Fortunately, there only remains a half week of time between now and the 2022 NFL Draft. Mock drafts have been published galore, along with a plethora of rumor mill gossip that sparks headlines. That should only increase as the time ticks away toward Roger Goodell announcing the first selection.
With this being a finalized mock before the big day, the goal here is to predict how NFL teams may select as the night progresses. Based on the small rumblings overheard at the Senior Bowl and analyzed losses via free agency, every pick was calculated with respect to premium positions along with talent.
Additionally, there will not be a single trade in this mock. While it is fun, predicting details and which teams will make a move for what player is simply too difficult, and damn near impossible. These selections, and the draft order, will reflect the selections as of April 25th, barring some crazy trade overnight.
Felix Davila’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive tackle, North Carolina State
This may be denying conventional wisdom of Aidan Hutchinson going first overall, but I think there’s an argument to be made that Jacksonville heavily considers prioritizing the protection of their young quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. New head coach Doug Pederson knows full well how important protecting the passer is after winning a Super Bowl with a backup.
Ikem Ekwonu is a tremendous prospect, with fluidity, smooth feet, power to boot, and a tenacity that’s ideal for any offensive lineman. His ability to recover versus a variety of rush moves is what jumped off the film, and it’ll be useful fending off the quality defenses that exist in the AFC South. Despite retaining Cam Robinson, grabbing the best talent is ideal, and the Jaguars will believe they’ve done that here while placing Lawrence’s ascension as a premium focus.
2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson is absolutely in contention for the number one overall pick, but he won’t wait long on draft night regardless. Given the many needs the Lions have and their head coach’s love for a “biting knee caps” type of toughness, Hutchinson here makes complete sense and provides Detroit a stellar pass rush talent that they have lacked for years.
Hutchinson is built ideally for the position, and plays with the power and motor ideal from a top two selection. But more than that, he is a very athletic player who can string together a variety of moves with body control to shed blockers quick and collapse the pocket. This is a cornerstone franchise type of pick, and Hutchinson remaining in Michigan will be tremendous for the fans. Do not be surprised if his jersey sells out fast.
3. Houston Texans – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
There is a strong argument for Kayvon Thibodeaux to be selected here, but when considering the way his stock has seemingly risen and fallen throughout the process, I can see one team who should select him decide to pass. Also, I just cannot see Houston liking his personality when their front office is full of conservative, church-goers who may not like his ego.
Travon Walker has been afforded a more positive outlook, testing off the charts at the combine and possessing an excellent frame for an edge rusher. His athleticism really shines, especially considering his length, and his versatility is a plus that can allow him to rush from anywhere on the line depending on the play call.
Houston is free of the Deshaun Watson drama, and after a poor season last year, look to add a player who at least checks off the ideal traits box to build the foundation of this roster. Lovie Smith will be grateful for adding a fearsome prospect like Walker to start a new era of Texans football.
4. New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
There’s a strong argument for offensive tackle to go here, but the Jets cannot pass on grabbing a premiere pass rush talent. Thibodeaux has been in the spotlight since his game-wrecker freshman season at Oregon. That spotlight will just get bigger with him landing in New York.
A talented pass rusher with an array of moves, a fiery motor, and an attitude made for the Big Apple, Thibodeaux is a great fit for Gang Green. Head coach Robert Saleh’s defense excels with quality pass rushers, as seen in San Francisco. With Carl Lawson returning from injury, aligning this strong rookie across from Lawson will give the Jets that “New York Sack Exchange” attack.
5. New York Giants – Evan Neal, Offensive tackle, Alabama
There has been a lot of talk about Charles Cross being the Giants’ preferred lineman. I think that is smoke to deter any temptation to move up for Neal. On my board, Evan Neal is the top offensive tackle and offensive lineman in the NFL Draft. I think he’s head and shoulders ahead of Cross. He is a mountain of a man, with tremendous movement skills and smooth feet. His consistency is the only thing I noted as a genuine flaw, but Neal still has an argument for best player in the whole draft.
For the Giants, Neal checks every box for new general manager Joe Schoen and new head coach Brian Daboll. Both have noted wanting to be “in lockstep”. Both have consistently backed quarterback Daniel Jones as having a shot this year to prove himself. The best way to provide him that chance is to protect him and fill a critical spot across from left tackle Andrew Thomas.
This is also a prime trade spot, as teams like the Seahawks and Saints have both acquired draft capital to seemingly move up for a player they like. The Giants are connected to Jones for now, but getting capital for next year would be ideal to have a shot at a better quarterback class.
6. Carolina Panthers – Kenny Pickett, Quarteback, Pittsburgh
The first pick of the night that I will vehemently disagree with will likely be made by Carolina. Head coach Matt Rhule is seemingly on the hot seat, and the Panthers have holes all around their roster. But none as glaring as quarterback. After a failed experiment after trading for Sam Darnold, I can easily see the Panthers reaching for their future quarterback.
Rhule and Pickett have an established history, so this ties into the pick. But additionally, Pickett has been talked about as one of the more competent quarterbacks in this class since the start of the process. Not that I agree, but his stock has not seemed to fluctuate like the other passers. I think this will result in him going higher than most think.
7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears) – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
Current starter James Bradberry is likely on the move, making this pick even more important. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has trended up ever since the conclusion of the 2021 college football season, contending with another stellar talent in Derek Stingley Jr. While Stingley would be a great pick as well, Gardner is tailor-made for new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s system.
Gardner is smooth as silk in his backpedal, transition, and trigger. He plays with ferocity, contributing in the run game often, and is physical in press. But most impressive is his stoicism outside. When facing Alabama speedster Jameson Williams, Gardner limited his impact tremendously and never wavered or panicked on film. His game will transition smoothly in New York.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Hamilton, Defensive back, Notre Dame
A safety going this high would be a surprise — if his name was not Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton is a well-built safety with fantastic athleticism, despite his 4.6 forty time. He is one of the most versatile players in this draft, handling single-high responsibilities, two-high, man, zone, and even some nickel opportunities he excelled in.
For Atlanta, this is merely a “best player available” move. Hamilton is easily one of the best in this class and will be an immediate impact player on a defense devoid of talent, especially on its backend.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) – Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty
This is a no brainer pick in my opinion. Malik Willis is the top passer on my board and has generational tools for the position. He is crazy explosive, possessing fantastic agility and speed to go along with a powerful arm that can launch passes from a variety of angles and off platform.
While his accuracy and ability to read defenses is constantly questioned, the Seahawks just traded their cornerstone quarterback. They have to swing for the fences to acquire his replacement. Some of the concerns with Willis are a bit overblown to me. Him landing on a roster with Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Noah Fant is a tremendous place to start his career.
10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks) – Jameson Williams, Wide receiver, Alabama
With their second pick, the Jets select a strong receiver talent who immediately upgrades the position. Much like the Thibodeaux pick, the Jameson Williams selection provides the Jets a cornerstone piece that will help quarterback Zach Wilson grow as a player. One of Wilson’s strengths coming out was his downfield passing and improvisational skills. Having a player like Williams with game-changing speed will open the field up for Wilson to be more aggressive. Williams is the first receiver to be taken in this mock NFL Draft.
11. Washington Commanders – Garrett Wilson, Wide receiver, Ohio State
Washington is in a unique situation given that they are not wanting for many positions. And given that the Commanders traded for quarterback Carson Wentz, they are seemingly set under center as well. This influences the selection most as head coach Ron Rivera will want to make Wentz as comfortable as possible by providing him the weapons to succeed.
Garrett Wilson is an electric play-maker at the receiver position, and an impressive athlete. His ability to control his speed while route running, to cut or throttle down, gives him easy separation skills. Additionally, he has fantastic body control, able to contort and adjust to passes. These traits, along with his good speed and high pointing ability make him an ideal target for Wentz, who loves taking downfield shots. Pairing Wilson with Terry McLaurin is a dream scenario for Washington.
12. Minnesota Vikings – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Louisiana State
Stingley to Minnesota is a dream pick for the Vikings. He is an insane talent whose stock has fluctuated because of his injury history and a lacking 2020 performance. But overall, Stingley possesses the traits ideal for the position, strong tape, and fantastic testing numbers. He can play man or zone and handle any responsibility thrown at him. For Minnesota, this gives them a young, premium talent who can learn from Patrick Peterson and finally reinforce their defensive back room.
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Texans need help all over the roster, and what better way to improve it than to use their first two picks for premium positions? Charles Cross is graded lower than this spot on my big board, but that does not mean he is not worth it. Cross is a strong pass protector with decent run blocking skills who can maul defenders across from him. Setting up both sides of the line of scrimmage is a great start for Houston’s rebuild.
14. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis, Defensive tackle, Georgia
The Ravens make a surprising selection by going inside their defensive front rather than grabbing an edge like Jermaine Johnson. But setting the tone inside is critical to a team that faces Nick Chubb, Najee Harris, and Joe Mixon twice a year each.
Davis is my top ranked defensive tackle in the NFL Draft namely because of his balanced game. He’s a massive human, with plus athleticism, and shows a consistent ability to collapse the pocket on passing downs. That balance will provide the Ravens a three-down player who will also complement another freak defender in Odafe Oweh.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins) – Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Wide receiver is no doubt a need for the Eagles, but I do not believe they expect Jermaine Johnson to last this long. He’s a no-brainer pick here. Johnson has slowly risen over the course of the draft process, and for good reason: most criticisms seen on tape were addressed by his training for the draft. At the Senior Bowl, Johnson was a menace, destroying nearly every opposing blocker in every drill. His athleticism at his length is insane, and a perfect fit for an Eagles team lacking an alpha edge rusher.
16. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles via Indianapolis Colts) – Drake London, Wide receiver, Southern California
The Saints are no doubt looking for a receiver, especially after their trade with the Eagles that moved them up the board just a little bit. They are in perfect range to grab one of the top five players at the position. Drake London fits well for New Orleans given his ability to play inside and out, along with a long frame that he used to demolish opposing corners by high pointing over their heads.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Trevor Penning, Offensive tackle, Northern Iowa
Much like the earlier teams who acquired a tackle prospect, the selection of Trevor Penning here is all about protecting the team’s most important player in quarterback Justin Herbert. Penning is a phenomenal athlete for the position who possesses a real mean-streak. I mean, really mean. That attitude no doubt wows some scouts, and will serve well in such a competitive division where keeping Herbert upright is paramount.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints) – Chris Olave, Wide receiver, Ohio State
Despite not selecting a receiver, the Eagles still luck out with Garrett Wilson’s teammate Chris Olave falling to them at the 18th pick. Olave possesses a great blend of speed, agility, and smoothness that makes his movement seem effortless. He is tremendous in stacking and creating separation with good foot quickness that gets him changing directions immediately. It also helps that he has soft hands and nice burst to explode after the catch. Olave is a great fit in Philadelphia, and will complement DeVonta Smith tremendously as players who can line up all over the formation.
19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles) – Daxton Hill, Safety, Michigan
Here is a shocker. While the Saints desperately need to improve their tackle spot, they select way too late in the draft to pick up any of the players who may be worth a first round selection. If they remain with the “best player” approach, it would not be surprising to see them go after a versatile player like Daxton Hill, who is very much underrated in my opinion.
The safety spot is pretty lacking for New Orleans, given that Marcus Maye is dealing with both an injury and potential suspension. Outside of Maye, there is CJ Gardner-Johnson, who handles the slot. Acquiring a player like Hill who can also handle slot duties gives them a chess piece defensive back who can provide depth at both safety spots.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Zion Johnson, Interior offensive lineman, Boston College
The Steelers will not be going after a quarterback without a trade up, and I cannot see them grabbing up any passer not named Malik Willis. In this situation, I see them grabbing one of the best players available on the board in Johnson.
I love Johnson’s game, and I believe his versatility is a major plus for a team transitioning the quarterback position. Johnson worked out at center plenty during the Senior Bowl and even made a spot start at tackle during his career. His upside is tremendous in my opinion, and I think Pittsburgh will love adding this hog molly to the roster.
21. New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Utah
This is a prime trade spot given the Patriots history with moving picks. But no trades here. Devin Lloyd is the selection and the fit is impeccable. Adding a swiss army knife defender like Lloyd just seems like a Belichick thing to do. With Donta Hightower still a free agent, the Patriots need a dynamic linebacker. And provided Lloyd’s stock continues to slowly drop, it is very realistic to think he would fall here.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders) – Treylon Burks, Wide receiver, Arkansas
Green Bay is on the board with their first of two selections and land a premium player at a serious position of need. After moving Davante Adams, the Packers acquired Sammy Watkins, which gives quarterback Aaron Rodgers a newcomer veteran to pair with Allen Lazard. And that is about it. Burks provides the Packers a big framed player with excellent speed and athleticism who can create in the open field. Burks will be a quality player on this offense that Matt LeFleur can use in a variety of ways.
23. Arizona Cardinals – Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington
Ever since the departure of Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals have lacked a bit in their cornerback room. Byron Murphy Jr has grown into a solid starting corner but there is not much else talent wise at that position. McDuffie may not compare to the top corners of this class, but he is a great athlete that flashes excellent mirroring skills to handle man cover responsibilities. Adding that type of player to a defense boasting both Chandler Jones and JJ Watt is big for their playoff hopes and defensive talent.
24. Dallas Cowboys – Kenyon Green, Interior offensive lineman, Texas A&M
The Cowboys once boasted one of the best offensive lines in the league. That has since changed due to departures, retirements and various injuries to the position. Kenyon Green makes complete sense here, especially with the other vaunted offensive lineman off the board. Green has potential as a tackle prospect, but should dominate early by sliding into guard. Dallas will be lucky to have this versatile piece, especially to protect Dak Prescott and help reestablish Ezekiel Elliott’s prowess in the ground game.
25. Buffalo Bills – Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Florida
This NFL Draft is coming down to the wire, with much of the top tier talent off the board to this point. For Buffalo, this is a position to grab whoever they like the most, even at a position of need. I have them grabbing Kaiir Elam to add a starting cornerback right away.
Elam is a player I like a lot, and can see his appeal to multiple defensive schemes. His athleticism was on display at the combine, but it pops off the tape as well. A highly touted high school prospect, Elam has lived up to that hype and could immediately start in Buffalo alongside Tre’Davious White. Adding a corner is a priority given the Dolphins recent acquisition of Tyreek Hill to go along with Jaylen Waddle, and the Jets earlier Williams pick.
26. Tennessee Titans – Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
At this point, the premium players are gone, but there is quality talent still left and I can easily see teams grabbing guys they like as justification for a first round selection. Mafe is one of those players I think fits the bill. He possesses the frame, athleticism and power to play right away, featuring a balanced game versus the run and pass. Much like Elam, I see Mafe as an overlooked player who could start day one with the right team. Tennessee is not in desperate need of pass rush help given both Bud Dupree and Harold Landry on the roster. But Mafe helps to round out that position well, and you can never have enough pass rushers.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Devonte Wyatt, Defensive lineman, Georgia
Tampa Bay does not have many huge needs but one area of focus could be their interior defensive line. Vita Vea and William Gholston form a solid duo, but Ndamukong Suh is still a free agent. Outside of the former pair, there is little talent for depth. Given the Buccaneers reliance on that dominating middle, adding a defensive tackle that brings pass rush talent is ideal. Wyatt has fantastic first step quickness and active hands that help him fit the bill nicely.
28. Green Bay Packers – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Karlaftis has experienced a pretty steep fall from the very early mock drafts that featured him going top ten. But Karlaftis still possesses the talent worth a first round pick. He has a solid pass rush toolkit, featuring a strong bull rush and long arm. The Packers could use an additional pass rusher after losing Za’Darius Smith. Having an explosive, high motor player like Karlaftis is a solid pick at this point.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers) – Jahan Dotson, Wide receiver, Penn State
Back-to-back picks for the Chiefs here. Despite signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marques Valdez-Scantling, the Chiefs are lacking an elite level receiver after trading Tyreek Hill. They are also missing that game-changing speed in short areas that can explode small passes into large gains. Dotson can do that. He has excellent twitch and tremendous body control to attack the ball from anywhere on the field and make a big play. Patrick Mahomes would generate a tremendous rapport given his knack for mind-boggling deep throws and Dotson’s separation skills.
30. Kansas City Chiefs – Kyler Gordon, Cornerback, Washington
Provided the Chiefs see cornerback as their biggest need and are not enamored with any pass rushers, Gordon is the pick here. Despite his lackluster combine, which was reportedly a result of his being under the weather, Gordon is still a solid man cornerback with good athleticism, smooth movement skills and active hand use. Barring a trade for a player like James Bradberry, this would be one of the more logical picks of the NFL Draft.
31. Cincinnati Bengals – Lewis Cine, Safety, Clemson
The Bengals spent a ton of money in free agency to reinforce their offensive line, which was by far their greatest need. This gives the Bengals a bit of freedom to pick the best player available. They could use a corner, so maybe Andrew Booth from Clemson is an option here. But when looking at the roster, the Bengals definitely need to backup their safety position given Jessie Bates is a franchise player and Vonn Bell is their only other starting caliber safety. That is why Cine goes here.
Cine is a first round caliber player, and graded out as a high second rounder for me. He is dynamic, with excellent athleticism and is a tremendous, tone setting tackler. Adding a player with his caliber, who can contribute right away but not have to start provides an opportunity for him to grow and insurance for a potential loss of Bates if a new contract cannot be negotiated.
32. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams) – Desmond Ridder, Quarterback, Cincinnati
Finally the end of the 2022 NFL Draft is here. The Lions definitely could use a quarterback, but none are worth a top two selection and getting Aidan Hutchinson is a quality consolation prize. But with this second first rounder, the Lions take a flier on Desmond Ridder.
For a while, Ridder was receiving praise for his talents but his accuracy issues and streaky play got the best of his stock. However, he still brings more to the table than Jared Goff. Ridder has plus athleticism, a great arm, and has a resume of starts suggesting a competent player that can step in and test Goff right away.