As the season is coming to a close, the talk and intrigue that surrounds the NFL draft are going to come to a head, with mock drafts going to be released in bulk as we approach the draft day. So, here is my first NFL mock draft of the season, I will make more as the season comes to an end. But here are my predictions for the first round of the NFL draft, using the draft order on Tankathon.
2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
#1 Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
While a pass rusher is not Jacksonville’s biggest need, Hutchinson is just too good of a prospect to pass up. He was the heartbeat of the Michigan defense that carried the Wolverines to the CFP.
#2 Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Thibodeaux is one of the best consolation prizes that Detroit could’ve asked for at the second pick. Detroit is undergoing a major rebuild and Thibodeaux would represent a massive step in the right direction in overhauling the defensive side of the ball.
#3 Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
Despite having an underwhelming junior season, we had already seen everything we needed to from Stingley in his freshman year at LSU. He was the best corner in the nation as a teenager and the Texans are going to hope he can recreate that form in the NFL.
#4 New York Jets – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
One of many talents from Alabama in this draft (just like normal). Neal is the best pass protector in this class, and his talents would go a long way to helping a Jets offensive line that has been a complete mess.
#5 New York Giants – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
One of two top 10 picks for the Giants. Karlaftis is unlucky to be the third edge rusher picked, as he has all the talent to be the best pass rusher, but suffers from there being two almost generational prospects ahead of him. Either way, the Giants need help on the defensive line and Karlaftis offers that at an elite level.
#6 Carolina Panthers – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Carolina needs a quarterback, and while it may be tempting to go elsewhere, they need one now and have the pick to do so. Matt Corral has been good over the past two/three years and his consistently good play is something not many quarterbacks in this class can do and is something that the Panthers have been longing for ages. Corral is my QB1 at this point, but that may very well change given the rise of Kenny Pickett.
#7 New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Jets use the pick acquired in the Jamal Adams trade to draft his “replacement”. Kyle Hamilton is probably the best football player in this draft class. But his injury scare and his positional value together put him out of the top five and I predict the Jets taking him and give Robert Saleh a defensive Swiss Army Knife to work with.
#8 New York Giants (via Chicago Bears) – Ikem “Icky” Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The Giants’ offensive line was a mess last season in both pass protection and run defense (apart from Andrew Thomas), giving up one of the highest quarterback hits rates and one of the highest quarterback hurry rates. Icky Ekwonu’s skills will go a long way towards fixing both.
#9 Washington Football Team – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
I believe that the Washington Football Team should either look to trade away this pick or to trade down as there are not many suitable players that they should pick at this spot. I believe that this pick should be a part of a trade to a team for a veteran quarterback. Regardless, Charles Cross would be a good fit for this offense and a perfect player to fill a hole in that offensive line.
#10 Atlanta Falcons – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The Falcons rank bottom three in quarterback hits, percentage of pressures, and yards per screen. Tyler Linderbaum offers them a versatile, agile piece to use on the interior of the line to help Matt Ryan survive another year in Atlanta.
#11 Denver Broncos – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
His ascension up draft boards was far from expected, but he looked fantastic this past year. The Broncos are in desperate need of a good quarterback, and Pickett looks to have all the tools to be exactly that.
#12 Minnesota Vikings – DeMarvin Leal, IDL, Texas A&M
The Vikings require a partner in crime for Danielle Hunter, and Leal could be just that. His versatility is an extremely underrated value in the league and he has shown he is capable of playing just about anywhere on the defensive line.
#13 Cleveland Browns – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The crown jewel of the three-headed monster that was the receiving core at Ohio State this past year. The Browns have been struggling for a consistent receiving threat since letting OBJ go and Wilson looks to be just that if his collegiate numbers are anything to go by.
#14 Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Devin Lloyd is the ideal modern linebacker. His size, tackling ability, coverage ability, and (most importantly) speed are all desirable traits at his position. The Eagles need to target defense in this draft, and their three first-round picks should be primarily defense-focused.
#15 New Orleans Saints – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
While it could be tempting to go quarterback here, the Saints need a receiving threat that is not named Michael Thomas. Williams is an absolute monster of a wide receiver, with elite route running, catching, and speed on display every single down.
#16 Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
The Ravens do have some talent on the defensive line in Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams, but they will be 36 and 33, respectively, in 2022. Jordan Davis was the leader of the best defense in college last year and has the size and the strength to be an elite defensive lineman in the NFL.
#17 Pittsburgh Steelers – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
With Ben Roethlisberger having played his final game at Heinz Field, a replacement at the quarterback position is a necessary one. Sam Howell has had a year that might look a bit low, for his standards, but he didn’t have any NFL-grade weapons to work with.
#18 Las Vegas Raiders – Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
The Raiders made the bold decision to trade center Rodney Hudson, right guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown before the 2021 season, and their offensive line play has deteriorated heavily because of it. Kenyon Green would go a long way to filling at least one of the three gaps.
#19 Philadelphia Eagles – Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
Outside of Darius Slay, the Eagles have lacked a corner capable of making big plays, highlighted by the fact that they rank sixth from bottom in turnovers. Booth Jr is capable of making big plays while being able to lock down any receiver in man coverage.
#20 Los Angeles Chargers – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Nakobe Dean was slowly slipping down draft boards before an elite performance in the Orange Bowl against Michigan, where he recorded two tackles for loss alongside seven tackles. The Chargers are in desperate need of a linebacker that can cover, especially in a division with Travis Kelce and Darren Waller, and Dean is extremely capable of that, as well as his tackling ability that will aid a unit that had the third-highest missed tackle rate in the league.
#21 Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
The Eagles’ third first-round pick goes towards improving a defensive line that ranks in the bottom three in sacks. Ojabo has had a breakout season rushing alongside Aidan Hutchinson, and looks to have all of the traits needed for an elite edge rusher.
#22 Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers) – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Trevor Penning dominated every single matchup he faced, it may have been at a “low-level”, but the traits are there. Miami needs an offensive lineman to help keep Tua off the injury list, and Penning is one of the best in the class.
#23 New England Patriots – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The first in a run of cornerbacks, the Patriots grab Kaiir Elam out of Florida. They let Stephon Gilmore go in a trade and JC Jackson is a free agent come this offseason. While not having had an elite season for the Gators, the talent is all there and Elam would go a long way to securing the Patriots’ secondary for the next decade.
#24 Arizona Cardinals – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Gardner made up one-half of the scariest cornerback duos in football last year, along with Coby Bryant, and it is clear to see why. He didn’t let up a TD for his entire collegiate career and the Cardinals need a lockdown corner to boost their secondary. If Gardner can replicate his form from college, he will be unstoppable in the league.
#25 Buffalo Bills – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Chris Olave has had two elite seasons at wide receiver for Ohio State and the Bills need a secondary option to Stefon Diggs given the Cole Beasley situation. It’s a match made in heaven.
#26 Cincinnati Bengals – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
The Bengals make up for passing on Penei Sewell by grabbing an offensive tackle here, and while he may not be as good as Penei, he is certainly worth this pick. Imagine the Bengals offense, but if Joe Burrow had more time to throw.
#27 Dallas Cowboys – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The Cowboys select a cornerback to pair up with Trevon Diggs, hopefully creating a two-headed monster in their secondary. McCreary had the 3rd highest PFF grade of any cornerback in college football last season, and after watching his tape, it is clear to see why.
#28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Injuries to their starters in the secondary made the Bucs defense more vulnerable than it has ever been, and with Carlton Davis set to hit free agency, Trent McDuffie would give them the depth they need to continue playing at that elite level.
#29 Kansas City Chiefs – Drake London, WR, USC
While being as explosive as ever, this Chiefs offense has suffered from a lack of variety in their passing game. When Patrick Mahomes drops back to pass, the opposing defense already knows that the ball is going to, most likely, end up in either Tyreek Hill‘s or Travis Kelce‘s hands. Drake London offers them another match-up problem on the outside and offers another dimension to this offense.
#30 Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
While taking a quarterback could be very tempting here, the Lions must realize that all the teams between this pick and their second-round pick do not need to take a quarterback, and so they should target another position of need here. Barring Amon-Ra St Brown, this Lions receiving core has struggled, and Treylon Burks would help massively.
#31 Tennessee Titans – Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
I am almost certain that the Titans will trade down from this spot. Their biggest needs, cornerback and tight end, would be a big reach if selected here. Either way, Zion Johnson would give them stability on the interior of the offensive line, a position where they have struggled for the past few years.
#32 Green Bay Packers – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Come draft day, this pick could be a new weapon for Jordan Love’s offense rather than Aaron Rodger’s offense. But the Packers need some receiving depth, Davante Adams is their only real weapon and Jahan Dotson would go a long way to rectifying that.