The 2021-2022 College Football season is in just a couple weeks. In just 17 days I will be cheering on my Marshall Thundering Herd against Navy. Many college football fans will be doing the same for their teams. With college football right around the corner, it is getting close to learning about possible prospects for the Eagles ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. It is unclear of what the Birds' biggest need will be in April, but with at least 2 maybe even 3 first round picks, we have an opportunity to address many different areas. Let's take a look at the top 10 players you should keep an eye on ahead of this year's college football season.
1. Spencer Rattler QB Oklahoma
(Photo courtesy of University of Oklahoma Athletics)
We all know how well Lincoln Riley has done with the QB position at Oklahoma. Going into the 2021 season, the pre-season Heisman Trophy favorite is also the projected first overall pick in 2022. He was a work in progress in a covid season, but Lincoln Riley still has time to work his magic. Riley's last 3 QB's (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts) are all solid NFL talent, and Rattler has the potential to join them.
2. Derek Stingley Jr CB LSU
Hey Eagles fans. Remember when you all got mad that the Eagles never addressed the CB position until day 3? Or when you all got mad that the Eagles missed out on Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley, and Patrick Surtain? Well let me introduce you to the player who is better than all 3. One of the best overall athletes in college football, a starter since he's arrived in Baton Rouge. Stingley has only allowed a catch on 40% of his targets. He is going to make noise this season.
3. Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE Oregon
There is not a single player in college football that ended their season on more of a tear than Thibodeaux. He finished the last 3 games by pressuring the QB 23 times. When you look at his size, you will see he is oversized to be an EDGE rusher, but when you watch his film, he moves quicker and stronger than some RB's. His size and athleticism will correlate well into an NFL EDGE rusher. Remember his name now!
4. Evan Neal OT Alabama
(Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama)
An Alabama player being highly praised? I have never seen such a thing. Alabama breeds NFL talent every year, and Neal is no different. Neal is a big boy and is probably one of if not the biggest player in this draft class. Even with his size, he moves so smoothly and quickly. Last year's draft was stacked at the tackle position, and this year there is no way it can be just as strong. That is going to make Neal an even more valuable pick in 2022.
5. Kyle Hamilton S Notre Dame
I really hate calling players a for sure thing before the season starts. However, Hamilton's play in 2020 makes the case for him to be an easy 1st round pick. When you watch film on him, you can see how he dominates all levels of the game. Many safeties that have come into the league have a glaring weakness, but their strengths make up for it. Hamilton does not have that glaring weakness. If Notre Dame wants to make any kind of impact in the playoffs this season, it will be because of Hamilton!
6. Chris Olave WR Ohio State
(Photo courtesy of The Lantern)
Earlier I said Derek Stingley Jr was better than every CB in a draft that was very strong at the CB position. I am going to say the same about Chris Olave and a stacked WR class in 2020. Olave was the number 1 target for Justin Fields last season, and whoever wins over the Ohio State job this season will be given a dream scenario. Olave runs so smooth and catches the ball with ease. He is going to climb draft boards quicker than any other player. If your team missed out on a WR in 2021, have no fears you can compete for the Chirs Olave sweepstakes.
7. Kaiir Elam CB Florida
Elam is getting the short end of the stick. He is in a draft class with Stingley and Elam is not on his level. However, he is still a top prospect in this draft. He plays so smooth and can transition well from man coverage to zone. Even though he has a long hill in front of him to be the CB1, he can make some noise with an incredible season in 2021. Only one team can get Stingley, but Elam is still a solid runner-up prize.
8. Rasheed Walker OT Penn State
(Photo courtesy of 247 Sports)
This is a player that could have snuck his way into the first round if he decided to go pro in 2021. However, he opted to return to Happy Valley and now he can help solidify himself as a first round draft pick. This year's OT class is not as strong so teams may want to look to draft one early to guarantee a solid OT for the future. Walker has the potential to be a solid NFL player, but he will need a great season at Penn State this season.
9. DeMarvin Leal DL Texas A&M
I have said this a decent amount this article, so therefore I am going to say it again. REMEMBER HIS NAME. This guy is going to be one of the top defensive players in college this season. If the Aggies want to make any noise in the SEC, Leal is going to play a part in this. He is as quick as anyone both vertically and laterally. He is one of the strongest overall players in this draft. If he continues to get better (as I expect he will), he is an easy top 10 pick.
10. Sam Howell QB North Carolina
(Photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina)
There is a lot of hype for Sam Rattler. However, Howell has the argument for the nations best QB going into the season. The pre-season Heisman Trophy favorite has not won the award in a few years, so that does help Howell's case. He put up incredible numbers his true freshman season, but took a small step back last season. However, you can not teach arm strength. His arm strength is better than anyone in this draft. He has the opportunity to be QB1 in April, but he needs a solid 2021 season to do so.
The 2021 College Football season is just a few short weeks away! With the season almost underway, the NFL Draft season is just a few short months away as well. Stay tuned all season long for all your top level NFL Draft content!
Make sure you give me a follow All About the Birds @AATBirds and myself @AdammackNFL for your college football and NFL Draft updates!