With Week 8 of the 2022 NFL season officially in the books, fans are finally getting a taste of what the season has for their franchise: for better or for worse. So, to give hope to franchises that cannot catch a break, to thrill teams on the verge of a Super Bowl that just needs one more piece, and to entice the current standings leader of what may come with a championship draft spot, let’s draft! This draft order is based on the current NFL standings, according to ESPN. Which teams will change their franchise forever? Which teams get their final piece? Let’s find out.
1) Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With the quarterback position being weak in this draft, the number one pick will not be a quarterback for the first time since 2017 when Myles Garrett was taken first. This may be a coincidence, but many compare Thibodeaux to Garrett. His frame, athleticism, and toolkit are all elite, if not generational. Trey Flowers has been a bust of a signing, so this may finally get the Lions on track. Detroit needs a change in the direction of their franchise. Thibodeaux appears to be the answer.
2) Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins) – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
The Eagles have a roster that is a few solid pieces away from playoff contention. While this pick could be Evan Neal, Jordan Mailata’s new contract makes it unreasonable. Hamilton is a high-ceiling, arguably generation level, talent. His size, speed, and IQ provide the perfect foundation for a superstar. Anthony Harris most likely will leave and get a large contract, so this is not just getting great value: it is getting value at a position of need. Hamilton shall be the first piece of the new Eagles no-fly zone.
3) Houston Texans – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Big riser alert! Hutchinson has had an absolutely dominant year. His progression from previous years is baffling. Not only did the Michigan product lose weight and gain explosiveness, but he somehow added more strength! The math may not add up, but the tape proves it. The Texans are in desperate need of a difference-maker. This may be a bold claim, but Hutchinson may be the next J.J. Watt. While comparisons lead to the Bosa brothers, many in Houston will cherish seeing their old superstar come back to life in this new stud talent.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Trevor Lawrence has had a slower start than Jacksonville hoped for, sure. To be fair, he lacks some key pieces in the recipe for success: one being a high-end offensive tackle. The line has been mediocre on their best days. It is obvious that getting a franchise left tackle would be the most valuable addition by a long shot. Neal is an athletic freak at 6’7’’ and 365 pounds. Just watch the box jump that he did into a split squat, and there will be no more need for an explanation.
There was a reason the Jaguars franchise-tagged Cam Robinson: they are desperate to have something at left tackle. Walker Little will have a positive impact in the future, but Neal brings a generational-level talent to the table that no one on this team can compete with. Lawrence will be very pleased for years to come.
5) New York Giants – DeMarvin Leal, EDGE, Texas A&M
This draft is filled with unbelievable edge talents. The Giants need to figure something out on the offensive side of the ball, but the value is just too good to pass on Leal. First, he is a hybrid edge and interior defender. At 290 pounds, Leal has the size to be inside yet the athleticism to play edge (where he played most of his career). The tools are there, and the explosiveness is undeniable. There is absolutely no reason for the Texas A&M product to fall out of the top five, and so he does not. With the NFC East’s offensive lines slowly deteriorating, Leal may become one of the most productive pass rushers in the near future.
The Washington Football Team acquire picks 9 and 41 from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for picks 6, 148, and a 2023 fourth-round pick.
6) Seattle Seahawks (via Washington Football Team) – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Seattle is popping champagne right now. Thanks to positional need and value, other prospects were better selections than one of the most dominant threats college has ever seen at the cornerback position. The Seahawks need defensive help (especially in the secondary) desperately. Stingley has unbelievable potential. His true freshman season saw him snag six interceptions in arguably the most dominant season ever by a cornerback (in college). Injuries have limited his availability over the past two seasons, but if Stingley is anything like what he was his freshman year, then this pick will be looked at as the steal of the draft.
7) New York Jets – Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Linderbaum has Quenton Nelson-esque potential at his position. The strength, speed, and blocking technique are traits that a depleted Jets line needs desperately. Watch any tape on him, and it will be obvious that this selection may be too low for Linderbaum. The Iowa product is just that good. His weight is the only problem at 290 pounds. The great thing is that Linderbaum plays as if he is 310 pounds while moving at his actual weight. There is too much to love about this stud prospect. Zach Wilson will surely love having a new pro-bowl-level talent commanding his line.
The New York Giants acquire picks 12 and 44 from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for picks 8 and 110.
8) Atlanta Falcons – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Giants cash in on another big trade. The Eagles stand in between the Falcons and a guaranteed cornerback one for their team. With a second-rounder from the Titans, this trade-up costs far less than originally anticipated. Elam is a lengthy, athletic cornerback that can mirror any receiver he faces. The only minor issue is that his long speed may be slightly above average rather than elite, but that is a nitpick. Left cornerback is a major need for this swiss-cheese holed defense, and it is suitably filled by a high-end talent.
9) Washington Football Team (via Seattle Seahawks) – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Malik Willis should be in this conversation for sure, but his three-interception games against Middle Tennessee State and Louisianna Monroe push him behind Corral. The Ole Miss product has a cannon for an arm and is extremely mobile. The concern with Corral was his decision-making, which he has vastly improved in the past year. His weight is certainly an issue, but history has shown that Corral is durable. The Washington Football team needs a true leader: this is the answer.
10) Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Steven Nelson will most likely leave for a larger contract on a super bowl competitor. Eagles fans have seen how great their defense could be with a complete secondary, so it is time that the Eagles maintain it. Gardner is having the best season, PFF-wise, out of most, if not all cornerbacks in college football. The Bearcat’s presence is felt every single play when he is on the field. It is emphasized even more when he is not on the field. Simply put, Gardner is arguably the best cornerback in this class. His only issues lie in his solid (not great) athleticism and his level of competition in the AAC. That is it.
11) Philadelphia Eagles – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
With Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett up for contracts, there is a surprising hole at the least expected position on the Eagles defense: edge. Karlaftis is an absolute game-wrecker. The only reason he is not top-five like Hutchinson is due to injuries that have sidelined him for a multitude of games over the past two seasons. This year Karlaftis has been relatively healthy, and offensive coordinators around the Big Ten know that. In fact, the Purdue product has been triple-teamed (yes, triple-teamed) on multiple occasions. It appears as if Karlaftis is back to his true freshman form (where he had 20 tackles for a loss), so if he stays healthy, this Eagles defense may rise once again to be one of the top sack leaders in the NFL.
12) New York Giants (via Bears, Falcons) – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
Whether it is at guard or tackle, the Giants need help solidifying an offensive line for whoever their signal-caller is. Kinnard is exactly what New York looks for in their linemen: mean, aggressive, and huge. While the Kentucky product seemed destined to be a guard, Kentucky is finally passing, which has allowed Kinnard to get experience pass protecting. That is key to his projection. The Wildcat has taken such a huge step forward in his progression. He fits at right tackle as well as at right guard. In other words, if Kinnard needs time to develop as an NFL tackle, he surely can play right guard until he is comfortable. The great thing is that both are needs for this team!
The Miami Dolphins acquire picks 21, 85, and a 2023 second-round pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for picks 13 and 104.
13) Pittsburgh Steelers (via Miami Dolphins) – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Ben Roethlisberger’s time has obviously come to an end in Pittsburgh. With no real succession plan (it is hard to believe Dwayne Haskins is the answer), it is time to take a shot at a franchise quarterback. The 2023 quarterback class lacks prowess as well, so there is no reason to wait. Willis has flashes of Deshaun Watson in his game. His arm strength is unbelievable, and his mobility is excellent for his playstyle. Willis will bring new energy and dynamic to a franchise that has been held captive to one style of play for around two decades. Also, he works well with the more agile linemen recently drafted by the organization.
14) Minnesota Vikings – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Vikings obviously need some extra assistance in their cornerback room. Patrick Peterson is far from the long-term answer, so finally, they will get an all-around stud in McDuffie. He is a perfect plug-and-play defender that fits perfectly in this defense. With Jordan Love, Jared Goff, and Justin Fields playing against Minnesota twice a year, be on alert for McDuffie getting Defensive Rookie of the Year with an array of interceptions. There is a lot to like from this instant-impact selection.
15) Denver Broncos – Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Hold your horses. Yes, Howell has not had a spectacular year, but he has absolutely nobody except Josh Downs. Sure, it would have been great to see Howell overcome these obstacles, but losing four high-end playmakers with a poor offensive line does not bode well. In short, his performance is not a red flag. The arm talent is still there, and Howell is still playing solid football. The Broncos need a true commander: one that is not a bridge quarterback. Pairing Howell and Javonte Williams is not just the answer, it is a perfect fit.
16) Cleveland Browns – Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
Can this defense get any better on paper? Yes. Davis is an absolute wrecking ball. He has flashes of Ndamukong Suh-level dominance. There is a small hole on the interior of this defensive line, so Davis does more than just fill it: he completes it. Jadeveon Clowney will most likely be re-signed, so an edge is not a need. If there were any questions about this defense, they are answered now. Lock in a top-five run and pass defense.
17) Kansas City Chiefs – Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
The Chiefs sending a sixth-round pick for Melvin Ingram says everything: they need an effective pass rusher. Enagbare may be the fifth edge in this class, but in most classes, he would be top three, if not top two. The Chiefs’ defense is simply uninspiring. It is about time Kansas City has a successful pass rusher (not named Chris Jones).
18) New England Patriots – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
This was either cornerback or wide receiver, and getting the best receiver is exponentially better than getting the fourth-best cornerback. Mac Jones needs some more weapons, especially ones that are great in the short to medium game. Wilson adds an amazing after-the-catch ability that is seemingly unrivaled in this class, especially from this top tier of receivers. The Patriots’ offense now has the explosive punch it has been lacking for years.
19) Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
A quarterback surely is in the conversation at this spot, but the offensive line is desperate for help. Brady Christensen has not lived up to his college PFF grade (although he has lived up to PTST’s draft grade). It is time for a change. Ekwonu is an athletic freak, combining extreme blocking power, freakish mobility, and unbelievable size. There was a good case for him to move into guard, but this season has shown that Ekwonu is ready to play tackle at the next level. Christian McCaffrey will certainly love having a new protector.
20) Los Angeles Chargers – Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
Edge surely can be a spot to fill at this pick, but solidifying the last piece of the offensive line is too tempting. Even showing flashes of being able to fill it at tackle, Green provides an excellent base for a franchise lineman. Allowing Justin Herbert to have a complete offensive line for both now and the future is invaluable. Green is a perfect fit. He provides mobility, strength, and versatility. In an injury-riddled NFL, that is also extremely valuable. This may not be a glorious pick, but it will prove to be the best.
The Miami Dolphins acquire picks 21, 85, and a 2023 second-round pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for picks 13 and 104.
21) Miami Dolphins (via Steelers, 49ers) – Drake London, WR, USC
It is about time that the Dolphins have a true number one receiver. Jaylen Waddle is a slot stud, and Mike Gesicki has proven to be a formidable weapon, too. Devante Parker has been mediocre at best (when he is healthy), so it is time to bring in college football’s best receiver. London has everything. He is tall, he has great hands, and he can make people miss after the catch. Tua Tagovailoa has shown major steps in his progression so far, so getting him an amazing weapon may instill a bit of confidence that the team has his back. Watch out for London competing for offensive rookie of the year if Parker’s injury tendencies flare up once again.
The Cincinnati Bengals acquire picks 28 and 92 from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for pick 22.
22) Tennessee Titans – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Rashaan Evans has been a nightmare. Monty Rice may have some potential, but he fits an entirely different role than Dean. This Georgia prospect is incredibly young, fast, and dangerous. Dean is ultra-lethal when blitzing as well as in coverage. What else can a team want? With a super bowl in sight, the Titans will be desperate to acquire any pieces that can tip the scales in their favor. The upside is too rich to not take at this point. In the end, a team with not too many needs sacrifices a small bit of value to acquire a superstar impact.
23) New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Jameis Winston is not the problem. If it weren’t for Sean Payton somehow masking how terrible his receiving room is, this choice would be even more obvious. Olave is an amazing receiver with excellent deep speed and route-running ability. For once, Winston can throw the ball deep to someone who runs faster than a 4.7-second 40-yard dash. If anyone thinks this should be a quarterback (barring their signal-caller leaving in free agency), then they have not watched a single game of Saints tape. Believe in Jameis, and reward him with an unbelievable steal.
24) Buffalo Bills – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Honestly, Booth should not be on the board. His upside is way too good to pass on, yet here he is. The Bills could certainly use a second high-end cornerback. Booth has crazy athleticism and flashes of high football intelligence. If he can get his consistency up, there is no doubt that this prospect should be taken within the top 15 draft picks. Consistency is key, however, especially in a passing NFL. Getting picked on game after game raises some red flags, but the potential is way too good to pass on, especially with Tre’Davious White being a mentor.
25) Baltimore Ravens – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Somehow Cross falls to this pick. After showing major holes in his anchor and size, the Mississippi State product magically converted into a stud left tackle over summer. Cross put on about 20 pounds and has gotten comfortable at that size. There are still concerns with his immediate impact at the next level, but he shows insane promise in the long run. Alejandro Villanueva has been mediocre at best, so getting the future protector of Lamar Jackson seems logical.
26) Las Vegas Raiders – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Henry Ruggs may be out of the NFL for a long time. There is no need to dive into the specifics, but there is a hole in the receiving corps. The Raiders need another true burner with number one receiver potential. Jahan Dotson fit the bill, but Williams is just too flashy to not take. Las Vegas last drafted their deep threat from the same school, so it is not outlandish to believe that the organization favors this receiving program. With eye-popping speed and a developing route tree, the sky is the limit for his potential. It may be a sad day for the Raiders, but the vacancy left behind will soon be forgotten with this dynamic playmaker.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama
The only area of “need” is the secondary for Tampa Bay. Adding a cornerback or safety is the only way to add a valuable impact for the following year. Battle is an all-around safety that has been tearing up the SEC. His ability to do everything makes him a vital puzzle piece in this confusing secondary room. No matter who is injured, Battle cannot just fill in for a short period of time, but he can threaten the player’s position on the depth chart, solely due to how versatile he is. Battle may not be the perfect player at one thing, but he is the best at everything.
28) Cincinnati Bengals (via Tennessee Titans) – Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
The right tackle position is in desperate need of a long-term solution. Petit-Frere may play left tackle currently for the Buckeyes, but his history at right tackle makes him a prime target at this spot. He has recorded extremely high-graded seasons at both positions, which provides even greater value in the case where Jonah Williams is hurt or demanding a trade or release. Petit-Frere is an excellent fit on a team that is pushing to lead a highly-competitive division. Penei Sewell may have been passed on for an elite receiver in Ja’Marr Chase, but that does not mean that tackle is passed on again.
29) Dallas Cowboys – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Small school star alert! Spencer Brown brought Northern Iowa onto the map in the 2021 NFL Draft. His athleticism was off the charts (best RAS score by a tackle of all time) and his talent matched it. Is it possible there is yet another stud blocker from Northern Iowa? Yes. In fact, Penning is even better. He provides insane blocking power (watch his tape, and there will be at least two defenders pancaked by the end of the game) with solid-enough mechanics to develop into an NFL star. Tyron Smith may be a Hall-of-Fame talent, but his injury history is worrisome. With Connor Williams also potentially leaving in free agency, a high-upside lineman should be a primary target.
30) Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Getting a large, hulking receiver that can dominate at the catch point might be a solution to the receiving woes for the Lions. Burks offers an amazing platform to design screens, contested catches, and even runs. His speed and dominance at his size make Burks a high-ceiling prospect that few can deny. The only issue lies in route running, where the separation is not up to the level needed to be consistently effective in the NFL. The dominance is simply too good to pass on at the end of the first round (especially when the Lions have little else).
31) Arizona Cardinals – Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia
This high-octane offense-led team is a few pieces away from guaranteeing a shot at the Lombardi. Getting a youthful pass rusher to replace Haason Reddick’s role could be that solution. Anderson is everything former Georgia edge defender Azeez Ojulari brought to the table, but he is better in literally every aspect. If it weren’t for his size (230 pounds), he would be in the top 10 to 15 range. Anderson’s explosiveness, coverage ability, and toolkit create an undeniably attractive target that can be the final piece.
The Green Bay Packers acquire picks 33 and a 2023 sixth-round pick from the Detroit Lions in exchange for pick 32.
32) Detroit Lions (via Green Bay Packers) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
It is about time that the Lions get a reliable defender on something besides their defensive line. Lloyd may be older, but his all-around solid play is perfect for a team in need of impact players. He can cover, pass rush, and run defend at a high level. The developmental upside that Christian Harris brings may not be there, but Lloyd also has a much lower bust factor. Another busted pick may be the end of the Lions, especially at a position that they had recently failed to fill in drafts prior.
Follow Alex Barbour on Twitter @alexxbarbour
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