The college football season is well underway, and so is the 2022 NFL Draft cycle. Before you know it, Roger Goodell will be putting teams on the clock in Las Vegas. Until then, we’ll be updating our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board weekly, showcasing the best players in the nation as the season shapes their draft stock.
2022 NFL Draft Top 50 Big Board | 1-25
While quarterbacks dominated the start of last year’s draft, the beginning of our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board is filled with defensive playmakers.
1) Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
It’s not even mid-September, and I’ve already run out of superlatives to sum up safety sensation Kyle Hamilton. The 6’4″, 214-pound defensive playmaker combines every athletic attribute you need to succeed in the secondary with the mental makeup that allows those traits to translate to the football field. Hamilton showcased the insane range that makes him positionally versatile in the Fighting Irish’s season opener.
2) Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Size, length, speed, explosion, and agility. Kayvon Thibodeaux has all the athletic attributes to be a star in the NFL. Famed for winning with power and speed as a pass rusher, he also has an underrated ability to be extremely disruptive against the run. As impressive off the field as he is on it, if Thibodeaux can consistently deploy an array of pass-rush weapons this fall, he could be as close to a complete prospect as you can get coming out of college.
3) Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Big men up front don’t come much bigger than Evan Neal. The 6’7″, 360-pound offensive tackle has impressive length, making him a formidable roadblock for opposing defensive linemen. Versatile, mobile, and as strong as an Ox, Neal has the mauler mentality that separates the great from the good at the position. Making his debut at left tackle in the season opener, Neal was dominant and showed improvement against the negative aspects of his summer scouting report — mainly his weight distribution.
4) Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Ever since he exploded onto the scene as a true freshman, Derek Stingley Jr. has been tabbed as a can’t miss 2022 NFL Draft prospect. His insane statistical output was the product of explosive athleticism, top-level ball skills, and the ability to mix it up with the best of them in contested-catch situations. However, his two years haven’t been without issue, and there were definite areas for improvement on display as he started his third season. Although Stingley currently remains our CB1, others are chomping at his heels.
5) Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
One of those knocking on the door of Stingley’s CB1 throne is Andrew Booth Jr. Fast, fluid, and full of energy, Booth flies around the field. The Clemson cornerback is responsible for some of the best pass breakups and interceptions that you’ve seen in college football the last couple of years. He showcases insane ball skills on top of his exceptional athleticism. Booth also plays the game with the archetypal cornerback swagger and a physicality reminiscent of Jaycee Horn in the past draft cycle.
6) DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
Athletic, versatile, and strong, DeMarvin Leal has all the attributes to be a first-round selection. Furthermore, his ability to play across the defensive line makes him a highly valuable prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft class. There’s a reason why the Texas A&M DL makes the top 10 of our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board. He’s that good. If he can consistently execute a pass-rush plan, he can be dominant this fall.
7) Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Another contender to challenge Stingley for the CB1 of this draft class is Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. Like Stingley, he has bloodlines to the NFL. Similarly, he has the explosive athletic profile of the LSU cornerback. With size, length, and impressive fluidity, Elam has the ball skills to be a lockdown cornerback in 2021. His 2022 NFL Draft stock should only ascend alongside his production in the SEC this season.
8) Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
Having dominated on the interior of the Aggies’ offensive line, Kenyon Green kicked out to right tackle for the season opener. There’s an expectation that he will eventually slide across to left tackle during the fall. His stock could increase if the transition goes well, although some scouts have leveled concerns about his height from a pro perspective. At worst, his intelligent, aggressive, and powerful play will make him an elite guard prospect in this class. From stance to snap, Green is an exceptional talent.
9) Drake Jackson, OLB, USC
A 275-pound DE as a freshman, Drake Jackson played as a 255-pound OLB last season. In both positions, at both weights, the USC pass rusher has demonstrated exceptional athleticism and play speed. Jackson has shown the ability to rush the passer both from the interior and around the outside track. If he can improve his tackling technique, he should put up a monster statistical season on his way to being one of the first pass rushers selected.
10) Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
While we don’t condone smoking, grab a cigarette paper and use it to try and separate the two Ohio State receivers at the top of their position this season. While Chris Olave led the Buckeyes in yards and touchdowns in 2020, Garrett Wilson edged his teammate with 16.8 yards per catch. His ability at the catch point combined with his ability to create separation with crisp route running makes him our WR1 by the narrowest of margins at this moment in time.
11) Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
A former high school sprinter, Chris Olave has the edge over his teammate in terms of speed. He also showcases impressive route-running ability, football intelligence, and spatial awareness. If he can be a more physical presence at the catch point this fall, he will give NFL teams a dilemma when they’re on the clock next April. Both Ohio State receivers impressed in their season-opening win over Minnesota.
12) George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
The Purdue pass rusher puts the “big” in big defensive end. At 6’4″ and 270 pounds, he’s one of the more physically imposing presences in college football. George Karlaftis has the size, strength, and schematic versatility that should make him a valuable commodity in the 2022 NFL Draft class. After an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, the Grecian Goliath returned to dominate in the Boilermakers’ season opener, receiving praise from Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst, Tony Pauline.
13) Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Although we’re not prone to knee-jerk reactions in our analysis, Spencer Rattler‘s dubious start to the season was cause for deliberation. One game does not make or break an evaluation. Likewise, there were elements of Rattler’s performance that concurred with the positive elements of his summer scouting report. However, the lack of progress against the negative was concerning. The Oklahoma QB more closely resembled the player who started last season, not the one who finished it.
14) Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
Excuse the pun, but the battle for the next best safety after Hamilton in this class is set to run all season. The Alabama safety has the size and physicality to get the job done in the box. Meanwhile, Jordan Battle possesses the athletic profile to be proficient in coverage, with excellent long speed combined with explosive short-area quickness. A leader on the field, Battle has the mental fortitude to be responsible for pre-snap communication.
15) Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
A snazzy nickname doesn’t make a top cornerback. Thankfully, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner‘s skill set lives up to the top-tier moniker, placing him firmly amongst the other top cornerbacks in our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board. The Cincinnati cornerback is a lengthy, athletic playmaker whose explosiveness is matched by his football intelligence and competitive ferocity.
16) Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Although Trent McDuffie lacks the impressive size profile of his cornerback contemporaries on our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board, that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked as an elite prospect at the position. The Washington playmaker makes up for what he lacks in size with explosiveness, fluidity, and instincts. If he secures a season of increased production, he’ll genuinely be in the conversation as a first-round prospect.
17) Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
It’s probably time to cast aside the same “level of competition” analysis that often blights quarterback prospects at non-Power Five programs. Malik Willis shows that he has the best arm in the class, making throws that some of his contemporaries can only dream of. Furthermore, his dynamic athleticism as a creative out-of-structure playmaker helps elevate him up our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board.
18) Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa
Although it’s ill-advised to speak in absolutes, as we head into the college football season, there isn’t a better center prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft class than Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum. A former defensive lineman and high school wrestling champion, he’s rapidly developed into a dominant piece at the offensive pivot. Strong and speedy out of his stance and onto the second level, Linderbaum has football intelligence to keep his head on a swivel while being a reliable snapper of the ball.
19) Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
UCLA offensive tackle Sean Rhyan continues to soar up our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board. It’s difficult to argue against the Bruins having one of the best offensive lines in the nation right now, and Rhyan is the cornerstone of it. Possessing exceptional size, strength, and a savage disposition that often results with his opponent in the dirt, Rhyan has the makings of a first-round prospect.
20) Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
At 6’3″ and 225 pounds, Treylon Burks has the physical characteristics and size of a traditionally contested-catch connoisseur. Don’t be fooled, though. He has deceptive speed and fantastic fluidity. As a result, he poses a versatile threat from multiple alignments in an offense. The Arkansas wide receiver has seen a small slide this week, with his performance in the season opener demonstrating some of the drops that were a concern in his summer scouting report.
21) Drake London, WR, USC
Wide receivers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big-bodied boundary threats. Others are smaller, speedier, and shiftier pass catchers who excel at making yards after the catch. Then, there’s USC wide receiver Drake London, who somehow combines the best of both worlds to pose a unique pass-catching problem. His profile doesn’t come without problematic areas, but London should still be one of the best wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
22) Ikem Ekwonu, OG, NC State
The epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Ikem Ekwonu‘s smiling bespectacled exterior belies a violent and deadly offensive lineman. An old-school mauler, he does his best work in the phone booth that is the interior OL. His high school wrestling experience allows him to dominate in the run game. However, NC State seems set to use him at left tackle for the entire season — a position where he appears less impactful — which could alter his stock.
23) Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Christian Harris remains our top-ranked linebacker after an impressive opening to the season for the Crimson Tide. The 6’2″, 232-pounder has a remarkable understanding of the position, given his relative inexperience. An explosive force as a gap penetrator, the Alabama LB also has the lateral agility to scrape along the line of scrimmage to find the ball carrier in the ground game.
24) DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
One of the reasons that Harris doesn’t have the LB1 spot locked down is the emergence of DeMarvion Overshown. The Longhorns linebacker is an intriguing ascending prospect at the position. His athletic ability is through the roof, and his background as a safety should ensure that his coverage ability is unmatched in the class. If he masters the mental aspects of the position this fall, Overshown could be dominant for the Longhorns.
25) Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
While Ohio State may not boast a standout defensive end of previous draft classes, Zach Harrison gave us food for thought with a consummate performance in the Buckeyes’ season opener. Harrison’s size, hand strength, and burst make him a difficult prospect for any offensive lineman to contain. He reportedly recorded a 4.47 40-yard dash, which is incredible for a 6’6″, 268-pound defensive lineman.