Who are the top 2022 NFL Draft prospects in the ACC?
A comprehensive breakdown of all 14 teams in the ACC and their potential 2022 picks
When the 2021 college season began, Clemson was ranked third, UNC was 10th, and Miami was 14th in the AP polls.
After the first six games, all three teams are unranked and instead, Wake Forest and NC State have climbed into the very back of the top-25; the Demon Deacons are 16th and the Wolfpack is 22nd.
With Florida State’s early season fall from respectibility— 2-4 with some of the worst losses in program history at a time when they were thought to be on the upswing — the ACC is not having the season that it expected. Does that mean that it won’t produce 2022 NFL Draft prospects as expected?
I’ll track every notable name I can find at the 14 schools in the ACC. This has been an insane and immense amount of work so please take a moment to consider supporting and subscribing.
Previously: Top prospects in the Pac-12 (after three weeks)
Draft prospects: OT Tyler Vrabel, WR Zay Flowers, C Alex Lindstrom, G Zion Johnson, OT Ben Petrula
Emerging: RB Pat Garwo III, DB Brandon Sebastian
Falling: QB Phil Jurkovec, WR C.J. Lewis
A school that has consistently produced at least some NFL talent for decades now (2013 is the only year since 2006 that no BC player was drafted), Boston College may put more offensive linemen into the league next year than they had over the previous six years combined.
Boston College has arguably the best offensive line in college football and they could have three, four, or even all five players drafted into the NFL. At the very least, a few BC linemen will be drafted and the others will likely sign after. This is something that was felt before the year and has continued into the season, with Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney having nothing but good things to say about them prior to a matchup:
“They’re massive and when you’ve got guys that have played a lot of football, they know all the nuances, the ins and the outs,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “They’re crafty. That’s what comes with experience. There’s a lot you can do. It’s almost like having coaches out there.
“They’re a really cohesive unit. It’s going to be a big, big challenge.”
Prior to the season, SI’s Cory McCann Ezringjun had high praise for LT Tyler Vrabel:
The Boston College offensive line is comprised of NFL prospects. Vrabel arguably ranks highest among them. The talented tackle boasts an impressive blend of athleticism and intelligence in an NFL frame. He has a finisher’s mentality in the run game to drive defenders to the ground. Furthermore, his movement skills and strength enable him to handle speed and power rushers. Vrabel looks like an early starter with high-level potential. He has a chance to hear his name called in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Right now, Vrabel is being projected as a day 3/UDFA pick, but there’s a long road to go before we know the true draft value of many offensive linemen. Zay Flowers has the highest project right now, as a potential third rounder, as well as G Zion Johnson. Flowers, 5-10, 177 lbs, has caught 23 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns, and he’s also carried the ball 41 times in his career.
Alec Lindstrom is given a sixth round projection, followed by Ben Petrula and Vrabel as UDFAs. But keep an eye on RB Pat Garwo III and DB Brandon Sebastian.
Sebastian was a bit of a sleeper going into the year and he has two interceptions in his first five games. He’s a bit lanky if he comes in at 6’, 180 lbs at the combine, however.
There would be little reason for Garwo to test the 2022 NFL Draft, he’s only in his third year and he had little work prior to 2021, but he has 470 yards, five touchdowns, and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry to open the season.
QB Phil Jurkovec had some hype entering the year but he never popped on tape prior to a wrist injury that now has him sidelined. I don’t see Jurkovec getting drafted without an impressive comeback or a strong pre-draft process.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: WR Zay Flowers, G Zion Johnson, DB Brandon Sebastian, C Alex Lindstrom, T Ben Petrula
Prospect Video: Boston College o-line vs Notre Dame, 2020
Draft prospects: CB Andrew Booth, WR Justyn Ross, DL Tyler Davis, T Jordan McFadden, WR Joseph Ngata, EDGE Xavier Thomas, S Lannden Zanders
Falling: LB Jake Venables, LB Baylon Spector
Clemson may not be a good college football team right now but that doesn’t mean that Dabo Sweeney lost all of his prized recruits to the transfer portal or anything. Many of the Tigers best players may need more time to mature in the system but there should be at least one first round pick next year out of this group.
(I still wonder if Swinney instead goes to Jacksonville to follow Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.)
That is most likely CB Andrew Booth, in the running as the top cornerback of 2022. WR Justyn Ross has been viewed as a potential WR1 but everything is slow-going with the Tigers passing offense this year and QB D.J. Uiagalelei at the helm. Ross has caught 23 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns after sitting out 2020. Since catching 46 passes for 1,000 yards as a true freshman, Ross has seen his YPC dip from 21.7 to 13.1 to 10.0 as of this season.
Help, he needs somebody, help, not just anybody, help, where is Trevor Lawrence?
Baylon Spector had 19 tackles and earned co-LB of the week in the ACC recently, but consider what this says about Clemson as a team right now that a linebacker gets that many opportunities. High tackle totals are not indicative of good play necessarily and Spector needs more splash plays if he wants any shot of NFL recognition. He does have one interception this season.
Jake Venables is seen as a defensive leader but he can’t get onto the field and has dealt with some injuries at the college level.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: CB Andrew Booth, WR Justyn Ross, EDGE Xavier Thomas, T Jordan McFadden
Prospect Video: CB Andrew Booth vs Georgia, 2021
Draft prospects: RB Mataeo Durant, C Jake Wohlabaugh
Emerging: WR Jake Bobo
Of all the teams that produced a top-10 QB this century…Duke is one of them. Duke fans might like to forget that fact though. Giants fans too.
Interestingly, four Duke players were drafted in 2021, including two defensive ends, a safety, and a tight end, all on day three. The Blue Devils look to have one solid draft pick next year, but will anyone join RB Mataeo Durant? The senior running back has 788 yards and nine touchdowns in the first six games, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He has also caught 13 passes for 178 yards. Right now, Durant is being projected as a fourth round pick but a strong combine effort could propel the 6-1, 195-lb RB into the second round.
That might be an overreaction, but at the moment he’s going to shatter his previous career-best season, which was a very good 2019 campaign.
WR Jake Bobo, a 6-5, 215 lb big man, has surprised with 45 catches for 529 yards in six games. His 45 catches is tops in the ACC. Those totals also best his previous career highs of 32 catches and 359 yards from 2020.
C Jake Wohlabaugh is being projected as an undrafted free agent.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: RB Mataeo Durant
Prospect Video: Durant vs Georgia Tech, 2021
(Repeat: This series of posts covering every 2022 prospect in every conference (not just the ACC) is an insane and immense amount of work so please take a moment to consider supporting and subscribing.)
Draft prospects: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, LB Amari Gainer, DL Robert Cooper, CB Jammie Robinson, OL Devontay Love-Taylor, TE Camren McDonald
Emerging: RB Jashaun Corbin
Falling: Almost every Seminoles player
As I write this, Florida State has rebounded from an 0-4 start to win their last two games (33-30 vs Syracuse, 35-25 vs UNC) and suddenly it just seems like their shitty season boils down to that embarrassing loss to Jacksonville State. Losing by three points to Notre Dame and getting blown out by Wake Forest looks a tiny bit less shameful with hindsight, though Notre Dame is by no means great.
QB Jordan Travis has replaced feel-good-story McKenzie Milton to lead Florida State to these last two wins: Travis has rushed for 234 yards in those two games, also throwing five touchdowns.
EDGE Jermaine Johnson may have been the team’s top prospect and he has 8.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks through six games.
RB Jashaun Corbin is averaging 7.4 YPC on 75 attempts but has little receiving evidence to show for it. LB Amari Gainer has 35 tackles and 3 TFL. CB Jammie Robinson has three PD and 1 FF, but interestingly also 4 TFL. DT Robert Cooper has 21 tackles and 1.5 TFL. G Devontay Love-Taylor has been mentioned as a potential NFL prospect. TE Camren McDonald barely sees the ball. He has 15 catches for 144 yards.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, TE Camren McDonald
Prospect Video: Jermaine Johnson vs Jacksonville State, 2021
Draft prospects: CB Tre Swilling
Emerging: SS Juanyeh Thomas
Georgia Tech has played well, beating UNC and Duke and narrowly losing to Clemson, but they are still bad and not likely to send a big name prospect into the draft.
Junior SS Juanyeh Thomas might be a longshot to be drafted but if the 6’3, 217 lb safety has a good combine, he’s had a good season to add to his resume: 42 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 INT, 1 FF. CB Tre Swilling has 2 PD and 0 INT in four games.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: None
Prospect Video: Tre Swilling, sophomore (2019) highlights
Draft prospects: S Bralen Trahan, QB/RB Malik Cunningham, LB C.J. Avery
Emerging: CB Kei’Trel Clark, OLB Yasir Abdullah, S Kendrick Duncan
Louisville had two wide receivers drafted in 2021 (Tutu Atwell, Dez Fitzpatrick) and just in the last few years alone have produced Mekhi Becton, Jaire Alexander, and Lamar Jackson to the league. Despite that, there is no clear and obvious player on the Cardinals to get picked anywhere in the first three rounds in 2022.
Then again, several players are putting together seasons that should propel them into the draft — and potentially much higher than anticipated.
S Kendrick Duncan, Jr. transferred from Georgia Southern and was considered a player to watch this year; he has 38 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 INT in six games. He is listed at 6’3, 225 lbs, so if he is fast at his pro day then he’s going to be a fast riser.
CB Kei’Trel Clark transferred from Liberty last year and he has three interceptions already this year — though two came against Eastern Kentucky and the other was off of Florida State’s since-benched McKenzie Milton. Duncan, on the other hand, sacked Matt Corral and intercepted Brennan Armstrong. Much better.
LB Yasir Abdullah had 7 TFL and 3 sacks in eight games last season and 8 TFL, 5 sacks in six games this season. I’m thinking he will declare for the draft now. Abdullah’s damage has been spread around the schedule.
Malik Cunningham isn’t likely to make the NFL as a quarterback but he seems insanely fast and he’d not be the first player to transition from QB to have a ton of success at the next level. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at running back, it’s just a position that makes sense.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: C.J. Avery, Yasir Abdullah, Kendrick Duncan, Cunningham
Prospect Video: Malik Cunningham vs Ole Miss
Draft prospects: OT Zion Nelson, C Corey Gaynor, RB Cam’Ron Harris
Emerging: WR Charleston Rambo
Falling: QB D’Eriq King, S Bubba Bolden, CB Tyrique Stevenson, TE Will Mallory
Miami is a shitty program now? Well, that might be the case. They are 2-3 as I write this and a couple of the known prospects don’t look as good. The Hurricanes nonetheless had four players taken in the NFL draft in 2021, and in 2020, and five players in 2019, and six players in 2018, and nine players in 2017. That’s 28 DRAFTED players in the last five years. Granted, 24 of them were day three picks, but last year Miami had two in the first (Jaelan Phillips, Gregory Rosseau) and they have a potential day one pick at tackle right now.
OT Zion Nelson has seen his stock fall a little bit, as the Miami’s has, but that’s just noise on a CFB radio. Nelson had some injury ailments going into the season. If he enters the 2022 draft, Nelson has the potential to raise his stock into the first round.
S Bubba Bolden was a four-star recruit to USC in 2017, but he transferred to Miami almost immediately and he posted 74 tackles, 6.5 TFL, one INT, and four FF in 11 games last year. Is Bolden doing “wow” stuff that compels him to try the NFL or will a lot of Hurricanes return to school in 2022 because of how poorly 2021 is going?
CB Tyrique Stevenson also transferred for this… Stevenson left Georgia after two seasons and he’s playing defense/returning punts for Miami. He had three passes defended against App State but little else to speak of in his other four games.
QB D’Eriq King’s passing stats are awful and he’s not headed to the league as a QB. He will be sidelined for the rest of the season. He might be able to find a home somewhere because of his unique athleticism. RB Cam’Ron Harris struggled vs Alabama and Michigan State (combined: 23 carries, 81 yards and he pumped up his numbers against App State and Central Connecticut State (28 carries, 191 yards) and then he had a strong game against Virginia. It’ll be about the combine for the former 4-star recruit.
Little has gone well for Miami, but WR Charleston Rambo transferred from Oklahoma and he has 31 catches for 386 yards in the first five weeks. Rambo had 25 catches for 312 yards in nine games with the Sooners in 2020, so Rambo is already moving past last season.
It’s hard to find a lot of updates on offensive linemen. We’ll see if Corey Gaynor’s name pops up, but it’s going to be difficult during such a down season for the ACC as a whole.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: OT Zion Nelson, DB Bubba Bolden
Prospect Video: Bubba Bolden vs Clemson
Draft prospects: iOL Joshua Ezeudu
Falling: QB Sam Howell, RB Ty Chandler
For some reason I was always a fan of UNC’s colors growing up, so I was a fan of the basketball team and the jerseys. I also have an aunt in Chapel Hill, but we don’t speak to that side of the family. UNC had five draftees this year but there’s a real chance that they don’t have anyone picked in 2022.
QB Sam Howell might be lucky to only be a junior. He can return to school in 2022 and give being the number one pick another shot in 2023. He will get another season with WR Josh Downs, who will be a junior and one of the top prospects in the 2023 draft.
RB Ty Chandler hasn’t had the season he hoped for, only saving his season-long stats with a 198-yard effort against Virginia. Perhaps with a strong second half and a good combine, he can get drafted. OL Joshua Ezeudu has position versatility and has been mentioned as a prospect, albeit a day three/UDFA at this point.
But the Tar Heels are set to have a very talented roster next season, especially if Howell returns.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: OL Joshua Ezeudu
Prospect Video: Ty Chandler vs Virginia
Draft prospects: G Ikem Ekwonu, RB Zonovan Knight, DL Cory Durden, LB Isaiah Moore
Emerging: QB Devin Leary
Falling: LB Payton Wilson, WR Emeka Emezie
It’s not often, but NC State will sneak up on you in the NFL Draft every so often. Philip Rivers, Mario Williams, Bradley Chubb, and in a roundabout way, Russell Wilson as examples. Well G Ikem Ekwonu figures to be another potential first round pick out of NC State, joining C Garrett Bradbury two years ago.
QB Devin Leary doesn’t have much of a resume but he did throw four touchdowns against Clemson two weeks ago, so let’s not throw him away quite yet.
RB Zonovan Knight is averaging 6.5 YPC and is a potential day two pick. LB Payton Wilson had 11.5 TFL and 2 INT as a sophomore in 2020 but he’s only appeared in two games this season and isn’t have the breakout hoped for, so could he return? While WR Emeka Emezie isn’t doing terribly per se, the competition at wide receiver is far too great to just be “good” anymore. LB Isaiah Moore leads the team with 4 TFL. DL Cory Durden has 1.5 sacks in four games.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: G Ikem Ekwonu, RB Zonovan Knight
Prospect Video: NC State offensive line vs Miami, 2020
Draft prospects: DL Deslin Alexandre, LB SirVocea Dennis, DL Calijah Kancey
Emerging: QB Kenny Pickett, DL Habakkuk Baldonado
I know a guy from Pittsburgh who always likes to point out (even though he didn’t go there) that Pitt has produced many of the NFL’s greatest players of all-time, despite never really putting together any great seasons as a team. Aaron Donald, Dan Marino, Larry Fitzgerald, and so on. Will Kenny Pickett be the next?
QB Kenny Pickett was on the radar before the season. He was going into his fourth year as the starter but had never done better than 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions in a season. His statistics were fine, definitely not close to “good” and once again Pitt was not expected to field a competitive team. Through five games, Pickett has 19 touchdowns, one interception, has completed 72% of his passes, and is averaging 12.3 AY/A.
For me, I’m all about Grayson McCall, but for the rest of the country, their “Grayson” this year is probably Kenny Pickett. Not even Matt Corral can really boast the same all-around “Joe Burrow-like” breakout campaign resume that Pickett can right now. He’s been called “a more athletic Kirk Cousins” and while that could keep some people well clear of Pickett in the draft, it could also sound like a top-10 pick to a team. Sophomore WR Jordan Addison looks like a future first round talent to me, but other than that, you can’t claim that Pickett is surrounded be talent either.
Redshirt junior DL Habakkuk Baldonado might wait until 2023, but the native of Rome, Italy has gotten off to a hot start for Pitt; he’s posted 3.5 sacks in his first five games. LB SirVocea Dennis had 2.5 TFL in his most recent game against Georgia Tech, but could also return. DL Calijah Kancey is a player I heard shouted out on a podcast recently, which isn’t nothing!
But really other than LB Deslin Alexandre and Pickett, Pitt could return most of their players next year and compete to make the ACC a much better conference in 2022.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: QB Kenny Pickett
Prospect Video: Kenny Pickett vs Georgia Tech, 2021
Draft prospects: CB Garrett Williams, OT Matthew Bergeron
Emerging: DL Cody Roscoe
Since 2014, there have been more punters drafted into the NFL out of Syracuse (2) than every offensive position combined (0). In 2021, safety Andre Cisco and cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu each went in the third round, and it sure looks like RB Sean Tucker could get drafted in 2023. What about 2022?
Senior DL Cody Roscoe had 26 TFL in 30 games at McNeese State prior to transferring in 2020. Roscoe will be undersized if his listed weight is true (6’1, 275) but perhaps he’s one of those “all-muscle” guys that wins with technique? Roscoe has 9.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks in six games, making him one of the most dominant defensive players in the ACC. Though three sacks came against Albany, he was also productive against Malik Willis in Week 4.
CB Garrett Williams is only a redshirt freshman in his third collegiate year, but if Syracuse can be a “DBU” of sorts (of small sorts), then the 6’, 190 lb cornerback with 15 passes defended in 16 games could get his name called.
If OT Matthew Bergeron (PFF true freshman all-american in 2019) is helping Sean Tucker gain all those rushing yards, he will definitely be a draft pick.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: CB Garrett Williams, OT Matthew Bergeron, (Roscoe, UDFA)
Prospect Video: Cody Roscoe talking about his role on the defense
Draft prospects: LB Nick Jackson, S Joey Blount
Emerging: QB Brennan Armstrong, WR Dontayvion Wicks, ATH Keytaon Thompson, TE Jelani Woods. DE Mandy Alonso
(Final time, I promise: This series of posts covering every 2022 prospect in every conference (not just the ACC) is a lot of work so please take a moment to consider supporting and subscribing.)
The last first round pick out of Virginia was tackle Eugene Monroe in 2009. The last Pro Bowler drafted out of Virginia (excluding ST Cedric Peerman) was T Branden Albert in 2008. The last QB drafted out of Virginia was also a Pro Bowler: Matt Schaub in 2004.
Will Virginia players be drafted in 2022? None were drafted in 2021, after two each in the previous three years.
If a school has a QB prospect at all, then that player becomes the most notable, and Brennan Armstrong was not listed by many going into the year as a draft prospect. The left-hander has taken advantage of a perceivably weak year for the position group by making a name for himself with 2,460 passing yards and 17 touchdowns over his first six starts of 2021, but also six interceptions. Armstrong previous started as a redshirt sophomore in 2020 and there’s no doubt he can showcase a big arm.
Some have now slated Armstrong as a day three pick.
The main beneficiary of Armstrong’s strong arm is redshirt sophomore WR Dontayvion Wicks, who has 25 catches for 554 yards and five touchdowns in the first six games. Wicks has little resume to speak of prior to this, however.
One odd twist at QB is that Armstrong beat out Keytaon Thompson for the starting gig last year after Thompson suffered a torn labrum. Thompson was once a four-star QB recruit and the number five dual-threat prospect in the nation. But he hated sitting around, especially after transferring from Mississippi State when he didn’t fit into the air raid plans… ATH Keytaon Thompson has 29 catches for 419 yards plus 17 runs for 127 yards in his first six games. He scored six touchdowns in eight games last year, the first time he had played WR or RB since early in high school. It will be interesting to see what the 6’4, 215 lb former QB does at his pro day.
TE Jelani Woods is 6’7, 275 lbs, (and also a former QB) and if you bring size and production to the tight end position, YOU ARE A PROSPECT. Woods transferred from Oklahoma State and he had a career-high 122 yards in Week 2. He has scored a touchdown in his last four games and he missed Week 5 with an injury.
The 6’2, 290 lb DE Mandy Alonso was known already to be one of Virginia’s best players. He had two sacks against Miami in Week 5 and he now has 5.5 TFL on the season. LB Nick Jackson was the program’s top 2022 prospect headed into the year and he currently leads the team with 53 tackles in six games. S Joey Blount has 45 tackles and two passes defended. These three players might fit more in the UDFA pool perhaps.
I think a big tight end project makes sense in a draft. I think unless he really blows up, Armstrong must return to school in 2022.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: TE Jelani Woods, LB Nick Jackson
Prospect Video: Jelani Woods highlight vs TCU, 2020
Draft prospects: iOL Lecitus Smith, EDGE Amare Barno, WR Tre Turner, DL Jordan Williams, iOL Bryan Hudson
Emerging: LB Dax Hollifield, DB Jermaine Waller
Falling: WR Tayvion Robinson, TE James Mitchell
Virginia Tech had two first round picks in 2021 and two first round picks in 2018, but the Hokies are not consistently putting day one and day two prospects into the NFL. They might have to scratch their way into the third round this year.
LB Dax Hollifield is a fourth-year junior who has 38 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks and 1 INT in his first five games. I haven’t seen him mentioned often before the season but he’s one of the defensive leaders and he’s been consistently productive since 2018.
EDGE Amare Barno could be having more of a breakout season but he’s missed half of the year. He returned vs Notre Dame last week, notching a sack. Barno could be the most likely Hokies player to go on day two in 2022.
WR Tayvion Robinson had been called as much as a third round pick by PFN, but he hasn’t had much of a year yet. Instead, WR Tre Turner has led the team but his numbers aren’t that eyepopping either. TE James Mitchell has only appeared in two games.
Junior CB Jermaine Waller leads the team and the ACC with four interceptions. Waller posted three interceptions in 2019 as well. He might be a bit lanky. Teammate Divine Deablo led the ACC with four interceptions in 2020 and was drafted.
It’s harder for me to get a feel on the pulse of offensive linemen, but Lecitus Smith has been V Tech’s highest-rated lineman and could be a late round flyer.
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: EDGE Amare Barno, CB Jermaine Waller, iOL Lecitus Smith
Prospect Video: Dax Hollifield Mic’d Up
Draft prospects: WR Jaquarii Roberson
Emerging: DB Luke Masterson, RB Christian Beal
WR Jaquarii Roberson had over 120 yards in five of his last six games in 2020. He has 19 catches for 361 yards over his last three games (Virginia, Louisville, Syracuse) and he’s starting to put together an NFL resume with games like that.
DB Luke Masterson has played safety, linebacker, rover during his Wake Forest career, he’s twice been named a team captain, and he’s on pace to destroy previous career highs. He’s already posted a new career high in TFL (5) and sacks (2.5) and he’s one of the ACC’s leading tacklers (39).
Bold prediction of who is drafted in 2022: Nobody (Masterson, Roberson UDFA signings — I’ll keep an eye on RB Christian Beal too)
Prospect Video: Luke Masterson, top plays 2018