As we wrap up the 2021 NFL Draft stories, there is only one thing on my mind right now. The 2022 NFL Draft! Just like recruiting, once one class is done, it is on to the next. I am not going to lie; the 2021 NFL Draft left a bad taste in my mouth from Big 12 perspective but there are much brighter days ahead. That is thanks to a loaded 2022 Big 12 draft class that is filled with plenty of talented players who will be eligible to move to the next level after this season. So, I decided to rank my top 16 Big 12 pro prospects and where I think they could be drafted. This will be a two-part series as I will reveal my top eight right here while my next piece will show my final eight.
1. Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler
Should this pick really be a shock to anyone? I believe that Spencer Rattler is not only the best quarterback in the Big 12 but the entire country. He lit up the stat sheet in his first season as a starter throwing for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns on just 7 interceptions. He is accurate with the football and has a big-time arm. Of course, operating in Lincoln Riley’s system helps too. I would not be surprised at all if Spencer Rattler were the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. If that happens, that means Oklahoma would have three number one picks in the last five drafts.
2. Oklahoma DT Perrion Winfrey
Standing at 6’3 290 pounds Winfrey is a matchup nightmare in the middle of the defensive line. He is solid at the point of attack and is an excellent player who is able not only eat up blocks but ruin an offense’s game plan by dominating in the middle. The NFL is looking for game changing defensive tackles because they don’t come around very often. Perrion has the potential to be a solid NFL player and if he has another big year, expect his name to be called in the first round.
3. Oklahoma LB Nik Bonitto
For those not familiar with Nik Bonitto, you better be on the lookout for him this year. He started ten games last season and had 8.5 sacks in those games he played in. Pro Football Focus absolutely loves him as they had him ranked as the top edge rusher in the entire country as he had the highest pressure rate a season ago. He is a big guy at 6’3 238 pounds and keep in mind, pass rushers are a premium in the NFL. To me, Nik Bonitto is a late first round pick.
4. Iowa State DE Will McDonald IV
Call me crazy but Iowa State’s first player drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft could be edge rusher Will McDonald. He really found his calling on the defensive line and was a first team All-Big 12 selection last year. Not only that, but he led the conference with 10.5 sacks last year. As he continues to add some weight to his 6’4 frame, I only expect him to get better and I think NFL scouts and GM’s will fall in love with him. Don’t sleep on Will McDonald IV because he could potentially be a late first round or an early second round type of player.
5. Iowa State TE Charlie Kolar
I was a bit surprised to see Charlie Kolar come back for another year, but Iowa State should be glad to have a player like him for another season. Depending on who you ask, Charlie Kolar is a top three tight end prospect for the 2022 class, and it is easy to see why. He is a big pass catching target at 6’6 and is very versatile at his position. He could line up on the outside or on the edge and be a playmaker. Right now, he should be considered a second-round pick.
6. Iowa State RB Breece Hall
Nobody knows if Breece Hall will be at Iowa State in 2022 but I would not be shocked to see him go pro after this season if he stays healthy. He rushed for over 1,500 yards and had 21 rushing scores last season. Without a doubt in my mind, he was a top two player at his position, and some would argue he was the best running back in the entire country in 2020 and I honestly would have no issue agreeing with that. If he puts together another big year, I think it would be wise to go pro because I think at worst, he is a second-round pick. Five to ten years ago, when running backs had more value, he could have been a day one guy.
7. Iowa State QB Brock Purdy
Yes, the Iowa State love continues as we talk about another quarterback not named Spencer Rattler. Going into the 2020 season, many people thought that Brock Purdy could be a first round pick if he decided to go pro after a big season. Well, he did not quite have the season like he did in 2019 but it was still a good year for him after a slow start. If he can have another year like he did in 2019, I would say that this would be too low for him because he could be a late first round or an early second round pick. But for now, I will put him at number seven.
8. TCU DE Ochaun Mathis
All TCU seems to do is churn out good defensive players in these drafts. The next man in line should be none other than Ochaun Mathis who was my defensive lineman of the year in the Big 12 last season as a redshirt freshman. He is a big player at 6’5 247 pounds but I can not wait to see what he looks like going into the 2021 season. Once he adds a little more weight, I think he could be a big name not just in the big 12 but the entire country. This is a deep Big 12 defensive line class but Ochaun Mathis should be in the mix to become a third-round pick if he decides to go pro after a big 2021 campaign.
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