NFL’s must-have 2022 preseason rookies: Kyle Hamilton, many receivers highlight top 10



This week in August brings a full slate of NFL preseason action. Now it’s time to look back at the draft drafts and identify the rookies I’m most looking forward to seeing in preseason.

Last week, Josh Edwards has identified the recruits he is most looking forward to seeing this pre-season. Because Josh is another NFL Draft analyst here at CBS Sports and a really great, hard-working guy, I’m not borrowing any of his picks.

As the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2022 class, I make it a rule for myself that Hamilton should be listed first. The Notre Dame product had everything I was looking for, not just classic security by definition, but modern do-it-all security. Seriously, the job responsibilities of security have increased dramatically over the past decade. In almost every defense, the strong/free boundary is gone, linebacker duties are prevalent, and your safeties are better able to moonlight as a cornerback.

Even at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Hamilton comfortably handled all security missions, and his range of coverage was spectacular. Now, I will say that at his size, I’m intrigued to see him up against lightning-fast slot receivers in the NFL. Even for the most naturally gifted safeties – which Hamilton certainly is – this task is usually difficult at the start of their professional careers.

Derek Stingley, BC, Texans

It was love at the first movie date for me with Stingley. He dominated as an 18-year-old perimeter corner in the SEC during LSU’s legendary national title-winning campaign in 2019. And it wasn’t just his game. The features jumped off the screen. Beyond his years of media coverage, mirror shine, track speed, magnets on his gloves whenever the ball was within range, Stingley instantly flew off.

After 2019, a massive talent drain around him, coupled with injuries, created space for critics to squeeze into the crevices of Stingley’s project profile, but my conviction never wavered. This man was born to play man or zone, outside, in the NFL, against No. 1 receivers. Stingley wasn’t as tall or as long as many had hoped at the combine, but he still has the physical makeup and exquisite skills to be an instant star as a pro. I’m excited for the first look at Stingley in the pre-season, where he probably won’t see a lot of gaps among the best. He should lock it.

London looks like a throwback guy. But he really isn’t, which is basically why he finished as my No. 1 in the 2022 class. Nearly 6-4 and 220 pounds with endless arms, London can win where you think. he would win – above. My favorite stat from last season in college football: At USC, London led the entire nation in wins contested, and he played just eight games. Mad.

I get it though, as a receiver in today’s NFL, separation ability is the name of the game, and believe it or not, London has that in their bag too. He’s not suddenly going to create space like Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs or Tyreek Hill, but at his size he’s athletically fluid enough to open up with road clarity.

And the meters after the catch are as fashionable as they have been for a long time, and London also dominates in this area. Atlanta is clearly rebuilding, and its roster renovation plan is clearly to build a massive pass-catching squad with Kyle Pitts, London, Bryan Edwards and Auden Tate. Watching this group go head-to-head with the opposing team’s secondaries will be fascinating, even in August.

The last, and in a way, perhaps the most important of my mandatory picks for this article. Willis was my No. 1 QB, with a first-round rating, in the 2022 class. His footwork was in dire need of coaching, and he didn’t read defenses as effectively as Drew Brees did in college. I loved everything else he presented during his tenure as Liberty quarterback.

You see, I firmly believe that in today’s NFL, being able to consistently connect on high-grade midfield and deep-court throws is the ultimate indicator of a quarterback’s success- rear at the professional level. Willis has that ability. And then some. He made an assortment of throws in 2021 at Liberty that Kenny Pickett, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Sam Howell simply can’t physically execute.

And Willis should have a lot of burns in the preseason. It won’t be perfect. I just hope to see the tantalizing caliber of franchise throwing into the field on its exhibition releases.

Shakir is a rare cat. Three consecutive seasons as a full-time, high-volume college contributor, even if he doesn’t boast intimidating height, electric speed or otherworldly athleticism. Dude can totally do it. Shakir especially excels after the catch, and when it comes to catching, he has a flair for the acrobatic snag on slightly off-target throws.

He walks into the Bills’ reception hall with superstar Stefon Diggs, budding stud Gabriel Davis and ever-steady slot machine player Jamison Crowder. Thing is, Crowder was on the shelf with an injury for most of training camp, and Shakir immediately took advantage of that, showing off his picking ability at all levels of the court. And any Buffalo wide receiver will get a boost with Josh Allen. Now, we may not see Allen all preseason, but Shakir also opened up about his relationships with Bills backups Matt Barkley and Case Keenum, who will throw passes at him in August.

I didn’t think Sanders was Randy Gregory 2.0 — you know, the rusher who signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Broncos in March — but I got some serious Gregory vibes watching him in Cincinnati over the past two years. He’s incredibly lanky and even more incredibly powerful despite his tall, slender build. He bends. He understands that his hands are his best friend when it comes to attacking tackles.

As someone who thought Sanders should have been picked higher than where he was ultimately selected – Round 3 – I need to see this man rush the passer. As his body transitions from prospect to pro, I truly believe the sky’s the limit for Sander.

Doubs gets that nod for two reasons — by all reports, he was the brightest star in the Packers camp, and I always have “I’ll believe it when I see it” thoughts with him. I want to see if he proves me wrong. Without a doubt, the Doubs was a leading weapon in Nevada. I thought he struggled mightily against physical cornerbacks and didn’t thrive after the catch.

Apparently, he turned into Davante Adams at camp. Let’s see if the Packers have found a gem in their quest to replace Adams and maximize Aaron Rodgers’ career twilight.

As the founder of The Practice Squad Power Rankings, did you think I wasn’t going to include someone likely destined for the practice squad in September? Are you insane? Villain was one of the last prospects I watched in the 2022 class, and I immediately felt lucky because he’s a rushing gem.

Vilain was a sought-after rookie who started his career at Michigan but fell short of his perceived potential before moving to Wake Forest and finishing 2021 with nine sacks and 10 tackles for loss. He’s a sleek 6-3, 255 pounds with slick athletic features and deft hands to get past blockers en route to quarterback.

Of course, as an undrafted free agent, Vilain’s chances of making the Vikings roster are slim, and even slimmer of becoming a regular contributor. But as an undrafted free agent, he’ll be on the court a lot during the preseason. The more opportunities, the better. And based on his film Wake Forest and his athletic profile, Vilain should be able to beat the bottom tacklers in the second half of Minnesota’s preseason outings.

Bell makes the list because he’s a fascinating case study on film versus athletics. At Purdue, Bell was downright a stallion. Follow the ball down. Check. Master YAC. Check. Running route. Yeah.

But he tested horribly in Indianapolis and at his Pro Day. Regardless of who their quarterback is this season, the Browns desperately need offensive play options. Due to his athletic limitations on paper, has Bell reached the maximum ceiling of his potential as a footballer in the Big Ten? Or can he surpass what his training indicates about the speed and explosiveness of his movements compared to other NFL receivers? The pre-season will provide a first indication of the answer to these questions.

Robinson is one of those fun positional converts with monstrous potential. This man was a receiver in his first two seasons in Miami, Ohio, then the turnaround was made and Robinson finished with 4.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss and 28 pressures on 248 rushing passes.

No, none of these statistics are incredible. It’s those respectable numbers coupled with Robinson’s length and enormous untapped talent that make him so engrossing. Without Khalil Mack, the Bears’ Pass-Rush group is barren. Robinson will have plenty of opportunities to show how far he has come on the pitch this pre-season.