2022 NFL draft: Setting rookie expectations for this year’s top QBs

What should fans expect from the top rookie quarterbacks in the NFL this season?

The 2022 NFL draft left much to be desired at the game’s most important position, which was in stark contrast to the loaded group from the previous year’s draft class.

Only one quarterback managed to crack the first round in this year’s draft, and not until the 20th overall pick. The next one didn’t come off the board until the third round. In 2021, five quarterbacks were taken in the top 15 picks. This year, only six were selected before the seventh round.

Even so, some of this year’s top passers landed in some intriguing situations, with multiple prospects having a path of little resistance to a potential starting job in their rookie season.

Here’s what fans should expect from some of the top quarterback prospects this season:

With Rob Gronkowski retiring (again), it’s time to embrace replacement Cade Otton

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick dives into Cade Otton’s All-22 to see how the Buccaneers’ rookie tight end can replace Rob Gronkowski.

With Rob Gronkowski announcing his retirement once again, and before Gronk has a chance to change his mind once again, I think it’s time for the fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get to know their tight end of the future, Cade Otton.

Otton was a fourth-round pick from the University of Washington. He earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors in 2020, as he led the Huskies with 18 receptions, 258 receiving yards (14.3 YPR) and three touchdowns. During the 2020 season, according to PFF, he was considered the third best tight end (89.0) in college football, behind Kyle Pitts and Josh Whyle.

“In college I was trusted to do pretty much everything you can do at the tight end position. said Otton. “I think this could be a really good think for the offense and the team as a whole.”

During Otton’s foot injury in 2021, the hype around him got quiet and this led to teams passing over him until the Buccaneers selected him in the fourth round — although he caught 28 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown in his final collegiate season.

“That’s probably where we would see him starting, being that Y tight end, but he’s athletic enough to do some of the move stuff we do with our tight ends,” Bucs Vice President of Player Personnel John Spytek said after Otton was selected . “He’s just a good football player…I keep saying that about our picks like I’m a broken record, but he’s just a good football player. He loves football, competes his ass off on every play.”

Let’s dive into the film to see how Otton can be productive as Gronkowski’s replacement and earn the number-one tight end spot!

One rookie from each NFL team who will surprise in 2022

These rookies across the NFL could exceed expectations in Year 1 and make a significant impact this season

Every team expects a lot out of their top picks in the NFL draft, but they won’t be the only rookies who contribute in Year 1. There will be first-year players who emerge as valuable starters or key role players at some point this season.

It’s just difficult to predict which rookies will be the ones to step up and surprise both fans and analysts.

The NFL Wire network went team by team and selected one rookie who could be a pleasant surprise in 2022, highlighting players on an upward trajectory.

GM Nick Caserio explains why Texans gave RB Dameon Pierce record contract for a fourth-round pick

The Houston Texans’ contract for RB Dameon Pierce impacted other NFL teams signing fourth-round picks. Nick Caserio explains why Pierce got his deal.

The Houston Texans signed fourth-round running back Dameon Pierce to a four-year contract worth $4,500,432.

The deal gummed up the works for other NFL teams signing their fourth-round picks as the Texans included a $25,000 workout bonus in 2023.

General manager Nick Caserio told “Payne & Pendergast” on Sports Radio 610 [KILT-AM] June 16 that the notion the Texans’ contract for Pierce is why other teams are having trouble signing their fourth-round selections is “comical.”

We’re talking about a $208 million cap and in the grand scheme of things — and I would say if you look at over the last few years, the first round is the first round,” said Caserio. “Everyone knows the way that round is structured, and I would say in the second round you’ve seen some progress and some things involved relative to how it’s structured, relative to the guarantee, relative to some of the auxiliary items that are available. Third round is always kind of been that.”

What the Texans did with the Pierce contract is get ahead of the trend. Caserio predicts the contracts for the rest of the draft will start to look more like third-round contracts.

Said Caserio: “Honestly more than anything I think where the league is headed ultimately with a lot of these contracts is going to be similar maybe to the way second and third rounds are. So, you know, every player, every negotiation is going to be different. So, again, within the grand scheme of things, if it’s something you feel is not prohibited in any way, shape, or form, and think it’s the right thing. And some of this is in anticipation of what you think is going to happen eventually.”

Nevertheless the uproar over the Texans’ impact on other teams having trouble signing their fourth-round selections is fascinating to Caserio.

The fact that there’s been commentary about this has been kind of laughable, but it is what it is,” Caserio said. “Everybody’s got a philosophy. So, if they want to be pissed off and blame somebody, I guess they can blame me for screwing the whole league up.”

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Dennis Allen impressed by second-round draft pick Alontae Taylor

Dennis Allen has been impressed by second-round draft pick Alontae Taylor, crediting the rookie cornerback with rapid development. He has a shot at starting in 2022:

The 2022 NFL draft went off without a hitch for the New Orleans Saints, who for once followed the track laid out in a lot of mock drafts by picking wide receiver Chris Olave and left tackle Trevor Penning in the first round. But things went off the rails in round two — as far as fans could see, anyway, in the surprise selection of Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor. Corner wasn’t widely seen as a need, and there was pre-draft speculation that Taylor might be converted to safety in the NFL. The pick was a little confusing, from the outside looking in.

Taylor has been rotating in and out of drills with Paulson Adebo, the 2021 third rounder who worked his way into the starting lineup. And the competition between them might be more intense than we’d first expect. A couple of months and many reps in practice later, and Saints head coach Dennis Allen has been surprised by Taylor, too. But Allen is enjoying what he’s seeing out of the first-year pro.

“I really like (Taylor). I think he’s probably a little further ahead than what I anticipated when he got in here,” Allen told Nola.com’s Rod Walker, adding: “I’m excited about seeing what he can do.”

We shouldn’t read too deeply into quotes like that in June, but it’s worth acknowledging that Taylor has a shot at displacing Adebo if things go his way. He’s doing the right things and competing well in practice, which is as strong a start to the process as you could hope for. It’s a result of the hard work Taylor has put into developing his craft.

And Adebo’s rookie year wasn’t flawless. Sure, he was the only defender on the team to start in all 17 games, but he also led New Orleans with 7 penalties (1 declined), which tied the NFL lead among rookie corners. Pro Football Focus charting found he yielded 733 receiving yards into his coverage, the highest total in the 2021 draft class. He was also dinged with 10 missed tackles, 7 of them on passing plays. It’s fair to say he had his ups and downs.

So it’s far from impossible to imagine Taylor trotting out there in the season opener against those dirty birds wearing Malcolm Jenkins’ old No. 27 jersey. If anything, things are shaping up for a fascinating training camp battle between two talented young corners. With Marshon Lattimore anchoring one side of the field and Bradley Roby waiting for either of them to slip up, the Saints finally seem to have real depth at cornerback. Let’s see how it all shakes out.

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Which 4th-round pick is holding up a bunch of other NFL rookie signings?

The Houston Texans have created a logjam for other teams trying to sign their fourth-round picks from the 2022 NFL draft

Thanks to the current collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, signing draft picks is a fairly straightforward process nowadays.

That said, there can still be a few quirks here and there, and that’s what’s happening with most of the players selected in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

The Houston Texans appeared to have thrown a wrench in the negotiating process for every other pick after running back Dameon Pierce, whom they selected with the second pick of the round, by giving him a little extra on his signing bonus.

That’s causing the agents for every player selected after Pierce to request the same from their teams, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo:

Pierce might be enjoying the extra money, but the rest of the league is probably glaring at the Texans as they try to negotiate with whoever they picked in the fourth round.

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Offseason full of risks brings Cowboys to precipice of pivotal 2022 campaign

That’s thin ice the Cowboys are skating on by taking so many risks this offseason. @CDPiglet wonders just how sharp are those blades?

On October 17, 2021, the Dallas Cowboys walked into New England and beat the Patriots behind a record-breaking performance from quarterback Dak Prescott. The win improved the team’s record to 5-1, a streak of five straight victories that included two blowout victories over division opponents. Headed into their bye week, Dallas was flying high, however Prescott suffered a calf injury on the game-winning play, and the Cowboys’ season went downhill from there.

The Cowboys went on to go 7-4, but only 3-4 against non-division opponents. The better teams figured out they could stifle the Cowboys’ offense by playing a coverage shell and forcing Dallas to try and run the ball against lighter boxes. Dallas was unable to run efficiently though, and they struggled blocking four-man rush concepts. This spiral culminated with a disappointing home playoff lost to the San Francisco 49ers, and led to another offseason of decisions for the Joneses-led front offense.

Steelers sign rookie WR Calvin Austin III to 4-year contract

The Steelers only have one player left to sign from its 2022 NFL draft class.

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On Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they had signed rookie wide receiver Calvin Austin III to a four-year contract. Austin was the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

The signing of Austin leaves only first-round pick Kenny Pickett unsigned from the Steelers 2022 NFL draft class.

Austin led the Memphis Tigers offense. At the NFL scouting combine, Austin showed off his elite speed with a 4.32 40-yard dash. That type of speed along with the production of 156 receptions and an impressive 16.3 yards per catch.

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada should have the freedom to fully implement his offense this season and Austin rounds out an elite group of skill players.

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Cameron Thomas salary, contract details, cap hit

The Cardinals’ first third-round pick, Cameron Thomas, gets a four-year rookie deal with more than $5.1 million.

The Arizona Cardinals have signed all eight of their 2022 draft picks. The last of the players to sign was third-round pick Cameron Thomas, an edge defender out of San Diego State.

He was the Cardinals’ selection for the first of two third-round selections, drafted 87th overall.

The details of his contract are in from Over the Cap. We go over those details — signing bonus, salaries and guarantees below.

Cameron Thomas’ salary, contract details

Thomas’ contract is four years and worth more than $5.1 million. He receives a signing bonus of $921,336. As a rookie, he will make the league’s minimum salary, but each year after 2022, his salary will be more than the minimum.

HIs salary for the next four season will be:

  • 2022: $705,000
  • 2023: $938,834
  • 2024: $1.17 million
  • 2025: $1.41 million

None of his salary is fully guaranteed, The only guaranteed money in his contract is his signing bonus.

Salary cap implications

Thomas’ cap hit each year will be the amount of his salary plus the prorated amount of his signing bonus, as that is divided up over the four years of the deal in terms of cap impact.

His cap hit will be as follows for the next four years:

  • 2022: $935,334
  • 2023: $1.17 million
  • 2024: $1.40 million
  • 2025: $1.64 million

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Texans sign third-round linebacker Christian Harris

The Houston Texans have signed former Alabama linebacker Christian Harris, their third-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

The Houston Texans have signed the last of their nine 2022 NFL draft picks.

The Texans announced Thursday the signing of third-round linebacker Christian Harris, which completes the club’s endeavor to get all of their draft picks under contract before training camp.

Coach Lovie Smith told reporters during rookie minicamp on May 13 that the team thought highly of the former Alabama product and were elated to add him to the defense.

“We like Christian a lot,” Smith said. “We had him ranked high on our board. When you don’t take a player, we thought he would go a little earlier. To have an opportunity to get him in that round when we did, it’s excitement.”

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