2022 NFL Draft: Pat Pryor’s Final Top-50 Big Board

by Pat Pryor
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I know it’s not quite Christmas, but it certainly feels like it. The 2022 NFL Draft is officially upon us! It’s been a wild draft cycle, and there isn’t much to say that hasn’t been said, so we can dive right in.

Note: This is a big board, not a mock draft. This isn’t where I think players will go or where I would draft them. This is my ranking of these talented prospects. It essentially takes into account their talent, athleticism, and injury history.

1. Kyle Hamilton, S1, Notre Dame

The rangy safety has been my Player One for most of the draft cycle. As I’ve said in the past, I could really watch him move around the field for hours. He’s got a huge frame, he’s physical, versatile, the whole package. Put aside positional value, and he’s the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

2. Ikem Ekwonu, OT1, NC State

Ickey Ekwonu is an absolute monster physically, but is far from raw. He can move defenders with ease, clearing lanes for run plays. He’s got one of the highest ceilings in the draft with a considerable floor due to his strength. He likely won’t go number one overall, but it would not be a mistake if he did.

3. Aidan Hutchinson, Edge1, Michigan

Hutchinson was a projected first rounder coming into the season, but finished a top five pick and Heisman finalist. He’s a relentless, explosive edge rusher who can get to the quarterback or blow up run plays.

4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge2, Oregon

Thibodeaux has been the victim of some draft fatigue, but has made a late comeback. I’ve never waivered though, as Thibs is a great rusher who can win with speed, finesse, or power. Anywhere he goes in the top ten will be getting an elite player.

5. Evan Neal, OT2, Alabama

Neal is one of those guys that you can tell played for Alabama. He’s 6’7 ½”, has a ton of experience in high pressure situations, and is a refined blocker. The 2021 team captain has elite hand usage and power, making a deadly combination. He’s versatile, having experience at both tackle and guard, and has said he’s willing to play any spot besides center. He’s got a great motor, leg drive, and is really everything you can want in a high value tackle selection. If you want a guy to anchor your line for the next decade, Neal is a pretty safe bet.

6. Jermaine Johnson, Edge3, Florida State

Yet another prospect who’s the full package. Johnson is an athletic, large edge rusher who exploded at the Senior Bowl and Combine. The Georgia transfer flew from a late round pick to the top of boards everywhere over the past season.

7. Andrew Booth Jr., CB1, Clemson

Booth is the first somewhat hot take of the board. He’s a fluid safety with legit ball skills and versatile coverage ability. He’s likely to fall a bit tonight, and I think he’ll be a major steal.

8. Garrett Wilson, WR1, Ohio State

Wilson is a nuanced route runner who is a killer when he gets separation. He’s great with or without the ball, and I think he could be the best slot receiver in the league.

9. Charles Cross, OT3, Mississippi State

Cross is the final of the top tackles before a drop off. He’s a dominant pass rusher who will need to prove himself when it comes to the run, seeing limited opportunities in college. If he lands in the right spot, he could be an All-Pro level player.

10. Trent McDuffie, CB2, Washington

McDuffie is an elite athlete with great coverage skills. He doesn’t have quite the fluidity of Booth, but can still be seen all around the field. Another dropping cornerback who I think will go to a better situation and be a steal in round one of the NFL Draft.

11. Sauce Gardner, CB3, Cincinnati

Sauce Gardner could be a top three pick this year. He’s a long tall corner with great man coverage ability and will be a real defensive game changer in the league.

12. Jameson Williams, WR3, Alabama

Jameson Williams will get you with his speed. Then, once you think you’ve figured him out based on that, he’ll get you with just about everything else. His RAC, his route running, his agility. He’ll have to take a redshirt due to a late torn ACL, but will be a WR1 when he comes back.

13. Jordan Davis, IDL1, Georgia

Jordan Davis is an extremely strong and very large player who can be a two-gap run stuffer. He doesn’t play all three downs, so there’s questions about his game translating, but his athleticism will get many teams interested, and for good reason: he scored a 10 out of 10 on Relative Athletic Score (10).

14. Drake London, WR3, USC

Drake London provides a unique combination of size, speed, and technique. He’s a very good route runner, can create real separation, and has 50/50 ability. He’s a game changer on offense, and is deservingly slated to be one of the top wide receivers off the board.

15. Devonte Wyatt, IDL2, Georgia

Wyatt emerged as one of my later in the cycle crushes, so I was behind him. However, he’s a great player who has physicality, a motor, and technique. He’s more versatile than Davis, so it’s really a coin flip as to who will be the first defensive tackle off the board.

16. Daxton Hill, S2, Michigan

If it wasn’t for a generational safety like Hamilton, Dax Hill would be my top prospect off the board. He’s a quick processor with range, and can be the chief of a secondary for a long time in the NFL.

17. Tyler Linderbaum, IOL1, Iowa

Tyler Linderbaum is significantly undersized. He could let that stop him from being an NFL player. He instead became a violent center who is incredibly strong and refined. His position may see him slide, but that just means one team will have a steal similar to Creed Humphrey last year.

18. Jahan Dotson, WR4, Penn State

I’ve been saying it for a while, Jahan Dotson is an offensive weapon. He’s likely going to be a slot receiver, but a great one at that. He’s got great hands, incredible RAC ability, and is extremely creative. If the league lets him slip in the NFL Draft to a great quarterback like Mahomes or Rodgers, they’ll regret it.

19. Travon Walker, Edge4, Georgia

Walker is the likely number one overall pick, following a historical combine (9.99 RAS). He’s a great run defender, and the sky is the limit due to his athleticism when it comes to pass rushing. Give him some pass rush moves and a game plan, and you have an All-Pro caliber edge rusher on your hands.

20. Derek Stingley Jr., CB4, LSU

Stingley Jr., has been seen as a top prospect since 2019, where he had an incredible freshman season. Since then, average play and injuries have plagued him. However, we’ve seen the talent, and know there are coaches who can tap it. A lot of Stingley’s future depends on his new team.

21. David Ojabo, Edge5, Michigan

David Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles at his Pro Day, meaning he’ll come back late in the season at the best. However, he’s got a great ceiling and before his injury could’ve been a top ten pick. If he rehabs well and becomes more refined, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

22. Arnold Ebiketie, Edge6, Penn State

Ebiketie is an agile and quick speed rusher who is undersized but still manages to win against offensive tackles. If he gains power in the NFL, he’ll be a very good edge rusher.

23. Chris Olave, WR5, Ohio State

A polished route runner, Olave brings a high floor with real WR1 possibility to any team. He may have the highest floor in the entire draft, and continued to improve his game after returning for another year at Ohio State.

24. Travis Jones, IDL3, UCONN

Jones is a force to be reckoned with. He’s powerful at the point of attack, brings good movement, and is a smart player. I think he’s very worthy of going in the first round, and would not be surprised at all if he does.

25. Kaiir Elam, CB5, Florida

Elam is CB5 in the year of the corner, meaning he’s a very good CB5. He’s a very good athlete, he can operate in both man and zone, plays with good recognition and has great size. He’s got both the floor and the ceiling for a round one cornerback.

26. Zion Johnson, IOL2, Boston College

Johnson is a violent, experienced guard. He has experience at tackle, power, technique and knows what’s going on around him. He’s slated to go late day one, where he’ll make an immediate impact for a good team.

27. Lewis Cine, S3, Georgia

At the third safety spot is yet another Georgia prospect. Cine is a tall athletic safety with great processing. He can patrol the field, and drive towards the ball when needed. Similar to Dax Hill, he’ll be a long term leader of a secondary, and a good pick in the NFL Draft.

28. Treylon Burks, WR6, Arkansas

Burks has an incredible ceiling. His blend of size, speed, physicality, and contested catch are rare. He’s a significant gamble, as not every contested catch receivers pays off and he’s been an inconsistent separator. But if he does end up hitting his ceiling, he could be one of the best receivers in the league.

29. Christian Watson, WR7, North Dakota State

Watson is another gamble, and was considered WR6B in my rankings. He’s a large athletic player with legitimate X ability. His gamble, however, comes from his history in the FCS. If he can keep up with the level of competition, though, he’ll be a very good receiver.

30. Devin Lloyd, LB1, Utah

Lloyd is a middle linebacker with a good frame, high production, and can patrol the field. He can be a legitimate heavy production linebacker in the NFL.

31. Malik Willis, QB1, Liberty

Liberty brings the best quarterback in the NFL Draft in Willis. He’s got superb tools. He’s a raw quarterback, but when you’re betting on traits there isn’t often a better bet than Willis.

32. Quay Walker, LB2, Georgia

One of the first things that stood out to me about Walker was his great read and react ability. When he sees a run, he’s immediately navigating the backfield. Combining that with the athleticism that all Georgia players seemingly posses, he becomes one of the top linebacking options in the NFL Draft.

33. Logan Hall, IDL5, Houston

Hall is a massive defensive lineman who is effective in both pass rushing and run stopping. He’s strong, large, and smart. He’s shown real development as he’s continued to start and will only get better.

34. DeMarvin Leal, IDL4, Texas A&M

Leal fell later due to subpar testing and uncertainty about his fit, but he still has the same explosiveness and movement that was seen on tape. He’s a smart player who rushes with a plan and understands leverage. He can be classified as an end or an interior lineman, and his landing spot will have a lot to do with how he turns out.

35. Nakobe Dean, LB3, Georgia

Nakobe Dean is a linebacker who plays as though he was shot out of a cannon on each play. He’s undersized, but plays with a high motor and always finds his way to the ball.

36. George Karlaftis, Edge7, Purdue

Karlaftis has been long considered a top edge prospect. He’s experienced and productive, and should make a very good starter in the NFL. He has good hands, size and a top motor.

37. Sean Rhyan, OT4, UCLA

Rhyan has been considered by many to be an offensive guard prospect due to shorter arms, but I think he’ll be just fine at tackle. He’s an experienced prospect and has plenty of quality tape at tackle.

38. Alec Pierce, WR8, Cincinnati

Alec Pierce has had his name come up quite a bit recently, but is still considered a sleeper prospect. He’s athletic, with a nice frame, and could really become a number one receiver in the NFL.

39. Kyler Gordon, CB6, Washington

The second of an elite Washington cornerback duo, Gordon is a bit behind McDuffie. However, he is a still a fluid and physical player who can be a starter very quickly on many teams. He’s a great playmaker and has the right size to play cornerback. Both Husky cornerbacks bring very high cielings. He is versatile and should have many teams hoping he falls to them in the NFL Draft.

40. Boye Mafe, Edge8, Minnesota

Once again betting on traits comes into play with Mafe. He’s explosive, and has the ability to turn into a very good edge rusher. While he’s considered a developmental pass rusher, he’s one teams will want to bet on. Don’t be shocked to see him get called before the end of day one.

41. Skyy Moore, WR9, Western Michigan

Skyy Moore, aside from a great name, is an agile and speedy slot receiver with good production and RAC ability. He could quickly be one of the best receivers on many teams.

42. Zach Tom, IOL3, Wake Forest

Here we have the hottest take of the board. Tom is considered an early day three prospect. However, I think he is worthy of a mid day two pick. He can play any offensive line position (and has experience), and do them well. He doesn’t have the best measurements for a tackle, but he’s got quality tape at both center and tackle. I think he’ll be the best available player heading into Saturday.

43. Calvin Austin III, WR10, Memphis

One of my favorite prospects, Austin brings body control, speed, and hands to the league. I think he’ll be a great value pick in the NFL draft. It’s a deep wide receiver draft, meaning many day two and three picks can get real playing time quickly.

44. Roger McCreary, CB7, Auburn

McCreary is an athletic and physical corner who can be a legitimate starter on many teams. He has some work to be done, but has a good ceiling. He plays with physicality and patience, getting a bead on the receiver before disrupting him. The Auburn tiger easily has starter potential.

45. Tyler Smith, OT5, Tulsa

Smith is a powerful offensive tackle with very good physical traits. He doesn’t have perfect technique, with significant penalties and inconsistent footwork. He should have a bright future, and could transition to guard. There’s talk of him sneaking into the first round, and with NFL coaching could be a very good offensive lineman.

46. Darian Kinnard, IOL4, Kentucky

Kinnard may end up as an offensive tackle or guard at the next level. He’s a large physical player who doesn’t move as well as he could to be a tackle, but should be a fierce guard.

47. Trevor Penning, OT6, Northern Iowa

This may be one of the farthest ranks that I have from consensus. Penning is a violent and physical tackle, but is very raw. There’s multiple cases of him throwing down defenders after the whistle, and while that may be considered “nasty”, it’s dangerous to the quarterback and defender. However, if he becomes more refined and disciplined, he can use his athleticism as a starting tackle.

48. Nik Bonitto, Edge9, Oklahoma

Bonitto has an interesting future in store. He doesn’t necessarily have the frame to stay along the defensive line, but also has quality rushing ability. Wherever he lands, it will be interesting to see how a coach utilizes his speed and explosiveness.

49. Drake Jackson, Edge10, USC

There’s been recent talk of Drake Jackson sneaking into the first round recently. He’s highly productive, young, and athletic. I’m not convinced that he’s a first rounder, but don’t be surprised if he has his name called late in the first night of the NFL Draft.

50. Caron Strong, QB2, Nevada

Strong has a cannon for an arm, than can operate as a sniper rifle. In football terms, he can heave it 60 yards with ease, or thread in between two defenders. He’s got low mobility and knee questions, but his arm could definitely grant him a bright future.

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