The 2022 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday and the rumors, speculation, and predictions are swirling! Will Travon Walker or Aidan Hutchinson be the No. 1 overall pick? Which NFL teams will draft Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett as their next franchise quarterbacks? Which wide receiver will be the first off the board – Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, or Drake London?
It's time to dive into it all in this third and final version of my 2022 NFL Mock Draft! It all gets going on Thursday, April 28th from the Raiders' Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Let's now take a look at all 32 first-round selections and predict what every NFL team does – with a few projected trades mixed in. If you missed my second mock draft, check that out here.
2022 NFL Mock Draft
1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Maybe you've heard, but Travon Walker has swiftly become the betting favorite to go No. 1 over the past couple of days. The odds flipped from Aidan Hutchinson to Walker on Monday morning and it seems like a forgone conclusion that Jacksonville goes with the Georgia edge rusher. Coincidentally, the Jags just gave a three-year contract extension to Cam Robinson – making it more unlikely they go offensive tackle with this pick. GM Trent Baalke has historically gone with higher-upside picks with his first-round selections and Walker certainly fits that mold. He has all the athletic tools (quickness, strength, thick build) to develop into an All-Pro pass-rusher and has the positional versatility/flexibility to play inside or on the edge in Jacksonville's 3-4 defense.
2) Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
At the beginning of last college football season, Kayvon Thibodeaux was the early favorite to go No. 1 overall in this 2022 NFL Draft. His stock dipped a bit in recent months with people questioning his lack of commitment and production at Oregon. Still, he's arguably the top raw talent in this class and the pre-draft buzz picked back up over the last week with all signs indicating he'll be selected within the top five. One of the Lions' top team needs is a pass rusher (as explained by Andrew Cooper) and Thibodeaux can replace the departed Trey Flowers with his ideal length and speed off the edge.
3) Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
While Travon Walker has stolen all the headlines this week, one fast-moving trend is the Texans going Derek Stingley Jr. with their first of two first-round selections. The rumors in Vegas are that Houston and new head coach Lovie Smith want to go cornerback here and Stingley is now the betting favorite to be the No. 3 pick. The LSU corner is one of the most polarizing NFL Draft prospects with the raw talent to be a sure top-5 pick when fully healthy and dialed in. Those are the big worries, though, as he's played in just 10 combined games over the last two seasons with multiple injuries and COVID disruptions – not to mention some motivation/commitment concerns. The talent, though, rivals anyone in this draft as a ball-hawker with the length and speed to develop into a lock-down corner – and the Texans make sure no one else gets him.
4) New York Jets – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Just a week ago, Aidan Hutchinson was the favorite to be the first player off the board. Now, there's a legit possibility he falls down to this No. 4 pick or further with teams looking in other directions. Hutchinson has all the accolades after a standout season at Michigan last year – including First-Team AP All-American honors, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Ted Hendricks Award (given to the best defensive end in college football), and being a Heisman finalist. The Jets stop the slide and head coach Robert Salah strengthens his D-line with a complete edge rusher in Hutchinson.
5) New York Giants – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
If Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is still available at this pick, the Giants would likely have a tough time passing on him. It could be O-line here, but the defensive run in the previous top four picks means New York can wait until their No. 7 spot to get a tackle. Gardner can start right away in the NYG secondary, especially if James Bradberry gets dealt soon. At Cincinnati, he excelled in press-man coverage and routinely shut down opposing No. 1 wideouts with long arms and quick feet necessary to lock onto NFL receivers.
6) Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The Panthers are one of the big wild cards in this draft. They could go with a QB in Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett here. Or they possibly trade back to acquire more draft capital and still get a guy they want. Door No. 3, though, is staying put and snagging their choice of the offensive linemen after the top-5 picks are all defense. If Carolina wants to give Sam Darnold one more year under center (or if Baker Mayfield ends up there), then a stronger O-line could be a priority. Ikem Ekwonu can play guard or tackle right away with his NFL-ready build and bulldozing blocking ability. The NC State product would add a ton of help to a Panthers line that was terrible last season.
7) New York Giants – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Though the Giants could trade down from this pick, they hold firm to grab one of the top offensive linemen in the draft. New GM Joe Schoen and the NYG front office seem committed to Daniel Jones at quarterback (at least for now), so strengthening the O-line should be a priority – and the Giants are reportedly high on Charles Cross. His pass-blocking skills are arguably the best in this class and he had plenty of experience last year as a tackle in Mississippi State’s Air Raid offense. Though the run-blocking could use some work, he can start right away for the Giants with valuable experience facing SEC pass-rushers this past season.
8) Atlanta Falcons – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Though Marcus Mariota is in town, Atlanta finds its eventual successor to Matt Ryan at this No. 8 pick. Malik Willis would be able to sit and learn for a year behind Mariota, a similar dual-threat QB. The biggest knock on Willis is how pro-ready he really is after facing subpar collegiate competition at Liberty. Still, the upside is very high with his combination of big arm strength and dual-threat playmaking. Take it with a grain of salt, but could this tweet from the Falcons' official account be a bit of foreshadowing? (FYI every NFL team does this with every player):
9) PROJECTED TRADE: Kansas City Chiefs (from SEA) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Chiefs have 12 total picks in this year's draft and have enough trade ammunition to move up if they want. That's what we have here with this projected trade of the Chiefs vaulting into the top 10 to snag an immediate replacement for the departed Tyreek Hill. Although Jameson Williams may not be ready for Week 1 while rehabbing his torn ACL in January's National Championship game, the Alabama wideout is arguably the top WR in this class at full health. However, Williams is “ahead of schedule” (as he says below) and has moved back up draft boards recently. If the Chiefs don't make this trade into the top 10, expect the former Crimson Tide playmaker to still be off the board before we get into the teens. If KC gets it done, can you imagine Williams' big-play ability alongside Patrick Mahomes?!
10) PROJECTED TRADE: Green Bay Packers (from NYJ) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Assuming the Packers don't do the reported trade for Darren Waller, they could use one or both of their first-round picks to move up and land Davante Adams' replacement in the WR corps. You have to imagine Aaron Rodgers is pining for an offensive weapon from this draft with Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling both gone in the offseason (sorry, but Sammy Watkins can't replace both on his own). So, the Packers trade up into the top 10 to grab Garrett Wilson before he's off the board. The Ohio State wideout is an explosive and polished route-runner who can make defenders miss after the catch and/or hit the home run over the top. He could immediately become Rodgers' favorite target and GB's needed playmaker.
11) Washington Commanders – Drake London, WR, USC
Washington may go defense with this pick, but getting Carson Wentz more receiving firepower makes sense if they want to compete this season. Wentz has developed a nice rapport with bigger-bodied wideouts in past years – Alshon Jeffery in Philadelphia and Michael Pittman in Indianapolis – and Drake London would be that guy for the Commanders. The USC product will be a red zone mismatch in the NFL and his skillset could complement Terry McLaurin on the outside for Wentz. The combination of size to dominate smaller corners and the route-running/athleticism to exploit linebackers makes London an attractive pick for Washington at this spot if he's still available.
12) PROJECTED TRADE: Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN) – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Under GM Howie Roseman, the Eagles are no stranger to moving up or down the draft board – and they have enough capital between this year and next to get this trade done. Philly has been linked to Jordan Davis in this pre-draft process, and Roseman and Co. could be motivated to move up a few spots ahead of the Ravens to lock in the Georgia defensive lineman. With both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave set to be free agents after the next couple of seasons, defensive tackle is both a long and short-term need for the Eagles. As part of Georgia's ferocious D-line, Davis showed off his elite run-stopping skills and versatility to line up at multiple spots. The speed at his size makes him an intimidating force in the trenches and he would be an ideal eventual replacement for Cox in Philly.
13) Houston Texans – Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
Once considered a possible No. 1 overall pick in this draft, Evan Neal could actually slide a bit because of some recent negative medical reports. Whether it's misinformation or not, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that some NFL teams have Neal as a “notable medical risk” with knee and hip concerns. It could end up being fodder, or it results in the Alabama offensive lineman slipping outside of the top 10 with clubs looking elsewhere. The Texans would gladly scoop him up here as they look to strengthen the offensive line while giving Davis Mills every opportunity to prove himself at QB. Neal can be a starter right away at either tackle spot in Houston, especially with Laremy Tunsil's future with the team in doubt.
14) Baltimore Ravens – Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
The Ravens likely go either offensive or defensive line with this pick, but having to replace Justin Houston, Brandon Williams, and Justin Ellis this offseason means they're probably looking to go younger along the D-line now. They do it here with Jermaine Johnson slipping down to No. 14 overall, though he could easily be a top-10 pick. He's just a tier below Walker, Hutchinson, and Thibodeaux among the edge rushers, but his pro-ready size and versatility would fit in well for Baltimore up front. The Florida State product has the physical build and power to both rush the passer and stop the run. The biggest worry about Johnson, though, is his late breakout with just one productive college season following a transfer away from Georgia.
15) PROJECTED TRADE: Minnesota Vikings (from PHI) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
After trading down a couple of spots with Philadelphia, the Vikings still land a top-10 talent in this draft. Kyle Hamilton deserves to go much earlier than this, but he could slip down due to a slower 40-time and season-ending knee injury last year. Minnesota would happily grab him, though, after losing safety Xavier Woods in free agency and going “best player available” with a new head coach and GM in town. Before his injury last season, the Notre Dame product routinely used his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to stuff ball-carriers in the box and hawk down opposing passes from the safety perch. Hamilton has a natural nose for the football and could form an elite duo with Harrison Smith at the back of the Vikings' secondary.
16) New Orleans Saints – Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa
Maybe the Saints go QB with this pick, but having Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton makes that seem less likely. Instead, New Orleans grabs an offensive tackle for the future in Trevor Penning. At Northern Iowa, he showed off his NFL-ready build with the strength, athleticism, and physicality to start right away. The Saints need to replace LT Terron Armstead and Penning can slot right into that spot. The lack of competition faced while in college is a slight worry, but scouts seem to think his technique and physical tools will carry over to the NFL.
17) Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
The Chargers need upgrades at the right guard and right tackle positions for both the short and long term. Plus, it's never a bad idea to give Justin Herbert even more protection along the O-line. Zion Johnson is a ready-made offensive guard who's viewed as the best interior lineman in this draft. That distinction may cause the Boston College product to slip down the board with teams valuing tackles more, but the Chargers can plug him in at RG right away and feel good about it.
18) Philadelphia Eagles – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
After going defense with their first pick, it's offense here for the Eagles. More specifically, Philly gives Jalen Hurts more receiving firepower and adds another weapon to complement DeVonta Smith. This may be a bit early for Treylon Burks, but he has the upside to be the best WR from this draft. Burks was a stud at Arkansas and routinely tore up opposing SEC secondaries. Similar to Deebo Samuel, he was used as a ball-carrier some in college and boasts an explosive combination of size, speed and game-breaking athleticism that’ll translate immediately to the pro level.
19) New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
With two first-round picks, the Saints should use one of them to bolster an unproven and inconsistent receiving corps outside of Michael Thomas (who's coming off an injury). Chris Olave is arguably the best deep-ball threat in the draft and can step in and produce right away for New Orleans. The field-stretching ability, NFL-caliber speed, and elusive route-running were on full display at Ohio State as Olave was regularly a TD waiting to happen every time he touched the ball. Just imagine Jameis Winston connecting with Olave on multiple long TDs this season.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
If Kenny Pickett doesn't go in the top 10, there's a decent chance he falls all the way down to Pittsburgh or another team in the 20s. While the Steelers do have Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in the QB room for this season, neither is the long-term answer to run the offense. Pickett can be groomed to be the next franchise guy with Ben Roethlisberger now gone. He's the most pro-ready quarterback of this draft class after a prolific season at Pitt – and now gets to hang around the city for a bit longer. Pickett boasts the starting experience, throwing technique, arm strength, and accuracy to start right away for the Steelers if they want to go that route.
21) New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Patriots could go in many different directions here, but it's probably a defensive selection. With Dont'a Hightower unlikely to return, Bill Belichick could be looking to grab his next-great linebacker to anchor the defense. At Utah, Devin Lloyd showed off his aggressive, flying-to-the-ball playstyle that should translate right over to the NFL level. He possesses the athleticism and instincts to be productive in both pass coverage and run-stopping. Whether it's Lloyd or Georgia's Nakobe Dean, a younger (and cheaper) linebacker would help replace Hightower in the middle of New England's defense.
22) PROJECTED TRADE: New York Jets (from GB) – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Jets go cornerback here following their trade down from the No. 10 spot with Green Bay. Trent McDuffie showed off his lockdown coverage ability and routinely blanketed top opposing Pac-12 receivers at Washington. He also has the versatility to not only blitz from the edge, but also do his part in run-stopping with strong tackling skills for a corner. NYJ head coach Robert Saleh would love a corner like McDuffie to help build the defense around.
23) Arizona Cardinals – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
After losing Christian Kirk this offseason, the Cardinals need another pass-catcher to complement DeAndre Hopkins. Having A.J. Green as the No. 2 WR won't cut it and Arizona needs to provide Kyler Murray with as many weapons as possible. Jahan Dotson is arguably the most explosive receiver in this draft and he has the versatility to play in either the slot or out wide. The Penn State product would be an ideal complement to Hopkins in a Cardinals offense that also needs to replace the burst of Chase Edmonds (who's now in Miami).
24) Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The Cowboys need to start retooling the offensive line to add more protection for Dak Prescott in the short and long term. Tyler Linderbaum is universally viewed as the top center prospect in this draft and he could be Dallas' starting snapper in Week 1 – and for the next decade, for that matter. He was an elite run-blocker in a rush-heavy Iowa offense and has the strength and physicality to deal with NFL defensive tackles as a rookie.
25) Buffalo Bills – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Buffalo doesn't have many glaring team needs, but building depth in the secondary may be a priority for a team that wants to win a Super Bowl this season – especially with all the QB talent in the AFC. Kaiir Elam is a physical cover corner with a taller frame who regularly caused trouble for opposing SEC wideouts and quarterbacks while at Florida. Though he hasn't gotten as much buzz as Derek Stingley Jr. or Ahmad Gardner among this cornerback draft class, don't be surprised if Elam goes even sooner than this No. 25 pick. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday that Elam could end up being the third or fourth CB off the board.
26) Tennessee Titans – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
After losing guard Rodger Saffold in free agency, the Titans replace him with Kenyon Green at this pick. At Texas A&M last season, Green played at both guard and tackle positions and that versatility should be valuable to a Tennessee team looking to bolster the O-line. He also has experience in zone-blocking schemes in college, which translates right over into the Titans' wide-zone rushing attack with Derrick Henry finding the holes.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Steve McLendon are all still unsigned from last year's squad, so Tampa Bay is likely looking to go younger along the defensive line. In fact, when talking about the defensive line recently, GM Jason Licht said the team is always looking to “add depth and add youth." Well, they do it here with Devonte Wyatt, who starred along Georgia's dominant D-line last year and can be a run-stuffer right away at the NFL level. He'd be a nice replacement for Suh and would cost the Bucs a lot less.
28) Green Bay Packers – Bernhard Raimann, OL, Central Michigan
Both of the Packers' right tackles last year are now gone, and the team needs to replace Billy Turner (now with Broncos) and Dennis Kelly (free agent). While Bernhard Raimann has limited experience playing on the O-line, the converted tight end brings a unique athleticism to the tackle position. He’s admittedly a tough prospect to predict at the next level – especially since he played against lesser competition in the MAC – but scouts are raving at his upside and untapped potential as an athletic edge protector. He would help fill the void at RT for Green Bay.
29) PROJECTED TRADE: Seattle Seahawks (from KC) – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
After trading down and acquiring more draft capital from the Chiefs, the Seahawks grab one of the best defensive players in this draft. Nakobe Dean should go earlier than this, but his stock has lowered in recent weeks with a slight injury worry and teams worried about his smaller frame. Still, Dean was a regular playmaker for Georgia's elite defense last year and his combination of instincts, speed, and run/pass recognition can translate right over to the NFL level. He'd be a nice replacement for Bobby Wagner in Seattle's linebacking corps.
30) Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
Kansas City still has to replace both Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes from last year's cornerback room. It also seems likely that Tyrann Mathieu won't return to the defense either. So, the Chiefs go corner here to strengthen a pass defense that needs to keep pace with the AFC arms race. Andrew Booth Jr. is an aggressive and polished tackler who routinely flew to the football while at Clemson – and those skills will make him an excellent run-stopper in any defensive backfield. The cover skills are a bit inconsistent, but he has the ideal bigger frame to contest and be physical with opposing wideouts.
31) Cincinnati Bengals – Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan
The Bengals are a prime candidate to trade out of this pick if another team is looking to get into the back end of the first round. If they stand pat, though, Cincy should try to strengthen the secondary for this season and beyond. Safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell are set to be free agents next year, while cornerback Eli Apple is on a one-year deal. Daxton Hill is arguably the second-best safety in this draft behind Kyle Hamilton, but he also has the ability and athleticism to play cornerback for the Bengals. At Michigan, he showed the versatility to both man the deep zones from the safety perch or cover slot receivers as a playmaking defensive back.
32) Detroit Lions – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
There's a decent chance Desmond Ridder goes earlier than this, but the Lions may be looking at a QB here to take advantage of that coveted fifth-year of control – a la Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater, and Jordan Love in past seasons. Though Ridder isn't the most polished QB prospect, Detroit can take the chance on him with Jared Goff still around. You can knock the lack of competition in college or his inconsistent arm talent, but Ridder was a proven winner and leader at Cincinnati for multiple years. His dual-threat ability also gives him a higher playmaking ceiling than other QBs in this draft.
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