About this time a year ago, many experts thought the 2022 draft class might be a little weak. Their reasoning seemed sound. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA adjusted its player eligibility rules allowing all players an extra season to play sports. Some thought the new Name Image Likeness (NIL) rules would allow an amateur player to profit from the commercial use of their, well Name Image or Likeness. So players get paid to stay in college. But neither cash nor the enticing extra senior season of being the man on campus was enough to stifle 2022. This class is loaded with depth. It lacks some of the over-the-top talents like Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase, but it doesn’t lack depth featuring many talented players who will almost certainly carve out significant roles early in their professional careers. The rankings of these players offer little more than a guide. I have done my best, but without the benefit of knowing their teams, rankings are an inexact science. This process is useful to get to know the new crop of talent growing our game.
1. Breece Hall 20 | RB | Iowa State – 6′, 1″ 220lbs. This wunderkind from Wichita is a cousin of former NFL great (should be Hall of Famer) Roger Craig. He was the RB1 as a True Freshman in 2019 earning 2nd team All-Big Twelve. Hall followed that up with an amazing sophomore season in which he earned unanimous All-American, 1st team all big twelve, and Big 12 Offensive Player of the year and he has kept the good time rolling this season rushing for 20 TDs and 1464 yards. Breece is big, he runs behind his pads, and he does not run into the backs of his offensive lineman, which seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many times college (and even NFL) backs do. He has it all. A thick dude who can run around or through would-be tacklers over. Hall has good wiggle to his game and catches the ball well. Breece Hall may not be as good as Najee Harris, but I could make an argument for the former Cyclone over Travis Etienne.
2. Treylon Burks 22 | WR | Arkansas – The first thing I noticed on his tape was that Treylon has good hands. The second thing I noticed was that he faced press coverage and succeeded against it. The primary components to be an NFL receiver. But Burks could be so much more than just an average NFL wideout. The former Razorback possesses great size 6′ 3″ 225lbs. and acceleration, he reminds me of Darren McFadden on his breakaway plays. He plays angry and gives you that runaway freight train feeling when he gets going. Ran various routes on creative plays at Arkansas, which leads me to believe he is a quick learner. My only critique is his ball security. He gets a little loose with the ball. Not a great thing for a player who fights for extra yards. His size, speed, and hands make Burks my top receiver in the 2022 class. Not on par with JaMarr Chase, but few are. I take Burks over every other receiver from the 2021 class.
3. Drake London 20 | WR | USC – Big Dude 6′ 5″ 220lbs. who plays with length, strength, and power. This former USC Trojan battles for the ball and elevates over defenders to snag the high passes. London has strong hands and maintains the catch through traffic and contact. Drake doesn’t create a lot of separation but makes the catch even when covered. Unlike many receivers on this list, London has faced a lot of press-man coverage and handled it well. Great red zone option. A bully of a runner who is great after the catch. An NFL-ready player who should start right away.
4. Garrett Wilson 21 | WR | Ohio State – Average size for an NFL wideout (6′ 0″192lbs.), but Garrett plays big and competes for the catch on every throw, which builds his quarterback’s confidence in him. Most passes thrown to Wilson are receptions or incompletions, with very few interceptions. A great route runner who cuts like a Ginsu. The former Buckeye is better after the catch than many realize. This is a very deep and talented wide receiver class. Any of the top eight receivers on this list could be the best rookie in the class. Garrett Wilson is firmly planted within that group.
5. Jashaun Corbin 21 | RB | Florida State – 6′, 0 220lbs – Thick powerful runner with a low center of gravity. Jashaun attacks the running lane prepared for contact. The former Seminole has a little shake to his game and he can make players miss in the open field. Corbin has the strength and power to run over tacklers if he so chooses. Fights through contact for extra yardage. Strong stiff arm with speed to break away. Sometimes makes questionable decisions in the open field running into defenders. Solid pass-catching skills. His stock will sky-rocket as the draft draws near.
6. Chris Olave 21 | WR | Ohio State – Chris is a slick player who effortlessly speeds through zone coverage with the uncanny ability to stop on a dime and make beautiful catches. Has a second gear when he breaks into the open field. Many were surprised by Olave’s 40-yard dash at the combine, but I wasn’t. I have watched many Ohio State games the past few seasons and he always got the speed demon treatment. This means he didn’t face much press coverage. NFL press coverage is a real thing. Olave is a slender 6′, 1″ 187 lbs. and should see plenty of press. His ability to escape it will determine his success.
7. Isaiah Spiller 20 | RB | Texas A&M – Spiller is a versatile back who could easily jump to the top of your FYPD. He catches the ball well and not just on screens and flares, this running back runs receiver routes well and catches the ball with his hands. He is elusive in the open field and around heavy traffic almost always making the first tackler miss. The 6′ 1″ 215lbs. back runs with power, but also possesses breakaway speed. My only criticism is that he’s loose with football carrying it away from his body far too often. He also is a little upright when runs, which makes the aforementioned ball security risk all the more prescient. A quality back that I’d be happy to take in the FYPD.
8. Jahan Dotson 22 | WR | Penn State – A smooth athlete and good football player. He is just good at the game. It shows in his pristine pass-catching and scrupulous route running, but what impresses me most is his ability to improvise when a play breaks down and turns into a “backyard football” play. Throughout his college career, Dotson came through time and time again for Penn State in game-changing moments. Jahan is small 5′ 11″, 183lbs., but tough as the Sunday Crossword. Where he plays will be huge. This guy would be great in Kansas City.
9. Zamir White 22 | RB | Georgia – 6′ 0″, 215lbs. – Runs angry and stays behind his shoulder pads. Delivers the blow to defenders. Carries tackles for additional yardage through contact. Keeps his legs churning as tacklers engage. A sturdy back who runs bigger than his measurements. Going to be a good bully back in the NFL. Slash and dash type runner who can get away when he creases defenses. A patient runner who excels at running the counter. Zamir has a history of knee injuries, but if White can stay healthy he could be a big-time contributor to your fantasy team. He only caught 19 passes at Georgia, so his receiving skills are in question. White will likely be a better professional than an amateur. I recommend you get in before inflation hits.
10. Jameson Williams 21 | WR | Alabama – Good size for an NFL receiver at 6′, 2 189lbs. Williams has the right attitude as well, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban referred to him as “one of those players you’d call a Dog.” Jameson Williams became Bama’s top playmaking receiver after John Metchie missed game time with injury. Williams played for Ohio State and Alabam during his college career, so he won’t be intimidated at the highest level. An absolute burner who can break a big play at any moment. This kid loves football and will find a way to get on the field. He played special teams at Alabama and was quite good at it. Another player who doesn’t have much experience with press coverage. He will have to prove himself in that area, but the incendiary speed will likely keep corners from pressing too often. Williams is only this low on the list because of his knee injury. If he shows that he is healthy again, Put this Jameson on the top shelf.
11. Rachaad White 23 | RB | Arizona State – 6′,2″ 210lbs. from St. Louis – Took a longer route to get to the NFL. Started at JUCO and battled his way to relevancy. A Tom Petty-type of player- I don’t see this guy backing down from challenges. He is a big back who spends a bit too much time waiting and skipping for me. He reminds me of two backs LeVeon Bell and Kalen Ballage. The difference between those two was vision, Bell had it, Balalge did not. White has the vision, but like Bell, it seems like White leaves way too much yardage out there on the field. White showed skills as a receiver but was mostly utilized in typical screen game and outlet passes. He’s a bigger back who gets better late in the game after hammering on defenders for a few quarters. He’s not one of my favorites in this class, but White has the tools to become a mid-tier back in fantasy football–it might take some time.
12. George Pickens 21 | WR | Georgia – The first thing you notice is his size, a lanky 6′, 3″ 200lbs pass-catcher who looks the part of an NFL receiver. He uses his size and strength to his advantage in the run blocking game. This guy has multiple pancakes in his highlight reel and seems to enjoy the one-on-one challenge of blocking a DB. The route tree he ran in Georgia was limited, but his long legs and lengthy strides certainly benefit him on go routes. Good at high pointing the ball. This is a player who will need development, specifically his route running, and I hoped to see better run after the catch abilities in his film. George Pickens a wonderful mold of clay that an NFL team will attempt to mold into a WR1 or 2.
13. David Bell 21 | WR | Purdue – Arguably the best route runner in the 2022 NFL draft, Bell can roast cornerbacks in press-man or off coverage. His run after the catch ability was a bit overshadowed by his former teammate and current Arizona cardinal the dynamic Rondale Moore, but Bell is no slouch with the ball in his hands. Speaking of hands, Bell has an enormous catch radius and grabs just about everything thrown in his direction. Unlike his conference counterparts Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, who had each other (and Jaxon Smith-Njigba) to unfurl secondaries, Bell often faced double teams and bracket coverage and was still able to get open, due in large part to his precise and creative route running. Man coverage doesn’t work against Bell, and neither does zone as he has displayed the ability to exploit soft spots in zone defenses. Bell ran a slower 40-yard dash at the combine, which will likely depress his draft stock, but some lucky team will be the beneficiary and land a quality receiver who can produce right away in the NFL.
14. Christian Watson 21 | WR | North Dakota State – How does North Dakota find these players? Watson is a 6′, 4″ 210lbs. stud who ran a 4.36 40 yard dash at the 2022 NFL Combine. How did all the Power Five colleges miss this kid? Watson is from Tampa, so it’s not like he was hiding under a rock in Walhalla. Whatever the case may be Christian Watson will be a first-round selection in the 2022 draft. The 40 time isn’t just an underwear Olympic thing either. That speed shows up on the field. Watson is an angle eliminator speeding past would-be defenders on his way to the endzone. His highlight reel consists of essentially three different plays: deep ball, hook route, and wide receiver reverse, so he will have plenty of learning to do at the NFL level. This guy is a specimen and has as much upside as any player in the 2022 class.
15. Kyren Williams 21 | RB | Notre Dame – Not a huge back 5′, 9″ 199lbs., but a smooth confident runner with easy speed and plenty of bounce. Williams is a shifty back who gets defenders off balance. Kyren presents a significant problem for defenders in the open field. A quality receiver, whose skills are comparable with the best in this loaded running back class. Runs behind his pads and gets the most thump humanly possible from a 200lbs frame. A great example of the depth of this running back class. Take advantage and pick this playmaker late 1st/early second round of your FYPD. I do not like Notre Dame, but I love Kyren Williams. He will likely be one of my favorite players in this draft class.