fbpx
Skip to main content

NFL Draft prospect rankings: Best 2022 NFL Draft prospects

Matt Johnson
NFL Draft prospects, 2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings
Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press / USA TODAY NETWORK

Who are the best NFL Draft prospects in 2022? The upcoming NFL Draft class might not offer a surefire superstar or an unquestioned elite talent, but NFL teams are still excited about this year’s draft class.

The spotlight is always on quarterbacks, it’s the most important position in sports. While Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are two first-round talents, neither passer stacks up to the 2021 NFL Draft class. However, general managers and coaches get desperate so one of the two quarterbacks should be drafted quite high on April 28.

While there might be a shortage of All-Pro level talent this year, the 2022 NFL Draft is also deep. Draft boards will be more varied than ever this year, but that means teams will grab prospects they put a first-round grade on in Rounds 2 and 3.

Related: Final 2022 NFL mock draft

Let’s examine our rankings for the top 2022 NFL Draft prospects.

1. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan Wolverines

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Aidan Hutchinson 40 time: 4.74 seconds
  • Aidan Hutchinson stats: 16.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks in 2021

Look at most draft boards and Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson will be on top. He’s the consensus No. 1 talent available in the 2022 NFL Draft, a lock to be selected within the first two picks. An edge rusher with quality athleticism, a high motor and good technique, Hutchinson will earn a few Pro Bowl selections in his career. However, he isn’t an All-Pro talent and there are a lot of pro comparisons to Chris Long.

Related: 2022 NFL Draft rumors

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon Ducks

NFL: Scouting Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux 40 time: 4.58 seconds
  • Kayvon Thibodeaux stats: 35.5 tackles for loss, 19 sacks in three seasons

NFL teams have concerns with Thibodeaux’s motor and his personality. He is very confident in his abilities and his approach to life is different than most football-obsessed players. With that said, this is a 6-foot-4 defensive end with prototypical physical traits for the position. He can be a much better NFL player than he was in college and the right NFL coaching could turn him into a double-digit sack player.

3. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati Bearcats

NCAA Football: The American Athletic Conference Championship-Houston at Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner is the biggest reason the Cincinnati Bearcats’ defense dominated in recent years. Incredibly, per Pro Football Focus, the 6-foot-3 cornerback never allowed a single touchdown across three full seasons. Elite frame, size and strength, Gardner will be a physical corner at the next level who blankets No. 1 wide receivers.

4. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State Wolfpack

NCAA Football: Louisville at North Carolina State
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Ikem Ekwonu 40 time: 4.93 seconds
  • Ikem Ekwonu stats: 18 ‘big-time blocks’ in 2021 (Pro Football Focus)

There is nothing offensive linemen love more than run blocking and it’s the thing Icky Ekwonu does better than anyone in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Whether teams believe he’s a guard or a tackle, Ekwonu’s power, size and tenacity are perfect for a team that likes establishing the run. He’s an instant Week 1 starter and there’s plenty of room for improvement in pass protection.

5. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Previously: 2)

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • Kyle Hamilton 40 time: 4.59 seconds
  • Kyle Hamilton stats: 97 solo tackles, 16 pass deflections, 8 interceptions in three seasons

There are some questioning the athleticism of Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton because of his testing numbers at the NFL Combine and his Pro Day. It will prove to be a mistake. Put the stopwatch aside and look at the range he showed in the secondary, the footage speaks for itself. 6-foot-4 safeties with these instincts, intelligence, length and bone-crunching strength don’t come around very often.

6. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU Tigers

Derek Stingley Jr. brings an element of risk to the evaluation process. He dominated as a freshman, even shutting downer former teammate Ja’Marr Chase in practice. In the years since his breakout year, he played in just 10 games and didn’t look as dominant. With that acknowledged, the elite size, speed and athleticism you look for in a No. 1 cornerback is too much to ignore.

Related: 2022 NFL Draft order by round

7. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama Crimson Tide

Evan Neal highlights a theme among some of the top NFL Draft prospects, versatility. He played everywhere on Alabama’s offensive line, ending at left tackle. The 6-foot-7 lineman is already familiar with facing top competition and that experience will matter early in his NFL career. In an ideal situation, he plays right tackle in 2022 and then flips to the left side after receiving some NFL coaching.

8. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State Bulldogs

In an era when NFL teams are passing more than ever, some will view Charles Cross as the best offensive lineman in the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5 tackle surrendered just 60 pressures across 1,293 pass-blocking snaps in his final two seasons. There are refinements that need to be made with his hand usage and footwork, but that’s expected from a player with only two years of experience.

9. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama Crimson Tide (Previous: 12)

NCAA Football: Alabama Pro Day
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

If the Jameson Williams injury never happens, he’s the best wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft. Because of his torn ACL suffered in January, we won’t see the home-run threat until the middle of the 2022 season. Even with that risk, he’s a favorite among the 2022 draft prospects.

At 6-foot-2 with track speed, he can torch anyone deep and he’s also dangerous on screens and jet sweeps. Watch when he’s healthy and you’ll see why he is one of the few NFL Draft prospects in 2022 with a change to become a game-changing player.

10. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia Bulldogs

Travon Walker vaulted up the NFL Draft prospect rankings this offseason thanks to the NFL Combine. When you posted one of the highest Relative Athletic Scores (Kent Lee Platte) in history, scouts and general managers notice. The 6-foot-5 edge rusher doesn’t have a lot of production on his resume, but there is exceptional upside that just requires him to buy into coaching and athleticism turning into skill. There’s just a lot of risk with Walker and it’s not like he’ll morph into a pass rusher who leads the NFL in sacks, instead he’d be an excellent all-around defend with high marks stopping the run.

11. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington Huskies

Yes, there are quite a few cornerbacks among our top 2022 NFL Draft prospects. Trent McDuffie is a part of a trio that scouts will likely have ranked in various ways. The 5-foot-11 defensive back brings excellent football IQ, quick reactions and agility to the table. He might not ever lead the NFL in interceptions, but teams will happily take a corner they can trust to cover an opponent’s top receiving threat.

12. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes

NCAA Football: Ohio State Pro Day
Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Drawing NFL comparisons to Diontae Johnson (PFF) and Mecole Hardman (Bleacher Report), Garrett Wilson is an exciting talent. The 6-foot receiver dominated at Ohio State thanks to his athleticism, elusiveness and YAC ability. He’ll create some early separation with his route-running and just needs an accurate quarterback in the right system to feed him the football in space for that ability to be displayed.

13. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah Utes

The Utah Utes played an imposing style of football and linebacker Devin Lloyd served as the engine of that defense’s tenacity. He does everything coaches look for, coming downhill to stop the run, can slip back in zone coverage and is even a capable blitzer. There isn’t elite upside, but the team drafting Lloyd could get a Pro Bowl linebacker.

14. Drake London, WR, USC Trojans

At 6-foot-5, Drake London is one of the biggest and most imposing wide receivers in the draft. An injury limited him to eight games in 2021, he still finished with 1,084 yards and 88 receptions. He’ll make plenty of contested catches and serve as a dependable red-zone threat, perfect for a young quarterback.

15. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia Bulldogs (Previously: 20)

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Georgia vs Alabama
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Add a few inches onto Nakobe Dean’s frame and he’s among the top-10 NFL Draft prospects. Georgia had another coach on the field with Dean, he got his teammates lined up and saw things like he’s studied the game for 40 years. Oh, the 21-year-old also brings exceptional speed to the table. A lack of strength and the aforementioned smaller frame are the only factors working against him.

16. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia Bulldogs

Jordan Davis put on one of the best athletic performances in NFL Combine history. 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive tackles aren’t meant to be that explosive. Heck, even some linebackers aren’t on his level of athleticism. Even if he plays on a smaller snap count than others, Davis will be an impact defender from Week 1 and far beyond.

17. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State Seminoles

Once featured on “Last Chance U”, Jermaine Johnson went to Georgia and didn’t find enough playing time. At the time, it was viewed as a knock against him. Now, it’s just a credit to the absurd depth on Georgia’s defense. The 6-foot-5 edge rusher took off at Florida State and turned a strong season into a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl. A strong run defender with room to improve as a pass rusher, Johnson could be a top-15 pick.

18. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue Boilermakers

George Karlaftis didn’t play football until the eighth grade and he quickly developed into a four-star recruit. In a few seasons at Purdue, he became one of the best defensive linemen in the nation. Karlaftis might not have the archetype speed that scouts love from an edge rusher, but he wins with strength, a high motor and great hands. The power, size and versatility will make him a starter for several years.

19. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa Hawkeyes

Interior offensive linemen, especially centers, get pushed down NFL Draft prospect rankings due to positional value. Despite less emphasis being put on the position, Tyler Linderbaum is an outstanding prospect. There are reasons the most common NFL player comparison for Linderbaum is Jason Kelce.

20. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa Panthers

It’s two consecutive years with an FCS player in our top-25 NFL Draft prospect rankings. Football fans outside of Iowa basically couldn’t watch Trevor Penning. NFL scouts saw him. A 6-foot-7 tackle brings the type of demeanor you’d expect from a player who went to an FCS program, he wants to destroy everyone.

Whether he’s starting at left or right tackle, the combo of length, size, work ethic and attitude represent everything that matters to his next coaching staff. Keep an eye on Penning as positional value and upside give him a legitimate shot at being a top-10 selection.

21. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty Flames (Previously: 25)

NCAA Football: LendingTree Bowl-Eastern Michigan at Liberty
Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Willis is the best quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, that also speaks volumes about the weakness of the passers in 2022. The upside is enormous. In terms of athleticism, Willis would only rank behind Lamar Jackson among NFL quarterbacks. He also boasts one of the strongest arms in the 2022 class. Those physical traits make him an exciting talent a team might snag early.

There is a problem. Willis is far less polished than even Trey Lance was a year ago. He doesn’t recognize a lot of what’s going on in coverage, his throwing mechanics need refinement and both his accuracy and decision-making need a lot of work. If he is rushed or isn’t drafted into the right situation, the bust risk is high. It’s why most evaluators don’t see him as a top-20 talent this year.

22. Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia Bulldogs

Lost in the post-combine discussion because of his teammate, Devonte Wyatt also put on quite the performance. A 4.77 40-yard dash time and a 29-inch vertical jump from a 304-pound interior defender, that will work for NFL teams. He’s best utilized as an interior pass rusher who racks up pressure and it makes him a fantastic target for teams weak on the defensive line.

23. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes

College wide receivers aren’t supposed to be this good of route-runners. It’s why Olave, even at 6-foot and 187 lbs., is viewed as an NFL-ready player. He knows how to get open and if the football is thrown near him, he is almost certainly making the catch (4.9% career drop rate). Playoff teams who need an immediate No. 2 weapon will probably want to trade up for Olave.

24. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan Chippewas

Bernhard Raimann didn’t take a snap at left tackle until 2020, starting his career as a tight end. Central Michigan saw a 6-foot-6 frame, phenomenal athleticism and a player with a wrestling background. By 2021, Raimann looked like a no-doubt NFL player. He will need coaching, that’s reasonable for a player with minimal experience at the position. The physical traits can’t be taught and it’s why he won’t make it out of Round 1.

25. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson Tigers

It should come as no surprise that a former five-star recruit offers the prototypical traits for the position. The 6-foot cornerback offers the building blocks (length, size, athleticism) of a potential first-round pick. He also displayed great awareness and the right mentality for his position. He might play a bit too aggressively to be a No. 1 coverage weapon and he can get burned at times, but the tools are in place to be a quality No. 2 cornerback on a playoff-caliber team.

26. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas Razorbacks

NFL: Scouting Combine
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There are few things play-callers and quarterbacks adore more than a big-bodied receiver who can make plays after the catch. Meet Treylon Burks, the 6-foot-2 receiver who tortured SEC defenses in a variety of ways this past season. While he isn’t quite on the Williams/London tier of receiver prospect, he can make 40-plus catches as a rookie and develop into a No. 2 receiver.

27. Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M Aggies

Countless NFL teams are lining up visits with Kenyon Green for an important reason. He played just about everywhere on the Aggies’ offensive line in college. He displayed the power to open up some holes in the run game and his feet and hands worked well together to make him a solid pass protector. There’s a bright future for him at guard.

28. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia Bulldogs (Previously: 43)

Lewis Cine is flying up our 2022 NFL Draft board with just days until the first-round picks are made. Safety is becoming more important in the NFL and the Georgia defensive back might be the best at his position. He’s a disciplined striker, flying to the football and bashing the ball carrier without being overaggressive and missing tackles. While he lacks the range to play the role of a deep safety, Cine’s instincts and man coverage skills still make him a deployable weapon in shorter areas.

29. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan Wolverines

Daxton Hill is one of the more versatile defensive players in the NFL Draft class. There will likely be a split on whether he’s a cornerback or safety at the next level and for a good reason. Teams in need of a slot cornerback will trust Hill’s instincts and speed against smaller, more athletic receivers. For those needing a safety, that speed and hid willingness to tackle come into play.

30. Jalen Pitre, CB, Baylor

Jalen Pitre’s future in the NFL is likely as a starting nickel. While it’s a position that is gaining increasing value in the league, it doesn’t often result in that player being a first-round pick. With that said, Pitre’s intensity, football IQ, athleticism and his radar for the football make him one of my favorite 2022 NFL Draft prospects.

31. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

NFL: Scouting Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are starting-caliber traits with Kenny Pickett, enough to warrant a top-25 pick given the value of the quarterback position. He’s also got some nice athleticism, making him a threat to move out of the pocket and to even scramble for a first down.

Quarterbacks who can show touch, whether it’s throwing short or vertically, warrant love from NFL coaches. It also helps, as The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen detailed, that Pickett maintains clean mechanics throughout the process. However, the worries about Pickett being a one-year wonder with a hand size that is a red flag for quarterbacks, are fair. The ceiling isn’t high, Pickett will never be a top-10 quarterback in the NFL, but teams desperate for stability have done a lot worse.

32. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State Nittany Lions (Previously: 36)

Put Jahan Dotson in the right offense and he can be an excellent weapon. The 5-foot-11 wide receiver always found ways to get open in college, even when he didn’t have elite size or speed. The route-running ability and great ball skills make Dotson a legitimate slot weapon who can beat defenses at all three levels of the field. He might never be a Pro Bowl receiver, but Dotson can be a trusted weapon for a very good quarterback.

33. Logan Hall, DT, Houston Cougars

While defensive tackles atop the 2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings get a lot of attention, there’s a unique player out of Houston. Logan Hall, standing, standing at 6-foot-6 is a far better athlete than any player of his size should be. Hall gets out of his stance quickly, turning that get off into explosive power when he engages with linemen. He needs to fill out his frame and work on his body positioning, but there’s a lot of promise here that might warrant a first-round pick.

34. George Pickens, WR, Georgia Bulldogs

Syndication: Online Athens
Marc Weiszer/Athens Banner-Herald / USA TODAY NETWORK

Once a five-star recruit, George Pickens showed glimpses of superstar potential early on campus at Georgie. The play slowly dipped and a torn ACL in March 2021 robbed him of a shot to prove he can still play at that level. For teams looking for wide receivers who check off the size and athleticism boxes, Pickens does just that. On top of that, his hands are excellent and he’s learning how to use his size to make tough catches in the air and with bodies around him.

35. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati Bearcats (Previous: 39)

While some point to Pickett as the most pro-ready quarterback, the nod should go to Desmond Ridder. A four-year starter at Cincinnati, Ridder can progress through his reads and stay composed under pressure like few others in the draft class. Due to positional value, he warrants a first-round pick.

36. David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan Wolverines (Previous: 35)

A torn Achilles proved devastating for David Ojabo’s draft stock. If not for an injury, he’s likely a top-20 pick. It’s going to be a long road to recovery and success isn’t guaranteed, pushing him down our NFL Draft prospect rankings. Once healthy, Ojabo’s power and athleticism can make him an excellent pass rusher.

37. Zion Johnson, iOL, Boston College Golden Eagles

Put Zion Johnson at guard and let him go to work. He relishes the physicality of the position and moves well enough to get to the second level, clearing out rushing lanes. With improvement in pass protection, Johnson could be one of the top-20 players in this class a few years from now.

38. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota Golden Gophers (Previous: 36)

One of the NFL Draft prospects who really helped his stock this offseason, Boye Mafe is being pushed up by his athleticism. Smaller arms and a frame that still needs to add muscle will limit his contributions as a rookie. Great NFL coaching can help him become a versatile pass rusher.

39. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida Gators (Previous: 37)

Physical cornerbacks with size and a strong track record get noticed. At 6-foot-2, the Gators felt comfortable using Kaiir Elam against the top wide receivers on their schedule. He plays physical and that helped him shut down a lot of his opponents. Teams that play a majority of press coverage will want Elam lined up on the boundary in their defense.

40. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State Nittany Lions

41. Quay Walker, LB, Georgia Bulldogs (Previously: 52)

NFL Draft big board: Top 50 prospects

Rank:Player:PositionSchool
42.Breece HallRBIowa State Cyclones
43.Kenneth Walker IIIRBMichigan State Spartans
44.Matt CorralQBOle Miss Rebels
45.Skyy MooreWRWestern Michigan Broncos
46.Kingsley EnagbareEDGESouth Carolina Gamecocks
47.Leo ChenalLBWisconsin Badgers
48.Tyler SmithOTTulsa Golden Hurricanes
49.Nik BonittoEDGEOklahoma Sooners
50.Roger McCrearyCBAuburn Tigers
51.Phidarian MathisDLAlabama Crimson Tide
52.John Metchie IIIWRAlabama Crimson Tide
53.Dameon PierceRBFlorida Gators
Is Tom Brady the greatest of all time or a cheater?

2022 NFL Draft prospect rankings – Quarterbacks

  1. Malik Willis, Liberty
  2. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
  3. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
  4. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
  5. Sam Howell, North Carolina
  6. Carson Strong, Nevada
  7. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky

2022 NFL Draft top prospects – Running Backs

  1. Breece Hall, Iowa State
  2. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
  3. Dameon Pierce, Florida
  4. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
  5. James Cook, Georgia
  6. Brian Robinson Jr, Alabama
  7. Jerome Ford, Cincinnati
  8. Zamir White, Georgia
  9. Tyler Allgeier, BYU
  10. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame

Best wide receiver prospects in 2022 NFL Draft

  1. Jameson Williams, Alabama
  2. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
  3. Drake London, USC
  4. Chris Olave, Ohio State
  5. Treylon Burks, Arkansas
  6. Jahan Dotson, Penn State
  7. George Pickens, Georgia
  8. Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
  9. Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
  10. Alec Pierce, Cincinnati

NFL Draft prospect rankings – Tight Ends

  1. Trey McBridge, Colorado State
  2. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State
  3. Greg Dulcich, UCLA
  4. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
  5. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M

Best edge rushers in 2022 NFL Draft

  1. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
  2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
  3. Travon Walker, Georgia
  4. Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
  5. George Karalftis, Purdue
  6. David Ojabo, Michigan
  7. Boye Mafe, Minnesota
  8. Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  9. Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
  10. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

NFL Draft prospect rankings – Defensive Tackle

  1. Jordan Davis, Georgia
  2. Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
  3. Logan Hall, Houston
  4. Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
  5. Travis Jones, UConn
  6. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

NFL Draft linebacker rankings

  1. Devin Lloyd, Utah
  2. Nakobe Dean, Georgia
  3. Quay Walker, Georgia
  4. Leo Chenal, Wisconsin
  5. Chad Muma, Wyoming
  6. Christian Harris, Alabama
  7. Troy Anderson, Montana State
  8. Channing Tindall, Georgia

NFL Draft cornerback rankings

  1. Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
  2. Derek Stingley Jr, LSU
  3. Trent McDuffie, Washington
  4. Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
  5. Jalen Pitre, Baylor
  6. Kaiir Elam, Florida
  7. Roger McCreary, Auburn