Ah, what an exciting weekend that made us all feel like normal for a few days. The 2021 NFL Draft has come and gone and many teams feeling improved and set for a rebuild.
But, it doesn’t always work like that. And there’s always next year!
While Trevor Lawrence headlined this draft class, many other quarterbacks made this a QB class unlike any other. There’s not that kind of firepower in 2022, but there is a loaded field of a defense players including one that may go number one overall over a quarterback for the first time since 2017.
Let’s separate the two sides based on offense and defense and take a look at the top 32 players in the projected NFL Draft class of 2022.
- Sam Howell, QB – North Carolina
A bit undersized, but without question the best quarterback mechianics in the projected field for next season. Playing at North Carolina, his numbers will look impressive in a pass-heavy offense in 2021. If the team with top pick in 2022 need a signal-caller, Howell will likely be the way to go.
- Evan Neal, OL – Alabama
Based on size and build alone, Neal is a can’t miss prospect on the offensive line. If Neal stays healthy and can lead the charge for another Alabama top-tier offense, Neal will be a top five pick in 2022.
- Kedon Slovis, QB – Southern Cal
In terms of a pocket passer similar to Mac Jones, Slovis is that guy in the 2022 class of quarterbacks. Turnovers are the difference in Slovis being a contender as the top overall pick and a mid-first round draft pick.
- Zion Nelson, OT – Miami (FL)
I love Nelson’s ability to just manhandle defenders at times on the line and has shown the ability to dominate from the left tackle position. Depending on Nelson’s 2022 season and team needs, Nelson could also slide up into the top five.
- Chris Olave, WR – Ohio State
Similar to 2021, there could be between five and eight wide receivers selected in the first round in the 2022 NFL Draft. As of now, I’d take Olave as the top receiver. Olave could’ve been a first or second round pick this year, but opted to return to school. Another big season should lock him as a top ten pick and the top WR selected, but there’s plenty of competition at the position including on his own team.
- Spencer Rattler, QB – Oklahoma
Rattler may be the number one guy to watch in college football in 2022 in terms of the Heisman Trophy, but his Draft stock will also be talked about all year long. If he struggles, Rattler could be leapfroged by a number of QB prospects. If Rattler excels and has another 3,000 yard season and Oklahoma is a title contender, Rattler could shoot up to the number one pick. By far the top playmaking and most electrifying quarterback available regardless in 2022.
- Jalen Wydermyer, TE – Texas A&M
Wydermyer is no Kyle Pitts, but is a top tier talent at the tight end position. In two seasons, he’s shown massive pass-catching TE potential with 78 catches, 953 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
- Desmond Ridder, QB – Cincinnati
Great size, very experienced, and is the top dual-threat quarterback available in the 2022 Draft. Ridder won’t have the same attention on him as the other three quarterbacks ranked above, but once the season ends and scouts start breaking down tape and measurements, Ridder could easily surge up many draft boards.
- George Pickens, WR – Georgia
We mentioned earlier this is a loaded WR draft class and honestly, Pickens would be number one if not for an injury in the spring. There’s a chance Pickens doesn’t play this season and that would definitely make it hard to rank him above some of the other top receiver prospects. Nonetheless, may have the highest ceiling out of all the wide receivers available in 2022.
- Charles Cross, OT – Mississippi State
A redshirt sophomore who will be eligible to enter the 2022 Draft, Cross has fantastic size and will play a large roll in Mike Leach’s pass-heavy style of play which will attract a bunch of NFL teams to make him a first-round pick.
- Cade Mayes, OG – Tennessee
A solid prospect right out of high school, Mayes transferred from Georgia to Tennessee before last season. Mayes will have a larger role at Tennessee this season with a more fast-paced offense.
- Justyn Ross, WR – Clemson
Similar to Pickens, Ross would be ranked higher if he was 100% healthy. Not just any injury, but a spinal injury will likely deter may teams from selecting Ross in the top ten. However, if healthy enough to get back on the field this season, his speed and playmaking ability will make him a tough pass late in the first round.
- Garrett Wilson, WR – Ohio State
The teammate of Chris Olave, Wilson was the top target for Ohio State early last season before production dropped a bit late. A more consistent season could lead to Wilson climbing up possibly above the three wide outs currently ranked above him.
- Tyler Linderbaum, C – Iowa
Linderbaum may have been the top center in this year’s draft, but instead returned to Iowa for the 2022 season. Another season similar to last will lead to Linderbaum becoming a first-round pick.
- Tyler Shough, QB – Texas Tech
Shough transfered from Oregon to Texas Tech and will likely produce some much better numbers in 2022. I love everything about Shough and feel he’s a dark-horse to shoot up draft boards as a top ten pick.
- Isaiah Spiller, RB – Texas A&M
Of course, running backs going early in the NFL Draft are a thing of the past unless they’re just big time playmakers which Spiller is. While he may lack great size, speed, and just raw tools, he has a pure knack of making big plays.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE – Oregon
A superstar defensive player that feels like the most sure-thing in next year’s draft class. Tribodeaux has the quick feet, explosive ability, and amazing size (6-5, 250 lbs.) to be one of the top tacklers in the NFL almost immediately upon arrival. If a team that has a young quarterback ends up with the top pick in 2022, Tribodeaux could be the number one overall pick.
- Derek Stingley Jr., CB – LSU
Honestly, Stingley may be the top prospect, but the fact that a corner going number one, or honestly top five in this day and age, is unlikely, makes him right below Tribodeaux as of now. That doesn’t mean I don’t love everything about Derek Stingley’s game. Stingley is crazy fast and creates an island as a top tier corner that opposing quarterbacks want no part of. While a team that’s struggling may not be keen on selected Stingley in the top five, a good team may be willing to trade up to add him to their mix.
- Christian Harris, LB – Alabama
There’s a top tier end, corner, and now, a linebacker in the 2022 Draft Class that is a top ten talent. Christian Harris has the NFL frame most General Managers are looking for and the tackling ability and pass rushing skills to be the top linebacker selected in next year’s draft.
- Drake Jackson, DT – Southern Cal
Jackson may be a defensive end or edge rusher in the NFL. Jackson has pure pass rushing ability and is a flashy defensive linemen that will attract a ton of attention as a key defensive selection in 2022. While if a team with QB needs will clearly take Howell at number one, to me, these top four defensive players are the top overall players in the NFL Class of 2022.
- Kyle Hamilton, S – Notre Dame
This is one of the best safety groups I’ve seen in a long time. Hamilton is the cherry on top of the field of talent as he’s 6-4, 220 lbs. and can make plays with his tackling ability as well as his ability to find the football and make a play. Reminds me of the “Honey Badger” and could play that type of role in the NFL as well.
- Kaiir Elam, CB – Florida
Fantastic mixture of speed, length, attitude, and playmaking ability to make him a great corner at the next level. Elam won’t be targeted much this season, so numbers may not be as impressive, but Elam should still be a top fifteen selection.
- Zach Harrison, DE – Ohio State
While Harrison has underperformed a bit at Ohio State so far, he still has the build to be a solid NFL end. At 6-6 and nearly 270 lbs., Harrison has only 38 tackles and less than six total sacks. If the stats improve a bit in 2022, Harrison could shoot up to become a top ten selection.
- Bubba Bolden, S – Miami (FL)
Some of the hype has died down on Bolden over the last couple seasons and switched onto Hamilton of Notre Dame, but Bolden woke some people back up in 2020 and will look to do the same in 2021. Bolden looks to be the top tackling defensive back in the 2022 class, but if he can rack up a view more interceptions and pass break-ups this upcoming season, Bolden could jump back up on par with Hamilton.
- DeMarvin Leal, DT – Texas A&M
Texas A&M is loaded with pro prospects, but none are as intriguing as DeMarvin Leal. Leal looks like an ideal-sized pro defender, but will need to consistently make plays in the backfield to climb up the draft boards. Based on his size alone, Leal will be hard to pass up early in the NFL Draft.
- Aiden Hutchinson, DT – Michigan
Hutchinson had his 2020 season come to a disappointing conclusion due to an injury, but will look to rebound in 2021. In terms of a pure pass-rusher, Hutchinson may be the best in the draft field if 100% healthy.
- George Karlaftis, DE – Purdue
Karlaftis’ draft stock took a hit in 2020 after a tough season including being hit with COVID, but at 6-4, 275lbs., Karlaftis has the size and talent to make plays all over the field. If healthy, Karlaftis could rise back up draft boards, but he could also see his stock fall further into the late-first or early-second round.
- Brandon Cox, LB – Florida
Brandon Cox has the intangibles to be a great pro once he gets to the NFL. With an elite combination of high IQ, great tackling ability, and size that makes him a dominating, must see inside presence, Cox will be a steal if selected anywhere outside the top ten.
- Jordan Battle, S – Alabama
A bit different than the other two safeties above him, Battle is an ideal strong safety at the next level who makes big hits and creates opportunities for teammates. Battle will have more of a leadership role this year on the Crimson Tide defense and playing alongside pro prospects Christian Harris and Josh Jobe, Battle will look to improve his draft stock throughout the season.
- Ventrell Miller, LB – Florida
Miller and Cox will be the best one-two punch at linebacker this season in college football, but will also be in a “friendly competition” to rise up to the number two linebacker in the Draft. While Cox may be the leader and better IQ player, Miller is well rounded and rarely misses a tackle. If Miller can improve in the pass game, including both pass break-ups and getting to the quarterback, he could pass Cox and move up in the NFL Draft.
- Sevyn Banks, CB – Ohio State
Ohio State seems to always have a top tier corner and this year is no different as Sevyn Banks is set for a breakout season. At 6-1, 200-pounds, Banks has all the tools to be the number two corner available in the 2022 NFL Draft.
- Josh Jobe, CB – Alabama
Jobe isn’t too far behind Banks in terms of his tools and ability and will play on a top tier defense in 2021. Jobe doesn’t have crazy speed, especially for a first-round corner, but does have great ability to make plays on the ball and is a very good tacklers for his size.