2022 NFL Draft: Scott Carasik’s Final Mock Draft

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 will be based on what the teams will likely do, not what we would do in their place.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Al Goldis

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Player Comparisons for the Top 32 picks

Teams around the NFL make picks based on players talents and projections. Comparisons to others who have had success are a big part of the scouting process. Teams don’t look at players for what they are now, though, when they make these comparisons. They tend to try and tap what the highest level of potential could be. So that’s what we’ll be doing here as well.

Teams around the NFL make picks in the NFL Draft based on players’ talents and projections. Comparisons to others who have had success are a big part of the scouting process. Teams don’t look at players for what they are now, though, when they make these comparisons. They tend to try and tap what the highest level of potential could be.

So that’s what we’ll be doing here as well. However, there’s not just stylistic comparisons for players in how they play. There’s also physical comparisons for their athleticism. And that’s also part of the process, because that factors into the overall potential.

This mock is an NFL mock draft with player comparisons. It will also explore not just team needs but use a bit of the philosophy of the decision makers involved to try and select who fits their team the best.

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No. 1 Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Stylistic Comparison: Patrick Kerney

Physical Comparison: T.J. Watt

Aidan Hutchinson vs. T.J. Watt at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Jacksonville Jaguars have needs all over the roster and taking the best players they can and letting it play itself out would be their best move. Aidan Hutchinson is arguably the best overall prospect and player in the draft despite his short arms. Much like another player with 32-inch arms in Patrick Kerney, he might be better off playing a 5-technique or 6-technique defensive end role in a 3-4 or a 4-3 than playing the true stand up edge in a 3-4.

In Jacksonville, he would have complementary edge rushers in Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson to help him attack quarterbacks. On base sets, Hutchinson would be a great fit as a defensive end for the 3-4 looks since the Jaguars will be running a more offset 3-4 than a true two-gap 3-4. Then in nickel sets, rotating Hutchinson, Chaisson and Allen at edge rusher will help keep fresh rushers getting after the passer every play.

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No. 2 Detroit Lions: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

Stylistic Comparison: Bruce Smith

Physical Comparison: J.J. Watt

Travon Walker vs. J.J. Watt at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

As was noted before, these comparisons are being made for overall potential. Travon Walker didn’t shine as the primary pass rusher at Georgia, but he has all the tools to be great. He also had a selfless attitude about himself to let other players around him make the plays even if he didn’t. But in the pros, he’s going to be a star, and if he reaches his true potential, he could be the next Bruce Smith regardless of alignment.

Detroit would give him the perfect spot to really shine. He could play as a 4-3 defensive end who will sometimes 5-technique, but will primarily hold down the strong side of the defense while also being able to get after the quarterback with Charles Harris and the Okwara brothers. This would also let Brockers slide inside to a more 3-technique role that will serve the defense better as a whole. Walker should be a great fit for the Lions for the long term.

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No. 3 Houston Texans: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Stylistic Comparison: Leonard Davis

Physical Comparison: Cordy Glenn

Evan Neal vs. Cordy Glenn at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Texans have a need on the offensive line to help out their young quarterback and having a talented guard or tackle come in would really help build the infrastructure for the quarterback to succeed. Evan Neal has a ton of talent and can play either guard or tackle in the NFL. With Laremy Tunsil manning the most important spot on the line at left tackle, they can put Neal at either left guard, right guard or right tackle to have him help where needed.

Athletically, his film is very similar to Cordy Glenn’s. While Glenn didn’t have the best combine, he still had a successful career as an offensive lineman and should be considered the floor of what Neal could provide. Neal has the kind of talent that brings to mind Leonard Davis, a guy who played for the Cowboys and Cardinals at three separate spots and went to the Pro Bowl multiple times throughout his career.

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No. 4 New York Jets: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Stylistic Comparison: Chandler Jones

Physical Comparison: Gaines Adams

Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Gaines Adams at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Jets are on the path to a really good future if they can figure out the holes in their roster. Zach Wilson is bad, but they’ll have to figure that out in their own time before this staff loses their job. On the other side of the ball, they don’t have a primary pass rusher on the roster yet. Carl Lawson is a great complementary pass rusher and having that premiere pass rushing beast across from him will help. That’s where Kayvon Thibodeaux would come in.

The interior trio of Jonathan Franklin-Myers, Sheldon Rankins and Quinnen Williams will benefit greatly from an outside rusher. Thibodeaux is great as a pass rusher and has the athleticism to really set the outside edge. Much like Chandler Jones, he could lead a pass rush that would have quarterbacks running for their lives. Thibodeaux would instantly upgrade the Jets defense and this would be a perfect situation for him.

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No. 5 New York Giants: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Stylistic Comparison: Warren Moon

Physical Comparison: Tyrod Taylor

Malik Willis vs. Tyrod Taylor at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

If your team doesn’t have a quarterback, you should go out and get one. The smoke of Malik Willis to the Giants isn’t out there, yet. But the fit just makes sense. Giants head coach Brian Daboll likes to take quarterbacks with the raw tools and make them great. Putting Willis with Tyrod Taylor and Daniel Jones in New York to learn from for a year and really develop into a pro is the right way to go. Willis would be an upgrade over Jones after his first year.

The comparison for Willis being Warren Moon may seem lofty. And he’s definitely a boom or bust type guy. Willis has all the same tools Moon had as a player. From the cannon arm to the mobility and intelligence in his reads, he can really develop into the right quarterback at an NFL level for any team. Daboll would love his tools and could mold him into an All-Pro the way he did with Josh Allen in Buffalo with the Bills.

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No. 6 Carolina Panthers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Stylistic Comparison: Joe Flacco

Physical Comparison: Teddy Bridgewater

Kenny Pickett vs. Teddy Bridgewater at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

I have a saying, “NFL teams do stupid things.” The Carolina Panthers are one of those teams that continually do stupid things. In this situation, the smart thing of getting a quarterback to try and keep the jobs of the GM and coach makes sense for the Panthers brass. Sam Darnold hasn’t worked out. Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t worked out. And ideally, the Panthers would understand that Pickett is probably a third or fourth round talent at best.

Pickett at his best would be a Joe Flacco level guy who’s a purgatory level quarterback of the likes of Andy Dalton who could potentially go unconscious one postseason and win a Super Bowl. He’s not a top five quarterback in the NFL potential guy, though. The Panthers will make a mistake in this draft, and that mistake will end up being Kenny Pickett at No. 6.

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No. 7 New York Giants: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Stylistic Comparison: Jake Matthews at LT/Joel Bitonio at LG

Physical Comparison: Rodger Saffold

Ikem Ekwonu vs. Rodger Saffold at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Giants have one piece on their offensive line that’s worth having start for them in Andrew Thomas out of Georgia. They did bring in Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano and Max Garcia in the offseason, but adding someone who can really solidify the left side of the line and that guy is Ikem Ekwonu. Adding a franchise quarterback and a starting left guard in the same draft will only strengthen the Giants for the long term.

Ekwonu is a very unique player because he can play either guard or tackle at level that would put him in the top 10 players at his position in the league. He’s got the size, strength, speed and technique to step right in and start. If Evan Neal wasn’t in this draft, he’d be the highest rated offensive lineman with no questions asked. Ekwonu, Andrew Thomas, and the best three of the remaining offensive linemen could give the Giants a solid overall line to work behind.

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No. 8 Atlanta Falcons: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

Stylistic Comparison: John Abraham

Physical Comparison: Danielle Hunter

Jermaine Johnson vs. Danielle Hunter at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Atlanta Falcons need a true pass rusher. They have needs all over the roster and need to add to the roster in the best player available fashion. This is a situation where Jermaine Johnson would be a better fit for what the Falcons do than Kyle Hamilton or any of the quarterbacks remaining. Malik Willis would be the best fit at quarterback for them out of the entire group, but he was taken three picks ahead of them.

Johnson is a true weak-side defensive end or outside linebacker who could really make sense for the defense in Atlanta. He’d be a big upgrade to the Falcons pass rush off the edge. He would complement Grady Jarrett more than the current stable of pass rushers and has the potential to lead the entire group. He also has the local connection that could help the fan base support him early on as well. The Falcons have a lot of options and are the wild card of the draft.

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No. 9 Seattle Seahawks: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Stylistic Comparison: Kam Chancellor

Physical Comparison: T.J. McDonald

Kyle Hamilton vs. T.J. McDonald at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Seattle Seahawks are in the middle of a full rebuild. They need a bit of everything, including a true defensive leader who can bring back the old ways of the Legion of Boom. And with Kyle Hamilton’s extremely high level of talent, it’s too tough to pass on him at this point for Pete Carroll. Hamilton will remind him as a true replacement to Kam Chancellor but he has a bit more athleticism than Chancellor. Carroll loves players like Hamilton.

Hamilton is the same kind of ball hawk that Chancellor was but also has that attitude and explosion in his tackles that the former Seahawk did as well. Teams love Hamilton, and it would be shocking to see him fall to nine. However, with him sitting there at nine, it would be very tough for the Seahawks to pass on the second coming of their biggest chess piece on their championship defense. Hamilton would be an instant star in Seattle until they draft a new quarterback.

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No. 10 New York Jets: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

Stylistic Comparison: Laremy Tunsil

Physical Comparison: Taylor Decker

Charles Cross vs. Taylor Decker at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The New York Jets need to finish setting up their offensive line to try and have the best support system for last-year’s misguided quarterback selection of Zach Wilson. Charles Cross would be a great fit for the Jets as a true left tackle that would allow them to have Mekhi Becton play a more natural role at right tackle. They went out and got Laken Tomlinson in the offseason and Conner McGovern was a solid center for them in 2021.

The Jets could have the protection Wilson needs to succeed. The former BYU quarterback was at his best in college when the team protected him for his passes. New York makes sense for Cross and could really help them fix the team as a whole. Putting him Alijah Vera-Tucker on the offensive line would give the Jets a true pass blocking contingent that all fit the zone blocking scheme that Mike LaFleur is running there.

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No. 11 Washington Commanders: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati

Stylistic Comparison: Richard Sherman

Physical Comparison: Akhello Witherspoon

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner vs. Akhello Witherspoon at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Washington Commanders have needs all over the roster, but with their current cornerback situation, they should love the idea of the super athletic Sauce Gardner falling to them. They have William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller, but Fuller profiles better as a free safety and Jackson is just one side of the field. Adding Gardner could really improve the Commanders defense as whole and would give them a true No. 1 cornerback.

Gardner has one of the best profiles for a cornerback prospect in years. He’s arguably the best cornerback prospect since Darrelle Revis with his combination of film, athleticism, length and overall attitude. Teams love his competitive fire. His football intelligence shows that he can play either nickel or either outside cornerback position in the NFL and be a playmaking defender. Gardner will be a multi-time Pro Bowl defender.

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No. 12 Minnesota Vikings: NT Jordan Davis, Georgia

Stylistic Comparison: Dontari Poe

Physical Comparison: Dontari Poe

Jordan Davis vs. Dontari Poe at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Minnesota Vikings made their bones under Mike Zimmer with a great defense. However, with new coach Kevin O’Connell, things might be a bit different to where they would focus on the offensive side of the ball. With how this draft falls, the best pick for them will be the one that really makes the biggest impact on the field, though. Jordan Davis would transform any defense he joins, but few more than Minnesota.

The Vikings brought in Harrison Phillips and have Dalvin Tomlinson on the line already, but adding a true freak athlete at nose tackle could really help those two have more single blockers against them. Danielle Hunter and new addition Za’Darius Smith should also see fewer double teams than they would be projected to see at this time because of the space eating abilities Jordan Davis has shown in his time at Georgia and could translate into the pro game.

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No. 13 Houston Texans: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Stylistic Comparison: Tyler Lockett

Physical Comparison: Devin Hester

Garrett Wilson vs. Devin Hester at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Texans need to really surround their future quarterback if it’s not Davis Mills with weapons. Mills had a solid rookie year, though and could be a solid quarterback for them. They have some solid receivers with Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins, but they don’t have a true No. 1 guy. While there is no premiere Julio Jones or A.J. Green level wide receiver in this draft, the two guys closest to that are Garrett Wilson and Drake London.

Wilson is very similar to Tyler Lockett as a deep threat who can attack the shorter areas as a yards-after-catch kind of guy. He’s very good as a true No. 1 who can help a team with contested catches as well. The best part of Wilson’s game though is his feel against zone defense. He knows how to find the soft spots and sit there. For a young quarterback, that’s what you need to help him succeed during the early stages of his development.

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No. 14 Baltimore Ravens: CB Derek Stingley, Louisiana State

Stylistic Comparison: Patrick Peterson

Physical Comparison: Trae Waynes

Derek Stingley vs. Trae Waynes at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta comes from the Ozzie Newsome school of taking the best player available even if it’s a position of strength for your team. This is definitely another situation like that. However, when looking at the Ravens depth chart for 2023, the cornerback position stood out as a spot they could attack. Marcus Peters is going to be out of his contract and the need at cornerback will be prominent then.

Adding someone like Derek Stingley to the depth would be exceptionally intelligent and would allow the Ravens to have a talented player to replace the former Pro Bowl corner Peters. Stingley has all the tools to be the star of the Ravens defense at cornerback. His long-term potential is that of a Patrick Peterson. A true shut-down type corner would be the best way to describe the former LSU Tiger.

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No. 15 Philadelphia Eagles: CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

Stylistic Comparison: Darius Slay

Physical Comparison: Darius Slay

Andrew Booth vs. Darius Slay at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Speaking of Darius Slay, if you already have one, why not have two of them? Slay is one of the best all-around cornerbacks in the NFL and pairing him with a younger version of himself only makes sense. Andrew Booth fits in well with the Eagles as a starting cornerback across from Slay and should be an upgrade over 2021 fourth round pick Zech McPhearson. Booth has the same kind of tools and raw ability Slay had coming out.

However, his technique needs a lot of work. He’s better in man than Slay was early on, but he’s a malleable ball of clay at this point and should be able to pick up NFL coverage concepts easily. Booth has the potential to be a multi-time Pro Bowl player and could give the Eagles a second shut-down level cornerback if he reaches his potential sooner rather than later. The Eagles still have another first round pick later on to continue to add to their team.

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No. 16 New Orleans Saints: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

Stylistic Comparison: Taylor Lewan

Physical Comparison: Robert Gallery

Trevor Penning vs. Robert Gallery at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Imagine losing one of the best left tackles of the last decade because the cap room just isn’t there. That’s what happened with the Saints in the 2022 offseason. So they traded their 2023 first round pick to get another first round pick and see if they could end up replacing him or potentially sending a package up for a quarterback. In this situation, they nab Trevor Penning who profiles as a 10-year starter at left tackle in the NFL.

As a player, he comes off like a fringe Pro Bowl starter the way that Taylor Lewan did. A powerful, nasty, quick offensive lineman who can pass block well and shows off the dawg that he is in the run game. Penning would instantly slot next to Andrus Peat on the left side and continue to give the Saints a well-rounded offensive line in all spots. Penning has the athleticism of a Robert Gallery, but his career should line up to be better.

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No. 17 Los Angeles Chargers: OL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Stylistic Comparison: Chris Chester

Physical Comparison: Chris Chester

Tyler Linderbaum vs. Chris Chester at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Chargers need more offensive line help to protect franchise quarterback Justin Herbert. While they would have probably preferred a tackle like Trevor Penning, the best offensive lineman available is Tyler Linderbaum, a center from Iowa. Linderbaum athletically on film looks just like Chris Chester, a former long-time starter for Washington and Atlanta. Linderbaum can play any of the three interior spots.

On top of that, Linderbaum would be an instant competitor for the starting role at either guard spot and could help solidify the blind side for Herbert if he’s played on the left side. Linderbaum is a former wrestler as well, so his use of leverage should help him. Working with Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley, the Chargers could have at least three NFL above average starters on a line that will need to hold up against the exceptional pass rushes that are in the AFC West.

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No. 18 Philadelphia Eagles: WR Drake London, Southern California

Stylistic Comparison: Keyshawn Johnson

Physical Comparison: Marques Colston

Drake London vs. Marques Colston at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Eagles first pick was on defense, but their second pick should be to find a complement to Devonta Smith at wide receiver. Smith is a smaller, faster receiver who’s better at finding the soft spots in the zone but doesn’t go up for contested catches as much. Drake London is the opposite of that. He’s a larger, stronger receiver who is going to attack the ball over the middle and win those contested catches that no one on the Eagles roster can get.

Adding London would also help the young quarterback that Philadelphia has in Jalen Hurts. London is a true No. 1 receiver, but he doesn’t need to be the No. 1 for the Eagles, and that will help his development. Combining London’s skills with the current corps should help the Eagles get more out of both Smith and London, but it should also open up the field a little better for Dallas Goedert as well. The tight end should see a lot more looks in the seams with London there.

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No. 19 New Orleans Saints: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Stylistic Comparison: Tyreek Hill

Physical Comparison: Tiquan Underwood

Jameson Williams vs. Tiquan Underwood at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The New Orleans Saints need a true deep option and speed option at wide receiver who can complement Michael Thomas. There are no better options there than Jameson Williams who is one of the fastest, smartest players out there. He was once buried on the Ohio State depth chart, but found his best production in a role at Alabama. There are few guys who can burn a defense like Williams can, and he just happened to be behind those at Ohio State.

That being said, Williams can do everything those guys can do, but he’s faster and understands the weak points of a defense better. The transfer did him well, because he can find seams to burst through after the ball is in his hands. That will help the Saints with their lack of explosion on offense. There are few quarterbacks who can complement a receiver that can burn a team as well as Williams can, but Jameis Winston has the arm to do it. The fit here is perfect.

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No. 20 Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Stylistic Comparison: Marcus Mariota

Physical Comparison: Joshua Dobbs

Desmond Ridder vs. Joshua Dobbs at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Long-time quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger retired this past season, and the Steelers need to find his replacement. Desmond Ridder may not be a true No. 1 quarterback in the NFL, but he’s someone who should fit right in with the Steelers. He can learn how to be great with a solid coaching staff like Pittsburgh, and he has better overall tools than Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph will ever have.

Ridder knows how to make the best out of a tough situation and has shown that he can lead a deficient team to great heights in Cincinnati. However, the NFL is a whole different game. There will be some growing pains and sitting for a season would be best for Ridder. The Steelers have a well-structured organization with the right coaches and some talent around the quarterback that knows how to get open and create with the ball in their hands.

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No. 21 New England Patriots: OL Zion Johnson, Boston College

Stylistic Comparison: Kevin Zeitler

Physical Comparison: Joel Bitonio

Zion Johnson vs. Joel Bitonio at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

The Patriots just traded away one of the best offensive linemen in the league in Shaq Mason. That opens up a massive hole for them at right guard, and they’ll need some talent to compete there. The best guard in the NFL draft is likely Zion Johnson. He’s got all the tools and compares best to another long-armed beast in Kevin Zeitler with the advanced physical tools of a Joel Bitonio. That’s a dangerous combination.

Bill Belichick is known for focusing on his offensive and defensive lines at the top of the draft historically, and Johnson won’t change that. Johnson slides right in between Trent Brown and David Andrews and should be a decade long starter the way Logan Mankins was for the Patriots. Add in the Boston connection, and there’s few guys who fit in as well for the Patriots as Zion Johnson does for Belichick’s crew.

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No. 22 Green Bay Packers: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Stylistic Comparison: Ryan Shazier

Physical Comparison: Dan Connor

Devin Lloyd vs. Dan Connor at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

There are few players who are as well-rounded at their position in the 2022 NFL draft as Devin Lloyd is. He’s one of the best all-around linebackers whether it is blitzing, covering zones or trying to slip into the backfield against the run. Lloyd has a ton of similarities to Dan Connor as an athlete, but he’s closer to a Ryan Shazier in his style of play. Shazier was a similar guy before his neck injury, and much like Lloyd, he had no trouble laying out opposing players.

The Packers are in a unique spot here. Sure, they have a need at wide receiver, but they also could use more defensive playmakers and have a second first round pick. And sure, De’Vondre Campbell was great in 2021, but they need more than just him in the middle level of their defense. Lloyd is a perfect complement to Campbell, and they could be a heart and soul type combination for that defense. Adding Lloyd to Campbell will strengthen a packers defense.

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No. 23 Arizona Cardinals: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Stylistic Comparison: Tre’Davious White

Physical Comparison: Desmond Trufant

Trent McDuffie vs. Desmond Trufant at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Trent McDuffie is a unique case in this draft. He had some real buzz before the combine as potentially the highest drafted cornerback. It’s calmed down recently, but he still has a high level of talent and is very similar to Desmond Trufant in his play as a corner who is equally adept in man and zone. He’s also similar to Tre’Davious White in that he’s a physical cornerback who can support the run just as well as the pass.

The team that ends up with McDuffie will end up with a great talent for the position, but he’s not exactly a shut down guy at the level of a Derek Stingley or Sauce Gardner. In this situation, the Cardinals should look at him heavily. Their starting cornerbacks are Jeff Gladney—a cast off due to off field issues—and Byron Murphy a second round pick. McDuffie would start on the outside in both nickel and base sets and give the Cardinals a specified piece to work with.

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No. 24 Dallas Cowboys: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

Stylistic Comparison: Terry McLaurin

Physical Comparison: Johnny Knox

Chris Olave vs. Johnny Knox at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Chris Olave is a very dynamic receiver who can align all over a formation and burn a defense deep or with yards after carry in the open space. He would be best on a team that has an option to help him by opening up the middle of the field for him to work. Much like Terry McLaurin, though, he is best when working with a group of talented receivers that will take pressure off of him being the primary playmaker every down.

The Dallas Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper to free up cap space to build their roster. But in doing so, they got rid of a major target for the talented Dak Prescott to throw to. Olave is a great value here at the latter part of the first round, and he fits in well with the Cowboys as either a slot receiver, outside receiver or option that aligns in the backfield at times in shotgun sets to create plays. The Cowboys should add Olave to Ceedee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

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No. 25 Buffalo Bills: DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Stylistic Comparison: Warren Sapp

Physical Comparison: Amobi Okoye

Devonte Wyatt vs. Amobi Okoye at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Devonte Wyatt is a world disrupter on the interior of a defense. Much like Warren Sapp or Aaron Donald, he creates a ton of pressure on the interior of a defense and attacks quarterbacks and the run game equally as well. Physically, he compares well to Amobi Okoye who is one of the better athletes at the position of all time. Wyatt is a nasty pass rusher with violent hands and the ability to shed interior blocks against the run well.

The Buffalo Bills don’t have a ton of needs on their roster, but adding to their pass rush is never a bad idea. Wyatt could join Ed Oliver in the middle of a Buffalo defense that has already added Von Miller to create a formidable rush. Miller and Rousseau as part of the first wave with Wyatt and Oliver should be able to handle the speed and scrambling ability of the AFC’s best quarterbacks. The Bills should have a better defense with him on it.

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No. 26 Tennessee Titans: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Stylistic Comparison: Andrew Norwell

Physical Comparison: Darryl Williams

Kenyon Green vs. Darryl Williams at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Kenyon Green is a very athletic offensive lineman, but he’s not testing well, which is very similar to Darryl Williams, a former offensive tackle with the Panthers who moved to guard with Buffalo. Green is a better pass blocker than most of the players coming out this year and fits best as a guard at the next level. He is more of a powerful offensive lineman than a technician and should see his time spent holding the depth of the pocket against defensive tackles.

The Tennessee Titans lost their starting guard Rodger Saffold to the Buffalo Bills in the offseason after cutting him for cap reasons. Saffold was a long-term starter for them and would be tough to replace if there wasn’t a perfect fit like Green available out there. Green would start on the left side, though and allow the Titans to continue to have a nasty run game contingent on that side behind Green and long-time left tackle starter Taylor Lewan.

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No. 27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Stylistic Comparison: Demarcus Lawrence

Physical Comparison: Bradley Chubb

George Karlaftis vs. Bradley Chubb at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

George Karlaftis is an interesting case on film. He’s a true power pass rusher who gets to the quarterback by throwing the defensive end in front of him and has a limited pass rush set. Much like when Demarcus Lawrence was coming out, he’ll have to develop. But he has the athleticism to be great as shown by his physical comparison to Bradley Chubb. Teams will appreciate how well he can set the edge and should be very high on him.

The Buccaneers lost Jason Pierre-Paul during the offseason to free agency, but they could still bring him back. That or they can do the smarter thing and draft a guy with similar tools that can win in similar ways. Karlaftis has the bull rushing and run defending down pat. He will have to develop a set of moves to help him get to the quarterback, but the Buccaneers have the right support system to help him get there.

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No. 28 Green Bay Packers: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Stylistic Comparison: Plaxico Burress

Physical Comparison: Justin Blackmon

Treylon Burks vs. Justin Blackmon at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

After trading away Devonta Adams this offseason, the Packers need someone who can make a difference as an outside receiver. They need someone who will fit in with Aaron Rodgers and can go up and get the ball when Rodgers throws into traffic. Since drafting Rodgers in 2005, the Packers haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. They need to show that they can provide Rodgers with some support in his last years of his career and this would do that.

Treylon Burks may not be the best athlete at the position, but similar to Justin Blackmon, he makes it work. He wins in the same kinds of ways Plaxico Burress does, though. He’s more physical; he high-points the ball and catches defenders off-guard. He can find the soft spots in zones while in the red zone, and at his best, he can burn a defense deep with his route running and ability to create separation by running routes that throw off the men guarding him.

No. 29 Kansas City Chiefs: WR Jahan Dotson, Pennsylvania State

Stylistic Comparison: Calvin Ridley

Physical Comparison: Davon Grayson

Jahan Dotson vs. Davon Grayson at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Jahan Dotson is being talked about as a potential first round pick because of his ability to create after the catch, and his exceptional route running. His ability to attack teams deep or in the soft spots of their scheme really helps boost his value. He may not be the biggest or strongest or fastest guy at the position, but he’s one of the toughest and can create big plays out of thin air. The Chiefs would absolutely love having him because of his west coast offense fit.

The Chiefs are in need of a wide receiver. Marques Valdes-Scantling is the only starting caliber wide receiver under contract after 2022. They’ll need to take a wide receiver who can fit in as one of Patrick Mahomes’ primary options in the passing game, and Dotson fits that very well. Dotson would start out as a No. 2 receiver to Valdes-Scantling and could develop into that true No. 1 for the Chiefs once he fully develops his game.

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No. 30 Kansas City Chiefs: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Stylistic Comparison: Xavien Howard

Physical Comparison: Xavien Howard

Kaiir Elam vs. Xavien Howard at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Kaiir Elam is one of the best press cornerbacks in the draft in 2022. Elam has exceptional speed and agility and has shown that he can shut down a side when he’s able to press the receiver. The best player comparison for Elam is Xavien Howard, a multiple-time Pro Bowl cornerback known for being a great press cornerback. Adding Elam will help the Chiefs for the long term considering they don’t have any true No. 1 cornerback and no one under contract worth the role.

Elam would instantly start as the No. 1 cornerback for a depth chart that is currently highlighting Deandre Baker, Rashad Felton and L’Jarius Sneed. The Chiefs for the long-term do need that featured cornerback for the defense and bringing in Elam would give them that. A wild possibility for the Chiefs could be doubling up on wide receivers here as well with an extreme talent like George Pickens or Christian Watson to be another larger option for them.

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No. 31 Cincinnati Bengals: OL Tyler Smith, Tulsa

Stylistic Comparison: Kelechi Osemele

Physical Comparison: Jamon Brown

Tyler Smith and Jamon Brown at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Tyler Smith was a tackle in college, but projects better as a guard in the pro level just like Jamon Brown and Kelechi Osemele were. They are his best professional comparisons as well. Brown was a solid, but unspectacular starter during his time and is probably the worst case scenario. Smith’s play is a bit nastier than Brown’s is, however. That’s where the Osemele comparison comes in. Osemele would destroy the competition just like Smith does.

The Bengals need a mauler on their offensive line to solidify the front next to Jonah Williams at left guard. With Jonah Williams at left tackle and bringing in La’El Collins at right tackle, the Bengals are finally getting a line built to protect one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Joe Burrow. Adding more competition at center and right guard would help build the line further, but Smith is that piece at left guard for years.

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No. 32 Detroit Lions: QB Matt Corral, Mississippi

Stylistic Comparison: Christian Ponder

Physical Comparison: Andy Dalton

Matt Corral vs. Andy Dalton at the NFL Combine and Pro Days

Matt Corral is a quarterback who could sneak into the first round. The former Mississippi quarterback is a potential starter in the NFL. He’s able to read defenses well and has the moxie to be a leader, but there’s a lot missing with his accuracy and arm strength on his film. He’s got solid athleticism, but he’s not the best athlete. He comes off more like an Andy Dalton who can use the athleticism in the NFL to create passing lanes more than a true dual threat.

The Detroit Lions are in amazing need for the quarterback of their future. Especially one that fits in well with their star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions currently have Jared Goff as their starter and a bunch of terrible replacement level players on the roster. They would do best to bring in a guy with a fifth year option that needs the development but has a ton of potential. That guy is Matt Corral.

Be sure to check out some of the other mock draft on atbnetwork.com and be on the lookout for more as the draft comes.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: How Matt Ryan Trade Affects Plans

The Atlanta Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Colts for the No. 82 pick in the 2022 NFL draft. His era is now over in Atlanta, but he will always be remembered as one of the greatest Falcons of all time. To replace him, they will have to look to a combination of the NFL draft and the signing of Marcus Mariota. Mariota looks like a mentor for whoever they end up drafting.

To explore what the draft could look like, we employed the Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine to develop a realistic Atlanta Falcons mock draft scenario. General Manager Terry Fontenot has stated that he employs a Best Player Available draft strategy, but in reality, he will likely focus on finding a quarterback since he doesn’t have that franchise guy right now.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Malik Willis, first pick in this Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft
Photo Credit: G. Fiume/Getty Images

Round 1, No. 8 overall: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Sure, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota to start for the 2022 season. And that will be fine for until the next quarterback is ready. But they should look into someone who can not just be the guy who fits what head coach Arthur Smith likes, but be the guy who can help Smith expand his playbook.

Some guys will fit that mold in this draft later on, but if you like a guy enough to take him in the first, take him at your first round pick. We’ve done just that for this Atlanta Falcons mock draft.

The guy who truly fits the Falcons as a team, a city, and an organization is Malik Willis. He’s an Atlanta native who played at a pair of high schools in Atlanta before moving to Auburn and later on Liberty in college. He has the off-field credentials that would fit in well in with the Falcons as a leader for the locker room for years. And on-field, he has the rocket arm, exceptional mobility, and football IQ to be a premier quarterback in today’s NFL.

Malik Willis could be the long-term future in Atlanta. Photo by G. Fiume, Getty Images
Pickens would instantly be the No. 1 receiver in Atlanta. Photo by Curtis Compton, UPI

Round 2, No. 43 overall: WR George Pickens, Georgia

The Falcons currently have just 32 catches, 420 yards and three touchdowns of wide receiver production returning to the team in 2022 from their 2021 corps. The only two wide receivers of note on the Falcons current roster are Olamide Zaccheaus and Frank Darby. The signing of KhaDarel Hodge isn’t a needle-mover, either. Because of that, the Falcons should be in search of a man who can be a No. 1 wide receiver not just in on-field ability, but attitude.

George Pickens from Georgia is that guy in true form. He’s a 6-foot-3 receiver with some of the best speed in the draft. He can burn a defense deep and has the ability to go over the middle that will be needed for coach Smith’s schemes. Pickens has had some injury issues, and without those issues, he would probably be going top 10 in this draft. The Falcons should take advantage of this slip and hope he can avoid injury moving forward.

Travis Jones could be a dominant force next to Grady Jarrett. Photo by Kirby Lee, USA Today

Round 2, No. 58 overall: DL Travis Jones, Connecticut

The Falcons do have five defensive linemen on the roster now, but they could use a primary nose tackle-type to fit into the rotation with Anthony Rush, Marlon Davidson, and Ta’quon Graham. The player next to Grady Jarrett needs to be quick, strong, and large. Travis Jones fits that to a tee. He also matches the scheme defensive coordinator Dean Pees runs at the position.

Primarily someone who will eat double teams in Atlanta, Jones should open up Grady Jarrett to more one-on-one matchups with offensive linemen. Those double teams he eats should keep the linebackers behind him cleaner and the pass rushers next to him with more one-on-one matchups, as well. While an edge rusher would be helpful here, the pass rush is a multi-year project. Jones will help it more long-term than a first-year edge rusher.

Darrian Beavers is the ideal Dean Peas MIKE. Photo by Benjamin Solomon, Getty Images

Round 3, No. 74 overall: LB Darrian Beavers, Cincinnati

With the loss of Foye Oluokun, the Falcons will need someone to take over the middle linebacker role left in the void. Darrian Beavers fits in well with the Falcons’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees role at Mike. The Falcons would get a leader for their defense. Beavers understands the adversity of playing on a roster that may not be the most talented. He’ll be able to get the most out of the players around him.

Nik Bonitto (11) could be a star in Pees scheme. Photo by Tom Pennington, Getty Images

Round 3, No. 82 overall: EDGE Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

The Falcons added to their edge room with the signing of Lorenzo Carter and addition-by-subtraction of letting Dante Fowler go. Carter and Adetekunbo Ogundeji will likely be the starters, but adding a pass rusher like Nik Bonitto to the rotation would only help. It does seem like this is a minor addition to be the direct compensation for Matt Ryan, as this was the pick gained in that trade, but Bonitto has the potential to be a vital piece of a pass rush.

Alec Lindstrom re-unites with his brother in Atlanta. Photo by AP

Round 4, No. 114 overall: OL Alec Lindstrom, Boston College

The Atlanta Falcons need to enhance the talent along the offensive line. What better way to do that than to bring in the little brother of the best offensive lineman they have? Alec Lindstrom can fit in well in the zone blocking scheme as he’s a quicker, more technical lineman. He also can play either guard or center position and allow Atlanta some competition for Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman, Jalen Mayfield, and the rest of the interior line roster for a starting role in 2022.

Coby Bryant could be an intriguing projection. Photo by Jonathan Bachman, Getty Images

Round 5, No. 151 overall: CB/S Coby Bryant, Cincinnati

Based on the Falcons needs, bringing in someone like Coby Bryant to help the safeties room makes a lot of sense. Now that may sound a bit off because Bryant was a cornerback in college, but he was an extremely strong run defender and reliable tackler. More importantly, he was exceptional in zone coverages and a little weaker in man-to-man. The Falcons bringing in Bryant as a safety to be the free, deep defender makes sense as a projection this late.

Tyquan Thornton and George Pickens can burn defenses. Photo by Jerome Miron, USA Today

Round 6, No. 190 overall: WR Tyquan Thornton, Baylor

Because of the lack of wide receiver depth on the Falcons roster, adding another receiver in the sixth makes sense for that purpose. Tyquan Thornton was the most athletic receiver in the draft and at 6-foot-2, he has the height to help out the new quarterbacks make those throws needed in the red zone. Thornton is a bit rough around the edges as a route runner, but he fits in well with the schemes in Atlanta and can stretch the field.

Jalen Nailor could be a great fit in the slot long term. Photo by Chris Peterson, Getty Images

Round 6, No. 213 overall: WR Jalen Nailor, Michigan State

Our Atlanta Falcons mock draft ends the way it began: on offense. The slot receiver could also use an upgrade and bringing in someone like Jalen Nailor would help that depth there. Nailor has great big-play ability due to his run-after-catch ability to excel in the Falcons offense.

He will remind some of Russell Gage, but more polished as a route runner. The speed is there to torch a defense, and he’s great as a vertical receiver as well. Adding Nailor, Thornton, and Pickens would really give the Falcons larger, faster receivers to work with.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft: 2022 Pre-Free Agency Breakdown

The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of holes and free agency should help them address some. But the draft is where they’re going to truly rebuild the roster. Their biggest holes are at edge, on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Atlanta should use the draft to address some of those holes in an efficient way. This mock draft shows how the Falcons can do exactly that

With help from the Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine, we break down what the Falcons could do pending minimal free agency moves. Free agency will change a lot of of things for Atlanta, but this could help the Falcons should they focus more on re-signings than anything else.

Atlanta Falcons Mock Draft

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gary McCullough

Round 1, No. 8 overall: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

The Falcons have terrible pass rush with the least amount of sacks in the NFL. A free agent signing would be ideal, but adding a premiere pass rusher in the draft would help. Jermaine Johnson is amazing as an athlete and can turn the Falcons pass rush into a solid one with his array of pass rush moves. He’s also one hell of a run defender who can set the edge and instantly upgrade the edge defense.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sam Craft

Round 2, No. 43 overall: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Jaylen Mayfield was terrible as a rookie and might be in over his head at this point as an NFL starting offensive lineman. Kenyon Green was amazing at Texas A&M. Green fits in well with what the Falcons need at left guard with his agility, speed and size. He’s a guy who will improve the terrible pass blocking that Mayfield provided and has the speed to get to the second level.

Photo Credit: Paul Abell via Abell Images

Round 2, No. 58 overall: WR George Pickens, Georgia

George Pickens is a big, fast target who could be a No. 1 receiver in the Falcons offense. His size at 6-foot-3″ allows him to be a threat in the red zone. His speed allows the Falcons to have a deep threat at wide receiver. Pickens and 2021 first-round pick Kyle Pitts would be a great combination for Matt Ryan. Pickens has some injury concerns, and that would be why he falls.

Photo Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, No. 74 overall: WR John Metchie III, Alabama

The Falcons need a second receiver in this draft to replenish the wide receiver corps. John Metchie was amazing at Alabama and has shown through his three years there that he can be a great No. 2 or No. 3 receiving option in an offense. Metchie plays very similarly to Roddy White and has the same kind of athletic profile. Metchie only falls this far because of his ACL injury.

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Round 4, No. 112 overall: EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

The best fit in the draft outside of Kayvon Thibodeaux for the Falcons scheme is Myjai Sanders. He was a little light at the combine due to an illness, but has shown that he’s an elite athlete regardless. Sanders showed as a sophomore and junior that he can play the outside linebacker role flawlessly. Once he gets his weight up, he could be a perfect 3-down edge defender in the Falcons’ scheme.

Photo Credit: Rob Schumacher, USA Today Sports

Round 5, No. 150 overall: RB Rachaad White, Arizona State

The Atlanta Falcons will need a long-term option at running back that can be a true zone rusher. Rachaad White has a great frame and is similar to Tevin Coleman in his strengths as a zone running back. He has good vision and ridiculous speed for a man his size. His receiving ability is exceptional for a running back and his athletic profile is near the top at his position.

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Round 6, No. 188 overall: DL Thomas Booker, Stanford

The Atlanta Falcons love athletes on the defensive line. In 2021, they selected Ta’Quon Graham and this season, adding Thomas Booker would add another athlete up front. Booker posted a 9.81 RAS and has shown that he can destroy an interior offensive line whether as a nose tackle, defensive tackle or defensive end. The versatility and athleticism up front will be a massive asset.

Photo Credit: 247sports.com

Round 6, No. 211 overall: S Smoke Monday, Auburn

The Falcons would love a player like Smoke Monday on their roster helping out their depth at safety and on special teams. Monday was a captain for Auburn and has incredible instincts in the field. His speed and athleticism fits in with the Falcons’ desire for top-tier athletes. The Auburn safety posted a 9.19 RAS at the Combine to rank in the 92nd percentile of athletes to ever test.

Atlanta Falcons 2022 Mock Draft: Double Dipping a Double Dip

The Atlanta Falcons should spend their first four picks addressing two positions heavily to fix the roster at key spots. The best way to build a roster when stuck up against the cap is to get affordable, average-level players at the cheaper positions on the roster and then draft the expensive ones.

The Atlanta Falcons should spend their first four picks addressing two positions heavily to fix the roster at key spots. The best way to build a roster when stuck up against the cap is to get affordable, average-level players at the cheaper positions on the roster and then draft the expensive ones.

In this case, the very expensive positions of wide receiver and pass rusher are where the Falcons should do their double dipping. With some help from the mock draft machine that our friends at The Draft Network set up, we run down a fun mock draft situation where the Atlanta Falcons have a double dip at two different spots in the 2022 NFL draft.

Kayvon Thibodeaux is the first pick in this Atlanta Falcons mock draft
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

Round 1, No. 8 overall: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Player comparison: Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals

The first pick in this 2022 Atlanta Falcons mock draft is easy. Atlanta needs to build their pass rush with a true premiere pass rusher like Kayvon Thibodeaux. If he falls to No. 8, they should be sprinting to the podium for the best edge rusher in the draft. Thibodeaux has some of the best pass rushing skills in the draft and could develop into a true 15-plus sack guy in the future. The Falcons would finally have their premiere pass rusher with this pick.

USC WR Drake London
Photo Credit: Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG

Round 2, No. 43 overall: WR Drake London, Southern California

Player comparison: Keyshawn Johnson, New York Jets and others

With all the questions surrounding the whole Calvin Ridley situation and with no one else really on the roster at wide receiver outside of Frank Darby, the Falcons need some depth at the position that can fit what Arthur Smith likes. Drake London is a large, long, and strong wide receiver who can attack the seams and middle of the field, and burn a team deep. London would be an instant No. 1 if Ridley is gone.

Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders, the second EDGE taken by the Atlanta Falcons in this 2022 mock draft
Photo Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Round 2, No. 58 overall: EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

Player comparison: Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals

Adding Myjai Sanders to the combination of Kayvon Thibodeaux and Adetokunbo Ogundeji would give the Falcons three long, tall edge rushers who know how to use their frames and attack opposing quarterbacks. With Sanders able to lead a pass rush in his own right, the Falcons could roll out multiple waves of talented edge defenders in a rotation with little drop off while keeping everyone fresh.

Alabama WR John Metchie, the second receiver taken by the Atlanta Falcons in this 2022 mock draft
Photo Credit: Alabama Athletics Photography

Round 3, No. 74 overall: WR John Metchie, Alabama

Player comparison: Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons

Assuming Ridley comes back, Metchie would be a great fit for the Falcons as a No. 3 to start with before taking over for Ridley when he leaves. If Ridley is gone, Metchie has all the tools to be a great No. 2 for Drake London. He can get open easily and allows the Falcons to have a receiver who can win in the same ways that Roddy White used to. Metchie should be a great third down guy early and often.

Boston College offensive lineman Alec Lindstrom
Photo Credit: Athletics

Round 4, No. 112 overall: OL Alec Lindstrom, Boston College

Player comparison: J.C. Tretter, Cleveland Browns

The Falcons need some interior line competition at center and guard. Chris Lindstrom is Alec Lindstrom’s brother, and he was a fringe Pro Bowl player for the Falcons this past season. Matt Hennessy and Jalen Mayfield were mediocre this past season and the Falcons would love to have someone who can come in and compete and add to the chemistry on the offensive line. Alec Lindstrom would do that.

Florida RB Dameon Pierce
Photo Credit: GatorCountry.com

Round 5, No. 150 overall: RB Dameon Pierce, Florida

Player comparison: Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Atlanta needs to get the running game sorted out long term. But focusing resources on a running back early in the draft isn’t worth it. Adding a talented running back like Dameon Pierce to help build the depth is the right way to go. Pierce is a strong interior rusher who can add a level to the Falcons running game in those short yardage situations. Pierce may never be a starter, but he should be an impact player on the Falcons for years.

Virginia Tech CB Jermaine Waller
Photo Credit: Hokiesports.com

Round 6, No. 188 overall: CB Jermaine Waller, Virginia Tech

Player comparison: Justin Bethel, New England Patriots

Additional corner depth is needed in Atlanta. Jermaine Waller was a perfect complement to Caleb Farley as an outside boundary corner in college. He would be a great fit for the Falcons schematically as a taller boundary corner who can pattern match with the bigger receivers in the NFC South. However, early in his career he’s going to play primarily special teams.

Photo Credit: Sick EditzHD

Round 6, No. 211 overall: S Smoke Monday, Auburn

Player comparison: Jayron Kearse

The Atlanta Falcons round out this 2022 NFL mock draft with another DB. Atlanta needs depth at safety and on special teams. Smoke Monday has not only the coolest name in the draft, but he’s also the best option for them late in the third day. He can come in and compete for playing time on special teams right away, and eventually learn to play a true box safety role in Atlanta to complement Richie Grant — if they don’t believe Jaylinn Hawkins is the guy.