The 2022 NFL Draft is right around the corner. While all of the excitement builds for the first round of the draft, arguably the most exciting day is day two, when the second and third rounds occur. This is when the heart and base of every team are created.
There are always dozens of second and third-round players who wind up outperforming highly selected first-round players, and sometimes the third-round players are even more fun to bet on because they have high upside with a dash of more downside.
With that in mind, who are five players that will get selected in the third round, but we may look back in a few years and realize that they should have been first-round picks?
5. Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Coming from San Diego State is not going to get the name of Cameron Thomas called early. However, if you miss on your favorite big-name pass rusher early, you will want Thomas. Thomas is fun to watch because he will line up anywhere from outside the tackle to inside the guard.
He has plenty of speed, and his Pro Day showed that he can hang with upper-tier athletes when the competition raised. He checks production, versatility, and athleticism boxes, and the small school is the main thing pushing him into the third-round range. This player could be a steal in the 2022 NFL Draft.
4. Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
At the very least, any team drafting Brian Asamoah will be getting a special teams asset because one thing he can do is run with his hair on fire towards the football. At the linebacker spot, he looks more like a rocked up safety, and his see-ball, get-ball mentality can lead to him getting washed up in the run game.
However, Asamoah is also tall, long, and fast and is a linebacker who excels in coverage, getting his arms up to knock away passes while avoiding being bodied by bigger tight ends. There is a role for him, and while it may just be passing downs, that is getting more and more valuable.
The fact that he is not an all-around stud will have him fall here, but we may remember some of his big pass breakups later.
3. Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati
The Cincinnati defense took the NCAA by storm last season, and plenty of players are getting attention. One that is flying under the radar is Bryan Cook. Cook missed the offseason portion of the NFL Draft because he has a shoulder injury. That, and the fact that he is a box safety will cause him to fall.
Still, Cook is so much more than just a box safety. He is adequate in coverage and is a leader in the middle of the unit from a communication standpoint. He is who you want in the back end relaying signs and playing a combination safety role.
Teams should look at his fall as a great value for them.
2. Dane Belton, S, Iowa
Dane Belton is not getting a lot of attention, mainly because of his versatility. However, his versatility is going to be why he will succeed in the NFL. Belton played safety, but technically he was splitting time between being a slot cornerback and a dime linebacker.
Either way, the ability to cover out of the slot, stick his head in the run game, and play both safety spots should be valuable. Instead, teams see someone too small for the box, but too slow for the back end. Belton surprised many with his NFL combine showing that he can translate and his toughness will translate too. Do not count him out quite yet.
1. David Bell, WR, Purdue
David Bell was locked into the second round before his NFL combine performance. There are bad NFL combines that teams can get over, then there is Bell. Running over 4.6, there are only two or three successful wide outs in the past 40 years to be that slow.
Still, he is a player that when you turn away from the measurements and go back to the tape, you want to bet on. He is tough with the ball in his hands, he has a great catch radius, and he is a sharp route runner.
There are enough questions that he will certainly fall, but in round three a team should take a shot knowing he could have been round one had he showed up to the NFL combine a touch faster.