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2022 NFL Draft

(Garland Gillen)

Late-round 2022 NFL draft WR/RB to keep an eye on

2022 NFL Draft
(Garland Gillen)

Late-round 2022 NFL draft WR/RB to keep an eye on

The 2022 NFL draft took place on April 28-30. It was quite the spectacle with a lot of big names being selected by their new teams. A lot of people know the first-round draft picks and even some second but I wanted to take a deeper dive into the later rounds. Late-round NFL draft wide receivers and running backs are day three selections, which means they were drafted in rounds four through seven. This will hopefully open peoples’ eyes to some extremely skilled late-round players that do not get a lot of coverage. 

I will be pointing out the talented late-round players that I believe have a solid chance to be productive as a rookie if they get their opportunity. They can get playing time because of their fit with the team or because they do not have many players ahead of them on the depth chart. This is a little early as most NFL training camps do not start until the middle to late July. Ultimately, I think these players are immensely talented and they are under the radar for most people. These are four late-round NFL draft WR/RB to keep an eye on heading into training camp.

Romeo Doubs, WR, Reno, Round: 4 Pick: 27

Romeo Doubs is a 6’2” 201-pound wide receiver that thrived at the University of Nevada, Reno. Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth-round, he has a great combination of size and speed as his college tape is filled with big time plays. Doubs is not the smoothest route runner and he will need to work on his separation in the NFL. However, he is a fantastic deep ball threat that has the speed and acceleration to get behind defenses. Doubs has strong hands and an innate ability to come down with a lot of deep balls. Finally, he is a great competitor and has a nice feel for the game.

Doubs had a great collegiate career. He was then named a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2020 and 2021. In 2020 Doubs had 58 receptions, 1,002 yards, and nine touchdowns. This impressive stat line was capped off by Doubs being ranked eighth in receiving yards per game with 111.3. He finished his final season in 2021 with 80 receptions, 1,109 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

I think he has a good chance to be effective on the Packers because their wide receiver core does not have much depth. They do not have a clear number one option on the roster as returning wide receiver Allen Lazard is more of a wide receiver two. In addition, free-agent addition wide receiver Sammy Watkins has an extensive injury history and wide receiver Christian Watson is a rookie as well. According to Watson’s draft profile, he has a similar style to Doubs which could lead to them fighting for the same role.

Doubs is a backup that can see the field because of an injury or bad play from a starter. I think once he gets his chance he will excel on the field as quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ deep ball threat. Throughout Aaron Rodgers’ career he has let the ball fly and next season will be no different. Furthermore, I think Doubs can shine with his ball skills and speed as a big play target for Rodgers.

Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M, Round: 4 Pick: 18

Isaiah Spiller is a 6’0” 217-pound running back with great elusiveness that was selected by the Los Angeles Chargers. Spiller’s draft profile demonstrates his good size and vision that he uses to find the running lanes. Moreover, he can make sharp cuts and presents a challenge for defenses when he is in the open field.

The Texas A&M offensive line was not the strongest to run behind but he still managed to make plays. He also flashed the potential to be a solid pass catching back. Spiller is not the most dynamic athlete and struggles to finish through contact but he has the tools to be a capable starter.

He had a great three year career at Texas A&M. He received SEC-All Freshman team honors, first-team All-SEC honors, and second-team All-SEC honors. Spiller rushed for just under 3,000 yards and had 26 touchdowns in his collegiate career.

Spiller was arguably drafted to the best offense in the league. There is not a much better fit than a superstar quarterback in Justin Herbert, a pro-bowl running back in Austin Ekeler, and a solid wide receiving core. Spiller was not going to start no matter where he was drafted. I think Los Angeles is a good fit for him because now he can develop behind Ekeler. Without a doubt, Spiller should be the backup for the Chargers. This means he should get meaningful reps throughout the year. He will not be asked to do too much and he should be able to progress as he adapts to the NFL.

If Ekeler were to miss time, I think Spiller can step in and be a productive running back. He has the talent and elusiveness to be a good runner. In order for Spiller to maximize his opportunity on the field, he would have to become a reliable pass catcher. I think he can fill that role with help from Ekeler and Herbert.

Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State, Round: 5 Pick: 5

Khalil Shakir is a speedy 6’0” 196-pound wide receiver out of Boise State. Shakir is a good all-around wide receiver that was picked by the Buffalo Bills. He is a weapon that can be aligned anywhere on the field and he can be utilized in the passing game or as a runner. He ran an impressive 4.43 40-yard dash which shows up on tape as he is proficient when running with the ball after the catch. Shakir is a great route runner with good hands and footwork. Nevertheless, he does not have the biggest frame and he lacks some desired physical traits. However, Shakir is as competitive as they come and an overall great character off the field and in the locker room. 

Shakir was terrific for Boise State throughout his career. Boise State utilized him in multiple different ways. Shakir played as a wide receiver, a running back, and a returner on special teams. He received first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors twice. He finished the 2021 season with 77 receptions, 1,117 yards, and seven touchdowns to top off his collegiate career.

Shakir, similar to Spiller, got drafted to one of the top offenses in the NFL. The Bills have a phenomenal passing offense led by one of the most dynamic playmakers in superstar quarterback Josh Allen. I think Shakir will get reps as a backup and if anyone were to go down in front of him he would have a great chance to seize his opportunity.

The Bills have done a lot with weaker wide receivers in the past. I think if you put Shakir on the field with Allen then fireworks will ensue. Shakir is a brilliant late-round NFL draft wide receiver that can do a bit of everything. I think if he can carve out a role on the Bills’ offense then he will be a productive rookie.

Calvin Austin lll, WR, Memphis, Round: 4 Pick: 33

Calvin Austin lll is a smaller wide receiver as he stands at 5’8” 170-pounds. The Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the fourth round. He lacks the physical traits desired in a wide receiver. He struggles against physical coverage and can be overpowered in contested catch situations. However, like Austin’s draft profile details he is a marvelous athlete that possesses great footwork. Austin ran an amazing 4.32 40-yard dash while achieving an impressive 39-inch vertical. His technical abilities to run smooth routes and get good releases off the line are present in his game. Finally, he can also be effective in the return game. 

Austin was a preferred walk-on at Memphis and he was on the track team. He received second-team All-American honors with the track team while he was working his way up the depth chart on the football field. At this time, Austin received a football scholarship in 2020. He had a fantastic year as he ended with 63 receptions, 1,053 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He followed this up with another great year as he finished with 74 receptions, 1,149 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2021.

Austin is a backup in the relatively young wide receiver room in Pittsburgh. The offense as a whole is very young. The Steelers have a rookie quarterback and a second-year running back. Also, they possess a rookie wide receiver as well as a third-year wide receiver. I think this will help Austin because the team is trying to build chemistry and the wide receiver spots are up for grabs. Furthermore, the Steelers need of a slot wide receiver. I think that Austin can definitely work his way into this role with a good training camp.

The Steelers will not have the most high powered offense. However, I think Pittsburgh has the ingredients to be an effective offense in the NFL. I think the ball will be spread around a lot and Austin will have an opportunity to be active in the passing game. I think he has a clear path to take over the slot role and I think Austin can flourish in the Steelers’ offense.

These are four different players in four different situations that I think can bring success. Things are subject to change as the depth chart fluctuates and people get injured. However, as of right now I think these are four late-round NFL draft players to keep an eye on during NFL training camps.

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