By: Lucas Kochevar
It sure has been a while, hasn't it? Well don't worry, this yearly LK absence is brought to you by Koch's Corner! Finals came and I stopped these, but in that time, I started a weekly podcast that has three to five shows. With that and school, the league notes went on the back burner and I never followed up with the draft. Lets get into it.
The 2022 NFL Draft Class So Far...
With any NFL draft, you have to start at the beginning with the first overall pick. The early results on Travon Walker are GOOD. That's about it. He really has been what we thought he was, a defensive end that can be very flexible in what you ask from him while being a raw pass rusher. He's been very effective, when needed, in coverage and his run game is NFL caliber already. His pass rushing needs improvement, desperately, to live up to that number one pick label. Since his first breakout game, he has no sacks and no QB hits. All in all, it's been very positive results, especially compared to the second pick Aidan Hutchinson. The Lions defensive end had his breakout game in week two and filled up the stat sheet with everything you want to see, outside of that, it's been abysmal. I'm not one to take all the PFF stats seriously, but he grades out in all aspects of the game as one of the worst edge rushers in the league, but I still have faith he can find a middle ground in production.
Now, at the third pick we have cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. on the Texans. The results have also been varied with him. His defense against the run has been relatively effective, especially for a rookie. When you look elsewhere in his game, it has been bad. He's been targeted 21 times over the first three weeks and has allowed 12 receptions for an average of 14 yards per catch. What's funny is if you look at his peer, Sauce Gardner, he has very similar numbers, but the targets are split in half to 12 targets with 7 catches, which are averaging 13 yards per catch. Obviously, the difference is in the targets and that's where Gardner has been better. There is a reason that he's only been targeted 12 times and I think he has the makings of a shutdown corner. Before we move on to the offensive rookies, there are a couple of guys I want to mention. Kyle Hamilton has made some big plays for the Ravens defense, but the consistency isn't quite there when it comes to coverage skills at safety. Devin Lloyd, one of the few rookie linebackers to get snaps, has looked fantastic and will be a very promising going forward. Jordan Davis has also been fantastic and the run defense was never a concern, the pass rushing snaps look much more refined than we initially thought.
Before we get to the really strong parts of this class, let's get the ugly out of the way. The offensive linemen, center, tackle, and guard, have not been good at all. The line is the hardest adjustment when it comes to transitioning immediately for the vast majority of rookies and this is proving it. The first two tackles off the board this year are both struggling mightily in their starting action so far. Abraham Lucas, Tyler Smith, and Tyler Linderbaum have been above average but that's about it from what I see. Typically, we talk about quarterbacks and how they've faired so far, but we have no one to look at! Pickett hasn't passed Trubisky and Ridder hasn't passed Mariota so until something happens, this is an incomplete grade. Looking at the running backs, no one has really separated themselves from the pack. Breece Hall and Michael Carter split carries, Kenneth Walker and Rashad Penny splits carries so we don't know how good they can be. Dameon Pierce is the only one that has really excited me. After a slow start out the gate, I think he's turning it on and the preseason hype is real.
Now, the big success stories of this class. The wide receivers have not disappointed one bit. Drake London, the first one off the board, has established himself early on. Every game, he's had his fingerprints on the passing attack. London has scored redzone touchdowns when called upon and been a trooper in the middle of the field. The Ohio State products have been great too. Garrett Wilson has been the only bright spot of the Jets offense and Chris Olave has very similar numbers with slightly more yards. Wilson does have more touchdowns on the year. These three have been above the rest, but even then, Jahan Dotson, Romeo Doubs, and Treylon Burks have shown promise in spots. Closing this one out, the people have to remember that rookies are rookies. They're supposed to be bad and grow from their mistakes. In a few cases, they can be good out of the gate, but it's rare. All in all, I think this draft class is exactly as advertised. It's a deep group of starter-level players with a few stars so far.
LK's Lock of the Week: Kansas City Chiefs -1 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I close out this blog with my one NFL bet of the week. Typically, I'm a college football enthusiast in betting, but in this new era of LK League Notes, I will drop one NFL bet to take for the week. The Kansas City Chiefs will travel to Tampa Bay (maybe?) to take on Tom Brady and co. The Super Bowl rematch from two years ago features two different rosters as the Chiefs went and revamped the entire offensive line because of that Super Bowl. The Bucs have changed their coach since that game as well with Bruce Arians retiring this past offseason. With that being said, the Chiefs are coming off a tough lost in Indy and the Buccaneers coming off an ugly loss to Green Bay. The game could be played in Minnesota due to Hurricane Ian so I think that factors into this. On the field, I think the Chiefs defense is very good, especially compared to previous years. A lot of these young guys have developed into legitimate starters and the Justin Reid for Tyrann Mathieu swap has worked out. This entire Bucs offense is in the medical tent and Tom Brady is the only one that is carrying on. I think that's where the difference in the game is. The Chiefs offense could be in a stalemate with a very strong Tampa defense, but I have faith that Mahomes can win this Pick 'Em battle.
Next LK Volume: Week Four and More