According to The Huddle Report, Brendan Donahue is ranked as the most accurate NFL mock drafter over the past five years and in this column he brings his extensive college football predictive insight to you weekly.
As someone who does mock drafts every year, I always have my eye on draft-eligible players and how their performance on the field could positively or negatively impact their draft stock in the upcoming draft. So we will be tracking players on a weekly basis throughout the season to see who is rising or falling on draft boards.
What college players are rising on the draft board for 2022?
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
We have a new favorite to win the Heisman at BetMGM and it is Matt Corral at +210 after his seven touchdown performance against Tulane on Saturday. Maybe just as important for his draft stock as the touchdowns were the zero interceptions and 74.2% completion percentage. Per ESPN, he not only had the highest QBR in college football this week with a 97.8 but also the highest EPA at 14.4.
On the season, Corral is one of only three power five QBs to have a PFF grade of over 90 at 90.2. Scouts wanted to see improved decision-making out of him this year after having games with five and six interceptions in his career and so far he has answered the questions. However, he has his biggest test of the season coming up in their next game in two weeks when Ole Miss travels to Alabama. If he can pass that test, he will firmly put his name in the discussion to be the first quarterback taken in the 2022 draft.
Drake London, WR, USC
USC got off to a shaky start versus Washington St. Saturday but then Drake London basically took over the game on offense even after they lost their starting QB Kedon Slovis to injury. Jaxson Dart came in on just the seventh play of the game to replace Slovis and he and London built chemistry as the game went on that saw USC score 35 unanswered points after being down 14-0 early.
London ended the game with a stat line of 13 catches, 170 yards, and two touchdowns and that was without playing the fourth quarter after coming down hard on his last touchdown reception and entering the concussion protocol. At 6’5”, 210lbs, London is a unique physical talent with a huge catch radius as evidenced by several highlight catches Saturday. The good news is that London is expected to be able to practice this week and not miss any games, so he will be able to continue to build on a big season where he is currently fourth in all of college football in receiving yards with 375.
Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina St.
After highlighting the skill players, we also have to focus on the guys that are giving them the time to make those plays so let’s look at N.C. St.’s Ikem Ekwonu. Through the first three games of the season, Ekwonu is the fourth-highest graded tackle at PFF with a grade of 91.4. Ekwonu has always been an exceptional run blocker but coming into the season needed to clean up his pass protection and so far he has done just that. On 119 pass block attempts, he has allowed zero sacks, zero hits, and one pressure after allowing 25 pressures in 2020. He does get his toughest matchup of the year next week when they go up against Clemson but if Ekwonu can continue to show his pass protection is improved then he should be one of the first tackles off the board in the 2022 draft.
What college players are falling on the draft board for 2022?
Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
As I mentioned in the stock-up portion, unfortunately, Slovis got injured on the sixth play of the game this week and was not able to return. The good news for him is that it doesn’t appear his neck injury is serious enough to make him miss any more games, the bad news is that his backup Jaxson Dart played well enough that USC interim head coach Donte Williams would not commit to Slovis being the starter going forward. His exact quote was “yes, I expect him to practice and continue to get better,” adding “he got some X-rays and an MRI and it came back negative, so I expect him to be out there as soon as possible and you know, join the quarterback battle.”
Not exactly what you want to hear when you are trying to put together a season that warrants being a first-round pick. Even before the injury, Slovis wasn’t having the season he was hoping for with a QBR of just 47.7 and an up and down performance vs Stanford that saw his head coach get fired after the game. There is a lot of competition amongst potential first-round quarterbacks and while some like Matt Corral are solidifying their spots, Slovis is in trouble of potentially falling out of the first round altogether.