Former 5-Star Recruits with 1st-Round Potential in 2022 NFL Draft
Although the NFL draft is an iconic part of the sport, the event doubles as a crowning moment for college football recruiting.
Star ratings do not define any individual's career. However, it's undeniable that a 5-star billing is a strong indicator of success. In the 2022 draft alone, a dozen-plus former 5-stars are either Day 1 locks or realistic first-round possibilities.
All of these players are from the 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes—and primarily the latter.
In fact, the 2019 recruiting cycle, which included 34 total 5-stars on the 247Sports composite rankings, features 11 players to watch in the early portion of the 2022 draft. More than 30 percent of the 5-stars may be first-round selections; that percentage is simply impossible to find among 4-stars or below.
More 5-Stars to Know
Draft rankings aren't perfect. While the scouting community does a great job of narrowing the focus on realistic Day 1 possibilities, a few prospects will inevitably be taken substantially higher than the consensus view—and, in this case, move into the opening round.
It only takes one team, right?
Petit-Frere is 92nd on B/R's list but occasionally pops up on first-round mock drafts. Salyer checks in 66th at B/R, while Pickens—who's also 54th on the consensus board—is 39th. Based on the latest updates, Pickens is the most likely to jump.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson is practically a first-round lock.
B/R's Scouting Department pegged the Ohio State wideout at No. 21 overall, and that's even low compared to the consensus board. Wilson, who headed to Columbus ranked 20th nationally in the 2019 class, is viewed as the nation's No. 9 prospect.
Wilson wrapped up his college career with 143 receptions for 2,213 yards and 23 touchdowns. Most notably, each of those totals is a top-10 mark in program history.
All three offensive linemen were both members of the 2019 recruiting cycle and played at SEC schools. Neal (No. 7) headed to Alabama, while Green (No. 15) and Cross (No. 27) chose in-state programs Texas A&M and Mississippi State, respectively.
Neal remains the headliner of the group, ranking second at B/R and second on the consensus list. Cross (13th and eighth) has overtaken Green (40th and 27th).
Green may slip into the second round, but Neal is a likely top-five pick and Cross probably won't last long.
No matter if he's selected No. 1 overall, Kayvon Thibodeaux has a claim to being the most talented player in the 2022 draft class. The high billing is nothing new to Thibodeaux, the No. 2 prospect of the 2019 recruiting cycle who starred at Oregon.
Georgia lineman Travon Walker (No. 22 in 2019) may join Thibodeaux as an early selection. Although B/R's crew has Walker as the 26th-best prospect, he lands at No. 5 on the consensus board.
The final defensive lineman is an intriguing one.
DeMarvin Leal (No. 16 in 2019) opened the 2021 season with top-10 upside. He's dropped to No. 69 at B/R and No. 47 on the consensus list, but Leal is still popping up in Day 1 mocks.
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd may be the first player selected at the position, but Nakobe Dean is the prime competition.
After managing 25 tackles in his freshman year, Dean became a core piece of two elite defenses. He paced Georgia with 71 tackles in 2020 and collected 72 stops with 10.5 for loss and six sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles last season.
Dean certainly lived up to his ranking as the No. 19 recruit in 2019. He's aiming to accomplish the same in the pros, nearing the NFL draft at No. 22 for B/R and No. 26 on the consensus chart.
Three years removed from the 2019 recruiting class, the tiers haven't changed much for this trifecta of defensive backs.
Derek Stingley Jr. stood as the elite prospect, ranking No. 3 nationally before a respectable career at LSU. Injuries held him back after an All-American freshman year, but he's still a top-10 prospect for B/R's Scouting Department and the consensus board.
In 2019, Michigan safety Daxton Hill and Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. checked in 14th and 23rd, respectively. Hill is substantially lower at B/R (No. 93) than the average view (No. 31), though Booth is nearly dead-on comparatively. He's 25th for B/R's crew and 24th on the consensus list.
Stingley will be a first-round selection. It's plausible that neither, either or both Hill and Booth follow suit.