The 2022 NFL Draft features an unprecedented crop of Non-FBS prospects. There are a handful of players competing to hear their name called within the first two days of the draft, but a the third day is going to be littered with these small-school standouts. In this article I highlight my seven favorite prospects that come from outside the FBS, and a list of every player with a draft grade that fits that criteria. Here we go!
Seven Top Non-FBS Options in the 2022 NFL Draft
1. Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Draft Grade: First Round
When the offseason started, Christian Watson was regularly found falling to day three of many mock drafts, even after serving as the No.1 wide receiver for Trey Lance in 2019. This all began to change once Senior Bowl week rolled around. He showed up to Mobile possessing a prototypical frame for a wide receiver in the NFL. Watson stands at an impressive 6’5 and 208 pounds, but the most incredible part of his athletic profile is that he runs a 4.36 40-yard dash at that size! He excelled in one-on-one drills, showing a much more refined release and a surprisingly advanced route tree. Watson uses a rare blend of size and speed to create after the catch, something that he will be able to make a living off of at the next level.
2. Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa
Draft Grade: Fringe First Round
Trevor Penning first landed on my radar last offseason during my evaluation of his former UNI teammate, Spencer Brown. He was a favorite sleeper of mine, and eventually went to the Buffalo Bills in round three. Even with how much I liked Brown, I constantly found myself locked in on Penning. He has that kinda of presence about him, you can even feel it through the screen. Penning showed up to the Senior Bowl with a nastiness that, quite frankly, I’ve never witnessed before. He took every rep as if it was the final snap of the Super Bowl, constantly playing through the whistle and a few times getting under his assignments’ skin. This didn’t make him any friends, but it sure made him a lot of money. He needs to develop more in pass protection but Penning will be a top-tier run blocker immediately upon arrival.