With the start of the NFL season looming and college football kicking off, we now get back to our favorite time of the year. 2022 draft season is waiting in the wings and it is never too early to start up the mocks. Let’s get into the first of our weekly NFL mock drafts.
1) Houston Texans – Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
If the Texans end up in the number one spot like the odds suggest, Deshaun Watson’s time with the team will be over and Houston will be in the market for a new quarterback. While Rattler isn’t the best quarterback in his class right now, he’s got the most potential to break out and be the number one guy. He has the arm strength, arm angles, and pretty much everything the NFL loves in today’s game if he can put it all together. If it’s not Rattler, it would be North Carolina’s Sam Howell here, and these two will be the pair to monitor across the course of the year.
2) Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
This is another tough pick to decipher. With Jared Goff still on the books for another year and top college quarterbacks being at a premium, they should take a look at arguably the best player in the class in Thibodeaux. Like Rattler, Thibodeaux has a ton of talent and just needs to put up a little more production for us to fully lock him in here. Now, if Detroit wants to go quarterback here, then Howell is certainly not a bad pick, and this is another slot to keep an eye on throughout the season.
3) New York Jets – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Being seven or some odd months away from the draft, obviously one cannot lock picks in, but for where the Jets are selecting right now, this would be a surefire pick. Stingley is a tremendously good cornerback and boy do the Jets need cornerback help. After picking Zach Wilson last year, they won’t be looking at a quarterback here. Overall, the Jets fill one of their biggest needs with one of the best players in the draft.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars – Demarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Defensive tackle is probably the Jaguars’ biggest need and Leal is poised to have a big year at Texas A&M. While he may not be the absolute best on the board, it would still be a fantastic pickup for the Jaguars, who can then look to address other more talented players in the later rounds.
5) Cincinnati Bengals – Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
After passing up on Penei Sewell in last year’s draft in favor of Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals now decide to address the offensive line in the first round with Neal. Neal is a technically sound, all-around clean offensive lineman. He has no true weaknesses and a very high floor. He can be a cornerstone tackle for the Bengals.
6) Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Eagles sort of luck out here and get the best player available, plus there is a nice need for him. Philadelphia has good safeties, but not great ones, and Hamilton can be a great one. At 6’4”, he has limitless range on the field and excellent coverage ability. This would be an excellent pick for the Eagles who can go after offensive weapons later with their immense draft capital.
7) New York Giants – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
If the Giants are picking in the top 10 next year, Daniel Jones’ time with the team has to be over. New York goes with a top-five player in this draft class, and the current best quarterback in college football. Howell (if he can pick it up past his Week 1 performance) can expand this passing game past what Jones has done for the Giants in the last few seasons and this offense can finally get this team to winning ways.
8) Las Vegas Raiders – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Booth should be the best cornerback in this draft besides Stingley. His man coverage ability is incredible and he is still on the rise. There could be shouts for Kaiir Elam here but Booth just works for John Gruden’s Raiders.
9) Atlanta Falcons – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This is a pretty difficult selection here and is all dependent on how Willis plays this season. He has a lot to clean up fundamentally but has the raw talent of a superstar and has already gotten off to a good start against Campbell in Week 1. Matt Ryan will be 37 by the time the 2022 season rolls around and a new face is needed.
10) Carolina Panthers – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Carolina continues to rebuild a bit and now they get one of the most versatile players in the draft. Green can do it all for this team that needs some help on the line. There could be a movement for a quarterback here, but they just spent too much draft capital on Sam Darnold for this to be the pick.
11) New York Giants (via Chicago) – Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington
With New York’s second pick they go to a player we have not talked about enough. Kirkland is super clean and there are literally no mistakes on his tape. We’ll see how he plays in a more extended year this season but things are trending up for Kirkland.
12) Denver Broncos – Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
Bonitto can work really well in this Broncos system that just seems to breed pass-rushers. He’ll learn under Von Miller and Bradley Chubb as Denver tries to get back to their previous days of elite defenses.
13) Washington Football Team – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
Ekwonu was absolutely dominating guys in Week 1. Now, they did play USF but he still put on a show. Washington gets what is probably the best player on the board here and can use him at either tackle or guard.
14) Arizona Cardinals – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
We could look at Ahmad Gardner here but Elam fits the scheme for Arizona a little better. He’s an athletic, silky, coverage guy who will lock up receivers in the league. Arizona has a multitude of directions to go, but with Malcolm Butler just retiring this is probably the best route.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
If the Steelers miss the playoffs as projected here, you’d have to think Ben Roethlisberger retires. With that, they go to a guy who had a fantastic Week 1 and is a really intriguing prospect. Ridder brings dual-threat ability and just a great ability to make plays in both aspects of his game.
16) Minnesota Vikings – Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
The Vikings sort of luck out with Nelson falling to them. The team requires offensive line help and while Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum could be the best lineman here, they’ll have to value getting a near cornerstone tackle over a center.
17) Dallas Cowboys – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Despite having the best nickname in football, Gardner is a tremendous man coverage cornerback and one of the most underrated players in the draft. With him, Dallas can start actually building up their secondary, something they tried to do in last year’s draft but did so with some odd picks.
18) Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis) – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Harris would be a phenomenal pick for the Eagles. He’s probably the best player on the board here and can develop into a star player for the Eagles. With this pick, they totally revamp their defense in this draft with Hamilton and Harris.
19) Tennessee Titans – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Hutchinson may not be the best edge rusher on the board, but he is the most versatile and packs some tremendous upside. The Titans get to use him inside and outside the tackles in their 3-4 system and we know they do like the big boom or bust players over the last few years.
20) New Orleans Saints – Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Unless Jameis Winston really goes crazy, he’s not the future quarterback for Sean Payton’s offense. Strong can come in, develop for a year and bring a cannon arm to the team, and from what it looks like so far, some really nice accuracy as well.
21) New England Patriots – Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern
This seems like a near match made in heaven for Bill Belichick. Joseph does everything right out of his safety spot and the core for New England isn’t getting any younger. With time to develop under guys like Jason McCourty for a year, he can be a star in the league.
22) Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
The Chargers can seemingly complete their offensive line rebuild by selecting Johnson and plugging him in at guard. After taking Rashawn Slater in the first round last year, they go right back to the well and pick up a very sound guard from a program that pumps out offensive line talent.
23) Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
With three picks in the first round, the Eagles have all the liberty to go with the best player available here. Yes, they have spent a lot of draft capital on wide receiver in the last few years but Olave is way too good to pass up on, so he must be the pick.
24) New York Jets (via Seattle) – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
After taking Stingley with their first pick in this round, the Jets double-down on defense and get a really promising edge rusher. Karlaftis has a serious power ability. His tape this year will be essential as he got limited time in 2020 but he’s looking like a great pick here.
25) Green Bay Packers – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With Aaron Rodgers’ future uncertain in Green Bay, they need to gather some weapons for Jordan Love, especially if Davante Adams is to depart in free agency. Wilson is an uber-athletic receiver that has some of the best contested-catch ability in this entire class and will instantly help out Love.
26) Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) – Drake Jackson, LB, USC
Jackson could be a perfect fit. He can play at both the 3-4 outside linebacker and in between the tackles, as well. A stud athlete with some serious bend, head coach Brian Flores can really make a great player out of Jackson.
27) Cleveland Browns – Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
Obviously, Cleveland does have Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, but besides these two the wide receiver core is a little lacking. Ross, if still healthy, will be just another weapon at Baker Mayfield’s disposal, and a good one at that. He’s a receiver who can attack the point of the catch and has superb athleticism.
28) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
This pick just needs to happen. The Lions are in dire need of wide receiver help and Burks can go to Detroit to give them another Calvin Johnson Jr. or Kenny Golladay type pass-catcher. At the end of the first round, the Lions get the best player on the board at pick 2 and address a massive need at 27.
29) Baltimore Ravens – Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
At 6’9″ and 400 pounds, Faalele is a super fun prospect to watch. He is a little raw, but the Ravens can afford that. Obviously, he’s got the power to work in Baltimore’s system and with Alejandro Villanueva potentially sticking around another year, he can even possibly develop before starting.
30) Buffalo Bills – Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
I was all in on the Najee Harris to Buffalo train last year. Neither Zack Moss nor Devin Singletary Jr. has impressed much and the Bills need some form of run game if they want to win the Super Bowl. Spiller is the clear best back in this draft who has tons of power but can also operate in the passing game.
31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Before everyone freaks out about Kyle Trask being picked by the Buccaneers last year, we have to really look at Corral’s game. There is a very very good chance he becomes this year’s Joe Burrow or Zach Wilson but for now, he has to sit here. The talent is all there, though, and everyone loves mocking quarterbacks to learn under Tom Brady.
32) Kansas City Chiefs – Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
The Chiefs absolutely luck out in this spot. Harrison is worthy of a top-20 pick, but this draft didn’t shape out that way. A raw edge rusher, Harrison can give them some cap flexibility as well with guys like Frank Clark sort of clogging up money.
Follow Charlie Parent on Twitter @Charlie_Parent
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images