On Monday night, Georgia’s national championship win wrapped up the 2021 college football season. This means that it is officially 2022 NFL Draft season. This is my opening mock draft of the year and will probably change a great deal before the real thing happens.
There are declarations still to come, and potentially some guys who will not declare. The NFL Draft order will also change as the playoffs play out. Pro Football Focus’ draft order and other features were utilized for this mock draft.
2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 1-10)
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, Offensive Line – Alabama
The Jaguars invested in what they hope will be their franchise quarterback last year. Now it’s time to protect him. Neal is the best offensive lineman in the class and maybe the best player overall. He’s enormous but moves gracefully and rarely gets beaten.
2. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge – Oregon
Several positions need an upgrade in Detroit, so taking the best available player is the call. Another pass rusher has been getting the love lately, but Thibodeaux is my top edge rusher. He’s explosive, corners quickly, and closes in a blink.
3. Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge – Michigan
Some have Hutchinson as the top player overall in this draft, so getting him at #3 is good value. He rushes the passer with a nice set of moves, including a terrific bull rush. Of course, there’s no such thing as a can’t miss player, but he’s close.
4. New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr, Cornerback – LSU
Even though some other CB’s have raised their stock this season, Stingley is still the top prospect at the position. He has the size, quickness, and technique NFL teams covet, and the Jets’ terrible secondary needs the help.
5. New York Giants: Kyle Hamilton, Safety – Notre Dame
Again, a team with many needs goes with the best player on the board. Safeties don’t get picked in the top spot, but Hamilton is good enough to deserve it. His combination of size, speed, and instincts is unmatched.
6. Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, Quarterback – Ole Miss
This year’s QB class is weaker than usual, and I have just one passer with a first-round grade. The Sam Darnold experiment failed, and the Panthers go ahead and grab their guy. Corral has a big arm and can use his legs when necessary.
7. New York Giants: Charles Cross, Offensive Line – Mississippi State
I don’t know if the new head coach will stick with Daniel Jones at QB. However, whoever is under center will need more protection than the Giants have provided. Cross is a terrific pass blocker and upgrades the line immediately.
8. Atlanta Falcons: David Ojabo, Edge – Michigan
The other Michigan pass rusher is also pretty good. The Falcons defense badly needs to create more pressure, and Ojabo knows how to bring it. He explodes off the line and has a solid set of moves in his toolbox, including a lethal spin move.
9. Denver Broncos: Nakobe Dean, Linebacker – Georgia
The Broncos need a QB, but it would be a reach here. So instead, they add speed to the second level of the defense. The Butkus Award winner flies to the ball in the run game and has the tools to be a good coverage linebacker in the NFL as well.
10. New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson, Edge – Florida St.
None of the edge rushers in this class bring more violence in their hands than Johnson. When he comes in contact with a blocker, he goes on the offensive with shoves, rips, and punches to disengage from block attempts. He’s also relentless in pursuit of the ball.
2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 (Picks 11-20)
11. Washington Football Team: Treylon Burks, WR – Arkansas
The nameless Washington team has a star in Terry McLaurin but needs a QB. Like Denver, it’s too early here, so adding another stud receiver is the next best thing. Burks is a contested-catch machine with terrific hands and makes plays after the catch.
12. Minnesota Vikings: George Karlaftis, Edge – Purdue
It’s unknown at this time who will be rushing the passer for the Vikings in 2022. This year would be an excellent draft class to address that. Karlaftis uses strength and technique to get the passer. He is another high motor guy as well.
13. Cleveland Browns: Drake London, WR – USC
The Browns are a team in desperate need of help at receiver. Luckily this draft has some elite talent available, including London. The USC standout, another contested-catch artist, is an instant upgrade for a Browns team with high expectations.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Kenyon Green, Offensive Line – Texas A&M
An offense built entirely around the run game needs effective linemen. So, the Ravens use this pick to draft the best available big man. Green is a versatile blocker who can line up anywhere and undoubtedly aid the Baltimore run game.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr, Cornerback – Clemson
With three picks in the first round, the Eagles can upgrade their defense in a big way. They can start by selecting the top available cornerback after Derek Stingley. Booth is a tremendous athlete with A+ instincts. In addition, he has good ball skills and is a willing tackler.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, Linebacker – Utah
More help for the defense is on the way with the second of back-to-back picks. This time, they add a linebacker to help their run defense. He excels in locating the ball and flying downhill to make the stop.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Ahmad Gardner, Cornerback – Cincinnati
Adding some help to the defense seems like a given here. However, the value is at CB because of how things have played out. Gardner has excellent length and good speed to go with solid ball skills.
18. New Orleans Saints: Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver – Ohio St.
The Saints are a mess. The offense needs a lot of help for whoever the QB winds up being, so adding a weapon makes sense. Wilson is a dynamic pass-catcher who can make plays down the field or take a short pass to the house.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Drake Jackson, Edge – USC
They add to the pass rush here after adding defenders to the linebacking unit and secondary with their first picks. Jackson relies on natural gifts to get pressure and needs development, but his ceiling is sky-high.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Line – North Carolina St.
The Steelers have ignored the OL for too long, and it has shown this season. They address it here. Ekwonu is a nasty run blocker who may ultimately be a guard, but the Steelers need both guards and tackles anyway.
21. New England Patriots: Kaiir Elam, Cornerback – Florida
Elam is another long cornerback in this draft that projects to go early on. The Patriots may have a big hole there in 2022, so adding one makes sense. In addition, he’s a more physical defender than the other corners in this draft.
22. Miami Dolphins: Bernhard Raimann, Offensive Line – Central Michigan
The Dolphins have tried to address the line in the past but made poor choices. Raimann is technically sound and moves well. The biggest question will be about the level of competition that he’s faced.
23 Las Vegas Raiders: Tyler Linderbaum, Offensive Line – Iowa
Talent-wise, Linderbaum is a top 10 player in the draft. However, positional value and his size could drop him down boards. He’s stronger than he appears, moves very well, and plays with near-perfect technique.
24. Arizona Cardinals: Trent McDuffie, Cornerback – Washington
The Cardinals have had a great season, but going into 2022 could strengthen the secondary. McDuffie is a versatile corner who has the athleticism to play outside or inside. He is also a good tackler in run defense.
25. Cincinnati Bengals: DeMarvin Leal, Defensive Line – Texas A&M
Trey Hendrickson has been fantastic rushing the passer for the Bengals. However, they aren’t getting consistent interior pressure. Leal has the speed and strength to provide something missing since Geno Atkins left.
26. Buffalo Bills: Darian Kinnard, Offensive Line – Kentucky
There are a couple of solid options here. However, strengthening the OL is always intelligent. Kinnard should be able to play both tackle and guard in the NFL. He’s a mauler in the run game, and he anchors well as a pass blocker.
27. Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, Quarterback – Liberty
Jared Goff doesn’t seem like the long-term answer under center in Detroit. Willis likely will need some time to develop. He has a big arm and plenty of athletic gifts to go with it. Sitting behind Goff could be a pleasant situation for him.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Jaquan Brisker, Safety – Penn St.
The Cowboys have assembled an incredible roster capable of a Super Bowl run. The secondary has been a weakness, though. Brisker is an athletic specimen who can make plays on the ball in both coverage and run support.
29. Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Olave, Wide Receiver – Ohio St.
Despite having an offense that boasts one of the league’s best receivers and tight ends, the Chiefs could use an upgrade at WR. Olave is a fantastic route runner who manages to seemingly always be open.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kyler Gordon, Cornerback – Washington
A running back is on the table here, but CB is more important to address. Gordon is yet another gifted Washington defensive back. He can play inside or outside and could be a star in Tampa.
31. Tennessee Titans: Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver – Penn St.
The Titans added Julio Jones, but he hasn’t provided a lot. Dotson would give the team a consistent downfield threat that would open up the offense. In addition, he brings a quickness that they are currently missing.
32. Green Bay Packers: George Pickens, Wide Receiver – Georgia
The Packers have avoided drafting receivers early for a while now. This year, though, they break the cycle. Their entire WR room enters free agency. Pickens might have been the top WR in the draft pre-injury, but he looked back in the Playoff.