If you're a team in desperate need of a quarterback, then this isn't the draft for you. And that's played itself out in the early days of free agency; the Packers and Aaron Rodgers will keep the band together for a least another year, the Broncos shipped Drew Lock, a couple of his teammates and a boatload of draft capital to Seattle for Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson found a new home in Cleveland and Matt Ryan is headed to Indy. The Steelers even preferred Mitchell Trubisky, who increased his market value by sitting behind Josh Allen for a year in Buffalo, over whichever QB might be available when the team goes on the clock with the 20th overall selection in late April.
So while this class doesn't have a Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence or Kyler Murray or even Baker Mayfield -- all quarterbacks, all taken first overall in the three previous drafts, all at various stops in their NFL journeys -- there is plenty of depth at positions other than quarterback. It starts with pass rushers, who litter this list, followed by offensive linemen, wide receivers and even linebackers.
With that in mind, let's get to my top 100 players in the 2022 draft class.
1. Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan (EDGE1)
2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (EDGE2)
3. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (S1)
4. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State (OT1)
5. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (OT2)
6. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (CB1)
7. Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia (EDGE3)
8. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (WR1)
9. Drake London, WR, USC (WR2)
10. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State (OT3)
No real surprises here. Aidan Hutchinson has been our No. 1 player since the fall, when he was dominant on a weekly basis. We remain high on Kayvon Thibodeaux the player, despite rumblings that perhaps he isn't quite as coachable as some of the other top prospects. But as one scout told us, we might just be overthinking this one. And that's where I come down -- Thibodeaux is one of the best players and it's reflected in this list.
Kyle Hamilton is another easy choice here. Yes, he ran a 4.59 at the combine -- nobody cares. Our biggest concern is that he's not miscast at the next level. Isaiah Simmons immediately comes to mind; the former Clemson standout struggled to find his role early with the Cardinals before putting it all together. Put another way: Don't try to make Hamilton something he isn't.
If you've been following our weekly mock drafts, it should be no surprise that we have Ickey Ekwonu rated slightly higher than Evan Neal (both are fantastic players, but Ekwonu has more upside, in our mind) and Ahmad Gardner as our CB1 after his dominant season -- and, frankly, career -- for the Bearcats, as he allowed exactly zero touchdowns during his time there.
Meanwhile, in a class full of freakish athletes, perhaps only a few are more freakishly athletic than Travon Walker. He blazed a 4.51 at the combine ... at 275 pounds. But that's not why he's No. 7 on our top 100. It's because of just how explosive he plays. He's a long way from a finished product, and even in a world of trying to project how college players look in 2-3 years, Walker requires a high-powered crystal ball. But some of the stuff he put on tape at Georgia last season is hard to ignore, and it's why a team will fall in love with him and almost certainly see him go in the top 10 picks.
Drake London is one of our favorite players in this class but we like Garrett Wilson just a bit more. Both players are special talents with questions. Can London consistently create separation downfield (yes!)? Can Wilson eliminate the focus drops that plagued him at times (yes!)?
11. Derek Stingley, CB, LSU (CB2)
12. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah (LB1)
13. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (LB2)
14. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (CB3)
15. David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (EDGE4)
16. Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M (OG1)
17. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (WR3)
18. Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia (DL1)
19. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson (CB4)
20. Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa (OC1)
21. Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State (EDGE5)
22. Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (EDGE6)
23. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan (OT4)
24. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (WR4)
25. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan (S2)
If Derek Stingley had played more than three games and had some 2019 moments during the '22 season, he'd be a top-10 talent. And he probably still is, NFL teams just haven't seen a lot of him since he was arguably the best player on an LSU defense that was part of that national championship team.
And like Ekwonu and Neal, and Wilson and London, we have Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean very closely rated. Both are straight out of the lab as modern-day off-ball linebackers, and both are Day 1 impact players.
Again, we have yet to see a quarterback, but the players at 11-25 -- save maybe Bernard Raimann, who is still relatively new to football -- are all immediate, major contributors. Trent McDuffie might be the safest pick in this class among the defensive backs, and while David Ojabo is raw, he's incredibly smart, a quick learner, and already one of the best athletes on the field.
Treylon Burks ran a 4.55 40 and had a DK Metcalf-like slow 3-cone drill at the combine, and it shouldn't matter. Watch him play. He's a difference maker who, prior to Indy, was in the mix for WR1, alongside Wilson and London. That doesn't suddenly change because he ran, well, just like he plays. He's a big target, a long strider, who can line up anywhere. He'll do that at the next level too; for us, he's a mix of Anquan Boldin, A.J. Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster. Incidentally, all three wide receivers were second-round picks who, in hindsight, probably should have been first-rounders.
26. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (QB1)
27. Sam Howell, QB, UNC (QB2)
28. Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn (CB5)
29. Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia (DL2)
30. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida (CB6)
31. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota (OT5)
32. Logan Hall, DL, Houston (DL3)
33. Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington (CB7)
34. Ken Walker, RB, Michigan State (RB1)
35. Lewis Cine, S, Georgia (S3)
36. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State (TE1)
37. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State (S4)
38. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (RB2)
39. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (QB3)
40. Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky (OT6)
41. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (WR5)
42. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama (LB3)
43. Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College (OG2)
44. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (QB4)
45. Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (OT7)
46. George Pickens, WR, Georgia (WR6)
47. Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa (OT8)
48. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (OT9)
49. George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue (EDGE7)
50. Luke Goedeke, OT, Central Michigan (OT10)
We have quarterbacks! Matt Corral has been our QB1 since the fall and that hasn't changed. What has changed, however, is that Sam Howell makes an appearance. We were down on Howell during the '21 season, mostly because he lost two wideouts and two running backs to the NFL and wasn't able to drag the Tar Heels to a better record. But we went back and re-watched four of his games and came away impressed with what Howell was able to accomplish with fewer playmakers while facing constant pressure. In a lot of ways, that could be what his rookie season looks like if he goes to a bad team. And if he ends up on a roster with a solid offensive line and a big-time skill position player or two, he could end up being the best QB in this class.
That honor in recent weeks has typically fallen to Malik Willis (he's 39th on our top 100), who is a mix of Russell Wilson, Michael Vick and Josh Allen -- but less polished than any of the three at this point in his football journey. That's OK, of course, as long as the team that drafts Willis (which will almost certainly be in the first round) understands that.
Then there's Kenny Pickett (No. 44), who many draft analysts have as their QB1. We get it too; he made huge strides from 2020 to 2021, is a good athlete, a great leader, and NFL ready on Day 1. But don't get it confused, he's not Joe Burrow, which is a comp that gets thrown around too loosely. For us, he's more Daniel Jones, which isn't a death knell, just the reality that sometimes players get over-drafted and then drown in the expectations. For us, Pickett has a second-round grade and if he, say, goes to the Colts in Round 2, the expectations will be immeasurably less than if he goes to the Panthers at No. 6.
As for the non-QBs in this range, cornerback Roger McCreary may not look the part of NFL cornerback, but he was one of the best players in the SEC and that more than makes up for it. If he were in Kaiir Elam's body (Elam is No. 30 on our list), he'd be a top-10 pick. Ken Walker is our RB1, just edging out Breece Hall, and this is also the range where we see offensive linemen, starting with 387-pound Daniel Faalele (No. 31). The Minnesota right tackle is new to football so he's only going to get better. How much better? That's the question. Some scouts think he's a late-first-round talent while others like him more as a late Day-2 project. Tulsa's Tyler Smith (No. 47) is a name to keep an eye on, as is Central Michigan's Luke Goedeke (No. 49), who played opposite Bernard Raimann, and who some teams like better.
51. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State (WR7)
52. Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia (CB8)
53. Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina (EDGE8)
54. Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State (EDGE9)
55. Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor (S5)
56. Cole Strange, OG, UT-Chattanooga (OG3)
57. Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati (S6)
58. Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA (CB9)
59. Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming (LB4)
60. Luke Fortner, OC, Kentucky (OC2)
61. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (WR8)
62. Marcus Jones, CB, Houston (CB10)
63. Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (EDGE10)
64. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M (RB3)
65. Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois (S7)
66. Kalia Davis, DL, UCF (DL4)
67. Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State (OT11)
68. Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin (LB5)
69. Quay Walker, LB, Georgia (LB6)
70. John Metchie, WR, Alabama (WR9)
71. Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State (LB7)
72. Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State (EDGE11)
73. Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma (EDGE12)
74. Travis Jones, DL, UConn (DL5)
75. Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan (WR10)
Let's start at No. 75. Skyy Moore has been a draft-media darling in recent weeks, and while we like his game, we don't see him sneaking into the first round. There's no denying he's just about impossible to cover off the line of scrimmage and getting out of his breaks, but his 4.41 40 time at the combine doesn't consistently show up on tape on deep routes -- and that's against mostly MAC competition. That's not to say Moore doesn't go on Day 2 and carves out a role early in his NFL career, just that we don't have him in the same group with Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Treylon Burks and Jameson Williams. (But hey -- and we can't say this enough -- Justin Jefferson was somehow the fifth wideout drafted a few years ago. Moore might end up being WR1 when it's all said and done.)
Some of the other names we love here, and who may be rated lower by other folks: Cincinnati's Bryan Cook is a versatile player who can line up at safety, in the slot, at corner, and even in the box. UTSA's Tariq Woolen is 6-foot-4, ran a 4.26 40 at the combine, and is more than just a workout warrior. His tape is good, and he's only going to improve. Houston's Marcus Jones is only 5-foot-8, 174 pounds and we don't care. Like, at all. He plays like he's 6-foot-1, he's the most dynamic returner in this class, and he can also play wide receiver.
UCF's Kalia Davis would be higher if he had seen more of the field. He opted out in '20 and then played just five games in '21 before tearing his ACL. When he's healthy, however, he'd damn near unblockable. And Penn State offensive tackle Rasheed Walker's tape varies widely from first-round abilities to something less than that, but when he's locked in he's really, really good. Then there's Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen, who began his college career on offense (he rushed for 2,260 yards, and had a school record 21 rushing TDs in 2018) before moving to linebacker, where he was routinely the best player on the field.
76. Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee (CB11)
77. Dylan Parham, OG, Memphis (OG4)
78. Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida (RB4)
79. Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana (LB8)
80. Justin Shaffer, OG, Georgia (OG5)
81. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State (CB12)
82. Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis (WR11)
83. David Bell, WR, Purdue (WR12)
84. Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Oklahoma State (LB9)
85. Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama (CB13)
86. Aaron Hansford, LB, Texas A&M (LB10)
87. Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia (LB11)
88. Nick Cross, S, Maryland (S8)
89. Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama (DL6)
90. Chasen Hines, OG, LSU (OG6)
91. Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss (EDGE13)
92. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M (DL7)
93. Michael Clemons, EDGE, Texas A&M (EDGE14)
94. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (QB5)
95. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame (RB5)
96. Josh Paschal, DL, Kentucky (DL8)
97. Jashaun Corbin, RB, Florida State (RB6)
98. Juanyeh Thomas, S, Georgia Tech (S9)
99. Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina (TE2)
100. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State (TE3)
Like Marcus Jones, Calvin Austin III might be undersized, but he is regularly the most dangerous player on the field. Incidentally, if you want to have some fun, watch any Houston-Memphis game from the last couple seasons; Jones vs. Austin is all it's cracked up to be and then some. At the other end of the physical-stature spectrum is David Bell, who is 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, but ran just a 4.65 40 at the combine. That doesn't take away from an impressive '21 season for the Boilermakers, but means at the next level he's mostly likely a possession receiver with deep-ball ability.
Ole Miss' Sam Williams was consistently disruptive off the edge for Ole Miss, was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster, where he showed out, and then ran a 4.46 at the combine. And yet, he continues to fly under the draft-media radar. Dude is good.
Desmond Ridder is our QB5, and while he was one of our favorite interviews at the combine, we have concerns about his accuracy. If that can be cleaned up (and this is where we remind you that people were down on Josh Allen because he struggled with accuracy at Wyoming) he's a first-round talent all day long because he's started more than 50 games, he has Josh Allen-type athleticism, he's a locker room leader and he loves football.
Finally, we'll mention Jashaun Corbin, who we like a lot more than most folks -- and that's OK. If we all had the same players in the same order, what's the point? Corbin can be electric -- he's shifty to hole, explosive through hole, and runs hard. He's difficult to bring down in space, has take-it-to-the-house abilities and he also returns kicks.