Matt Miller's Midseason Big Board
Who are the top players for the 2022 NFL draft class at the midway point of the NFL and college football seasons?
Top 100 Overall Players
1. EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
6-5, 250 lbs
The unquestioned top player in the 2022 draft class when the season began, Thibodeaux has lived up to that ranking since returning from injury. Last week against UCLA he showed his dominant traits and skills with a two sack performance that also saw him notch a forced fumble. Since returning from injury, Thibodeaux has three sacks in two games. He has a great chance to go wire-to-wire as the top overall player in the class.
2. S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
6-4, 219 lbs
Hamilton has been dominant all season long—three interceptions, four passes defensed—as opposing offenses avoided him at the safety position. There will be some discussion as to his usage in the NFL, but he looks like a Derwin James-type prospect to me. Hamilton is out for this weekend’s game against North Carolina with a knee injury—something we’ll be monitoring moving forward.
3. OT Evan Neal, Alabama
6-7, 360 lbs
A massive offensive tackle prospect with great upfield movement ability and dominating power, Neal looks like a plug-and-play left tackle for the NFL. He’s not the most athletic tackle in this class, but his overall power and agility make him a very good left tackle prospect for any draft class.
4. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
6-6, 270 lbs
As one area scout told me earlier in the season, Hutchinson is a “JJ Watt type prospect”. I’m not ready to go that high, but Hutchinson has been college football’s best pass-rusher so far this year. And at 6’6” and 270 pounds, he can be a true defensive end in the NFL instead of the smaller, ‘tweener type rushers we’ve become accustomed to.
5. OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
6-5, 305 lbs
If your favorite NFL team needs an athletic left tackle, Charles Cross is your dude. He’s agile and fluid and uses great range (h/t Brandon Thorn) in both the run and pass game. He’s a little undersized for some teams, but he’s a treat to watch working in space.
6. CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
6-1, 190 lbs
The top cornerback on most boards when the season began, Stingley is out indefinitely after having surgery on his left foot. But still, his traits and potential make him a top 10 player in this class. Stingley’s physicality, speed, instincts, and overall athleticism are rare traits. If he can get back to his All-American freshman tape (2019), he has the skills to be a top NFL cornerback.
7. WR Drake London, USC
6-5, 210 lbs
Mike Evans 2.0 has arrived in the form of USC’s Drake London. The big wideout has taken over games with his ability to dominate in jump ball situations. There are questions about his ability to separate due to the high number of contested catches he makes, but on a team with poor quarterback consistency, London is tearing it up.
8. DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
6-4, 290 lbs
A bit of a hybrid player with the ability to play 3-technique or 5-technique in an NFL front, Leal is an athletic marvel at almost 300 pounds. I see him best as a 3-tech in the pros with an ability similar to Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs. In a class that’s overall weak at defensive tackle, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Leal’s value increase due to the need at the position (much like QBs being over-drafted).
9. EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
6-4, 275 lbs
A big man with real speed-to-power conversion ability, Karlaftis has seen his sack production go down since his hot start to the season (2.5 total) but he’s getting hurries and pressures on the regular. His ability, like Thibodeaux and Hutchinson, to play as a true 4-3 defensive end is incredibly valuable.
10. QB Malik Willis, Liberty
6-1, 215 lbs
Willis has seen his star fade slightly in the last few weeks due to turnovers—six interceptions over the course of two games—and taking too many sacks (six each against North Texas and Syracuse)—but scouts see the traits in Willis and I agree. He’s working on a team with limited talent around him and being asked to carry the load. His projectable skills are still the best of the quarterback class.
11. QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
6-1, 206 lbs
The 2022 version of Zach Wilson; Matt Corral is a fiery, athletic, quick-releasing quarterback with a big arm and good vision. He’s cut down on his mistakes (one INT all year) and is playing fast, loose and productive football. Questions about his size could linger without elite athletic traits, but right now he’s the best quarterback in college football among the draft-eligible passers. His stock continues to rise for me.
12. OC Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
6-2, 290 lbs
Tyler Linderbaum is an athlete playing center—he moves more like a pulling tight end or fullback. He’s a little light for the position by some standards, but he makes up for it in agility and technique. Linderbaum has the tools to become the NFL’s best center.
13. EDGE Drake Jackson, USC
6-4, 255 lbs
I asked an area scout this week why so many media members aren’t high on Jackson. “No idea, we have a big ‘ole grade on him!”. I do too. Jackson has power and athleticism but also uses his hands exceptionally well. He’s also taken over games when USC most needed him.
14. ILB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
6-0, 225 lbs
A huge riser up the board thanks to his dominant play this season, Dean is now the top inside linebacker on my board. He’s built in the mold of a Devin White and has the same range from the middle of the field. Dean’s also coming out of an NFL-style defense at Georgia, which points to him being NFL ready very soon.
15. OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
6-4, 325 lbs
A massive power blocker with experience at guard and tackle, Green is a seamless fit into an NFL offense that wants to double on the inside or sees a lot of top-tier interior rushers. He has plug-and-play ability.
16. WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
5-11, 170 lbs
Mr. Big Play at Penn State has shot up the board this season as a deep threat and speedster. He’s on the lighter side but has been durable at Penn State and knows how to make himself a small target in the open field.
17. WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
6-0, 193 lbs
A steady producer with excellent route-running and a knack for clutch catches, Wilson has upside as a young player who just seems to be scratching the surface of his ability. He looks ready to contribute from the inside or outside of a formation.
18. CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
6-0, 188 lbs
Few cornerbacks have had a bigger season than Roger McCreary. He’s a long, athletic, tough cornerback with the man coverage skills to be a sticky problem for NFL wide receivers. One area scout I talked to compared his game to Tre’Davious White’s coming out of LSU.
19. OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
6-6, 315 lbs
The Ohio State offense has taken off since early season struggles and a big part of that is the left tackle, Nicholas Petit-Frere. The veteran pass blocker has yet to allow at sack as a Buckeye—not this season…ever. A former right tackle, Petit-Frere is still developing and looks like a promising NFL starter.
20. ILB Christian Harris, Alabama
6-2, 232 lbs
A leader and a striker in the Alabama defensive front seven, Christian Harris has seen his stock slip a little this year from the astronomically high rankings we (and others) had on him before the season. Still though, he’s an impressive middle ‘backer prospect with the size and speed to be a three-down hunter.