Friday Night Notes: Former 5-star recruits headline first round of 2022 NFL draft

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USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school football recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2022 to ’23 and beyond.

The first round of the 2022 NFL draft was naturally littered with star power. Top talents from across college football heard their names called in the first 32 picks, marking the beginning of the next chapter of their career.

Recruiting rankings aren’t everything, but they’re usually a good indicator of which high school prospects have the best chance of hearing their name called early in the draft. That was the case again Thursday night, as nine former five-star recruits were picked. Even more former four-star recruits were selected.

Let’s take a deeper dive into why stars do indeed matter in the latest edition of Friday Night Notes.

Five-star goes No. 1

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Travon Walker’s production at Georgia doesn’t jump off the page, but the Jaguars deemed the pass rusher valuable enough to take him with the first overall pick. Before Walker blew everyone away at the combine and long before he was playing major snaps on Georgia’s defensive line, he was the No. 22 overall prospect in the class of 2019 out of Upson-Lee High School in Georgia.

Former 5-stars in the trenches picked with frequency

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Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Walker wasn’t the only former five-star lineman selected Thursday night. Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux went off the board to the Giants at No. 5 and Alabama tackle Evan Neal joined him in the Big Apple two picks later at No. 7. Mississippi State tackle Charles Cross went to the Seahawks at No. 9, Texas A&M guard Kenyon Green to the Texans at No. 15 and Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis to the Chiefs at No. 30. Not a bad showing from the trench masters who were projected to be among the best of the best.

Derek Stingley Jr.'s ranking matches his draft slot

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Stingley Jr. was surprisingly selected by the Texans at No. 3 — the same slot he ranked in the 247Sports Composite Rankings as a member of the class of 2019. Stingley Jr. was the definition of an elite prospect coming out of Dunham School in Louisiana. He helped LSU win a national championship right off the bat and nobody would be questioning his status as a top five pick if it weren’t for the injuries issues he endured during his final two seasons in Baton Rouge.

A dozen former 4-star recruits go off the board

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Five-star recruits weren’t the only highly-ranked prospects who heard their name called in the first round. Twelve former four-star recruits were picked Thursday night. They include:

  • Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson (Detroit Lions at No. 2)
  • USC WR Drake London (Atlanta Falcons at No. 8)
  • Alabama WR Jameson Williams (Detroit Lions at No. 12)
  • Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton (Baltimore Ravens at No. 14)
  • Penn State WR Jahan Dotson (Washington Commanders at No. 16)
  • Arkansas WR Treylon Burks (Tennessee Titans at No. 18)
  • Washington CB Trent McDuffie (Kansas City Chiefs at No. 21)
  • Georgia LB Quay Walker (Green Bay Packers at No. 22)
  • Florida CB Kaiir Elam (Buffalo Bills at No. 23)
  • Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson (New York Jets at No. 26)
  • Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt (Green Bay Packers at No. 28)
  • Georgia S Lewis Cine (Minnesota Vikings at No. 32)

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