2022 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is set to commence Thursday night at 8 PM. We still don’t know who the No. 1 pick will be. There are no clear-cut top quarterbacks, just a bunch of maybes who could sneak into the first round or fall into Day 2. 

Add all of it up and this is widely expected to be one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory.

Here’s my final 2022 NFL Mock Draft, plus some additional draft resources we’ve compiled as well. 

2022 NFL Mock Draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Georgia DE Travon Walker

It really feels like the momentum is building for Walker here. Jaguars GM Trent Baalke‘s predilection for athleticism is well-known at this point. And Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson is no slouch athletically either. Walker is bigger and longer, however. Both men are high-character, high-effort players. Hutchinson was obviously more productive in college. That has mattered less for projecting edge rushers to the NFL than athletic traits, however. 

2. Detroit Lions: Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson

I really think it’s a two-man race at the top of the draft, with the Lions content to take whichever defender the Jaguars pass on. In this case, Hutchinson’s local ties make it a nice story, but he plays a position that’s a big need for Detroit and is exactly the type of high-motor player the Lions want to build around. 

3. Houston Texans: N.C. State OT Ikem Ekwonu

The Texans didn’t pick until the third round last year, so we’re making guesses about what GM Nick Caserio will do with high picks. There’s a lot of momentum for a cornerback given HC Lovie Smith‘s comments, but how much sway does Smith actually have in the draft room? Caserio comes from the Patriots and the ties between that program and Alabama are strong. Yet it feels like Ekwonu is generally seen a tick above Evan Neal around the league. 

4. New York Jets: Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux

I’ve had Thibodeaux here consistently throughout the first two editions of this mock. But there’s been a renewed wave of momentum around the idea of a draft-day slide for Thibodeaux this week, to the point where there are national and local New York reporters who would be surprised if Thibodeaux landed with the Jets. Maybe I’m being stubborn, but this kind of abrupt change so close to the draft feels weird. On Sunday, ESPN’s Jets beat reporter Rich Cimini reported the Jets came away from their pre-draft meeting with Thibodeaux feeling the narrative about his attitude was overblown. So who knows.

5. New York Giants: Mississippi State OT Charles Cross

The drumbeat connecting Cross to the Giants has been growing steadily. They asked him to work on the right side at his pro day and didn’t fully commit to keeping Andrew Thomas on the left side at a pre-draft presser last week. Cross is a terrific pass protector and I don’t think he slips out of the top six picks. 

6. Carolina Panthers: Alabama OT Evan Neal

Carolina is still a strong candidate to trade down and pick up draft capital on Day 2. Perhaps someone comes up for Neal or Stingley. But Carolina has struggled to fill the left tackle spot with someone consistently since Jordan Gross retired after the 2013 season. Getting one of the top three tackles could be tempting enough for them to sit and pick. 

7. New York Giants: Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner

New DC Don Martindale loves to play man coverage and blitz, making cornerback the most important position in his defense. Gardner is enormous for a cornerback but still has rare athleticism. I would be surprised if he lasted past this pick. 

8. Atlanta Falcons: Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson

On a roster chock-full of needs, the Falcons’ receiving corps still manages to stand out as a group that looks more at home in the USFL than in the NFL. The question is which receiver Atlanta likes. There’s a school of thought that HC Arthur Smith will gravitate toward the size of USC’s Drake London, but they already have some big-bodied options on the roster between TE Kyle Pitts, RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson and WR Auden Tate. My bet is they diversify with Wilson. 

9. Seattle Seahawks: Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning

I think there are three options for this pick: Penning, LSU CB Derek Stingley and Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson. Seattle has a need at corner and Stingley could be special. However, they’ve traditionally waited until later in the draft to target the position. They also like to trade down and a team below them like the Vikings or Eagles could come up for Stingley. When the Seahawks have picked this high in the past, they’ve taken tackles and edge rushers, both of which are needs. Johnson is probably the more highly-rated player but Penning hits a bunch of boxes Seattle looks for: athletic, competitive, has overcome adversity. And they’re not afraid to go off their own board. 

10. New York Jets: Alabama WR Jameson Williams

A torn ACL in the national title game seemingly dropped Williams’ stock given the uncertainty about when he’d be able to play as a rookie. But teams will reach ahead of “consensus” for speed — we’ve seen it in the past two drafts with other Alabama receivers like Henry Ruggs and Jaylen Waddle. The Jets were in on Tyreek Hill who went for a first-round pick and the NFL’s highest salary for a receiver. And it’s worth noting some schools have been more aggressive in rehabbing severe injuries like ACL’s and had success. Former Clemson WR Amari Rodgers is one notable example, he made it back in six months. 

11. Washington Commanders: Ohio State WR Chris Olave

People who pay attention to this kind of thing have noted that Ron Rivera‘s presence at a pro day has been a big tell as far as eventual draft picks in the past. The Commanders’ head coach attended Ohio State’s pro day this year, which is notable considering they have two of the top receiving prospects in this class. Kyle Hamilton being available makes this interesting but I still think this pick will be an Ohio State receiver.  

12. Minnesota Vikings: LSU CB Derek Stingley

To me, the Vikings make a lot of sense to make a short jump up the board to secure Stingley if he slips into the end of the top 10 picks. It’s the perfect marriage of talent, need and fit. The other options aren’t as clean. They need an edge rusher, but Johnson is an older prospect. Perhaps Hamilton is Plan B here. 

13. Houston Texans: USC WR Drake London

There’s buzz about the Texans wanting to make sure they get a great look at QB Davis Mills this season, so going offense with the first two picks would be a great way to make sure he has the tools around him to sink or swim on his own, not be dragged down. 

14. Baltimore Ravens: Georgia DT Jordan Davis

Baltimore needs help at edge rusher, but Davis is a truly unique player that would be hard to pass up. The Ravens might see shades of Haloti Ngata here with the simultaneously massive and athletic Davis.  

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson

Johnson has been linked as high as the Jets with the No. 4 pick, which would be a huge jump compared to where his stock has been for the past few months. He did take a top 30 visit with the Jets, but his other reported visits were with the Titans (No. 26), Cardinals (No. 23) and Lions (No. 2 and No. 32. Maybe it’s nothing, maybe it’s something. Regardless, the Eagles will need edge-rushing help down the road and Johnson can help them there. 

16. New Orleans Saints: Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton

Hamilton followed up a 4.65 40-yard dash at the Combine with an even worse time at his pro day. That combined with the questionable positional value of using a high pick on a safety means that all signs are pointing to a bit of a draft-day slide. Still, Hamilton is a fantastic player on tape and fills a big need for the Saints.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Washington CB Trent McDuffie

There are two schools of thought on McDuffie. Some point to his reportedly outstanding interviews with teams and his tape for the Huskies to argue he should be a top 20 pick. However, teams consider athletic traits at cornerback more than most positions and McDuffie’s relatively short arms are a big negative. It would take a team willing to overlook that and I do think the Chargers might be that team. McDuffie profiles favorably to CBs Jason Verrett and Asante Samuel Jr., both of whom GM Tom Telesco has spent premium draft capital on. 

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Florida CB Kaiir Elam

At this point in the first round, the grades will start to flatten out. It will come down to specific team grades and fits more than the consensus, as there might not be a huge difference between the prospects here and in the first half of Round 2. The Eagles need a new No. 2 corner and eventually a No. 1 down the line to replace CB Darius Slay

19. New Orleans Saints: Arkansas WR Treylon Burks

We’ll find out what the Saints had in mind when they traded for a second first in this class on Thursday, but it doesn’t seem like they’re necessarily locked in on a quarterback with one of those picks. Their two biggest remaining needs are wide receiver and tackle, and Burks is the best remaining player at either position. Burks needs more development than the other top receiving prospects and at this point the consensus seems to have him at the bottom of the top five generally seen as consensus first-rounders. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Liberty QB Malik Willis

I’ve thought for a while the quarterbacks could be in for a slide on draft day, as there doesn’t appear to be a prospect a team would feel rock solid spending a top-ten pick on. Pittsburgh feels like a strong bet to take a quarterback even if they don’t get the first one off the board. In this scenario, they get their pick, and my hunch is Willis is the one they were most impressed by. 

21. New England Patriots: Boston College G Zion Johnson

Johnson is smart, tough, versatile and a local prospect, all reasons which make him a compelling fit for the Patriots if he’s on the board here. 

22. Green Bay Packers: Purdue DE George Karlaftis

With the top receivers off the board, the Packers still have options to fill needs. Karlaftis helps keep their pass rush deep and gives them a long-term successor to Preston Smith

23. Arizona Cardinals: Texas A&M OL Kenyon Green

Green can slot into multiple positions along the Cardinals’ front and help them better protect QB Kyler Murray

24. Dallas Cowboys: Utah LB Devin Lloyd

Linebacker isn’t a huge need for the Cowboys but this could be another case of a prospect slipping down the board to a point where Dallas feels like it can’t pass. Lloyd is fast and a strong pass rusher, not unlike Cowboys LB Micah Parsons. Having two position-flexible speed demons to deploy wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. 

25. Buffalo Bills: Georgia S Lewis Cine

Often the draft is less about addressing immediate needs and more about looking into the future. The Bills have one of the better starting safety tandems in the league right now with Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde but both are past the age of 30. Poyer is in a contract year, while Hyde’s deal is up after 2023. The Bills also like to ease their rookies in, which means Cine could play as a third safety as a rookie before stepping into a bigger role next season. 

26. Tennessee Titans: Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore

If there’s a sixth receiver to crack the first round, don’t sleep on it being Moore. He’s a tough, thickly built receiver with good hands and terrific competitive makeup. He could start in the slot and potentially at flanker eventually for the Titans, who might just have one more year in their current team-building window. 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Houston DL Logan Hall

The Buccaneers need an infusion of youth along their defensive front and Hall is a strong scheme fit who has received some late first-round buzz. 

28. Green Bay Packers: Michigan S Daxton Hill

There are some receivers the Packers could consider here but they might be considered a bit of a reach. They haven’t reached on receivers in the first round in 20 years so why start now? Safety is an under-the-radar need, as Adrian Amos‘ deal voids after the 2022 season and 2023 will be Darnell Savage‘s fifth-year option season. 

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Minnesota DE Boye Mafe

The Chiefs need help at defensive end to prepare for Frank Clark‘s likely departure after this season. Mafe has impressive athletic traits and can develop behind Clark for a season. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt

Wyatt is often mocked earlier but he’s older for a prospect at 24. Still, he gives the Chiefs a much-needed infusion of disruption on the interior of their line. 

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Clemson CB Andrew Booth

The Bengals have a history of taking corners in the first round and Booth fits the mold they’ve traditionally looked at. 

32. Detroit Lions: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

I suspect the Lions get a decent return to trade this pick for another team coming up for a quarterback that wants to secure the fifth-year option. 


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