We are officially mid-way through the 2021-2022 college football season, thus it’s time to check in on NFL Draft prospects’ stock. This one is simple, I give you my midseason top three players at each position and if you have any thoughts, please feel free to @ me on Twitter to discuss! Let’s begin.
Midseason 2022 NFL Draft Rankings | Top 3 Prospects at Each Position
1. Matt Corral, Ole Miss, 6'1, 205
2. Malik Willis, Liberty, 6'1, 215
3. Carson Strong, Nevada, 6'4, 215
This is truly a 1a/1b situation between Corral and Willis with both quarterbacks being the only ones I’d spend a first-round pick on. I loveir the intangibles (leadership and work ethic) plus their physical traits (arm talent and mobility), but am not sold on Corral’s ability to thrive under pressure and succeed past his first read, plus Willis has struggled with decision making (already tied his INT total from last season) and versus better competition (see Syracuse).
I’ve ranked Corral above Willis for now because I believe he is the superior thrower with more consistent mechanics. Furthermore, I believe Lane Kiffin’s scheme corrals Matt’s potential a bit with how heavily dependent it is on the screen+RPO game. If he lands in the right situation, I think we could see Corral surprise folks with what he’s capable of, similar to Justin Herbert’s rise after Oregon.
1. Garret Wilson, Ohio State, 6'0, 188
2. Treylon Burks, Arkansas, 6'4, 225
3. Jahan Dotson, Penn State, 5'11, 184
This might end up being the most difficult position group to rank by the end of the season because of how much talent there is but also how important scheme/role is for a wide receiver. Want a dynamic route runner who can align outside and in the slot, Wilson’s your guy. Want an athletic freak who’s built like a truck but constantly makes defenders miss after the catch, Burks is your flavor. Want a dangerous deep threat who is a touchdown machine, Dotson is up for it.
Jahan Dotson, #PennState WR is an elite vertical threat with crafty route running skills who reminds me of #Texans Brandin Cooks. He's gonna contend for my WR1 this #NFLDraft— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) October 2, 2021
I breakdown how he uses his speed as a weapon and sells routes at the release, stem and on double moves. pic.twitter.com/67lDmIDVvz
In the end, I think Wilson is the most well-rounded of the bunch and reminds me of Justin Jefferson/DJ Moore with his versatility, route running and explosive after-the-catch abilities.
1. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M, 6'1, 215
2. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame, 5'9, 195
3. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State, 5'10, 210
Running back is another difficult debate because of how certain teams search for certain qualities at this position. Walker is the biggest riser of the year and a home run threat with elusive jump cuts.
Williams is the best three-down back with his tenacious blocking and is no slouch as a runner either. Spiller earns my crown as of now because of his potential to do-it-all, reminding me of a baby Saquon Barkley. He runs with astute vision, makes efficient cuts to weave in between the tackles or outside of them, constantly makes defenders miss in space and also shows potential as a receiving threat.
1. Evan Neal, Alabama, 6'7, 360
2. Charles Cross, Mississippi State, 6'5, 290
3. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota, 6'8, 380
This is a very strong tackle class that involves tone setters in the trenches. Neal is a great run blocker from day one and possesses freakish size+athleticism which allows him to clearout the blindside. Cross is a quick riser as many love his athleticism and sound pass protection while Faalele, a former rugby player, is a personal favorite of mine.
A man of his size simply shouldn’t move as well as he does - a mauler in the run game and possessing ridiculous length in pass protection, Faalele's a future Pro Bowler at right tackle.
Interior Offensive Line
1. Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa, 6'2, 290
2. Darian Kinnard, Kentucky, 6'5, 345
3. Ikem Ekwonu, NC State, 6'4, 320
This is a position group I hope the Houston Texans address multiple times in the draft as they need a complete overhaul on the offensive line. There’s no one better than Iowa’s Linderbaum, who was a former defensive lineman as a freshman and that nastiness is seen on every down.
#Iowa Tyler Linderbaum is my top Center in the 2022 #NFLDraft and I wrote about why his position is becoming a premium one.— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) September 30, 2021
Linderbaum is a freak athlete which shows up in the run game but hes also a quick processor and very aware of blitzes+twists, making him strong in pass pro https://t.co/NzpfQqiH7A pic.twitter.com/0Qb0lnwSub
He would inject some desperately needed athleticism into the Texans’ line and when people push back and say he’s undersized (listed at 290lbs) for the trenches, make sure to tell them he wrestled 280lb men while he was a 220lb sophomore in high school. Linderbaum has heard all his life that he’s too small, it’s never stopped him before and I doubt it will now.
1. Trey McBride, Colorado, 6'4, 260
2. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina, 6'4, 240
3. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M, 6'5, 255
This tight end class is an interesting one, there’s certainly no Kyle Pitts this year but there are plenty of dual-threat prospects who make an impact in the run and pass game. Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely is someone I want to highlight because his experience as a receiver shows up at tight end.
Likely is my TE3 and can be a plus starter in the NFL. Former receiver and you see those traits with his athleticism and YAC.— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) October 8, 2021
But it’s his competitiveness as a blocker that has really impressed me. Can be a dual threat if he’s not asked to be in-line much pic.twitter.com/xTIzZsdTSY
He’s a big-play threat every time he steps on the field and already has eight touchdowns through seven games. Despite being a bit undersized, he brings the nasty as a blocker and is particularly effective at blocking defensive backs in space (the Texans suck at this). He reminds me of Jonnu Smith because of how you want to get the ball into his hands in space and let him work, but he’s also not going to be a liability as a blocker.
Interior Defensive line
1. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M, 6'4, 290
2. Jordan Davis, Georgia, 6'6, 340
3. Devonte Wyatt, Georgia, 6'3, 315
Moving onto the defensive side of the ball, the interior defensive line isn’t a sexy position group to most but it’s where the foundation of every defense starts. Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal is more of a 3-tech defensive tackle to me than the EDGE player they’ve asked him to be most often. His power and quickness are more suited for the inside, where his lack of get-off and bend won’t be as magnified.
#CFB matchup of the day is #TAMU EDGE DeMarvin Leal vs #Alabama LT Evan Neal.— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) October 9, 2021
Leal already has 4.5 sacks on the year and I love the first two plays in these clips. Leal uses an outside rush to setup an inside counter on the very next play. Love the hustle by the big fella too! pic.twitter.com/D0JQMixWBB
1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon, 6'5, 250
2. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan, 6'6, 265
3. George Karlaftis, Purdue, 6'4, 275
My favorite position to watch/scout, this EDGE class is as strong as ever with up to five projected first-rounders. I’ve written about Thibodeaux’s excellence here so I’ll rave about Michigan’s Hutchinson today instead. Listed as Bruce Feldman’s second-best athletic “freak” in the class, Hutchinson is explosive and agile to get after the quarterback with ease.
He is a better technician than Thibodeaux, stringing together multiple moves and always having a counter ready. Hutchinson’s a top 5 talent in this class and can be an All-Pro during his prime years.
1. Devin Lloyd, Utah, 6'3, 235
2. Nakobe Dean, Georgia, 6'0, 225
3. Henry To'oto'o, Alabama, 6'2, 225
The linebacker class this year isn’t super strong, most mock drafts will only have Lloyd (and often no one) projected in the first. I’ve raved a ton on Twitter about Dean’s blitzing and dog mentality but it’s To’oto’o who’s surprised me the most. He’s the better of the two Alabama linebackers (sorry Christian Harris) as his elite instincts and explosiveness help him teleport towards the ball.
#Alabama Henry To'oto'o is the best MIKE linebacker in the 2022 #NFLDraft as he has superb instincts in run defense, sideline to sideline speed and good feel in zone coverage.— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) October 22, 2021
Some of his best plays vs Florida, below! He'd be a great fit in the #Texans defense 👀 pic.twitter.com/ZlMKtbZXb5
While he needs to be more consistent in coverage, he has some high-level flashes - understanding how route combinations work and possessing the fluid hips to change direction with ease. It wouldn’t surprise me if To’oto’o is the best LB in this class when it’s all said and done.
1. Andrew Booth Jr, Clemson,
2. Derek Stingley, LSU
3. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, Cincinnati
The cornerback class is one of the strongest position groups this year with four “locks” in the first round. You’re probably wondering why Stingley, a unanimous top 3 player in this class isn’t even my top CB, let me make my case.
Working backward, 2021 has seen Stingley suffer a likely season-ending foot injury, which he re-aggravated from preseason, leading experts to question his long-term availability. In 2020, Stingley had a down year (so did the entire LSU defense) with just five PBUs and zero INTs, which raised questions about his work ethic and ability to elevate a bad defense. In 2019 during Stingley’s freshman phenom season, watch his film versus better competition - he struggled to stay in phase. Turn on the Florida game and you’ll see Los Angeles Ram's second-round pick Van Jefferson make Stingley look silly. Every Georgia WR beat him at some point in their game too.
All of this to say, it makes me hesitant to draft a CB as early as Stingley is being mocked (top 2) when his play has declined in two straight years, he’s dealt with major injuries and struggled to stick with NFL WRs.
Clemson’s Booth Jr has extremely comparable size, athleticism and ball skills to Stingley without the injury issues or drop off in play. He’s insanely smart in terms of reading offenses and is the best run defending cornerback too.
1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame, 6'4, 220
2. Jalen Catakon, Arkansas, 5'10, 200
3. Daxton Hill, Michigan, 6'0, 192
Rounding up this draft class is a very strong safety group that offers teams whatever they need. Hamilton is a true swiss army knife, lining up primarily in the nickel, then playing free and strong safety, splitting reps at linebacker and even a few at outside corner. At his size, he has elite range and is a top 3 player in this class.
In addition “my guy” so far is Arkansas’ Catalan, who flies everywhere around the field and his fiery nature but smaller stature eerily reminds me of Tyrann Mathieu, Budda Baker and Darnell Savage.
#Razorbacks Safety, Jalen Catalon (1) had himself a day vs Rice, tallying 11 tackles (6 solo) 2 INTs and 1 TFL.— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) September 5, 2021
He capitalized on some poor throws, showed off his athleticism on returns and his range vs the run. I love the fiery competitiveness he plays with. 1st round talent! pic.twitter.com/nLvig9Cl3M
Well, that’ll do it! The talent at the top of this draft is incredibly enticing for a fan of a rebuilding team but there are obviously more than three prospects to learn about at each position. With the Texans accumulating later-round draft picks, it’ll be pivotal to discover Day Two and Three sleepers, so keep updated with me on Twitter and as I continue to write about this 2022 draft class.