The 2022 NFL Draft is full of exciting prospects. I’ll be breaking them down in the coming weeks, releasing my preseason top 50.
We went through the top 5 last week.
- Kayvon Thibodeaux – EDGE, Oregon
- Sam Howell – QB, North Carolina
- Spencer Rattler – QB, Oklahoma
- Derek Stingley Jr – CB, LSU
- DeMarvin Leal – EDGE/IDL, Texas A&M
It’s time to move on to the top-15 prospects of the 2022 NFL Draft.
6. Evan Neal – OT, Alabama
Neal is a huge human (6’ 7”, 350+ lbs) that may remind some of 2020 11th overall selection Mekhi Becton. He’s been unsurprisingly dominant as a run-blocker, with true mauler traits. At his size, Neal still displays great flexibility and body control.
The biggest Freak in college football: @AlabamaFTBL's Evan Neal, all 6-foot-7, 350 pounds of him.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 9, 2021
He’s got the feet, power, and length to develop into an All-Pro caliber pass blocker, however, he struggles some moving laterally and can fall off counter moves. He’ll have the opportunity to showcase his improvement as the Tide’s starting LT this season. Neal has a highly coveted skillset and will be the first tackle selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
7. Kyle Hamilton – S, Notre Dame
The 2022 class has a preseason top-7 that’s pretty consistent no matter where you look – with Thibodeaux, Howell, Rattler, Stingley, Leal, Neal, and Hamilton – though the order is totally up for grabs. Nothing against Hamilton. The other guys simply play more valuable positions.
Hamilton is a freak athlete possessing both FS range and a LB frame. He’s been equally effective in both of those roles and should be at the next level as well. Hamilton has already developed a special nose for the ball, with 16 combined INTs and PBUs in his first two years. He’s a do-it-all tone-setter in the defensive backfield.
8. Kaiir Elam – CB, Florida
Elam has looked fantastic in Florida’s zone-heavy scheme. He has the body type to be equally effective in man coverage. Elam has a long frame with great hips/feet and can run with just about anybody. He’ll be a lockdown outside corner at the next level.
Tackling has been the biggest issue for him so far but it’s not for lack of trying. He just needs a refresher on technique. Elam would be competing for CB1 glory in any other class. He’ll have to settle for CB2 and a top-ten seat in the early big board.
9. George Pickens – WR, Georgia
Yes, 9 is high for a player coming off an ACL tear just 5 months ago. Still, Pickens has the most enticing skillset of any receiver in this class. He’s got an impressive length, size, athleticism combination and knows how to use it.
He not only tracks but attacks the ball and possesses true no. 1 receiver traits. If Pickens can get on the field at all this season, he’ll have the opportunity to reclaim his rightful position as the #1 receiver prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft.
10. Malik Willis – QB, Liberty
Malik Willis has a combination of naturals tools that rivals, if not surpasses, that of Trevor Lawrence. Willis has top-tier arm strength and is the best ball carrier we’ve seen at the position in quite some time.
Highest forced missed tackle rate in 2020, regardless of position (min 75 attempts)
♦️ Malik Willis | QB, Liberty – 0.55
♦️ Javonte Williams | RB, UNC – 0.48
♦️ Jahmyr Gibbs | RB, Georgia Tech – 0.39 pic.twitter.com/adYAk5QzOC
— Jack Brentnall (@Jack_Brentnall) August 13, 2021
He’s already had so much success delivering the football, though he has plenty to improve on as a pocket passer. His limitations might be enough to take him off some boards come next April, though it will be tough to pass on the Mike Vick-esque talent that Willis possesses.
11. Garrett Wilson – WR, Ohio St
Wilson is a solid receiver prospect. He lacks the size you look for in a true #1 but he has everything else. He should dominate agility drills at the combine and that shows up on the field. Wilson has the type of route-running that’s sure to draw doubles at the next level.
Those movement skills also help Wilson create after the catch. He needs to cut out some of the focus drops but aside from that, Wilson is almost a lock to produce in the NFL.
12. Chris Olave – WR, Ohio St
Chris Olave returned after a productive junior season, possibly feeling that he has more to prove – which he does. He’s struggled to create after the catch and hasn’t been able to win through contact. Olave lacks the beef and power that you look for but he has enough talent to dominate at the next level.
He’ll be a QBs best friend with his reliable hands and ability to get open. Olave isn’t the most naturally gifted player on this big board but he’s already developed a solid skillset.
13. Kedon Slovis – QB, USC
Slovis lacks the WOW throws of other QBs on this list and doesn’t threaten the defense much with his legs or with his arm. While not the most physically gifted, he’s been one of the more consistent facilitators from inside structure.
He processes through reads quickly and delivers with touch and rhythm, allowing his receivers the opportunity to do work. He’s also much better at throwing on the run than you’d expect. Even though the ceiling is lower for Slovis, he has enough juice to be a very good quarterback at the next level.
14. Tyler Linderbaum – IOL, Iowa
Hard to believe that an undersized center (6’ 3”, 290-lbs) would land this high on the big board but Linderbaum has simply been that good. He’s the top pass-blocking interior lineman prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft, with insane contact balance and movement skills.
He added plenty of weight between his Freshman and Sophomore seasons and proved last year that his current size may not be a problem at the next level. He more than held his own against the size and strength of the Big Ten in all eight games. He would easily climb this list if he tops the 300-pound mark.
15. Zach Harrison – EDGE, Ohio St
Harrison is developing nicely. He’s finally starting to capitalize on the potential that we saw in 2019. Harrison shows great coordination and improved his hand technique as the season wore on. He isn’t the best athlete at the position but wins with length, power, and explosion.
Time to talk Buckeyes DL on Journey to the Draft Big 10 Preview week… Ohio State's Tyreke Smith and Haskell Garrett are on lots of NFL radars! Where do we view Zach Harrison?
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) August 12, 2021
He’s also been consistent against the run. Look for Harrison to break out this season, potentially working his way into the top ten of the 2022 NFL Draft.