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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Quarterbacks Fall and a Defense-Heavy Top Ten

With the college football season taking shape, who are some players that could go in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft?

Happy Monday, and welcome to another mock draft featuring the elite defensive talent of this class and the plethora of risers on the offensive line. The draft order is based on predictions for the rest of the season and, just like everybody’s at this point, will most likely be very wrong, so take it with a grain of salt and enjoy the mock!

1. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The Oregon defensive end offers great athleticism with good size. The Lions add arguably the best overall player in the class here with Kayvon Thibodeaux. There is still much room to grow with him in terms of technicalities which makes him an even more exciting prospect to build the defense around. 

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Trevor Lawrence is the present and future of the franchise, so with this pick, the Jaguars get the best offensive line prospect in the 2022 class. In his collegiate career, Evan Neal has starting experience at guard and both tackle spots. This gives the Jags the flexibility to start him wherever they see fit, most likely at left tackle. Neal has not given up a sack so far this season. 

3. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

By spending premium capital on premier players, Robert Saleh and the Jets need to infuse talent into this defense. Kyle Hamilton checks every box and would add a lot of versatility to the Jets’ defense with his elite athleticism, size and playmaking ability. 

4. Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Texans could consider quarterback here, but with nobody asserting themselves as the number one guys thus far, they opt for Derek Stingley Jr. The LSU cornerback is one of the best athletes the college football world has seen in the past few years and adds much needed young talent to the Texans roster. 

5. Atlanta Falcons: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

It seems as if the Falcons have been looking for an answer on the edge of their defense ever since before they selected Takk McKinley in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Five years later, they hope to have found the answer in Aidan Hutchinson. With five sacks and 22 quarterback hurries so far on the year, Hutchinson has played his way into deserving this high of a pick in the draft. 

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

With the first of their two picks in the top eight, the Giants help out the secondary. Andrew Booth Jr. is an extremely good athlete with body control that is second to none. He has had his fair share of struggles this season, but the upside is undeniable with his talent and ability to make plays on the ball. 

7. Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

Even though the Eagles have talent on the interior of their defensive line with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, they add the best player available in DeMarvin Leal. Leal plays all over the defensive line for Texas A&M and can add versatility to the Eagles’ defense up front. 

8. New York Giants (via CHI): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

After selecting Andrew Booth with their first pick, the Giants add an exciting center prospect from Iowa in Tyler Linderbaum. Selecting a center this high could be viewed as questionable, but his talent is well-deserving of this selection. The Giants have been a below-average running team in 2020 and 2021, and Linderbaum can help solve that problem directly. 

9. Pittsburgh Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Finally, a quarterback comes off the board here to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carson Strong has had a solid season so far, showing off his arm, making tight-window throws over the middle as well as being able to push the ball down the field. Strong will be able to make the throws that Big Ben can no longer make. It seems to be a perfect fit for how the Steelers want to operate their offense. 

10. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Sauce Gardner has been playing lights out this season for Cincinnati, only allowing six total receptions on 16 targets. He has the size and length that NFL teams will always look for because of how rare the body type is. Gardner can be the solution opposite of Darius Slay for the Eagles cornerback room. 

11. Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

After acquiring Patrick Peterson in this past free agency, he is set to run out of contract after one season in Minnesota and will need replacing next offseason. Kaiir Elam gives the Vikings a long-term solution alongside 2020 third-round pick Cameron Dantzler. Elam is a physical corner who can play up in press or drop back into zone coverage. He is a very good fit for Zimmer’s defense. 

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

After passing on Penei Sewell last year, the Bengals get their offensive tackle out of Mississippi State. Cross is an excellent pass protector because of his length and athleticism to protect the pocket. With the way the Bengals want to attack the game through the air with Joe Burrow and his weapons, Cross is a shoo-in for this offensive line. 

13. Washington Football Team: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Ryan Fitzpatrick is out of contract, and Taylor Heinicke is looking like he is not the long-term answer at the quarterback. This season, Matt Corral has taken big steps to improve his decision-making, which was a big concern heading into the season after throwing 14 interceptions last season. Lane Kiffin’s offense helps Corral’s production, but he still shows the awareness and processing ability to make the jump to the NFL. 

 

14. Philadelphia Eagles (via IND): Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Another team that chooses to pass on a quarterback after Jalen Hurts has shown some promise this season to keep the starting job heading into the future, for now. Howie Roseman has shown over the years that he loves to build through the trenches, and he does it again with Kenyon Green to further solidify the offensive line. Green has played at left tackle this season, but he will slide back inside to guard at the next level. 

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

The Broncos have a very solid overall roster - all they are missing is their franchise quarterback. They take their pick here and spend it on Sam Howell, an experienced starter at North Carolina, after playing and starting every game since getting there. Howell has drawn comparisons to Baker Mayfield because of his short, compact build with an accurate arm. 

16. Las Vegas Raiders: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

It’s hard to project a Mike Mayock pick, and Jordan Davis may seem like too good of a pick for a typical Raiders draft. Davis checks all the boxes for a defensive trench player with his power at the point of attack and impact as a pass rusher. For his size, Jordan Davis is an extremely good athlete that makes him an exciting player up front. 

17. Miami Dolphins (via SF): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Dolphins need to figure out the offensive line fast to protect Tua Tagovailoa. They have invested in the likes of Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt and Liam Eichenberg over the past two years, but they shouldn’t stop there. Trevor Penning is a rising offensive tackle who offers a more prototypical build for the position than what the Dolphins have previously drafted. 

18. New Orleans Saints: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Burks is a rare type of athlete at wide receiver with his size at 6’3” and his all-around ability with and without the ball. He has big, strong hands that make him tough to handle at the catch point in jump-ball scenarios. He also possesses the explosiveness to work the middle of the field and create more yards after the catch. Burks is a complete receiver built for NFL success. 

19. Tennessee Titans: Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky

The Titans’ offensive line has struggled mightily this season, so they can use some help. Darian Kinnard would be a perfect fit either at right tackle or guard to set the tone for the running game. He also possesses the strength and anchor to protect the pocket in the passing game. 

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20. New England Patriots: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

D’onta Hightower is out of contract after this season, and Devin Lloyd offers a long-term option as a MIKE linebacker in their system. At 6’3” 225 lbs, Lloyd is long and athletic to impact all facets of the defensive game. He is strong enough to play up at the line of scrimmage, quick enough to cover the hashes and good enough as an athlete to play in coverage. I could realistically see Belichick falling in love with a player like him. 

21. Carolina Panthers: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA

The Panthers have a franchise-piece at right tackle in Taylor Moton, but every spot on the offensive line is questioned. Sean Rhyan is a deserved first-round pick and near-perfect fit for the Panthers within Joe Brady’s offense. He excels as a pass protector as he is yet to give up a sack this season. 

22. New York Jets (via SEA): Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

The heavy offensive line investment from the past two years for Joe Douglas continues with Ikem Ekonwu with their second pick of the first round. Ekwonu has played most of his collegiate career at left tackle, but he projects as an interior player at the next level. He has been an impressive blocker this season and asserts himself into the first-round conversation. 

23. Baltimore Ravens: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

Zach Harrison has been an ascending player over the past year in the Ohio State defense. He is a freak athlete on the edge who can play as an oversized outside linebacker that the Ravens like to deploy. Harrison’s body type combined with his athleticism should make him an effective player for the Ravens’ defense.

24. Arizona Cardinals: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

Whether Chandler Jones walks in free agency or not, there is still a need on the Cardinals defense to add another pass rusher. Jackson is a slender, twitchy pass rusher who can fly off the edge to make plays in the backfield. This pick would help the transformation of the Cardinals’ defense into a contending one. 

25. Cleveland Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns are building a perennial contending team by continuously finding value with their draft picks. The receivers in this draft have taken a tumble due to the value of the offensive line and defense. Garrett Wilson is a premier option for an offense that can allow Baker Mayfield to spread the targets around. 

26. Dallas Cowboys: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

After missing most of the 2020 season, George Karlaftis has picked up right where he left off in 2019 as a complete defensive end who can affect the game as a pass rusher and run defender. He has the functional strength at the line of scrimmage to set the edge and impact every down. 

27. Green Bay Packers: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

Green Bay needs to find a solidified long-term option at right tackle with Billy Turner taking the starting snaps this season. Petit-Frere fits the athletic profile that they typically like to go after in their offensive tackles. He has vastly improved this season for the Buckeyes and could rise even higher than 27th overall by the time we get to April. 

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Drake London, WR, USC

Mike Williams is out of contract at the end of the season, creating a void for the second receiving option on the team after Keenan Allen. Drake London offers a similar skill set to Williams and more. He has the ability at the catch point and more as a receiver who can make plays after the catch with some alignment versatility.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Chiefs would be running to the podium in this scenario, with Chris Olave finding himself still available at this point. Olave can stretch the field and more as a prolific vertical receiver who could complement Tyreek Hill on the other side of the field. This would add another dimension to the already explosive Kansas City offense behind the best quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes. 

30. Detroit Lions (via LAR): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

After passing on a quarterback with the first overall pick, they wait until now to get the potential future of their franchise in Malik Willis. Willis has shown his promise with his ability as an athlete and arm talent. He needs to figure out how to limit the turnovers to make a big impact in the NFL and reach his potential. 

31. Buffalo Bills: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

They cave in here and address the need after neglecting the CB2 position since Sean McDermott became the head coach. McDuffie is a technically sound player who can affect the game in coverage with his smooth footwork and quickness to make plays in the secondary. 

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jordan Battle, SAF, Alabama

The Buccaneers need to find a partner in crime to Antoine Winfield Jr, and they find it here with Jordan Battle out of Alabama. He offers versatility on the back end of the defense, playing deep as a single-high or playing up towards the box to affect the middle of the field. 

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