2022 NFL Draft Notebook: Kyle Hamilton leads January big board

2022 NFL mock draft, Kyle Hamilton, 2022 NFL Draft prospect
2022 NFL mock draft, Kyle Hamilton, 2022 NFL Draft prospect /

The 2022 NFL Draft class might lack the true superstar like we saw in last year’s draft when the Jacksonville Jaguars took Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, it does have several talented prospects led by Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, who is one of the best safeties to come out in college in recent memory.

This year’s draft class also features several outstanding prospects in the trenches with three of the top five plays on this month’s big board being offensive or defensive linemen.

In addition to taking a look at the top-25 players in this year’s draft this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also takes a look at the following

  • The top needs for each NFC North team
  • Top fullbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft
  • A couple of prospects taking part in the Hula Bowl
  • And more

January Big Board

1. Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
While it would be a shock if Hamilton went number one overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, based strictly on the talent he is the best prospect in this year’s draft. Hamilton has everything you want in a safety including outstanding size, great range and the physicality to come down and support the run.

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Even though Aidan Hutchinson is being projected by most analysts as the top defensive end in the draft, look for Kayvon Thibodeaux to end up being the best edge rusher in this years class. What makes him the top pass rusher in the 2022 NFL Draft is his rare combination of length and explosion which has allowed him to account for 19 sacks over the past three seasons.

3. Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The top offensive player in the 2022 NFL Draft is Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. Neal is a prospect who has a rare combination of outstanding size, elite testing numbers and dominant game film. Coming in at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds he is one of the bigger players in this years class. For someone his size he moves extremely well posting a 48-inch vertical jump to go along with his 475-pound bench press and 650-pound squat. On the field he shows the power to drive his defender off the ball and also the mobility to easily get to the second level.

4. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
One of the riskest prospects on this list is LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. What makes Stingly a risky prospect is his injury history and the fact his best season was his freshman season. With that being said though Stingly is a long athletic cornerback who has the ability to shut down the top receivers he will see in the NFL.

5. Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
A player who flew up the draft board this year is Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross. Last season, Cross was a player who showed good potential but would get beat at times allowing 44 pressures on 574 pass-blocking snaps. However, this season Cross has established himself as one of the best pass blocking tackles in college football having only allowed 16 pressures this season on 719 pass-blocking snaps according to Pro Football Focus.

6. Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson is seeing his stock fall some after he struggled against Georgia in the Orange Bowl. In this game, he was overpowered at the point of attack several times and was not much of a pass-rushing threat. Despite his average performance in this game though he still is a top ten player in the 2022 NFL Draft due to his ability to turn the corner when rushing the passer and outstanding motor.

7. George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Purdue’s George Karlaftis is a big physical defensive end who can play a variety of roles in the NFL. He has the power and overall strength to be 3-4 defensive end or fill a role as a pass rushing defensive tackle. He also has the quickness off the edge to be your traditional 4-3 defensive end.

8. Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
You don’t often see a center rated this high but you also don’t often see a center with Tyler Linderbaum’s talent. Linderbaum is a smart athletic center who would be the ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme.

9. Devin Lloyd, MLB, Utah
One of the best cover linebackers to come out of college recently is Utah’s Devin Lloyd. This season Lloyd record four interceptions and took two of these picks back for touchdowns. He also holds up vs. the run and can get after the passer as well. Lloyd is a player who should fit perfectly in the pass happy NFL.

10. Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
Going into the 2021 season North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu was named one of NFL Draft Notebook’s sleepers of the week, well after an impressive year teams are no longer sleeping on him. The area Ekwonu has improved on the most this season is pass blocking as he was already regarded as one of the best run blockers in college football going into the season.

11. David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
Another player who continues to fly up the draft board is Michigan’s David Ojabo. Going into this season Ojabo had only played 26 snaps and recorded one tackle. However, this season he became one of the most feared pass rushers in college football recording 11 sacks on the year. One trait that makes him such a feared pass rusher is his excellent burst off the ball.

12. Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Like his former teammate Jameson Williams, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson is another big play wide receiver. This season Wilson caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns. Look for Wilson to establish himself as one of the better NFL slot receivers over the next couple of seasons.


13. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The top quarterback on the board currently is Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett which is saying something for someone who started the season off with a seventh-round grade. The reason he saw his stock skyrocket this year is his unbelievable production having thrown for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns this season. Along with his production scouts also like the toughness, accuracy, and pocket presence Picket shows.

14. Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Teams looking for a big physical corner will love what they see in Florida’s Kaiir Elam. However, if Elam is to live up to his potential as a press corner in the NFL he will need to clean up his technique especially when it comes to grabbing wide receivers and be more willing to support the run.

15. Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is in a race to be the top quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, and if he has an impressive pro day he easily could be the first quarterback selected. Three things NFL teams will love about Corral is his ability to create plays, his accuracy, and how competitive he is.

16. Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Two stats stand out when looking at Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner with the first one being that he never allowed a single touchdown reception in his college carrer. The second one is that he held the number one receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft Jameson Williams to one catch for negative two yards in the Cotton Bowl.

17. Demarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
Another position that has a close race for the top spot in the 2022 NFL Draft is defensive tackle. The two players battling to be the top defensive tackle are Texas A&M’s Demarvin Leal and Georgia’s Jordan Davis. The reason Leal has a slight edge over Davis is that he is a more versatile player who is a much better pass rusher having recorded 8.5 sacks this season.

18. Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
While Leal is a better pass rusher than Davis there is no doubt the better prospect vs the run is Davis. For a player 6-foot-6 and 340-pounds, he shows impressive range when it comes to making the tackle and his size also makes him almost impossible to move off the line of scrimmage.

19. Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Ohio State’s Chris Olave is the most polished wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft, and plays a similar style of football to DeVonta Smith. One concern with Olave which is a similar concern scouts had with Smith is that he is not overly physical.

20. Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
A prospect who carries a second-round grade with most draftniks yet is one of my top 25 players is Michigan’s Daxton Hill. The reason I am so high on Hill is his cover skills as he displays great range, impressive speed and the ball skills to develop into one of the better free safeties in the NFL.

21. Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
One of the better ballhawks in this years draft class is Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth. In 2021 he came away with three interceptions and five pass deflections which are pretty impressive numbers for a corner most teams throw away from. One thing he does need to work on though is not taking so many chances in coverage which can lead to him getting beat.

22. Drake London, WR, USC
The only reason USC’s Drake London is rated so low is due to a broken ankle he suffered in the eight game of the season. Before this injury London was one of the most productive receivers in college football catching 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns which is one of the reasons he was my top-rated wide receiver before this injury.

23. Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Going into the National Championship game Alabama’s Jameson Williams was rated the top wide receiver and the tenth best player in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, that all changed when he went down with a knee injury in the second quarter. This injury will likely see his stock go from a high first-round pick to a possible late first-rounder to even second-round selection.

24. Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The third and final quarterback to earn a first-round draft grade is Liberty’s Malik Willis. While Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral are your more traditional pocket passers, Willis is more of an athlete who plays quarterback. He is still developing as a passer and needs to work on his reads before earning a starting spot in the NFL. Despite his struggles as a passer though his overall athletic ability and rocket for an arm are worth a first-round pick.

25. Nakobe Dean, MLB, Georgia
The leader of the Bulldogs defense is middle linebacker Nakobe Dean who is also one of the best linebackers in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Dean can make an impact in both the passing game and as a run defender he does have two things that will push him to the end of the first round. One of these is that he is only 6-foot tall and the other being that he is somewhat of a stiff athlete.

2022 NFL Draft Fullback Rankings

Fullbacks with draftable grades

Jeremiah Hall, Oklahoma
Going into the 2021 season Jeremiah Hall was rated as the top fullback in the 2022 NFL Draft which is a spot he still holds. What stands out with Hall is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and run block. This past season he had a carrer high 32 receptions for 324 yards and also rushed the ball six times for 25 yards. As a blocker he does a great job of sticking on his blocks and taking good angels. Why very few fullbacks get drafted it would not be a shock if some team took him in the sixth round.

Abram Smith, Baylor
A player who had a breakout season this year is Baylor’s Abram Smith. Last, season Smith saw most of his time at linebacker recording 48 tackles but this spring he was moved to running back where he excelled. This season he broke the Baylor single-season rushing record with 1,601 yards and also accounted for 12 rushing touchdowns. While Smith played running back at Baylor his best position in the NFL will likely be a fullback due to his lack of speed.

Zander Horvath, Purdue
Despite having a disappointing 2021 season Purdue’s Zander Horvath still carries a seventh-round draft grade. The main reason he saw his production drop this year is that he broke his fibula in the second game of the season. This injury kept him out of action for a month and a half and slowed him down once he returned this season. As an NFL Draft prospect, Horvath shows the physical running style that could make him an ideal short-yardage back and he also has the hands to catch the ball coming out of the backfield.

Best of the rest
John Chenal, Wisconsin (free agent)
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Maryland (free agent)
Clint Ratkovich, Northern Illinois (free agent)

2022 NFL Draft Top Needs For NFC North Teams

A look at the biggest offseason need for each NFC North team

Chicago Bears
The biggest need for the Chicago Bears is wide receiver. This is a need for several reasons with the first being that the team only has one wide receiver Darnell Mooney under contract for next season. The team has also seen little production from it’s other receivers this year, and if Justin Fields is going to live up to his potential he will need some better targets to throw to.

Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have several needs heading into the offseason, but one of the biggest areas they must address is wide receiver. Outside of rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown the Lions have seen very little production from this position with Kalif Raymond being the second leading receiver with only 48 receptions on the season. Unfortunately, for the Lions there is no true number one receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft so it would not be a surprise if Detroit addressed this need in free agency.

Green Bay Packers
Unlike the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers don’t have a lot of offseason needs. However, like these teams, the Packers biggest concern is at wide receiver. This position is a concern since Davante Adams is scheduled to be a free agent and if he escapes town this offseason the team will have to find a receiver to replace him.

Minnesota Vikings
The downfall for the Minnesota Vikings this season has been its defense which ranks 30th in the NFL. The Vikings need to upgrade at both the cornerback and defensive tackle position, but since two of the team’s, top three corners will be free agents this season corner has to be ranked as their biggest need going into the offseason.

Scouting Notes

— One of the more underrated running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft is Sincere McCormick of UTSA. This past season McCormick rushed for 1,479 yards and 15 touchdowns while hauling in 22 receptions. When looking at how McCormicks skillset translates to the NFL he has several things working in his favor. One of these is his powerful running style. He does a great job of keeping his feet moving on contact and shows the balance to bounce off tackles. Another positive thing with this prospect is he shows the soft hands to catch the ball out of the backfield and is also agile enough to come up with the tough reception. It would not be a surprise if McComrick is drafted late in the 2022 NFL Draft, yet is able to rush for close to 500 yards next season.

— Team’s looking to upgrade it’s return game will have a strong interest in Utah’s Britain Covey. Covey has been one of the best return men in college football the past few seasons being named All-Pac-12 in 2018, 2020, and 2021 as a return man. Overall, during his college career he has returned four punts for touchdowns and has averaged 12 yards per punt return. Two things NFL teams will definitely take into account before adding him as an undrafted free agent though is his size and age. Covey comes in at only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds which makes him one of the smaller prospects in this years draft. He also is one of the older player having served a two year church mission in Chile after his freshman season in college.

— A prospect to watch in this weekend’s Hula Bowl is UNI wide receiver Isaiah Weston. What stands out about Weston is his playmaking ability. This past season he averaged 23.9 yards per catch on 37 catches and has averaged over 20 yards per catch each year of his college career. In addition to his ability to make plays downfield Weston also has intriguing size coming in at 6-foot-4.

— On the defensive side of the ball a player to watch at the Hula Bowl is defensive tackle Mike Greene of James Madison. Over the past two seasons, Greene has accounted for 22.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. While Greene might not have the testing numbers to be a draft pick in the 2022 NFL Draft he is someone who could surprise people once he gets to an NFL training camp.

— A player who has seen his stock fall the past two seasons is Clemson’s Justyn Ross. The main reason he has gone from a mid-first round pick to a player who carries a third round grade is his injury history. This season he battled a foot injury which resulted in season ending surgery after the tenth game of the season. He also missed all of 2020 due to a neck injury. If a team takes him earlier than the third round they will likely be going off the potential he showed in 2018 when he avereaged 21.7 yards per catch on 46 receptions while scoring nine touchdowns.

Quote of the Week

“D’Vonte Price has as good of vision and natural running ability as all of the great backs I’ve been around, the (Emmitt) Smith’s, Edgerrin (James), Clinton Portis’,”

–Former FIU coach Butch Davis, per Underdog Dynasty, on FIU running back D’Vonte Price