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2022 NFL Mock Draft Monday: Defense Dominates Early

A 2022 NFL Mock Draft that features top college defenders early and often.
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Draft stock for first-round prospects is in high flux through three weeks of the 2021-2022 college football season. This mock looks to highlight players who have seen their stock rise or fall and project them into an advantageous situation.

1. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux is a top-tier pass rusher who may be the top player in college football. 

Kayvon Thibodeaux is a top-tier pass rusher who may be the top player in college football. 

There's a good chance the Lions find themselves at the top of the draft order, and while a quarterback will be in hot demand by the fan base, this class still doesn't have a top option worth taking over the elite defenders available. Kayvon Thibodeaux can provide the Lions with the alpha pass rusher to set the culture in the trenches that head coach Dan Campbell desires.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

The Jaguars find themselves in an interesting position where Thibodeaux would have been an ideal pick, and they already have a strong cornerback tandem in place with CJ Henderson and Shaquil Griffin. They could look to trade out of this pick, but they decide to take Stingley as their best player available in this mock. With him on board, the Jags could potentially move one of their three corners into the nickel, which is a big weakness as of now.

3. Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, DS, Notre Dame

It's rare for a draft class' three top players to be on the defensive side of the ball - especially two of them being defensive backs - but that's how it's looked like through three weeks. Hamilton can be the best safety in the NFL and would be a particularly interesting fit in Lovie Smith's Tampa 2 defense. He could play either safety role, or if Smith wants to get weird, he could encourage Hamilton to add on around 10 lbs and become their MIKE linebacker of the future. Hamilton already plays with the violence and the sure-tackling ability of a box defender, and his range and instincts in coverage would be immensely valuable in the intermediate-middle area of the field. He's the type of generational prospect that could push Smith to modernize his old-school scheme and adapt to contemporary trends.

4. New York Jets: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Jets are surely upset that one of the two top defensive backs - Hamilton and Stingley - did not fall to them but get the chance to provide Zach Wilson the protection he needs and deserves. Evan Neal has been as dependable as they come in pass protection, whether on the right or left side and brings a mauling mentality to the run game.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

An excellent athlete, Andrew Booth Jr. is a possible top-five selection come April. 

An excellent athlete, Andrew Booth Jr. is a possible top-five selection come April. 

The Bengals selecting Booth Jr. would make four of the first five picks defensive prospects, a feat that has only happened one other time - the 2019 draft, which was also a weak quarterback class - since 1997. Booth Jr. is certainly a prospect worth bucking the trend for, especially analyzing the Bengals situation. They bring size, speed, and ball skills to a weak cornerback position that desperately needs a William Jackson III replacement.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

7. Atlanta Falcons: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

The historic run on defenders ends with the first quarterback coming off the board in Rattler. He hasn't taken a big enough jump from his 2020 season to propel him above the top defenders but lands in a near-perfect scenario for his development in Atlanta. Rattler can sit for a season - or as long as he needs to improve some of his flaws - while Matt Ryan potentially finishes his reputable career. Rattler will also benefit from the structure that head coach Arthur Smith's offense provides and will surely benefit from offensive weapons Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts.

8. New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

9. Las Vegas Raiders: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

The Raiders could go any direction with this pick but decide to move on from the Derek Carr era and usher in Strong. Jon Gruden will adore his competitive toughness and ability to make pre-snap adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Strong has been arguably the most consistent "top" quarterback through the first three weeks, displaying his deep-ball prowess and velocity to fit in tight-window throws.

Picking a quarterback in the upcoming draft, and moving on from the current starting quarterback, Derek Carr, seems like it could be a panic move by Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden. Or is this just the right setup that the two need to be successful in Las Vegas? Read the article from the Las Vegas Chronicle about how the $100-million investment in Jon Gruden is paying off. (CLICK HERE)

10. Carolina Panthers: Brandon Joseph, DS, Northwestern

Northwestern's Brandon Joseph is a possible first-round talent at safety. 

Northwestern's Brandon Joseph is a possible first-round talent at safety. 

11. Minnesota Vikings: Sam Howell, QB, UNC

With two quarterbacks recently taken off the board, the Vikings take Howell, who fits their scheme nicely. Howell is a good quarterback, but a limited one, and he would benefit from more schemed throws off of bootlegs and a strong run game to keep him ahead of the sticks. He doesn't even need to start right away and could learn a lot from Kirk Cousins.

12. Arizona Cardinals: Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa

13. Washington Football Team: Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas

Catalon is not a common name to see in the top half of first-round mocks, but he deserves to be. An elite athlete and playmaker at the safety position would provide the Football Team with a rangy free safety that would elevate their secondary to an elite unit by racking up turnovers and negative plays.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

15. New York Giants: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA

An athletic and refined tackle, Sean Rhyan is NFL-ready and scheme versatile. 

An athletic and refined tackle, Sean Rhyan is NFL-ready and scheme versatile. 

The Giants double down on the offensive line, which is the best decision to supplement their quarterback Daniel Jones. Rhyan has great balance and core strength, which make him an extremely dependable pass protector. He and Andrew Thomas could be the Giants' tackles of the future, but who will play on what side?

16. Los Angeles Chargers: Drake Jackson, DE, USC

17. Denver Broncos: Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia

With Teddy Bridgewater looking comfortable running the show for the Broncos, they can add a day-one ready contributor and further boost their defense with Davis. A man with his size and power should not be as nimble and agile as Davis, which makes him a terror against the run and pass. He can start at nose tackle for Vic Fangio and be the dominant force in the trenches, allowing the defense to play with the lightbox numbers they desire while still stuffing the run.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Ainias Smith, WR/RB/ Texas A&M

19. New England Patriots: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

With Kayvon Thibodeaux out, Hutchinson has played like the top defensive end prospect in the country. His athleticism, hand nuance and ability to set up his rush have been on full display to the tune of 3.5 sacks and nine pressures. Bellichick would love to get his hands on the versatile Hutchinson, who is also a stout run defender.

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

Arguably the 2022 NFL Draft's top dual-threat passer, Malik Willis is firmly in the QB1 race. 

Arguably the 2022 NFL Draft's top dual-threat passer, Malik Willis is firmly in the QB1 race. 

21. Indianapolis Colts: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

While the Colts just added Kwity Paye in the first round last year, they have another talented defensive lineman fall to them this year that they can't pass up. Harrison has the get-off and arm length that Chris Ballard desires from the position and would give defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus the pressure he needs to execute his four-man-rush-heavy style of defense.

22. Dallas Cowboys: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

23. Tennessee Titans: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

With Jurrell Casey retiring, the Titans should look to replace him with another versatile defensive lineman who can wreak havoc on the interior. If he reaches his ceiling, Leal's power and flashes of highly nuanced pass rush technique will combine with Jeffrey Simmons to make one of the best interior defensive linemen tandems in the league.

24. Green Bay Packers: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

25. New York Jets: Ricky Stromberg, OC, Arkansas

One of the 2022 NFL Draft's top centers, Ricky Stromberg has had an impressive start to 2021. 

One of the 2022 NFL Draft's top centers, Ricky Stromberg has had an impressive start to 2021. 

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There must be something in the water in New York as the Jets follow the Giants' blueprint of doubling down on offensive linemen. As defenses look to generate more internal pressure than ever, offenses must adjust by getting powerful centers that can anchor. Enter Stromberg, a do-it-all center with a mean streak in the run game, can communicate protections well and easily anchors the line.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

27. Houston Texans via Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The sole trade in this mock is predicting the Dolphins to pull the trigger on the Deshaun Watson deal eventually. With their second pick in the first, the Texans take a quarterback in Corral, seeing his stock soar after numerous great performances to start the season. He stuffed the box score in Week Three versus Tulane, totaling seven touchdowns and 403 total yards. Corral throws with plenty of zip on the ball, within the pocket and outside of it, plus has the athleticism to be a dynamic threat on the ground.

28. Detroit Lions: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

29. Cleveland Browns: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Browns have one of the more complete rosters in the NFL, but one area of weakness is their linebacker group. Mack Wilson has played well but could use a running mate, and Lloyd has the athleticism and instincts to clean up plays or make them himself. In a weak (but deep) linebacker class, don't be surprised if he's at the top of the rankings by the end of the year.

30. Buffalo Bills: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

An excellent all-around athlete, Travon Walker has had a stellar start to his 2021 season. 

An excellent all-around athlete, Travon Walker has had a stellar start to his 2021 season. 

31. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Like the Browns, one of the few holes on the Chiefs' roster is their linebacker room, and Harris might be the next great Bama backer. He would provide defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the athleticism and versatility needed to blitz or drop in coverage.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

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2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings

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Hundreds of prospects ranked and updated throughout the season. Stay updated on all the NFL Draft eligible players and where they could go in the draft.

Scouting Reports

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Fantasy Football Rankings

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Check out the latest and greatest, most up-to-date, fantasy football rankings. No one has the most comprehensive and accurate rankings when it comes to fantasy football than the NFL Draft Bible.

Devy Rankings

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The Mock Draft Simulator by Mock Draft Database

Watch the show LIVE on Twitch

Pro Football Free Agent Database

Click here to view

Click here to purchase

2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings

Click here to view

Hundreds of prospects ranked and updated throughout the season. Stay updated on all the NFL Draft eligible players and where they could go in the draft.

Scouting Reports

Click here to view

Fantasy Football Rankings

Click here to view

Check out the latest and greatest, most up-to-date, fantasy football rankings. No one has the most comprehensive and accurate rankings when it comes to fantasy football than the NFL Draft Bible.

Devy Rankings

Click here to view