Welcome to my first (and first ever) and only NFL Draft Big Board of 2022. There has been a lot of movement from what I've been sharing with my mock drafts, including some big risers and fallers since January. Below is my list of my top 50 prospects in this draft. This isn't where I think they will currently be taken, or how they are ranked right now, but more so how I believe their NFL careers will pan out. For example, Travon Walker is a hot commodity right now, but depending on how he's used and how he develops, he might not be worth a top 5 pick, let alone the #1 overall choice. Conversely, I believe George Pickens is going to have an incredible career, even with the injury and character concerns some scouts have. There's more info on that at the bottom of the list.
Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images
Here are my top 50 prospects below!
1. Aidan Hutchison - Edge - Michigan
2. Evan Neal - Offensive Tackle - Alabama
3. Derek Stingley Jr. - Cornerback - LSU
4. Ikem Ekwonu - Offensive Tackle - NC State
5. Ahmad Gardner - Cornerback - Cincinnati
6. Kyle Hamilton - Safety - Notre Dame
7. Kayvon Thibodeaux - Edge - Oregon
8. Tyler Linderbaum - Center - Iowa
9. Jameson Williams - Wide Receiver - Alabama
10. Jordan Davis - Defensive Tackle - Georgia
11. George Pickens - Wide Receiver - Alabama
12. David Ojabo - Edge - Michigan
13. Garrett Wilson - Wide Receiver - Ohio State
14. George Karlaftis - Edge - Purdue
15. Travon Walker - Edge - Georgia
16. Devin Lloyd - Linebacker - Utah
17. Drake London - Wide Receiver - USC
18. Trent McDuffie - Cornerback - Washington
19. Roger McCreary - Cornerback - Auburn
20. Charles Cross - Offensive Tackle - Mississippi State
21. Chris Olave - Wide Receiver - Ohio State
22. Devonte Wyatt - Defensive Tackle - Georgia
23. Malik Willis - Quarterback - Liberty
24. Treylon Burks - Wide Receiver - Arkansas
25. Zion Johnson - Guard - Boston College
26. Daxton Hill - Defensive Back - Michigan
27. Nakobe Dean - Linebacker - Georgia
28. Arnold Ebiketie - Edge - Penn State
29. Kenyon Green - Guard - Texas A&M
30. Jermaine Johnson II - Edge - Florida State
31. Kaiir Elam - Cornerback - Florida
32. Lewis Cine - Safety - Georgia
33. Leo Chenal - Linebacker - Wisconsin
34. Andrew Booth Jr. - Cornerback - Clemson
35. Quay Walker - Linebacker - Georgia
36. Desmond Ridder - Quarterback - Cincinnati
37. Kenny Pickett - Quarterback - Pittsburgh
38. Tyler Smith - Offensive Line - Tulsa
39. Jahan Dotson - Wide Receiver - Penn State
40. Sam Howell - Quarterback - North Carolina
41. Jaquan Brisker - Safety - Penn State
42. Jalen Pitre - Defensive Back - Baylor
43. Skyy Moore - Wide Receiver - Western Michigan
44. Travis Jones - Defensive Tackle - UConn
45. Trevor Penning - Offensive Tackle - Northern Iowa
46. Breece Hall - Running Back - Iowa State
47. Kyler Gordon - Cornerback - Washington
48. Trey McBride - Tight End - Colorado State
49. Channing Tindall - Linebacker - Georgia
50. Troy Andersen - Linebacker - Montana State
At the end of the 2020 football season, I claimed that Pickens would be a future top 5 pick. If not for a leg injury and some off field concerns, I believe he would be the top receiver in the draft and would go to the Texans at #3 overall. Whoever takes him is getting a baller and he'll be the steal of the draft.
Ojabo had some recognition taken away from him by Aidan Hutchison on the other side, but Ojabo was just as effective at rushing the passer. Hutch is the better overall player, but Ojabo is the better pass rusher. Even with an Achilles injury, he has a good chance to shine in the NFL and put up Chandler Jones like numbers in sacks and turnovers.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
The FCS prospect out of Montana State is the Taysom Hill of this class, but think bigger, faster, and stronger. He did it all for the Bobcats and can do it all for whatever NFL team takes him. He'll likely go in the second round, but his value added as an defensive and offensive threat is unmatched.
He climbed up into the top 50 late in the year for me, but for good reasons. His run blocking is the best in the class, and his pass blocking needs a tad bit of work to be just as impactful. He may be a reach to some, but he's a perfect prototypical offensive lineman in this class.
As a true edge rusher, will not accounting for stunts, Travon had an 11% pressure rate, lower than six other edge rushers in this class. He is incredibly strong and athletic, but that only takes you so far in the NFL (see Jadeveon Clowney). He can be good, but it'll take a perfect scenario for him to become the best player in this class.
Cross has tremendous size, and I think that made him seem like a better pass protector than what his tape showed. He opens his hips in pass protection and seemed to be late in recovering against double moves and stunts. Against pro athletes, I'm doubtful his great play will translate to the NFL level.
Photo: Austin Perryman/MSU Athletics
Penning is gonna get his QB hurt with his awful mechanics and extracurricular activities after he gets beat. He sits way too high in pass pro, and that was put on full display at the Senior Bowl. If he can't get his technique down by the time he becomes the starter, he'll have a career similar to Luke Joeckel: bad and short.
Jermaine Johnson II
This may come off as a shock, but I don't think Jermaine has that "it" factor. Yes, he was ACC DPOY, but I think that was more from stats that what he actually put on tape. His get off is slow, and he lacks a pass rush move pool. If he can't put it together at the next level, I won't be surprised; it'll take a lot of work for him to be a top edge in this class when it's all set and done.
This is one of the most unpredictable draft classes in recent memory in terms of where they will get taken, but the tape is pretty clear on who the top dogs are. There will be plenty of future studs from this class, and we may see more top-end busts than ever before. Until then, enjoy the draft and the energy this group of young athletes brings!