NFL prospects who helped their draft stock most in 2021
Junfu Han/USA Today Images

NFL prospects who helped their draft stock most in 2021

Many college football players helped their draft stock during the 2021 season with their great play. These 25 players are among the prospects that have helped their stock the most.

 
1 of 25

Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State

Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State
Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports Images

There aren't many punters selected in the NFL draft, but Araiza is almost guaranteed to hear his name called. He created legitimate buzz in 2021, winning the Ray Guy Award after averaging a whopping 51.2 yards per punt. He also handled duties as the Aztecs' placekicker.

 
2 of 25

Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri

Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri
Denny Medley / USA Today Sports Images

Badie entered the chat with 1,942 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns as Mizzou's primary ball carrier. He didn't have much tread on his tires until this season but now looks like a solid third-down back prospect.

 
3 of 25

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Matt Bush / USA Today Sports Images

Despite the injury, Corral is in the conversation as a top-five pick after an excellent final season under Lane Kiffin. He completed over 68% of his passes and threw only four picks in 12 games.

 
4 of 25

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Joshua L. Jones / USA Today Sports Images

Davis' stature is listed at 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, but that's probably an underestimate on both accounts. He plugged the run all season for the Bulldogs and stands as a first-round prospect who could make a Vita Vea-like impact at nose tackle.

 
5 of 25

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Brett Rojo / USA Today Sports Images

Georgia has produced its fair share of linebackers, and Dean has a chance to be one of the best in recent memory. He had a breakout season with six sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss through his first 14 games.

 
6 of 25

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Matthew O'Haren / USA Today Sports Images

Dotson is slightly undersized at 5-foot-11, but his speed helps him overcome the size limitation. He had a great regular season with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 13 touchdowns and has a solid shot to be a first-round pick in a loaded wideout class.

 
7 of 25

Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Albert Cesare / USA Today Sports Images

Gardner is under consideration as the top cornerback in the 2022 draft after another great year. He had three picks in all three of his seasons at Cincinnati and has also shown willingness as a tackler this year.

 
8 of 25

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Nikos Frazier / USA Today Sports Images

Hamilton was the top safety in the 2022 draft class coming into the year, and he's only strengthened his case. He missed time with a knee injury but was productive in seven games with 34 tackles and three interceptions. Hamilton has a chance to be a rare top 10 pick at safety.

 
9 of 25

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Hutchinson seemed like a surefire first-round pick when the season started, but he now has a shot to be the No. 1 overall draft choice. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist after recording 14 sacks and 62 tackles for the Wolverines.

 
10 of 25

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Rob Gray / USA Today Sports Images

Lloyd was a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine for the Utes, recording 107 tackles, including 22 for loss. He also had seven sacks and four interceptions in a do-everything season that could put him in the top half of the first round.

 
11 of 25

Drake London, WR, USC

Drake London, WR, USC
James Snook / USA Today Sports Images

London has the size and speed to be an early first-round pick in the deep 2022 wideout class. He had 88 catches for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns for the Trojans and looks like a premium Red Zone target at 6-foot-5.

 
12 of 25

Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
Troy Babbitt / USA Today Sports Images

Fantasy football managers will want to take note of McBride, who emerged as the best receiving tight end in the draft class. He could go late in the first round of the NFL Draft after catching 86 balls for 1,017 yards. His only weakness is a lack of height at 6-foot-4, which could limit his usefulness in the Red Zone.

 
13 of 25

Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Dan Rainville / USA Today Sports Images

McCreary is a first-round prospect after back-to-back excellent seasons at Auburn. He completed 2021 with 49 tackles and two interceptions and should offer stability at a position that is a high priority for most teams.

 
14 of 25

David Ojabo, DE, Michigan

David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Aidan Hutchinson got most of the attention on the Michigan defensive line before this season, but Ojabo also made a name for himself. He looks like a first-round edge rusher after recording 11 sacks in 13 games.

 
15 of 25

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports Images

Pickett has jumped to the head of the quarterback class and could be a first overall draft choice after a brilliant 2021 season. He greatly improved his accuracy, completing 67% of his passes for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns. Pickett's mobility should also allow him to operate in any style of offense.

 
16 of 25

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Sam Greene / USA Today Sports Images

Ridder led Cincinnati to an undefeated regular season, which speaks well for his improvement in his senior campaign. His passing accuracy has come along well in four seasons, and Ridder's mobility helps make him a fringe first-round pick.

 
17 of 25

Brandon Smith, OLB, Penn State

Brandon Smith, OLB, Penn State
Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

Smith had a breakout season, recording 81 tackles and two sacks for Penn State. He has a chance to have his name called on the first day of the draft.

 
18 of 25

Jerreth Sterns, WR, Western Kentucky

Jerreth Sterns, WR, Western Kentucky
Ben Queen / USA Today Sports Images

Sterns is undersized at 5-foot-9, but he still led college football with 150 catches for 1,902 yards. He appears to be a strong slot receiver prospect who could go on the second day of the draft if he has a good combine performance.

 
19 of 25

Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports Images

Strong is one of the names that could shoot up draft boards after the dust settles. He had a tremendous junior season, completing over 70% of his passes for 4,186 yards and 36 touchdowns.

 
20 of 25

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State

C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports Images

Stroud isn't draft-eligible until after next season, but the quarterback already has scouts salivating. He was terrific during the regular season, completing 71% of his passes for 3,862 yards and 38 touchdowns. His dominance as a redshirt freshman speaks volumes for his potential.

 
21 of 25

Cameron Thomas, DL, San Diego State

Cameron Thomas, DL, San Diego State
Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports Images

Thomas was a big part of the Aztecs' defense before this season, but he's taken his game to another level. He had 71 tackles and 10.5 sacks this season and has the versatility to operate in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

 
22 of 25

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports Images

The first Alabama quarterback to ever win the Heisman Trophy, Young won't be entering the draft for at least one more year. Still, he's shown plus ability in nearly every area as a quarterback, completing nearly 68% of his passes with 46/5 TD/INT while also showing plus mobility in the pocket. It should be fun to watch the first overall draft choice arguments for Young and C.J. Stroud over the next year.

 
23 of 25

Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Adam Cairns / USA Today Sports Images

Walker was a workhorse at Michigan State this season after transferring from Wake Forest. He finished the year with 1,646 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He might need to prove his receiving ability at the Combine to be a first-round pick, but Walker has definitely helped his stock this season.

 
24 of 25

Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

Walker was a big part of Georgia's ferocious front seven, with 30 tackles and five sacks over his first 12 games. He has the versatility to play on the edge or interior, so he should be a fit for many teams.

 
25 of 25

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Butch Dill / USA Today Sports Images

No wideout has helped his stock more than the speedy Williams. The Ohio State transfer had a huge season with 75 catches for 1,507 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging over 20 yards per reception. Even with the injury, he's almost certainly the next Bama first-round wide receiver, with DeSean Jackson-like big playability.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

More must-reads:

Customize Your Newsletter

+

Get the latest news and rumors, customized to your favorite sports and teams. Emailed daily. Always free!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.