Week 15 is now officially in the books, which means it’s time for another NFL mock draft. The 2022 draft is starting to take shape, and there’s a lot to address, including a new player taken at the No. 1 pick and a new team holding that pick. Here, there are some surprises, but the predictable picks will be made on par as they have been for most of the year.
*Note: the draft order was made up before the conclusion of Week 15’s Tuesday games
No 1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The tide has shifted away from Kayvon Thibodeaux and instead into Hutchinson’s port for the number one pick candidate. Hutchinson’s stock was already sky-high before his most recent game against Ohio State, and the performance against the Buckeyes has found him becoming the top guy. For Jacksonville, they now hold this pick after a week where they fired Urban Meyer and then lost to the Houston Texans 30-16. There can be calls for offensive support with this pick, but there isn’t a guy on that side of the ball more talented than Hutchinson who will change the tone on this defense.
No 2. Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Lions fans may be upset to lose the number one pick and the hometown kid after their win against Arizona last weekend, but Thibodeaux is an excellent consolation prize. The upside on this guy is insane. While he might not produce right away as Hutchinson will, Thibodeaux has the potential to be a consistent all-pro down the road as Detroit continues their long rebuild.
No 3. Houston Texans – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
Houston can go several ways here, and they have great options available. The most popular alternative to selecting Hamilton would be to go offensive line and nab Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu but this team has a horrific roster, and the thought process coming into this draft should be to get the best player available. Hamilton will revolutionize the defense with his versatility and will boost the unit in the right direction as the Texans will then need to focus on offense with the rest of their picks.
No 4. New York Jets – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Now we see Neal enter the fold. He’s one of the least talked about talents in recent memory just because he doesn’t necessarily make any real highlight plays. What Neal does do is his job. He hasn’t let up a sack this season, and the only negative play Neal had was a singular hold. He’s so clean with his technique and will hop into a Jets offensive line playing tackle opposite Mekhi Becton, forming one of the best young tandems in the league.
No 5. New York Giants (via Chicago) – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
The Giants now have two first-round picks back to back in the top 10, and they need to capitalize on it to secure the future. Ekwonu can give instant help to an offensive line that is struggling. He won’t bring in great pass-block help at first, but Ekwonu has the potential to start at guard and develop into a top tackle in this league, becoming a cornerstone on the Giants’ offensive line.
No 6. New York Giants – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
After just focusing on their weakest position group, offensive line, the Giants turn around and get a guy with some of the highest upside in the whole class. Stingley’s play since his astounding freshman year has diminished considerably but with James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson on the roster, there’s no reason not to take Stingley here and try to develop him into the star he can be. These three would make one of the best secondaries in the league and would go a long way towards solving the Giants’ issues.
No 7. Carolina Panthers – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Taylor Moton is set to be a free agent this offseason, and the Panthers require some offensive line reinforcements. Yes, Brady Christensen is there waiting in the ropes, but Green has been electric for Carolina this year and can move around the line if needed. Another popular choice would be for the Panthers to go quarterback here. However, there’s not one good enough to be selected in the top 10. On top of that, the Panthers spent way too much draft capital on Sam Darnold last season to let him go now, and a risky rookie quarterback isn’t going to save Matt Rhule’s job.
No 8. New York Jets (via Seattle) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Jets offense has been morbid this year, and there’s no other way to put it. Zach Wilson has been awful, but to his defense, the weapons aren’t all too good. Wilson will come in right away and inject even more youth into a wide receiver corps that picked up Elijah Moore last year and have seen success from that move. After already taking their offensive line savior earlier in this round, they double up in efforts to become an elite offense before worrying about the significant problems they have on the defensive side of the ball.
No 9. Atlanta Falcons – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Pass-rush has been a pretty large issue for the Falcons this year, and they aren’t getting much help from their defensive ends/ outside linebackers. While Karlaftis might not be incredible right away in a 3-4 scheme, he has the frame to play that interior edge position and can wreak some havoc on a defense that needs some more playmakers. Other options here include quarterback, and possibly another weapon on offense, but overall Karlaftis makes the most sense.
No 10. Philadelphia Eagles – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Philadelphia has so many options with their three first-round picks, but they need to open up with the best player on the board, and that is Elam. He fits a need as well with Darius Slay getting a little older and some of their depth guys, like Rodney McLeod, potentially hitting the free-agent market this offseason. As for Elam, he is an exceptional football player with generational hip movement and instincts that skyrocket off the charts. He can be a shutdown guy opposite Slay for some years to come and bring this defensive unit closer to finalizing their rebuild.
No 11. Washington Football Team – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Although none of the top quarterbacks in this class deserve to come near the top 10 (let alone the top 30) in this draft, Corral to Washington makes sense, and you never pass up on a potential franchise guy. Corral has some serious concerns with pre-snap reads and arm strength, but he does have the potential with his accuracy to run Ron Rivera‘s offense to a tee. His gritty run game shows us he’ll always be able to make a play. Overall, Corral is a guy who knows how to will his team to victory and should get the chance to do so in Washington.
No 12. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
The pre-draft season talk revolved around three top edges: Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, and Karlaftis. No one expected a fourth to go in the top 15, and we certainly didn’t expect it to be Ojabo. Ojabo has been Hutchinson’s partner in crime this season, wracking 11 sacks which land him 10th in the country. He’s got great athleticism and can provide an instant pass-rush boost to an Eagles’ front-7 that is struggling to get to the quarterback.
No 13. Denver Broncos – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Denver is in a pretty bad spot. They’re just a mediocre team with a bad quarterback, but they have the pieces to win enough games to keep them out of the top 10. Where do they go in the draft? They might not even know right now. Here, we’ll give them Cross because of the need that might open up over the offseason with right tackle Bobby Massie likely headed to free agency. Cross is a bit of an underdeveloped prospect but one with tremendous upside, and he can team up with Garett Bolles as a top tackle tandem in the future.
No 14. New Orleans Saints – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
What is going on with New Orleans’ receiving corps? Michael Thomas is M.I.A and Marquez Callaway is not the playmaker we thought he once was. Someone who can plug in help out immediately, no matter who the quarterback is next year, is Williams. Williams is an electric receiver who has shot into stardom with his play this year. This would be a great pick for the Saints as they need to get some help on that offense.
No 15. Cleveland Browns – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave still has many questions to answer in the Senior Bowl and Rose Bowl this year, but he could still be a top selection in this draft. The smooth route runner can become a playmaker the Browns need, and he’ll stay at home in Ohio as Cleveland gets their Odell Beckham Jr. replacement and can hopefully get over the hump next season.
No 16. Las Vegas Raiders – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
The Raiders get super lucky in this draft and get a top 10 talent at pick 16. Booth is a super athletic and sticky cornerback who can start and dominate from day 1. Out of this loaded corner class, Booth could be the most pro-ready, and the Raiders win the first round.
No 17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
It’s honestly shocking that the Steelers have won seven games this season. The offense needs a new leader, and we know that Ben Rothlisberger is done after this season. In comes the hero of Pittsburgh football from a college standpoint, Pickett has the mental processing and dual-threat ability to make the Steelers’ offense exciting again. While there are other holes, a quarterback needs to be the first position addressed, and it will be here.
No 18. Baltimore Ravens – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
There might not be a better fit than Kinnard to the Ravens. He’s a mammoth tackle who’s incredibly physical in the run game and an actual need for Baltimore. The Ravens can use Kinnard virtually wherever they’d like, and he can join in with an offensive line that loves to play exactly how he does.
No 19. Minnesota Vikings – Demarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
Leal was a hot prospect at the beginning of the season, but now he’s cooled off because of a slow start to his season. However, the draft community hasn’t realized that he’s picked it back up and is still a top 10-15 talent. Minnesota gets lucky that he falls a bit and gets one of the best players on the board while building a dangerous front-7.
No 20. Buffalo Bills – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
If you can’t tell already, defensive players are abundant in this draft class, and we have yet another star in Gardner. In other classes, Gardner would likely be the top cornerback and even a top 10 selection but with how good Booth, Elam, and Stingley are, it’s very hard to raise him over those guys. Anywho, Buffalo gets a guy to be a true second corner opposite Tre’Davious White, and those two can blossom into the best duo in the league.
No 21. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) – Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
The Dolphins have a deep need for offensive linemen, and they’d be licking their chops if Linderbaum was still here. He’s the best lineman in the class, but the positional value and low ceiling all play into the reason why he falls so much in these mocks. Linderbaum will give this line an immediate jolt and might become one of the best centers in recent memory.
No 22. Los Angeles Chargers – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Run defense has been a problem for the Chargers for quite some time, and this year it has peaked. Los Angeles ranks in the bottom five this year against the run, and help is required. Davis isn’t the flashiest defensive lineman ever, but he’ll get the job done and stuff the run. At the least, he’ll be a big-time space eater for the Chargers.
No 23. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Eagles officially locked in this pick last week, with Carson Wentz achieving the number of snaps needed to activate the condition here. After going with two studs on the defensive side of the ball with their first two picks, Philadelphia turns around and takes another first-round receiver. DeVonta Smith looks like he has the potential to turn into an elite player, but they need a second guy, and Burks can be that deep threat, do-it-all guy.
No 24. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – David Bell, WR, Purdue
If the Lions don’t go wide receiver with their second pick in the first round, it would be shocking. Even though Amon-Ra St. Brown is having an outstanding rookie season for them, they need more options to an offense that will most likely be looking to bring in a new quarterback in a future offseason. Bell is a do-it-all receiver who isn’t considered in tier one with the top guys like Wilson, Williams, and Olave, but he does have the talent to get there and would be a great pick here.
No 25. Cincinnati Bengals – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Everyone was up in arms about the Bengals not addressing line all that much last offseason, but that line has been part of the reason why Cincinnati sits atop the AFC North. With that said, there is still some room for improvement, and Penning can be a very solid developmental piece for the Bengals. He’s a 6’7″ mammoth of a tackle and hopefully will prosper into a full-time starter within his first two years.
No 26. Tennessee Titans – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Tennessee defense has had their moments this year, but they could still use some upgrades, and getting Lloyd would be huge. Lloyd does have a ton of inconstancies and weaknesses, but his strengths almost outmatch those mishaps. He can come in and bring a boost as an off-ball linebacker or be used almost wherever Tennessee would like.
No 27. Arizona Cardinals – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
If there were a wide receiver that’s already been selected on the board, Arizona would probably take him with the health of Deandre Hopkins deteriorating and the offense at a standstill. McCreary is a big-time man-to-man corner who plays with an alpha mentality and has gotten done against the best of the best. This will provide the Cardinals will some important secondary health that can make them an even more well-balanced team.
No 28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Everything was going great for Tampa Bay and their wide receivers until Sunday night. Chris Godwin tore his ACL, which could be the last time we see him in a Buccaneers uniform while Mike Evans and company are also out. Dotson is a very talented receiver with some deep threat speed that will take the top off the defense while being able to sit in the short/ intermediate areas to Tom Brady‘s liking.
No 29. New England Patriots – Daxton Hill, SAF, Michigan
Devin McCourty is aging, and a changing of the guard in the Patriots’ secondary is on the way. Hill does a little bit of everything for a guy who is a little undersized, but he does resemble McCourty in the sense that Hill is excellent in coverage. The Michigan standout might be buried in the depth chart early, but he’ll find and carve out his role with New England in no time.
No 30. Dallas Cowboys – Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama
Safety should be the Cowboys’ top regard coming into the draft, and here, the competition is between Battle and Jaquan Brisker. Battle ultimately wins this dual because he’s more polished in coverage and is more multi-dimensional overall. Hopefully, Battle is the last piece to a Cowboys team that is so close to being Superbowl ready.
No 31. Kansas City Chiefs – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
The Chiefs’ season has been revived, but that doesn’t mean that their pass-rush is still pretty bad. This team needs someone who can get some pressure on the quarterback at the least, and Sanders can be that guy. If Sanders can be the guy they hope he can, Chris Jones will be able to bump back into the middle of the line where he dominates most.
No 32. Green Bay Packers – Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
A year ago, Johnson had just 6.5 sacks in his career. He’s wracked up 12 this year alone for the Seminoles and is another one of these edges that have played their way into the first round, like Ojabo. While a 3-4 scheme may not be his best fit, Johnson still can perform here and can elevate the Packers’ pass-rush to the next level.
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