NFL Top 2022 Draft Prospects – Defense

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TUCSON, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 14: Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans lines up during the second half of the PAC-12 football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. The Trojans defeated the Wildcats 34-30. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
BetMGM @BETMGM Sep 07, 2022, 12:07 PM

The 2021 NFL Draft cycle ended a few days ago. Now, draft fanatics look towards 2022 and wonder who their favorite professional team should pursue next. Who is that next gridiron savior? It’s never too early to take a look at next year’s crop of potential draft picks.

Will a franchise go for a sleek and speedy cornerback, or will it go for the big guy on the defensive line who is quicker than he looks? Or maybe it’s that linebacker who hits like a truck. Which athlete may have the biggest impact on future NFL betting lines?

Whether it’s a redshirt junior who has been around awhile or a redshirt freshman who is heading into his third year of college (making him draft eligible), the lists below show you who are some of the standouts who could be drafted next spring. The rankings come from, a site that already put out its projection for the top 150 players of the 2022 class.

Here’s a big shock: Nine of the 15 defensive standouts mentioned below hail from the SEC.

Take a look below at the top candidates for the draft, Also, check out all of our NFL content on our blog page. Lastly, visit our Super Bowl Page for NFL bets, and why not take an early shot at placing one with BetMGM?

Top 2022 NFL Draft Prospects  – By Defensive Position

NOTE: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, the NCAA will allow athletes to retain a year of eligibility — no matter how much they played.

Defensive Linemen


Kayvon Thibodeaux, Soph., Oregon 


HGT./WGT.: 6-5/250

DRAFT SCOUT TOP 150: No. 2 overall

THE SKINNY: In two seasons, this wrecking ball on two legs managed to pile up 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, while also tallying 73 tackles in 21 games (only seven games played in fall 2021).

Hailing from South Central Los Angeles, his name should be one of the first called in the next draft, according to


Drake Jackson, Soph./DE, Southern Cal — Projected No. 9 overall

Aidan Hutchinson, Jr./DE, Michigan — No. 17 overall

D.J. Dale, Soph./DT, Alabama — No. 20 overall

Zach Harrison, Soph./DE, Ohio State — No. 22 overall



Owen Pappoe, Soph., Auburn


HGT./WGT.: 6-1/222

DRAFT SCOUT TOP 150: No. 10 overall

THE SKINNY: Pappoe has compiled 142 tackles and nine tackles for loss in his first two college football seasons. He closed out his second season with 11 tackles and a sack in the Citrus Bowl against Northwestern.


DeAngelo Malone, Sr./OLB, Western Kentucky — Projected No. 19 overall

Christian Harris, Soph./ILB, Alabama — No. 27 overall

Christopher Allen, Jr./OLB, Alabama — No. 31 overall

Ventrell Miller, Jr./ILB, Florida — No. 46 overall

Defensive backs


Derek Stingley Jr., Soph., LSU


HGT./WGT.: 6-1/195

DRAFT SCOUT TOP 150: No. 4 overall

THE SKINNY: Stingley was a consensus all-american in 2019 — as a freshman. In 15 games that fall, he had 21 passes defensed, six interceptions and 38 tackles.

Kyle Hamilton, Soph./FS, Notre Dame — Projected No. 5 overall

Kaiir Elam, Soph./CB, Florida — No. 6 overall

Josh Jobe, Jr./CB, Alabama — No. 18 overall

Jordan Battle, Soph./SS, Alabama — No. 21 overall.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.