Opinion: 2022 NFL Draft superlatives

Charlie Kolar (left) and Breece Hall (right) celebrate after Hall’s touchdown vs. Iowa on Sept. 11, 2021.

Matt Belinson

You’ve heard the common NFL Draft labels: best available, bust, franchise-player, reach and more. Everyone’s got one.

But what are specific superlatives for Iowa State players in their 2022 draft class? 

The Iowa State Daily football writers — Sports Editor Matt Belinson and Assistant Sports Editors James Powell and Andrew Harrington — came up with their own and divvied them up amongst the Cyclones looking to hear their names called.

The NFL Draft begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in Las Vegas. You can watch it on ESPN.

Biggest question

Matt: Brock Purdy

The question on my mind is what’s going to happen to the greatest quarterback in Cyclone history — Brock Purdy? Will he be a late, day three selection, or will he fall off the board and become an undrafted free agent?

My answer has gone back and forth as the draft has gotten closer, and I’m just not sure. Teams will always over-draft a quarterback based on the positional value alone.

Purdy has a few desirable traits, most notably his leadership skills and ability to process information. And when you talk about day three draft picks, teams can forgive players with less raw talent than others for the potential buried beneath.

He set records at Iowa State, but I’m not sure if an NFL future awaits him. We’ll find out by the end of the week.

Andrew: Eyioma Uwazurike

The player that has the biggest range of where he could fall is Eyioma Uwazurike.

A few months ago, if you would have asked me where Uwazurike would fall, I would have said he would be lucky to get drafted.

After watching his Pro Day, reading some mock drafts and analyzing his Iowa State career, I’m almost certain that he will hear his name called. The question for me is how early?

Personally, I feel that he will come off the board sometime around the fifth round; however, I have seen him go in mock drafts from the fourth round to the seventh.

Overall, I think Uwazurike will be a nice depth piece to start his career that can both play as an edge rusher or be a force inside.

James: Mike Rose

It seemed like Rose wasn’t incredibly high on many draft boards near the beginning of the NFL Draft process. Now, he’s starting to show up in the middle-to-late rounds.

But how should we value Rose? He had a season where he led the team in tackles for loss. He had his breakout campaign in 2020 when he won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and had five interceptions.

Then he took a bit of a step back this past season. Part of that was an injury, but the numbers indicate it may have been more than that.

Still, Rose has 49 career starts under his belt, and teams may prefer the safe, experienced pick later in the draft. The biggest question, in my eyes, is where he’ll go.

Weirdest narrative

Matt: Breece’s speed

I don’t get this at all.

When I did a breakdown piece on Breece earlier in the month, I heard from multiple analysts that his speed didn’t show up on film or is still to be determined.

I’d say running a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine on March 4 in Indianapolis would put those feelings to rest, but apparently not.

Breece had the third-fastest 40 of any running back at the combine and posted a faster time than 29 of the 32 starting running backs in the NFL.

I watched Breece for three seasons and never got the sense defenders were always on his tail. He’d blow by people regularly and would do damage in space.

At the NFL level, I don’t think he’ll need to worry about speed like people are saying.

Andrew: Kolar doesn’t have NFL athleticism

The biggest knock on Charlie Kolar has been his athleticism. I understand that athleticism is not the strong point of Kolar, but I do not view it as a weakness.

Kolar’s Relative Athletic Score, which takes into account athletic scores from offseason showcases such as Pro Day and the NFL Draft Combine, is a 9.10. Colorado State tight end Trey McBride, who is often regarded as the top tight end in the draft, scored an 8.20.

Kolar has frequently shown his ability to get upfield, work for positioning and make a spectacular catch.

A more fair criticism of Kolar may be his lack of success as a blocker, but in my eyes, his athleticism shouldn’t be in question.

James: Mike Rose is much better than Jake Hummel

There’s no question that having the tandem of Mike Rose and Jake Hummel in your linebacker core worked wonders for Iowa State over the years.

But now they’re both NFL Draft prospects, and Rose seems to be the clear-cut favorite of the two.

Hummel is the one who had the better final year with 80 tackles in 2021, along with a team-high two interceptions. He started all 13 games, and his 63 game appearances is tops in Iowa State history.

There’s no question that Rose and Hummel provide a level of experience and reliability that most NFL teams may find value in. But if you ask me, we may be talking about Hummel having the more successful NFL career five or 10 years down the road.

Chance to be bold

Matt: Eyioma Uwazurike will go in the third round

Depth is this draft’s biggest strength. With so many players coming back last season with the additional COVID year, teams will see that there are great players available in the middle rounds.

I think Uwazurike is going in the third round. He’s versatile and can play multiple positions on the defensive line. He took off in his final college season with nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

Standing at 6-feet, 6 inches, and 316 pounds, Uwazurike will be too good to pass on once the third round arrives, and he’ll come in and be a force in any defense.

Andrew: Mike Rose gets selected on Day Two

While I do think it is a stretch, Mike Rose has the talent to be selected in round three of the NFL Draft.

Analysts have said that there are only a few teams that Rose could fit in with, and I would agree to some extent. He has a lot of coverage abilities that only certain defenses would be able to showcase.

If a defense that gives linebackers a lot of space to work in the flats has an opportunity to draft a linebacker in the early rounds, I would not be surprised if it is Rose that is chosen.

James: Someone will trade up for Breece Hall

Why not.

In my opinion, Hall would start for a good number of teams immediately in the NFL. I could even envision him having a similar first year to Najee Harris, the first running back off the board in last year’s draft who proved to be a big part of the Steeler’s offense this past season.

If the draft shakes out in some magical or surprising way, teams may panic and jump on Hall before he gets too late in the first round.

Offense is the hip thing to focus on in today’s NFL, and a team may feel better after day one if they snuck up and stole Hall as a weapon to use in the running or passing game.

Safest pick

Matt: Breece Hall

Breece is head and shoulders the safest pick of any potential Cyclone in this draft. He’s proven over the last two seasons to be one of, if not the best running back in college football.

He’s consistent, has star talent and isn’t lacking in confidence.

Whether he goes in the first round or second, he’ll be a productive player for any team and have a nice career.

Andrew: Charlie Kolar

As I said before, Kolar’s athleticism is not as big of a weakness as analysts have made it out to be. In addition to this, Kolar is as sure-handed as it gets and has the IQ to play in the NFL.

Racking up 23 collegiate touchdowns, Kolar has the capability to be a red-zone threat for any NFL team.

Overall, teams know what they are getting when drafting Kolar, a reliable target that is pretty durable and a player that can find holes in the defense.

James: Enyi Uwazurike

Hall and Kolar are the top two Cyclones on most everyone’s draft boards. But since my two fellow Daily sportsmen took them “off the board,” I’ll happily go with Uwazurike as my pick.

I believe Uwazurike has an underestimated flexibility to his game that teams may only be able to see if they give him a chance. As we get late into day two, a team may take a chance on him to be a valued back-up on the defensive line.

I think that if he can get next to another bonafide pass rusher in the NFL, he may have the opportunity to make some plays.

Undrafted player to have the biggest impact

Matt: Jake Hummel

I think only one linebacker from Iowa State is getting drafted, and that’s Mike Rose, which leaves Jake Hummel as an undrafted free agent.

But that is by no means the end for Hummel and any other player in this mix. We’ve seen plenty of guys turn opportunities into big contracts and long NFL careers. You just need a shot.

Hummel started his Iowa State career as a key special teams player. I say that’s where he’ll be on an NFL roster by the start of the season. I could see him making a splashy play to end up on the good side of fans and will be a nice journeyman in the league.

Andrew: Chase Allen

I believe that Chase Allen will come in and make an impact as a special teams player. While he may not come in and be an offensive weapon right away in his career, I could see him working his way into a role as a blocking tight end.

I do not see a way that Allen can sneak into the draft, but the NFL is certainly not out of the picture for him.

Allen’s size and strength will allow him to find a spot on an NFL roster, and if he takes advantage, his role may increase from there.

James: Andrew Mevis 

Someone’s got to give the kicker some love.

I think all Mevis needs is a tryout or a chance in camp to try and win a job, and he might just find his way onto an NFL team.

I’m not saying teams will be sitting on the next Justin Tucker, but his ability as a place-kicker, field goal kicker and even punter at times may give him a leg up on the competition (no pun intended).

The chances of Mevis getting drafted are nearly zero, but I think the chances of him making an impact for an NFL team may be underestimated because of his position.