Each week, we’ll be highlighting ten things you need to know following the weekend of college football and NFL play that affects the 2022 NFL draft. This might be a player who breaks out, an important injury, an ascending NFL player who erases a presumed team need, or just something we see happening that needs talked about.
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1. GEORGE KARLAFTIS—Big-time players make big-time plays and that’s what Purdue pass-rusher George Karlaftis did in Week 1 with eight recorded pressures against Oregon State (a previous version of this article said UConn here—which is Purdue’s next game. We apologize for the error). And while he didn’t have a sack, Karlaftis isn’t surrounded by five-star recruits on the Boilermakers defense. Everyone in the stadium knew he was the best player on the field and the Beavers game planned accordingly. He still dominated and had arguably the best Week 1 performance of any pass-rusher in the nation. A top 15 player on my Big Board, Karlaftis is a keeper.
2. JORDAN DAVIS—Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis could have been a top 50 pick in the 2021 NFL draft but opted to return to school and work on his pass-rush game. It worked, or appears that way after a dominant game against No. 3 ranked Clemson. Davis was the difference in the middle of the Georgia line and stopped Clemson from even attempting to run the ball. At 6’6” and 340 pounds, Davis showed the stout run defense and gap-plugging we are used to from him but also flashed more quickness and twitch getting off the line. In a defensive tackle group without a top name right now, Davis likely moved into DL1 position after the weekend.
3. MATT CORRAL—Sometimes it helps to be the only show in town, and for Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral that was the case Monday night as he dazzled viewers in a win over Louisville. Corral is a juiced-up athlete at quarterback who will wow you with big plays and daring decisions, but he’ll also terrify you with some throws or runs he attempts. The traits are all there though for Corral to have a “leap year” in Lane Kiffin’s offense. If the Louisville game is an indicator, the 6’0”, 200 pound junior will be one of the hottest names in college football this fall.
4. DESMOND RIDDER—We saw Sam Howell (North Carolina) and Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) struggle in the early games this week, which put eyes on Cincinnati senior Desmond Ridder on Saturday afternoon. Would he too fall to the pressures of Week 1? Nope, not at all. Ridder came out red hot and had three touchdowns to just one incompletion in the first quarter. He didn’t let up with four passing touchdowns on a 20-for-25 night that saw him add another score on the ground. Ridder’s big win amidst struggles from other top passers should heat up his Heisman talk and hopefully get NFL scouts talking about his pro potential.
5. KYLE HAMILTON—If you didn’t know about Kyle Hamilton before Sunday night, you do now. A top five player on my 2022 Big Board, Hamilton was a difference-maker in a very close game against Florida State. His two interceptions were major turning points in the game and were a field position spark a bad Notre Dame passing game needed. Hamilton is a supersized safety at 6’4” and 220 pounds, but his range and instincts showed why he’s the top safety in the 2022 class.
6. CHRISTOPHER ALLEN—The Alabama defense was absolutely punishing against the Miami Hurricanes but will have to go the rest of the season without linebacker Christopher Allen who suffered a fractured foot and will undergo surgery. Allen (6’4”, 242 lbs) had a Top 50 grade on my summer big board and looked the part in limited action Saturday night. His three tackles and one sack of D’Eriq King had us all taking notice. A timeline for his return hasn’t been established—we could see him back later this season—and it’s too early to tell if this will have any bearing on his 2022 draft stock. A healthy Allen is one of the top edge-rushers in the class.
7. RONNIE BELL—If you were excited about Michigan finally having an explosive offensive weapon, your excitement was short-lived as Ronnie Bell was carted off the field in Week 1. The Michigan senior had just one catch before suffering a knee injury, but that catch went for 76 yards and a score. Bell, who flashed in 2019 but struggled last year with drops and poor route-running, will miss the rest of the season. He projects as a likely Day 3 prospect for the 2022 draft.
8. MO IBRAHIM—Mo Ibrahim was punishing the Ohio State defense, and keeping his Minnesota Gophers in the ballgame, until an ankle injury sidelined him. That injury, which looked like an Achilles’ tear, will sideline him for the rest of the season. A senior, it’s very possible given the timeline that we might see Ibrahim participate in the pre-draft process. A slightly below-average athlete but very hard-charging runner, Ibrahim’s draft stock will unfortunately take a hit from the injury and timeline of his recovery. Look for him to be a Day 3 prospect.
9. D’ERIQ KING—As one NFL area scout texted me Tuesday morning, “there’s a reason we list D’Eriq King at wide receiver on our scouting sheets.” King struggled as a passer against Alabama as his inability to make tight throws showed up. I’m not entirely out on King as an NFL quarterback, but his Heisman hype and any NFL draft buzz he carried into the season likely ended Saturday night when facing a defense dominated by pro prospects when King rushed for just 10 yards and struggled to move the ball.
10. KYREN WILLIAMS—In a running back class dominated by Iowa State’s Breese Hall and Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller, don’t sleep on Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams. A legitimate three-down back, Williams showed off his hands against Florida State to the tune of six catches for 83 yards. In a game that didn’t feature electric offensive play, Williams wasn’t as effective as a runner (18 rushes, 42 yards) but his hands and ability to power through tacklers makes him a very intriguing NFL option.