2022 NFL Draft: These 10 college football teams were hit hardest by underclassmen entering draft early


The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft passed on Monday, but not before more than 120 star players opted to move on to the next phase of their career. The final list of early entrants will be released in the coming days — and some key contributors are returning for another year — but nine of the top 10 players on the CBS Sports Prospect Rankings are underclassmen who declared. Their losses will be felt across college football as teams try to replace them

Consistent NFL producers like Alabama and Georgia are built to handle such attrition. For other programs, significant losses can be devastating.

Here are 10 programs that were hit hardest by early entries to the 2022 NFL Draft, including a handful of new-age powers faced with their first major roster tests. 

The Aggies are losing Kenyon Green and DeMarvin Leal, the first pair of consensus All-Americans at Texas A&M since 2013. Additionally, tight end Jalen Wydermyer and running back Isaiah Spiller were consistent All-SEC performers. The Aggies have players in the pipeline, but coach Jimbo Fisher’s first wave of stars are cycling out of the program. 

The Wolverines will be starting from scratch on defense after losing key contributors to the NFL. Chris Hinton and David Ojabo joined senior Aidan Hutchinson as defensive linemen heading to the next level, while safety Daxton Hill leaves a hole on the back end. New defensive line coach Mike Elston has work cut out for himself to find players that will fill those holes up front. The offense will have to step up in 2022 either way. 

The Aztecs earned the first 12-win season in program history behind a three-pronged approach: defense, field position and running the ball. San Diego State is losing the leaders in all three approaches after star pass rusher Cameron Thomas (20.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks), Ray Guy Award winner Matt Araiza (51.2 yards per punt) and offensive guard William Dunkle (highest run blocking grade in PFF history) declared for the draft. 

4. Georgia Bulldogs

Most national championship teams end up on lists like this and the Bulldogs are no different. Linebacker Nakobe Dean, defensive end Travon Walker and defensive back Lewis Cine join a wave of talented seniors taking their talents to the draft. Offensively, leading rusher Zamir White and wide receiver George Pickens head to the league. The Dawgs will look much different in 2022. 

The Ducks have been stacking elite recruiting classes over the past four years, and the first wave of departures are starting to hit. Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux will compete to be the No. 1 overall pick. Star defensive backs Verone McKinley III and Mykael Wright played a major role in Oregon’s defensive development. Offensively, the Ducks lose top receiver Devon Williams. Dan Lanning’s new staff will have to quickly find some answers before Oregon plays Georgia next season. 

Starting quarterback Matt Corral is heading to the NFL after playing his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Star running backs Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy joined him in declaring early. Those three players alone were responsible for 5,378 yards – more than 80% of the Rebels’ total offensive production. 

The Boilermakers lost two players to early entry. Unfortunately, they’re the best players on each side of the ball. Wide receiver David Bell was arguably the best in college football last season, while defensive end George Karlaftis made a name for himself in upset victories. Both will compete for starting spots in the NFL right away. 

8. Alabama Crimson Tide

As the nation’s premier producer of pro talent, the Crimson Tide are hit every year and 2022 is no exception. Top receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III declared for the draft, along with Evan Neal, generally considered the top offensive lineman in the draft, and a handful of defenders. The only thing keeping the Tide lower on the list is that Alabama also unexpectedly benefited from getting safety Jordan Battle and linebacker Henry To’o To’o back for another year. 

Safety Kyle Hamilton was a superstar from the moment he stepped on campus. The only thing making his loss a little more manageable was that the Fighting Irish had to play the second half of the 2021 season without him. Leading rushing Kyren Williams and receiver Kevin Austin Jr. also joined senior quarterback Jack Coan in the draft, meaning offensive coordinator Tommy Rees will virtually be starting from scratch in 2022. 

Wide receiver Drake London was the best wide receiver in college football — by far — before suffering a season-ending ankle fracture. New coach Lincoln Riley has his work cut out replacing London. Defensively, both starting corners Chris Steele and Isaac Taylor-Stuart are gone, along with top pass rusher Drake Jackson

Honorable mentions: Western Michigan, Cincinnati, Iowa





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