Five NFL rookies worth watching in 2022
With the pre-season coming to an end, here are some members of the rookie class that will be interesting to watch in the upcoming 2022 season.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lion
The #2 overall pick quickly proved to be everything his hometown Lions wanted Hutchinson to be. Hutchinson promoted to first-team representative immediately and continued to build on what he had shown at Michigan.
The high-level classification that Hutchinson mostly earned from drafters is obvious. Hutchinson would be a good person in no time. He has the strength, length, football intelligence and technique to step right in and make an impact in Detroit’s retooled 4-2-5 defence. Hutchinson usually plays in a strong DE, but the Lions move him inside cautiously and he’s proven to have too many ways to handle blocking when he’s attacking space.” B”.
We’re starting to see more personality from Hutchinson, both in the pre-season games and in Hard Knocks with the Lions being this year’s standout team. Detroit hasn’t had a real defensive catalyst since the All-Pro heyday of Ndamukong Suh, an offender who had to worry about everything. Hutchinson is on his way to being that guy.
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Back after the 2020 college season ended, Pickens was a fixture in the overall top 10 in the frenzy of simulated drafts too early for 2022. But an injury wiped out almost the whole thing. the extender’s 2021 season at Georgia and he fell out of sight. a little.
If training camp and pre-season are any judgement, those out-of-the-ordinary, optimistic attitudes toward Pickens will haunt some draft analysts. The Pickens drew acclaim from everyone who visited the Steelers camp or watched them last season. His mix of physicality and long pace has been a big deal for the defence throughout the summer. In addition, Pickens has a game of je ne sais quois. It’s artistic to see him move away from the base of the line or make a subtle stutter to let a thwart pass. No matter if it was Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett throwing him passes, Pickens made the attack through Pittsburgh a lot more formidable in an instant.
Jalen Pitre, S, Houston Texas
Houston started their longtime unstable secondary overhaul with some lasting setups in the 2022 NFL draft. #3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr had a good start outside of CB, looking both healthy and motivated for the first time since 2019. But it’s Houston’s next pick that gets me really excited.
And I’m not the only one feeling the Jalen Pitre vibe. Witness a message shortly after Houston’s pre-season game against the 49ers from a longtime Texas reporter:
“They’ve got their new Honey Badger.”
Comparing second-round safety from Baylor to Tyrann Mathieu is a bit ambitious, but Pitre does a lot of the same things as the one-time Texan. Coach Lovie Smith trusted Pitre enough to place him in the free safe, corners and de facto LB in different packages. His tackles really stand out: hit, wrap, drop, wash, repeat. The covering instinct and quickness in reacting to the action are also ready for the immediate NFL test. Pitre is my good-night pick for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Samuel Womack, CB, San Francisco 49ers
The fifth-round picks from Toledo are understandable under the collective view of entering training camp. It took about three practice in the 49ers camp before no one needed the tape on the front of the helmet to know Womack. He got that close so quickly up the San Francisco depth rankings, knocking veteran Darqueze Denard off the roster and claiming a CB contract starter spot.
The fanfare of his play was evident in the pre-season. Womack picked Packers QB Jordan Love twice in their game, one of which was a controversial catch in which he just wanted the ball more than Green Bay WR Romeo Doubs. In their next game, Womack was in the perfect position to cover the forward and put the ball in the air for his teammates to catch.
I won’t lie: I’ve seen Womack play in Toledo in person and didn’t see this coming. He’s always had dribbling skills and quick feet, but his small size (he’s 5-9) and cognitive problems sometimes trouble my scouting eye. Now I’m blinded by his sky-high potential as an instant-impact defender in San Francisco.
Abraham Lucas, RT, Seattle Seahawks
There may not be much to enjoy this season for Seahawks fans in the first year as Russell Wilson cooks in a different ensemble. But their attack is quietly looking solid, and the third rookie from Washington State is one reason why.
Lucas excelled in the camp and pre-season, unofficially earning the starting spot after a couple of strong performances. He has great length but Lucas also understands how to play shorter when necessary; His ability to generate power in his long arms when they can’t be fully extended is truly impressive. Lucas is rapidly transforming from the deep areas of the Cougars’ Air Raid outside and proving that he can move his body in the running game. A right split might not appeal to everyone, but a good shot can bounce off the screen and make it easier for a player to develop a skill position. Find Lucas to be that guy for Seattle soon.