2022 NFL Draft Top Prospects First Look: Top 5
5 QB Sam Howell, North Carolina (Jr.)
He’s not the tools guy that a Trevor Lawrence, Justin Herbert, or Justin Fields might be, but he’s an alpha-dog leader of an offense with the confidence, attitude, and arm to be a big-time producer right out of the box.
Don’t worry about scrambling or creativity – put him in the pocket and let him bomb away. He’s accurate – hitting 64% of his passes for 7,227 yards and 68 touchdowns with 14 picks in his first two years – and fearless. The 6-1, 225-pound size isn’t a plus, but the pro passing skills are there.
4 DE/EDGE Drake Jackson, USC (Jr.)
Jackson earned all-star honors even though the team only played six games, but he came up with just two sacks, 20 tackles, and … he was fine. He’s got 6-4, 255-pound size, pure pass rushing ability, and a whole host of moves and flash.
He set the Pac-12 on fire with 5.5 sacks with 11.5 tackles for loss and 46 stops as a freshman, and that’s after getting to school as a high school senior. Still young, he’s only getting better with special talent and athleticism.
3 DE/EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon (Jr.)
It’s time for this to all come together.
The superstar recruit of superstar recruits in 2019, he’s got the 6-5, 249-pound size, the lightning quickness off the ball, and the ability to get bigger and stronger to go along with the unreal athleticism. He could stand to be a bit nastier against the run, but 77 tackles in 29 games isn’t bad considering what his role has been.
That role? 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss with the upside to grow into more of a pass defender, too.
2 S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Nitpicking time – you’d like him to be a bit faster.
He runs a 4.6, and he has no problem getting all over the field and being in the right position, and …
Enough. He’s a 6-4, 219-pound guided missile of a safety who wasn’t quite considered a superstar prospect, but made himself into a killer right away for the Irish. In his two years he has 104 tackles with five interceptions and 12 broken up passes. This year the spotlight is on and the hype will be huge.
1 CB Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU (Jr.)
Will a corner go No. 1 overall? Almost certainly not.
Is Stingley the best player in college football going into 2021? Almost certainly yes. Is he the dream NFL cover-corner who’s ready right now to be a starter at the next level? Absolutely yes.
He’s not Trevor Lawrence in terms of being a generational prospect, but like the former Clemson quarterback, Stingley would’ve been a top ten overall pick after his freshman season if he was eligible, and he would’ve been a top ten – likely top five – overall pick this year if he could’ve come out.
At the very least, he’d be one of the top corners off the board.
He’s a 6-1, 195-pound technician who runs a 4.3, came up with six picks in LSU’s national championship season, and fought the good fight through last year even though almost no one wanted to throw his way.
DeVonta Smith last year: 231 yards and three touchdowns – it wasn’t all Stingley’s fault, but he’s not perfect. However, he’s as close to NFL fantastic as a college corner gets.
CFN 2021 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings
from the college perspective …
QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | OG & C
DE & Edge | DT | LB | CB | Safeties
Greatest Draft Picks For Each College
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC
– 32 Greatest Draft Picks of All-Time
– Full 2021 NFL Draft Order
– CFN 2021 NFL Draft Top 105 Player Rankings (1st 3 rounds)