2022 NFL season: Best/worst-case projections for notable offensive rookies

With the start of the 2022 NFL regular season just around the corner, NFL Media analyst and former scout Daniel Jeremiah projects the best- and worst-case scenarios for 12 intriguing offensive rookies. Check back on Wednesday to see his projections for notable defensive rookies.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 8 overall

Best-case scenario: London was a high-volume pass-catcher at USC and he quickly picks up where he left off. He shows the ability to play outside and in the slot while teaming with Kyle Pitts to give the Falcons two mismatch players to build around.

Worst-case scenario: He starts off slow after missing time during training camp due to a knee injury and the offense fails to generate a lot of scoring opportunities. I still believe he will catch a lot of balls even if the red zone targets are limited.

Projected stats: 80 catches, 950 yards and 6 TDs.

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Drafted: Round 1, No. 10 overall

Best-case scenario: The Jets’ offense makes a major leap in 2022. Wilson receives more targets than teammate Corey Davis and Elijah Moore’s presence creates a lot of friendly matchups on the opposite side of the field. 

Worst-case scenario: Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, currently recovering from knee surgery, fails to improve his accuracy and that causes the entire offense to sputter. I still believe the rookie will produce some “wow” catches, as he’s done throughout training camp. 

Projected stats: 55 catches, 725 yards, 4 TDs.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 11 overall

Best-case scenario: Olave carries the positive momentum he’s generated during training camp to the regular season. Quarterback Jameis Winston stays aggressive and Olave emerges as the primary deep threat in the Saints’ offense. 

Worst-case scenario: I don’t see much downside or risk here, outside of the possibility Olave suffers an unfortunate injury. Michael Thomas could re-emerge as a target hoarder if he can stay healthy, but I still believe there will be plenty of passes headed Olave’s way. 

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Projected stats: 70 catches, 900 yards, 7 TDs.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 12 overall

Best-case scenario: Williams takes his time to return to full health after suffering an ACL tear in the national title game last January. That is the most important aspect of his rookie campaign. Upon his return to the field, he quickly provides a much-needed vertical element to the Lions’ passing attack. He flashes enough to get the organization enthused about his abilities heading into 2023.  

Worst-case scenario: It takes him a while to regain confidence in his knee and the offense remains too horizontal to feature his strengths once he’s back on the field. I still believe he’ll make an impact with his impressive run-after-catch tools.

Projected stats: 35 catches, 550 yards, 3 TDs.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 16 overall

Best-case scenario: Dotson displays exactly what evaluators loved during his collegiate career: exceptional hands and explosiveness. He has the upside to be the top producer in his draft class. He should see favorable matchups playing opposite Terry McLaurin.

Worst-case scenario: His lack of size (5-foot-11, 182 pounds) leads to some durability concerns. If he can stay healthy, I believe his floor is very high. 

Projected stats: 75 catches, 1,000 yards, 5 TDs.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 18 overall

Best-case scenario: Burks has the frame and skill set to fill the A.J. Brown role in Tennessee’s offense. While it would be a major stretch to predict he’ll produce at a Brown-like level as a rookie, I do believe he’s capable of emerging as the Titans’ No. 1 target at some point this fall. 

Worst-case scenario: Burks fails to stay in shape, which leads to inconsistent availability and production. He shows boom/bust qualities, which are equally exciting and scary.

Projected stats: 65 catches, 900 yards, 4 TDs.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 20 overall

Best-case scenario: Pickett wins the starting job early in the season and efficiently operates a balanced offense. He uses his athleticism to overcome shaky offensive line play and helps the Steelers return to the postseason.

Worst-case scenario: If Mitchell Trubisky wins the job entering the season and plays well, 2022 could end up being a redshirt year for Pickett. That wouldn’t be a terrible thing because it would mean the offense is performing and it would provide the Steelers with another offseason to upgrade the O-line before thrusting Pickett into the mix. 

Projected stats: 960 passing yards, 7 TDs and 3 INTs in four starts.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 36 overall

Best-case scenario: I believe Hall could emerge as Pro Bowl performer in his rookie season. He has all of the tools to become a top-five running back in the league. Michael Carter plays a complementary role, as Hall is the bell-cow back from the start of the season to the end.

Worst-case scenario: The schedule looks very daunting and the offense could struggle until the competition lightens up a bit in the second half of the season. However, I believe in the Jets’ run-friendly system and Hall’s immense talent. Even if the group takes its lumps, he’ll still post solid numbers. 

Projected stats: 250 carries, 1,150 yards, 8 TDs; 55 catches, 500 yards, 4 TDs.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 41 overall

Best-case scenario: Walker quickly recovers from a hernia procedure and emerges as the leading force at running back for the Seahawks. He shows vast improvement in the passing game (he was very limited at Michigan State) and earns third-down opportunities as the season progresses.

Worst-case scenario: The Seahawks proceed cautiously (this might be the best thing for Walker in the big picture) as he returns from injury, placing him behind others at the position. The young offensive line shows tremendous upside, but it takes a while for it to jell and support an impactful rushing attack.

Projected stats: 175 carries, 700 yards, four TDs; 20 catches, 160 yards, one TD.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 52 overall

Best-case scenario: Pickens lives up to the hype. I’ve made some comments about folks at Georgia comparing him to former Bulldog A.J. Green. Green began his NFL career with five straight 1,000-yard seasons. I won’t be shocked if Pickens joins the 1,000-yard club as a rookie. He has that type of upside. 

Worst-case scenario: There are a lot of mouths to feed in the Steelers’ offense, starting with Najee Harris and Diontae Johnson. Pickens provides some splash plays, but the lack of targets impacts his overall production. 

Projected stats: 65 catches, 845 yards, 6 TDs.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 54 overall

Best-case scenario: Moore gobbles up a lot of the targets that Tyreek Hill left behind when he was traded to the Dolphins. He quickly gains the trust of Patrick Mahomes and is featured in the middle of the field, working out of the slot. His depth of targets might be shallow, but it allows him to show off his excellent strength and make-you-miss ability after the catch.

Worst-case scenario: The Kansas City offense has a lot of new faces this season and the ball might get spread around, impacting the numbers of everyone not named Travis Kelce. I still believe Moore has a relatively high floor because Mahomes and Andy Reid have been so incredibly successful together.

Projected stats: 55 catches, 700 yards, 5 TDs.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 63 overall

Best-case scenario: Cook establishes himself as the primary third-down back and he’s utilized both out of the backfield as well as in the slot. Josh Allen’s vertical, attacking style creates a lot of room for Cook to operate when the QB decides to check the ball down. Big first-half leads provide more second-half carries for Bills running backs as the team looks to close out games.

Worst-case scenario: The Bills end up having more faith in their veteran backs to run the ball and Cook isn’t featured in a loaded passing attack. However, I think there will be enough touches to go around for all of their studs and plenty left over for Cook to have some special moments. 

Projected stats: 130 carries, 585 yards, 2 TDs; 45 catches, 405 yards, 2 TDs.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter.

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