Spencer Rattler, Sam Howell Headline Todd McShay's Top 50 2022 NFL Draft Prospects

Adam WellsAugust 19, 2021

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler drops back to pass during the first half of the team's Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game against Florida in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

A little more than one week away from the start of the college football season, ESPN's Todd McShay is taking an early look at the top stars who are draft-eligible in 2022. 

In his first ranking of the top 50 NFL draft prospects, quarterbacks Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma and Sam Howell of North Carolina lead the way for next year's class. 

Todd McShay's Top 10 2022 Draft Prospects

1. Spencer Rattler, QB (Oklahoma)

2. Sam Howell, QB (North Carolina)

3. Derek Stingley Jr., CB (LSU)

4. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE (Oregon)

5. Kyle Hamilton, S (Notre Dame)

6. Kaiir Elam, CB (Florida)

7. Malik Willis, QB (Liberty)

8. Andrew Booth Jr., CB (Clemson)

9. DeMarvin Leal, DL (Texas A&M)

10. Chris Olave, WR (Ohio State)

Unlike the 2021 class, when it was known years in advance that Trevor Lawrence was going to be the No. 1 pick, there is going to be a battle for the top spot in 2022. 

McShay's scouting reports for Rattler and Howard don't suggest much separation between the two. 

"Rattler shows quick feet both in the pocket and extending plays, and unleashes a fast release to get the ball out, often changing his arm angle to make impressive off-platform throws," McShay wrote about the 6'1", 200-pound sophomore. 

As for the 6'1¼", 220-pound Howell, McShay notes he "can manipulate coverages with his eyes, and I love the way he gets the ball out quickly when he has a clean pre-snap read."

Willis plays at a school that doesn't get nearly as much attention as Oklahoma or North Carolina, but the 22-year-old has an excellent pedigree. He began his college career at Auburn before transferring to Liberty after the 2018 season. 

After sitting out the 2019 campaign because of transfer rules, the 6'1", 215-pound Willis threw for 2,250 yards, ran for 944 yards and accounted for 34 touchdowns in 10 games last season. 

There are six quarterbacks among the top 32 players on McShay's list. USC's Kedon Slovis (No. 11), Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder (No. 19) and Nevada's Carson Strong (No. 31). 

The 1983 draft set the record for most quarterbacks taken in the first round with six. Last year's highly regarded class produced five first-rounders, all within the first 15 picks. 

While the quarterbacks will command most of the attention, this looks to be a very good draft class on the defensive side of the ball. LSU's Derek Stingley Jr. and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux are already well-known prospects based on their performances over the past two years. 

Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton is a do-it-all safety who can line up in coverage and play close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run. 

One important thing to keep in mind, especially with the quarterback rankings, is there will in all likelihood be at least one player not being considered right now who will emerge as the season goes on. 

No one was predicting Zach Wilson to be a first-round pick in the 2021 draft prior to the start of last season. Joe Burrow wasn't considered a first-round talent after the 2018 season. 

Rankings are always fluid. Players change from year to year, for better and worse. All of the questions about these prospects will start to come into focus when the college season begins Aug. 28.