Through the first half of the college football season, there have been several risers and fallers. The main difference between the 2022 class and others is the search for QB1. It is a wide-open race, but as usual, there are going to be a few that hear their names called on day one. Here is an early look at what could happen on draft night in a 2022 midseason mock draft:
1. Detroit Lions: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
The Lions could go in several different directions with this pick, but they need a franchise quarterback. Goff is just the bridge, and Pickett has performed at a very high level this season. Pickett is pro-ready, with really good size and mobility. He currently has 21 passing touchdowns and only one interception. With strong performances against Clemson and UNC and a good Senior Bowl, Pickett has the upward trajectory to end up going first overall.
2. New York Jets: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
As a prospect, Karlaftis is in the same range as the Bosa Brothers and Chase Young. He has dominated every opponent he has faced this season and was crucial in Purdue beating number two ranked Iowa on Saturday. Karlaftis can win with a multitude of pass rush moves and is fantastic against the run. He has the upside to be a perennial pro bowler and form a fearsome duo with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in New York.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kyle Hamilton, DS, Notre Dame
Jacksonville has their franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and could add their franchise difference-maker on defense by selecting Hamilton. Hamilton is the best player in the draft and has the talent to be the best safety in the NFL. There are very few weaknesses in his game, and Hamilton should win the Bednarik award this season.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Zion Tupuola-Fetui, DE, Washington
An offseason Achilles injury looked like it would sideline Tupuola-Fetui for the 2021 campaign. After an incredible recovery, he made his debut on Saturday against UCLA. In only ten snaps, Tupuola-Fetui had four pressures, picking up where he left off in 2020. It wouldn't be shocking to see him end up going first if he continues this success. The fact that he was coming off of that injury and looked as good as Tupuola-Fetui did against an excellent offensive line is phenomenal. Tupuola-Fetui slimmed down to 260 and is a freak of nature. He has superstar written all over him.
5. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
New York needs to continue to bolster their pass rush. They added Azeez Ojulari in this past draft, but they don't have much on the other side. Thibodeaux has been really good when healthy this season and has a lot of versatility. He can put his hand in the dirt, stand up and even drop back into coverage. By picking Thibodeaux, the Giants would have one of the best front sevens in the NFL.
6. Houston Texans: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
The Texans need to add good players to a depleted roster. Leal has the chance to be a special defensive tackle in the NFL. He has elite play strength, with unbelievable technique and explosion. In the right situation, he has the upside to end up as one of the best 3-techs and would step in from day one as the best player on the Texans' defense.
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Steelers need to address the left tackle position early in the 2022 draft. Penning has arguably the best tape in the class this year. At 6'7" 330 pounds, with terrific athleticism, Penning projects exceptionally well to the next level. He also has incredible power that leaves defenders in the dirt on almost every run play. Against Iowa State in week one, Penning not only shutdown top pass rusher Will McDonald IV, but he also dominated him on every one on one they had. Expect Penning to be one of the highest-drafted FCS players ever; he is that good.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
If the Bengals want Joe Burrow to have a long career, they will continue to invest in their offensive line. Neal isn't a finished prospect, but the upside is undeniable. For 360 pounds, he is an elite athlete. His pass protection reps are impressive, and he has progressed a lot from his 2020 tape. His versatility, having played left tackle, guard, and right tackle, will also be a bonus.
9. Atlanta Falcons: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The Falcons haven't had a true number one edge rusher in a while. Hutchinson has the talent to be that player for them. After a leg injury cut his 2020 season short, Hutchinson decided to come back to school, which has paid dividends. He is putting together an All-American caliber season and has the skill set to be one of the better defensive ends in the NFL, making him a safe pick here.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Even though Stingley Jr. hasn't played like a top ten pick over the past two seasons, his traits are hard to find. As a true freshman, Stingley Jr. was the best cornerback in the country and would have been a first-round pick if he was draft eligible. Stingley Jr. could end up on the same level as Champ Bailey, Jalen Ramsey and Darrelle Revis if he plays up to his ability.
11. Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles will need to continue to address the wide receiver position until they have a formidable group. DeVonta Smith looks like he will be really good, but they still don't have a number two to pair with him. Wilson could be that player. He is a great route runner with even better hands. Wilson and Smith will create a lot of separation, making it easier on the Eagles' young quarterback, Jalen Hurts.
12. New York Giants (Via Chicago Bears): Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M
One of the best interior offensive linemen comes off the board at 12. Green has played all over the offensive line for the Aggies this season and could either step in at guard or right tackle. Andrew Thomas has drastically improved his play, but the Giants could upgrade every other position on their offensive line. Green will fill one of those holes.
13. Washington Football Team: Lewis Cine, DS, Georgia
Washington is building one of the best defenses in recent memory. Their defensive line is fantastic, and they added Jamin Davis in the first round of this past draft. They still need an elite free safety to pair with Kam Curl. Cine has the skill set to put their defense over the top. He is an incredible athlete with great size. His coverage skills are also excellent, giving him the potential to be a top-tier safety in the NFL.
14. Las Vegas Raiders: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Raiders don't have much talent at the cornerback position. Booth Jr. is a playmaker on the backend of a defense and is a true number one that they are missing. His athleticism and ability to mirror wide receivers in man coverage is excellent. Whoever is at the helm for the Raiders in 2022 will be ecstatic if Booth Jr. falls to them.
15. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Battle, DS, Alabama
The Panthers have gone heavy at cornerback but could still look to add a free safety in the draft. Battle has been one of the best safeties in the country this season. He is a complete player who could roam the backend of Carolina's defense with Jeremy Chinn for the next decade. A team's secondary has become more important, so investing in players like Battle could improve an excellent defense.
16. New England Patriots: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
Head Coach Bill Belichick loves to add players to his secondary. Williams has the football IQ of a ten-year NFL veteran and is sticky in coverage. He has fluid hips and can change direction with ease. He'll also contribute in the run game and is a high-level tackler. Williams is in a similar mold to Asante Samuel Jr., who is a rookie of the year candidate, and it wouldn't be shocking to see Williams end up in the rookie of the year conversation as well.
17. Minnesota Vikings: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Minnesota has a really good duo in Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson but doesn't have anything regarding the receiver position after that. Burks would be a luxury pick but one that would help out Kirk Cousins. Cousins is solid but needs a lot of talent around him to succeed. Burks is reliable and is excellent after the catch. His catch radius is also second to none in this class.
18. New York Jets (Via Seattle Seahawks): Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
Adding a player like Walker would give Robert Saleh a lot of flexibility to his defense. Walker is such a gifted athlete for his size that he can be moved around the line. He wins by converting speed to power and is just scratching the surface of what he can become. Giving him a great defensive mind in Saleh could unlock pro-bowl potential.
19. Denver Broncos: David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
It looks as if Von Miller is on his way out in Denver, and Bradley Chubb can't stay healthy. The Broncos could look to add their next superstar edge rusher in the draft. Ojabo has been one of the fastest-rising players in college football and has dominated for the Wolverines this season. His explosiveness is off the charts, and Ojabo has the difference-making speed on film. He can win the outside track with an impressive bend, but his ability against the run is also impressive. Ojabo's also a natural dropping back into coverage. Ojabo is at 19 now, but he could go even higher with strong performances down the stretch.
20. Tennessee Titans: Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
The Titans' offense is built around their run game and play-action off of it. McBride is the best blocking tight end in the class and is a very good pass catcher. In a few years, he has the talent to end up as a top-five tight end in the NFL, and being in Tennessee's offense could maximize his skill set. Tight ends don't always go top 20 in the draft, but McBride is fantastic and a perfect fit for the Titans.
21. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers): Ainias Smith, WR, Texas A&M
The best offensive "weapon" in the draft is Smith. He can contribute as a runner but is also one of the best route runners in the draft. Smith plays in the slot at Texas A&M, but no matter where a team puts him, they need to give him the ball. Giving Tua a safety valve, with Jaylen Waddle as the deep threat in the offense, could help take this offense to another level. Smith is a unique prospect with a skill set that is highly valued in today's game.
22. New Orleans Saints: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
There is still question-marks surrounding Corral, but he has done enough this season to be a first-round pick. The offense he is in now, and his size will be detrimental to his draft stock, but the arm strength and mobility are undeniable. Jameis Winston isn't going to be the long-term answer in New Orleans, so taking a shot on a quarterback with tools who has cut down on his turnovers this season could be a substantial risk.
23. Los Angeles Chargers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Chargers' receiving core is already really good, but Keenan Allen is getting older, and Mike Williams could expect a payday soon - the Chargers could add a wideout in the draft. Olave will step in and be a really good weapon from day one. Olave should run in the 4.4s and is an excellent route runner. He might not have the upside to be a top ten receiver in the NFL, but he could easily be in the 11-15 range, especially with Herbert at quarterback.
24. Cleveland Browns: Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati
One of the biggest risers this season, Beavers is in that same mold as Zaven Collins. He is a freak athlete at 6'4" 255 pounds. Beavers can rush the passer and also drop back into coverage. His play against the run has improved this season and has become a strength for him. Cleveland is arguably the most talented team in the NFL on paper but still has some concerns at linebacker. Beavers is a prospect trending up and could be the first linebacker off the board with a good pre-draft process.
25. Dallas Cowboys: Ricky Stromberg, C, Arkansas
The Cowboys have a great group of weapons, an elite quarterback and a very good offensive line. Their only hole on offense is at center. Adding Stromberg would give the Cowboys their long-term replacement for Travis Frederick. Stromberg is an excellent athlete for the center position. He is excellent when asked to get to the second level, and Stromberg excels in pass protection. Stromberg is arguably an even better prospect than Frank Ragnow coming out of Arkansas, and he is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Stromberg has pro bowl potential and could reach that level of play early on in his career.
26. Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Thomas, DE, Oklahoma
With Chandler Jones potentially departing after this season and JJ Watt only under contract through 2022, the Cardinals could look to add an edge rusher in the draft. Thomas stands 6'5", 265 pounds and has been great so far for Oklahoma this season. He can play 4-3 defensive end and kick inside to defensive tackle on pass rush downs. Thomas has violent hands and several pass rush moves, making him pro-ready. His play against the run has also been excellent this season. Thomas has all the tools to be a productive player for several years in the NFL.
27. Green Bay Packers: Amaré Barno, DE/OLB, Virginia Tech
With the skillset Barno possesses, it won't take long for him to hear his name called. He fits perfectly into a 3-4 scheme as an edge defender who brings a lot to the table. His first step and closing speed are hard to find. Barno also has unbelievable sideline to sideline range and is a playmaker. The Packers love speed and betting on special traits, both of which Barno has.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Dawand Jones, OT, Ohio State
If the Ravens want to keep Lamar Jackson upright, they will have to revamp their offensive line. Jones has quietly been one of the best offensive tackles in college football this season. He stands 6'8", 360 pounds and is excellent against the run. Jones' athleticism for that size makes it very difficult to beat him in pass protection. Orlando Brown was great at right tackle in Baltimore's scheme, and Jones could have that same kind of success.
29. Detroit Lions: Jestin Jacobs, LB, Iowa
Detroit has struggled at linebacker this season. They have pieces on defense but have one of the worst linebacking corps in the league. Adding a player like Jacobs could change the complexion of that group. His upside is through the roof. His ability in coverage at 235 pounds is special. His length also shows up consistently on film, and he doesn't miss tackles. Jacobs is at 29 right now but could continue to move up if he continues his success this season.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Jalyn Armour-Davis, CB, Alabama
The Chiefs need to improve their defense, as it has been awful this season. Armour-Davis checks every box a team looks for in a cornerback. He is fast, with the traits to excel in press coverage. His short-area quickness is impressive, and Armour-Davis has done a very good job against some of the best teams in the nation this season. He is the best cornerback on the Alabama roster and should continue to rise as the season progresses.
31. Buffalo Bills: Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
The most underrated receiver in the nation, Pierce has the perfect skill set to be the future deep threat in the Bills offense. At 6'3'', 215 pounds, Pierce has freakish athleticism and great hands. With Josh Allen airing the ball out, Pierce could be a big-play machine, similar to what he is in Cincinnati's offense. With a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and Combine, Pierce could skyrocket up draft boards.
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Hart, CB, Notre Dame
The former wide receiver, Hart, possesses perfect size and length for the cornerback position. He has made a seamless transition to the position and has been one of the best cornerbacks in the nation this season. His ball skills will allow him to create many turnovers at the next level. The Buccaneers are always looking to add cornerback talent, and Hart has superstar potential.
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