Zach Wilson

ESPN: 2022 Draft Top 10 Projections

Our new article on ESPN+ gives a sneak peak at projections from Football Outsiders Almanac 2021, with a look at our forecast for the top 10 picks in the 2022 NFL draft. We have the Jets at No. 1, the Texans at No. 2, and a surprising team at No. 9.

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Comments

19 comments, Last at 12 Jun 2021, 3:26pm

1 While I don't have insider,…

While I don't have insider, and I'm not going to get it  to read this article, I find it hard to believe FO would project the Jets to have the first pick. They could be the worst team in the league and pick 5th, like 2016. Their divisional opponents should all be good, but the AFC East plays the AFC South and the NFC South; so they play two other contenders for the first pick (Jacksonville, Houston), 2 teams that picked in the top ten that should improve (Carolina, Atlanta), two actual Super Bowl contenders (Indianapolis, Tampa Bay) and two pretenders (Tennesee, New Orleans). They also have an extra home game (Philly), and a London game that is supposedly a home game for the Falcons. The real AFC East destroying that schedule should preclude the Jets winning any tiebreaker, and that schedule is a lot easier than last years. I can understand the expectation that the team will be bad because they have no proven cornerbacks, and will be starting a rookie at QB, but going by the talent on the team and the new improved coaching I will be very surprised if they beat out Jacksonville for first pick.

3 As I understand it this is…

As I understand it this is based on the DAVE projections, so no, I wouldn't exactly call it a fluff piece, even though it's certainly not as detailed as the book will be.

In any case, it's not behind a paywall, you can read the article by following the link.

5 Hard to believe

That someone other than the Texans will be #1. If it were someone else I'd guess the Lions (playmakers are atrocious). Although Wilson was overrated as a prospect additions like Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are nice and should stave them from the bottom along with returning guys like Quinnen and Mekhi.

But I don't have insider to read why.

15 FWIW, Texans are at #2, and…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

FWIW, Texans are at #2, and Lions are at #7 (primarily because entire NFCN is projected to have the hardest schedules).  They don't think the difference between Goff and Stafford is as large as the general perception.

16 I still don't know exactly…

I still don't know exactly what I expect from Goff next season. Seems like there's a fair amount of sentiment out there that he's going to be garbage (though not from FO), but even though the Lions are very thin at WR, their offensive line could plausibly be pretty good. Give him relatively clean pockets and enough time for play action to develop, and I think you can get competency from Goff.

The question I have is whether the Lions should be interested in competent QB play at this stage! I guess they're still very likely to pick high in next year's draft either way, but I have to think they are going to want to add a rookie QB soon. And again, they don't have much committed at WR yet, which in my mind is the position group that you run the greatest risk of harming their development when you have really poor QB play.

17 Yea, people suddenly act…

Yea, people suddenly act like Goff is on par with Drew Lock or 2020 Carson Wentz.  IMO he's more in the Cousins or mid-2010s Andy Dalton tier...capable of being productive, but heavily dependent on context.  Sure, he was propped up a bit by the McVay system, but I don't think McVay is that good that he can will a terrible quarterback to be top 6 in efficiency for two years in a row.

On paper, the Lions WR corps is one of the worst in the league (although I'm kind of high on Amon-Ra St. Brown), but they have a solid LT, an elite center, and presumably what will be a good to elite RT (although he may have some rust and rookie struggles).  With at least competent guard play, they should have (on paper), a top offensive line.  Despite his struggles the last two years, PFF has always graded Goff as top tier form a clean pocket (I'm really interested to see when the FO article about pressure vs no pressure comes out), which is usually stable over time.  His problem is that he's not great at manipulating the pocket and completely falls apart when pressured.  

As far as Goff playing just well enough to ruin their draft position, I'm not that worried.  I expect their defense to remain bad enough to compensate for that.

19 Merely jettisoning The…

Merely jettisoning The Rocket Scientist will lift their defense quite a lot.

They still have a lot of growing pains, but they finally, finally have the right management in place I think.

12 So I got to read the article…

So I got to read the article at work. The analysis makes sense, but there is some stuff that seems like it will be off. Assuming the Jets offense will be a disaster because it has been the last three years while being coached by Adam Gase and a guy Todd Bowles coaxed out of retirement doesn't seem like the best assumption. I understand that offense doesn't change as much as defense, but I think better coaching is going to help a lot, even if Zach Wilson isn't the savior. The Shanahan system the Jets are now using has not trotted out many offenses as terrible as the last three years of NY Jets' ineptitude. I have a lot more doubt about the Jets defense than offense right now.
Not sure I would have thrown the Bears in there, but it makes sense (young quarterback, brutal schedule). However that schedule becomes a lot easier if Green Bay loses/trades Rodgers. We'll see.
The Chargers being in the list also surprised me. Normally a team that loses a lot of close games wins a lot more the next year. This is the one selection I doubt should be on the list, but then again, when have the Chargers proved anyone right for thinking highly of them?
So Jacksonville is last on the list. The argument for being tenth and not 2nd or 1st is : college coaches sometimes have success early on before failing, and an easy schedule due to a weaker division. I don't agree with either one. Urban Meyer isn't just a successful college coach jumping to the NFL, he's a college coach with no experience in the NFL, either as a player or coach. The only coaches to try this since 2000 are Kliff Kingsbury and Chip Kelly. I believe Steve Spurrier and Jimmy Johnson tried it in the past. The jury is out on Kingsbury, but he hasn't had a winning season yet; Spurrier was an immediate disaster, while Kelly tanked after doing well the first two years. Kelly actually had a new system; Meyer doesn't. Johnson went 1-15 and then became the dynasty maker we all know today. I believe the Jaguars' talent base is closer to the 1989 Cowboys than those Eagle teams.
As far as the schedule, yes the AFC South is going to be weaker this year. The Texans will be bad, the Colts may not have a quarterback (but if they do, the Jaguars won't win either of those games), and the Titans lost talent over the offseason. So who else do the Jaguars play? The AFC East (consisting of the three teams making the Jets' schedule look brutal) and the NFC West, with its three playoff teams from last year as well as the pesky Cardinals. The Jaguars also play a 'home' game in London against the Dolphins, so they really only have 8 home games instead of 9. They also play at the Jets and at the Patriots in December, a tough ask for a warm weather team. I have a feeling the Jaguars will be a lot closer to the first pick than the Bears and Chargers.

18 On the one hand, projecting…

On the one hand, projecting a 2-14 team to be the worst team in the league the next year shouldn't be terribly surprising. On the other hand, the coaching should be much better, they've had two killer drafts in a row and a highly successful free agency period, and I think Wilson is going to be the best of the bunch. I have an exceedingly hard time seeing them finish up worse than Houston or Jacksonville or Detroit, schedule or no schedule.