2022 NFL Draft: Top 32 prospects overall based on their college football careers

The 2022 NFL Draft will kick off Thursday night in Las Vegas in what will be a three-day extravaganza when college players see their professional dreams come true. Heisman Trophy finalists Aidan Hutchinson and Kenny Pickett will likely hear their names called early on Thursday night, while other long-time stars like Sam Howell might have to wait until Friday depending on what teams trade up or down in the first round.

Several other former college stars will answer the call sometime between Thursday and Saturday, many of whom had much different college careers than their draft positions suggest. 

Let’s break down the top 32 players in the draft based on their college careers. This is not a mock draft. I repeat, this is not a mock draft. These rankings are based on overall college production, contribution to team success, disparity between combine success and actual play on the field and overall value to their college program.

One more time with feeling: this is not a mock draft.

1. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina: Howell is a fringe first-round draft pick in most mock drafts, but the dude was an absolute stud from the moment he stepped foot on campus in Chapel Hill. A starter from Day 1, he had 10,283 yards passing and 92 passing touchdowns in three seasons under center and helped put the Tar Heels back on the college map under coach Mack Brown.

2. Ahmad Gardner, DB, Cincinnati: The general public got to know “Sauce” Gardner this year when he helped Cincinnati become the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff, but he was far from a one-hit wonder. The lengthy defensive back had nine interceptions during his three-year career and never allowed a touchdown pass. He was the driving force behind the Bearcats’ rise to…

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