I've barely even unpacked after a fun few days in Cleveland at the 2021 NFL draft, but yes, it's already time for the first look at the potential prospects and first-round picks of the 2022 NFL draft. But to be clear, this is an extremely early prediction. I haven't even spent much time with the tape for next year's class yet -- I'll get into that later this month -- and much of the following is based on what I've seen while watching prospects in person over the past two seasons and what I'm hearing already around the league. So much will change between now and when all 32 teams descend on Las Vegas next April.
Still, this is a useful exercise, and it gives us a good look at some of the names to watch and where they could land. My 2021 way-too-early mock last summer featured 14 prospects who ultimately were first-rounders and predicted five top-10 picks. But there is still a college season to be played and a long pre-draft process ahead. From last year's way-too-early, two players returned to school, and both Wake Forest receiver Sage Surratt and Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses went undrafted. Expect plenty of change, risers and fallers over the next 12 months.
There's also the matter of the draft order, which I did not decide here. We predicted the following 1-32 order by combining early 2022 power rankings from NFL analysts Matt Bowen, Mike Clay, Mina Kimes, Seth Walder and Field Yates. And it was projected as the rosters are now; obviously, there'd be a shake-up if Aaron Rodgers were no longer in Green Bay, but we approached this as though he were staying put.
OK, let's take a spin through Round 1, which includes five more quarterbacks, another receiver from Alabama and a bunch of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Note: Underclassmen are noted with an asterisk. Trades are shown below as well, including one projected conditional pick that could become a first-rounder.