The 2022 NFL Draft is so close you can almost taste it. You know what that means. Another mock draft, with trades, detailed-and-hopefully-illuminating analysis for each selection and even a full list of picks for Round 2 for fun.
I'm going with some things that make practical sense, some out-of-the-box choices that will definitely shock you (brace yourselves in advance, Lions fans) and, as opposed to the previous two iterations, spoiler alert: There'll be FOUR quarterbacks in the first 32 picks as opposed to three.
Only about a week out until the draft gets underway in Vegas!! Let's get it bay-beeeeeee!!!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Trent Baalke is gonna blow it and draft Travon Walker, isn't he? Don't worry Jags fans. I'll spare you that pain until draft night. For now, you can take solace in selecting Hutchinson. I mean, I don't know why an organization as dysfunctional as the Jags is even considering anyone else at the minute. It feels like the second straight no-brainer pick Jacksonville has had to make atop the draft order. Not sure why anyone would trade up to No. 1 overall, since there's no slam-dunk QB to take. No other prospect makes sense here other than Hutchinson. But with Baalke at the controls, prepare for anything.
2. Detroit Lions - Drake London, WR, USC
London didn't start focusing exclusively on football until his junior year of college. Some people give London shit for all his contested catches and how that doesn't necessarily translate to the NFL. Well, if you watch many of his best catches, he's often pulling off aerial acrobatics because of how off-target the ball is. London, who grew up a Lions fan, is a lot twitchier than you'd expect for a 6-foot-4, 213-pounder. This guy is going to bully fools at the catch point even in the NFL. Detroit dipped into the USC talent pool with great success last year by drafting Amon-Ra St. Brown. Oh, and Detroit receivers coach Antwaan Randle-El said in February the team is looking for a true X-receiver. "We're going to be searching for a guy that can go in and help our offense put this ball down the field and really be a guy that we can — I shouldn't just say throw it up, … but we know we can get man (coverage) one-on-one on the backside, let's get that ball over there, knowing he's going to win." That sounds a lot like London to me.
Note: The Lions could trade down and still get London somewhere in the top 10, in all likelihood. I just couldn't find an appealing-enough trade scenario for them to execute that. I stand by London at No. 2 regardless. LFG. Not a bad flier bet at +9000.
3. Houston Texans - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
A repulsively bad Texans defensive backfield could use an alpha like Sauce to change their fortunes. Houston needs at least one cornerstone on that side of the ball, and should take whichever DB it likes here between Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr. or Kyle Hamilton. Given Stingley's injury history and Hamilton's lower position value as a safety, Gardner is the best bet here for the Texans.
4. New York Jets - Travon Walker, DL, Georgia
To me personally, Walker feels like a reach this high. I'd probably take Derek Stingley Jr. here, or consider trading out and possibly getting the LSU cornerback later on. However, most Jets fans appear to be clamoring for an edge defender. Walker lacks the production and splash plays you usually see from a top prospect. Having said that, I'm wildly intrigued by he could do in Robert Saleh's defense as part of a front featuring Carl Lawson, Quinnen Williams and John-Franklin Myers. With Walker in the fold, Saleh could change up the Jets' 4-3 base look with more 3-4 alignments, or even 5-2 fronts to become more multiple and unpredictable on stunts and pressures.
5. TRADE: Seattle Seahawks (via Giants) - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Seahawks trade 9th pick, 41st pick and 2023 third-round pick to Giants for 5th pick
Pete Carroll isn't waiting around to move on from the Russell Wilson era. The charisma, cannon arm and athleticism Malik Willis possesses is enough to fall in love with. Seattle has two 1's and two 2's in the 2023 draft to play with. They have to know Carolina and Atlanta will at least be strongly considering a QB with the sixth and eighth selections. Willis could swing the balance of power in the NFC West if he reaches his immense ceiling. One general trait Willis shares with Wilson is a beautiful deep ball. I'd love to see Willis get the launch codes in Seattle and air it out to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
6. Carolina Panthers - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Where there's smoke there's fire. Panthers owner David Tepper is a Pitt grad. Head coach Matt Rhule once got a commitment from Pickett to play college ball at Temple. Carolina is not-so-secretly thirsty for a QB. I don't know if Pickett is the answer. The reality is, Tepper will urge the front office to keep swinging until someone's found. Pickett has underrated arm strength, excellent field-reading ability and tons of experience under his belt. There's no question he's an upgrade over Sam Darnold. Whether Pickett is THAT DUDE to lead a franchise as a top-10 player at the position is less certain. I'm more bullish on him than some. I just don't think the Panthers are situated well to facilitate a rookie field general's success, given the bad state of their offensive line.
7. New York Giants - Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
My No. 1 big board guy right here. The G-Men should sprint to the podium with this card. They luck out a little bit because of the couple of signal-callers getting drafted. Neal shined as a left guard, right tackle and left tackle in successive seasons at Alabama. To think that he still has room to refine his technique and is already as dominant at he is at multiple spots is why I like him as much or more than any prospect in the 2022 class. He can plug in anywhere for the Giants and start save for left tackle.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With two QBs already off the board, a desperate need for EDGE defenders in Atlanta, and the upside Thibodeaux represents, I feel like this pairing is a perfect match. Atlanta is a big market, which is what Thibodeaux covets, but it's not a place where his head can get too big as opposed to, say, New York. It'll be a humbling, rebuilding situation. We'll learn a lot about Thibodeaux's passion for the game (or lack thereof) as the Falcons slog through what has the makings of a fifth straight losing season.
9. New York Giants (via Seahawks) - Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
In this scenario, I'd imagine that Ekwonu either flexes over to right tackle or slides into left guard. Whichever position Neal wouldn't take is where Ekwonu would likely go. I can only imagine having run-blocking maulers like Ekwonu and Neal paving running lanes for Saquon Barkley. They'd give Daniel Jones much more time to throw the ball, too. I think the defense is decent enough to where the Giants don't have to go swinging on that side of the ball just yet. Fix the glaring flaw with two relative can't-miss prospects. We all might be surprised by how good Barkley and Jones are if this is the way the G-Men go.
10. New York Jets - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
If I'm the Jets, I'm not going to let Braxton Berrios stop me from drafting a wide receiver in the first round. Olave has the potential to be a legit WR1 somewhere down the line. He's also insurance for Corey Davis, who I'm not sure will ever be THAT guy for Gang Green and has an out in his contract after the 2022 campaign. A future tandem featuring Olave and Elijah Moore gives young QB Zach Wilson two surefire receivers to develop and grow with.
11. Washington Commanders - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Wherever the Commanders want to plug Hamilton in on their back seven, I can't imagine him not having success. Arguably no organization has had more dysfunction and cultural issues than Washington. Hamilton is precisely the type of high-caliber player and, by all accounts, person to help turn that Commanders program around.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Third mock draft since I started. Third time I have Jordan Davis going to Minnesota. I'm having trouble seeing it any other way. Davis is the type of physical freak and athlete you just can't pass on. The Vikings could have Davis, Dalvin Tomlinson, Za'Darius Smith, and Danielle Hunter on their front. I can't emphasize enough how awesome that would be. I like enough of Minnesota's developmental players in the secondary to pass up on a cornerback here.
13. Houston Texans - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
If the Texans are indeed rolling with Davis Mills as their starter of the present and future, they need to help him out with some playmakers. Most of the blue-chip o-linemen are gone by this point. They will likely still have the chance to draft Williams, whose stock may slip a tad because of his torn ACL. Brandin Cooks feels like the perfect mentor for Williams, because they're similarly twitchy, explosive and are capable of playing outside despite slighter builds.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
There's nothing Lloyd can't do as a defender from the linebacker spot. Rush the passer, drop in coverage, smash ball-carriers in the run game…you name it. We can talk about Patrick Queen's raw tackling production, but he's downright awful when he tries to cover. Queen may be one of the few linebacker draft misfires in Ravens history. Thy usually nail it at that position. If they nab Lloyd, their defense could return right back to among the league's elite, particularly with Marcus Peters returning at cornerback after being out all of last year.
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Unless one of the QBs transforms into a superstar, I'd classify this as the steal of the draft if it fell this way. I had Stingley second in my first mock and sixth in the second. He's No. 2 on the big board. I'm convinced he was just pacing himself and distancing from a toxic LSU football program over the past two years. Pressing his luck by trying to play through injuries too often wouldn't have been the smartest move. As a true freshman, Stingley knew he was going to be a first-round pick. While he may have hurt his stock by being too conservative or not as engaged as he could've been in Baton Rouge, I still believe he's worthy of going in the top five. The Eagles would be ecstatic to start Stingley opposite Darius Slay.
16. New Orleans Saints - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
All the reps Cross got in pass protection for Mike Leach's pass-heavy SEC offense has prepared him as well as anyone to take over for Terron Armstead as the Saints' long-term left tackle. Cross is also nastier than he gets credit for as a run blocker. New Orleans could still have him fall here and address another key need with their next pick.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Keenan Allen isn't getting any younger, and while LA could count on Josh Palmer to be the legit third option in the Chargers' receiving corps, why not give young stud QB Justin Herbert another premium weapon in Wilson? This man is absolutely electric. He's not in the mold of the Bolts' other big-bodied wideouts. Wilson would lift an already-strong Chargers passing attack to perhaps the best in the NFL.
18. Philadelphia Eagles - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Despite his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame, Burks has more burst than most humans his size do. He can get yards after catch and shrug off contact in the open field. If you throw a ball anywhere in his general vicinity, chances are he'll come down with it. Burks is almost too big for my taste. But in Philadelphia, he could be an awesome red zone threat and a nice change-up to the receiving corps headlined by the much smaller DeVonta Smith.
19. New Orleans Saints - Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Desmond Ridder reminds me of a mix between an early-career Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota. You see some good pro-style QB tendencies and a high football IQ coming out of college. The arm strength is Dalton-esque, perhaps underrated if anything, but still not uber-elite. Ridder's accuracy leaves something to be desired, but like Mariota, he can bail out of trouble with exceptional mobility. I like how Ridder keeps his eyes downfield when he's using his legs and runs as a last resort more often than going "one read and tuck it." The Saints' system is tried and true. Ridder won't be pressured to play right away. New Orleans isn't reaching too badly here. I feel like Ridder is more of second-round prospect. The value of the QB position inflates his stock to the teens in Round 1.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa
If Mitch Trubisky is meant to have any success in his second shot at starting — provided Pittsburgh doesn't acquire someone else to compete with him — he'll need a better offensive line than what the Steelers have in-house right now. Second-year center Kendrick Green can slide over to guard. He played there at Illinois. That'd make room for another Big Ten stalwart in Linderbaum, who's among the best center prospects I can recall in recent years. You usually don't see centers with as much universal acclaim as Linderbaum garners. Trust that it's fully deserved. He's a perennial Pro Bowler and among the safest prospects in the draft.
21. New England Patriots - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore have left the Patriots in the past year. They need help at cornerback. McDuffie comes from a long line of DBs from the Washington Huskies program and is eighth on my big board. He's among the cleanest prospects, with size being the only real deficiency you can point to. I feel like he can play anywhere on the back end. Bill Belichick would love to mold McDuffie into yet another All-Pro-caliber defender. The question is whether or not McDuffie will be on the board at No. 21. Here, he is, and he'd likely start in Week 1 and thrive.
22. Green Bay Packers - Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
With the exception of Rashan Gary, the Packers' front seven has more often relied on power over quickness/speed in recent years, or so it seems. That's come back to bite Green Bay at times, especially against the zone-blocking schemes of the 49ers. Nakobe Dean can quickly diagnose plays and flat-out FLY to the football. He's excellent in coverage as well. The Packers have the luxury of going with one of the best players still available to team with De'Vondre Campbell for a dynamic linebacker duo.
23. Arizona Cardinals - Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
Exit: Chandler Jones. Enter: Jermaine Johnson II? The Cardinals could do worse. They'd have the option of selecting an interior offensive lineman to get into Kyler Murray's good graces. I don't think I'd bite on that. Murray is being an odd duck like he's wont to be and holding out for a new contract. It feels like a premature power play. Johnson addresses an obvious need for Arizona and should be an instant-impact player if he lands in the desert.
24. Dallas Cowboys - Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
I could see Wyatt going as early as 12th to the Vikings if they want a more traditional three-down body like Wyatt. I'm personally gambling on how much of an intriguing outlier Davis is, but I love Wyatt as a prospect too. If you stuck him inside on Dallas' front, and let him tee off on stunts with DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons, damn that would be fun. Who knows what the Cowboys are thinking at any given time. They don't often go for obvious needs.
25. Buffalo Bills - Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Wow would it be awesome for Buffalo to have a gifted player like Booth fall in their lap. They're only a few pieces away from having a truly complete roster. One of those clear holes is a strong starting No. 2 cornerback. Booth is still a little raw, but he has ball skills that are off the charts for a DB. He has such natural movement skills, fluid hips and has a knack for recovery and high-pointing the ball. Going to a zone-heavy system like the Bills would be ideal for Booth to realize his immense potential.
26. Tennessee Titans - Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
Among the remaining top-flight guards still on the board, Johnson wins out over Kenyon Green because of his superior pass protecting. Speculation has been swirling that the Titans may be seeking to move off quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Not sure his regression in 2021 was all his doing, considering he went from taking 24 sacks the previous season to 47. I'd like to see Johnson help protect the pocket for Tannehill. Perhaps then he can rally Tennessee back into true Super Bowl contention.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
The left guard spot could use a boost in Tampa Bay. Green is a nasty, powerful guy who doesn't play over his skis. He operates well in space and is smooth in his ability to get to the second level. I fail to see many flaws in Green's game as far as run blocking is concerned. Combine that with his versatility, and he's kind of a dream choice for the Bucs as they pursue better offensive balance. If anyone can help Green learn the nuances of pass protection, I'd wager it to be Tom Brady and the 21-year-old's would-be starting guard mate, Shaq Mason.
28. Green Bay Packers - George Pickens, WR, Georgia
If I had a little more guts, I'd have Pickens graded higher than 32nd on my big board, which is still a first-round grade. He missed most of Georgia's national title run while recovering from a knee injury, but is the type of bigger receiver Green Bay seems to fall in love with. The thing with Pickens, though, is he plays more like a slot guy in terms of lateral quickness and how fluid he is in exploding in and out of his breaks. Additionally, you won't find a much more sure-handed wideout in the entire draft. Pickens could easily go for 1,000 yards as a rookie catching balls from Aaron Rodgers.
29. Kansas City Chiefs - Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
I'd consider a safety here since Tyrann Mathieu is gone. Another great option is Elam. The Florida standout is a pure outside cornerback who has plenty or reps against top-tier talent under his belt. The Chiefs do need another bigger, physical guy to play opposite Rashad Fenton. Although his play style is of the risk-reward variety and could scare off some teams, that fits well in KC. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo loves to be aggressive with blitzes, counting on his guys to hold up in coverage long enough for pressure to get home. Not many prospects left on the board are more built for that than Elam, it would seem.
30. TRADE: Detroit Lions (via Chiefs) - Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Lions trade 34th pick and 2023 2nd-rounder to Chiefs for 30th pick and 2023 4th-rounder
In this scenario, Detroit still has two first-rounders to play with next year, so sacrificing a second-rounder isn't the end of the world. While the Lions could roll with Jared Goff and not have a plan B for 2022, taking a flier on someone with Corral's arm talent is a worthy gamble. On his own merits, Corral has the tools to be a franchise QB. He just need a little time to study an NFL playbook. He'd have a solid vet in Goff to help him, and brings a dual-threat ability and moxie that the Lions incumbent simply doesn't have.
31. Cincinnati Bengals - Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
Cornerback is a worthy top priority for Cincinnati. I'm just partial to Ebiketie. He only started playing football as a high school sophomore. His breakout in 2021 at Penn State suggests his best football is in front of him. I did a Bengals seven-rounder recently, and had Ebiketie at 31. I'm sticking with that. Trying to manifest something good for the Bengals. Here's a stat from that aforementioned mock that's so nice I must cite it twice. If you're sleeping on Ebiketie, may be time to wake up.
32. Detroit Lions - Jalen Pitre, CB/S, Baylor
It's interesting that Pitre is almost exclusively a slot corner, but that's a specialized position that's becoming more coveted. He's an absolute missile in run support, too, which only adds to his appeal for the hard-nosed, kneecap-biting identity coach Dan Campbell is trying to instill in Detroit. Pitre's versatility is key to helping a Lions secondary that finished last season with PFF's second-worst coverage grade.
Barstool Sportsbook props — # of players to be drafted in Round 1 by position:
QBs: 2.5 — Over (-278) / Under (+185)
WRs: 5.5 — Over (-275) / Under (+200)
CBs: 4.5 — Over (+110) / Under (-143)
OT/OL: 7.5 — Over (+110) / Under (-143)
In this mock: 4 QBs, 6 WRs, 6 CBs, 6 OT/OL
2022 NFL Mock Draft, Round 2:
33. Jacksonville Jaguars - Bernard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
34. Kansas City Chiefs (via Lions) - George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
35. New York Jets - Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
36. New York Giants - Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
37. Houston Texans - Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
38. New York Jets - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
39. Chicago Bears - Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
40. Seattle Seahawks - Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
41. New York Giants (via Seahawks) - Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
42. Indianapolis Colts - Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
43. Atlanta Falcons - Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
44. Cleveland Browns - DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
45. Baltimore Ravens - Travis Jones, DL, UConn
46. Minnesota Vikings - Josh Paschal, EDGE, Kentucky
47. Washington Commanders - Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
48. Chicago Bears - Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
49. New Orleans Saints - Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
50. Kansas City Chiefs - David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
51. Philadelphia Eagles - Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
52. Pittsburgh Steelers - Dylan Parham, OL, Memphis
53. Green Bay Packers - Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
54. New England Patriots - Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
55. Arizona Cardinals - Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
56. Dallas Cowboys - Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
57. Buffalo Bills - Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
58. Atlanta Falcons - Logan Hall, DL, Houston
59. Green Bay Packers - Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
60. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
61. San Francisco 49ers - Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
62. Kansas City Chiefs - Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
63. Cincinnati Bengals - Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
64. Denver Broncos - Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia
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