2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Trades are Here

Matthew Durgin

There’s already been a lot of movement in the first round of the 2022 draft, but this will be our one and only mock that includes trades from our end. I use the NFL Draft trade value chart so if you want to cry about a trade being unfair, the numbers line up very closely. If you want to see how we rank these players, check out part one and two of our big board.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan EDGE

This seems like a near certainty. When the Jaguars used the franchise tag on Cam Robinson, it left the door wide open for the Michigan pass rusher to go first overall. The draft starts at pick #2.

2. Detroit Lions- Malik Willis, Liberty QB

I’ve been consistent with the fact that while I’m not a huge Willis fan, I see why he’s likely to go this early. From a tools perspective, he has it all. He needs some refinement as a passer as I think he’s inaccurate and tries to leave the pocket too early, but he has star potential. Jared Goff is neither the present nor future for the Lions but could serve as a valuable mentor to Willis.

3. Houston Texans- Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon EDGE

Thibodeaux is the best prospect in this year’s draft. While he may not have lived up to expectations the last two seasons, he’s still a monster. We tell players to make smart business decisions when it comes to their college careers and it could very well be that Thibodeaux knew he was a guaranteed top-ten pick so didn’t give it his all. You can have your feelings about that, but you can’t deny the raw talent he possesses, which is something the Texans need.

4. New York Jets- Travon Walker, Georgia EDGE

Walker is another guy where I can see why people like him, but I’m a bit lower on him. However, it doesn’t matter what I think because he’s a lock to hear his name early in the first round. Robert Saleh knows he needs his defensive line to generate more pressure on the quarterback and Walker is a key part of the equation.

5. New York Giants- Evan Neal, Alabama OL

The Giants should be moving on from Daniel Jones, but it appears they are giving it another go with him. So, you might as well try and make things as easy as possible for him which means addressing the trenches. Neal can play guard or tackle, but I would think he’d start at right tackle in this case. He and Andrew Thomas give you two talented bookends and an identity on offense.

6. Carolina Panthers- Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh QB

As much as I loved Sam Darnold coming out of USC, he’s not the prospect we thought he was. If the Panthers start him this season, they are essentially admitting defeat in a division that isn’t all that tough outside of Tampa Bay. While Pickett doesn’t have the highest of ceilings, he can start right away and at least be a serviceable starter.

7. TRADE! New Orleans Saints (via New York Giants via Chicago Bears)- Ikem Ekwonu

Saints trade: Picks #16, #18, #214

Giants trade: Picks #7, #81, #147, 2023 4th round pick

Let’s get crazy with trades! Ok, so a massive trade like this usually means it’s for a quarterback and I absolutely expect the Saints to move into the top ten. However, is there a quarterback worthy at this point? There have been some rumors about Desmond Ridder at this spot, but I don’t buy it. The Saints could get a legitimate franchise tackle at in Ekwonu though. After losing Terron Armstead, they need a replacement and can’t sit back and hope one falls to them.

8. Atlanta Falcons- Jermaine Johnson, Florida State EDGE

The Falcons don’t get their quarterback…yet. Despite this, they have plenty of holes on their roster. You could argue that their edge rushers are the worst in the league, so they will have to draft one in the early rounds. Johnson has been surging up draft boards since the Senior Bowl and should quickly develop into a high-end starter.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via Denver Broncos)- Desmond Ridder, QB Cincinnati QB

There’s no way the Seahawks can think Drew Lock is their starter, right? I wouldn’t be shocked to see them move up if Willis falls past Detroit, but don’t see that happening. I don’t think Ridder is a starting-caliber quarterback, but there are a lot of positive reports about his stock. Honestly, he has some similarities to their old quarterback, Russell Wilson, in the sense that they were both experienced college starters that won a ton of games and are plus athletes.

10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)- Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame S

The Jets should SPRINT to the podium if the board falls this way. Don’t let his athletic testing fool you, Hamilton is a player. There’s nothing he can’t do and he would immediately bring leadership to a secondary that was pretty poor last year. Pairing Hamilton with a pass rusher is the best-case scenario for New York with these two early picks.

11. Washington Commanders- Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati CB

Washington isn’t far from being a competitor in the NFC. They have some solid-skill guys, good coaching, and defensive talent. It honestly comes down to the quarterback position, which they obviously won’t be drafting here. They could use a corner with some swag though and Sauce is the man for the job. He shut down everyone he lined up across this past year and could crack the top ten.

12. Minnesota Vikings- Derek Stingley Jr., LSU CB

People are finally starting to see the light once again when it comes to Stingley. After dominating as a freshman, he’s battled injuries and a train wreck of a program the last two years. And like Thibodeaux, he’s known for two years that he will be a high draft pick. Way too many are overanalyzing him and one team will benefit. That team in this case is Minnesota, wear Stingley would have an excellent mentor in Patrick Peterson.

13. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns)- Charles Cross, Mississippi State OT

With Davis Mills at least getting a chance to be the long-term starter for the Texans, they need to make sure has a solid offensive line. While Cross is probably better suited to play left tackle, he still needs a lot of work and is a raw player. Starting him on the right side while Tunsil handles the left gives the Texans at least an average offensive line for the next few years.

14. Baltimore Ravens- Trevor Penning, Iowa State OT

The Ravens are too good of an organization to miss the playoffs next season. Book it. Because of this, they are going to look for a guy who fills a need and can start immediately. As long as they can avoid the injury bug, they have a pretty solid roster outside of right tackle. Luckily, Penning is a sound prospect and can play either tackle spot.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)- Drake London, USC WR

I know drafting a receiver in the first round three straight years is Detroit Lions level of crazy, but it needs to happen for the Eagles. Jalen Raegor is a bust and while Devonta Smith is good, Jalen Hurts needs more than just him. London offers a different skill set than the other two, while also being a bigger target for Hurts to throw to. Look at what the Panthers did during Cam Newton’s prime. They had mostly all larger receivers and made it easier for an inaccurate quarterback. The Eagles should follow that blueprint.

16. New York Giants (via New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles via Indianapolis Colts)- George Karlaftis, Purdue EDGE

The first of the two newly-acquired picks for the Giants and they continue to build the trenches. Azeez Ojulari looks like a nice player, but they need someone else as well. Karlaftis is a powerful pass rusher and also quick off of the edge. He’s versatile enough to play in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense and is the thunder to Ojulari’s lighting. Those two would excite a fanbase that hasn’t had much to cheer for in recent years.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- Jordan Davis, Georgia DL

With Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, the Chargers have a strong defensive line. What do they need to take this group to the next level? A big run-stuffing defensive tackle. Enter Jordan Davis. Davis isn’t a great pass rusher, but that wouldn’t be his job with the Chargers. He would just need to occupy blocks and let the edge guys make the plays. This is a perfect match.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints)- Devin Lloyd, Utah LB

For years the Eagles have had one of the worst linebacker units in the league. It’s time to change that. Lloyd can help a defense with his ability to both rush the passer and when dropping into coverage. Of course, off-ball linebackers aren’t seen as first-round picks anymore but did you see the impact Micah Parsons had on the Cowboys last year? Not saying Lloyd will be that good, but he has that kind of versatility.

19. New York Giants (via New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles)- Kenyon Green, Texas A&M OL

Now that the Giants have a third first-round pick after trading down, they keep with the theme of building the offensive line. They are deep at receiver (at least in terms of contracts and early-round picks, not necessarily production) and at cornerback, which are the positions in this draft full of talent. However, Shane Lemieux and Mark Glowinski are easily replaceable at guard. Green would turn the Giants offensive line into one of the better units in the league and give Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley plenty of chances to show why they were top-ten picks.

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20. Pittsburgh Steelers- Daxton Hill, Michigan S

Minkah Fitzpatrick will soon become the highest-paid safety in the league, but he needs a running mate to play next to him. Hill, in many ways, is similar to Mikah. They each can play either safety spot and can line up in the slot. This kind of versatility is special for one player, but if you have two on the same field at once then you really open up the possibilities for a defense. The Steelers know good safety play and could soon have two on the same team.

21. New England Patriots- Andrew Booth, Clemson CB

After losing JC Jackson, the Patriots need some talent at the cornerback position. Luckily for them, Booth has plenty of that. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, essentially starting for just one season, he has the physical profile to make scouts drool. The team can be patient in developing Booth but will need him to slow down the AFC East receivers in the near future.

22. Green Bay Packers (via Las Vegas Raiders)- Jameson Williams, Alabama WR

This is the year the Packers finally draft a receiver in the first round. Of course, it’s mostly because they no longer have Davante Adams, but it’s going to happen. I would expect them to still look to acquire a veteran option in free agency, but they won’t be able to replace Adams with just one guy. Williams is coming off of an ACL tear but is maybe the best receiver in this class from a talent standpoint.

23. Arizona Cardinals- Trent McDuffie, Washington CB

I was very close to picking a receiver here for the Cardinals, but they can’t continue to ignore their cornerback problem. As a whole, the lack of depth at the position wasn’t a problem in 2021, but they still need a quality starter at the position. McDuffie is fundamentally sound and while I doubt he develops into a star, I could see him being a solid starter for the next few seasons.

24. Dallas Cowboys- Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa C

This is a dream scenario for the Cowboys. Linderbaum is an elite center prospect, but the position itself is not seen as a priority in the draft. Because of this, some team in the twenties (or even later) will get a top-ten prospect. The Cowboys were at their best during the Dak Prescott era when they had a dominant offensive line so it’s time to rebuild that unit.

25. Buffalo Bills- Roger McCreary, Auburn CB

If you look at the Bills roster, you won’t notice many weaknesses. They are a prime candidate to move out of the first round, but if they stay they’ll need to focus on their secondary. McCreary is very aggressive in coverage, but at times will get grabby in coverage. He did perform well against SEC receivers, so he is pro-ready and should start early in his career.

26. Tennessee Titans- Garrett Wilson, Ohio State WR

Trading for Robert Woods does make wide receiver less of a need for the Titans, but it doesn’t mean they should ignore the position. Derrick Henry proved last year that he isn’t immortal and can get injured. In order to have a more balanced offense, the Titans need more weapons. Wilson has elite speed and would give the Titans one of the better pass-catching groups in the AFC.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Trey McBride, Colorado State TE

Who knows if Rob Gronkowski will return next season and even if he does, you can’t trust him to stay healthy. Also, at this point in his career, Cameron Brate is a second or third tight end. McBride isn’t the blocker that those guys are, but could be what they envisioned for OJ Howard, a big and physical receiving option that can line up in the slot. More receiving options for the ageless wonder Tom Brady.

28. Green Bay Packers- Zion Johnson, Boston College IOL

In the playoff loss to the 49ers, the Packers offensive line got demolished. That was in large part to several injuries, so they need to build more depth. Johnson is versatile enough to play guard or center but would line up at either guard spot and likely start as a rookie. As the team seems more committed to the run game, they’ll need people movers like Johnson.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (via Miami Dolphins via San Francisco 49ers)- Chris Olave, Ohio State WR

Even though Patrick Mahomes elevates the talent around him, it doesn’t mean that the Chiefs shouldn’t continue to supply him with playmakers. After losing Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce turning 33 next season, the Chiefs need to find their future top target. Olave is a polished route-runner who also has blazing speed. His skill set is as pro-ready as any receiver, meaning he could put up big numbers as a rookie.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Kyler Gordon, Washington CB

The Chiefs secondary was picked on over and over again in the post-season and they lost starting cornerback Chavarius Ward in free agency. They really could spend two of their early draft picks on this area to build up some depth. Gordon is a great athlete and while I question if he’s going to become a good starter in the league, I do think he will be a serviceable one at worst.

31. Cincinnati Bengals- Devonte Wyatt, Georgia DL

Another team that’s in a good spot to trade down, the Bengals could make a move, but can’t pass up on Wyatt at this point. Cincinnati’s pass rush (and defense in general) was much improved in 2021 and a huge reason why they made the Super Bowl. Wyatt isn’t a dynamic pass rusher, but he is a monster in the middle of the line. I don’t see him making it this far, but the Bengals have to jump on it if he does.

32. TRADE! Atlanta Falcons (via Detroit Lions via Los Angeles Rams)- Matt Corral, Ole Miss QB

Falcons receive: Picks #32, #177

Lions receive: Picks #43, #82

The Lions are in a great spot here. They pick again at 34 but pick 32 will draw a lot of offers because it’s the last pick of the first round. Meaning, this pick has a fifth-year option. We saw the Ravens move up into this spot a few years ago to pick Lamar Jackson. While the Falcons get the short end of the stick by looking at the draft value chart, they’ll find their quarterback of the future. Corral ran a lot of RPOs at Ole Miss, something Arthur Smith did in Tennessee with Tannehill. Expect a trade at this pick.