1-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Desmond Ridder, George Pickens enter the first round

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, we see some new faces enter the first round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

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With just the Super Bowl remaining in the 2021-22 NFL season, nearly every fanbase has its eyes set on the NFL Draft. This 2022 NFL Mock Draft appears to have more volatility than normal, especially at the quarterback position.

Since there’s only one game left, each team’s needs are fairly obvious. It just comes down to who’s available and what teams are offering to move around the board. If you want to create a mock draft of your own, be sure to check out PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16

Quarterback, edge, and cornerback continue to fluctuate, but a potential consensus top pick appears to be emerging.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

With every new mock draft I see, Evan Neal‘s name remains at the top. Alabama’s stud left tackle continues to be one of the toughest players to pass on in this draft. At 6’7″, 360 pounds, it’s easy to see why.

He’s massive, and his production cements his value. Jacksonville needs to get back on the right track, so drafting someone to protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence would be a great place to start.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson staying home would be one of the top storylines of the draft, and the Lions are more than happy to keep him in Michigan. The Wolverines’ star defensive end gave teams plenty to be excited about with his 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. He also made the trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Add top-five pick to his résumé, and the excitement only rises. Detroit is happy with their situation at offensive tackle, so it feels like it comes down to Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.

3) Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Houston struggled for many reasons this season, and questions remain about quarterback Deshaun Watson’s future status. If the Texans wanted to go with a quarterback, however, it wouldn’t be this high. They can wait for their guy. Instead, they’ll select a player that gets the label of “unicorn” in this draft.

At 6’4″, Kyle Hamilton brings unique length to the safety position. He also brings great range to the back end of any defense and isn’t afraid to get involved in stopping the run. The Texans need to fix a lot, but they can start with Hamilton and go from there.

4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

An argument can be made that no one changed opponents’ game plans more than Kayvon Thibodeaux. Early in the season, teams kept an eye on him, but that quickly changed after his dominant performance against UCLA (4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble).

After that, you couldn’t find a team that didn’t have a plan to take him out of the game. Double teams and chips kept Thibodeaux at bay, but that’s a nod to his dominance. New York landing the Ducks’ star defensive end would be huge.

5) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Kenyon Green‘s versatility adds to his draft value, and the Giants need help on the offensive line. Green played both guard and tackle for the Aggies, showing that he can dominate at either position. That’s something not many other players in the draft can provide, and the Giants won’t wait long to scoop him up.

6) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Before the 2021 season, Ikem Ekwonu caught everyone’s attention with his nasty blocking. He worked on his game to make it more balanced, and now he’s a potential top-10 pick.

Carolina had one of the worst passing offenses for most of the season. They will need to figure out their QB position, but above all else, they need to find a way to protect whoever is under center next season.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

Drafting David Ojabo this high carries some risk, but there’s a ton of upside to like in his game. He might not be a plug-and-play guy, but his natural talent is something that teams will covet. An explosive player with great strength on the edge, Ojabo is worth the potential payoff.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

A unique blend of size and speed, Atlanta drafting Treylon Burks poses tremendous stress on any team they face. The Falcons already have a special talent in tight end Kyle Pitts, and Burks gives them another player with a great skill set.

At 225 pounds, he’s tough to tackle in the open field and a headache to fight in 50/50 ball situations. What most people don’t realize is that he also brings speed that helps him pull away from defenders. That’s something the Falcons need, and they won’t second guess themselves if Burks is available.

9) Denver Broncos: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Before the season, at least six quarterbacks were considered first-round picks. Now, that number fluctuates a ton. In my last 2022 NFL Mock Draft, just one quarterback was selected in the first round. For others, up to five go off the board. We just don’t know what teams who need a signal-caller will do.

Denver needs to address the quarterback position. Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral have been linked to the Broncos lately, but don’t sleep on Sam Howell. The Tar Heels quarterback needed to replace four 1,000-yard players from 2020 and nearly produced the same numbers in 2021. Howell has the arm talent to be a first-round pick, so this shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

10) New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Cornerback is yet another position with volatility. Ahmad “Sauce” Garnder made a strong push for the title of CB1, including a solid performance in the College Football Playoff. He’s the definition of a lockdown corner, brings great length to the position, and gives the Jets yet another elite player on the defensive side of the ball.

11) Washington Football Team: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Washington’s going to take a chance on a quarterback — it just comes down to when. If Matt Corral is still available, they won’t hesitate to select him. Corral’s injury in the Sugar Bowl obviously remains a concern, but it’s nothing that should worry teams too much.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

With Mike Zimmer out, the joke that the Vikings select another first-round corner goes away. However, the new staff will have a tough time ignoring a talent like Derek Stingley Jr. at this spot. While the LSU defensive back hasn’t played a game since September, Minnesota would jump at the chance to take him if he fell this low.

Corner is a big need for the Vikings, as they have multiple CBs set to be free agents in the offseason. Adding Stingley fills a need but also elevates the level of play on Minnesota’s back end, even given the time he’s missed on the field.

13) Cleveland Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Odell Beckham Jr. experiment didn’t work out, but the Browns still need to add as many explosive weapons for Baker Mayfield as possible. Garrett Wilson is the definition of that. With incredible athleticism and explosive cuts, getting open has never been a problem. Mayfield will love having Wilson out wide, as he could get the Browns back on track in the passing game.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Charles Cross has been a big riser lately, with some mock drafts putting him in the top 10. If he’s worthy of that, then Baltimore would love adding him to their roster. Lamar Jackson is as elusive as any quarterback ever, but the Ravens want to limit how much he has to ad-lib.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

It’s no secret that linebacker is a position of need for the Eagles, and there will be plenty of opportunities for them to address it, given their multiple first-round picks. Devin Lloyd was a good player for the Utes in 2020, but he took his game to new heights this season.

The stud Utes LB recorded career highs in tackles (111), tackles for loss (22), sacks (7), interceptions (4), passes defended (6), and touchdowns (2). You name it, Lloyd did it. There are plenty of reasons to believe he’ll be the same playmaker for Philadelphia.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

No, you’re not seeing things. The Eagles get to add another top-tier talent to their roster, and they add another defensive player. Andrew Booth Jr. will get Eagles fans excited once they watch his highlight tape, mostly because of the one-handed interceptions. But he’s more than one highlight reel. The Eagles are getting a great first-round talent to add to another level of their defense.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32

There was plenty of fluctuation in the first half of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Will the second half follow suit?

17) Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Strengthening the middle of the defense is priority No. 1 for the Chargers, and Jodan Davis being available makes this pick easy. Stopping the run was a struggle for Los Angeles this year, so the best way to address that is by adding a big player who also brings great athleticism.

A former basketball player, Davis is surprisingly light on his feet, while he also brings great strength and power to the position. At 6’6″, 340 pounds, it’s going to be tough for opponents to ignore him.

18) New Orleans Saints: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Here’s a surprise. Without Drew Brees and Sean Payton, the Saints enter a new era offensively. They will still need to add a receiver, but quarterback is a huge need. The days of Taysom Hill appear to be numbered, neither Trevor Siemian nor Jameis Winston are long-term options, and Ian Book appears to be a flop. Insert Desmond Ridder.

The Cincinnati quarterback led his team to the first-ever Group of Five appearance in the College Football Playoff, and some scouts are giving him first-round buzz. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team take him in Round 1 with his raw talent, but it might also take some time for him to adjust to the NFL.

19) Philadelphia Eagles: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Three first-round picks, three defensive selections. Philadelphia fell into three potentially elite defenders in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. George Karlaftis has top-10 potential, but he’s also competing with three other star defensive ends. So his drop to the Eagles at 19 isn’t totally out of the question.

A powerful player who commanded double teams frequently, Karlaftis gives Philly a force up front. The Eagles add new players to each level of their defense in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett is staying home. Well, kind of. Originally from New Jersey, Pickett took the Pitt Panthers to new heights this past season, and he won’t have to adjust to playing in a different stadium.

Not many players saw their draft stock rise as much as Pickett did, and it resulted in a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He’s in the conversation for QB1 in this draft, and the Steelers would love to replace Ben Roethlisberger with a talent like Pickett.

21) New England Patriots: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

When putting together this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, I couldn’t believe that I had Nakobe Dean falling this far. His play this season warrants a top-10 selection. The problem with the draft is that the right team has to be on the clock for him to go there. He’s still worthy of a higher selection, but the Patriots would be just fine to add him later in the first round.

Dean has great natural instincts paired with a lack of hesitation that helps him make plays before most players know where the ball is going. His closing speed also helps him chase down players in motion or on the opposite side of the field, and he should be able to step in and play right away in Foxborough.

22) Las Vegas Raiders: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Jameson Williams will get drafted, but it just comes down to when. He averaged nearly 20 yards per catch for Alabama this year, and he did it with everyone knowing he was the only consistent explosive option for the Crimson Tide.

If not for his ACL tear, the Raiders would have to trade up to get him. He’s going to be rehabbing for most of the offseason and might miss part of his rookie campaign while he recovers. Once healthy, however, Williams is a player that you just need to get the ball and watch him work.

23) Arizona Cardinals: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

The buzz surrounding DeMarvin Leal continues to fade, but that’s great for a late-first-round team that needs to add to its defensive line. It’s uncommon to find a player who’s 6’4″, 290 pounds and can battle on the interior and beat offensive tackles around the edge.

Leal’s unique talent gives any team versatility to use him inside and out. For the Cardinals, he both fulfills a need on the edge and gives them depth on the inside. Buzz or not, a Leal selection should excite any fanbase.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

Given their need for an interior defender, the Cowboys are a team that could trade up for Leal. But they have a nice consolation prize in Drake Jackson. While USC’s struggles and coaching turnover highlighted the season, Jackson’s stock didn’t take a hit. He didn’t dominate as much as scouts would have liked, but he still has some special traits that make him a great pick for Dallas.

25) Buffalo Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Buffalo doesn’t need a ton of help on defense, but it’s going to be tough to pass up Kaiir Elam if he falls this far. Tre’Davious White needs to recover from a torn ACL, so Elam would give the Bills some peace of mind in the meantime. Buffalo already has two of the best safeties in the league, so this pick should scare their opponents.

26) Tennessee Titans: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

George Pickens going in the first round would be the biggest surprise of the draft, but stranger things have happened. While he missed nearly the entire season to injury, he still flashed WR1 ability in his limited action. Georgia also didn’t utilize his skill set as much as it should have.

At his peak, there’s no doubt that Pickens is a first-round pick, but it comes down to a team willing to give him a chance this early. That could be Tennessee, who needs an explosive playmaker out wide.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Trent McDuffie could be one of those players that rises more and more as the draft gets closer. Tampa Bay isn’t in desperate need to add a corner now, but they will be next year. Three of their defensive backs will be free agents either this year or next, so adding McDuffie makes sense. With Tom Brady officially announcing his retirement, a quarterback could be the pick, too.

The Huskies struggled mightily for most of the season, but it wasn’t because of McDuffie. Teams generally avoided his side thanks to his development in coverage, and NFL teams will love what they’re getting from him. He brings plenty of speed to run with any receiver, and he has the athleticism to compete.

28) Green Bay Packers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The FCS continues getting love and attention thanks to Trevor Penning this year and Trey Lance last year. Northern Iowa might not have experienced the most team success, but Penning gave them highlights for most of the season.

The Packers have plenty to address this offseason (most notably the Aaron Rodgers drama), but they also need a tackle to protect whoever runs the offense next year. Penning is a solid pick and a good way to address a need for the long haul.

29) Miami Dolphins (from SF): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

I don’t think anyone actually knows where Tyler Linderbaum will be drafted. Some analysts have him going in the top 10, while many teams will wait to take a center until later in the draft. I’ll do the latter with the understanding that the former is a definite possibility.

Miami needs to address their offensive line in the worst way, and adding a nasty blocker in Linderbaum is the perfect way to do that. The Dolphins had one of the weakest offensive lines in the league, so that’s a huge priority this offseason.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State

PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings continues pushing the idea that Cameron Thomas is a potential first-round pick, and it’s easy to see why. Thomas has been compared to J.J. Watt, and that’s not a comparison that can be thrown around lightly.

His power jumps out on film, and his hands are so quick that offensive tackles have little room for error when blocking him. He put up career highs this year at San Diego State, recording 71 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks, and the buzz is slowly growing.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky

We’ve already seen that Darian Kinnard is taking things seriously by slimming down. He’s still a big tackle that can make a big impact in a game, and the Bengals would love to add him to their squad.

Protecting Joe Burrow remains a high priority, and Cincinnati’s struggles up front have been exposed throughout the playoffs. Still, they find themselves in the Super Bowl, but adding a talent like Kinnard is a must if he’s on the board this late.

32) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

It took a little while for Roger McCreary to hone in his skills at corner, but he put it all together and became an elite player by the end of 2021. Auburn wasn’t great at stopping the pass, but it wasn’t because teams tested his side much. They found that staying away from him yielded better results. The Lions round out the final pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft by filling a significant need with a great player.

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