ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. released his first mock draft for the 2022 NFL Draft on Wednesday and predicts the two former Ohio State wide receivers will be among the first 32 selections.
That includes junior wide receiver Garrett Wilson – who Kiper projects as the second wide receiver off the board – to the Cleveland Browns at No. 13 overall, a common pick among most draft analysts.
“This was a pretty easy pick for me because the Browns should take the best receiver left on the board,” Kiper said. “If they really are committed to Baker Mayfield for 2022 (and beyond), they should get their quarterback some help because this is now two straight seasons in which they've trotted out a subpar receiving corps for the second half of the season.
“Wilson, who caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, can play outside or in the slot. He's a great route runner who can also run away from defensive backs after the catch. And the Buckeyes star doesn't have to go too far if Cleveland takes him.”
Kiper has senior wide receiver Chris Olave being taken by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 19 overall, the third of their three first-round picks in this year’s draft. The first two were acquired in trades with the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts.
“Let's finish out the Eagles' picks with another wide receiver, which would make back-to-back-to-back drafts that Philly went wideout in Round 1,” Kiper said. “This is still an issue, though. DeVonta Smith had a good rookie season and looks to be the clear No. 1, but 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor underwhelmed and might never be more than a decent third option. Going back to the 2019 draft, the Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in Round 2, but he has just 16 catches over three seasons. Jalen Hurts has to get some more help.
“Olave was a touchdown machine at Ohio State – he had 35 in four seasons – and he's one of the best deep threats in this class. At 6-foot-1, he can play inside or outside. He's a player who looks better and better when you watch all of his snaps in a game, because even if he didn't catch 10 passes, he was always open.”
Other wide receivers listed in Kiper’s first mock draft of the offseason include USC’s Drake London to the New York Jets at No. 10, Alabama’s Jameson Williams to the New England Patriots at No. 21 and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson to the Miami Dolphins at No. 26.
The 2022 NFL Draft is set for April 28-30 at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nev., home of the Las Vegas Raiders. It will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network.
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