The early-entry deadline for the 2022 NFL Draft officially passed on Monday, Jan. 17. Counting seniors who passed on an extra year of eligibility and underclassmen entering early, more than 300 players are shifting their focus to the next level. Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, Alabama receiver Jameson Williams, Ohio State receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, along with North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, are just a few of the names headed to the NFL.
The official list of players declaring will be released later this week, but it's no secret which players have already announced their intentions and which teams will be filling the most voids this offseason. The early-entry deadline is a key moment in any college football offseason, as this allows coaches to get a better view of which players are returning and ho2 the roster looks headed into National Signing Day on Feb. 2. With the early entrants declared, it’s time to take a look at the winners and losers from a college perspective.
Which teams remain in good shape and which programs have big shoes to fill thanks to early draft departures? Here are the winners and losers with the draft deadline process:
College Football's NFL Draft Deadline Winners and Losers for 2022
The Bears suffered some losses to the NFL, but four offensive linemen announced their return for 2022, giving coach Dave Aranda’s team one of the top fronts in the nation. Defensive lineman Cole Maxwell and defensive backs Mark Milton and Christian Morgan also opted to return.
Although the Wildcats watched a couple of players depart Lexington early, the return of quarterback Will Levis and running back Christopher Rodriguez Jr. and linebackers DeAndre Square, Jacquez Jones and Jordan Wright is enough to keep coach Mark Stoops’ program in the mix to be a top-25 team in ’22.
The Wolfpack should be in the mix to win the ACC in 2022. Quarterback Devin Leary, receivers Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter, offensive lineman Grant Gibson and defenders Isaiah Moore (LB), Payton Wilson (LB), Tanner Ingle (S), Cory Durden (DL), and Derrek Pitts (DB) all opted to return. That offsets the departure of running backs Bam Knight and Ricky Person and standout left tackle Ikem Ekwonu.
With Kenny Pickett out of eligibility, it was important the Panthers didn’t lose a ton of pieces to the NFL in order to defend their ACC title. Mission accomplished for coach Pat Narduzzi, as the entire offensive line opted to return, and defensive lineman Deslin Alexandre also passed on the NFL.
The Volunteers lost cornerback Alontae Taylor, offensive lineman Cade Mays and receivers Velus Jones and JaVonta Payton to the next level. However, quarterback Hendon Hooker opted to return, and that’s enough to keep coach Josh Heupel’s program in the mix to be a top-25 team next year.
Consensus All-American linebacker Devin Lloyd’s departure was expected, and end Mika Tafua (9.5 sacks) will be missed. But the Utes were able to retain running back Tavion Thomas and tight end Brant Kuithe for another season. The return of those two players, along with the underclassmen in place, is a big reason why Utah is the Pac-12 front-runner next year.
The return of quarterback Sam Hartman gives Wake Forest another shot to win the ACC in '22.
Running back Leddie Brown passed on an extra year for the NFL, but coach Neal Brown was able to retain defensive standouts in Dante Stills (DL) and Josh Chandler-Semedo (LB) for one more season.
The Crimson Tide always lose talent to the NFL and this year is no exception. The receiving corps took a hit with Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden all departing. Left tackle Evan Neal and linebacker Christian Harris are also off to the next level. Of course, having quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson Jr. returning as juniors next year eases the impact of any departures.
Coach Herm Edwards has a lot of work to do this offseason to remodel the roster into a Pac-12 South contender. Running back Rachaad White, cornerback Jack Jones and offensive lineman Dohnovan West are all headed to the next level.
Coach Luke Fickell’s team lost quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Jerome Ford, while defensive lineman Myjai Sanders and cornerbacks Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant top the list of departures on defense.
The reigning national champs are going to look a lot different in 2022. Running backs James Cook and Zamir White, receiver George Pickens, offensive linemen Justin Shaffer and Jamaree Salyer and defenders Derion Kendrick (CB), Travon Walker (DL), Lewis Cine (S) and Nakobe Dean (LB) are departing Athens early for the NFL.
New coach Brian Kelly already had roster holes to address, but the departure of running back Tyrion Davis-Price, defensive backs Cordale Flott and Derek Stingley Jr., defensive lineman Neil Farrell, along with offensive linemen Ed Ingram and Chasen Hines only added to those concerns.
Several standouts from the team that won the Big Ten and earned a playoff spot opted to head to the next level. Ends Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo won’t be easy to replace up front, and defensive back Daxton Hill will be missed in the secondary. Running back Hassan Haskins, lineman Andrew Stueber and receiver Daylen Baldwin top the list of departures on offense.
Mel Tucker quickly assembled a team capable of contending for a spot among the top-10 teams in the nation. The third-year coach’s ability to reload will be tested again, as running back Kenneth Walker III, offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis, receiver Jalen Nailor and defensive linemen Drew Beesley and Drew Jordan are off to the NFL.
Each side of the ball suffered significant losses to the NFL draft. Cornerback Martin Emerson headlines the defensive departures, and receiver Makai Polk and left tackle Charles Cross leave big voids on offense.
The Buckeyes rank among the top contenders to win it all next year with quarterback C.J. Stroud and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba set to return. But coach Ryan Day lost a couple of key cogs to the NFL, including defensive linemen Haskell Garrett and Tyreke Smith, receivers Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave and offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere.
New coach Brent Venables is quickly restocking the roster through the transfer portal, but the Sooners lost several significant players to the next level, including linebackers Brian Asamoah and Nik Bonitto, along with defensive linemen Isaiah Thomas and Perrion Winfrey. Also, two offensive linemen and running back Kennedy Brooks also opted to declare.
Lane Kiffin’s team is going to look significantly different next fall. Quarterback Matt Corral, running backs Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy and receiver Dontario Drummond are all headed to the next level after helping the Rebels finish with 10 victories and an appearance in the Sugar Bowl.
Both sides of the ball were hit by departures for coach James Franklin’s team. Brandon Smith, Ellis Brooks and Jesse Luketa depart the linebacker unit, with safety Jaquan Brisker and end Arnold Ebiketie off to the next level. Offensively, the Nittany Lions lost receiver Jahan Dotson and tackle Rasheed Walker.
Losing receiver David Bell and end George Karlaftis will hinder Purdue’s hopes of winning the Big Ten West in ’22.
San Diego State
The Aztecs lost four key players – defensive lineman Cameron Thomas, punter Matt Araiza, running back Greg Bell and offensive lineman William Dunkle – to the next level.
The Aggies are loaded for the future thanks to the No. 1 recruiting haul for ’22, along with a handful of young players poised to emerge from the '20 and '21 classes. But coach Jimbo Fisher is losing several key players to the next level, including defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, safety Leon O’Neal, running back Isaiah Spiller, offensive lineman Kenyon Green and tight end Jalen Wydermyer.
It’s safe to bet on new coach Lincoln Riley restocking the roster through the transfer portal and a couple of big additions in the ’22 recruiting haul. But the Trojans suffered some hefty losses to the NFL, including receiver Drake London, cornerbacks Chris Steele and Isaac Taylor-Stuart and running back Keaontay Ingram.
Status Quo (Some Good News, Some Bad News)
The departure of Treylon Burks (WR), Montaric Brown (CB) and John Ridgeway (DL) is significant. But the news at the deadline wasn’t all bad for coach Sam Pittman. Linebacker Bumper Pool, safety Jalen Catalon and linemen Ricky Stromberg and Dalton Wagner opted to return.
Make no mistake: Auburn is going to miss cornerback Roger McCreary, linebackers Zakoby McClain and Chandler Wooten, and safety Smoke Monday. But those losses were minimized a bit with offensive linemen Alec Jackson, Austin Troxell and Nick Brahms, linebacker Owen Pappoe and linemen Derick Hall, Eku Leota and Colby Wooden returning next fall.
Center Alec Lindstrom, offensive tackle Tyler Vrablel and defensive back Brandon Sebastian are big losses, but coach Jeff Hafley received good news when quarterback Phil Jurkovec and receiver Zay Flowers announced their return for 2022.
Losing receiver Justyn Ross and cornerbacks Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth Jr. nearly put Clemson in the loss column. However, those departures were offset by offensive tackle Jordan McFadden and defenders K.J. Henry and Xavier Thomas opting to return.
Retaining linebacker Jack Campbell, cornerback Riley Moss and tight end Sam LaPorta was huge for Iowa’s hopes of a division title in 2022. But the losses – center Tyler Linderbaum, running back Tyler Goodson, safety Jack Koerner and defensive back Dane Belton – will be tough to overcome.
The Fighting Irish received good news this offseason when receivers Avery Davis and Braden Lenzy, defensive linemen Isaiah Foskey and Jayson Ademilola and offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson announced their return for '22. However, new coach Marcus Freeman lost safety Kyle Hamilton, running back Kyren Williams, receiver Kevin Austin, and defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa.
Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and defensive backs Verone McKinley III and Mykael Wright are hefty losses for new coach Dan Lanning. However, the new staff managed to get a couple of offensive line starters back, along with defenders Bennett Williams (DB) and Popo Aumavae and Brandon Dorlus (DL) to return.
The return of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet is great news for Chip Kelly's team after an 8-4 mark in ’21. But the news wasn’t all good for the Bruins. Offensive tackles Sean Rhyan and Alec Anderson, receiver Kyle Philips, tight end Greg Dulcich and defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia are all gone to the next level.
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