NFL Media analyst Charles Davis knows his stuff.
The former safety has been working as an analyst since 1997, when FOX Sports South hired him to work college football games. Davis has risen through the ranks, of course, and currently works for NFL on CBS in addition to NFL Network.
Davis recently took a look at 2022 NFL Draft prospects and named 13 players he "would pound the table for," expressing confidence in each one's future at the next level.
Topping Davis' list is his favorite quarterback in this year's class, Mississippi's Matt Corral. Davis wrote:
I love how he has progressed throughout his career, and it all came together for him in 2021, when he was the personification of skill, toughness and moxie. With an extremely quick release and the ability to make plays with his legs, I view his skill set as a great fit for today's NFL. As a former Tennessee Volunteer, I'll never forget what he did to UT last October in Neyland Stadium. Corral accounted for 426 total yards, including a career-high 195 rushing yards on 30(!) attempts, while playing through injury in leading Ole Miss to a 31-26 victory. Also, he showed at his pro day that he's fully recovered from the high ankle sprain he suffered against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
Other offensive players highlighted by Davis included South Dakota State running back Pierre Strong, Purdue receiver David Bell, Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and UCLA offensive lineman Sean Rhyan.
Davis said Kolar's "determination to prove his doubters wrong will help power him" at the NFL level, and he opined that Linderbaum "could make the same kind of impact that Creed Humphrey – a member of this list last year – did for the Chiefs in 2021."
[Linderbaum] absolutely crushed his pro day earlier this week after not working out at the combine while recovering from a foot injury suffered in the Citrus Bowl. The size factor comes up with Linderbaum a lot (measured 6-2, 302 at pro day), but let's take a look at some of the best centers in the NFL: Corey Linsley (6-3, 301), Jason Kelce (6-3, 295). They each faced similar doubts based on size, and went on to become All-Pros. I'm not concerned about Linderbaum's size.
On defense, Davis tabbed Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kentucky defensive end Joshua Paschal, Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal, Georgia Tech's Tariq Carpenter, Pittsburgh cornerback Damarri Mathis, Baylor safety Jalen Pitre and Virginia State safety Will Adams.
Davis noted that Carpenter is making the switch from college safety to NFL linebacker.
Based on what I saw from him at the Reese's Senior Bowl (where he lined up at LB), I believe he is up to the challenge. His name kept coming up when I talked to scouts in Mobile. Carpenter can provide good speed from the second level of the defense, and he absolutely knows what it's like to battle and persevere.
To see Davis' breakdown of all 13 players on his list, click here.
ESPN asks pre-draft questions for all 32 teams
Ahead of the draft, ESPN asked its beat reporters to answer a lingering question from Jordan Reid for their respective teams across the league.
Kevin Seifert tackled the Vikings, since Courtney Cronin has transitioned from the Vikings beat to the Bears. Reid asked of Minnesota, "Cornerback is an obvious need for the Vikings, but what are other positions [General Manager] Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could try to take in the first round?"
Another area of need for the Vikings is guard. Ezra Cleveland is an established starter on one side, but the Vikings attention during free agency at the position suggests they are concerned about the other. They signed three veteran guards – Jesse Davis, Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann – but none can be considered slam-dunk starters.
It's always worth noting what reporters are saying about the other NFC North teams, as well.
ESPN's Rob Demovsky said the Packers might "abandon the philosophy of not drafting wide receivers in the first round" to replace Davante Adams, who signed with the Raiders in free agency.
Eric Woodyard said the Lions "will likely entertain the possibility of picking a quarterback, just like with any other positions," despite having Jared Goff under contract.
But I seriously don't think they'll take that risk – at least not right now. Detroit sees Goff as [its] guy, but that could change next year depending on how this season goes. The Lions need their first-round picks to come in and contribute immediately and won't have the time to develop a young quarterback – particularly in a class that isn't considered to be great by draft experts.
And for the Bears? Reid asked Cronin if Chicago could "double-dip" at wide receiver in the second round.
The Bears have picks at Nos. 39 and 48 and could be in play for receivers Skyy Moore, George Pickens or John Metchie III at either of those spots. General Manager Ryan Poles likes how deep the middle rounds of the draft appear to be, so it's possible Chicago ends up walking away from Day 2 with two receivers by selecting one in the second round and another in the third. Because the Bears have only six picks, the team could look to create more if the opportunity presents itself. Therefore, it's possible Chicago takes a receiver in the second and trades back with its additional second-round pick to create more draft capital to use in later rounds.