The late rounds often involve long shot wagers on college players who’s dreams did not all come true. Injuries, bad choices, lack of opportunities, bad system fits, personality conflicts and immaturity can all contribute to a burst bubble of college realities.
Some injuries can be rehabbed to the point of complete health. Some leave questions. Questions about character are often harder for a teenager to repair as a college athlete. Schools are reluctant to disclose alleged details of incidents that might blemish a university’s reputation. Suspensions for “undisclosed” or unspecified rule violations can leave an NFL recruit flapping in the wind.
Kylin Hill lasted until round seven in 2020 after having his opportunities limited by a new coach with a passing game that did not include him. There were rumors of battles with staff, then a suspension, before he left the team mid season. Before his injury it was clear Hill had talent beyond the average seventh round pick. Hill lasted to pick 256 because of character questions combined with falling stats in his senior year.
The 2022 draft will have late round picks or undrafted free agents with high round athletic talent that fall to the later rounds just like Hill. Potential picks in this category include:
Kevin Austin Jr.
The Notre Dame leader in yards and catches in 2020, Austin Jr. ran an official 4.43 forty at the NFL combine. Currently sitting at prospect number 344 on CBS Sports’ draft eligible player ranking in part because of injuries that limited his first years and a year long suspension for undisclosed reasons.
This Tulsa standout is predicted to run a forty at Tulsa’s pro day in the 4.3 range. He had 83 receptions and topped one thousand yards. Johnson was a late bloomer, transferring from IowaState to Tulsa. Even with 83 catches Johnson has a free agent grade due to a “bad hands” label. His size at 5-10/180 pounds also contribute to his low rank. CBS ranks him at 329.
The 6’1” 185 lbs. wideout struggled through plantar fasciitis and a sports hernia but still caught 40 passes in 11 games. He ran a 4.51 forty at the combine but poor QB play and small hands have him listed at 272 by CBS.
Krull stands 6’6” and weighs 254 pounds. He ran a 4.65 forty and is a good enough athlete to de drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 2018. Krull spent a number of years trying baseball and had a serious injury that ended his previous college season. Krull ended his 2021 college season with 38 catches for 451 yards. It was not enough for CBS rankings, they ranked him 391. His age is 24 making him older than some players looking to sign their second NFL contract.
All each player above wants is a chance to get into a training camp and prove their worth. The Packers have a proven track record of finding late picks and free agents that contribute to Green Bay’s success. If there was ever a year to find another Donald Driver late in the draft, 2022 could be it.