2022 NFL Draft – PAC-12 Day 3 Prospects
Quentin Lake, Safety, UCLA
In his five seasons at UCLA, Quentin Lake has been an integral part of the defence. Lake made the All-PAC-12 second team in 2021, recording 53 tackles, 6 pass break-ups and three interceptions. Although not an explosive athlete, he shows great football IQ. Lake’s father was 5x Pro Bowl Safety/CB Carnell Lake. Quentin stated him as being a big influence on him bettering his game.
In college he showed the versatility to align in a handful of positions, from single high to playing in the box. He is at his best in zone coverage, reading receivers routes and the quarterbacks eyes well. This and having strong hands enables him to make plays on the ball and disrupt plays. Lake has shown his ability as a blitzer and is also an affective tackler.
There are some areas to improve for Lake, getting physically stronger being something that could help him at the next level. Lake definitely has certain intangibles that could see him become a good NFL player. He could go anywhere from the 5th to the 7th round in this year’s draft, making him one of the PAC-12 Day 3 Prospects to look out for.
Dohnovan West, IOL, Arizona State
Versatility on the interior line is something Dohnovan West has in his locker. In his first two seasons he played at right guard, with a few games at left guard. In 2021 he had a full season at centre. West absorbs knowledge from his couches, constantly improving thought out his college career. Another tick in the box for West is he is one of the youngest draft prospects at his position. He does not turn 21 until May.
West has a solid all-round game, but in the run game is where he really excels. The Sun Devils ran a multiple, run heavy scheme, with West being a big part of that. He has long arms, a strong grip and good explosiveness when blocking. He has the athleticism to get up to the next level and work laterally.
For everything good in the run game, there are areas in pass protection that he needs to get better at. This drops him down the board a little, but run heavy teams would benefit from his abilities. His versatility is also going to be appealing so anywhere on Day three is a possibility.
Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State
Jaylen Watson wasn’t high on most peoples board when declaring for the draft. Watson made sure he left the Senior Bowl with more people talking about him. He has good size and length and would be best suited to playing as an outside corner.
Watson has an above average all-around game and has shown the capabilities to play in multiple coverages. He shows good aggression and loves to get his hands on the ball, displaying efficient techniques. He is excellent at reading the opposition quarterback, undercutting routes to make plays on the ball. In press man he has the arm length to jab into the receiver on the line, but when playing off man he struggles to cover speedier receivers. In run support, he dissects plays well and takes accurate angles.
Watson flashed lots of positives at the Senior Bowl but did have a handful of grabby plays. In the right scheme he could develop into a starter as an outside corner. Watson is a day three capital player, who could go as high as the 6th round.
Vavae Malepeai, RB, USC
Malepeai was underused for most of his time as a Trojan. In his five seasons he did averaged 4.4 yards a carry or above. Weighing 220lbs, he is a well-built running back who doesn’t mind insinuating contact. Malepeai had a productive NFLPA Collegiate Bowl that did him no harm.
The Hawaiian native has some clear strengths that will transition well into the NFL. He is an effective North-South runner, who takes contact well and genuinely falls forward after being hit. One he gets his accelerate and finds a gap, he is hard to bring down. Malepeai has good attributes for short yard carries. He fights for extra yards and has a great leg churn to force multiple tacklers backwards. Also, he shows up in pass protection and could be used as core special teams player.
Malepeai is limited to what he can do, but as a power runner he excels. With his physical toughness, he would also be an excellent piece for special teams. Malepeai could easily go undrafted, but has upside to be drafted in round 7.
BJ Baylor, RB, Oregon State
Running back BJ Baylor enters the 2022 draft after a breakout 2021 season. The RS Junior led the PAC-12 in rushing yards, amassing 1,337 yards from 227 attempts. He averaged 5.9 yards a carry and also notched 13 touchdowns. Baylor only managed 81 carries in his previous three seasons at the Beavers. He showed flashes in the restricted COVID 2020 season, while also behind Jermar Jefferson who is now with the Detroit Lions.
Baylor is just under the average size for a running back at 205lbs, but it doesn’t come across that way on tape. He is a violent runner who has the explosiveness when the ball is in his hand to make things happen. Baylor can break tackles, has nasty cuts and the burst to get to the outside. His 2021 season showed he can take the workload as a ball carrier and showed some upside in the passing game.
When it comes to social media, there is no talk of BJ Baylor being picked up in the draft. I do think certain teams would love Baylor on their rosters, making him one of my PAC-12 Day 3 Prospects. Personally, I think he has the build and abilities to have a future at the next level. I could see him being picked up in round 7, but wouldn’t be surprised to see him go undrafted. If he does, then he will definitely be picked up to at least a practice squad.
-Jordan Meritt @Jordm87