The 2022 NFL draft will take place in May, which means the game will have been played for nearly a full decade. The new expansion teams in Atlanta and New Orleans are expected to be good enough to contend with other powerhouses like Dallas, Oakland, Arizona and Seattle.
The “stream nfl draft 2022” is a live stream of the NFL Draft.
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Their tales are diverse, but they all have one thing in common: they played away from the bright lights of major college football programs, yet they never gave up their ambition of playing in the NFL.
The journey to the NFL outside of the Power 5 limelight, such as via the Football Championship Subdivision or even Division II, has its own set of challenges, ranging from a lack of facilities and amenities to the difficulty of gaining the attention of pro scouts. However, numerous athletes have made it this far and are expecting to hear their names called during the 2022 NFL draft, which will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC on April 28-30.
At the NFL combine, certain players, such as Cole Strange, Christian Watson, and Pierre Strong Jr., dazzled the crowd. Others, such as Joshua Williams, Noah Elliss, and Cordell Volson, have unique abilities that could not be overlooked. And both Elliss and Watson come from a family of NFL players.
Our team of college football writers — Chris Low, Heather Dinich, Bill Connelly, Harry Lyles Jr., and Kyle Bonagura — tell the tales of several small-school draft candidates who are defying the odds by pursuing an alternative route to the draft via hard work, tenacity, and drive.
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When Cole Strange arrived to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2016, he had a No. 69 jersey and a set of knee braces in front of his locker. To that time, the closest he’d been to the offensive line was a few plays as tight end in high school.
Strange, a 245-pound defensive end/linebacker out of Knoxville’s Farragut High School, slipped between the cracks throughout the recruitment process. He now quips that the only way he could get on campus as a recruit was to tag along with a high school buddy, despite being a lifetime Tennessee Volunteers fan who never missed a home game as a child.
Strange said, “And it was an unauthorized visit since he got to bring some friends.” “I was in the Tennessee weight room, thinking it was the best place in the planet. Even as a favored walk-on, I never received a smell from them.”
Strange said that the Air Force and Army were the only FBS institutions that offered him a scholarship. He was all prepared to join the Air Force until he realized that Colorado was too far away from home for a 17-year-old.
Strange, fresh off a strong performance at the Senior Bowl and a spectacular display of athleticism during exercises at the combine, is no longer flying under the radar as he prepares for the NFL draft. Strange, who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 307 pounds, has also shown his flexibility by working at center during Senior Bowl week after spending most of his collegiate career at left guard.
Strange, a five-year starter at Chattanooga and a first-team FCS All-American as a senior, said, “I felt like I could play with anyone.” “At the Senior Bowl or anywhere else, there wasn’t really a moment when it clicked for me.” I knew it was a chance for me to show myself — not to myself, but to the scouts and teams who were seeing me compete against players from better colleges.
“So it wasn’t really a question of, “Can I do this?” ‘OK, I need to come in here and dominate,’ it was more like.”
Strange, according to Chattanooga coach Rusty Wright, would put up monster exercise numbers at the combine, which he did. Strange’s broad jump of 120 inches fell an inch short of the offensive lineman’s combine record. He also accomplished 31 repetitions on the bench press, putting him at the top of this year’s class of interior offensive lineman in terms of total exercise stats.
Strange is now ranked No. 4 among guard prospects by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, and the fact that he can also play center should only help him rise up the boards. His performance at the combine might propel him to a Day 2 selection, making him the highest-drafted athlete from any Tennessee school.
Not bad for a man who became used to lengthy bus travels for college road games and learned to cook for himself and his younger brother, Dylan, while living off campus for the last two years.
“We always fixed enough,” recalled Strange, who early in his career was mainly concerned with gaining weight. “We ate well as well. It wasn’t like we were always eating pizza, chicken wings, and beer.”
Strange may have been rejected by some of college football’s powerhouses at times, but he never felt compelled to leave Chattanooga for a chance to play in the SEC, ACC, or anyplace else. In other words, the transfer portal’s allure was never really alluring to him.
“I made a pledge to y’all, and that’s not going to change,” Strange informed Wright last summer when he came into Wright’s office.
Strange has made a number of commitments to Chattanooga. He began his nursing studies before recognizing that several of his coursework and shift rotations would conflict with football practice. He changed his major to psychology and graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology; he is presently halfway through his master’s degree in engineering management.
Strange said, “I’d want to continue it.”
Nobody is betting against him because of the way he finishes blocks and just about everything else.
“He’s not one of those guys that just tries to block you. He is attempting to harm you “Wright said. “He’s not going to stop until he’s blocking folks under the bleachers,” says the narrator. Chris Low (c)
USA TODAY Sports/Kirby Lee
Despite having just 11 college games under his belt, former Idaho defensive lineman Noah Elliss is on his way to following in his father’s footsteps to the NFL.
Luther Elliss, his father and previous position coach, called it a “flash in the pan of a collegiate career” that includes surviving ACL and MCL tears in 2019. Add in a 2020 season that was canceled due to COVID, resulting in a six-game spring season in 2021. All of this takes place in the FCS.
Let the NFL draft begin.
Luther Elliss, who played nine seasons with the Detroit Lions and five seasons as an assistant coach at Idaho, remarked, “If you can play, they’ll find you.” “It demonstrates that we have good students, but it also demonstrates how tough it is to get into the league because here we are, a smaller, lower-level FCS team, yet producing a few of individuals who have chances every year.”
“Other youngsters in Alabama and Georgia, on the other hand, aren’t even being considered — three and four stars. It’s reasonable to suggest that the NFL is unconcerned about where talent comes from. The NFL is interested in your skill and if you have the genetic composition or DNA to succeed in the league.”
Elliss received more than 20 scholarship offers, including from Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame, after committing to Mississippi State. Relationships, not brand names, won out, and when former defensive line coach Brian Baker departed Mississippi State for Alabama, Elliss elected to follow his father to Idaho. Two of his brothers also played for the Vandals, and Kaden Elliss was selected in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
“I’ve always wanted to play at a higher level,” said Elliss, who is one of 12 children in his family, eight of whom his parents adopted. “I remember seeing my father play and seeing him emerge from the tunnel, and it inspired me to want to be like him and get there. It’s always been a dream of mine, and I’ve always wanted to do it.”
Because the school’s rehabilitation programs were essentially shut down due to the epidemic, Elliss had to overcome serious knee problems with outside support while at Idaho.
Luther Elliss stated, “[They] said here’s what you need to do, and he just sort of had to do it on his own.” “That reveals a lot about his character, his determination, and his grit.”
Elliss claimed he used an online program headquartered in California to assist strengthen his knee, and despite the fact that most FBS teams employ a full-time nutritionist, Elliss said he was responsible for the most of the nutritional monitoring during that period.
“I virtually had to keep track of what I was eating every day to keep myself in shape,” he remarked. “The facility wasn’t as good as it might have been, but that didn’t matter to me at all; all that mattered to me was being able to play football.”
It is still the case. Elliss, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 359 pounds, was invited to the NFL combine and spent nearly two months in Arizona preparing for it. His stature isn’t an issue; Georgia’s Jordan Davis is listed at 6-6, 340 pounds. The distinction is the level of competition they’ve encountered. According to Luther Elliss, a competitive edge may frequently compensate for what certain FCS players may lack in physical assessments.
“At this level, the eye test may not always pass,” Luther Elliss said, “but the heart and desire to play this game is just as good, if not better, since they realize they don’t have all of those measurables.” Heather Dinich is a writer.
USA TODAY Sports/Kirby Lee
Any North Dakota State draft prospect, particularly on offense, must be scrutinized through a very specialized lens. The Bison are an FCS dynasty, having won nine of the previous 11 national championships and showcasing a distinct type of precise and tough play. When a draft candidate rises to the surface, they demolish FCS defensive fronts and run the ball at will, giving us a different image. (Many prospects have done precisely that recently, from first-round quarterbacks Trey Lance and Carson Wentz to linemen like 2021 second-rounder Dillon Radunz and Billy Turner, a starter for the Green Bay Packers who is now with the Denver Broncos.)
It has a particularly strong impact on Christian Watson, a deep-threat receiver. The Bison standout performed well at the NFL combine, standing 6-4, 208 pounds and running a 4.36 in the 40. His physical characteristics are exciting, and he has NFL blood in his veins: His father, Tim, played in the NFL for five years, and his brother, Tre, had a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins.
Watson, like many other FCS stars, was a late bloomer. As Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, where he was listed at 5-9 as a sophomore, he watched his recruiting focus go to more physically attractive peers, like former Indiana standout Whop Philyor. However, a late growth surge drew the notice of NDSU. He bloomed after he arrived in Fargo.
Watson soon established himself as both too large and too fast for anybody attempting to defend him at the FCS level, as seen by his stats: He caught 105 receptions for 2,140 yards and 14 touchdowns in parts of four seasons in Fargo, and carried 49 times for 392 yards and two additional touchdowns. With an average of 20.4 yards per reception and 8.0 yards per run, plus a 26.4-yard kick return average, he was clearly too explosive for college football’s second level.
“To be at my stature and perform the things that I do, combining that with my catch radius and the stuff that I’m able to use… I’ll be able to create plays that other receivers can’t,” he told The Draft Network.
Watson, of course, hasn’t been put to the test much because of his physical advantages when it comes to things like route perfection and his ability to catch contested balls. Opponents had to commit to stopping the run, or NDSU would keep pounding opponents with the ground game until they did, leaving Watson to battle overmatched cornerbacks and distracted safeties. His potential, as well as his effort levels, are enormous, with ESPN’s Jordan Reid forecasting him to be selected around the top of the second round in his latest mock draft, and Todd McShay projecting him to be selected towards the end of the first.
Icon Sportswire/Jeffrey Brown
It’s a similar tale for Cordell Volson, a fantastic Bison lineman. He was 6-6 and weighed 315 pounds, and despite his size, he was a mauler in the run game. Volson, a late bloomer from Anamoose, North Dakota, is virtually a quintessential late bloomer narrative, like Watson. In high school, he weighed 242 pounds and picked NDSU over Wyoming and in-state rival North Dakota, where he might have played with another 2022 draft potential, tackle Matt Waletzko. (A standout center, Tanner was a member of the New York Giants’ scout squad and received the FCS’ Rimington Award in 2018.)
Volson redshirted for one season before serving as a backup for the next two, gaining weight and developing technique in the process. He began in 2019 and the spring of 2021, then returned as a super senior this past autumn to take advantage of the additional year of eligibility granted to all 2020-21 athletes.
Volson saw action at tackle and guard on both the right and left sides of the field. He has the ability to go down and run over opponents. In 2021, NDSU’s offensive line, dubbed “the Rams,” was even more lethal than normal, and he’s a big reason for why.
Volson, like Watson, is nearly unanimously seen as a positive character. When it comes to pass blocking, though, he brings an unpredictable unknown to the table. He didn’t have to do much of it at North Dakota State, and although the FCS has plenty of strong, fast pass rushers, there aren’t many high-quality power rushers.
After Volson’s NFL combine performance, NDSU offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl told North Dakota’s Inforum, “[He] changes direction and has terrific body control and wants to come off the ball and be the most vicious guy in the country.” “He’s a good match. When you see him strolling around with the other offensive lineman, you can see he belongs there.” Bill Connelly’s quote
Check out some of Pierre Strong Jr.’s top moments from his successful collegiate career at South Dakota State.
Despite a successful career, Pierre Strong Jr., a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, had no in-state scholarship offers after high school, leading him to fear that if he couldn’t get one in-state, he wouldn’t get one out of state.
Strong was familiar to South Dakota State’s running backs coach at the time, John Johnson, who is also from Arkansas. Strong said, “Once he learned about me, he came out to me… and that’s how it occurred.”
Strong ran for 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns in his last season at South Dakota State, averaging 7.0 yards per carry. He sees himself as a three-down back with outstanding hands who can run with power or go the distance, describing himself as a “home-run hitter” and comparing himself to Alvin Kamara.
When the Jackrabbits faced Colorado State last season, Strong said he felt like his NFL goals were within reach. In three quarters of football, he gained 138 yards running on 13 runs with two touchdowns. Scouts began to take him more seriously after that, he said.
“I was simply thinking, ‘Yeah, this is the game that set me on,’” he said of the game.
Strong continued to run his way to an invitation to the NFL combine after that game. Because of where he was coming from, he understood he needed to stand out with his performance when his chance arrived.
“Man, I’m from a tiny school, a 4.4 isn’t good enough,” I’d tell [my trainers]. Strong remarked. “You know, a lot of people run 4.4s. Running backs don’t run 4.3s very often, so I need to make myself stick out even more. So when I came to the 40-yard sprint, I had a good idea of what time it was.”
Strong had the NFL combine he expected, with a 4.37 performance in the 40-yard dash ranking first among his position group. He said, “I simply felt I had to do something to set myself apart from the others who were already on the map.” “I felt compelled to act.”
Strong moved from being just another excellent FCS prospect to being regarded among the best at the combine because to his 40-yard dash performance. Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him among the best five running backs.
Strong believes that coming up through a smaller program has fueled the work ethic that has gotten him to this point, with the start of his NFL career on the horizon.
“I’m aware that I’ll have to put in a bit additional effort simply to go where I want to go,” he said. “‘I climbed the stairs, I ain’t taking the elevator,’ I repeat all the time… It’s basically an attitude with a chip on my shoulder.” Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry Lyles Jr., Harry
Icon Sportswire/Robin Alam
There is a recurrent tale in an era when internet recruiting profiles often reveal how potential NFL or NBA players were undervalued coming out of high school. “[Insert player’s name] was a two-star prospect at the time. Take a look at the colleges that shown an interest in him.” Then there’s a list of a select colleges that are given credit for their high ratings.
Unlike the barely recruited examples above, cornerback Joshua Williams’ high school record was so unknown that he never even had a profile built.
Williams gave up his eligibility and joined the NFL draft after a year at prep school and three seasons at Division II Fayetteville State, a historically Black institution in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Even by NFL standards, Williams boasts a remarkable mix of size and athleticism at 6-3, 195 pounds.
“The first thing about him is that he has the feet of a cornerback who is 5-10, and he has the hips of a cornerback who is 5-10,” said James Lott, a four-year starter at Clemson from 1985 to 1989. “When I first saw him, I knew he could do everything he set his mind to. All he needed was someone to take him from point A to point Z.”
When Lott was on staff at Johnson C. Smith University, he recruited Williams out of prep school, but he didn’t get the chance to coach him until late last spring, when he was hired at Fayetteville. Williams’ whole 2020 season was wiped out due to COVID, thus he had to make up ground from a technical aspect while working out. Nonetheless, word got out among NFL scouts last summer that Williams was someone worth keeping an eye on.
Williams’ mobility and stature wowed the scouts who passed through school on a regular basis. He quickly made up for missed time when the season started, returning an interception 32 yards for a score in the season opener. Following that, he had a strong season that gave him choices. Williams had offers from bigger colleges that may have offered a better platform for him to demonstrate his abilities, but he felt he didn’t need it.
In November, he received the Senior Bowl’s lone invitation for a Division II player, and he matched up well with some of the draft’s top prospects.
“I believe a lot of positive came out of the Senior Bowl in both his and my minds,” Lott added. “I believe he got the message that, ‘Hey, I’m from Fayetteville State University, but I’m competing with all these other people.’”
Williams’ NFL Next Gen statistical assessment score rated him 12th out of 38 cornerbacks at the NFL combine.
“Believe it or not, I was always telling everyone I grew up with that I was going to end up here,” Williams said during the combine. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve always believed that I’d make it.”
All he needed was a chance. Kyle Bonagura (Kyle Bonagura)
The “nfl draft 2022 round 1 time” is the date and time of the first round of the NFL Draft. The draft will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 26th, 2022.
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