The 2022 NFL Draft is finally (and thankfully) upon us. Months of discourse, debates and trolling the mentions of those with differing opinions can lead to most of us just ready for it to all be over, even if just for a week. The staff here at ATB have released several 2022 mock draft pieces this week, and despite my hiatus from content, I just had to get in on the fun.
Full disclosure: this is a predictive mock, not the decisions I would make. I’m only doing a couple of trades in the first round. I’m too lazy to do them in the second, sorry!
As always, I welcome all feedback. Let me know you love, what you hate and why you think I’m an idiot on Twitter (@HindenburgScout). The draft is better than Christmas morning, let’s go!
2022 NFL Mock Draft: Erik Hindenburg Edition
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE Georgia. The Jaguars take a risk here, passing on the “safe” option in Aidan Hutchinson. Walker is an athletic specimen with all the traits to become an elite player on Sundays. The current regime is trusting the coaching staff to develop a raw prospect with potential, something that historically just hasn’t happened for Jacksonville.
2. Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB Liberty. Many will expect the Lions to take the hometown kid in Aidan Hutchinson, and they very well may. I don’t believe they will. Dan Campbell has surely figured out that Jared Goff is not the guy to tie his reputation to. Willis is far from perfect as a prospect, and is most certainly the beneficiary of a subpar quarterback crop. He has very enticing traits and is, by all accounts, a leader of men and a high character individual.
3. Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE Michigan. Hutchinson was never going to fall out of the top 3. The Houston Texans need talent across the board. The Heisman runner up gives them a bonafide pass rusher to bolster the defense, and a player who should make a significant impact as a rookie.
4. New York Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT NC State. The Jets need to figure out their offensive line, including the future of former first round pick Mekhi Becton. Ekwonu is the definition of a bully, and there are whispers that the league is higher on him than the rest of the tackle class.
5. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT Alabama. Once the heavy favorite to be the first overall pick, Evan Neal gives the Giants true bookend tackles for the next decade. Andrew Thomas and Neal will make as good of a starting tackle duo as one can find in the NFL.
6. Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB Ole Miss. It happens every single year. There are two categories every team fits in: those who have their franchise quarterback, and those who are desperate to find one. The Panthers are firmly in the latter category, and the owner has made it clear that needs to change. Enter Corral, who’s scheme makes it difficult to project him as a pro. His mobility, arm and production are enough to make the Panthers pull the trigger.
7. New York Giants: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE Florida State. The Giants continue to emphasize the trenches. Johnson is a very good run defender and still developing pass rusher, with the potential to be a consistent double-digit sack defender.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE Oregon. Atlanta is in bad shape. They just need good football players. Luckily, KT is available here and should be a huge boost to the defense.
9. Seattle Seahawks: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB Cincinnati. The Seahawks are entering a rebuild. Pete Carroll and John Schneider hope to work the same formula that worked with a young Russell Wilson. Gardner is an alpha, and will be a leader in the secondary.
10. New York Jets: Jameson Williams, WR Alabama. After failing to trade for Tyreek Hill several weeks ago, the Jets add the speed and play-making ability to the WR room in Williams. Coming off of a torn ACL, Williams should be full go by the season opener.
11. Washington Commanders: Derek Stingley Jr., CB LSU. Stingley was crowned a future top pick after one of the best freshman campaigns in recent memory in 2019. Injuries and a subpar LSU team have cooled off his stock some, but there’s every chance he ends up the best player in this draft class.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam, CB Florida. Elam is a fantastic plug-and-play corner for the Vikings. This corner class has some really, really good players. There’s not many better than Elam.
13. Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S Notre Dame. Kyle Hamilton is one of the best pure playmakers in the draft class. Don’t over think his 40-yard dash. He’s going to be a perennial Pro Bowl player.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT Georgia. The AFC North, and the Baltimore Ravens, will always be synonymous with physical football and strong defenses. Adding Davis to the DL rotation improves the front dramatically.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Wilson, WR Ohio State. The Eagles are all in on Jalen Hurts, at least for this season anyways. Devonta Smith is fantastic, but adding another top-flight option is a must. Wilson is a fantastic prospect who fits in well with the Eagles offense.
16. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Pickett, QB Pittsburgh. Pickett isn’t generally regarded as having the highest ceiling, but he’s competitive, accurate, and fits the culture and offense in New Orleans. The presence of Jameis Winston gives the team the freedom to let Pickett acclimate at his pace instead of throwing him in the fire.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Logan Hall, DL Houston. There’s growing buzz that Hall is likely to hear his name called opening night. The Chargers are a logical landing spot as they look to bolster the trench of their defense.
18. Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB Clemson. The Eagles need corner help. Booth is regarded very highly by some evaluators I have a ton of respect for, and I’m quite high on the former Tiger as well.
19. New Orleans Saints: Drake London, WR USC. London may very well end up being the best pass catcher in this group. He’s big, physical, and dominant in contested catch situations. He’s exactly what’s needed in the Saints offense.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: TRADE to Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Olave, WR Ohio State. The Jaguars have invested millions of dollars upgrading the supporting cast around Trevor Lawrence. Olave is the next big investment. The best route runner in the draft class with great speed and reliable hands, he slides into the X role. Doug Pederson’s offense requires versatility at the position, and Olave should see time all over the field.
(TRADE COMPENSATION: JAX receives #20, Pitt receives #33, #106, 2023 2nd round)
21. New England Patriots: Zion Johnson, OL Boston College. The Patriot Way. It’s not flashy, but it’s effective. Zion Johnson is a starter as a rookie and should be one of the best interior lineman in the league very early in his career.
22. Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, WR Arkansas. After trading away the best receiver in the NFL, the Packers add a match-up nightmare in Treylon Burks. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and can line up all over the field.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Charles Cross, OT Mississippi State. The Cardinals get a hell of a player at this juncture of the draft in Cross, who is an immediate upgrade over DJ Humphries.
24. Dallas Cowboys TRADE to Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB Washington. The Chiefs defense played above its talent level a season ago. Adding talent to a secondary that just lost its leader in Tyrann Mathieu is a must. Armed with extra picks, the Chiefs are aggressive in ensuring they get their guy.
(TRADE COMPENSATION: KC receives #24, DAL receives #29, #50, 2023 6th round)
25. Buffalo Bills: Kyler Gordon, CB Washington. Back-to-back Washington corners off the board with Gordon bolstering the Buffalo secondary. Given the star power in the AFC currently, this makes sense.
26. Tennessee Titans: Travis Jones, DT UCONN. Travis Jones may have been the biggest beneficiary of the pre-draft process and hearing his name called in Round 1 shouldn’t shock anyone paying attention.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trevor Penning, OL Northern Iowa. Penning plays nasty, and I’m not sure whether he projects better inside or out. Either way, he can start or be really good depth for the Bucs.
28. Green Bay Packers: Devin Lloyd, LB Utah. The Packers get a very good football player in Lloyd. The position may be seeing some devaluation right now, but Lloyd can start and be an impact player for the Green Bay defense.
29. Dallas Cowboys (KC): Tyler Smith, OL Tulsa. Tyron Smith is one of the greatest of all time, but his time is coming. Tyler Smith can compete at OG or RT until eventually taking over Dak Prescott’s blindside. Tyler is raw, but he plays with a mean streak and has all the traits to develop into a top tier OT.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Devonte Wyatt, DL Georgia. Wyatt is a tremendous football player who will be a heavy part of the rotation immediately. Kansas City is known to take chances with off-field concerns.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, OL Iowa. The Bengals aggressive approach to the offensive line continues. Linderbaum is considered by most to be the best pure center in the class.
32. Detroit Lions: Christian Watson, WR NDSU. I think there are better receivers available here for the Lions. I also think the H/W/S and raw potential of Watson is going to be too much to pass on.
33. Pittsburgh Steelers (Jax): Desmond Ridder, QB Cincinnati. The Steelers trade back and still get their guy. The Steelers haven’t made it secret that they are interested in quarterbacks, and want a mobile one. Ridder has plenty of physical traits to be excited about, and goes to a situation where he doesn’t have to start right away.
34. Detroit Lions: Nakobe Dean, LB Georgia.
35. New York Jets: George Karlaftis, EDGE Purdue.
36. New York Giants: Jahan Dotson, WR Penn St.
37. Houston Texans: Kenyon Green, OL Texas A&M.
38. New York Jets: Quay Walker, LB Georgia.
39. Chicago Bears: Skyy Moore, WR Western Michigan.
40. Seattle Seahawks: George Pickens, WR Georgia.
41. Seattle Seahawks: Bernard Raimann, OL Central Michigan.
42. Indianapolis Colts: Lewis Cine, S Georgia.
43. Atlanta Falcons: Sean Rhyan, OL UCLA.
44. Cleveland Browns: Nik Bonitto, EDGE Oklahoma.
45. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Pierce, WR Cincinnati.
46. Minnesota Vikings: Leo Chenal, LB Wisconsin.
47. Washington Commanders: Demarvin Leal, DL Texas A&M.
48. Chicago Bears: Jaqaun Brisker, S Penn St.
49. New Orleans Saints: David Ojabo, EDGE Michigan.
50. Dallas Cowboys (KC): Drake Jackson, DE USC.
51. Philadelphia Eagles: Chad Muma, LB Wyoming.
52. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jamaree Salyer, OL Georgia.
53. Green Bay Packers: Phidarian Mathis, DL Alabama.
54. New England Patriots: John Metchie III, WR Alabama.
55. Arizona Cardinals: Christian Harris, LB Alabama.
56. Dallas Cowboys: Darrian Beavers, LB Cincinnati.
57. Buffalo Bills: Breece Hall, RB Iowa St.
58. Atlanta Falcons: Jalen Tolbert, S. Alabama.
59. Green Bay Packers: Wan’Dale Robinson, WR Kentucky.
60. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE Penn St.
61. San Francisco 49ers: Perrion Winfrey, DL Oklahoma.
62. Kansas City Chiefs: Kenneth Walker III, RB Michigan State.
63. Cincinnati Bengals: Roger McCreary, CB Auburn.
64. Denver Broncos: Trey McBride, TE Colorado State.