Top 25 NFL Draft Prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is one week away, as one of the craziest NFL off-seasons in the history of the league seems to continue to be heating up. With multiple big names left in free agency, the draft will have a bigger impact this year than in years past. With that being said, let's get into my top 25 prospects in the 2022 draft.
1. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Hutchinson is viewed as the number one overall prospect by most, and for good reason. The Heisman runner-up finished a remarkable season at Michigan with fourteen sacks and showed his dominance with three of them against his biggest rival, Ohio State. Hutchinson is a great power-rusher that is a handful on every play, clearly the best pass-rusher in this draft. Hutchinson could easily be the first to walk across the stage on the night of the draft.
2. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Standing at a monstrous 6’7, and three-hundred and fifty pounds, Neal is a complete offensive lineman. In his three seasons at Alabama, Neal started at three different positions: Right Tackle, Left Tackle, and Left Guard. During his time with the Crimson Tide, Neal gave up just five sacks and thirty-six pressures, astounding numbers for a guy who moved around so frequently on the line. There’s been plenty of debate as to who the best linemen in the draft is; Neal, or NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. I like Neal due to his versatility among the line and his incredible pass blocking ability. Neal has real potential to be the first tackle selected with the number one overall pick since the Chiefs chose Eric Fisher in 2013.
3. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
What jumps out the most about Ikem Ekwonu’s game on film is his aggression and physicality in the run game. Ekwonu effortlessly moves up to the second level of the defense and deletes defenders from the play. Ekwonu is a different type of blocker than Evan Neal in that he’s more agile and athletic, however there were uncertainties about his pass-blocking ability, which Ekwonu shut down after his 2021 campaign. Ekwonu is one of my favorite prospects and could be the first offensive player drafted.
4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Thibodeaux has started to drop on most draft boards, however I’m not sure why. Thibodeaux missed a few games last season due to an ankle injury, but when he was on the field he was productive. Thibodeaux tallied seven sacks, forty-nine total tackles, and two forced fumbles in ten games. Prior to the 2021 season Thibodeaux seemed to be the consensus number one pick, but it’s uncertain now as to where he’ll be selected.
5. Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
Walker has been soaring up draft boards as of late, and some even like him to potentially be the number one overall pick. Walker, another member of the stout Georgia defense, doesn’t have the stats that jump out at you, but NFL scouts love his skillset and the potential he has. Walker impressed at the NFL combine as he showcased his physical tools, running a 4.51 forty yard dash and a 6.89 three-cone drill. Walker is most effective in the run game, however scouts have been salivating at the potential he has as a pass rusher.
6. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There’s been a lot of debate leading up to the draft about if Gardner, or LSU’s Derek Stingley is the best corner in this class. Due to Stingley’s recent injury history, I’m giving the nod to Gardner. Gardner allowed just eight catches for sixty yards and zero touchdowns a season ago. On top of that, Gardner was only targeted once against Alabama in the college football playoff semifinal. Gardner is a real shut-down corner that many teams are so desperately seeking.
7. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson uses his elite speed (4.38 forty yard dash) and smooth route running to get open and evade defenders, as he did last season at Ohio State while racking up twelve touchdowns and over one-thousand yards. Wilson has been regarded as the best wide receiver in the class by many and according to insider Jordan Schultz, a NFL general manager has said that Wilson is “one of the best receivers he has evaluated over the past five years.” Wilson is guaranteed to be one of the first receivers selected and will be an instant impact wideout in the league.
8. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Stingley made his arrival to college football well known in 2019, as he had one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen from a corner in college. Unfortunately, Stingley’s production dropped in 2020 and 2021 as he struggled with some inconsistent play and injuries. But that shouldn’t deter any team from taking a serious look at Stingley, who showed how dominant he can be on an island with the proper supporting cast as part of LSU’s National Championship team. Stingley also possesses explosive ability in the return game as he returned punts for LSU during his career.
9. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Hamilton has been falling down draft boards as of late due to his 40 time (4.7s at his pro day) and while some question his physical tools, his talent is off the charts. Hamilton shows incredible range on the field, quickly closing openings in the passing game and making even more incredible plays on the ball. Hamilton also plays the run and tackles extremely well for a defensive back as he recorded thirty-four total tackles in just seven games in 2021. Many are predicting a draft day slide for Hamilton, who if he makes it out of the top ten somehow, won’t be waiting to hear his name called long after.
10. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Willis and Pickett are leading the debate for best Quarterback in the class, with many giving the edge to Willis. Willis shows astounding down the field accuracy and combines that with the ability to make explosive plays with his legs. No play is ever dead with Willis under center, as he also can release the ball from any point inside or outside of the pocket. However Willis’s determination to make the big play can sometimes get him in trouble, as he threw twelve interceptions in thirteen games in 2021. Willis also gives you a different dimension than Pickett with his legs, as Willis ran for just under nine-hundred yards in 2021 (878) and thirteen rushing touchdowns. Draft analysts have had a hard time figuring out where the QB’s are likely to be taken on night one, but Willis seems like the most likely Quarterback to be taken in the top ten, if any are selected that early at all
11. Drake London, WR, USC
London was on track to have the best season of any wide receiver in CFB in 2021 until fracturing his ankle in late October. London is a big target (6’5, 210) that also contains big play ability as he averaged twelve yards per reception in 2021. In just eight games London put up over one-thousand receiving yards and seven touchdowns and averaged one-hundred and thirty-five yards per game. What makes London so special though, is his ability to make plays after the catch, which can be rare for a receiver of his size.
12. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave makes up the other half of the dangerous Ohio State wide receiver tandem. Olave totaled thirteen touchdowns last season along with nine-hundred and thirty-six yards. Olave is one of the best deep threats in this draft class as he racked up thirty five total touchdowns in his career at Ohio State and averaged just over fifteen yards per reception (15.4). After running a 4.39 forty yard dash at the NFL combine, it's easy to see why defenders had such a hard time stopping Olave.
tools, running a 4.51 forty yard dash and a 6.89 three-cone drill. Walker is most effective in the run game, however scouts have been salivating at the potential he has as a pass rusher.
13. Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
Johnson transferred to Florida State, from Georgia prior to the 2021 season and really boosted his stock. Johnson picked up new career highs in every statistical category, showing his true ability when given a large number of reps. After an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl Johnson started to climb up draft boards and continues to do so as some have projected him as high as a top ten selection.
14. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
If it weren’t for a torn ACL in the National Championship game, Williams would likely be the consensus number one receiver in this class. Williams was a finalist for the Biletnikoff award given to the nation’s best receiver as he totaled fifteen touchdowns and just under sixteen-hundred yards receiving. Williams is a big play threat that’s even more dangerous in open space. He’s seen a predicted slide down draft boards due to his knee injury however, some are projecting him to still be selected as early as in the top twenty of the first round. The good news for Williams is that it has also been reported that he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab for the ACL injury.
15. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Cross is arguably the best pass blocker in the draft class, playing in Mike Leach’s air raid system and only allowing one sack a season ago. As a run blocker, he’s more similar to Evan Neal than Ikem Ekwonu in that he does a great job of moving defenders around to create running lanes. Something that also excites me about Cross is his ability to move for his size, Cross was clocked at 4.95 seconds for his forty yard dash at the NFL combine.
16. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Penning’s physicality and ability to dominate opposing pass rushers first jumps out about the Northern Iowa prospect. Penning often simply overpowers the defense, keeping his quarterback upright and opening up running lanes for the backs. Penning’s physical tools are jaw-dropping, as the 6’7 tackle ran a 4.89 forty yard dash and recorded twenty-nine reps when he benched at his pro day.
17. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum is undoubtedly the best true center prospect in this year's class, he possesses great athleticism and speed for an offensive linemen and as a result does a great job getting to the second level while run blocking. Linderbaum is also very good at using leverage on the line, which enabled him to give up just three sacks in the last three seasons
18. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie seems to be in the next tier of corners right after Stingley and Sauce Gardner and for good reason. McDuffie plays the run very well for a corner and plays great in zone defenses. McDuffie excels at recognizing the routes of opposing offenses and remaining patient until the perfect time to make a play on the ball. Although his interceptions numbers are nothing flashy (two total in his career) he’s still a reliable corner in man-to-man coverage and plays the ball well (six pass breakups in 2021). McDuffie has really seen his stock rise over the past few months and could be the third corner off the board.
19. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Pickett finished third in Heisman trophy voting in 2021 and has been regarded as the most ‘pro-ready’ QB in this class. Pickett was top six in the country in 2021 in both yards (4,319) and touchdowns (42) while throwing only seven interceptions, showing huge improvement in his decision making from his prior three seasons at Pitt. Pickett possesses athletic ability while in the pocket and is very underrated when it comes to making plays with his legs. A major concern that executives around the league have about Pickett is the size of his hands (8 ⅝ inches), however Joe Burrow was another Quarterback with this problem and so far he’s been successful.
20. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Burks is an interesting wideout prospect because he’s different from most of the others. Burks doesn’t have the speed that’ll blow you away (4.55 forty yard dash) in comparison to others like Garett Wilson and Chris Olave, but Burks possesses the ability to adjust to the ball while it’s in the air, and use his large frame to create separation and bring the ball in. Burks is great at making contested catches and using his hand strength to reel in the ball with defenders draped all over him. Burks offers a big-body receiver that multiple teams are looking for and he’ll definitely have many suitors come draft night.
21. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis is a massive 6’6, 341, but what is even more impressive is how fast the big man can move, as Davis clocked a 4.78 forty yard dash at the NFL combine. Davis is not viewed as an elite pass rusher by most and is low on most boards due to the positional value of defensive tackles. However, Davis does an incredible job of eating up space and filling gaps against the run where he is most effective.
22. Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah
Lloyd does an incredible job using his IQ to recognize routes when being used in coverage, and his speed allows him to make plays on the ball, as he finished 2021 with four interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown. Although Lloyd faces questions due to his positional value as an off-ball linebacker, he excites teams with his athleticism and versatility. Lloyd showed improvement as a pass rusher a season ago tallying a career-high eight sacks. His ability to run from sideline-to-sideline and play in coverage really excites teams.
23. Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia
Nakobe Dean was the Quarterback of the defense for National Champion Georgia Bulldogs a season ago and was all-over the field at all times. Dean showed his incredible sideline-to-sideline speed in 2021 as well as his versatility while blitzing, totalling seventy-two tackles and six sacks. Dean has slipped down boards and mock drafts as of late because of questions regarding the value of an off-ball linebacker in the draft. Wherever Dean ends up, he’ll make a huge difference and fill up the stat sheet.
24. Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Another Georgia Bulldog from their historic defense in 2021, Wyatt has been rising up draft boards as of late, and NFL teams are optimistic about his ceiling as he continues to develop as a pass rusher. Wyatt keeps his feet moving at all times and plays violently with his hands, his mix of quickness and strength is what really makes him special.
25. David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
Unfortunately Ojabo suffered a torn achilles during his pro-day and as a result has plummeted down draft boards as he’s likely to miss a large part of his rookie season. Prior to the injury Ojabo was a lock to go in the first round and a potential top fifteen pick. Ojabo had an incredible season lined up opposite Aidan Hutchinson racking up eleven sacks and five forced fumbles. Ojabo shows great speed and first step off the edge while also doing a great job containing the outside.