It’s that time of year again where everyone is doing their evaluations and determining who “their” top guys are come April 28th-April 30th for the 2022 NFL Draft. You’re going to see thousands of different big boards throughout the process, especially before and after the combine. We’re officially just about to begin the first day of combine, and the list below is my current top 50 prospects in this draft before any of the events begin.
1) Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Regardless of missing about half the season due to an injury, Kyle Hamilton’s size, potential, and skill set at the position is too great to ignore. Hamilton is a 6’4 220 safety with elite level ball skills and range who has the ability to deliver “the boom” type hits. As an overall prospect, Hamilton is as close as a for sure thing as it gets in this class. Pretty positive the combine will back that up also.
2) Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Evan Neal has been the clear cut OT1 since the beginning of the season. At 6’7 360 lbs, Neal is a mammoth of a human being, who is quite nimble in his movement. Can play either tackle position which always entices NFL coaches. Impressive lower level power for a tackle his size. Most dominate run blocker in the whole class. Has had some issues with balance earlier in his time at Alabama,but seemed to clean it up closer towards the end of his time there. Overall just a dominate, beast of a tackle who moves defenders around like rag dolls.
3) Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux by far has the highest upside of any edge rusher in this class. Thibodeaux has the ideal frame (6’5, 258), explosiveness, and length that NFL teams seek. First step burst off of the snap is above average. Uses speed rip, inside stab, and 2 hand shuck with efficiency. Against the run, he extremely capable of stacking blocks, and locating the ball carrier. Shows some ankle tightness and spotty flexibility, but his ability to rush speed to power should continuing in the NFL.
4) Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
When you watch this kids tape, first thing that comes to your head is that he is as strong as a bull. Cross’s foot quickness allows his to slide quickly to stuff stunts, and counter moves effectively. Shows good balance in his stance, and works his angles at an above average level. His hand power and placement are well trained and it’s noticeable how well he’s been coached. Knows how to use his length to his advantage. High IQ tackle. Plays with a mean streak that head coaches want out of their offensive lineman. Overall, Cross is a long, strong tackle who should start out of the gate as a quality starter.
5) Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State
If this high of a ranking shocks you, it wont after the combine. Johnson has the ideal size, speed, power, and length for today’s pass rushers. Besides maybe Kayvon Thibodeaux, no one uses speed to power rush more effectively than Jermaine Johnson. High motored player who has extremely high instincts when the QB or ball carrier goes off script. Johnson does a good job of using his length to keep himself distanced from from blockers so he can set the edge. He has mastered the bull rush stab and 2 hand shuck pass rush moves to almost perfection. One knock against Johnson that i do agree with is that he plays a bit too high at times. Overall, Jermaine Johnson is a high riser who is only going to continue to climb up everyone’s big boards. His game should translate nicely at the next level.
6) Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
Hutchinson is probably the most polished pass rusher in the entire class. Explosive first step off the snap and has a full arsenal of hand moves. Non stop motor and never quits on a play. Not in love with his ability to bend. Needs to be quicker decision maker when it comes to finding a counter move when in a bind. Run game instincts are inconsistent. I currently have Hutchinsonas my DE3 because his short arm length and inconsistencies in his bend could get him into some trouble at the next level. Overall, Hutchinson should be a double digit sack artist year in and year out.
7) Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
“Sauce” Gardner is a rare breed. Not many 6’3 corners can move as fluidly and effortlessly as he does. His ability to mirror his man is elite. Above average ball skills and has natural instincts. excellent read and react awareness. Gardner’s ability to use his hands in press coverage in unique. Uses boxing type hand placement off the line of scrimmage. Plays with an edge and has an alpha mentality and swagger. He can occasionally miss a tackle and is a catch and drag type tackler but his tackling technique has improve yearly. Gardner is the top lock down corner of the class, and is on the same trajectory as Carolina Panthers corner back Jaycee Horn and may very well be CB1 off the board.
8) Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Linderbaum is probably the highest rated center prospect since Travis Frederick. If we’re being honest, Linderbaum projects to have more upside than Frederick. An elite level athlete for the position. High IQ center with great awareness of reading coverages and stunts. Great upper body strenght. Best work is in the second level where he can get out and make lead blocks in the pass/run play. Quick feet and ability to slide on combo blocks. Linderbaum should be a day 1 starter who makes an immediate impact.
9) Ikem Ekwonu, OT/G, NC State
Ickey Ekwonu is a strong and powerful offensive linemen who plays with a nasty streak. Probably the best run blocker in the entire draft. Plays until the whistle is blown so rushers need to be on their toes around him or he’ll deliver a blow. Still needs work in pass rush but it’s improve. Quick getting into his stance but has trouble sliding against speed rushers. In my opinion, Ekwonu best fits inside as guard who can play tackle if needed.
10) Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
Stingley has the ideal size and frame (6’1, 195) for today’s NFL cornerbacks. Extremely sticky in press coverage. Uses his length to his advantage, especially while jabbing off the LOS. Quick burst to recover on his man if beaten. Smooth mover and elite athlete. Stingley does have some issues that lie with him though. He’s only played 10 games in the last 2 seasons. Stingley also has lapses of seeming uninterested at times. Run support can use some work as well. At the end of the day, Stingley has the coverage skills to keep him in the NFL for a long time, but he’s got to find that hunger he played with in 2019.
11) Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd is one of the better overall linebacking prospects I’ve studied. The natural instincts in zone coverages is exceptional. Elite sideline to sideline range. A versatile linebacker who can play off the edge or inside. Has WR type hands which is rare for his position. Against the run, he uses his length to play off blocks, and shows good burst to close the gaps and lay a striking blow to the ball carrier. Plays a physical and aggressive nature that you love from your linebacker. Lloyd does show some lower body tightness here and there, but overall Lloyd has all-pro potential.
12) Garret Wilson, WR, OSU
Best route runner of the class. Wilson is an ultra polished receiver who creates a lot of separation often. He doesn’t have track like speed but he is extremely quick in and out his breaks and at the top of his routes. Plays bigger than his size. After the catch is when Wilson strives, where he makes people miss and shrugs off tacklers regularly. Wilson is known for a few concentration drops, but that can be fixed. Wilson may have the most success of any receiver of this class. Moves very similar to Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.
13) Travon Walker, Edge/IDL, UGA
Travon Walker is a versatile defensive linemen who can play inside and on the edge. Against the run, Walker uses his power and length to gain leverage in the gaps as well as the outside. As a pass rusher, Walker shows violent hand pop at the point of attack. Plays with a never ending aggression. Biggest issue that lies with Walker is that he is a bit of a “tweener”. Regardless, Walker has legitimate traits of a dominate pass rusher and a team should be able to untapp that potential.
14) Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Treylon Burks is a big bodied receiver with rare movement for his size. Physical, yet fast receiver who has tons of run after the catch ability. Burks wasn’t asked to run a wide variety of routes for Arkansas. Was used more as a gadget player. It’s yet to be seen how advanced his route tree is, but he’s fluid and atheltic enough to build on that. Burks has the highest home run play making ability potential of this class.
15) Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
Andrew Booth Jr is a twitched up corner with elite athleticism. Booth Jr may be the most athletic prospect in this entire class. Heavily involved in the run game and is a very willing tackler. In man coverage, Booth Jr could work on his jabbing and hand placement through the route, but does an excellent job staying on the receivers hip throughout the route. Zone coverage is where he shines. Does a good job of keeping the receiver in front of him, planting his feet and jumping the route. Shows above average ball skills. Has been caught flat footed at times, but not often. Booth Jr will likely start out as a CB2, but not for long. Kid plays with an alpha type mentality and grit. I’d take my chances on him turning into a CB1 by his third year.
16) George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
One word stands out when talking about George Karlaftis and that is POWER. This kid is a people mover. His ability to create power from speed is incredible. Has a knack at finding the QB in or out of the pocket. Does well to set the edge to chase down the ball carrier. There aren’t many other prospects in this class that play the game of football with more passion and energy than Karlaftis. That being said he doesn’t have the ideal length you’d like your edge rusher. Not a smooth or fluid athlete and shows little bend when rushing. Karlaftis will be targeted by teams due to his ability to bull rush the passer and the type of passion he plays with. Has day 1 starter potential.
17) Kenny Pickett, QB, PITT
Kenny Pickett ended the college football season as the number one QB prospect, then out of no where people began to randomly depict that notion. That wont be happening here. Pickett has the athleticism, size, and accuracy teams look in their QBs now a days. He doesn’t have a Josh Allen rocket of an arm, but not many do. He shows plenty of arm strength on tape fitting it through tight windows and vertically. Poise inside the pocket and is able to maneuver around the pocket effectively. Has shown the “clutch gene”, completing various 4th quarter comebacks.
His release is extremely quick and his mechanics are the cleanest of the class. Has “sneaky” ability to escape the pocket and become a runner, who uses his strong lower body to bounce off contact. Some have “concerns” about his hand size and the fact he wears gloves, but that doesn’t bother me. If you can sling the football you can sling the football, hand size won’t change that. Has alot of similarities to Derek Carr in my opinion.
18) Devonte Wyatt, IDL, UGA
For a 6’3 315 lb defensive tackle, Wyatt displays elite athleticism for the position. He’s a fluid athlete with an explosive first step off the LOS. Shows an array on hand counters when rushing the QB. is able to get “skinny” and fit through tight gaps. Wyatt isn’t the strongest of of interior defensive linemen, but what he lacks in power he makes up for in athleticism and being naturally instinctive. Reads blocking patterns extremely well and it shows on tape. If Wyatt can improve the power aspect of the position, sky’s the limit.
19) Drake London, WR, USC
Drake London’s tape shows a ton of 50/50 contested catches that not many receivers are making. The ex basketball player uses being a two sport athlete to his advantage by knowing how to position his body for box out type catches. High pointing the football comes extremely natural to him, realistically making any 50/50 ball more like a 75/25 ball. However, London’s tape also shows the often inability to create separation, which could get him in trouble at the next level. He also lacks the run away speed you’d like to see from an outside receiver. I believe London can play outside or inside, with being a big bodied slot receiver being his most productive area. Reminds me very much of Marques Colston.
20) Nakobe Dean, LB, UGA
Nakobe Dean is one of the most explosive prospects in this draft. Dean is undersized, but plays with a fearlessness a linebacker should possess. Tackles with a purpose. Sideline to sideline range unlimited. Has the athletic ability to cover backs out of the backfield. Plays like a missile looking for its target at all times. Again Dean lacks the ideal size and length of a modern day NFL LB, and it may hurt his draft stock a bit, but at the end of the day he is a certified first round talent, who is easily a 120-150 tackle a year type player. Perennial Pro Bowl type talent.
21) Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
At the end of the CFB season, I had little knowledge of Trent McDuffie, and let’s just say i came away impressed after watching his tape. Mcduffie is a an ultra aggressive corner who plays as physical as a linebacker. In man coverage, he does a good job of maintaining hip to hip coverage. Only allowed 16 catches all of 2021 per PFF. Twitched up athlete who shows good closing burst. I’d say McDuffie is the best tackling corner of the class. With all that being said, Mcduffie does lack the NFL size and length to be “seen” as a CB1. One real problem i see being an issue at the next level is going up against big bodied outside receivers. Other than that McDuffie has the potential of being a top tier CB2.
22) Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
Kenyon Green is a versatile offensive linemen with exceptional power with sweet feet. For a big bodied guard, Green moves extremely well. His ability to slide on combo blocks is impressive. Holds a solid stance and shows great ability to recover when knocked off balance. Its very noticeable that hes mastered his hand placement in the run game. Needs some work with technique in pass blocking, but may be one of the most dominating run blockers of this class. There’s some similarities there to Brandon Schreff.
23) Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Jameson Williams is the most dynamic deep threat coming out of this years draft class. Has the capability of taking any play designed for him to the house with his blazing speed. Tremendous YAC potential. Constantly creating separation on deep shot calls. He did just recently tear his ACL in the national championship, and that may drop his stock a tad. He also has a smaller frame which at times causes him to get jammed up at the LOS. Overall, Williams isn’t another Henry Ruggs or John Ross who are just straight lined runners, Williams is more shifty about getting open and has tons of big play potential at the next level.
24) Jaquan Brisker, S, PSU
Brisker is amongst one of my favorite prospects of the 22’ NFL Draft. Brisker is a versatile safety who can play single/double high, in the box, or in the slot. Exteremly instinctual, who is confident in his technique and ability. Shows great anticipation by reading the QBs eyes. Fluid athlete, who has “sweet feet”. Lock and load type tackler who packs a mean punch. Rangy in coverage and chasing down a ball carrier. Brisker has shown to struggle a bit in man coverage, seen flat footed at times. Has lapsed of being too aggressive of a tackler and lead to missed attempts. At the end of the day, Brisker projects to be a top 15 safety in the NFL who is a menace in a zone scheme defense. He’s a player who you will see flying all over the field. Very similar to ‘21 36th overall pick Jevon Holland.
25) David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan
David Ojabo is probably the most crafty speed rushers in the last couple classes. Shows a lot of counter moves when initially held up at the LOS. Relentless pass rusher. I’m not as sold on him as others. Shows a lack of interest and desire to be apart of run defense more often than you’d like. May be a real liability as a run stopper at the next level. Doesn’t display much power against bigger bodied tackles and guards. Can get squared up fairly easy. Instincts aren’t 100% developed yet and only played 20 games at the college level. Ojabo will probably produce a good amount of sacks and pressures at the next level, I just skeptical of his overall usage as a defensive linemen and not just a speeder rusher.
26) Chris Olave, WR, OSU
Olave is a smooth criminal when it comes to route running and body movement. Creates many opportunities for himself because of his top end speed. Natural ball skills and hand catcher. Olave struggled at times against more physical corners who were handsy. Small frame and lack play strength may hurt him in the long run. He’s a natural field speader who opens the middle of the field for others and can make plays downfield, teams will always look for player of his skill set.
27) Jahan Dotson, WR, PSU
Dotson is a slender framed WR who plays bigger than his size. Runs silky smooth routes and has some swift feet. Dotson is a willing blocker when asked to do so. Good above the rim ability for his size. Has some of the best hands in this class. All that being said, Dotson’s play strength has given him struggles against hip to hip coverage. Has also shown to be tackled easily in open field. Not a very versatile WR, struggles inside the hash marks. Dotson has some big time play making ability, which pops up on tape a good amount, but he must add onto his frame or it could be a big problem at the next level.
28) Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Daxton Hill’s athlethic profile is elite. Shows explosiveness and versatility in coverage. Extremely Rangy over the top and has the read and react burst to play well in zone. Great size and length for the position. Hill is more more aggressive in the pass game than run game. Does a great job of cutting off angles in run support but I wouldn’t call him a run stuffer. Has had issues stacking off blocks at times. Teams who go up against more pass driven opponents are going to covet Hill’s ability to roam and cover over the top.
29) Zion Johnson, G/C, Boston College
Wide-bodied IOL who plays with infinite power. One of the smartest overall prospects of this class. On tap, Johnson looks to have incredible pop from his hands on initial contact with the rusher. Strives in double team blocking techniques. He simply must work on his athleticism at the next level, if he doesn’t he’s gonna have issues with atheltic interior rushers. Johnson will benefit from going to a team that plays strictly to his strengths and tends to shy away from a lot of movement based protections. Has the potential to be a bully of a guard.
30) Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota
Mafe is a power edge rusher who shows rare athleticism for his size. Has an explosive first step that creates speed to power almost immediately. Does a good job to stack blocks then get involved in the run game. Hand usage improved as the year went on. Mafe is a raw prospect who shows an abundance of potential as a sack artist. I think his best years are ahead of him
31) Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Breece Hall is one of the more patient runners I’ve ever studied. He’ll follower his blockers until the slightest crack opens in the gap and he hits the hole with a purpose. Big time contact balance, rarely ever goes down in initial contact. A threat in the passing game, smooth route runner and good hands. Doesn’t have track like speed, but has the ability to take a carry to the house. Has shown some struggles in pass protection, but the willingness is there. Hall has the skill set, size, and frame that NFL teams are looking for in today’s running backs and projects to hit the ground running out the gate.
32) Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Sam Howell is an accurate QB who throws an incredibly catchable ball. On top of that, Howell displays elite arm strength. He is as tough as a QB you’ll see. Can throw to all three levels of the field effectively. It wasn’t until this year when his whole supporting class left that we saw his ability to really escape the pocket, which he did at an exceptional level. Howell’s thick build allowed him to bounce off tackles, and fight for yards. While Howell has a ultra quick release and solid throwing mechanics, his lower half needs a bit of tweaking. Overall, if Howell gets with a coaching staff who is patient, and can fix his lower body mechanics, he could be an effective starting QB at the next level.
33) Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
34) Trevor Penning, OT, UNI
35) Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
36) David Bell, WR, Purdue
37) Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
38) Kingsley Enagbare, Edge, South Carolina
39) Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma
40) Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
41) DeMarvin Leal, IDL, Texas A&M
42) Darian Kinnard, OT/G, Kentucky
43) Jordan Davis, IDL, UGA
44) Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
45) Travis Jones, IDL, Connecticut
46) Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
47) Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
48) Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati
49) Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
50) Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
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