The 2022 NFL draft is just hours away, and while there’s no clear-cut top prospects in this year’s class, there are plenty of intriguing players with tons of potential.
Every year, we see some impressive athletes with the physical traits to be superstars in the NFL, but they never realize that lofty potential. There are many variables that can impact a player’s success at the next level, from scheme and supporting cast to injuries and other factors.
Which players in this class have a high ceiling, but potentially a low floor?
Here are our picks for the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this year’s draft:
Trevor Penning | OT | Northern Iowa
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Penning has a rare combination of size, length, athleticism and strength, and could develop into a dominant franchise tackle in the NFL. That said, he’s still extremely raw, and his technique will need a ton of improvement from pro-level coaching. He struggled in space, especially against top competition, and that won’t get any easier at the next level. Penning has the physical tools of a top-10 pick, but much of his film looked more like a Day 3 prospect.
Christian Watson | WR | North Dakota State
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
It’s rare to find a wide receiver prospect with Watson’s combination of size and speed. At 6-4, 205 pounds, Watson ran a sub-4.3 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, giving league decision-makers lofty dreams of explosive plays every time Watson touches the ball. The caveat? He’s inconsistent when it comes to actually catching the ball, and his route-running still needs some work. The potential is off the charts with Watson, but it might take time and the right situation for him to realize it.
Travon Walker | EDGE | Georgia
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Walker is a rare athlete for his size, putting on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine after measuring at 6-5, and over 270 pounds. Combining that athleticism with the versatility to line up anywhere along the defensive front, in any scheme, and you’ve got a recipe for a potential No. 1 overall pick. The caveat? Walker’s production didn’t match his talent in college, and teams will have to believe that will change at the next level.
Tariq Woolen | CB | UTSA
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Much like Watson, Woolen has a rare blend of size and speed for his position. There aren’t many corners who are 6-4, over 200 pounds, and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.26 seconds. Woolen did just that at the NFL Scouting Combine, and those athletic traits are likely to have defensive coaches pounding the table for him in this year’s draft. His technique still need plenty of work, as he’s still learning the finer points of playing the position. He could be an elite shutdown corner with his tools, as long as he refines the rest of his game.
Jelani Woods | TE | Virginia
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A three-star quarterback coming out of high school, Woods is now a massive tight end prospect with incredible athleticism and limitless potential. He put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine, after measuring in at 6-7 and just under 260 pounds. He’s still learning the position after his transition from quarterback, but he showed flashes of dominance on film. He’ll still need plenty of development at the next level, but he’s got the talent to be the best tight end in the entire draft.
Malik Willis | QB | Liberty
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Every year, most of the top quarterbacks could fall into this category. This year’s top prospect is Willis, who has the best arm in the 2022 quarterback class, and the most dynamic skill set in terms of playmaking ability. That gives him the most potential, but he wouldn’t be the first or last promising quarterback to struggle at the next level, due to all the variables that contribute to success or failure at the game’s most important position. If Willis ends up in the right situation, he’s got the mental and physical traits to be the next Russell Wilson.