By Ryan Bickerstaff
Have you heard about how weak the class of 2022 is going to be? Have you also been advised to ignore this one and start looking ahead to 2023 instead? I know I have.
While 2022 may not have 2020’s mass of Pro Bowl-caliber running backs or the “generational” quarterbacks that 2021’s had, it is well-balanced with plenty of talent at all fantasy-relevant positions and particularly strong at wide receiver.
Remember, too, that inevitable breakout stars will emerge to shoot up draft boards like the LSU trio of Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Justin Jefferson in 2019 or Zach Wilson and Javonte Williams in 2020, which will bolster this class even further.
The reality is that the class of 2022 is going to be very good, but given the optics around it right now, it may be easier to acquire draft capital and take advantage of this underrated group than it has been in recent years.
With that in mind, let’s look ahead at the top 20 prospects eligible for the 2022 draft. While this list is not exhaustive, it is the one I’ll largely be pulling from to produce Devy Debrief segments throughout summer and football season, so expect deeper dives on these guys in the future.
Let’s get it.
20 – JT Daniels, QB, R-Junior, Georgia (QB6)
2020: 4 GM, 67.2%, 1231 YD, 10 TD, 2 INT; 10 ATT, -71 YD
As of now, Daniels is a “pretty good,” but not “definitely good,” prospect, though a rise up this list is possible. He’s immobile, perhaps still recovering from a knee injury in 2019, and doesn’t throw with a lot of zip. He throws a catchable ball and makes mostly good decisions, though.
19 – Drake London, WR, Junior, USC (WR9)
2020: 6 GM, 33 REC, 502 YD, 3 TD
London is huge at 6-5, 210 pounds, and a solid athlete, to boot. He is also very strong and uses his size to his advantage. He has great hands and a big catch radius. I am looking forward to seeing his progress this season now that the #1 receiver job is his for the taking.
18 – Desmond Ridder, QB, R-Senior, Cincinnati (QB5)
2020 Stats: 10 GM, 66.2%, 2296 YD, 19 TD, 6 INT; 98 ATT, 592 YD, 12 TD
Ridder is an excellent athlete with decent accuracy and an NFL-caliber arm. At 6-4, 215, he also has good size for the position. He’s the best player on his team and elevates everyone around him. I’m interested to see what he can do when playing with NFL talent.
17 – Jahan Dotson, WR, Senior, Penn State (WR8)
2020: 9 GM, 52 REC, 884 YD, 8 TD
Despite being on the smaller side (5-11, 182), Dotson is aggressive at the point of catch and most often comes down with the ball. PSU has produced several NFL receivers in recent memory; Dotson is closer to Chris Godwin than DaeSean Hamilton.
16 – Eric Gray, RB, Junior, Oklahoma (RB4)
2020: 9 GM, 157 ATT, 772 TD, 4 TD; 30 REC, 254 YD, 2 TD
While he does not possess workhorse size (5-10, 205), Gray looks the part of a solid committee back who’ll be valuable in the running and passing game. He’s an excellent athlete, quick enough to make defenders miss, but runs with enough power to break tackles, too.
15 – John Metchie III, WR, Junior, Alabama (WR7)
2020: 13 GM, 55 REC, 916 YD, 6 TD
Metchie first caught my eye in the 2019 Spring Game. After being buried on the depth chart that year, the Canadian native broke out in 2020 as a dangerous deep threat with the speed to separate. Metchie will become more well-rounded as the #1 target for the Tide in 2021.
14 – David Bell, WR, Junior, Purdue (WR6)
2020: 6 GM, 53 REC, 625 YD, 8 TD
While I question his top-end speed, Bell looks the part of an NFL starter. He’s big (6-2, 205), bright (Academic All-Big Ten), physical, has great hands, and has been very productive. Studious as Bell is, I wonder if he stays in school to finish his degree before going pro.
13 – Kedon Slovis, QB, Junior, USC (QB4)
2020: 6 GM, 67.0%, 1921 YD, 17 TD, 7 INT; 23 ATT, -57 YD
Though Slovis was down in 2020 from a stellar freshman season in 2019, the 6-3, 215-pound passer still has a strong arm with plenty of zip, great accuracy, and mostly good decision-making. A lack of mobility is a concern, however, and it will cap his NFL prospects.
12 – Kevin Harris, RB, Junior, South Carolina (RB3)
2020: 10 GM, 185 ATT, 1138 YD, 15 TD; 21 REC, 159 YD, 1 TD
Harris is a well-rounded runner with prototypical workhorse size (5-10, 225). He has enough speed to break long runs, plays with the physicality to power through defenders to pick up tough yards, and has a finesse aspect to his game, making smooth cuts to navigate traffic.
11 – Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Junior, Texas A&M (TE1)
2020: 10 GM, 46 REC, 506 YD, 6 TD
I watch a lot of SEC football, and in each A&M game I watched, Wydermyer stood out as a massive (6-5, 265), physical, athletic playmaker with good hands and some RAC ability. He can not only go up and get the football but create separation and effectively block.
10 – Justyn Ross, WR, R-Junior, Clemson (WR5)
2020: Missed the season after neck surgery.
At 6-4, 205 pounds, with fantastic hands and contested-catch ability, Ross is a matchup nightmare. If Ross returns to form, he has an argument for WR1 in this class. However, he remains a wildcard since he is not clear at the time of writing.
9 – Treylon Burks, WR, Junior, Arkansas (WR4)
2020: 9 GM, 51 REC, 820 YD, 7 TD; 15 ATT, 75 YD
I’m starting to hear some “Burks is WR1” chatter. I tried to see it but couldn’t. I guess that people see his size (6-3, 225) and think “Julio Jones.” While I see a good player with great hands and deceptive speed, I need to see more before ranking him higher.
8 – Malik Willis, QB, R-Senior, Liberty (QB3)
2020: 10 GM, 64.2%, 2250 YD, 20 TD, 6 INT; 144 ATT, 944 YD, 14 TD
Willis fits the mold of the modern NFL QB perfectly. He’s electric, a threat to make a play with his legs at any time, and can sling it, too, possessing one of the best arms in this class. His ability to throw off-platform and on the run is also impressive.
7 – Chris Olave, WR, Senior, Ohio State (WR3)
2020: 7 GM, 50 REC, 729 YD, 7 TD; 1 ATT, 0 YD
Perhaps the most disrespected player in this year’s class, Olave just does everything well. He’s highly productive, a great route runner with a knack for getting open, and rarely drops a pass. He has some home run ability but is also highly useful in making chain-moving catches.
6 – George Pickens, WR, Junior, Georgia (WR2)
2020: 8 GM, 36 REC, 513 YD, 6 TD
Pickens has that “X” receiver make-up with the size, hands, contested-catch ability, and competitiveness to become a star in the NFL. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL in March, so we won’t see much if any, of him in 2021. Despite the injury, I’m still very bullish on Pickens.
5 – Garrett Wilson, WR, Junior, Ohio State (WR1)
2020: 8 GM, 43 REC, 723 YD, 6 TD; 2 ATT, 67 YD
Wilson’s an explosive athlete with great quickness and RAC ability. His smooth release and advanced route-running skills help him routinely beat defenders. He’s tough as nails, a dangerous vertical threat has fantastic ball skills, and makes highlight-worthy plays look easy.
4 – Isaiah Spiller, RB, Junior, Texas A&M (RB2)
2020: 10 GM, 188 ATT, 1036 YD, 9 TD; 20 REC, 193 YD
If anyone can challenge my #1 running back for the spot, it’s Spiller. Big (6-1, 225), fast, powerful, and productive, Spiller is the total package. He can run through or around you and even has some usefulness in the passing game. This is a future three-down NFL back.
3 – Breece Hall, RB, Junior, Iowa State (RB1)
2020: 12 GM, 279 ATT, 1572 YD, 21 TD; 23 REC, 180 YD, 2 TD
Don’t confuse Hall with David Montgomery just because they went to the same school. Hall is a far better prospect, faster and more explosive, while still bringing a nice power aspect to his game. He has workhorse size at 6-1, 215 pounds, complete with a three-down skill set.
2 – Sam Howell, QB, Junior, North Carolina (QB2)
2020: 12 GM, 68.1%, 3586 YD, 30 TD, 7 INT; 92 ATT, 146 YD, 5 TD; 1 REC, 1 YD, 1 TD
Howell improved on a stellar 2019 season to further cement himself as one of the nation’s best QBs in 2020. He has a big, accurate arm with great zip and a deadly deep ball. Though not a great athlete, he’s mobile enough to evade pressure and pick up occasional yards.
1 – Spencer Rattler, QB, R-Sophomore, Oklahoma (QB1)
2020: 11 GM, 67.5%, 3031 YD, 28 TD, 7 INT; 81 ATT, 160 YD, 6 TD
The most natural thrower of the football in this class, Rattler has the best release of this group, throws with great velocity, and has the arm strength to attack all parts of the field. He won’t kill defenses with his legs, but he’s athletic enough to improvise and extend plays.
And that’ll do it for me here.
Thanks for reading!
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