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NFL Draft 2022: Final Positional Rankings

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

NFL Draft 2022: Final Positional Rankings

Written By: Aaron Ussery


It's nearly here, folks! We have 10 days until night one of the 2022 NFL Draft. At this point, teams have finalized their big boards and narrowed down their preferences - and I've done the same. Below I'll share my final top five rankings for each position group.

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QB


1) Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

2) Malik Willis, Liberty

3) Carson Strong, Nevada

4) Matt Corral, Ole Miss

5) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh


- I believe in Desmond Ridder as a Day 1 starter more than any other QB in this class. He has the poise, experience, athleticism, and arm strength to elevate several team's QB situations right off the bat.

- Malik Willis still has the highest physical ceiling in this class due to his arm strength and mobility, but I am slightly more concerned about his accuracy and mechanics than I am Ridder's.

- Strong is a guy I've come around on quite a bit over the last several weeks. I initially knocked him for statue-esque feet and general injury concerns, but after learning more about the nature of his knee troubles and how they limited him I'm curious to see what can happen with him if he gets a year to rehab and take mental reps. He has some throws on tape that outclass even those showcased by Ridder and Willis.

- I think Corral and Pickett both have a chance to be low-end starters but high-value backups, similar to what we've seen from the likes of Mitchell Trubisky and Teddy Bridgewater.

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RB


1) Kenneth Walker, Michigan State

2) Breece Hall, Iowa

3) Dameon Pierce, Florida

4) James Cook, Georgia

5) Pierre Strong, South Dakota State


- Walker and Hall both tested much better athletically than I expected. I still am not sure I always see that level of speed and explosiveness on tape for them, and I still wish they both had shown more as pass blockers and receivers out of the backfield, but each possesses enough savvy as a pure runner to be worthy of a high Day 2 pick in my opinion. Walker edges out Hall for me due to having much less tread on his tires (480 carries in college as opposed to Halls 718).

- Pierce is exactly what an NFL running back should look like. He has a compact bowling ball frame, and possesses the best contact balance in the class. He isn't the explosive athlete that Walker or Hall are, but he brings more value on passing downs due to his elite prowess as a blocker. He projects as a physical, downhill type of runner - similar to Frank Gore - but luckily comes into the league with only 329 carries in college.

- James Cook is my favorite pass catching back in this class. I don't know that he has the frame or contact balance to project as a true every-down runner, but what he brings when catching out of the backfield and working in space is very exciting. It also helps to see such a small number of career fumbles despite his smaller size.

- Pierre Strong will need to go to the correct team (ideally someone who runs lots of Shanahan-type outside zone), but if he does I think he's got a chance to be the most productive runner from this class early on in his career. He's undersized, but possesses ELITE speed that reminds me of Eli Mitchell from last year's class. I wavered a bit on ranking him ahead of guys like Isaiah Spiller, Rachaad White, and Tyler Allgeier - but I see such a clear path to success for him that ultimately I decided to give him the nudge.

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WR


1) George Pickens, Georgia

2) Chris Olave, Ohio State

3) Jameson Williams, Alabama

4) Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

5) Drake London, USC


- Sorting through these receivers all offseason has been a nightmare, but in the end I've decided on Pickens as my personal number one. I know he won't be the first one taken, but I don't care. His tape leaves me grinning like an idiot. He plays with a different level of physicality than guys like Olave and Wilson, but is every bit the athlete they are. I also think he has the most versatility of any pass catcher in the class as well. He can win in the slot with quickness, out wide with deep speed, and in the red zone as a 50-50 ball-winner due to his height and junkyard dog mentality. Him missing the 2021 season with an injury has made people forget about him, but I think he'll quickly make us all remember exactly who he is in 2022.

- Olave and Williams rank number two and three for me because I think each possesses some elite separation ability and great deep speed. Those are both traits that translate immediately in the league, and should allow both to produce once they hit they field. Olave outranks Williams to me due to the latter's knee injury that will likely cause him to miss training camp and likely the first month or so of his rookie season.

- Wilson doesn't have the same route-refinement that Olave possesses, nor does his deep speed match that of Williams, but he does appear to have more sudden, violent quickness on tape than either of them. What keeps him below them, however, is an issue with drops. He left a lot of very easy catches out on the field, which was frustrating since he's so good with the ball in his hands. In general, his game lacks focus and discipline and he'll need to refine some things. He, Olave, and Williams are also lacking in terms of play strength, which leaves me a bit concerned about what they can offer as ball-winners and blockers at the next level.

- London rounds out my top five. He's a much different player than Olave, Williams, or Wilson - dwarfing them in size and playing with a much meaner attitude. He doesn't run terribly crisp routes, and I'm wary of his speed after he chose to avoid running the 40 at all during the scouting process. There have been a lot of "possession only" receiver types who have quickly washed out of the league in recent years because they simply couldn't win with size and physicality at the same rate they did in college, but I think London shows better playmaking instincts and lower body fluidity than guys like N'Keal Harry or JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He's also absolutely lethal out of the slot, which you almost never can say about 6'4" 220lb receivers.

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TE


1) Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State

2) Greg Dulcich, UCLA

3) Trey McBride, Colorado State

4) Jelani Woods, Virginia

5) Cade Otton, Washington


- Ruckert is a notch above the others in my TE rankings due to what I perceive as untapped pass catching potential mixed with elite blocking traits. He has some absolutely devastating blocks on tape, against some high profile pass rushers as well (certain reps against guys like David Ojabo and Arnold Ebiketie will leave you chuckling). His production was limited in Ohio State, but that's easy to understand when you look at that receiver room. He plays with the type of will you want to see from your true Y tight ends, and reminds me of Pat Freiermuth from last year's class.

- Dulcich is easy to get excited about. He's likely the best "pure receiver" tight end prospect in the class. He can operate inline and kill defenses with his ability to win at the top of routes when working in the seams, and can also dominate as a "power slot" type similar to Mike Gesicki or Mark Andrews. He doesn't offer much as a blocker, but can be a terror as a mismatch weapon.

- McBride and Otton both project as prototypical Y tight ends with a bit less physicality than what is displayed by Ruckert. I think both can win as possession receiving threats, with limited upside after the catch. Otton is also down the board a bit further for me do to his nagging ankle issues.

- Jelani Woods is a complete physical projection, but it's hard not to get excited when you look at his measurables. He stands 6'7" and weighs 255 lbs, and showed great athleticism for that frame during testing. His body control when the ball is in the air is likely his best trait. He projects to me as a Y tight end, but has some good blocking upside and experience after playing an H-Back type role during his time at Oklahoma State (he transferred to Virginia in 2021).

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OT


1) Evan Neal, Alabama

2) Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

3) Charles Cross, Mississippi State

4) Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

5) Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan


- In the end, Evan Neal has stuck to the top of my rankings over Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross. I think he possesses the ideal blend of size, power, length, and bend. He doesn't have the agility when moving laterally that Ekwonu and Cross possess, but I'm less concerned about that than I am with the drawbacks those two players come with. Neal is going to be a very solid left tackle in the NFL due to just how difficult it will be to go either through or around him. He plays measured, focused, and with excellent discipline (he had only one penalty called on him in all of 2021).

- Ekwonu is the best run blocking player in this class, whether that be amongst tackles or interior players. He finishes every single play with violent passion, which coaches obviously love. His main drawback is sloppiness in his pass sets, which could actually mean he needs to be kicked inside to guard if he can't clean things up out there. If that does happen, I think he'll be fantastic there - but coaches will likely want to fail him outside first, which could mean his career gets off to a rocky start.

- Cross is a better pass blocker than either Neal or Ekwonu, but doesn't have the same type of mass or play strength. Adding good mass will be crucial for him, as he'll be susceptible to the bull rush and won't offer plus-level play when run blocking until he does. If he can do that, however, then watch out. He's already so good with his pass blocking technique that some added functional strength might just make him the best overall tackle in the class when its all said and done.

- Trevor Penning has a reputation as a nasty player, but it unfortunately can sometimes come after the whistle -- and after he's lost the rep. He has the size, length, attitude, and agility of a starting tackle, but his fundamentals are a mess. He needs to focus more on the mechanics of his game, and less on trying to bully his opponents into submission -- which won't be as effective in the NFL as it was in Division-II college football.

- Raimann is a bit similar to Cross, in that he offers plus-level balance and fluidity in his pass sets. What he lacks is the same lateral agility, and still doesn't quite have the level of play strength you want to see. To make things more complicated, he'll turn 25 during the season -- making him very old by NFL rookie standards.