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5 players from the 2022 NFL Draft who may fail to live up to expectations

Travon Walker at the NFL Combine
Travon Walker at the NFL Combine
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Matthew Wear

The 2022 NFL Draft offered plenty of excitement as franchises welcomed the next generation of stars into the professional circuit. Analysts spent months deliberating over the top picks based on their college careers, production, and, most importantly, their personalities.

Quite often, scouts and fans alike expect a lot from players due to things such as being a hometown hero or having athletic skills, but not the production you need in the pros. Plenty of players selected in this year's draft may not meet expectations, and it would be a surprise to many if their skills translate well to the next level.

#5 - Trevor Penning, Offensive Tackle, New Orleans Saints

Trevor Penning of the New Orleans Saints
Trevor Penning of the New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints selected Trevor Penning with the 19th pick in the 2022 draft, but it could be argued he was selected way too high. Penning plays left tackle, a premium position as a quarterback protector. But much was expected from him due to his NFL Combine performance, where he ran a 4.89 40-yard dash, elite short shuttle, and three-cone drills.

This made him the sixth-most athletic offensive lineman of the last 35 years, which shot his stock up. Despite this, Penning isn’t a polished blocker, as his size and hands were both questioned by scouts.

"Penning tends to turn his hips early towards widely aligned speed-rushers who attack the corner with high pads, leaving his inside shoulder vulnerable to getting lifted and pried open,” said Bleacher Report scout Brandon Thorn.

#4 - Christian Watson, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers

Christian Watson of the Green Bay Packers
Christian Watson of the Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers were desperate to get quarterback Aaron Rodgers some help after the departure of Davante Adams in early 2022, and they did that when they selected wide receiver Christian Watson with the 34th overall selection.

Fans and analysts alike were mesmerized by Watson’s athletic ability, with the 6-foot-4 receiver running a 4.36 40-yard dash and a 38.5 vertical.

“They gotta make him the guy” - NFL insider believes Aaron Rodgers can push rookie wideout Christian Watson to win OROY award dlvr.it/SPzkgQ

However, Watson’s production at NDSU left a lot to be desired despite the athleticism. He never topped over 801 yards in a season and had a career drop rate of 12.1 percent, enough for many teams to pass on him.

Watson will look to improve this as he’s arguably the Packers’ top receiver as a rookie.

#3 - Tyler Smith, Offensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys

Tyler Smith of the Dallas Cowboys
Tyler Smith of the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys looked to offer quarterback Dak Prescott some protection when they drafted offensive tackle Tyler Smith out of Tulsa with the 24th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

But like Penning, it seems as though his position as a quarterback protector has seen him drafted sooner than his skills deserve. Smith's technique leaves a lot to be desired as he stands straight and has questionable hand placement, which could lead to a plethora of holding calls in the NFL.

Smith will play for the Dallas Cowboys, who were the most penalized team in 2021, and his selection might only make matters worse for the team in that aspect.

#2 - Malik Willis, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans

2022 Draft - Malik Willis on the Red Carpet
2022 Draft - Malik Willis on the Red Carpet

One of the shocks of the 2022 NFL Draft was how far quarterback Malik Willis fell, as most people had him as a mid-first-round selection. He wasn’t taken until round three by the Titans, and many have since speculated why that was.

Willis is a fantastic athlete, as he rushed for 27 total touchdowns in his two years at Liberty and has a rocket arm that was on full display on his pro day. However, many scouts feel that he played in a simple college system without having too many NFL-level reads, which makes it difficult for Willis’ skills to translate to the next level.

#1 - Travon Walker, Defensive End, Jacksonville Jaguars

Travon Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars
Travon Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars

Travon Walker was taken with the number one overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, despite some concerns about his production. While at Georgia, Walker only managed to amass 9.5 total sacks in his three years in college, leaving many fans and analysts thinking the Jacksonville Jaguars made a mistake selecting him.

Walker is a fantastic athlete, however, managing a 9.99/10 relative athletic score, and the 272-pound man posted an excellent 4.51-second 40-yard dash and a 35.5-inch vertical jump. Still, there are question marks as to whether his athleticism can overcome his lack of production in the NFL.

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker with the No 1 pick at the 2022 #NFL Draft! 🏈https://t.co/F9Xk2Y7oRb
Edited by Piyush Bisht
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