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 DraftScout.com, 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.
THE TOP GUY
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Soph., Oregon
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 DraftScout.com.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP FIVE DLs
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
THE TOP GUY
Owen Pappoe, Soph., Auburn
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.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP FIVE LBs
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
THE TOP GUY
Derek Stingley Jr., Soph., LSU
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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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has covered the national recruiting scene in football and basketball for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All-America selections, and handled FCS college football for HERO Sports. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.