You see your favorite NFL Draft analysts and even some commentators saying all of the time, “Player so-and-so could be the best player in the NFL Draft.” Have you ever wondered what makes these people think that way about a player? I did, so I took to Twitter and asked.
Some of the feedback I got was very interesting.
Clout chasing. It makes sense. A lot of analysts, especially on Twitter, just want to be able to say that they were right and hold that over their peers.
This was one of my favorite responses. @thehojo is right. A lot of people don’t have any real idea themselves and simply declare a prospect the best player in the NFL Draft.
I was pondering this question as well. Is it the most versatile player? The best player at his position? How does one declare a prospect the best player in the NFL Draft?
Part one: The Most Versatile Prospect
The first argument that you could make is that the prospect is the most versatile player in the draft. We’ve seen this argument before in recent memory, in players like Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons in 2020. Simmons was the prospect who rotated all over the field and could play anywhere from the slot cornerback to linebacker and deep safety. The Arizona Cardinals selected him with the eighth selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
What has Simmons’ career looked like so far? He’s started to find his groove as a linebacker, mostly after a year where he struggled playing across the field in a variety of roles. However, he still moves around as an outside linebacker, someone who can line up as a pass rusher and as a slot defender. Has he looked like the best player out of the 2020 NFL Draft so far? Absolutely not.
This year, an argument can be made for two players because of their versatility. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton finds himself in a similar spot as Isaiah Simmons with his versatility across the field as a slot defender, inside the box, and in deep coverage.
Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal also makes the argument, as he has the capability to play any position on the offensive line except for maybe center. He’s swapped between the left and right sides every year from his high school transition until now.
Part two: The Best Prospect at his Position
The other argument that you can make is that the player is the best at their position and a better prospect than all of the other top prospects. When formulating an opinion based on what is on tape, the best prospects at their positions in the draft this year are Oregon’s edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
Thibodeaux was used all across the Oregon defensive line, but was clearly at his best as an edge rusher going after the quarterback. He has the most complete and best body build out of the edge rushers, needing no real work in the weight room. He has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, and he can still get better. He’s the slam dunk best edge rusher in the class.
Derek Stingley Jr is a little bit more of a different study. His freshman tape during the 2019 National Championship season at LSU was incredible and Stingley looked like the perfect prospect at cornerback. Injuries and a lack of effort at times have plagued the heavily blood-lined prospect to the NFL, as it appeared he was trying to preserve himself for the NFL ever since then. Regardless, he still has the best tape out of anyone and looks like a stud cornerback.
Who is the best player in the NFL Draft this year?
Is it ever clear who the best player in a draft is? I don’t think so. There is so much opinion related to the pre-draft process and it’s impossible to accurately project it all forward.
To me, the best offensive tackle in this class is Evan Neal. However, he can play both left and right tackle effectively – we know that because he’s already done it at Alabama. He’s a stud guard as well – he’s already done that at Alabama. From what I have seen, Neal is a pro-bowl caliber player at tackle or guard – which allows him to be a versatile piece across an offensive line wherever he is needed to be plugged in.
I think that the best player in the class requires a combination of the two different arguments that can be made. Evan Neal hits the spot the best, in my opinion.
Quote me. I hope this article is bookmarked for ten years down the road for review. Evan Neal is the best player in the 2022 NFL Draft.