The Standout NCAAF Rookies From the 2022 NFL Season

Now that the dust has settled from the drama of the postseason of 2022 NFL, it’s time to assess the college prospects picked from last year’s NFL Draft. It’s fair to say that the newest crop of college football upstarts has settled in just fine to the world of gridiron.

Which NFL rookies have gone on to enjoy the best debut seasons? Below, we explore five of the latest NCAAF recruits who have taken to the NFL like a duck to water.

Sauce Gardner – New York Jets from University of Cincinnati

Gardner was named Defensive Rookie of the Year at the NFL Honors after making a huge impact for the Jets this season. The cornerback was the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, underlining his importance to the Jets’ roster. In fact, the Cincinnati starlet started 17 regular season games for the Jets and became the first Jets rookie to make the Pro Bowl since 1988.

The Jets’ last Super Bowl triumph came way back in 1969 and it’s been slim pickings for them ever since. However, the clever recruitment from the 2022 NFL Draft has made Robert Saleh’s men more of a force to be reckoned with. If Gardner and fellow rookie Garrett Wilson can develop further in 2023, their current odds to push for the AFC Championship might seem steep. DraftKings currently has them seventh favorites at +1400, with this operator highly regarded by OddsChecker based on the strength of its welcome promotions, the competitiveness of its lines and user experience.

Tariq Woolen – Seattle Seahawks from University of Texas at San Antonio

It’s all about the cornerbacks at the top of this 2022 NFL rookie list, with Tariq Woolen also making a huge impression with the Seahawks. The fifth-round 2022 NFL Draft pick from the UTSA, Woolen demonstrated throughout the season that he has the raw materials to make an impression at the elite level.

Woolen’s physicality is rare for a cornerback, but his playmaking creativity also makes him a huge weapon for Seattle in the years to come. Woolen’s meteoric rise to NFL stardom is a huge feather in the cap of the UTSA, with Woolen becoming the first UTSA student to achieve Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season.

Garrett Wilson – New York Jets from Ohio State University

Photo by Steve DiMatteo

Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson has made the transition to the NFL with consummate ease. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that the New York Jets have had major issues with their quarterbacks this season. Despite this, Wilson has racked up more than 1,100 receiving yards, which is a big achievement for a rookie.

In fact, Wilson’s regular season data cements him as the best wideout from the NFL Draft class of 2022. It was unsurprising to see Wilson named Offensive Rookie of the Year and NFL analysts believe there is plenty of upside potential within his game.

Aidan Hutchinson – Detroit Lions from University of Michigan

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has made a huge impression in his rookie season for Detroit. Hutchinson is a Michigan boy through and through and this makes him a very relatable player for fans. Hutchinson was the second overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, underlining his importance to the Detroit roster when it comes to knitting together a fierce pass rush. In the regular season, he posted 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks.

In fact, this data makes Hutchinson one of the most effective rookie pass rushers in the history of the NFL. He has genuine confidence in his ability, recently telling the Lions’ official website that the 2022 season was only an “appetizer” for things to come.

Chris Olave – New Orleans Saints from Ohio State University

Wide receiver Chris Olave has made a huge impact for the Saints since his switch to the big league. Olave was New Orleans’ number-one target for the 2022 NFL Draft and it’s been easy to see why. Olave has been a critical part of the Saints’ roster, given the frustrating injuries to veteran wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas.

Olave was a former college teammate of Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets and, although Wilson has been the major star, Olave has been a major success for the Saints’ recruitment department. His rookie receiving figures are the second-best in the franchise’s history, with only Michael Thomas bettering his numbers.

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