Early Look at the Top 20 NFL Eligible College Soccer Players Taking to the Field in 2022

The deadline for college football players to sign up for the 2022 NFL Draft has passed, meaning anyone who hasn’t declared themselves will be returning for at least one more season before potentially making the jump next year.

But what about the players who weren’t eligible to sign up for the 2022 draft but have the option next year? Some of the biggest names in college football last season were ineligible for the draw because of the NFL rule that you must be at least three years away from high school before making a statement. With players more physically ready to compete at a younger age than in the past, we’re seeing more early statements every season, and today we rank the top 20 players in college football who will qualify for draft for the first time after the 2022 season.

Please note that these rankings are not scientific. They’re not based on how NFL teams will see them as prospects, nor are they based on who needs to. better. All 20 are great. Therefore, in a year’s time they will face a difficult decision.

1. Bryce Young, QB, Alabama: All Young did in his first year as an Alabama starting quarterback was win a Heisman Trophy and lead the Crimson Tide to an SEC championship, racking up 4,872 yards and 47 touchdowns. He will go into the 2022 season as the favorite to win as the Heisman winner, leading the team favorite to win the national title. Oh, and he’ll also be hyped as a possible #1 overall pick.

2. CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State: Stroud will be next to Young as far as the NFL Draft analysts are concerned as they will be debating who is the best future professional. While Stroud didn’t win the Heisman or the Big Ten, he did finish second nationally in passing efficiency while throwing for 4,435 yards and 44 touchdowns. He will be back at the helm of one of the most prolific offenses in the country next season, and he should continue to post monster numbers.

3. Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama: While he was not selected as the defensive lineman to serve as Heisman finalist — that was Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson — many will tell you that Anderson was the best defensive player in the country. Some may tell you that if he qualified, he would be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 Draft. No matter what anyone tells you, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with, finishing as the nation’s leader in sacks (17.5) and tackles for loss (34.5) while finishing a total of 102 tackles. He will be in the conversation as the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft.

Will Anderson could make a strong case as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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4. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State: If the Rose Bowl was your introduction to Smith-Njigba — welcome! He won’t catch 15 passes for 347 yards in every game, but the fact that he did on New Year’s Day wasn’t a huge surprise to those who had seen him before. In a team full of NFL receivers — Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave both made it to the first round this spring — JSN was the most talented. He led the team in hosting and will be the favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award next season. He will be seen by many NFL teams as the best receiver on the board.

5. Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia: The national champions had more talent in defense than should reasonably be allowed. Jordan Davis got votes from Heisman for his ability to knock out an opponent’s hasty attack, but he probably wasn’t even the best player in Georgia’s defensive line. That honor goes to Carter, who will be one of the few remnants of Georgia’s national title-winning defense.

6. Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia: Ringo is another holdover from that defense in Georgia. You may remember him as the man who took the title six against Alabama, showing us how big a vertical Georgia coach Kirby Smart has. That was the game most people will remember, but Ringo was fantastic for the Dawgs the entire game – and all season. Corners like Ringo become more important every year and any defense that has one is off to a good start.

7. Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama: The rich get richer. Ricks was one of the most talented corners in the country last season and now he has been transferred to Alabama after starting his career with LSU. Adding an almost ready-to-use future pro to your depth chart should be fun. Ricks missed LSU’s last seven games, but had an outstanding season in 2020 and is extremely talented.

8. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas: If a running back wins the Heisman in 2022, it will be Robinson. The former five-star recruit deserved those five stars for all the reasons he’s displayed on the field when he racked up 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games last season. He is also a threat in the passing game, catching 26 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

9. Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss: Evans is well traveled and very talented. Evans played for TCU in 2021, rushing for 648 yards and five touchdowns in six games. He is now bringing his talents to the SEC, where he will play for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss. He’s the kind of major threat that should thrive in the rebel attack.

10. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame: Every foul in the country wants a matchup nightmare at the tight end – someone who can block in the run game, but is also quick and athletic enough to beat linebackers, safeties and corners in the passing game alike. Meet Mayer. He was touched by the Baby Gronk label, like so many young tight ends, but Mayer has the potential to make it happen. The 6-foot-5, 251-pound behemoth caught 71 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Michael Mayer would be a welcome addition to any NFL striker looking for a playmaker on the tight end.

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11. Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah: The former four-star recruit was a big win for coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes on the recruiting trail, and it’s paid off ever since. Phillips’ ability to cover and help against the run was a big part of Utah’s overall success, and it will continue to be one reason NFL teams will consider him a potential No. 1 next-level corner.

12. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama: Gibbs is Alabama’s fourth player on this list, and he’s the second not to play for the Crimson Tide last season! Gibbs was one of the big early recruiting wins for Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech, but he’s decided that moving to Alabama to replace Brian Robinson is the smartest thing to do. I don’t blame him. Gibbs will provide Alabama with yet another useful weapon on offense for at least one more season, and he’s poised to become nationally relevant next year.

13. Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson: Brent Venables may have left Clemson, but a few of the monsters he helped create remain on the defensive line. Murphy was a bright spot in a bad year for the Tigers in 2021, finishing with seven sacks, 14 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. He is a disruptive force that will be the first round next year.

14. Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson: From a pure talent perspective, I would have ranked Bresee above teammate Myles Murphy and much closer to the top five on this list. There is a reason why Bresee was rated as the No. 1 prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. Sadly, Bresee only played four games this year before tearing his ACL. While I am sure he will return at full strength and live in the opposing backfields again in 2022, I am more cautious with this ranking based on the injury. But seriously, he’s a monster and one of my favorite players to watch.

15. Jordan Addison, WR, Pitt: Kenny Pickett is gone, but Addison will return to the Panthers next season. That’s excellent news for Pitt, as Addison sometimes felt like the whole team attack in 2021. Not only did he lead the team with 1,593 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns, but he is also a threat in the run-game and special teams. Addison is the kind of jack-of-all-trades that you know will somehow end up with the Kansas City Chiefs.

16. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami: Van Dyke was a latecomer to the 2021 season, as he didn’t take over the base job at Miami until the end of September. But he took the job and ran with it, finishing with 2,931 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, getting better as he got more comfortable on offense. While he will have to learn another strike in 2022, Van Dyke is one of the many reasons Miami fans will be coming in with confidence next season, and he could be making his way into the top draft pick.

17. Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M: Achane is one of those players that most regular football fans don’t know, but when you know, you know. He’s not big, which could hinder his future in the NFL, but he’s a lot of fun. At 5 feet-9 and 185 pounds, Achane is a threat to score when he touches the ball – whether on a running back, drafted at the receiver or on special teams. You don’t often see defenders gaining ground on him.

18. Noah Sewell, LB, OregonSewell’s brother, Penei Sewell, was an early first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and it could become a family tradition in 2023. Sewell led the Oregon defense with 114 tackles with four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Sewell and a healthy Justin Flowe in 2022 will give the Ducks an array of linebackers that the rest of college football will envy.

Noah Sewell will try to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a top pick for the NFL Draft.

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19. Will Rogers, QB, Mississippi State: It’s gotten a little too easy to dismiss Mike Leach’s quarterbacks as system players because of the offense they play in and the number of short, easy throws, but don’t let that put you off Rogers’ skill. While he may not have a howitzer on his right shoulder, he has enough arm strength to make the throws required of him and a softer touch than many of his more heavily armed counterparts.

20. Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina: So much of the 2021 season in North Carolina was a disappointment, but not Downs. He kept everything you could ask for in a receiver, leading the team with 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns. Downs also helps special teams, and few others match his skills with the ball in his hands.

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