Not being selected in the NFL draft can be a crushing disappointment for players, but it’s hardly the death knell for one’s career.
The 2022 draft wrapped up Thursday after 262 selections. Yet even after Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy was given the title of Mr. Irrelevant, there were still several notable players who had not heard their names called through seven rounds. And for some, not getting chosen might actually be a positive development when compared to being a late seventh-round choice, as they now have more agency in determining their best landing spot.
Here’s our look at the best undrafted players in the 2022 NFL draft as well as the teams they have signed with:
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Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
The 6-3, 226-pound gunslinger has the live arm and impressive touch of an early draft pick. But Strong had mobility issues at Nevada, and a knee issue involving problems with cartilage could have scared some teams off. As a developmental option, however, there’s plenty to work with. (Signed with Eagles.)
JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
He’s a tweener at 6-1 and 228 pounds, but he finds the ball consistently. At the very least, he has a solid chance of ending up a special teams ace. (Signed with Colts.)
Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
Zone coverage teams need not apply, as Jobe lacks the off-ball skills to do much outside of man coverage. But he can be a pest at the line of scrimmage and is a solid tackler. (Signed with Eagles.)
Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
Maybe the 6-3, 205-pounder is a far cry from the player he once appeared to be when he formed an electric connection with Trevor Lawrence as a freshman. If teams are comfortable with his medical outlook after he missed all of 2020 following a spinal surgery, however, Ross offers unparalleled upside among the undrafted wide receivers.
Kellen Diesch, OT, Arizona State
At 6-7 and 303 pounds, he has the frame and footwork of a starting left tackle, even if his strength is sorely lacking. Working for a year under the right coaching staff, however, might get him to the point that he can be a valuable contributor. (Signed with Dolphins.)
Dohnovan West, C, Arizona State
Much like his aforementioned former Sun Devils teammate, West lacks the anchor to make an easy transition to the NFL. With some more bulk, however, he could be a versatile backup on the interior.
Obinna Eze, OT, TCU
The 6-6, 321-pounder has promising traits and shows flashes of NFL-caliber work to hold up against speed rushers in the NFL. He’s not ready right now, though, as he still has ample work to do to learn the finer points of the position. (Signed with Lions.)
Verone McKinley, S, Oregon
A consensus All-American for the Ducks, McKinley hauled in six interceptions in 2021. His subpar size (5-10, 198 pounds) and speed likely torpedoed his draft stock, but his savvy will give him a chance to stick on a roster. (Signed with Dolphins.)
Abram Smith, RB, Baylor
After a spell at linebacker, Smith switched back to running back and showed off in 2021, rushing for 1,601 yards. He is a smooth, decisive runner who could flourish in the right scheme. (Signed with Saints.)
Kevin Austin Jr., WR, Notre Dame
One of the biggest surprises of the NFL scouting combine, Austin measured in at 6-2 and 200 pounds with a 4.43-second mark in the 40-yard dash. There’s untapped potential here, as Austin barely contributed at Notre Dame before becoming a starter last season. (Signed with Jaguars.)
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.