Despite Arizona State’s disappointing season on the gridiron last fall, Herm Edwards was still able to do what he does best with his best guys and get them to the NFL. In 2022, there’s a good handful of prospects who could hear their name called in this year’s NFL draft. Here, we rank each of these players, from highest to lowest, along with their draft projection and a pro-player comparison.
Dohnovan West (IOL)
He was the Sun Devils' main man up front moved around the interior offensive line last season, but was productive everywhere he was anchored. As a three-year starter in the maroon and gold, West’s experience against quality pass rushing earned him 2nd Team All-Pac 12 honors in 2021. While his medal and versatility are an attraction to NFL teams, West’s lack of size on the inside is a concern, as well as his tendency to be overpowered off the snap.
According to PFF, West is the #5 prospect among interior offensive linemen this season which would boost up his draft position between the mid-late third round or as late as the back of the fourth.
With every NFL team owning a pick in that range, West’s best fits as an experienced and intelligent blocker who excels in zone blocking should have him a couple of NFC contender suitors in the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, or Los Angeles Rams, who are all in need of a future option on the inside.
Pro Comparison: Kevin Zeitler
Rachaad White (RB)
The engine of the Sun Devils' offense last year, senior running back Rachaad White is among a large group of backs that aren’t considered a first-round talent, but as a potential impact player that comes off the board on Days 2-3.
While his patience as a ball-carrier is both a pro and con simultaneously, he can explode in the open field and leave defenders in the dust on a consistent basis as his 138.45 all-purpose-yards per-game suggest. While his biggest downside comes from his inconsistency in pass protection, White’s abilities with the ball can negate that, hence his 15 touchdowns last season.
As a dual-threat on all three downs, White offers quality value to a team looking to sure up its depth in the backfield and possibly make him a feature back in certain schemes. Since this year’s position group has a good chunk of Day 2 talent, White should hear his name called sometime in the late third or fourth round due to his versatility at a premium skill position. The New York Jets could certainly use one of their three selections on Friday (or even an early one on Day 3) to get Michael Carter a running mate but if they don’t bite, teams like Houston, Buffalo, and even Tennessee could use a pass-catching running back like White.
Pro Comparison: Kenyan Drake
Kellen Diesch (OT)
In a draft full of talent at offensive tackle, Arizona State’s blindside blocker has been overlooked in most mock drafts due to his short arms and lack of strength for his 6-foot-7-inch frame, making him susceptible to a bull-rush. However, Diesch was an excellent pass-protector in his final year in Tempe, allowing just seven pressures all season which got him recognized on the 2021 All-Pac-12 second team.
While the run-blocking is still a work in progress, Diesch could be a Day 3 project tackle for a team to bring around down the road. Since this draft class is loaded at the position and sees a considerable talent drop-off after Day 1, Diesch will likely slide to Day 3 where a team that missed out on the plethora of tackles in the early rounds could scoop him up. Keep an eye on a trio of AFC West clubs in the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, or Las Vegas Raiders to keep Diesch nearby or for the Pittsburgh Steelers to pick him up at some point.
Pro Comparison: Jake Matthews
Jack Jones (CB)
The most controversial of Sun Devils in this year’s class, Jack Jones has logged quite a bit of mileage. As a five-star recruit in high school, Jones was a staple of the USC defense before being ruled academically ineligible and subsequently arrested on misdemeanor charges.
After a year of junior college, Jones arrived in Tempe in 2019 and his play on the field earned him All-Pac 12 honorable mention recognition as a ballhawk who could get to throws with ease. However, his frame is very small for a defensive back and would likely relegate him to an exclusive slot corner. With his speed and ball-tracking though, he could find his footing in the right system.
With his limited positional value and off-the-field issues, Jones will slide to Day 3 but has the best chance to see the field among Arizona State prospects in 2022. Teams who could use immediate help ball-hawking on the inside the most are the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, or Chicago Bears.
Pro Comparison: Mike Hilton
Chase Lucas (CB)
One of the leaders of last year’s team, Chase Lucas has some appeal to NFL teams looking for a captain-like presence from a young guy who's willing to do anything on the defensive side.
Lucas has been a regular for ASU since 2017, riding his speed to keep up with the Pac-12’s top vertical threats while also getting tackles on all levels. When he gets beat though, Lucas has trouble closing the distance and resorts to getting handsy which is much more costly in the league. He also didn’t grab an interception for the Sun Devils in his final two seasons with the team, raising questions on his true impact at the NFL level.
PFF seems to agree, as Lucas’s No. 336 ranking suggests he will not hear his name called this weekend. And in a draft class that’s deep at the position, Lucas will still be on the board hours into Day 3 but someone should give him a call for his young leadership and potential as a returner.
Pro Comparison: Avery Williams
Darien Butler (LB)
The Devils’ most consistent defensive player in 2021, Darien Butler played above his size as the team’s captain racking up 68 tackles for the team. As a four-year starter, Butler’s quick feet to change direction, as well as improvement as a coverage linebacker, helped raise his stock, but not his height. At 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, Butler’s size is not on par with the prototypical NFL linebacker, nor is his speed and pursuit skills.
With a lot of mid-round talent at linebacker, Butler could be a round six or seven call to develop on the practice squad and scout teams, and maybe even get to the active roster as a hard-hitting, locker room leader. The New England Patriots and Detroit Lions love those kinds of guys.
Pro Comparison: Kiko Alonso
Curtis Hodges (TE)
While deep, this year’s draft class for tight ends is pretty simple. Trey McBride and everybody else. And for former wide receiver Curtis Hodges, he’s at the back end of the group. While being a good pass-catcher on the seam route with a big 6-foot-8 body, injuries and scheming kept Hodges from reaching his full potential in Tempe.
As a long guy with large range and hands, Hodges could have some projectability as a backup in the NFL. But with his limited experience at the position, history of injuries, and lack of presence as a blocker, Hodges is at best a seventh-rounder. Should he go undrafted, teams will be calling as Hodges could develop on the practice squad and compete for limited snaps behind a thin tight end room like Tennessee or Carolina.
Pro Comparison: CJ Fiedorowicz
DJ Davidson (DT)
ASU’s top run-stopper on the line, Davidson anchors well on the line and doesn’t let backs go by him very often. However, he doesn’t break through the line often and can be held too long into the play. With major power, Davidson will need to improve upon his ability to get to the backfield more consistently. He won’t be on anybody's radar until at least the sixth round and might have to latch on somewhere as an undrafted free agent, but Davidson could be an enticing look as a project nose guard to stuff the run. Teams who struggled in that department who could consider Davidson are the Chargers, Steelers or Vikings.
Pro Comparison: DJ Reader
Tyler Johnson (DL)
Johnson likely won’t see his name called on stage this weekend, but that is not to say he won’t get an UDFA opportunity sometime next week. His prospect status has been a head scratcher. A first-team All-Pac-12 edge in 2021, Johnson remained a consistent starter with an extreme impact, but he was not given an NFL Combine invite earlier this year.
His 6-foot-4 inch, 280 pound frame is a foundation from which to build, and he will be an experimental project during training camp. Given the Ravens’ depth desires at outside linebacker and needs on the defensive line, Johnson would be an interesting project in Baltimore, a team with a track record of success in development.
Pro Comparison: Josh Allen (JAX)