Final Mock Draft - 2022 NFL Draft
The final mock. Includes trades and surprises. Some major shakeups from my previous two mock drafts. This is what I THINK teams will do on draft night, as opposed to what I think they SHOULD do when their name is called to select.
My favorite part of creating mock drafts is envisioning what GMs would do in given situations. Seeing the draft from a front office perspective on what teams have to do to make their clubs better is a thrilling drill.
Full audio breakdown:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, EDGE - Georgia
For the longest time I thought Aidan Hutchinson would be No. 1 overall. He's potentially a generational talent and is a "safe" (if that even exists in the NFL Draft -- or the league in general) selection. However, the buzz of Travon Walker stepping into the No. 1 spot is intensifying. The Jags make some noise and aim to tap into Walkers potential. We've seen it over and over again: Teams betting on potential rather than college statistical production. It's worked out in recent seasons with players like Rashan Gary of Green Bay.
2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE - Michigan
Detroit races to the podium and picks the Michigan standout after Jacksonville nabs Walker. While keeping the local kid in town is an excellent story, so is Hutchinson's production and work ethic. After 14 sacks and 62 tackles last year with the Wolverines, Hutchinson is going to be a household name in the NFL for years to come. Per PFF.com, Hutchinson graded out higher than anyone on defense in CFB.
3. Houston Texans - Evan Neal, OT - Alabama
Houston is in a prime position. They have their choice of either taking the untapped potential of Kayvon Thibodeaux at EDGE, or drafting one of the two best OT in the draft. As tempting as it may be to take Thibodeaux, Houston rolls with Neal to help fortify the offensive line ahead of Davis Mills. If Mills is the guy at QB, give him a chance to succeed up front. It's either him or Ikem Ekwonu here at No. 3.
4. New York Jets - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE - Oregon
Could we see the Jets take Sauce Gardner here? No question. But Robert Salah gets his wish with a potential wrecker up front in Thibodeaux.
5. New York Giants - Ikem Ekwonu, OT - NC State
It simple: New York needs more offensive linemen. Ekwonu is open for business after making it out of the top 4. New York should not even hesitate on this pick. Pair him with Andrew Thomas and the Giants are building a solid line for QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley.
6. Carolina Panthers - Charles Cross, OT - Mississippi State
With Neal and Ekwonu off the board, Carolina may pivot to drafting the next franchise quarterback. However, Cross is the last of the "Big 3" offensive linemen in the draft and the Panthers don't have a pick until round four due to the Sam Darnold trade. My bet is either an OL in this slot, or Carolina is in trade mode with a QB hungry team (queue New Orleans, Seattle and Pittsburgh looking to move up). Cross is loved by many teams and seems to be quickly moving up draft boards. He could be a cornerstone tackle for a decade. Also something to consider: The Panthers passed on the chance to draft Justin Fields in the top 10 last year... food for thought. Seattle seems like the best trade candidate for this spot, and would keep Carolina in the Top-10 of this draft while also possibly gaining a second rounder this year.
7. New York Giants - Ahmad Gardner, CB - Cincinnati
Draft one of the best tackles? Check. Look to the defensive side for big-time playmaking? Check. Sauce falls to No. 7 and the Giants are a happy customer. The benefit of EDGE rushers being valued at an extremely high rate this year gives New York the chance to jump at the secondary with either Kyle Hamilton or Sauce. Hamilton will have to wait to hear his name called a tad longer. Sauce has the chance to be a shutdown corner at the next level.
*Pittsburgh acquires the 8th overall pick from Atlanta for the 20th overall pick + future compensation including a 2023 first round pick*
8. Pittsburgh Steelers - Malik Willis, QB - Liberty
Seemingly, no team loves Willis quite like Steelers. Atlanta very well could draft Willis (and if they don't they may again be in the top 8 or so picks next year in a QB heavy draft to pick its next QB), but it makes perfect sense to fit the first trade of the draft in this slot with Pittsburgh. Mitch Trubisky is the bridge to the future, and the future in the Steele City is by way of the Liberty star. The Steelers have to be careful and calculated, because Seattle could undoubtedly snag Willis at No. 9 (or move up). Thus, forcing Mike Tomlin and Co. to make the quick move with Atlanta. The Falcons, moving back to No. 20, gain another first round pick for next season and will have two selections to possibly draft the next QB1.
9. Seattle Seahawks - Derek Stingley Jr., CB - LSU
Kyle Hamilton would be an excellent choice here, but Stingley Jr. is a top-5 talent when healthy and Seattle is looking for dynamic playmakers. Stingley is no doubt a top prospect in this class even with injuries being a massive part of his past. After missing out on Willis, Seattle bets on Stingley to be a full go and bring back swagger in the Seahawks secondary that we haven't seen since the Legion of Boom days.
10. New York Jets - Kyle Hamilton, S - Notre Dame
Wide receivers can be had at any point in the first two rounds or so in a loaded class. If the Jets want a top wideout, they'd have to pick him here. With the Jets picking third in the second round (a pick they can easily use to trade back into the first round for another first round selection) they have flexibility to draft a new No. 1 threat to help out QB Zach Wilson. Here, they add another chess piece to the defense and pick Hamilton. Even with a slower than expected 40 time, the Jets know his talent and don't pass up.
11 .Washington Commanders - Garrett Wilson, WR - Ohio State
A coin flip between Wilson and USC's Drake London, the Commanders roll the dice with Wilson and pair him with former Buckeye Terry McLaurin. With this duo slated to wreck havoc on opposing DBs, Carson Wentz has the tools to succeed to year 1 from the jump in Washington. Of course, this all hinges on IF McLaurin is back in Washington on a fresh extension. If not, Wilson becomes the new No. 1 should McLaurin be dealt.
*Philadelphia acquires the 12th overall pick from Minnesota for the 15th overall pick + future compensation*
12. Philadelphia Eagles - Jermaine Johnson, EDGE - Florida State
With Stingley Jr. off the board to Seattle a few picks earlier, Minnesota goes into collection mode by moving back three spots and adding picks. Three spots down won't take away from the position Minnesota seeks most (DB), and they create more daft flexibility with an extra pick. Meanwhile, the Eagles select the fourth EDGE rusher in the draft in Johnson. He may go even higher than this after an excellent performance at the Senior Bowl and flexing his muscles at the NFL Scouting Combine. Philly sees an opportunity to pounce, and they do.
*New Orleans acquires the 13th overall pick from Houston for the 16th overall pick + future compensation*
13. New Orleans Saints - Drake London, WR - USC
The Saints pre-draft trade with the Eagles created speculation as to what their moves would be on draft night. Presumably to move up and draft a QB like Willis. Beaten to the punch by the Steelers, the Saints turn their attention to WRs and OTs in round 1. First up is London, who had his 2021 season end early due to injury. He didn't run the 40 during his pre-draft workouts in front of scouts, but turn on the film and see how much of a problem he can be for opposing defenses on a nightly basis. London and Michael Thomas on the same team? Here we go.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Davis, DT - Georgia
A match made in heaven. The Ravens know the importance of having a dominating nose tackle. Haloti Ngata ring a bell? Nine seasons of causing teams to panic, Ngata set the bar high for DTs in Baltimore. Davis is up to the task, though. A talent that has whispered to be a possible top-10 pick, the Ravens take Davis before he falls any further.
*Minnesota acquires the 15th overall pick from Philadelphia for the 12th overall pick + future compensation*
15. Minnesota Vikings - Trent McDuffie, DB - Washington
Told you we would get that DB of the future for Minnesota! McDuffie has been linked to being a possible top-10 pick, and the Vikings, after missing out on Stingley Jr, land their next man in a secondary led by veteran Patrick Peterson. Once Peterson retires, McDuffie and Cam Dantzler will form a formidable CB unit in Minnesota.
*Houston acquires the 16th overall pick from New Orleans for the 13th overall pick + future compensation*
16. Houston Texans - George Karlaftis, EDGE - Purdue
After moving back from the 13th spot to gain more capital, the Texans grab their next EDGE rusher in the Boilermakers star. If the Texans were thinking of taking Thibodeaux at No. 3 but take Neal, Karlaftis is a great consolation prize to nab at No. 16. Per PFF.com, Karlaftis' 25.4% pass rush win rate ranked fifth in the FBS last year. Uh, yeah, this is a great pick for Houston.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Zion Johnson, G - Boston College
Oh how tempted I am to give the Charges and QB Justin Herbert another WR weapon here with Keenan Allen set to turn 30. But there are needs to be addressed that can give Herbert more time to throw to the current core of receiving threats. Taking Johnson may not be the splashy pick most Chargers fans were hoping to see, but it 100% feels like a move they SHOULD end up doing. Most needs for the Chargers were filled during free agency, too. Especially on defense. Johnson is pro-ready, a plug and play day 1 starter.
18. Philadelphia Eagles - Devin Lloyd, LB - Utah
Many people are clamoring for a third straight year of drafting a WR in Philly land. I don't buy it here, especially since the Eagles have the chance to completely change their defensive core after taking Johnson at No. 12 and now Lloyd dropping to No. 18. Too good to pass up, Lloyd is as pro ready as they come. The Eagles are in need of a SAM linebacker who can cover and rush the passer. Lloyd is made for that. The Utah star posted 31 pressures last year in college and graded out at a 88.4 pass-rush rate. That speaks all-around linebacker. WRs are available in the second round this season in a deep draft. Linebackers like Lloyd are not.
19. New Orleans Saints - Trevor Penning, OT - Northern Iowa
With wide receiver already addressed in the move up to No. 13 to select London, the Saints pick Penning to replace Terron Armstead at left tackle. Penning's tape is exciting to watch and should hype up Saints fans, even if he does need a tad bit of polishing for the next level. However, if the Saints stay patient with Penning, he will reward them tenfold. Something to consider: With the pre-draft trade to get a second pick in the first round, quarterback could easily be the selection here or at No. 13. After seeing the board falling this way, New Orleans buckles up for another Jameis Winston season.
*Atlanta acquires the 20th overall pick from Pittsburgh for the 8th overall pick + future compensation*
20. Atlanta Falcons - Jameson Williams, WR - Alabama
No team benefits more from a deal on draft day than Atlanta. With talks that Williams could be the 8th overall pick by Atlanta if they stayed put, the Falcons swing a deal with the Steelers AND STILL see Williams fall in their lap at No. 20 overall. The trade back from No. 8 tells me that Atlanta isn't sold on ANY QB in this draft, so Kenny Picket is off the table here. Even with the torn ACL in the national championship game, Williams is going to produce in the NFL. Book it.
21 .New England Patriots - Andrew Booth Jr., CB - Clemson
Bill Belichick and New England have a hole at CB after the Stephon Gilmore trade and letting J.C. Jackson walk free to the Chargers. Booth Jr. fills the need and then some. A long corner with excellent press coverage skills, he shows enough ball skills to break up passes at the next level to compete with teams like Buffalo in the AFC East. Yes this is a NEED pick, but also a value selection Win win situation for the Pats.
22. Green Bay Packers - Chris Olave, WR - Ohio State
The draft could see Olave selected in the top-15, but with teams making deals and moving up to select players they want most, Olave is lost in the shuffle and falls to a WR starved team in Green Bay. The 20-year streak of not drafting a Day 1 WR is over. This is one pick of mine that has stayed consistent through now three mock drafts due to trades by teams who make moves to select their defensive cornerstones. Again, WRs are available deep into this draft for squads who need a No. 2 or 3 WR. But Green Bay needs a No. 1 now, and waits no longer with Olave on the board. Don't be shocked if the Packers jump ahead of a few teams to pick their favorite WR target.
23. Arizona Cardinals - Tyler Linderbaum, C - Iowa
The Cardinals would have loved an EDGE rusher, but with the top five prospects off the board, Arizona picks the best center in the draft. It's not even close as Linderbaum covers a need for the Cardinals and this is also a quality pick for the slot selection. If Kyler Murray is back under center for Arizona, the read options will once again take center stage in the offense. Having Linderbaum lead that charge is heart eye emojis all over.
24. Dallas Cowboys - Kenyon Green, OL - Texas A&M
Not the loudest pick Dallas could have made here, but boy is it going to be a pick they love. With Linderbaum and Penning off the board, Green is open for the taking. His fit is perfect because he can step in and strengthen the interior on day 1. He is going to be a force in both the run and pass game, giving QB Dak Prescott more time. Don't be surprised if Dallas trades up in round 2 to nab a WR to fill another need, but round one belongs to the O-Line for Jerry Jones.
25. Buffalo Bills - Breece Hall, RB - Iowa State
A round 1 running back? Are you kidding? Not in the slightest! How many times did we see Josh Allen be the teams leading rusher last year? Hall can support Allen and WR Stefon Diggs in this offense. At least one running back has been taken in the first round in each of the past seven years. Make in eight this season.
26. Tennessee Titans - Nakobe Dean, LB - Georgia
Tennessee has many options at this point. Dean is a player who can make an immediate impact on a Titans defense that already has great pieces. The temptation is there for me to say QB Desmond Ridder or Kenny Pickett will be the pick here to push Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is 35-years-old now, and on a massive contract. How willing would Tennessee be to push the envelope? I'm not sure. But with this pick, I think the Titans go the defensive route and pick Dean.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Devonte Wyatt, DL - Georgia
The Bucs have not brought back DT Ndamukong Suh (still could happen post-draft, but if Wyatt is the pick here Suh will be on another teams roster this season). Tampa Bay does not have a major hole on the roster, but Wyatt could come in and be a day 1 plug and play man. I'm not totally convinced Wyatt will last this long in the draft, though.
28. Green Bay Packers - Daxton Hill, S - Michigan
Deep breaths, everybody. Yes, GB needs a third EDGE rusher. Yes, the Packers need more O-Line help with the losses of Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick. BUT! Safeties Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage both have deals coming to an end after this season. It's doubtful both are brought back on heavy deals, but with one safety back on board and Daxton Hill now in the shuffle, the Packers have a secondary set for years to come (once they lock down star CB Jaire Alexander, which is more than likely going to happen soon). Hill is going to make this defense very happy with his versatility and athleticism. He won't have to be a star in year 1, meaning he can slide in and find his footing in Joe Barry's defense.
29. Kansas City Chiefs - Treylon Burks, WR - Arkansas
The board falls perfectly for Kansas City to land Burks, who could be a top-15 selection. MVS and JuJu are in KC to help replace Tyreek Hill, but Burks value here, plus a need to have the position solidified this year and beyond, pushes KC to draft the do-it-all WR in Burks.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - Boye Mafe, EDGE - Minnesota
Pick 30 is a prime trade-zone candidate. In this mock, KC keeps it and grabs an EDGE rusher to fortify the defense after an offensive pick. Mafe can move around on either EDGE and play well. He ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine - that plays well in the AFC West. Even though Kansas City spent $46 million in cap hit last season to revamp the defensive line, Mafe gives the Chiefs a chance to move on from big contract players on the line if they so chose.
31 .Cincinnati Bengals - Kaiir Elam, CB - Florida
Finding ways to keep pace with the AFC is going to be tough, but grabbing Elam at the end of round 1 is a great addition. Need mixed with exceptional value, the Bengals are thrilled to see Elam fall after many teams are tempted to grab him. Just 20-years-old, Elam started 26 games in his 3-year career at Florida and amassed 79 tackles and 6 INTs. For a player his age to have that strong of production in three seasons, it's too good to pass up.
32. Detroit Lions - Kenny Pickett, QB - Pittsburgh
Up to this point, ONE QB has been selected in the first round. That is laughable in most drafts. But this year, teams are cautious of the weaker QB class. However, with a second pick in the first round, Detroit selects the heir apparent to Jared Goff. Pickett, who could easily end up being a top-10 pick, doesn't have to worry about taking over the gig in year one, but can challenge Goff from the get go and attempt to earn the starting job. Year 2, though, the QB spot is his for the taking. QBs are going to be jumped on in round 2, so the Lions get ahead of the curve to end round 1.