We're nearing the end of the 2021 college football regular season, and top prospects for the 2022 NFL draft are getting their final chances to put up good game tape for evaluators. Of course, the pre-draft process is far from over, and there is still a lot of road until the first round begins on April 28. Conference championships, bowl games, the College Football Playoff, showcase events, the scouting combine, interviews and pro days all lie ahead. But every game counts, and we've seen some exceptional performances over the past month as prospects try to raise their stock. (Did you see Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson score four times on Saturday?)
Five new players join my top 32 rankings since my Oct. 27 edition, and the quarterback shuffling continues -- I have a new QB1, but no passer cracked my top 10. We'll continue to see risers and fallers over the next few months, but this much we absolutely know: The defensive players at the top of this class are very talented. That starts with Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has the potential to be a special edge rusher in the NFL.
Here are my top 32 prospects for the 2022 class right now, along with the top 10 names at every position.
Note: Underclassmen are marked with an asterisk, and grades are via Scouts Inc.
1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon*
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 250
Grade: 94 | Previous rank: 1
Thibodeaux is a phenomenal pass-rusher with great speed and size. He gets a good push on blockers, and he shows solid initial quickness and closing speed. Thibodeaux is effective dipping-and-ripping, but he also displays a strong inside move. Against the run, he locates the ball and then stacks and sheds blockers, often making plays in the backfield. He could use a little more work as a hands fighter, but there is no doubt that he is the top edge prospect in the class. And he is versatile enough to convert to 3-4 outside linebacker or even occasionally kick inside to rush the passer.
Through eight games, Thibodeaux has 6.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 5 QB hurries and 2 forced fumbles. After an outstanding game against UCLA in October, he showed once again just how dominant he can be in Saturday's win against Washington State, posting a pair of sacks.
2. Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU*
Height: 6-1 | Weight: 195
Grade: 94 | Previous rank: 2
Stingley burst onto the scene with six interceptions as a freshman in 2019. The numbers weren't as eye-popping last season, and he hasn't had a single interception in 10 games over the past two years, but he still has all the tools to be a truly dominant shutdown cornerback in the NFL. He is long, fast and physical, but his versatility is key. Stingley can play press-man, off-coverage, free safety and the overhang position. He is smooth with oily hips, and he has the recovery speed and instincts to make plays on the ball. A bonus: Stingley also has experience returning punts. In three games this season, he has 3.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble, but Stingley is out indefinitely right now after getting a procedure done on his injured foot.