Justyn Ross Clemson

Early Look: 2022 NFL Draft WRs

If your franchise missed out on a top wide receiver in 2021, then they may already have their eyes on the most promising 2022 NFL Draft WRs. Below are six WR prospects that you should monitor in the 2021 college football season. If you’re looking for a QB, look nor further than Mase’s work here

The WR prospects identified are the leading athletes in their positional group. Needless to say, a lot can happen between now and the 2022 NFL Draft. As it stands, these players are the leading candidates for a Day One selection.

David Bell, Purdue (Junior, 6′ 2″, 205 lbs)

2020 season stats:

6 games
66 receptions
865 YDs (13.1 YPC)
8 TDs

Bell enjoyed a breakout year in 2020. Most college football fans knew all too well about Rondale Moore’s ability. Their knowledge of David Bell was generally not as strong. With Moore opting out of the 2020 season, the stage was set for Bell to shine. And shine he did!

He had four 100+ yard games last year in just six games. In just one of those fixtures did he fail to score a touchdown (v. Northwestern). Bell benefitted from Moore’s absence and led the Boilermakers in receptions (30% of team receptions), yards (34%) and touchdowns (53%). It is safe to say that he thrived under the weight of expectation in 2020.

Justyn Ross, Clemson (Redshirt Junior, 6′ 4″, 205 lbs)

2019* season stats:

*Ross missed the 2020 season through injury

14 games
53 receptions
625 YDs (11.8 YPC)
8 TDs

Justyn Ross was a notable absentee for The Clemson Tigers in 2020. He suffered from a stinger injury in practice. X rays revealed a congenital fusion condition of his neck and spine, which required immediate surgery. It was a major roadblock to what had been an impressive college football career. Ross broke out in his freshman year and backed this up with impressive numbers as a sophomore.

DJ Uiagalelei is the favourite to deputise for the now-departed Trevor Lawrence. The sophomore QB showed glimpses of what he can be when stepping in as T-Law’s understudy in 2020. Cornell Powell and Amari Rodgers have also left for the NFL.

If Ross is healthy in 2021, he will be a huge addition to the Clemson offence. Not only will he be Uiagalelei’s primary target, Justyn Ross could redeem his draft stock prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Before his injury, many touted him as a certified stud and Day One pick. He needs a full season on the field to convince NFL franchises that he is fully recovered from his spinal procedure.

John Metchie III, Alabama (Junior, 6′ 0″, 195 lbs)

2020 season stats:

13 games
55 receptions
916 YDs (16.7 YPC)
6 TDs

The spotlight will be on John Metchie III to become the leading light of the Alabama WR room. In the past two drafts, four Crimson Tide wideouts have been selected on Day One (Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith). Metchie III will be hoping to be in high demand in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The WR room is less crowded in Tuscaloosa in the build up to the 2021 college football season. Metchie III will be expected to lead the receiving corps in the absence of Smith and Waddle. Jaylen Waddle’s early departure from the 2020 season gave Metchie III the chance to step up.

He ended the year with 20% of the Tide’s total receiving yards from 17% of team receptions. Metchie III’s six touchdowns made up for just 14% of the team’s receiving scores. He was undoubtedly in the shadow of DeVonta Smith in 2020, who had an historic campaign. Any receiver would play second fiddle to Smith. This year, the pressure is on him to perform.

If John Metchie III can step up and be the alpha receiver for Nick Saban in 2021, he could be a surprise First Round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State (Junior, 6′ 0″, 188 lbs)

2020 season stats:

8 games
43 receptions
723 YDs (16.8 YPC)
6 TDs

Garrett Wilson has been a huge addition to the Ohio State offence. Born in Austin, Texas, the recruitment of Wilson highlighted The Buckeyes’ national reach. Wilson committed to OSU ahead of The Texas Longhorns, who no longer enjoy a monopoly on the best in-state recruits. He followed top Texan prospects like JK Dobbins and Jeff Okudah out of the Lone Star State and onto the Buckeyes’ roster.

Wilson is an explosive playmaker that could eclipse fellow Buckeye Chris Olave in his Junior year. In 2020, he opened the season to become only the second ever Ohio State receiver to have four consecutive 100+ yard receiving games.

Drake London, USC (Junior, 6′ 5″, 210 lbs)

2020 season stats:

6 games
33 receptions
502 YDs (15.2 YPC)
3 TDs

Drake London is a monstrous wideout. His stat line in 2020 looked unspectacular, but that fails to take into account that The Trojans played just six games in a schedule disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

He is a big-bodied catcher that bullies defenders. London has a large catch radius, allowing his QB to keep passes away from oncoming defensive backs. With the ball in his hands, defenders simply bounce off him. He gets significant yards after the catch, often requiring multiple opponents to bring his forward progress to a halt.

London led the team in receiving yards (26% of the Trojans’ total) in 2020. Amon-Ra St. Brown, now of the Detroit Lions, was QB Kedon Slovis’ favourite target, with 7 touchdown catches (41% of team passing TDs). Drake London will be expected to lead USC’s wide receivers in 2021 now St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns are playing in the NFL.

Chris Olave, Ohio State (Senior, 6′ 1″, 189 lbs)

2020 season stats:

7 games
50 receptions
729 YDs (14.6 YPC)
7 TDs

Chris Olave was widely expected to enter the NFL in 2021. He will certainly enter the 2022 NFL Draft. His decision to stay on for his Senior year is a brave one. He will no longer be catching passes from Justin Fields, who did enter the NFL Draft and will be playing for The Chicago Bears in 2021. Olave and Fields had the quasi-telepathic connection that Head Coaches pray for.

This year, he will most likely be catching passes from CJ Stroud, who is favourite to win the camp battle for the starting job at Quarterback. Olave caught an impressive catch from the sophomore QB in this year’s Spring game.

Time will tell if Chris Olave made the right decision to return to Columbus for his final year of college football.

There you have it. An early, but not exhaustive, look at some of the key 2022 NFL Draft WRs. Find all of our work over @5yardcollege

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