2022 NFL Draft Second-Day Values: Defense

2022 NFL Draft Second-Day Values: Defense
2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2022 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2022 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense
2022 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

Published April 22, 2022.
By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

In the recent weeks, there have been a lot of questions about who are my value picks in the 2022 NFL Draft class. A value or sleeper prospect is basically a player who gets drafted after the first round and proves to be a steal. The second day of the draft is where the men are separated from the boys among NFL general managers. All the players have strengths and flaws, but the top evaluators find future starters and team building blocks on Day 2.

Every year, I pick my favorite second-day values. In case the player I picked goes in the first round, I started picking two players in case one is a surprise first-round pick. If a player goes in the first round, I should not get credit for calling them a second-day value pick if they pan out. Here is my track record starting in 2008, going back to my time with Pewter Report.

2008: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
2009: Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss
2010: Brian Price, DT, UCLA and Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
2011: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

2012: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati
2013: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
2014: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
2015: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M and Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State

2016: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame and Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
2017: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama and Akhello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
2018: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech and Arden Key, DE, LSU
2019: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland and Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina

2020: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State and Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
2021: Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson; Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida; and Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt
2022: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State and Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

My top candidates this year were North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, Georgia safety Lewis Cine and Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson.

Overall, this list is very strong, with a few exceptions like the pairs in 2015 and 2016. I definitely hit on Brandon Flowers, Mike Wallace, Justin Houston, Derek Wolfe, Larry Warford, Jaylon Smith, Ronald Darby and Deebo Samuel. Last year, I selected three players because I thought it was likely that either Etienne or Robinson would go in the first round. Here is a breakdown of a top day-two value prospect at each defensive position for the 2022 NFL Draft. All the players will be prospects who are likely going on the second day of the 2022 NFL Draft. If a player is a possible late first-round pick, I generally don’t include them as an option.

Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
The 2022 NFL Draft is deep at edge rusher, and Ebiketie could be one of those value picks with a serious ability to get after the quarterback. In 2021, Ebiketie totaled 9.5 sacks, 62 tackles and two forced fumbles as Penn State’s lead rusher to replace Jayson Oweh. Ebiketie also rushed extremely well against the all-star offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl.

Ebiketie has the speed and strength to be a challenge for offensive tackles at the next level. As a pass rusher, Ebiketie can burn tackles with speed yet is strong enough to fight them off with his hands. After his quick first-step to get upfield, Ebiketie uses his hands and feet at the same time nicely with agility to redirect to the inside or sink his hips while running the loop on the outside. Ebiketie also possesses an excellent rip move with natural leverage.

Ebiketie could stand to improve as a run defender and he can get covered up sometimes by offensive tackles. That is not surprising considering his lack of height, length and weight. As a pro, he could get rotated out a fair amount in running situations.

If Ebiketie lands in a good situation, he has the potential to become a good starter, double-digit sacker, and Pro Bowler. He could be of one of the steals of the 2022 NFL Draft.

2021: Dayo Odeyingbo
2020: Jason Strowbridge
2019: Zach Allen
2018: Arden Key
2017: Malik McDowell
2016: Sheldon Day
2015: Michael Bennett
2014: Dominique Easley & Taylor Hart

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Dean was a projected first-rounder before sliding in the spring as the 2022 NFL Draft grew closer. He was banged after the season and did not run the 40. At his pro day, he was not in football shape, and while he gutted out the workout, he was not in top form. Given that he is undersized at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, many team sources believe Dean could slide to the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. That being said, they rave about his 2021 game tape, where Dean was a pure football player who demonstrated excellent instincts, intelligence, character and leadership. He was the brain of the Bulldogs defense, making the calls and audibles while also being their heart and soul.

Dean is excellent in pass coverage and a dynamic blitzer, plus shows a lot of range as a run defender. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Dean could be a value pick, and I could see him being a Darius Leonard-type linebacker in the NFL.

Damone Clark, LB, LSU
Clark was a consensus second-round pick prior to the revelation that he would need neck surgery that could cost him his 2022 season. Thus, Clark could slide to the mid-rounds and Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. The franchise that is patient enough to take him, however, could be rewarded with a massive steal. In 2021, Clark was a tackling machine for LSU and one of the nation’s leaders in stops with 136 tackles, alongside two forced fumbles, 5.5 sacks, one interception and two passes defended.

As a linebacker, Clark is the complete package. He has very good instincts and is very fast at reading his keys to get in position to make plays. For a big linebacker, Clark has surprising speed to get to the perimeter, and he eats up space in a hurry. In the ground game, Clark is a solid tackler who wraps up ball-carriers and gets them to the ground. Clark, however, slides into some tackles and does not always arrive with violence. It would be good to see him become a more forceful and violent tackler for the NFL. That would help to avoid missed tackles and being dragged for extra yardage.

Clark is also a skilled defender in pass coverage. He is very fast as a blitzer with excellent diagnosis skills. Clark reads plays quickly and covers a lot of ground in zone. He has the speed to run down the middle seam. On dump-off passes to the flat, Clark flies into the ball-carrier and is good at making tackles in space. His size and athleticism allow him to have the potential to play some man coverage on tight ends and backs out of the backfield.

It would not surprise me if Clark comes back in 2023 and has a year of shaking off rust and getting acclimated in the NFL. But then I could see him becoming a good starter in the back half of his rookie contract and being a Zach Cunningham=type linebacker as a pro. That would make him a massive steal as a mid-round or third-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

2021: Jabril Cox
2020: Jordyn Brooks
2019: Mack Wilson
2018: Darius Leonard
2017: Zach Cunningham
2016: Jaylon Smith
2015: Denzel Perryman
2014: Kyle Van Noy

Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
Emerson is a big, long, physical corner who should fit well in the NFL as either a press-man or a zone corner. He has good instincts and is adept at covering up receivers who come into his area. With his height, length and strength, he is skilled at defending big receivers and battling them on contested catches. Emerson might be able to do some man coverage on receiving tight ends as well. Emerson is an ideal press-man corner thanks to his strength and physicality to jam receivers at the line. With his strong arm punch, Emerson is adept at stalling and rerouting receivers to disrupt the play for the offense. Emerson’s build, with its height and length, makes him a natural press-man corner for the NFL, and he has enough quickness and athleticism to turn and run with big wideouts down the field. He is a good weapon to defend fade passes in the red zone.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Emerson could be a great fit in a defense that plays a lot of Cover 3 and Cover 0. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Emerson could be a late second-round or early third-round pick. He could end up being a quality starter with upside to potentially develop into a No. 1 corner for his team.

2021: Aaron Robinson
2020: Damon Arnette
2019: Julian Love
2018: Isaiah Oliver
2017: Akhello Witherspoon
2016: Kendall Fuller
2015: Ronald Darby
2014: Marcus Roberson

Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
Cine (6-2, 199) had an excellent 2021 campaign, locking down the middle of the field for the Bulldogs. He totaled 73 tackles, an interception and nine passes batted on the year. In the ground game, Cine is a physical safety who can function well as the eighth man in the box. He is a reliable tackler and willing to take on any back. While Cine is a tad undersized, he could play some as the eighth man in the box because he is very natural near the line of scrimmage. Cine is a lightning bolt coming downhill and making tackles in the ground game.

Against the pass, Cine is reliable in zone coverage. He covers ground well and is adept at picking up receivers who come into his area. Cine has some coverage ability with movement skills, but he is not as natural as the deep single-high free safety. For the NFL, Cine is a more natural strong safety, but he has flexibility because he is fast, smart and instinctive. He is better suited to play man coverage against tight ends or helping against big wide receivers along the sideline.

Sources from around the league raved about Cine after his combine interview. They loved his football IQ, intelligence, passion, and work ethic. They say he has super intangibles and will be a locker-room leader. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Cine is likely to be a second-round pick at the lowest. He could be one of the best values to come out of second day of the 2022 NFL Draft.

2021: Andre Cisco
2020: Kyle Dugger
2019: Darnell Savage
2018: Terrell Edmunds
2017: Marcus Maye
2016: Keanu Neal
2015: Damarious Randall
2014: Dion Bailey

2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2022 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2022 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Offense | 2022 NFL Draft Potential Busts: Defense
2022 NFL Draft Day-Three Sleepers

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