2022 NFL Mock Draft: High-Profile Defensive Ends Taken with Premium Selections

A 2022 NFL mock draft to highlight potential first-rounders as summer scouting comes to an end.
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As the season comes closer and summer scouting winds down, we have a more and more clear picture of which players have a chance to get drafted in the first round. This is an exercise to predict how the first night of the draft could shape out.

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1. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux's elite traits land him firmly in the conversation for the best player in the 2022 draft.

Kayvon Thibodeaux's elite traits land him firmly in the conversation for the best player in the 2022 draft.

The Texans have an awful roster, and Thibodeaux is the best player in the draft to inject some much-needed talent into their defense.

2. Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Jared Goff can not be the long-term starter at quarterback for the Lions. If they find themselves in the position to acquire a talented passer like Rattler, they should not hesitate.

3. Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

A three-year starter at Alabama, Neal brings the traits and versatility that the Bengals need to protect Joe Burrow.

4. New York Jets: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

Robert Saleh's defense works best when the front four can put pressure on the quarterback consistently. Leal is a physical specimen who can develop into one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL.

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5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyle Hamilton, DS, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton's blend of size, athleticism and instincts should land him in the top five in 2022. 

Kyle Hamilton's blend of size, athleticism and instincts should land him in the top five in 2022. 

The Jaguars have a young, talented roster that could find its defensive leader in Kyle Hamilton, who is as gifted as anyone in this draft class.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Jalen Hurts has limited upside as an NFL starter, and the Eagles will want to rebuild their roster around another signal-caller. The big-armed Strong could come in and sit behind Hurts for a whole season if needed.

7. Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, DE, USC

Atlanta is hurting all over the defense, but the improvements have to start upfront. Jackson has game-breaking potential off the edge.

8. Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Who better add a blue-chip cornerback prospect than the Raiders, who need as much help in the secondary as possible.

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9. New York Giants: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

A second pro-bowl caliber cornerback could make the Giant's defense very tough to beat. The twitched-up Booth can become just that.

10. Carolina Panthers: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA

UCLA's Sean Rhyan already boasts NFL-level technique and athleticism. 

UCLA's Sean Rhyan already boasts NFL-level technique and athleticism. 

If the Panthers are serious about building around Sam Darnold, they have to protect him first. Rhyan has the strength and athleticism required to be a franchise tackle.

11. New York Giants: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

Following in the footsteps of former Boilermaker Ryan Kerrigan, Karlaftis could terrorize the NFC East for the next decade.

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12. Arizona Cardinals: Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington

The offensive line is a significant concern in the desert. Kirkland has the athletic ability to hold down a starting spot on the offensive line.

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13. Washington Football Team: Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

Finding a long-term starter at quarterback will be the biggest challenge for the improving Football Team. A brilliant and accurate passer, Slovis can be productive early on in his career.

14. Minnesota Vikings: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Vikings have a type at wide receiver; they like separators. Wilson separates as well as any other receiver in college football and can eventually replace Adam Thielen.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

An excellent guard, Kenyon Green will show off his versatility at tackle in 2021. 

An excellent guard, Kenyon Green will show off his versatility at tackle in 2021. 

Projecting as a day one quality starting guard, Green fits the physical style of the Steelers with his power and athleticism.

16. Denver Broncos: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The very accurate passer and the three-year starter would step into a Broncos offense with very few holes.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

With Mike Williams on an expiring contract, the last thing the Chargers want is to lose a playmaker for Justin Herbert.

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18. New England Patriots: Brandon Joseph, DS, Northwestern

In only one season of starting for the Wildcats, Joseph has shown the range and instincts that would make him a playmaker in Bill Belichick's defense.

19. New Orleans Saints: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Nobody gets more creative with running quarterbacks than Sean Payton. Willis adds a throwing element that makes him unpredictable for defenses.

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20. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Devin Lloyd is one of the Pac-12's top defenders; he has every-down potential at the next level.  

Devin Lloyd is one of the Pac-12's top defenders; he has every-down potential at the next level.  

With their second first-round pick, the Eagles hope to upgrade the second level of their defense. Lloyd fits the mold of the modern linebacker as he can run, cover and blitz.

21. Dallas Cowboys: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

With his length and zone instincts, Elam is tailor-made for a Dan Quinn defense. He could start immediately on the struggling Cowboys defense.

22. New York Jets: Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa

The center position is vital in a zone-rushing attack. Linderbaum possesses the athleticism and agility to perform complex reach blocks.

23. Tennessee Titans: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

The Titans have gambled on high upside repeatedly, and Pickens has just that coming off of an ACL injury. Learning from Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, he has the athleticism to become one of the best playmakers in the league.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

It is not unreasonable to expect a considerable improvement from Zach Harrison in his third season at Ohio State, considering how the Buckeyes have developed pass rushers in the past.

25. Cleveland Browns: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson's size and strength make him an intriguing defensive end prospect. 

Aidan Hutchinson's size and strength make him an intriguing defensive end prospect. 

The Michigan product possesses the strength and technical prowess to be a productive running mate of Myles Garrett for years to come.

26. Green Bay Packers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

As long as Davante Adams is a Packer, it makes too much sense to pair him with a capable number two receiver. Olave can separate and win vertically, stretching defenses even further.

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27. Miami Dolphins: Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky

A physical lineman, Kinnard can create a push up front and soften up defensive lines like nobody else in college football.

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28. Baltimore Ravens: Brian Asamoah II, LB, Oklahoma

The young linebacker fits the aggressive defensive style of the Baltimore Ravens. He is raw at the moment but can develop into a quality starter in the future.

29. Buffalo Bills: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

While he has to continue to get stronger, Cross has shown the athleticism and technique to be a blindside protector in the NFL. The Bills have repeatedly shown that they develop talent as well as anyone.

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30. Detroit Lions: Jahleel Billingsley, TE, Alabama

Boasting impressive versatility and sufficient blocking ability, Jahleel Billingsley looks like TE1 in 2022. 

Boasting impressive versatility and sufficient blocking ability, Jahleel Billingsley looks like TE1 in 2022. 

He may not be a wide receiver in name, but Billingsley plays like one with his athleticism and catch radius while being a serviceable positional blocker.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adam Anderson, OLB, Georgia

While he is skinny, Adam Anderson will be a difference-maker on passing downs with his speed off the edge.

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32. Kansas City Chiefs: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

Walker is a long defensive end and has the makings of a dominant power rusher. His ability to reduce inside on passing downs would give Steve Spagnuolo a lot of flexibility on the defensive line. 

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