Craig’s Final Position Rankings

Craig’s Final Position Rankings
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With the 2022 NFL Draft just around the corner, I’ve finally set my board at each position and am ready to share my final position rankings. I’ve given you my top 10 at each position but if you want to know more then feel free to ask via Twitter – I’m @UK_draft.

My colleague Owain has been releasing his final position rankings for each position group over the last few weeks and I’d urge you to take a read of them. I’ve included the link to each one of them below so you can compare and contrast our views on this draft class.

You can also hear our Draft Guys’ top 5’s by listening to our podcasts – I can promise you they’re well worth a listen!

But that’s enough about everyone else’s rankings – let’s get on and talk about mine shall we?

Quarterbacks

1Sam HowellNorth Carolina
2Malik WillisLiberty
3Matt CorralOle Miss
4Kenny PickettPittsburgh
5Desmond RidderCincinnati
6Carson StrongNevada
7Bailey ZappeWestern Kentucky
8Kaleb ElebyWestern Michigan
9EJ PerryBrown
10Skylar ThompsonKansas State

If you listen to the Ninety Nine Yards Draft Guys’ Podcast you’ll already know why Sam Howell is my number one QB. In 2020 he showed what he can do as a passer with a good supporting cast, and in 2021 he went and found new ways to win using his legs and running the ball far more. If I can combine those two years into one dual-threat quarterback then I’ve got to be onto a winner.

But if you gave me a top 10 draft pick on an historically bad team and told me I had to draft a quarterback this year, it would be Malik Willis every day. The ceiling is so high that you’d take that risk and keep your fingers crossed in hope.

This isn’t a particularly packed class at QB though and for me it is just my top 3 that I’d project as decent NFL starters.

Sam Howell
Sam Howell is Craig’s QB1 – but is he yours?

Running backs

1Breece HallIowa State
2Kenneth WalkerMichigan State
3Isaiah SpillerTexas A&M
4Kyren WilliamsNotre Dame
5Tyler AllgeierBYU
6D’vonte PriceFlorida International
7James CookGeorgia
8Hassan HaskinsMichigan
9Rachaad WhiteArizona State
10Pierre Strong JrSouth Dakota State

Breece Hall just shades this for me ahead of Kenneth Walker based on his abilities in the passing game. Walker may well be a competent receiver who’s been lacking in opportunities, but his pass blocking needs work. By contrast, he is the harder runner between the tackles and probably has that greater natural purity to his game.

Tyler Allgeier makes it into my top 5 backs off the back of a couple of very strong and successful seasons at BYU, while spots 6 through 10 were very difficult to pin down. I had at least two or three more guys I thought belonged with this group and they could well go off the board in a very different order depending on scheme fit.

Wide receivers

1Chris OlaveOhio State
2Treylon BurksArkansas
3Garrett WilsonOhio State
4Jameson WilliamsAlabama
5Drake LondonUSC
6George PickensGeorgia
7Jahan DotsonPenn State
8Skyy MooreWestern Michigan
9Christian WatsonNorth Dakota State
10Khalil ShakirBoise State

The top 5 from this list could come off the board in almost any order on draft night and it would be hard to argue. But for me the polish on his routes combined with his deep speed makes Chris Olave my number one. Treylon Burks is the leading YAC guy while Drake London has a major height advantage against most DBs.

George Pickens might well have have been talked about alongside those top 5 had he not suffered an ACL injury that kept him out for most of 2021, but its easy to see how he could be a true WR1 at the next level.

And let’s talk about one of my guys here shall we? Khalil Shakir made some incredible, highlight reel catches for Boise State in 2021 and is someone who definitely deserves more buzz.

1Trey McBrideColorado State
2Jeremy RuckertOhio State
3Jake FergusonWisconsin
4Isaiah LikelyCoastal Carolina
5Charlie KolarIowa State
6Greg DulcichUCLA
7Cade OttonWashington
8Jelani WoodsVirginia
9Daniel BellingerSan Diego State
10Derek Deese Jr.San Jose State

This group of tight ends doesn’t have the sort of star quality we saw with the likes of Kyle Pitts last year, but there is plenty of depth. Jake Ferguson was one of the standout players in the Senior Bowl game, highlighting his abilities as both a blocker and a receiver and belongs higher up the rankings than I’ve seen others have him.

There are then a number of interesting traits within the rest of this group. Isaiah Likely is the best pure pass catcher of the group but he’s a bulked out wide receiver who needs to work on his blocking.

There may not be a Kyle Pitts in this draft class, but there are plenty of tight ends who will depth to NFL rosters and give teams traits they can work with.

Offensive tackles

1Evan NealAlabama
2Ikem EkwonuNC State
3Charles CrossMississippi State
4Trevor PenningNorthern Iowa
5Nicholas Petit-FrereOhio State
6Sean RhyanUCLA
7Bernhard RaimannCentral Michigan
8Darian KinnardKentucky
9Tyler SmithTulsa
10Abraham LucasWashington State

The top 3 on this list all excel in at least one facet of their game, which means they will be day one starters. Charles Cross is an elite pass blocker and Ikem Ekwonu is an absolute mauler in the run game. But Evan Neal is the most polished and all round offensive tackle who could play either tackle spot and deserves to be number one on this list.

At various points during this draft cycle there has been wild buzz about both Bernhard Raimann and Tyler Smith. Neither should be in first round consideration given their limitations – both have a lot to learn and Smith in particular is a penalty flag waiting to happen.

Interior offensive linemen

1Tyler LinderbaumIowa
2Zion JohnsonBoston College
3Kenyon GreenTexas A&M
4Jamaree SalyerGeorgia
5Cole StrangeChattanooga
6Dylan ParhamMemphis
7Ed IngramLSU
8Alec LindstromBoston College
9Thayer MunfordOhio State
10Luke FortnerKentucky

If you take positional value out of the equation, Tyler Linderbaum is among the top 5 prospects in this draft so he belongs at number one on this list. I’ve got it very, very close between Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green, but Johnson’s versatility gives him the slight edge for me.

I can genuinely see everyone on this list having a solid NFL career. There’s going to be a lot of value at interior offensive line on days two and three!

1Kayvon ThibodeauxOregon
2Aidan HutchinsonMichigan
3George KarlaftisPurdue
4Travon WalkerGeorgia
5Jermaine Johnson Florida State
6David OjaboMichigan
7Arnold EbiketiePenn State
8Boye MafeMinnesota
9Drake JacksonUSC
10Nik BonittoOklahoma

This EDGE group with packed with high quality players. KT has the ‘edge’ for me over Aidan Hutchinson and the weird media desire to knock Thibodeaux at all costs isn’t something I understand.

I’ve also got George Karlaftis ahead of Travon Walker here. Walker is clearly incredibly athletic and wasn’t asked to do as much as Georgia as he will be in the NFL. There’s an element of risk in taking Walker – especially in the top 10 as so many are projecting. George Karlaftis is a more sure-fire selection. His college production far outweighs Walker’s, and whilst that isn’t the be all and end all it certainly would make me think twice.

Despite his injury, I still expect David Ojabo to go in the first round, while Drake Jackson is probably my sleeper pick here. He’s relatively under-discussed when it comes to this group, but in a 3-4 defense he has all the tools to excel at the next level.

Many expect Aidan Hutchinson to be drafted 1st overall by Jacksonville, but he’s not Craig’s EDGE1.

Defensive tackles

1Jordan DavisGeorgia
2Devonte WyattGeorgia
3Travis JonesConnecticut
4Perrion WinfreyOklahoma
5Logan HallHouston
6Haskell GarrettOhio State
7Phidarian MathisAlabama
8DeMarvin LealTexas A&M
9Zachary CarterFlorida
10Otito OgbonniaUCLA

Jordan Davis just pips his former Georgia teammate Devonte Wyatt to the title of DT1. I know Davis hasn’t historically played all three downs for the Bulldogs, but with a 9.99 RAS score and NFL conditioning I’m backing him to make a major impact at the next level.

DeMarvin Leal started the 2021 season atop this list but his poor play followed by a terrible performance in post-season testing has left we wondering what he really is. He won’t be making my top 100 but I’d be tempted to see if I could get him back to 2020 form with an early day three pick.

Linebackers

1Devin LloydUtah
2Nakobe DeanGeorgia
3Christian HarrisAlabama
4Brandon SmithPenn State
5Chad MumaWyoming
6Darrian BeaversCincinnati
7Channing TindallGeorgia
8Leo ChenalWisconsin
9Troy AndersenMontana State
10Quay WalkerGeorgia

Devin Lloyd takes LB1 ahead of Nakobe Dean for me given the latter’s size and the potential issues that causes at the next level. But both have a round one grade from me, though given positional value it wouldn’t shock me if at least one of them had to wait until round two to hear their name called.

When it comes to the rest of this talented linebacker group, I tend to value guys who have three down abilities. That means being able to play the run well, drop into coverage, and diagnosing what it is the offense is trying to do.

So while you’ve seen some people raving about Leo Chenal, he made my list of overhyped prospects for the simple fact that he offers very little in coverage. And in today’s pass happy NFL that’s a big problem for me.

Is Leo Chenal overhyped? He’s only LB8 as far as Craig is concerned.

Cornerbacks

1Derek Stingley Jr.LSU
2Andrew BoothClemson
3Ahmad GardnerCincinnati
4Kaiir ElamFlorida
5Trent McDuffieWashington
6Kyler GordonWashington
7Roger McCrearyAuburn
8Martin EmersonMississippi State
9Tariq WoolenUTSA
10Coby BryantCincinnati

There can be no doubting Derek Stingley’s ability when you watch him on tape, but sometimes the best ability is availability and Stingley has struggled to stay healthy over the last two years. Provided there are no red flags however, he still belongs as CB1 in this class for me.

I’ve got Andrew Booth ahead of the Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. This was a very close call, and I can also foresee why a number of teams might draft the Cincinnati Bearcat ahead of the Clemson Tiger.

Martin Emerson is one guy who has gone relatively unheralded throughout this draft process, and I like the Mississippi State man’s skills in coverage. He’s intelligent, an experienced starter, has great length that he uses well, and will be very well suited to a team that plays a lot of zone coverage.

1Kyle HamiltonNotre Dame
2Lewis CineGeorgia
3Daxton HillMichigan
4Jaquan BriskerPenn State
5Jalen PitreBaylor
6Nick CrossMaryland
7Kerby JosephIllinois
8Bryan CookCincinnati
9JT WoodsBaylor
10Verone McKinleyOregon

*Spoiler Alert* – Kyle Hamilton is my number one player in this draft.

I was very close to putting Dax Hill at number two on this list – his versatility to play up in the box and also a bit at corner is very appealing. But I went with the purer coverage safety in Lewis Cine given his specialism will prove very helpful in defending the pass – something modern NFL teams need to be able to do.

And I can’t finish talking about this safety class without quoting Kevin Sayer from the NFL Draft Punk Podcast. “Jalen Pitre – he’s a dish.”

So there you have it. 10 players at each position, in order. Some very closely ranked and whose landing spot might well depend on scheme or what it is a team is looking to add to their offense or defense.

DRAFT TALK – 1st Round Preview Ninety-Nine Yards

  1. DRAFT TALK – 1st Round Preview
  2. DRAFT TALK – Final Mock Draft Madness
  3. DRAFT TALK – QB Special
  4. DRAFT TALK – Top 5 TE + LB
  5. DRAFT TALK – Top 5 CBs + S
  6. DRAFT TALK – Top 5 OT + IOL
  7. DRAFT TALK – Matt Waletzko Interview Special
  8. DRAFT TALK – Top 5 EDGE + DTs
  9. DRAFT TALK – Top 5 RBs + WRs
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