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2022 NFL Draft: Falcons top targets at C/G

The 2022 NFL Draft is nearly here, and we’re wrapping up our coverage with our final positional rankings. Next up is center and guard, where the Falcons have one excellent starter and two giant question marks.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Colgate at Boston College Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2022 NFL Draft is almost here, and it’s finally time to wrap up all of our draft coverage with my final positional rankings. I’m proud to say I watched more than 100 players this offseason, far more than ever before. On the site, our team has compiled more than 20 full scouting reports on some of the top prospects in the class—with more to come over the next week! While you may not always agree with our rankings or analysis, we hope you’ve at least enjoyed the discussion and additional viewpoints.

For the positional rankings, these will be based on my personal rankings, not necessarily the rankings of our other writers. I watch players through the lens of the Atlanta Falcons: I prioritize and rank based on the perceived fit in Atlanta’s offense and defense. So keep that in mind, as these rankings may not line up with a generic big board.

I’d also like to note that while I watched a lot of players, I didn’t watch anywhere close to the nearly 300 who will be drafted. As a result, I’m only going to rank the players that I’ve seen at least 2-3 games of. There are tons of other prospects who I’ve seen limited tape of and discussed with other scouts, but I don’t feel comfortable ranking them without at least a few full games watched.

I hope you enjoy these rankings, and if you miss any position groups, you can find them all below:

DEFENSE: EDGE | DT | LB | CB | S | OFFENSE: QB | RB | TE | WR | OT | C/G

1: Zion Johnson, Boston College

RAS: 9.75 | Projection: 1st Round

Boston College’s Zion Johnson proved himself as the most versatile offensive lineman in the class after showing he could play center at the Senior Bowl. While I think he’s best at guard, where his athleticism and size can really shine, he could potentially transition to center in time. Despite playing well at left tackle, Johnson lacks a tackle frame (though he does have 34 inch arms) at 6’3, 316 and is best served on the inside in the NFL. An athletic and physical blocker, Johnson is a strong fit in a zone scheme attack and he’s already a technically-refined pass protector.

2: Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

RAS: 8.84 | Projection: 1st Round

The unquestioned top center prospect in the class, Tyler Linderbaum joins a long list of high-end offensive linemen to come out of Iowa. Brandon Scherff, James Daniels, and Tristan Wirfs all went in the first round in recent years and went on to have exceptional careers. Linderbaum is an incredible athlete with tremendous football IQ, and he pairs it with surprising strength and anchor ability for his size. Speaking of size, that’s the chief complaint with Linderbaum: at just 6’2, 296, he’s on the edge of acceptable measurables for the NFL. As a result, I think Linderbaum is a center-only prospect—but he’s got an All-Pro ceiling there in a zone-scheme attack.

3: Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

RAS: 5.99 | Projection: 1st Round

Kenyon Green is a massive (6’4, 325) lineman with absurd strength, a nasty temperament, and good athleticism for his size. He is an absolute mauler in the run game and a stone wall in pass protection on the interior. However, Green does offer a great deal of versatility: he’s played LG, RG, LT, and RT during his time at Texas A&M. While I think Green projects best as a guard—where he has an All-Pro ceiling—he can potentially start at right tackle if needed. His lack of elite mobility and length on the outside does limit his upside there, but he’s more than capable of manning the position.

4: Tyler Smith, Tulsa

RAS: 9.62 | Projection: 2nd Round

One of the biggest risers in this class, Tulsa’s Tyler Smith has a lot of fans in the draft community. It’s easy to see why: Smith is a very fun film watch, as he plays with a non-stop motor and a high level of aggressiveness and physicality. If you enjoy pancake blocks—which, of course you do—Smith might have the most of any prospect in the class. At 6’4.5, 324 and with 34 inch arms, Smith has tackle and guard flexibility—though I think his ceiling is highest at guard. He also quieted concerns about his athleticism with a terrific Combine performance. Smith is a dominant run blocker and wins in pass protection by being more physical than his opponents, but technically he’s still quite undeveloped. He’ll need time to adjust to the NFL, particularly if he does move to guard, but Smith has a very high ceiling.

5: Sean Rhyan, UCLA

RAS: 9.33 | Projection: 2nd Round

UCLA’s Sean Rhyan is an interesting eval. A good college tackle, most scouts prefer him at guard. He’s got the mass for it at 6’4.5, 321, but the length is well below thresholds (just over 32 inch arms). In terms of his tape, I thought he was a very good OT. Rhyan is a high-level athlete, capable of executing wide-zone concepts and hitting second-level blocks with ease. He’s also a good pass blocker with good hand usage and placement. Given his size limitations, a transition to guard seems best. In some ways, Rhyan is similar to Jalen Mayfield—though Rhyan is a better athlete, has more advanced technique, and has experience on both sides of the line.

6: Dylan Parham, Memphis

RAS: 8.80 | Projection: 2nd Round

Dylan Parham answered a lot of questions about his size—or lack thereof—with a very good weigh-in and performance at the Senior Bowl. Coming in at 6’2.5, 313 and with over 33 inch arms, Parham more than checked the minimum thresholds for most teams—particularly at center. He also acquitted himself well against a very good defensive line group, showing off his athleticism. Parham has played both guard spots and also spent some time at tackle, and I think he can thrive in any of those spots. I like Parham as a high-upside interior player in a zone-blocking scheme like Atlanta’s.

7: Ed Ingram, LSU

RAS: 7.41 | Projection: 3rd Round

A versatile, pro-ready guard prospect, LSU’s Ed Ingram should be high on Atlanta’s list. Ingram checks a lot of boxes: he’s got good size (over 6’3, 307), possesses sufficient athleticism for the wide-zone blocking scheme, and has experience at both left and right guard. Ingram is strong and physical at the point of attack, making him a plus run blocker. He uses that strength well in pass protection, too, and couples it with a lot of experience and a controlled style of play. Ingram doesn’t have the ceiling of some of the players drafted ahead of him, but he’s a high-floor prospect who can be relied upon to start in his rookie season.

8: Jamaree Salyer, Georgia

RAS: 5.76 | Projection: 3rd Round

Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer proved himself as one of the best interior offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, which tracks with his high level of play in college. He did measure in at just 6’3, 320 and 33.5 inch arms, which all but eliminates any potential for him to play tackle in the NFL. Salyer is a road grader in the running game who plays with a nasty edge, and he pairs it with a strong anchor and good hand technique in pass protection. He’s only an average athlete, but possesses sufficient movement skills for a zone blocking scheme.

9: Darian Kinnard, Kentucky

RAS: 5.30 | Projection: 3rd Round

Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard is a bit of a challenging evaluation. Kinnard spent his entire college career at right tackle, where he played very well. It’ll be a tough decision whether to stick on the outside or move inside to guard, where his 6’5, 345 frame would be even more imposing. Kinnard is a mauling run blocker and solid pass protector, but the athleticism is lacking on the outside. Kinnard is a project due to a lot of technical flaws, but his size profile will be tempting to teams on Day 2.

10: Cam Jurgens, Nebraska

RAS: 9.94 | Projection: 4th Round

An intriguing riser, Cam Jurgens had a good week at the Senior Bowl and further raised his profile with some elite athletic testing at the Combine. Jurgens is a tight end convert who transitioned to center and put together three good seasons at Nebraska. He’s a high-motor player who has the build to possibly play a versatile interior role at 6’3, 303. With just three years of experience, there’s a lot of room for improvement with Jurgens’ hand placement and technique. He’s also got some limitations in terms of power at the point of attack, and could stand to improve his functional strength. If he does, Jurgens has a high ceiling at center and could potentially even make an eventual transition to guard.

11: Alec Lindstrom, Boston College

RAS: 8.35 | Projection: 4th-5th Round

If the Falcons are looking to add a versatile interior player to the mix without spending a premium pick, Boston College’s Alec Lindstrom would make a lot of sense. The most notable connection would be the family one, as Alec is Chris Lindstrom’s brother and you’d love to see that reunion. Lindstrom measured in on the small side at 6’3, 296, but he offers plus athleticism and advanced technique that helps him overcome some of his physical limitations. Lindstrom is not a power player and wins with his athleticism, hand placement, and football IQ as a run blocker and pass protector. Center may be his best role in the NFL, but I think he could make a transition to guard as well.

12: Thayer Munford Jr., Ohio State

RAS: 6.73 | Projection: 4th-5th Round

Ohio State’s Thayer Munford Jr. was considered by some to be in the first-round conversation after a standout 2020 season at left tackle. Munford moved to left guard this year to accommodate Nicholas Petit-Frere at LT, but didn’t have the dominant season some were expecting. At nearly 6’6, 328, Munford offers a lot of versatility as a tackle and guard prospect. Munford has solid athleticism and strength, but he didn’t dominate in either area this season. Based on his 2020 tape, there’s potential for a bounce-back year from Munford and his ability to play multiple spots makes him a tempting depth target.