College players you need to know heading to the 2022 Draft

We are in the middle of the 2021 NFL season and it is the right time to start thinking about … the 2022 NFL Draft? Don’t let anyone tell you that it is too early, it never is. That is why we want to bring you a list of names that you should keep on your radar so that you can follow them towards the end of the college season, then in the bowl season and thus, when the Draft talk arrives, you already dominate them.

This list is not intended to be a ranking or a scouting report of the prospects (which, obviously, we will have), but only a guide of names to follow. Later we will be delivering much more content around the 2022 NFL Draft, as we usually do in First and Ten.

To cover as much as possible, without going too deep, I will mention a prospectus for each position with its main characteristics, accompanied by a few more names.

Let’s go with the list:

Offensive players you need to know heading to the 2022 NFL Draft

Malik Willis – QB, Liberty

Let’s start by saying something important, this is not a good year to look for a QB in the Draft. Prospects who seemed more attractive before the start of the year, like Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and North Carolina’s Sam Howell have been falling apart and that’s why it is now Willis who seems to be positioned as the best in class.

This is, once again, the case with a QB that we didn’t have on the radar until the season started, as he hadn’t been a starter since his senior year of high school and is now in the first-round conversation.

He is only 6 feet (1.82 m) tall, but he looks very strong. He is a double threat, as he has a very powerful arm that perfectly complements his athletic ability to carry the ball.

If anything can be said about him, it is that he makes exciting plays, he has a nose for looking for the big play, often buying time out of the bag and beyond design. This sometimes works against him, but it is completely coacheable. It is difficult to take down behind the line.

The talent is there to make Willis a good QB, but his lack of experience and refinement at the position mean that his stock is not that high. At this point, it could be considered in the second half of the first round by a team willing to allocate resources for an unfinished product.

Other names in position:

  • Matt corrall, Ole Miss
  • Desmond ridder, Cincinnati
  • Sam howell, North Carolina
  • Spencer rattler, Oklahoma

Isaiah Spiller – RB, Texas A&M

An ideal runner for a single cut system, with very good vision in the first level to find a gap and excellent balance in its cuts. He runs with a very good level of shoulder pads and sneaks under the defenders.

The most noticeable is the way in which he finishes the carries, always with authority and punishing the tackler, becoming the aggressor more times than not. Explosive plays are not his strong suit and that is the biggest criticism that can be made, in addition to the fact that he lacks great speed in the open field to escape from defenders and register large gains in yardage.

In the end, he is a rounded prospect and, at the moment, he is considered an early second round or late first round.

Other names in position:

Chris Olave – WR, Ohio St.

The best offensive skill player in the class at the moment. It’s a senior that, had he decided to leave for the NFL last year, he would have been taken in the first round for his combination of speed and road-running finesse.

Even without the ideal physique to be a prototypical receiver 1, he is quite good at putting himself in the best position to beat coverage and make the catch. His production has been very good since he took the lead receiver role at Ohio St., as he became Justin Fields’ favorite target and secured 19 touchdown receptions in the last 21 games.

This catcher, who some scouts compare to Terry McLaurin, is currently projected to be the best of his position in this class and an early first-round pick that could have immediate impact on the team he reaches as a “Z” catcher.

Other names in position:

  • Treylon Burks, Arkansas
  • George Pickens, Georgia
  • Garrett Wilson, Ohio St.
  • Drake London, USC

Jahleel Billingsley – TE, Alabama

A prospect with a physique that makes him ideal for the position (1.92 m tall and 104 kg in weight). He can line up at different points in the offensive formation and take advantage of his characteristics to catch the ball. He is also a more willing blocker than with great technique, but he is totally coachable.

His versatility was proven when he was named his team’s top kick returner last year after Jaylen Waddle’s injury, a role he played with decorum.

In the last two years his production was not very good, registering only 20 catches, however 15 of them were for first and ten or touchdown. Low productivity can be understood by the quantity and quality of weapons Alabama had in the field (Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, and Jaylen Waddle). This year he has already registered a couple more entries.

If he stays the same, Billingsley would be the third Alabama graduate in his position to be taken into the top-50 of the Draft and there are those who think he could go closer to OJ Howard (19) than Irv Smith. (fifty)

Other names in position:

  • Jalen Withermeyer, Texas A&M

Evan Neal – OT, Alabama

A true mammoth in position (1.97m tall and 158 kg in weight) that also has great strength and moves with great naturalness and coordination. An overall top-5 prospect in this class at the moment.

He has proven versatility, having played as a left guard in his year of freshman, then at right tackle when he went sophomore last year and now how junior, is Alabama’s left tackle.

He’s solid in pass protection, but he shines in the running game, which is why some consider his best version could come if he is used at right tackle, which was where he shone the most in 2020 protecting Mac Jones and opening holes for Najee Harris.

Other names in position:

  • Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
  • Sean Rhyan, UCLA
  • Charles Cross, Mississippi St.
  • Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio St.
  • Darian Kinnard, Kentucky

Tyler Linderbaum – OC, Iowa

A prospect who, at the moment, can be placed in the top-20 of the entire class. Despite the fact that his physical characteristics leave something to be desired, he is a guy whose explosiveness at the beginning of the play, speed and fluidity of movements make him very outstanding.

Thanks to his athleticism, he’ll be a perfect fit in an offense that focuses on blocking per zone, and he could really excel in that type of scheme. An intelligent player, very competitive and tough in his style of play, characteristics that help him to compensate for his lack of ideal height (1.84 m) and reach in the extremities.

Upon his arrival at the University of Iowa, he was playing defensive tackle and has made the transition to the center of the offensive line with great success, to the point of being considered the best in that position on the way to the 2022 NFL Draft.

Other names within the offensive line:

  • Ikem Ekwonu – OG, Nort Carolina St.

Defensive players you need to know heading to the 2022 NFL Draft

Kayvon Thibodeaux – EDGE, Oregon

Right now, regardless of the big board or article you consult, you will find this name among the first three places, many times at number 1.

Since arriving in Oregon, he had high expectations, and he has lived up to them. He does not have a stratospheric production in sacks but he has shown an excellent level of talent. He’s really explosive off the line and has the ideal physique for a pass rusher with long arms and flexibility.

Regardless of what type of front end it hits, it will be disruptive by lining up at the edge. Although he is still perfecting his pass rush movements, this can be seen as a positive, since with the tools he has, with good training he will become an elite player.

He has room to improve defending the run, but that won’t make defensive coordinators around the league salivate at the prospect of adding such a player.

Other names in position:

  • Adrian Hutchison, Michigan
  • George Karlaftis, Purdue
  • Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati
  • Drake Jackson, USC
  • Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

DeMarvin Leal – DT, Texas

A strong, athletic player who can line up on the offensive tackle’s inside and outside shoulder and be productive against the run and the pass.

He has great elasticity and handling of feet to sneak out and pressure the QB from inside the line, a quality highly desired in the NFL today, as well as very good performance in stopping the race. His potential is tremendously high and there are those who compare him to Jonathan Allen of the Washington Football Team.

It is in its year of juniorSo he might decide to return for one more year with the Aggies, but currently considered a top-10 talent of this generation, he likely won’t.

Other names in position:

Brandon Smith – LB, Penn State

The Nittany Lions’ record producing linebackers is tremendous, and it looks like Smith is next in line.

What immediately catches the eye with this prospect is his tremendous speed – he is said to have rushed 40 yards in 4.38 seconds before his arrival at Penn State – which allows him to be everywhere on the field. The interesting thing is that he complements his speed by finishing the plays strong and punishing the rival.

The biggest questions surrounding his game are about his ability to cover the pass, something that was notorious in 2020, when he won the start with Micah Parsons inactive. However, so far in the 2021 season, he has improved, and is already in position to be taken in the first round of the next draft.

He is a player with tremendous potential who thanks to his athletic ability could play a role similar to Isaiah Simmons on the Cardinals; as a central LB, safety in the box or as a cornerback covering from the slot, something he has already done at the collegiate level.

Other names in position:

Derek Stingley Jr. – CB, LSU

The next shutdown corner LSU graduate. It’s rare the list that doesn’t have him as one of the top three prospects heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.

He is an athlete with the ideal characteristics for the position; long limbs, fluidity in his movements and good speed. All this makes it capable of “mirroring” any receiver on different types of routes at all levels of the field.

Suddenly he has some concentration errors, but nothing that is not correctable. In fact, since his arrival at the Tigers, in his year of freshman had a great production, registering 6 interceptions and 15 passes defended.

He can cut the receiver’s path very naturally and close the passing window of the opposing QB thanks to his instincts and athleticism. He is a prospect who is at his best when covering man to man and has the potential to be a Pro Bowler early in his career.

Other names in position:

  • Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
  • Kaiir Elam, Florida
  • Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
  • Trent McDuffie, Washington

Kyle Hamilton – S, Notre Dame

The third player, along with Thibodeux and Stingley, who fights for the title of “best player of this class.”

He is a prospect with a rare combination to find, as he is quite tall to play safety (1.87 m), with long limbs, but a very outstanding speed, athleticism and fluidity in his movements.

He can line up in various positions and that will make him very attractive to defensive coordinators who can move him everywhere on the field; from being a pure free safety defending the deep zone, to covering in the slot, to being a safety inside the box to stop the race.

He is a violent tackler who centers his target well and a sure element of cover that can force the opposing quarterback to look away to throw the pass.

Other names in position:

  • Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
  • Jalen Catalon, Arkansas

These are the college players you need to meet in mid-November on the way to the 2022 NFL Draft. Which of these did you know or have you seen play? What others could emerge later? We read you in the comments under this article and on our social networks.

We would love to thank the writer of this post for this incredible material

College players you need to know heading to the 2022 Draft