Moore is a slot in 3-WR sets while still playing in 2-WR sets like Golden Tate.” I gave him a Round 2 grade.

Penn State LB Brandon Smith

89th percentile vs. 78th percentile expected draft capital

Smith is just turning 21 years old and will need to develop in the NFL after only starting one college season, but the tools are great and he’s an early declare. He had 40th percentile tackles per game last year before absolutely shredding his athletic testing. Smith is a 96th percentile adjusted SPARQ athlete with 88th percentile speed and 90th percentile weight. That’s probably why he had a solid 80.0 PFF coverage grade last year.

Texas A&M DT DeMarvin Leal

85th percentile vs. 79th percentile expected draft capital

Leal is ranked ahead of Devonte Wyatt (more on him later) straight up in my analytics rankings. Aside from being a 21-year-old Power 5 early declare, Leal had 87th percentile tackles for loss per game, translating to 97th percentile adjusted production. He also has a 97th percentile three cone and a 72nd forty, though he has bottom 3rd percentile weight. Leal might be role specific early on, but there are a lot of things to like on Day 2. DT is a position that drops off early this year, and he has true upside.

Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar

78th percentile vs. 58th percentile expected draft capital

Kolar has some upside as a receiving tight end. He had 88th percentile career yards per game, 81st percentile team yards per pass attempt, and did so with passable weight (49th percentile). Then at his Pro Day, Kolar popped off to the tune of 90th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism; he had a 72nd percentile vertical, 76th percentile three cone, and a 4.62 forty. Kolar started for three full seasons at a Power 5 school, exceeding a 84.9 PFF grade in all three years. He lined up inline on 29% of his snaps last season. That’s the fantasy football sweet spot.

Coastal Carolina TE Isaiah Likely

75th percentile vs. 46th percentile expected draft capital

Only having 18th percentile weight might make this paragraph irrelevant, but Likely had 98th percentile adjusted production and is 21.7 years old. His 94th percentile team share of receiving yards and 2.99 yards per route run suggest he can compete for a starting F tight end role in the NFL, even if he’s too small to play a full complement of snaps. Unfortunately, Likely is a straight-line athlete (76th percentile vertical) with a 15th percentile three cone. Consider him a quality pass-catching dice roll early on Day 3.

Western Kentucky EDGE DeAngelo Malone

69th percentile vs. 48th percentile expected draft capital

Malone doesn’t check Power 5 or early-declare boxes, but he is an 81st percentile adjusted SPARQ athlete with a 93rd percentile forty and 78th percentile three cone. If he can add weight or if he is just an efficient situational stand up pass rusher, Malone has some value later in the draft. He had 66th percentile tackles for loss and four seasons with at least 6.0 sacks, including a 99 tackle, 20.5 TFL, and 11.0 sack junior season.

Baylor WR Tyquan Thornton

66th percentile vs. 42nd percentile expected draft capital

From my WR Rankings column: “Thornton (6'2.5/184) was a 4-star recruit and 4-year contributor at Baylor, who led a top-5 Bears team in receiving yards by 375 in 2021. The 21.7-year-old is a very explosive deep threat (career 15.7 YPR) who must avoid press man coverage to be effective. Thornton had a well below-average 1.7 yards per route run versus man coverage in a conference not exactly known for their physicality. With that said, Thornton's role is easy to see. He'll be a rotational deep threat with 4.28 speed and an explosive 130-inch broad jump (87th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism). His 75th percentile college dominator and 65th percentile yards per team pass attempt are enough to leave the light on despite his concerning strength. Out of 501 drafted WRs in my database, Thornton's 23.0 BMI is the second-lowest only trailing J.J. Nelson.”

San Diego State TE Daniel Bellinger

66th percentile vs. 46th percentile expected draft capital

The raw stats (31-357-2) aren’t going to wow anyone, but Bellinger had 50th percentile team share of receiving yards and enters the draft as a 21-year-old with three years of starting experience. At San Diego State, Bellinger was a classic Y tight end (inline) with blocking skills. But he also is an 81st percentile adjusted SPARQ athlete. Bellinger (6’5/253) has a 4.63 forty and 78th percentile speed score, a 91st percentile broad jump, and a 68th percentile three cone. That’s a well-rounded profile.

North Carolina OG Joshua Ezeudu

66th percentile vs. 52nd percentile expected draft capital

We should always be interested in prospects who enter the draft at 20 years old, especially ones with 74th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism. Ezeudu (6’4/308) had a 64th percentile forty, 80th percentile short shuttle, and 60th percentile vertical. As a bonus, Ezeudu played 508 snaps at left tackle and 171 snaps at right tackle throughout his career, so he has positional versatility in case of injuries.

Arizona State RB Rachaad White

60th percentile vs. 45th percentile expected draft capital

From my RB Rankings column: “A 3-star JUCO recruit, White (6’0/214) transferred to Arizona State (zone and gap scheme) where he averaged 135 total yards and 1.46 total touchdowns per game from 2020-21. He has serviceable wiggle at the first level with 4.48 forty speed on the backend (84th percentile adjusted SPARQ athleticism). White has NFL size but isn’t a powerful rusher (0.24 missed tackles per carry and 3.4 yards after contact). Instead, White has nice patience and burst in short spaces, with his biggest value coming on passing downs. He was very fluid as a receiver (3.4 receptions per game) with routes beyond checkdowns, including a 2022 prospect high 15 screens. Out of 251 RB qualifiers, White was 2nd in PFF receiving grade and had good awareness on blitzes/stunts in pass protection. Overall, White is a passing down starter with enough three-down ability to be vaulted into a bigger role if necessary. The red flag in his profile is being 23 years old. Comp = Kenyan Drake.”