The 2021 NFL season has finally started. After a long wait, the season got off to a rocking start, featuring many upset victories for teams projected to pick high in the 2022 NFL Draft. As a result, some are lower in the draft order, in no part thanks to a team from Jacksonville, Florida, and some that will likely be in the playoffs are higher in the draft order. The draft order made for one wild mock draft ahead of Week 2 of the NFL season.
The draft order used is via Tankathon.
1. New England Patriots – Derek Stingley Jr. CB, LSU
The Patriots will likely end up much lower than this in the draft order as they fight for a playoff birth. Following their Week 1 loss to Miami, they have the number one selection. With Stephon Gilmore an impending free agent and J.C. Jackson‘s contract situation in question, Stingley was the easy choice here to become an immediate starter for Bill Belichick.
2. Green Bay Packers – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Green Bay looked like the worst team in the league in their loss to New Orleans on Sunday. While the team has a weakness at receiver, passing up on a player like Thibodeaux would be a horrific decision. The Oregon star would immediately start in the Green Bay defense in 2022 with whoever is the defensive coordinator, as it looks like Joe Barry couldn’t figure out anything the Saints threw at his defense. Furthermore, Preston Smith is a free agent following this year, and Za’Darius Smith‘s contract situation is getting murkier by the minute, so adding the monster from Oregon is a great choice.
3. New York Giants (via Chicago) – Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
The Giants were in a prime position to snag a franchise quarterback last year but instead traded down. Daniel Jones isn’t cutting it anymore. Rattler has struggled so far this season, but the Giants need to find someone that won’t turn the ball over almost two times per game.
4. Detroit Lions – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Detroit has already hit the reset button and move forward even more in that regard with the selection of Corral. Through two games this season, the Ole Miss product has looked arguably the best of any of the top quarterbacks in the draft class. Corral gives off major Dan Campbell vibes as well and would be more than ready to be the new face of the Lions.
5. Buffalo Bills – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Buffalo doesn’t have any major weaknesses in their starting lineup outside of maybe a second cornerback. While there are plenty of options available here, the Bills decide to get even more explosive on offense. Emmanuel Sanders is an impending free agent, and Cole Beasley isn’t getting any younger, so taking a player like Olave is too good to pass up here. Olave and Stefon Diggs will give opposing defenses nightmares for years to come.
6. Atlanta Falcons – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan State
Atlanta made a horrible mistake by not taking Justin Fields over Kyle Pitts in the draft this last year. With a middling quarterback class in 2022, the Falcons continue to rebuild their defense by taking Hutchinson. The Michigan State pass-rusher could have declared for the draft last year but elected to return for the 2021 season. So far in 2021, he has been a menace to opposing offensive lines. With Dante Fowler Jr an impending free agent and with little to no cap space, the Falcons will once again need to address their pass-rush.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
How do you lose to the T….. never mind. Jacksonville looked abysmal defensively, with many new starters on the defensive side of the ball, including a lot in the secondary. The safety position has seen a massive dip in terms of draft capital throughout the last few years, and that will finally change this year. Hamilton is arguably the best player in the class, and teaming him up with fellow youngster Andre Cisco is an excellent idea, no matter who is coaching Jacksonville in 2022.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis) – Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are both impending free agents. Jackson is on a roll already in the 2021 season, compiling a sack and interception. Philadelphia is rebuilding, and while a quarterback could be selected here, Jalen Hurts did look pleasantly surprising, albeit against a horrendous Atlanta defense. Depending on the free-agent moves for Barnett and Graham, Jackson would be an excellent addition to the Philadelphia defense.
9. New York Jets – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and Neal sign me up. Joe Douglas is known to build from the trenches, and seeing the best tackle in the class fall into New York’s lap at the ninth pick will have the New York front office doing flips in the war room. Zach Wilson was heavily pressured in Sunday’s loss against the Panthers, and giving the young quarterback protection this next offseason will be a massive priority.
10. Baltimore Ravens – Demarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Baltimore doesn’t have many weaknesses on their roster outside of right tackle. A sneaky pick here would be taking Leal, a potential top-five player in the class. Ever heard that before? The Ravens taking a top prospect as the player falls into their lap? Patrick Queen, Devin Duvernay, Rashod Bateman, and now Leal? Sigh. Anyways, the Ravens would likely use him similar to the way they have used Calais Campbell, and he would be another added player into their pass-rush arsenal.
11. Cleveland Browns – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Rashard Higgins and KhaDarel Hodge are impending free agents, Jarvis Landry isn’t getting any younger, and Odell Beckham has been in many trade talks as of late. While the Browns have youngsters Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz, you can never have too many weapons. Just look at the Buccaneers. Wilson is a candidate for the best receiver in the class, and the Browns add another receiver to the fold, like Buffalo, to keep pace with the Chiefs in the AFC.
12. Tennessee Titans – Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Tennessee got throttled by the Cardinals in Week 1. The offensive line struggled and allowed Chandler Jones to secure five sacks on the day. While right tackle is a massive weak spot currently, Dillon Radunz is a perfect candidate to start there in 2022. Ben Jones is an impending free agent at the center spot, so securing the best center in the class is a route the Titans will have to think about.
13. Washington Football Team – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Ryan Fitzpatrick will be out for a while this season, so now Washington has the opportunity to see if Taylor Heinicke can be the quarterback of the future. In this case, he isn’t. Willis is an enticing prospect on media platforms currently with many people falling in love with him and some not understanding the hype. The roster surrounding the quarterback spot is one of the best in the league, and if Washington doesn’t secure Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, or even Deshaun Watson in the offseason, a rookie quarterback will need to be selected.
14. Dallas Cowboys – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Last year, the cornerbacks flew off the board before the Cowboys’ selection. Thankfully, the opposite happens in this mock, and Dallas adds to their secondary. Elam is an excellent fit in Dan Quinn’s cover 3 scheme, that is if Quinn remains in Dallas in 2022. Elam would immediately line up and start for the Cowboys in 2022.
15. New York Giants – Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
The Giants got their franchise signal-caller with Rattler earlier in the draft. Now, they get him some much-needed protection along the interior of the offensive line. Green has moved around the offensive line during his time for the Aggies but projects best as a guard in the NFL. New York has a massive hole at left guard, so drafting the Texas A&M mauler will be a great selection.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
For a team that has no weaknesses, this pick was relatively easy. Davis would have been a first-round selection had he declared last year, and he has already wreaked havoc this college season. With Ndamukong Suh and William Gholston as impending free agents, Davis would immediately align next to Vita Vea and form a monster duo in the middle of the defensive line.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Cincinnati’s offensive line still looked like a massive weakness on Sunday against Minnesota. Thankfully, there are plenty of offensive line prospects available for the picking with this spot. Cross is a great fit in an air-raid/spread offense, which hopefully the Bengals will have next year with potentially Joe Brady as their head coach.
18. New Orleans Saints – John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
A receiver has always been a sneaky need for the Saints, and that was before the current Michael Thomas saga that is ongoing. Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t lived up to his draft spot, and the other options outside of him aren’t that great either. Metchie is another player in a long line of Alabama receivers that will be first-round selections. He will likely line up as the number two receiver in New Orleans, or even the number one if the Thomas Situation spirals out of control.
19. Minnesota Vikings – Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
Danielle Hunter is one of the most underrated players in the league today. While the Vikings did add to pass-rushers on day three of the draft this year, neither compare to Sanders, who would have been a day two pick in the 2021 draft. Adding Sanders not only gives the Vikings a better starter from the number two edge-rusher spot, but it also helps the depth by moving Patrick Jones down the depth chart.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) – Andrew Booth Jr. CB, Clemson
The addition of Steven Nelson has worked well for the Eagles through one week, but Philadelphia still needs help on the back-end. Booth could go much higher than this but falls due to the need for other positions on various other teams. He could line up as the third or even fourth cornerback for the Eagles during his rookie campaign before becoming a full-time starter in 2023.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington
Even with Ben Roethlisberger most likely retiring after the 2021 season, the Steelers opt to revamp their offensive line by selecting Kirkland. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is one of the worst in the league currently after being one of the best for the longest time. It won’t matter who is playing quarterback if they can’t get the ball out of their hand.
22. Houston Texans – Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
How… The Texans pulled off an upset over the Jaguars on Sunday despite a ton of turnover. While there are massive holes all over the rest of the roster, Howell is a great prospect that can sit a year behind Tyrod Taylor or someone else while he learns the ropes. Howell has been likened to Baker Mayfield throughout the pre-draft process, but following a lackluster start to his 2021 season, he has fallen from the top of the draft board to midway through the first round.
23. Carolina Panthers – Darian Kinnard, IOL, Kentucky
Like so many teams with young quarterbacks across the league, the Panthers need help along their offensive line. The interior, specifically the guard spots, is perhaps the worst in the league, and Kinnard would immediately solve one of those starting spots and provide much-needed protection for Sam Darnold.
24. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Three selections and three picks on the defense for the Eagles. Not to beat a dead horse here, but Philadelphia has blatantly disregarded their linebacker position for years and finally takes one that can help and immediately start in the 2022 season. The trio of Jackson, Booth, and Harris gives the Eagles three key playmakers at each level of the defense.
25. Detroit Lions (via LA Rams) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
After getting their franchise quarterback, the Lions get him a new toy. Burks is one of the most fun prospects in the class from the receiver position and would immediately be the team’s number one receiver. Amon-Ra St. Brown came up clutch in Week 1 against the 49ers, but adding a player like Burks opens the door for St. Brown as well. With Corral, D’Andre Swift, both receivers, T.J. Hockenson, and a great offensive line, the Lions have a sneaky good offense heading into the 2022 season.
26. Arizona Cardinals – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Arizona secondary is the worst unit on the roster. While they have players like Byron Murphy and Budda Baker, the rest of the secondary lacks star power, even with Marco Wilson‘s performance on Sunday. Sauce Gardner is not only one of the best names in the country, but also one of the best players, and would immediately line up as a starter for the Cardinals in 2022.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Chiefs have gotten by with suspect cornerbacks for far too long. McDuffie would align as a starter in 2022 and help Kansas City contain Buffalo, Denver, and Cleveland, who all have many different weapons on their offenses. Kansas City’s defense as a whole needs upgrades, and adding a player like McDuffie is an excellent decision.
28. Denver Broncos – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Does Aaron Rodgers end up in Denver in the offseason? Maybe. That’s why a quarterback isn’t picked here. Instead, the Broncos continue to build up their pass-rush arsenal with Von Miller in the final year of his contract and Bradley Chubb suffering injuries early in his career. While Malik Reed has shown significant progress in his development, adding another player to the fold is never a bad thing. Vic Fangio would have a field day aligning Karlaftis all over the defense and wreaking havoc upon opposing offenses.
29. New York Jets (via Seattle) – Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon
New York’s cornerback group is one of the worst in the league. Adding a player like Wright would make their secondary so much better than it already is. Wright is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, and Douglas finally addresses the worst unit on the roster.
30. Las Vegas Raiders – Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern
Trevon Moehrig and Brandon Joseph? Say no more. The Raiders pulled off an exciting upset over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and put to rest some of the rumors that Carr isn’t a good quarterback. While that rumor has been put to bed for at least a week, the Raiders have plenty of other needs on the roster. A young safety tandem of Moehrig and Joseph would make their defense very exciting and better.
31. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) – Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia
Miami is always a difficult team to pick for because they, for some reason, don’t pick the obvious players they should take. There are a few offensive linemen still available that are first-round caliber prospects and maybe a running back, but Brian Flores loves his chess pieces at the second level, and Anderson is just that. Emmanuel Ogbah is currently on a two-year contract, so his contract expires after the 2022 season, but after that, Anderson will take over next to Jaelan Phillips and form a dynamic pass-rush tandem.
32. Los Angeles Chargers – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Sensing a trend yet? The Chargers, Browns, and Bills have all taken a receiver in the first round to keep pace with the Chiefs. With Mike Williams in a contract year, the Chargers could very well select a pass-catcher in the first round of the draft. While Los Angeles did take Josh Palmer, Pickens is a whole different animal.
Follow Mason Thompson on Twitter @Thompson22Mason
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