2022 NFL Mock Draft: Post- Free Agency Edition

Matthew Durgin

1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan EDGE

While a player like Cam Robinson doesn’t stop the Jaguars from drafting a tackle, it does make it not that big of a need. Thus, a team with minimal talent like the Jaguars should go with the best player available. Hutchinson, in my opinion, is the safest prospect in this class. He might not have the ceiling of a Thibodeaux or Hamilton, but his consistent play and positional value make him an easy choice for the first overall pick.

2. Detroit Lions- Malik Willis, Liberty QB

I will never consider Willis as the top quarterback in this class, but I see why people like him. He has the physical traits and leadership skills that can turn him into a star. I’m not confident that Detroit is the right place for him, but he will be able to sit for a season behind Jared Goff.

3. Houston Texans- Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame S

The Texans are all in on Davis Mills. That may be the first smart decision they’ve made in years. They need to acquire as much talent as possible and Hamilton is a stud in the secondary. He can come up and make tackles in the backfield, but also play in the deep third. He’s your franchise player on defense for the next decade.

4. New York Jets- Ikem Ekonwu, NC State OT

Mekhi Becton was just drafted two years ago to be the future left tackle for the Jets, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride. After a solid rookie year, Becton struggled in his second year and the team has questioned whether he’s in their long-term plans. Ekonwu should be a steady blindside protector who can step in as a rookie and be an above-average starter that develops into an elite player.

5. New York Giants- Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon EDGE

People are absolutely over-analyzing Thibodeaux as a prospect. I’m in the minority, but I think he’s destined for great things as long as he stays healthy. His raw talent is undeniable and should lead to him becoming a double-digit sack player a year. The Giants need pass rushers in a bad way. Outside of Azeez Ojulari, they have nothing, so Kayvon will be a contributor immediately.

6. Carolina Panthers- Evan Neal, Alabam OT

Other than finding a franchise quarterback, the Panthers desperately need a left tackle. Grabbing Evan Neal would be as good of a scenario as they can get in this situation. A truly massive human being, Neal’s size and ability to play left tackle make him an attractive prospect. While he’s almost too big, if he can keep his weight then there’s no reason he can’t become an All-Pro.

7. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears)- Charles Cross, Mississippi OT

The Giants are in a very good spot with two picks in the top seven, but they’re really missing out on an opportunity by committing to Daniel Jones. Let’s face it folks, the guy stinks. Andrew Thomas bounced back nicely in his second year, but I think he’s better off at right tackle. Let Cross, who is a raw prospect, be your left tackle of the future.

8. Atlanta Falcons- Matt Corral, Ole Miss QB

After trading away Matt Ryan, the Falcons will be drafting a quarterback. The question is, how aggressive will they be? I would imagine they want to trade into the top-five to get Willis, but it’ll be tough. Like Willis, I don’t love Corral but he has the desirable traits. The Falcons will acquire a bridge quarterback that will allow Corral to sit and learn the offense for a year.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

9. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos)- Jermaine Johnson, Florida State EDGE

I remember watching Johnson during the season and being very impressed with his blend of size and speed. After a strong end to the season and testing well this offseason, Johnson has shot up draft boards and should be a top ten pick. The Seahawks will acquire a quarterback this offseason (Baker Mayfield I assume) so will look to fill other holes on the roster.

10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)- Derek Stingley Jr, LSU CB

Like Thibodeaux, Stingley is being over-analyzed as a prospect. As a freshman in 2019, he was the best defender on a National Championship team. Sure, he battled injuries the last two years but he had nothing to play for. LSU was a mediocre team and out of the race by early October. The Jets need corners and get the best prospect at the position that I’ve scouted over the last three years.

11. Washington Commanders- Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati CB

I think Washington is actually in a decent position to make the playoffs… if Carson Wentz learns how to take care of the football. That might be a tall order, but they have a solid team. However, they do need a playmaker in the secondary. Gardner is an alpha male who shut down every receiver he has faced the last two years. Building around him and Chase Young should be illegal.

12. Minnesota Vikings- George Karlaftis, Purdue EDGE

Danielle Hunter is on the Vikings for now, but there does seem to be a disconnect between him and the front office. Regardless, they could use another pass rusher, particularly one who is versatile. Karlaftis is one of my favorite prospects this year due to his motor and versatility. Championships are won by getting to the quarterback, so building this unit up has to be a priority.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

13. Seattle Seahawks- Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa OT

The tackle situation in Seattle right now is a complete mess. They have to learn from their mistakes during the Russell Wilson era and invest in the offensive line both in the draft and in free agency. Penning might be better suited at right tackle, but should be a steady and consistent starter for years to come.

14. Baltimore Ravens- Travon Walker, Georgia EDGE

As long as the Ravens don’t get totally screwed by injuries like they did in 2021, I don’t expect them to draft this high again for the next few seasons. However, they have to take advantage of where they are at here. Walker is a steady riser and many have him as a possible top-five pick. Pairing him with Odafe Oweh gives the Ravens a great pair of young pass rushers.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)- Andrew Booth, Clemson CB

The first of three scheduled picks for the Eagles (should they keep them all) has to address a need. Outside of Darius Slay, I don’t love their secondary. Booth is very raw with only one year of starting experience, but he’s the most athletically gifted corner in the first round. You might need to bring him along slowly, but he could blossom into a star.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts)- Drake London, USC WR

The Jalen Reagor pick was a bust. It’s time to move on and get Jalen Hurts more help. Drafting a receiver in the first round is Detroit Lions level of crazy, but the position is a need. London would form a nice one-two punch with Devonta Smith. Smith is the smaller and more technical player, while London is the big-bodied alpha.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Jameson Williams, Alabama WR

The AFC West is stacked. They are in the middle of an arms race and continue to stockpile elite players. While the Chargers have Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, they can’t be complacent with just having those two guys. Williams is coming off of an ACL tear but is arguably the best all-around receiver in this draft. He is a different type of receiver than the current guys they have on the roster and thus opens a new element.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

18. New Orleans Saints- Chris Olave, Ohio State WR

After flirting with every quarterback available on the market, the Saints are back rolling with Jameis Winston. Not good. To put him in the best situation possible, they need to find another receiver. With Michael Thomas being hurt, the unit was exposed. Olave should be a high-end WR for many years to come.

19. Philadelphia Eagles- David Ojabo, Michigan EDGE

Despite tearing his achilles in a recent workout, Ojabo is a machine. I do worry about him losing some burst, but achilles tears aren’t as bad as they once were. His speed off of the edge and potential mean that he could become a star one day. The Eagles have a couple of guys on the edge, but none are overly impressive. They take a risk here, but one with a very high ceiling.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh QB

This story is almost too good to be true. After playing his college ball in Pittsburgh, Pickett becomes the guy for the Steelers. Yes, the Steelers did just sign Mitchell Trubisky, but does anyone actually believe he’ll develop into a franchise quarterback? I don’t. This is a huge risk, but at this point is one they can feel comfortable making.

21. New England Patriots- Trent McDuffie, Washington CB

Every year it seems that the Patriots draft a player who perfectly exemplifies what it means to be a Patriot. They once again strike gold here with McDuffie, a great athlete who can play in both the slot and out wide. He’s always in the right spot at the right time and doesn’t commit penalties. He could be a contributor right away.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

22. Green Bay Packers (via Las Vegas Raiders)- Zion Nelson, Boston College OL

I honestly don’t know what the Packers are going to do in the first round. They still have an elite team, but losing Adams hurts. Also, their offensive line is rather thin, and they could look to address the position with one of their picks. Nelson had a strong Senior Bowl and can play either guard spot or center. His athleticism and versatility fit nicely in LaFleur’s system.

23. Arizona Cardinals- Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa OL

Linderbaum is a top-ten player in the draft this year so I don’t think he makes it to this point. However, teams don’t normally draft centers early. The Cardinals have an interesting situation brewing with Kyler Murray, but we have to assume he’ll be there for the long-term. Finally building an offensive line to protect him has to be a goal in this draft.

24. Dallas Cowboys- Daxton Hill, Michigan S

The Cowboys have invested very little into their safeties over the past few years and while their defense is getting better, it could use a guy like Hill. When Dan Quinn had an elite defense in Seattle, he also had two excellent safeties. Hill can do a little bit of everything, but I think does his best work is deep in coverage where he can allow the Cowboys corners to play aggressively.

25. Buffalo Bills- Kenyon Green, Texas A&M OL

After releasing John Feliciano, the Bills need to continue to make their offensive line a strong unit. They did sign Roger Saffold, but shouldn’t stop there. While I wouldn’t be shocked to see them go with a receiver, I like the depth at that position more than I like the offensive line. Green is experienced and should be ready to play right away.

26. Tennessee Titans- Treylon Burks, Arkansas WR

The Titans trading for Robert Woods doesn’t make wide receiver a huge need, but to me, Burks is more than a receiver. Due to his size and ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, he can be a chess piece for your offense. Think of a Deebo Samuel type of player. He isn’t as natural of a ball carrier, but he is that kind of unique talent.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Kaiir Elam, Florida CB

Whoever the Bucs have as their top cornerback should be the pick here. They were beat up in the secondary last year, but were able to re-sign Carlton Davis. Elam has been falling down draft boards and I don’t understand why. He has the size and the experience in the SEC but also has the upside to get better.

28. Green Bay Packers- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State WR

Will this be the year the Packers draft a receiver in the first round? Unlikely, but now there’s more reason than ever to do so. I would expect them to sign a guy or two, but they need to develop the next weapon. Wilson has legit speed and can develop into a great deep threat. Despite getting older, Rodgers still has a rocket for an arm and will test defenses down the field.

29. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers)- Devin Lloyd, Utah LB

There’s absolutely no reason Lloyd should fall this far. He’s a do it all linebacker and a great leader. Despite this, teams don’t value middle linebackers unless they are a rare athlete. It’s a shame. The Dolphins defense needs that leader in the middle of their defense as they move into a new era with Mike McDaniel as head coach.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Jordan Davis, Georgia DL

Jordan Davis is a monster of a man and also incredibly athletic for his size, but doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher. The Chiefs defensive line relies way too much on Chris Jones to make plays, so it’s time to build up this unit. Davis will become the best run defender in the division, but more importantly, occupy blocks so that the rest of the defense faces favorable matchups.

31. Cincinnati Bengals- Devonte Wyatt, Georgia DL

Shockingly, the Bengals have done a great job of addressing the offensive line this offseason. While they could use another quality starter, there isn’t one at this point. They can find a developmental guy in the second or third round. They could use an interior pass rusher, as the AFC North has some great quarterbacks now. D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill are fine players but neither are that impressive. Wyatt is a very sound three-down defensive tackle who has championship experience.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

32. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)- Nakobe Dean, Georgia LB

After acquiring the future of the franchise with Willis, Dean can become the heart and soul of the defense. He is undersized, but plays bigger than he is and was the leader of the National Championship Georgia defense. Head coach Dan Campbell has preached toughness to his players and there are not many tougher than Dean.

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