2022 NFL Draft Big Board: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s Top 100 Players

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IOctober 26, 2021

2022 NFL Draft Big Board: B/R NFL Scouting Dept.'s Top 100 Players

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    Bleacher Report's NFL Scouting Department gathered after weeks of evaluation to piece together its initial big board for the 2022 NFL draft.

    NFL scouts will be coming off the road in the near future to do the same for their respective teams. The draft may still be six months away, but preparation for the event is a year-round process.

    These rankings include players who have been scouted through at least two games, though not every draftable prospect has been evaluated to date. The work done so far serves as a guideline for what will eventually come. 

    B/R's Scouting Department is composed of five people with extensive backgrounds playing, coaching and/or covering the NFL and the draft. 

    Nate Tice: Nate is a former college quarterback, NFL coach and scout who provides football breakdowns on his Twitter account. He can also be heard weekly on The Athletic Football Show podcast.

    Brandon Thorn: Brandon is the author of the Trench Warfare Newsletter, which focuses exclusively on offensive and defensive line evaluation. He also contributes as an analyst for Establish the Run and serves as the scouting coordinator for OL Masterminds.

    Derrik Klassen: Derrik joins this team this year while contributing to Football Outsiders and Oddschecker. He has spent years charting and evaluating NFL prospects, which can often be found through social media. 

    Cory Giddings: Cory has experience working at multiple levels of football, both in coaching and player evaluation. In recent years, he has worked with the New York Giants and collegiate teams within the Big Ten. 

    Brent Sobleski: Brent serves as an NFL analyst for Bleacher Report. He's covered the draft since the 2004 class for multiple outlets prior to his eight seasons with B/R.

    Grading Scale

    10: Generational Talent / No. 1 Overall

    9.5-9.9: Top-Five Prospect

    9.0-9.4: Top-10 Prospect

    8.5-8.9: Immediate Impact Prospect / 1st Round

    8.0-8.4: Year 1 Starter / Late 1st-2nd Round

    7.5-7.9: Potential Impact Player / 2nd Round

    7.0-7.4: High-Level Backup/Potential Starter / 3rd Round

    6.5-6.9: Potential Role Player / 4th Round

    6.0-6.4: High-level Developmental Prospect / 5th Round

    5.5-5.9: Backup/Draftable / 6th-7th Round

    5.0-5.4: Backup/UDFA with Roster Potential / UDFA

    4.0-4.9: Developmental Prospect / UDFA

    3.0-3.9: Training Camp Body / UDFA

    Grades for each player were assigned by the following scouts:    

    Nate Tice: QBs, RBs, WRs and Receiving TEs

    Brandon Thorn: Blocking TEs, OTs, OGs and Centers

    Derrik Klassen: DL, EDGE and LBs

    Cory Giddings: CBs and Safeties

Top 100

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    Ties in grades were broken through roundtable discussions among the four scouts.

    1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (9.4)

    2. George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue (9.1)

    3. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State (9.1)

    4. Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa (9.0)

    5. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (8.9)

    6. Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia (8.9)

    7. Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (8.9)

    8. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU (8.9)

    9. Drake London, WR, USC (8.8)

    10. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (8.7)

    11. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (8.7)

    12. Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (8.6)

    13. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (8.6)

    14. Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (8.5)

    15. Christian Harris, LB, Alabama (8.5)

    16. Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (8.4)

    17. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi Sate (8.3)

    18. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson (8.3)

    19. Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M (8.2)

    20. Drake Jackson, Edge, USC (8.2)

    21. Adam Anderson, Edge, Georgia (8.1)

    22. Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (8.0)

    23. David Bell, WR, Purdue (8.0)

    24. John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (8.0)

    25. Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M (8.0)

    26. Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State (8.0)

    27. Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State (7.9)

    28. Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College (7.9)

    29. Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan (7.9)

    30. Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (7.9)

    31. Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (7.9)

    32. Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati (7.9)

    33. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (7.9)

    34. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State (7.9)

    35. Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma (7.8)

    36. Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota (7.8)

    37. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (7.8)

    38. Tyler Davis, DL, Clemson (7.8)

    39. George Pickens, WR, Georgia (7.8)

    40. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M (7.8)

    41. Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State (7.8)

    42. Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah (7.8)

    43. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (7.8)

    44. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (7.7)

    45. Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (7.7)

    46. Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (7.7)

    47. Jahleel Billingsley, TE, Alabama (7.7)

    48. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida (7.6)

    49. Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA (7.6)

    50. Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State (7.6)

    51. Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky (7.5)

    52. John Michael Schmitz, IOL, Minnesota (7.5)

    53. Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia (7.5)

    54. Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame (7.5)

    55. Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State (7.5)

    56. DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M (7.5)

    57. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma (7.5)

    58. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (7.4)

    59. Jamaree Salyer, IOL, Georgia (7.4)

    60. Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon (7.4)

    61. Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama (7.4)

    62. Zachary Carter, DL, Florida (7.4)

    63. Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama (7.4)

    64. Romeo Doubs, WR, Nevada (7.4)

    65. Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State (7.4)

    66. Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State (7.3)

    67. Cade Otton, TE, Washington (7.3)

    68. Thayer Munford, IOL, Ohio State (7.3)

    69. Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah (7.3)

    70. James Empey, IOL, BYU (7.3)

    71. Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas (7.3)

    72. Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State (7.3)

    73. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (7.3)

    74. Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State (7.3)

    75. Demani Richardson, S, Texas A&M (7.2)

    76. Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana (7.2)

    77. Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa (7.2)

    78. Jalen Cropper, WR, Fresno State (7.2)

    79. Jaivon Heiligh, WR, Coastal Carolina (7.2)

    80. Tiawan Mullen, CB, Indiana (7.2)

    81. Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma (7.2)

    82. Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida (7.1)

    83. Jordan Battle, S, Alabama (7.1)

    84. Jermayne Lole, DL, Arizona State (7.1)

    85. Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State (7.0)

    86. Kingsley Enagbare, Edge, South Carolina (7.0)

    87. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan (7.0)

    88. Sean Rhyan, IOL, UCLA (7.0)

    89. Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (7.0)

    90. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State (6.9)

    91. Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State (6.9)

    92. Smoke Monday, S, Auburn (6.9)

    93. Tanner McKee, QB, Stanford (6.9)

    94. Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky (6.9)

    95. Bubba Bolden, S, Miami (6.9)

    96. Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State (6.8)

    97. Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina (6.8)

    98. Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State (6.8)

    99. Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington (6.7)

    100. Zakoby McClain, LB, Auburn (6.7)


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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Scouted by Nate Tice

    Most Accurate: Kenny Pickett

    Best Arm Strength: Spencer Rattler

    Best Mobility: Malik Willis

    Most Pro-Ready: Kenny Pickett


    1. Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati (8.0)

    2. Matt Corral, Ole Miss (7.9)

    3. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh (7.8)

    4. Malik Willis, Liberty (7.8)

    5. Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma (7.5)

    6. Sam Howell, North Carolina (7.4)

    7. Jayden Daniels, Arizona State (7.4)

    8. Carson Strong, Nevada (7.0)

    9. Jake Haener, Fresno State (6.9)

    10. Tanner McKee, Stanford (6.9)

    11. Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky (6.9)


    Explain the Grade: Sam Howell

    Howell has been highly productive, and you love the toughness that he brings at quarterback. But some of his limitations have started to creep up now that his supporting cast is less talented than it was last year.

    North Carolina tends to rely on run-pass options and screens that give Howell a lot of "cheap" yards. However, that has also limited his ability to make more advanced progressions and reads.

    Howell has good arm strength and the ability to create, both of which are necessities in today's NFL. But he will need to show continued progress with his timing and anticipation on more throws than go balls and quick game to warrant a higher grade. 

Running Backs

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    Scouted by Nate Tice

    Best Speed: Kenneth Walker III

    Best Power: Breece Hall

    Best Vision: Breece Hall

    Best Hands: Kyren Williams

    Best Third-Down Back: Kyren Williams


    1. Breece Hall, Iowa State (8.0)

    2. Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State (7.9)

    3. Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M (7.8)

    4. Zach Charbonnet, UCLA (7.6)

    5. Kyren Williams, Notre Dame (7.5)


    Explain the Grade: Kyren Williams

    Williams is just a fun football player to watch, and he has legitimate three-down ability. His only real limitation is size (5'9", 199 pounds), which hinders how high of a grade he can receive.

    Williams is a plus route-runner who flashed the ability to run a legitimate wide receiver route tree when split outside, and he shows good hands with confidence to extend away from his body. He's also a good runner in various run schemes because of his vision and tempo, and he runs hard.

    If he were 10-15 pounds heavier, he'd shoot up the board even more. 

Wide Receivers

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Scouted by Nate Tice

    Best Hands: Jahan Dotson

    Best Route-Runner: Chris Olave

    Best Speed: Jameson Williams

    Best Slot Receiver: Treylon Burks/Jahan Dotson

    Most Pro-Ready: Chris Olave


    1. Drake London, USC (8.8)

    2. Chris Olave, Ohio State (8.7)

    3. Jahan Dotson, Penn State (8.6)

    4. Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (8.6)

    5. Treylon Burks, Arkansas (8.4)

    6. Justyn Ross, Clemson (8.3)

    7. David Bell, Purdue (8.0)

    8. John Metchie III, Alabama (8.0)

    9. George Pickens, Georgia (7.8)

    10. Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama (7.4)

    11. Romeo Doubs, Nevada (7.4)

    12. Jameson Williams, Alabama (7.3)

    13. Khalil Shakir, Boise State (7.3)

    14. Jalen Cropper, Fresno State (7.2)

    15. Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina (7.2)


    Explain the Grade: Jahan Dotson

    Dotson's production speaks to his talent level more than any overwhelming quarterback play happening at Penn State.

    He is an explosive player who can produce at all three levels of the field as well as in the return game. He has the ability to create with the ball in his hands, and he also consistently displays very good hands and route-running ability.

    Dotson's average size (5'11", 184 pounds) comes with the typical concerns for a highly rated receiver. But his natural hands, overall tempo, feel for routes and explosiveness make him an exciting inside-and-outside wide receiver prospect.  

Tight Ends

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Scouted by Nate Tice

    Best Receiver: Jahleel Billingsley

    Most Versatile: Trey McBride

    Best Blocker: Jeremy Ruckert

    Most Pro-Ready: Jeremy Ruckert  


    1. Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M (8.0)

    2. Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama (7.7)

    3. Trey McBride, Colorado State (7.5)

    4. Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State (7.3)

    5. Cade Otton, Washington (7.3)

    6. Sam LaPorta, Iowa (7.2)

    7. Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina (6.8)

    8. Charlie Kolar, Iowa State (6.8)


    Explain the Grade: Jalen Wydermyer

    Wydermyer has good size (6'5", 255 pounds), length and three-down ability, and he has already produced in the passing game. He's a good athlete with body control and catching range, and he's coming into own as a plus-blocker.

    Though Wydermyer is not the most explosive athlete overall, he has a feel for space and has natural hands that allow him to confidently extend for throws away from his body. He has already shown the ability to be a true Y-tight end, block tight ends in the run game and not be "hidden" because he's more than a glorified wide receiver.

    His size and youth lead to optimism about his skill set translating to the NFL.

Offensive Tackles

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Scouted by Brandon Thorn

    Best Run-Blocker: Ikem Ekwonu

    Best Pass-Blocker: Charles Cross

    Best Zone-Blocker: Ikem Ekwonu

    Most Pro-Ready: Evan Neal

    Most Versatile: Ikem Ekwonu


    1. Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State (9.1)

    2. Evan Neal, Alabama (8.9)

    3. Charles Cross, Mississippi State (8.3)

    4. Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan (7.9)

    5. Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa (7.9)

    6. Daniel Faalele, Minnesota (7.8)

    7. Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State (7.7)

    8. Darian Kinnard, Kentucky (7.5)

    9. Braxton Jones, Southern Utah (7.3)

    10. Max Mitchell, Louisiana (7.2)

    11. Abraham Lucas, Washington State (6.8)

    12. Jaxson Kirkland, Washington (6.7)


    Explain the Grade: Ikem Ekwonu

    Ekwonu has significantly improved his footwork as a pass protector this season to the point that the few losses he experienced are a result of slight oversets rather than a lack of physical ability. With the one possible knock on him out of the way, there is not a more dominant blocker in the country, and it isn't particularly close (watch the Mississippi State film).

    Ekwonu has rare power tenacity and footwork as a run-blocker to thrive in North Carolina State's zone-heavy scheme at nearly 330 pounds, which makes him scheme-proof. With his size, movement skills, and fluidity, he is a weapon in space and has a smooth transition into a stout anchor against the bull rush.

    Ekwonu's desire and ability to bury opponents at all three levels of the field is rivaled over the last half-decade only by the likes of Quenton Nelson. 

Interior Offensive Line

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Scouted by Brandon Thorn 

    Best Run-Blocker: Tyler Linderbaum

    Best Pass-Blocker: Kenyon Green

    Best Zone-Blocker: Tyler Linderbaum

    Most Pro-Ready: Tyler Linderbaum

    Most Versatile: Kenyon Green


    1. Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa (9.0)

    2. Kenyon Green, Texas A&M (8.2)

    3. Zion Johnson, Boston College (7.9)

    4. John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (7.5)

    5. Jamaree Salyer, Georgia (7.4)

    6. Thayer Munford, Ohio State (7.3)

    7. James Empey, BYU (7.3)

    8. Sean Rhyan, UCLA (7.0)


    Explain the Grade: Tyler Linderbaum

    Linderbaum operates in a zone-heavy scheme at Iowa. He has remarkable efficiency on combo blocks and elite-level quickness to reach shades in his sleep, the range to hook 3-techniques and the speed to track targets at the second and third levels.

    Linderbaum is more than a smooth operator in zone concepts, though. He has outstanding explosive power to deliver a jolt on contact, the body control to stay latched onto blocks and an unrelenting motor to finish consistently make him special.

    Linderbaum has also showed adept skills as a pass protector with the use of hands, mobility and alertness to be a force multiplier in protection. 

Defensive Linemen

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    Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Best Nose Tackle: Jordan Davis

    Best Pass-Rusher: Perrion Winfrey

    Best Run-Stopper: Jordan Davis

    Most Versatile: Jordan Davis

    1. Jordan Davis, Georgia (8.9)

    2. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma (7.8)

    3. Tyler Davis, Clemson (7.8)

    4. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M (7.5)

    5. Zachary Carter, Florida (7.4)

    6. Jermayne Lole, Arizona State (7.1)


    Explain the Grade: DeMarvin Leal

    Leal feels like a better prospect in theory than in practice. He's a 6'4", 290-pound former 5-star recruit playing multiple positions (interior defensive line and edge) on an elite defense.

    However, Leal too often gets bullied in the run game for a player his size, which gives me pause that he can hold up as an NFL 3-tech or 5-tech.

    Leal does flash juice as a pass-rusher from time to time, but he comes off as more of a good athlete than a great one. That's disappointing since his NFL position is tough to project and he does not yet show a reliable pass-rushing plan.

    Leal had a chance to show up against Alabama and did not look good despite his team pulling off the upset.


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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen 

    Best Speed Rusher: Kayvon Thibodeaux

    Best Power Rusher: George Karlaftis

    Best Run-Stopper: Aidan Hutchinson

    Most Versatile: George Karlaftis


    1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon (9.4)

    2. George Karlaftis, Purdue (9.1)

    3. Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan (8.9)

    4. Drake Jackson, USC (8.2)

    5. Adam Anderson, Georgia (8.1)

    6. Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati (7.9)

    7. Zach Harrison, Ohio State (7.3)

    8. Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma (7.2)

    9. Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State (7.0)

    10. Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina (7.0)

    11. Jermaine Johnson, Florida State (6.9)


    Explain the Grade: George Karlaftis

    Karlaftis is wicked explosive and has excellent body control for a 6'4", 275-pounder. The way he can turn and bend around the corner is also outrageous for his size.

    Karlaftis' bend may not quite be up to Myles Garrett's level, but it's about as close as you can get. Add all of that on top of his improved run defense and pass-rushing variety over the years, and it's hard not to get excited about his potential as a star edge-rusher. 

    Truth be told, I may give him an even higher grade than this by the time of the draft.


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    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Scouted by Derrik Klassen

    Best Blitzer: Nakobe Dean

    Best Run-Stopper: Nakobe Dean

    Best in Coverage: Brandon Smith

    Most Versatile: Christian Harris


    1. Christian Harris, Alabama (8.5)

    2. Brandon Smith, Penn State (7.8)

    3. Devin Lloyd, Utah (7.8)

    4. Nakobe Dean, Georgia (7.7)

    5. Ventrell Miller, Florida (7.1)

    6. Zakoby McClain, Auburn (6.7)


    Explain the Grade: Nakobe Dean

    Dean's ranking might be a tad low relative to where he will end up since his strengths are clear as day.

    Dean plays with great speed and a head-on-fire demeanor, especially against the run. He is also one of the best blitzers at the position over the past few years.

    With that said, I want to see a bit more from Dean as a coverage player, especially down the field, before bumping him up the board any further. 


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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Scouted by Cory Giddings

    Best in Man Coverage: Derek Stingley Jr.

    Best in Zone Coverage: Trent McDuffie

    Best Slot Corner: Tiawan Mullen

    Most Versatile: Andrew Booth Jr.


    1. Derek Stingley Jr., LSU (8.9)

    2. Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson (8.5)

    3. Martin Emerson, Mississippi State (7.9)

    4. Trent McDuffie, Washington (7.9)

    5. Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati (7.7)

    6. Kaiir Elam, Florida (7.6)

    7. Derion Kendrick, Georgia (7.5)

    8. Mykael Wright, Oregon (7.4)

    9. Josh Jobe, Alabama (7.4)

    10. Tiawan Mullen, Indiana (7.2)


    Explain the Grade: Ahmad Gardner

    Gardner's length and athleticism set him apart from most others in this crop of cornerbacks. He has the speed to open and run with most receivers, too.

    It's no fault of his own, but Gardner rarely sees top talent to push him. Cincinnati plays in a middling conference, and most quarterbacks choose not to throw to his side.

    Gardner's natural skill set makes him a potential starter in the NFL. Depending on how he performs in a potential all-star game and combine, he could vault into the first round. 


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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Scouted by Cory Giddings

    Best in Man Coverage: Jalen Catalon

    Best in Zone Coverage: Demani Richardson

    Best Run-Stopper: Smoke Monday

    Most Versatile: Kyle Hamilton


    1. Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame (8.7)

    2. Jaquan Brisker, Penn State (7.6)

    3. Jalen Catalon, Arkansas (7.3)

    4. Demani Richardson, Texas A&M (7.2)

    5. Jordan Battle, Alabama (7.1)

    6. Daxton Hill, Michigan (7.0)

    7. Smoke Monday, Auburn (6.9)

    8. Bubba Bolden, Miami (6.9)


    Explain the Grade: Kyle Hamilton

    Hamilton has elite athletic traits. With his size (6'4", 220 pounds) and speed, he's able to play at all three levels of the defense. There just aren't many players walking around that look like him.

    Though Hamilton is more than capable of playing deep, he does his best work moving forward and closer to the line of scrimmage. Although he's already graded as an impact player, he still has plenty of room to grow physically and in both the run and pass game. 


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