Now that the 2021 NFL Draft dust has settled, it’s time to turn the page and look ahead at how the 2022 draft in Las Vegas could shape up. Much is sure to change between now and April, but one thing we do know: quarterbacks shall rule the roast once again. Let’s dive in!
1. Houston Texans: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
The Deshaun Watson situation is murky at best. History has shown us how favorable the Oklahoma offense can be for franchise quarterbacks and Rattler appears to be the next beneficiary. It would not be surprising for him to follow in the footsteps of Baker Mayfield (Browns) and Kyler Murray (Cardinals) and win the Heisman Trophy, then become the No.1 overall pick.
2. Detroit Lions: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
It’s a transitional season for the Lions new regime. Current signal-caller Jared Goff is a stopgap. The upside and potential of Howell is much greater, as he’s more mobile, can execute well under pressure and throws a much better deep ball than Goff. The selection of Howell provides a cornerstone piece on offense.
Major reconstruction is needed on this roster. The Jets have failed to produce an impactful pass-rush in quite some time. Pairing Thibodeaux with defensive mastermind Robert Saleh could be a match made in heaven. There is an argument to be made that Thibodeaux is the top-rated overall prospect entering the 2021 season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
While some old injuries from his past could be the ultimate monkey wrench in how his draft stock unfolds, should Strong continue his excellent play, NFL teams will be unable to pass up his arm talent. Strong is an "old-school" prototype pocket-passer, reminiscent of Carson Palmer.
The old Parcells-ism still holds true: "If you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback" and Denver is about to find that out the hard way. Slovis offers hope in fixing a position that has been broken since Peyton Manning hung up the old orange cleats.
With Cam Robinson set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, adding Neal would be a secure insurance policy. Blessed with rare size and athleticism, Neal has started at both tackle and guard. His addition would be a welcomed boost along the offensive line to help protect new crown jewel Trevor Lawrence.
An electrifying talent, Stingley is expected to have a bounce-back season and recapture his consensus CB1 status. His ability to take it the distance with the ball in his hands has intrigued LSU enough to experiment with him on offense in practice. Stingley would be the closest player to "Prime Time" (Deion Sanders) that owner Jerry Jones will ever see again.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: DeMarvin Leal, DE, Texas A&M
An explosive chess piece who can be moved up and down the defensive line, Leal would have a great impact on what has become an overhauled unit. Cincinnati will be dealing with three unrestricted free agents at defensive tackle next offseason, so his position versatility could be an added boost in the short-term.
9. New York Giants: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
It’s no secret the Giants were sniffing around Kyle Pitts. With Evan Engram entering the final year of his contract, there’s no guarantee he will return. The lengthy, playmaking Wydermeyer possesses an impressive frame, along with superb vertical skills and dependable hands, making him an upgrade at the position.
The record books indicate that completing under 60% of your passes, while averaging just six yards per attempt, will make it difficult to earn a living in the National Football League. Expect the Sam Darnold experiment to be a short-lived one. However, the Panthers could be a quarterback away from real contention at this time next year, making Willis the prime candidate to take them there.
11. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears): Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
After failing to address the offensive line this past offseason, the Giants have placed themselves in a precarious situation. The guard spot is an area of weakness and Will Hernandez is unlikely to return after this year. Green could be the highest-rated guard prospect since Quenton Nelson (Colts).
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The tantalizing pedigree of Hamilton, who carries all the traits that Las Vegas brass craves, would be too hard to resist at this spot. His size, physicality and athleticism would provide the Raiders with a defensive weapon to combat the likes of division-foe tight ends such as Travis Kelce and Noah Fant.
13. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers): George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
One of the most polished players in college football, Karlaftis will be ready to step in and play from Day 1. He is a massive man with great strength and knows how to anchor. Miami could get creative mixing and matching Karlaftis with Jaelan Phillips.
14. New England Patriots: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
With Stephon Gilmore set to become an unrestricted free agent, cornerback could become a major need. Kendrick brings a multi-faceted skill-set with his coverage skills, knack for turnovers and willingness to stick his nose in the dirt against the run.
15. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Dealing off Julio Jones creates a massive void on offense. The previous regime in Atlanta got the organization in a bit of salary-cap hell with their contract mismanagement. Adding Olave to play opposite Calvin Ridley would help balance the scales on offense again.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins): Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
It will be time to move on from Brandon Graham (age 34) and Derek Barnett will become a free agent following the season, while Ryan Kerrigan was brought in on a one-year deal. Hutchinson would inject some much-needed youth and offer a long-term fix at defensive end.
17. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
One part of the most dangerous wide receiver duo in college football, Wilson would instantly become the top target in Motown. Following the offseason departures of Kenny Golladay (Giants) and Marvin Jones Jr. (Jaguars), the current wide-receiver corps is the definition of patchwork.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
It was somewhat surprising to see Philadelphia take such a lackluster approach in upgrading the secondary during the offseason; it’s bound to catch up with them. Elam is a boundary corner with size who could help solidify the unit.
19. New Orleans Saints – Charles Cross, T, Mississippi State
It will be a tough offseason for New Orleans next year, as both starting tackles will be free agents. In addition, they will likely need to make a financial investment in a long-term quarterback. It will be difficult to retain everyone, making Cross a valuable replacement cog.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kingsley 'J.J.' Enagbare, OLB, South Carolina
Will Pittsburgh allow T.J. Watt to hit the open market? He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. Regardless, Pittsburgh likes to blitz and adding Enagbare to the mix would seem to fall in line with how Kevin Colbert and Co. like to construct their defense.
21. Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Regardless of who is at quarterback, the Packers could be faced with losing Davante Adams to free agency. Burks is an ascending star who brings prototype size and speed, in addition to being one of the most explosive prospects in the nation after the catch. He lined up out of the slot on 90% of his snaps a season ago, but could be used anywhere on the field at the next level.
The Chargers haven't replaced the pass-rushing presence of Melvin Ingram, who remains unsigned. After dropping 20 pounds a season ago, Jackson was primarily used in a stand-up role for the Trojans. He would fit in well with what the new staff is looking to build on defense.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
Youth is needed as Chandler Jones will become a free agent and J.J. Watt should be a rotational piece at this stage of his career. Legendary Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson raves about Harrison, who has transformed his body and is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
Veteran Sammy Watkins signed a one-year deal and while the Ravens used a first- round choice on Rashod Bateman in this year’s draft, outside of Hollywood Brown, there is little else. Going back for more would be justified, if Baltimore seeks to keep up with the AFC elite.
The Vikings will need to ensure they keep the middle of their defense solidified. With linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith both set to hit free agency, Harris is an instant plug-and-play starter who can help offset any losses.
26. Cleveland Browns: Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
Give props to the Browns, who have constructed one of the deepest rosters in the league; there are few weaknesses. However, they will have four defensive tackles with expired contracts after this season, which makes that a high priority position of need for 2022. Enter Winfrey, who has earned a reputation for wreaking havoc in the opposing backfield.
27. Washington Football Team: Rasheed Walker, T, Penn State
Veteran left tackle Charles Leno Jr. is set to become a free agent. While Washington found excellent value with the selection of Samuel Cosmi in the second round, the remainder of the roster is filled with subpar candidates. Walker enters his third year as the starting left tackle, under his fourth offensive coordinator. He’s heady, experienced and can contribute immediately.
Acquiring Julio Jones from the Falcons will help alleviate the offseason departure of Corey Davis (Jets), but the Titans failed to adequately replace Jonnu Smith (Patriots). Slotting Billingsley in between A.J. Brown and Jones could spell doom when paired with Derrick Henry.
29. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
A true workhorse back would make life a lot easier for new franchise quarterback Zach Wilson. Spiller would instantly become the best back in the division and could serve as a valuable building block for the future.
It was evident the Chiefs were shallow at the cornerback position last season. Kansas City could lose a few more players to expiring contracts and/or cap casualties, so they will need to continue to add more pieces in the secondary.
31. Buffalo Bills: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
A premier running back could be the final piece that puts the Bills over the top. If the committee of Zack Moss, Devin Singletary and Matt Breida aren’t able to get it done this year, it may be time to find a true bell-cow.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cade Mays, G, Tennessee:
Current center Ryan Jensen enters the final year of his contract and is a good candidate to retire. That leaves Ali Marpet on the roster, who is capable of sliding into the center position, in order to make room for Mays at guard.