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NFL

Getting to know the top 10 NFL draft prospects

In the 2022 NFL draft, there’s not a lot of quarterbacks who really stand out. So who are the players we’ll be seeing go at the top of the draft this year?

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

This year’s number one overall NFL draft pick is still a big question mark. The No. 1 pick will go to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the second year in a row, and it’s unclear which direction they’ll go. After the Jaguars is the Lions, Texans, and then Jets.

There are eight teams (Lions, Texans, Jets, Giants, Eagles, Saints, Packers, and Chiefs) which will get two first-round picks and eight teams (Bears, Broncos, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Raiders, Rams, 49ers) which will not get a first-round pick at all.

The draft will begin on Thursday, April 28 and end on Saturday, April 30.

It’s a bit of a crazy draft this year, so the order these NFL prospects are in could fluctuate, but here’s a look at the 10 likely to go in the top.

1. Aidan Hutchinson - EDGE - Michigan

36 Solos, 14 Sacks, 2 FFs, 0 INTs

NFL Combine results: 40-yard dash: 4.74; Vertical Jump: 36; Board Jump: 117; 3 Cone Drill: 6.73; 20-yard shuttle: 4.15

A strong and versatile player, Hutchinson played in all 13 games for Michigan as a true freshman with 15 tackles on the season. In his sophomore year, he didn’t miss a single start either, bagging 68 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In 2020, he was injured after three games and out for the rest of the season. He was back in action for his senior year and set a single-season sack record with 14. He was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, which is extremely rare for a defensive player.

2. Kyle Hamilton - Safety - Notre Dame

19 Solos, 0 FFs, 3 INTs, 4 PDs

NFL Combine results: 40-yard dash: 4.59; Vertical Jump: 38; Board Jump: 131; 3 Cone Drill: 6.9; 20-yard shuttle: 4.32

Hamilton is an extremely impactful player, leading Notre Dame in interceptions despite missing half the year. He’s an extremely versatile player who has speed and strength which help him play near the line, but also can defend against even the best tight ends.

3. Ikem “Icky” Ekwonu - Offensive Tackle - NC State

NFL Combine results: 40-tard Dash: 4.93, Vertical Jump: 29, Broad Jump: 108, 3 Cone Drill: 7.82. 20-yard Shuttle: 4.73

“Whoever is in front of me, I just want to bury him.” That’s Icky in a nutshell. A jolly guy off the field, Ekwonu transforms on the field and is fully focused on the objective. He’s effective in the run game due to his quickness and strength. He’s proven he can intimidate his opponents and is solid at left tackle.

4. Evan Neal - Offensive Tackle - Alabama

College Combine Workout Stats: 40-yard dash: 5.60; Vertical Jump: 22.70; Shuttle: 5.50; Power Throw: 47.50

Big and athletic, Neal is 6′7″ and weighs 350 pounds. He started all 13 games in 2019 as a freshman at Alabama and then moved to right tackle in 2020. He started all 13 games again, leading the offense to the CFP National Championship. In his last season, he was captain of the team and started 15 games at left tackle. A technical player, he plays with good control and intelligence of the game.

5. Kayvon Thibodeaux - EDGE - Oregon

35 Solos, 7 Sacks, 2 FFs, 0 INTs

NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.58; Bench Press: 27

In his freshman year at Oregon, Thibodeaux had 14 tackles for losses, nine sacks, three pass breakups and one blocked kick in 15 games with five starts. He continued the trend in his sophomore year, leading the team with 9.5 tackles for losses and three sacks in seven starts. It’s his speed that allows him to get those tackles for losses and power that will keep the pressure coming.

6. Derek Stingley Jr. - Cornerback - LSU

6 Solos, 1 FF, 0 INTs, 0 PDs

College Combine Workout Stats: 40-yard dash: 4.30; Vertical Jump: 42; Shuttle: 4.28; Power Throw: 43.50

Stingley has speed and length, which allows him to get the coverage over his opponents. He had six interceptions his freshman year at LSU. He is technical and savvy in the zone coverage and has the speed and explosiveness to make him a standout player. The concern with him is whether or not he can stay healthy. He played in just 10 games in the last two years. When healthy, he’s potentially a top five corner.

7. Travon Walker - EDGE - Georgia

19 Solos, 6 Sacks, 0 FFs, 0 INTs

NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.51; Vertical Jump: 35.5; Broad Jump: 123; 3 Cone Drill: 6.89; 20-yard Shuttle: 4.32

Walker is a defender who can stop the run and take control of the attack with his aggression and strength. He has the speed to make plays near the gaps and the versatility to play at multiple spots up front.

8. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner - Cornerback - Cincinnati

28 Solos, 1 FF, 3 INTs, 4 PDs

NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.41

“Sauce” did not allow a single touchdown in his last season with Cincinnati or a single receiving touchdown throughout his three years there. He is agile and quick which helps him cover effectively. In man-to-man coverage, Gardner stays focused and puts the pressure on.

9. Jermaine Johnson II - EDGE - Florida State

34 Solos, 12 Sacks, 2 FFs, 0 INTs

NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.58; Vertical Jump: 32; Broad Jump: 125

Johnson was tied for eighth ranked nationally with 18 tackles for losses and 12 sacks among 70 stops with two pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 12 starts after his last year with Florida State. He has good instincts, strength, and athletic ability, and the potential to improve in the pass rush.

10. Charles Cross - Offensive Tackle - Mississippi State

NFL Combine Results: 40-yard dash: 4.95; Vertical Jump: 26; Broad Jump: 112; 3 Cone Drill: 7.88; 20-yard Shuttle: 4.61

Cross’ consistency and strength are what stand out. He uses his length and footwork to recover when he doesn’t get the blocks. He has strong hands and has been well-educated in hand placement, sticking to his targets in the sustain phase.

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