The 2022 NFL draft is on Thursday and teams will be trying to make the best selection for their needs and improve their overall talent level. The best picks will be those made that can contribute early on and help boost teams to the playoffs and potentially even past the first round. All the picks made in this mock draft will be based on what the teams will likely do, not what I would do in their place.
No. 1 Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
The Jaguars haven’t really been secretive about this selection. They need help all over the roster and Aidan Hutchinson is universally regarded as the best player in the draft. He’s going to truly help the pass rush in Jacksonville to help build that unit even more.
No. 2 Detroit Lions: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The Lions have a great situation to have a young, developmental starting quarterback sit for a season and then have him start after that. Malik Willis is the best quarterback in the draft, and sitting a year behind Jared Goff could be the best thing for his development.
No. 3 Houston Texans: CB Derek Stingley, Louisiana State
Houston has been somewhat secretive of their plans, but with reports that Derek Stingley is being rumored as a top three pick, he makes a ton of sense for them here. Houston doesn’t have the true shut-down cornerback they need for the long-term health of their defense.
No. 4 New York Jets: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
The Jets don’t have a prime pass rusher for Robert Saleh’s defense. Carl Lawson was supposed to be that guy, but he needs someone across from him who can also attack the quarterback. Travon Walker will come right in and be a great run defender. As he develops more pass rush moves, he’ll end up being a 10-plus sack player every year.
No. 5 New York Giants: OL Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State
The Giants have a couple of solid pieces on their offensive line with Andrew Thomas and have brought in Max Garcia, Jon Feliciano, and Mark Glowinski to help round out the middle of it. They need a true bookend on the other side of the line for Thomas, and Ikem Ekwonu is the best tackle in the draft.
No. 6 Carolina Panthers: QB Matt Corral, Mississippi
NFL teams make poor decisions all the time. The Carolina Panthers haven’t figured out what kind of quarterback they should actually get in the first two years under Matt Rhule. This would be a bad pick because Matt Corral isn’t ready, but Carolina doesn’t have a competent coaching staff and front office.
No. 7 New York Giants: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
The Giants have the kind of roster where coaching should help make improvements, but adding play-makers is also important. Kyle Hamilton is the biggest defensive play-maker in the draft and would start right away at safety for the Giants. The Giants might luck out into the best player in the draft.
No. 8 Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
A lot of people point to the Falcons wide receiver corps as their biggest need, but they’re ignoring that the only edge defenders of consequence on the roster are Lorenzo Carter and Adetokunbo Ogundeji. If Kayvon Thibodeaux is there at No. 8 overall, the Falcons will sprint to the podium to select him.
No. 9 Seattle Seahawks: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
After trading away Russell Wilson, the Seahawks need to fill the hole for a franchise quarterback. Pete Carroll has a knack to pick guys that make sense for a run-heavy offense and should be able to lead the offense to wins with timely, accurate throws. Desmond Ridder has exceptional leadership and, while a reach, fits perfectly for the Seahawks.
No. 10 New York Jets: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
The Jets need a true No. 1 wide receiver to give to their mistake from 2021, Zach Wilson. Jameson Williams plays most similarly to Tyreek Hill in this draft and would be an ideal fit for the Jets offense. This might be a bit higher value than expected because of his injury, but he’ll live up to it more than the rest of the wide receivers in the draft.
No. 11 Washington Commanders: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati
The Commanders need more defensive talent, and Ahmad Gardner is the best cornerback in the draft. Gardner fits the long, fast cornerback that Ron Rivera likes for his defense. Gardner would instantly upgrade that defense and allow the Commanders pass rush to have a little more time to get to the quarterback.
No. 12 Minnesota Vikings: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The Vikings take a Minnesota native in Jermaine Johnson with this pick to help improve their pass rush. He would instantly start at edge defender for them and would complement Danielle Hunter in their defense. Johnson would start his career as a great run stuffer and should easily make an impact as a pass rusher.
No. 13 Houston Texans: OL Evan Neal, Alabama
The Texans have some talent on their offensive line, but if they are truly committed to helping Davis Mills long-term , they should continue to build out the offensive line. Evan Neal is a steal here, and would be the best player they could add. He could play any of four offensive line spots outside of center and would start in 2022.
No. 14 Baltimore Ravens: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
The Baltimore Ravens love to take the best player available, especially when he is a freak athlete like Jordan Davis is. Davis would start his career rotating in with Michael Pierce and could eventually take the starting role when Pierce is gone. He’d do best playing on a limited snap count early.
No. 15 Philadelphia Eagles: WR Drake London, Southern California
After missing on Jaelen Reagor with the first round pick in 2020, the Eagles need a contested catch wide receiver who can replace him in the starting lineup. Drake London has a lot of Keyshawn Johnson in his game and would be that perfect possession wide receiver for the Eagles.
No. 16 New Orleans Saints: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The Saints need a complementary wide receiver to Michael Thomas, and Garrett Wilson is a great fit in New Orleans. Wilson can do it all at wide receiver, but he’s not the largest receiver and he’s not the strongest guy at the position. He will add a deep-ball option for the Saints.
No. 17 Los Angeles Chargers: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
The Chargers need to continue to surround the franchise quarterback, Justin Herbert, with talent, and adding an offensive tackle to bookend from Rashawn Slater is a wise move. Charles Cross is insane value here, and would instantly start at right tackle for the Chargers.
No. 18 Philadelphia Eagles: DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
The Eagles need some depth at defensive line with Fletcher Cox on the last year of his contract. Devonte Wyatt is a great penetrator in the center of a defense and would fit in well with the Eagles defensive schemes. Wyatt can play any technique from a nose tackle role to a 3-4 defensive end role.
No. 19 New Orleans Saints: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
James Hurst is a terrible NFL offensive tackle and has no business starting for the Saints. Trevor Penning is a great athlete who has somewhat of a nasty streak, but he’s not a polished product at all. Penning would fit in well with the Saints offensive line and would help them have the infrastructure for a young quarterback to be successful.
No. 20 Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
In 1983, the Pittsburgh Steelers passed up on hometown talent Dan Marino for a defensive tackle. They never truly had a franchise quarterback from then until they took Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers should make amends for that selection with Kenny Pickett. He’s a hometown guy who could develop into a franchise guy with the right support around him.
No. 21 New England Patriots: OL Zion Johnson, Boston College
After the Patriots traded Shaq Mason to the Buccaneers, they have a massive hole on the offensive line at guard. Zion Johnson is easily the best guard in this class and should be able to slot right in in Mason’s old spot. He’d start at right guard and be a 10-year starter for the Patriots.
No. 22 Green Bay Packers: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
After trading away Davante Adams, the Packers need to do right by Aaron Rodgers. They should focus on adding receivers from this exceptional draft class. One of those options should be Chris Olave, who is a beastly speedster who will allow them to continue to burn teams deep.
No. 23 Arizona Cardinals: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
The Cardinals don’t have a starting cornerback who can be a lock-down guy on the defensive side. Trent McDuffie is a unique cornerback who may never be that shut-down corner, but could be a primary corner for a team. He would start with the Cardinals and be their No. 1 cornerback as a rookie.
No. 24 Dallas Cowboys: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
The Dallas Cowboys need a pass rusher to complement Demarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons in the rotation. Dante Fowler has been mediocre during his time in Atlanta and may not be that guy anymore. George Karlaftis is a good fit for Dan Quinn as a pass rusher and would start in base sets for the Cowboys.
No. 25 Buffalo Bills: CB Andrew Booth, Clemson
The Buffalo Bills don’t have a top-tier cornerback outside of Tre’Davious White. Adding Andrew Booth to the defense would give them a pair of cornerbacks who could help strengthen the defense for those crucial moments at the end of games when they need them. Like that AFC Championship game.
No. 26 Tennessee Titans: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
The Titans need to have someone replace Rodger Saffold, who left them for the Bills. Kenyon Green can start right away and add some power to the inside of the offensive line that they will be missing without Saffold. He’s the perfect kind of blocker to fit in with the Titans offense.
No. 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
The Buccaneers lost Ali Marpet to retirement this off-season and replaced him with Shaq Mason. However, they already had a hole at left guard. They also have Ryan Jensen nearing the end of his contract and should look to the future. Tyler Linderbaum is the best interior offensive lineman in the draft and could play left guard for a year before sliding over to take over for Jensen.
No. 28 Green Bay Packers: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
After taking Chris Olave, the Packers should continue to look for more receivers for Aaron Rodgers. Treylon Burks is another receiver who can beat teams deep, but he also does well as a big slot receiver who can attack the seams and help Rodgers have the best possible options when combined with Olave.
No. 29 Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jahan Dotson, Pennsylvania State
After losing Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs never replaced his skill set. Dotson has a similar skill set, even though he doesn’t have the top-end speed. He’s best as a yards-after-catch receiver who takes slants and screens and turns them into long catches. He can burn a defense, but that’s not where he wins the most.
No. 30 Kansas City Chiefs: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
The Chiefs are a great team without a ton of holes, but adding the best player they can in Devin Lloyd would be amazing for them. Lloyd can start out the year rushing the passer in some sets, while also playing in coverage in some nickel sets. The Chiefs have great talent everywhere, but adding Lloyd here would continue to enhance their talent.
No. 31 Cincinnati Bengals: EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
The Cincinnati Bengals need to improve the depth of their roster overall. Boye Mafe has the potential to be a great pass rusher in the NFL, but he’s very raw at this point in his development. Mafe would do well sitting behind Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson for a season or two and eventually realizing his potential.
No. 32 Detroit Lions: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
When building a team, get the quarterback and then get players who can affect the quarterback on the opposing team or help the quarterback you got. The Lions have a No. 1 wide receiver and a couple of good offensive tackles, but they need a No. 1 corner and a top pass rusher. Kaiir Elam would be the No. 1 cornerback and would help fill the second of the five “pillar pieces” needed.