After transferring from Ohio State, Jameson Williams exploded in his junior season at Alabama, catching 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
Unfortunately for Williams, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Alabama's loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
ESPN's Adam Schefter says that Williams "is expected to retain his 4.3 speed" after having surgery on the left knee. With that said, it's fair to wonder whether a team will use a pick in the top half of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Williams still, with uncertainty about exactly when he'll be ready to make his debut.
While we would still bet that Williams is ultimately selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, we're currently projecting that he won't be among the first 15 picks:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson - Edge Rusher, Michigan
While Trevor Lawrence had some noteworthy struggles during his rookie season, he finished the season on a strong note, throwing two touchdowns in a Week 18 upset of the Indianapolis Colts. The top priority this offseason will be finding a stable head coach to develop a winning culture in an organization that's been bad enough to earn the No. 1 pick in back-to-back years. Said head coach will not only inherit Lawrence, but the chance to draft Hutchinson, who had 16 1/2 sacks in his final year at Michigan. With Travis Etienne -- who missed his rookie season with a lisfranc injury -- also set to debut in 2022, the Jaguars could take a big step forward next season if they nail the top pick.
2. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux - Edge Rusher, Oregon
Had the Lions lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 18, they would have landed the No. 1 pick, and had the chance to keep Hutchinson in the state of Michigan. It's possible they still get that chance with the second pick, but if not, Thibodeaux would be a hell of a consolation prize. In 30 games at Oregon, Thibodeaux had 19 sacks, seven pass deflections, three forced fumbles and 35 1/2 (!!) tackles for a loss. The 21-year-old would be a perfect fit for the culture that Chris Spielman, Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell are trying to build in Detroit.
3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal - Offensive Tackle, Alabama
If they're able to trade Deshaun Watson before this year's draft, this could be the first of multiple first-round picks that Nick Caserio and the Texans have in 2022. Davis Mills perhaps showed enough late in the season to earn a longer look in 2022, especially if the Texans aren't enamored with any of the quarterbacks in this year's class. Neal -- who ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. calls "an elite left tackle prospect with a massive frame and stellar physical traits" -- could play right tackle for a few seasons, with Laremy Tunsil currently entrenched at right tackle. In theory, he could also make Tunsil a trade candidate, and the Texans probably aren't going to be shy about accumulating draft capital in the coming years.
4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton - Safety, Notre Dame
General manager Joe Douglas appears to have made out well in the July 2020 trade of former All-Pro safety Jamal Adams to the Seattle Seahawks, with the retooling Jets slated to have multiple first-round picks for the second consecutive year. This pick actually wasn't acquired in the aforementioned trade, as it's the Jets reward for a fairly disastrous 4-13 campaign in Robert Saleh's first season as head coach. A consensus All-American in 2021, Hamilton would give a blue-chip player to an organization that's struggled to find those for much of their existence.
5. New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu - Offensive Tackle, N.C. State
Whatever you think about the selections that now-former general manager Dave Gettleman made in using top-six picks on Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, there's no doubt that the potential growth of both has been stunted by porous offensive line play in front of them. Andrew Thomas graded out much better in his second NFL season, but the Giants still have plenty of work to do to have a top-tier group of "hog mollies" in front of whoever is going to play quarterback for them moving forward.
6. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett - Quarterback, Pitt
David Tepper and Matt Rhule -- who is seemingly coaching for his job in 2022 -- are desperate to find a long-term answer at quarterback, after running through Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and a late-career Cam Newton over the past two seasons. If they are unable to acquire a big fish via trade -- at last check Deshaun Watson wasn't interested in coming -- then the draft will be their best route to figuring out the most important position in sports. Set to turn 24 before the start of his rookie season, Pickett is a bit older than you would like in your rookie quarterback. But he broke out for 42 touchdown passes and 4,319 yards as a fifth-year senior at Pitt. He'd have to switch colors to come to Carolina, but perhaps he could remain a Panther for life.
7. New York Giants: Drake London - Wide Receiver, USC
With either one of their first two picks, a new regime for the Giants could pivot at the quarterback position. However, Daniel Jones still has one remaining year on his rookie deal, and it's possible that a new front office isn't especially intrigued by any of this year's quarterback prospects. If that's the case, wide receiver remains a pressing issue for the Giants. After signing a four-year/$72 million deal that guaranteed him $40 million, Kenny Golladay had just 37 catches for 521 yards in his first season with the Giants. Kadarius Toney showed flashes, but played in just 10 games in his rookie season. Getting a better supporting cast around their quarterback -- whether it's Jones or someone else -- will be crucial to turning things around for the Giants. Jameson Williams would have been the pick here, but London is hardly a disappointing fall-back option. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound receiver was limited to just eight games in his final season at USC, but still managed to catch 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns.
8. Atlanta Falcons: George Karlaftis - Edge Rusher, Purdue
Despite posting a -146 point differential in 2021, the Falcons seemingly overachieved in Arthur Smith's first season by going 7-10 and remaining competitive in most of their losses. Atlanta could be a candidate to target a wide receiver in the first round if Calvin Ridley is traded, but for now we're going to project that Terry Fontenot addresses another major need at edge rusher. Karlaftis is the No. 7 overall rated player on The Draft Network's big board, with Kyle Crabbs adding that "he might be the best power rusher in this year's class."
9. Denver Broncos: Matt Corral - Quarterback, Ole Miss
The Broncos have long been linked to Aaron Rodgers if he becomes available via trade, and with a pretty stout defense, a deep group of wide receivers and an emerging star in running back Javonte Williams, Denver could seemingly become a Super Bowl contender if they land a star quarterback via trade. Until that happens, though, we have to project that they solve their quarterback dilemma another way. Corral had 20 touchdown passes and also found the end zone 11 times on the ground in his junior season at Ole Miss.
10. New York Jets: Kenyon Green - Interior Offensive Lineman, Texas A&M
In their season finale in Buffalo, the Jets allowed Zach Wilson to be sacked eight times, costing them 79 yards. Protecting last year's No. 2 overall pick should be a major priority this offseason. Mekhi Becton should be back at left tackle in 2022, and the team can hope that last year's first-round pick -- Alijah Vera-Tucker -- can improve after grading out as the No. 41 guard in the league in his rookie season. Green could immediately step in as the starting right guard for the Jets, and Keith Sanchez of The Draft Network even suggests he could play right tackle at the NFL level as well.
11. Washington Football Team: Derek Stingley Jr. - Cornerback, LSU
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Stingley ranked as his No. 5 overall prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft class, though he admits that his "ranking is all about his upside," saying that his best production came when he was a freshman in 2019. Stingley had surgery on his left foot in October, which ultimately ended his junior season after just three games. If Ron Rivera is as intrigued by Stingley's talent, he could be an interesting addition to a defense that's also going to get Chase Young back in 2022.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Andrew Booth Jr. - Cornerback, Clemson
If Stingley doesn't fall here, a new regime in Minnesota could address their need at cornerback by taking Booth, a first-team All-ACC selection in 2021. We don't yet know what scheme Mike Zimmer's successor in Minnesota will run, though Bleacher Report's scouting department says that Booth "has the ability to play multiple techniques from man and zone," which makes him a good placeholder here, if nothing else.
13. Cleveland Browns: Nakobe Dean - Linebacker, Georgia
One of the biggest stars of the College Football Playoffs, Dean was a key cog in a Georgia defense that led them to a National Championship. The Horn Lake, Mississippi native had an incredible all-around season in 2021, posting 72 total tackles, 10 1/2 tackles for a loss, six sacks, five pass deflections, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. The Browns may have a few more pressing needs than linebacker, but Dean will be one of the odds-on favorites to win Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2022.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis - Interior Defensive Line, Georgia
Davis is 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds, and is capable of shutting your entire running game down. In a division that features Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and Najee Harris, that could be pretty appealing to a Ravens team that hopes to return to the postseason in 2022. We'll almost certainly look back in a few years and think that Davis should have been taken earlier.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: David Ojabo - Edge Rusher, Michigan
This selection -- which the Eagles acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins ahead of last year's draft -- is the first of back-to-back picks by the Eagles, and three overall in the first round. With Brandon Graham nearing the conclusion of his excellent career, the Eagles could add another former Michigan edge rusher that they hope becomes a stalwart. Ojabo had a monster junior season for the Wolverines, with 35 total tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. Ojabo's resume prior to 2021 is pretty short, but he flashed enough this past season to be a first-round pick.