The NFL Draft is an unstable creature, and it’s always the case that there are both late-round surprises who develop into long-term starters and first-round busts who don’t stick around for long. Evaluation is an imperfect science, after all.

But sometimes, evaluation isn’t necessarily at fault. Instead, a specific front office’s laser focus on a particular prospect is at odds with the larger draft community. This often happens near the top of the draft as players like Blake Bortles, Baker Mayfield, Mitchell Trubisky and Sam Darnold all went well ahead of their consensus rank. It happens at other positions, too, as teams have disagreed when drafting players like Clelin Ferrell, Dante Fowler, Justin Gilbert and Ereck Flowers.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean teams are wrong to think the way they do. Josh Allen, Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes were all drafted ahead of the consensus. Outside of quarterback, players like Ryan Kelly, Byron Jones, Kolton Miller and Garrett Bolles proved to be justifiable reaches, as well.

But it seems like, more often than not, players drafted well ahead of that consensus tend to underperform. The two teams that have been off the consensus the most in the past several years have been the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks — two franchises with excellent recent histories on the field but not in the draft room, where they have produced several mediocre classes.

We don’t know what teams will do in the draft, but those with their ears to the ground have an idea of what might happen at various points. Using that information, dozens of mock drafts have been produced, and we can compare that data, gathered by Benjamin Robinson at Grinding the Mocks, to see which players are mocked higher or lower than their consensus grade. Let’s see if we can find some steals or warn about potential reaches in the 2022 NFL Draft:

 

Steals

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 4 by consensus, No. 10 by mocks)

It’s pretty rare to see a player identified as a steal who still might get drafted in the top 10, but that’s exactly what’s happening to Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. His disappointing 40-yard dash times at the NFL combine and his pro day seem to have scared prognosticators off making Hamilton with a top-five pick, content instead to let him fall to 10th on average. Hamilton is a safety who traffics on his ability to get to every point on the field quickly, and his impressive range vaulted him up boards before the offseason draft process. The slow 40-yard dash didn’t deter evaluators but could deter teams.