With the 2022 NFL Draft mere days away, it’s time for the big boards to be locked in. After months of hard work, evaluation, and armchair scouting, Thursday will be a term-ending exam for NFL franchises. They just hope they’ll get it right.
A big board is always an ambitious project. Watching close to 200 players in all kinds of different positions with wildly different rubrics seems wild for any layman. But, through the noise, a sense starts to come as to why a player is NFL-ready or not. A certain stance, a certain trait that isn’t obvious, it will show itself.
But, don’t overthink it. The top players are the top players for a reason. That will show itself quickly.
Here’s the 2022 NFL Draft big board.
The Top 5
#1 – Kayvon Thibodeaux – Edge – Oregon
As an edge player, Thibodeaux is perfect. His get-off out of his stance is insane. He plays assignment football very well, and understands the little nuances about quarterback containment. The strength he shows to shove an offensive tackle back is also absurd.
Concerns about his motor are lazy, and he’s the top player in the draft.
#2 – Jordan Davis – Defensive tackle – Georgia
Admittedly, this is ambitious. But, Jordan Davis is a true game-breaker at defensive tackle. He’s the most athletic defensive tackle that Kent Lee Platte’s RAS database has ever seen. That may not come in a every-down package, but the way he blows up plays is so systemic. He may end up being the best player in this draft.
#3 – Evan Neal – Offensive tackle – Alabama
Neal is perhaps the most fluid of the three big offensive tackles in the top of the first round. He moves like no other offensive tackle, his first punch is fantastic, and he anchors fantastically on pass rushes.
#4 – Charles Cross – Offensive tackle – Mississippi State
Cross seems to be lagging in mocks compared to his actual talent. On film, he’s a big ol’ rock at left tackle who has the footwork to almost always stay in front of his man. Perhaps the strongest of the three big time offensive tackles, he’s also a force in run blocking.
#5 – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner – Corner – Cincinnati
The ideal corner prospect for the modern NFL, Gardner is a towering 6-foot-3, and can stay with any receiver on the field. He’s a big hitter too, and brings instant hot sauce to any secondary.
6 to 10
#6 – Aidan Hutchinson – Edge – Michigan
Hutchinson is a stellar pass rusher, is as strong as an ox, and is as athletic as any player in the draft. While there are “tells” in his game that offensive coordinators will pick up on, it’s hard to imagine him not having a very productive NFL career.
#7 – Kyle Hamilton – Safety – Notre Dame
A wildly athletic safety prospect, Hamilton’s ranginess is his biggest gift. At 6-foot-4 and weighing 220 pounds, he was a decent run defender, and has versatility in the defensive backfield. As well as safety, he was often called upon to play slot corner in a man-to-man defense, and he performed well.
#8 – Nakobe Dean – Linebacker – Georgia
Dean is a never-ending battery of effort who is also gifted with great vision. He flies through gaps to blow up plays with ease. As a pass defender, he does well against back releases and tight ends. He is a tad short at 5-foot-11, but that won’t hinder him a bit.
#9 – Derek Stingley Jr. – Cornerback – LSU
Twelve months ago, I thought Stingley would be the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft. He’s fast and sticks to receivers like maggots on meat. Yet, his injury history is a concern, and staying on the field will be his biggest task in the NFL. The talent, however, is there.
#10 – Ikem Ekwonu – Offensive tackle – NC State
Ekwonu lags behind Neal and Cross at tackle. While he’s very intelligent at the position, and is able to adjust to defensive rip and swim moves, he does have a overall lack of agility on film. Quicker edge players may have a matchup advantage on him in the NFL.
11 to 16
#11 – Treylon Burks – Wide receiver – Arkansas
On 2022 NFL draft big boards, Burks comes in consistently in the 20s. Yet, when one watches, he looks every bit of a top 10-15 pick. His physicality and body stands out the most on film, as he’s able to out-muscle any defender to the ball. While he doesn’t have quite the same explosiveness as other receivers, his floor is far higher and he’s a far safer bet for multiple pro bowl seasons.
#12 – Tyler Linderbaum – Center – Iowa
Don’t overthink the arm length concerns, Linderbaum is a great center prospect. He is strong enough to shove interior players off the ball extremely well and anchors well on passing downs.
#13 – Garrett Wilson – Wide receiver – Ohio State
Wilson is an exceptionally fluid receiver. He sees the ball well, can look and reel in absurd catches, and has great open-field speed too. He’s just a complete receiver prospect.
#14 – Kaiir Elam – Corner – Florida
Elam tends to lag around in the high 20s and early 30s in most mocks, but he should be considered a top half of the first round player. He’s long, has great hip-turn ability, and tracks the ball well when it’s up in the air. Although it isn’t as important for a corner, he’s perhaps a bit too contact-averse.
#15 – Jelani Woods – Tight end – Virginia
While Jelani Woods is considered a second day steal prospect, his ceiling and current ability says he’s better than that. When one puts on the film, it’s easy to see Woods as a Kyle Pitts-esque player. At 6-foot-7, he’s a massive body, but has enough speed to be a dangerous receiver in the open field. He can play in the slot, but can also stay in to block well enough, too.
#16 – Kenyon Green – Guard – Texas A&M
Even against Alabama’s complement of pass rushers, nothing got past Green. What’s even wilder about that is he was playing out of position at tackle. At guard, he’s a natural, and will be a block of granite there for years to come.
17 to 24
#17 – Arnold Ebiketie – Edge – Penn State
Ebiketie’s tape is a blast to watch. He’s got impressive get off and blows by any tackle there is.
#18 – Devin Lloyd – Linebacker – Utah
Long, athletic linebacker who has a good nose for the football. Potential is very high at the NFL level.
#19 – Jameson Williams – Wide receiver – Alabama
Speedy receiver who played all over the field in Alabama’s offense. A true deep threat, and if he can recover from his ACL tear, he’ll be just as good in the NFL as he was at Bama.
#20 – Calvin Austin III – Wide receiver – Memphis
Austin is just 5-foot-8, but his potential is otherworldly. Extremely fast receiver who can beat press coverage at flanker, or could be a menace at slot.
#21 – Chris Olave – Wide receiver – Ohio State
Dynamic receiver who could be a great deep threat from day one. Sometimes does struggle with seeing the ball in, however.
#22 – Bernhard Raimann – Offensive tackle – Central Michigan
Raimann has serious upside, given he just started playing the position a few years ago while still in college. Yet, when one watches the film, everything is good. He’s a fluid athlete, and can anchor very well.
#23 – Lewis Cine – Safety – Georgia
Cine is a sideline-to-sideline safety who plays deep effectively, can run up in a big hurry to defense the run, or play man up on slot receivers.
25 to 32
#24 – Daxton Hill – Safety – Michigan
Hill is slightly built and very quick, but can also play defense in the box as well.
#25 – Jalen Pitre – Corner – Baylor
Pitre is a nasty, physical nickelback, who will translate to corner in the NFL extremely well.
#26 – Devonte Wyatt – Defensive tackle – Georgia
A ridiculously athletic rusher who knocks in offensive linemen with regularity.
#27 – Jaquan Brisker – Safety – Penn State
Brisker is a massive safety who excels in run defending. Yet, his pass coverage is solid as well.
#28- Nick Cross – Safety – Maryland
Cross is far underrated by draftniks. A strong, stout safety, Cross is an effective pass defender, and could very well play nickel in the NFL as well.
#29 – Jahan Dotson – Wide receiver – Penn State
Dotson is a serious deep threat at flanker, but could also make for matchup advantages at slot receiver.
#30 – Christian Harris – Linebacker – Alabama
Great pass-rushing linebacker, but unproven in pass coverage, which he’ll need to do to stay on the field in the NFL.
#31 – Kenny Pickett – Quarterback – Pitt
Pickett is a one-year wonder, but in that one year, he showed great athleticism and accuracy that makes him QB1 heading into the draft.
#32 – David Ojabo – Edge – Michigan
Ojabo would be higher on this list, if not for the Achilles tear. If he recovers back to 100%, he’s a top 10-15 talent at edge rusher.
Top Half of Second Round Grade
#33 – Christian Watson – Wide receiver – North Dakota State
#34 – Kenneth Walker – Running back – Michigan State
#35 – Channing Tindall – Linebacker – Georgia
#36 – Sam Williams – Edge – Ole Miss
#37 – Malik Willis – Quarterback – Liberty
With Wills, the physical tools are there in bunches. Yet, he does struggle with pressure in his face, and also sometimes doesn’t read the field as well as he should. He’ll need some development time to be a good NFL quarterback.
#38 – Trent McDuffie – Cornerback – Washington
#39 – Nicholas Petit-Frere – Offensive tackle – Ohio State
#40 – James Cook – Running back – Georgia
#41 – Roger McCreary – Cornerback – Auburn
#42 – Kyler Gordon – Cornerback – Washington
#43 – Charlie Kolar – Tight end – Iowa State
#44 – Drake London – Wide receiver – USC
A true possession receiver in the NFL, London is a big body who doesn’t possess deep ball play ability.
#45 – George Pickens – Wide receiver – Georgia
#46 – Ty Chandler – Running back – North Carolina
A dual threat out of the backfield, Chandler is a great pass-catcher, as well as a powerful, straight-ahead runner.
#47 – Obinna Eze – Offensive tackle – TCU
#48 – George Karlaftis – Edge – Purdue
Massive, strong, but not a particularly smart edge rusher, and also has trouble with play recognition.
Bottom Half of Second Round Grade
#49 – Zamir White – Running back – Georgia
#50 – Josh Paschal – Edge – Kentucky
#51 – Bryan Cook – Safety – Cincinnati
#52 – Luke Godeke – Offensive tackle – Central Michigan
#53 – Trey McBride – Tight end – Colorado State
#54 – Martin Emerson – Corner – Mississippi State
#55 – Travon Walker – Edge – Georgia
Walker is a massive, freakish athlete, who has also put very little on tape that shows those traits off. His penetration at edge was negligible against NFL-caliber offensive linemen. Even at edge, he was never as prolific as others on the Georgia defense.
#56 – Zyon McCollum – Corner – Sam Houston State
#57 – Jermaine Johnson – Edge – Florida State
Johnson is quick, has good moves, but is perhaps a better run defender at edge rather than a great pass rusher. Any team that plays a 4-down defensive package would be well served to pick him up.
#58 – Nik Bonitto – Edge – Oklahoma
#59 – Alex Pierce – Wide receiver – Cincinnati
#60 – Jalen Tolbert – Wide receiver – South Alabama
#61 – David Bell – Wide receiver – Purdue
#62 – Dylan Parham – Guard/Center – Memphis
#63 – John Metchie III – Wide receiver – Alabama
#64 – Isaiah Likely – Tight end – Coastal Carolina
Third Round Graded Players
#65 – Cam Jurgens – Center – Nebraska
#66 – Skyy Moore – Wide receiver – Western Michigan
#67 – Trevor Penning – Offensive tackle – Northern Iowa
Penning is a massive 6-foot-7 tackle prospect with ostensible unlimited upside. Yet, his lack of side-to-side agility when pass blocking is evident, and his intellect when playing the position is a step or two behind most prospects in this draft.
#68 – Jayln Armour-Davis – Corner – Alabama
#69 – Darian Kinnard – Tackle – Kentucky
#70 – Kingsley Enagbare – Edge – South Carolina
#71 – Tariq Castro-Fields – Corner – Penn State
#72 – Perrion Winfrey – Defensive tackle – Oklahoma
#73 – Carson Strong – Quarterback – Nevada
#74 – Abraham Lucas – Tackle – Washington State
#75 – DeAngelo Malone – Edge – Western Kentucky
#76 – Tyler Allgeier – Running back – BYU
#77 – Isaiah Spiller – Running back – Texas A&M
#78 – Khalil Shakir – Wide receiver – Boise State
#79 – Andrew Booth – Corner – Clemson
Booth has good vision at cornerback, but his balance and hip-turns are big no-nos, and he’ll suffer mightily in the pros for a while because of it.
#80 – Breece Hall – Running back – Iowa State
#81 – Matt Corral – Quarterback – Ole Miss
#82 – DeMarvin Leal – Defensive tackle – Texas A&M
#83 – Kennedy Brooks – Running back – Oklahoma
#84 – Rachaad White – Running back – Arizona State
#85 – Sam Howell – Quarterback – North Carolina
#86 – Quay Walker – Linebacker – Georgia
#87 – Chig Okonkwo – Tight end – Maryland
#88 – Cole Strange – Guard – Chattanooga
#89 – Amare Barno – Edge – Virginia Tech
#90 – Brian Robinson – Running back – Alabama
#91 – Derion Kendrick – Cornerback – Georgia
#92 – Markqueese Bell – Safety – Florida A&M
#93 – Daniel Faalele – Tackle – Minnesota
#94 – Myjai Sanders – Edge – Cincinnati
#95 – Dameon Pierce – Running back – Florida
#96 – Jamaree Salyer – Guard – Georgia
#97 – Troy Andersen – Linebacker – Montana State
#98 – Cam Taylor-Britt – Corner – Nebraska
#99 – Sean Rhyan – Guard – UCLA
#100 – Darrian Beavers – Linebacker – Cincinnati
#101 – Zion Johnson – Guard – Boston College
Johnson is way too stiff and and unagile to be a clear starting-caliber NFL interior lineman.
#102 – Jeremy Ruckert – Tight end – Ohio State
#103 – Wan’Dale Robinson – Wide receiver – Kentucky
#104 – Kyren Williams – Running back – Notre Dame
#105 – Dohnovan West – Center – Arizona State