The 2022 NFL Draft inches closer and the strengths and weaknesses of the class become more apparent. The overall class is deep and has upside, mostly on defense and at offensive line. In addition, the wide receiver core has some top-end talent, including some that are immediate impact starters. With that said, let’s dive in and see who gets who.
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1) Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The Lions need impact players who can contribute from day one. Hutchinson is that and more, with exceptional pass-rushing moves and athleticism. He should be the closest thing to a slam dunk pick at the top of the draft. His blend of power, quickness, burst, and hand usage makes for an exciting player to watch. He’ll upgrade this defense and provide opportunities for others by drawing double teams.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Many Jaguar fans want to draft Kayvon Thibodeaux, however, the offense must support Trevor Lawrence more. If the Jaguars don’t make major changes to this offense for next year, Lawrence’s development will be severely hindered. Neal is arguably the top offensive prospect and has unbelievable upside due to size and athleticism. His length allows him to be more aggressive in his run and pass blocking. In short, Neal gives the Jaguars a chance at a franchise left tackle while getting cheaper by not re-signing Cam Robinson.
3) Houston Texans – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
There should be major concerns with Pickett going in the first round, let alone the top five. However, with quarterback being the most significant position, the Texans will need to take shots. The roster isn’t good, but finding a franchise quarterback could save years in their rebuild. Pickett tends to miss some easy throws and can be late to make decisions. With that said, he seems to always find a way to move the chains whether it is with a scramble or completion.
4) New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Joe Douglas understands positional value and need, as evident by his previous drafts which prioritized the offensive and defensive line. It isn’t often an edge rusher with top 10 positional upside falls to the fourth overall pick. Thibodeaux and a healthy Carl Lawson, paired with a talented defensive tackle group could make for a special group. Thibodeaux dealt with injuries this year and faced more double teams, chips, and attention than in the past. Yet, he still flashed high-level tools. His bend, quickness, balance, and hand usage all make for a player who can be a top guy in the league.
5) New York Giants (via Chicago Bears) – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Adoree’ Jackson has been admirable, however, he could also be pushed inside to slot and be better. The trio of Stingley, James Bradberry, and Jackson would be one of the top groups in the NFL and suffocate opposing offenses. Stingley has significant upside but injuries have taken their toll this past year. His speed, ball skills, and coverage ability make him one of the best cornerback prospects in the last couple of years.
6) New York Giants – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
Ekwonu can play multiple spots on the offensive line for the Giants. Ekwonu would likely be better in year one at guard, where he could be a difference-maker for the running game. In year two or three, he could likely slide to right tackle, where he should have more experience with the nuances of pass blocking. He will likely need some assistance in pass protection his first few years, but the athleticism and power make him worth the upside.
7) New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Yes, Douglas wants positional value, however, he also has a chance to offer more support to Zach Wilson. Garrett and Elijah Moore would be the future of this receiving core and elevate the play of Zach. Corey Davis has played and would be an excellent third receiver. Garrett is similar to Stefon Diggs. He can separate on all levels of the field through quickness, suddenness, deception, and nuanced route running. In addition, he’s a reliable chain mover and can catch through contact if needed.
8) Carolina Panthers – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
There isn’t another quarterback in this class worth a first-round selection. With limited options, the Panthers decide to go offensive line. Green is the last offensive lineman that could be a potential top 10 selection. He’s versatile and stable in the run and pass game. The Panthers could let Brady Christensen play left tackle for part of the year to see if he can fill the role while letting Green play guard. Green has the potential to be a really great player in this league with his well-rounded game.
9) Atlanta Falcons – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Falcons could go a number of ways here, and the defensive line could use an addition. However, a guy like Burks could be a true difference-maker for this team and help them win now. This receiving group could elevate Matt Ryan in his last few years, making them be playoff contenders with a high-powered offense. Cordarrelle Patterson (if re-signed), Kyle Pitts, Calvin Ridley, along with Burks would be an unstoppable group of size and versatility. Burks isn’t going to win with separation in the NFL, but strength, contested catch ability, and small nuances in his route running could make him one of the hardest receivers to stop.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins) – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
It isn’t every day that one of the best players in the draft falls to 10th overall. However, it’s largely due to positional value. The Eagles need to revitalize an aging roster and have the luxury of taking a player who can revamp their defense. Hamilton is rare, with exceptional speed sideline to sideline, quickness, reaction, and tackling prowess. He will immediately be a stud on the back end for the Eagles. In addition, his play has a cascading effect, where it elevates the cornerbacks he plays. He’ll also allow his defensive coordinator to use multiple schemes.
11) Philadelphia Eagles – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Elam or Ahmad Gardner could either be the play here, as the Eagles need a long-term replacement for Darius Slay. Elam is a lengthy corner, who can play tight man coverage. He has some of the best movement skills/hip turning ability in such a length body, making him a freakish player. In addition, the ball skills are incredible and may allow him to develop into a No. 1 corner for any team.
12) Minnesota Vikings – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
There hasn’t been a formidable duo of pass rushers in Minnesota for a long time. Danielle Hunter and Karlaftis would be a complementary duo, who threaten from both sides. Karlatfis is the real deal and could arguably be a top-five pick with his tools. At 275 lbs, it is not normal for him to have the burst and quickness that he does. Mix this with the power and his pass-rushing moves, and he could be a threatening edge rusher his first year.
13) New Orleans Saints – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Terron Armstead may be a cap casualty this offseason with the Saints being the worst cap situation in the league. Getting cheaper at tackle could help the Saints’ offense at this point. After selecting an offensive tackle in the first round, they could then use their second-round pick on a wide receiver. Cross should be a top 10 pick, thanks to unreal balance in pass protection. The pass protection, along with awareness to pick up stunts and blitzes, makes him worth a really high selection. He needs to improve in the run game but offers immense upside.
14) Las Vegas Raiders – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Raiders need help in the secondary as Casey Hayward is 32 years old. Booth would not only bolster the Raiders’ chances of winning now but ultimately be a long-term replacement for Hayward. He is one of those guys who should go higher, but the other corners line up better with what those teams want. He excels with recognition and reaction and can disrupt the play when the ball is in the air.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Steelers need a quarterback badly, yet there could be better options in free agency or through trade. As well, Devin Bush has struggled, and the Steelers place a lot of responsibility on their linebackers. Lloyd could easily step in and have unreal numbers, as he has the ability to blitz, cover, and tackle at an elite NFL level. At Utah, the defense line put Lloyd in several tough situations. However, he won’t have that problem in Pittsburgh, thanks to their excellent defensive line, allowing him to make plays all over the field.
16) Denver Broncos – Demarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
The Broncos can grab a quarterback in the second round as this class is extremely weak. They can also potentially add an offensive tackle in the second round. Meanwhile, Leal can play in this 3-4 defense and rush from the interior. His play style may be perfect for the Broncos, as he could play inside or outside. Ideally, he would line up against offensive tackles on early downs to stop the run and then kick inside during pass-rush situations. It hasn’t been a great season from Leal, but his tools and frame are too much for the Broncos to turn down.
17) Cincinnati Bengals – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
Bengals need someone who can slot in as a guard or tackle as they have to continue to improve this offensive line. Riley Reiff is a free agent, while the plan could be to move Jackson Carman out to tackle. The right side of the offensive line needs help and Kinnard can play in guard or tackle. He’s mean in short spaces and is someone who will be a reliable blocker in the NFL.
18) Cleveland Browns – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Browns clearly lack an Odell Beckham-like player on their offense. The team needs someone who can take a screen to the house, and be a reliable chain mover. Williams has the potential to be one of those well-rounded receivers, who can also threaten a defense with elite speed. Watch any game, and you see how he glides when he runs and is so naturally gifted, body control-wise. He could develop into the best player from this draft due to the rawness in route running.
19) Washington Football Team – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
This is probably the only other fit for a quarterback that makes sense. Washington is a quarterback away and reaching for one makes sense. There are concerns with Corral when diagnosing plays post-snap. That aside, the arm talent and moxie is NFL caliber and could lead a talented team to the playoffs if the other traits develop.
20) Buffalo Bills – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
The Bills cannot afford to stick with Levi Wallace for another year. Instead, they need someone who has more athleticism and ball skills. McCreary is exactly that, except he lacks length compared to the other first-round corners. His calling card is his quickness and ability to track and make plays on the ball. He would be a great compliment to Tre’Davious White.
21) Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Brandon Graham is getting older, and Josh Sweat needs a running mate. The team could capitalize and reform their defense if they hit on a high upside edge rusher. Enter Ojabo, who got better game to game this year. His blend of power, burst, and speed makes him a high ceiling player. Ojabo wouldn’t be an impact maker in year one but could be a rotational guy his rookie year while learning from the current group.
22) Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers) – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
This may be the best scenario for Dolphins as they get the safest prospect in the draft and one that should be a top-five pick. The NFL tends to value centers more than the media. Linderbaum has the quickness and power to potentially be an elite run blocker. In pass protection, the awareness to pick up stunts is there. Overall, Linderbaum is the best center prospect in recent memory.
23) Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Kenneth Murray has been hurt much of the year, and it shows week to week. The overall defensive tackle play for the Chargers has been awful this season. It has also been a critical part of their losses. Davis is a behemoth, who can immediately stop the run. He is more of a run stopper than pass rusher, but he always has to be double-teamed, giving linebackers and other defensive linemen the opportunity to make plays. In addition, he has significant quickness for being large, making him difficult to stop.
24) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Lions have significant needs everywhere and have to take risks and shoot for the moon. Unfourtantley for fans and NFL scouts, Pickens suffered a torn ACL in March and missed most of the season. However, Pickens could arguably be the best receiver from this class. His body control, smoothness, and fluidness are special. In addition, his catching ability and body control are unmatched, giving him alpha-type receiver potential.
25) Baltimore Ravens – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Ravens have the option to re-sign DeShon Elliott, but they could easily replace him with an exceptional safety in this draft. There isn’t a Ravens-style offensive lineman here that fits the mold they like. Moreover, the team has prioritized the secondary, and players who are versatile in blitzing and man coverage. Brisker’s ability to stick in coverage while being 6’1″ and 200 lbs is excellent. His ability to play up around the line of scrimmage makes him a versatile and valuable piece.
26) Dallas Cowboys – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Cowboys have an aging offensive line and need to address it early in the draft. Lucky for them, there are two offensive tackles worth the pick here. Penning needs work in the passing game and would benefit from learning from the Cowboys’ elite offensive line. The selling point is the run blocking, where Pennings size, strength, power, and quickness show up. These traits and strengths should allow Penning to become a great tackle.
27) Kansas City Chiefs – Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
Ebiketie is going to be one of those guys who rises during the draft process. The reason is his length, power, and explosiveness, which give him a high floor thanks to his speed to power move. Ebiketie has underrated quickness as well, which tends to give him the advantage coming off the line of scrimmage. However, there are some reps where he’s off-balance or didn’t realize how quick he is, which means he’s still learning how to play the game. Once he establishes a pass-rushing toolbox and understands how to use his own athleticism, the sky is the limit.
28) Arizona Cardinals – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Sanders could become the long-term replacement to Chandler Jones. In the meanwhile, he would provide depth behind Markus Golden and J.J. Watt in the pass-rushing game. Sanders has serious length while being explosive and quick out of his stance. His quickness and length give him such an advantage. Furthermore, he’s effective in using his hands in fighting through offensive tackles. Sanders needs to develop more consistent rushing plans, but overall, he could be an effective No. 2 edge rusher for the Cardinals.
29) Tennessee Titans – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Titans have been killed by injuries this season, especially to star players like A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and Derrick Henry. The team needs more playmakers and Dotson fits the bill. Tennessee likes receivers who are tough and can make catches through contact as well. He can create separation better than most of the wide receivers in the draft class and would be a perfect fit for the Titans. Dotson can get better at the nuances of leverage and route running, but his baseline of contested catch ability will give him opportunities to make an impact in his rookie year.
30) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
The Buccaneers will have to choose between a couple of free agents this offseason. Deciding between Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown will be the biggest one. During the draft, the Buccaneers can add a speed guy who can bring some run after the catch ability, like Robinson. He generates separation through quickness while being a natural and fluid catcher. His suddenness and ability to adjust his speed make him a threat to get open on every play. He can be a contributor as a rookie.
31) New England Patriots – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Patriots need another cornerback who can play tight man-to-man coverage to pair with J.C. Jackson. For Gardner, he’s extremely long and has unique coverage ability and physicality. His press strength is fun to watch. Unfortunately, his physicality may get him into a little bit of trouble in the NFL with defensive pass interference rules. However, it is something that he has improved this year. His man skills should allow him to be a Patriot favorite, where Gardner could flourish with his tracking and balling skills.
32) Green Bay Packers – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave has two questions that will influence his NFL career: how strong is he at the catch point, and will he be able to hold up against an NFL defender’s strength? This aside, Olave is one of the most pro-ready and technically sound receiver prospects this year. His route running is smooth, and his understanding of zone and man coverage gives him the advantage every snap. He’s going to be a reliable and intelligent chain-mover in the NFL. Pairing him with Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love would allow for some easy competitions.
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