1-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Houston Texans surround Davis Mills with talent following Deshaun Watson trade

The Houston Texans surround quarterback Davis Mills with talent following the Deshaun Watson trade in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft

It is oft considered that writing a 2022 NFL Mock Draft before free agency has concluded is the definition of lunacy. If that is the case, attempting to do so while the wheels of change are still turning must be something far worse. Yet, here we are, with some of the biggest moves made and more to come, trying to predict how these recent signings will shake up how the dominoes of the 2022 NFL Draft will fall.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

One tumultuous trade could dictate the whole course of the 2022 NFL Draft. For now, however, multiple teams delve into the murky waters that is this year’s quarterback class. Meanwhile, three edge players fly off the board within the top 10 picks of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

With Deshaun Watson now a Brown, how could the first-round of the 2022 NFL Draft shake out?

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The first of those edge defenders comes off the board with the first overall pick. While I don’t believe that this should be the pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars in April, well-respected voices around the program indicate that recent free agency moves — the franchise-tagging of Cam Robinson and signing of Brandon Scherff — point towards Aidan Hutchinson being the Jaguars’ selection with the first overall pick. If they don’t secure a trade back, that is.

2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Pencil in the Detroit Lions as a contender to secure Malik Willis’ services. Apparently, the Lions staff is very much enamored with the Liberty quarterback. It is thought that if they do swoop for a signal-caller with the second overall selection, that’s who they’ll go for. However, I can’t see past them adding a pass rusher, especially with the release of Trey Flowers with no obvious free agency replacement. Kayvon Thibodeaux is the most talented edge player in this class. He possesses elite explosion and the technical ability to match.

3) Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

A natural landing spot for any of the elite pass rushers in the class, the Houston Texans watch the top two talents vanish off their board in quick succession in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. With multiple needs, they could make a number of moves at the third overall spot. With the Jaguars spurning Evan Neal‘s services, the Texans could plug the gargantuan offensive lineman in at right tackle opposite Laremy Tunsil to give Davis Mills the best opportunity to prove that he can be the future of the franchise.

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

Although the New York Jets added D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead to their secondary in the early wave of free agency, it shouldn’t preclude them from adding further reinforcements in the NFL Draft. Yes, they need pass-rush talent, but in a deep class, they can get any number of players at pick 10. What they might not be able to get is a cornerback of Ahmad Gardner‘s caliber. After not allowing a single touchdown in his college career, the Cincinnati CB stock is trending up after an impressive Combine performance.

5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State

The free agency additions of Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano showcase that the New York Giants know that they need to protect Daniel Jones better in the upcoming NFL season. That offensive line overhaul continues in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft with the selection of North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu. The mauling offensive lineman showcased his athletic ability in Indianapolis, resembling a dancing bear in the on-field drills. He’ll bring a level of savagery in the run game that will help Saquon Barkley return to his very best.

6) Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Carolina Panthers were reportedly all-in on Deshaun Watson. Does that mean they’ll select a quarterback in April now that they’ve failed in their pursuit? I don’t believe so. In fact, I’d go as far to say that the team’s enthusiasm to land Watson points to them not being sold on any of the QB prospects. With a clear need to overhaul their offensive line, Mississippi State’s Charles Cross gives them an athletic offensive tackle with excellent technical ability as a cornerstone of a reworked unit.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Austin Johnson is headed to the Los Angeles Chargers, and Danny Shelton is also out of contract in New York. The Giants should look to fill the hole left by Johnson’s departure, and there’s no bigger — or better — man to fill it than Jordan Davis. His sheer size attracts double-teams, allowing others around him to thrive. However, the Georgia nose tackle showcased at the NFL Combine that he has the athletic ability to be a disruptive force in his own right.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

There have been more departures from the Atlanta Falcons’ receiver room this week than from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. While attention focuses on a potential significant arrival, this 2022 NFL Mock Draft addresses the immediate need. Garrett Wilson is the No. 1 wide receiver on the Pro Football Network Top 300 Big Board. He’s a three-level threat who consistently wins at the catch point and possesses excellent route-running ability.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Seattle Seahawks can make all the noise they like about how much they liked Drew Lock during the 2019 NFL Draft process, but I don’t believe they view him as the long-term starter. The timing of the Russell Wilson trade, as Malik Willis elevates himself both on and off the field, would suggest that the Seahawks found their future face of the franchise. Willis’ arm strength and mobility make him a natural successor for Wilson.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

Having found their lockdown corner with the fourth overall pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Jets add a dangerous and disruptive pass-rush prospect with the 10th overall selection. Following a dominant final season of his college career, Jermaine Johnson II wowed everyone at the Senior Bowl. He’s a hyper-athletic, highly polished pass rusher who is equally adept at being disruptive in the ground game.

11) Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

While Carson Wentz might not be the long-term starter under center for the Washington Commanders, it seems unwise to invest further capital at the position when they’ve already had to eat his entire salary. Instead, Washington takes advantage of securing a falling talent at a position of need. Regardless of a sluggish 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Kyle Hamilton remains my top prospect in the class. He possesses a rare combination of size, speed, and savagery at the safety position.

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

The Minnesota Vikings have selected three first-round cornerbacks since 2015. None of them are currently on their roster. Past failures may cause Vikings fans to balk at adding another first-round defensive back. Still, with Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander out of contract, adding a playmaker of Derek Stingley Jr.‘s caliber on the back end is a must. While questions remain following injury, at his best, Stingley is a potential lockdown corner with exceptional athletic ability and the ball skills to match.

13) Houston Texans (from CLV): Drake London, WR, USC

Having acquired a second first-round pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Texans continue to surround Mills with the talent required to prove he can be their long-term starter. Although this is a potential landing spot for Travon Walker, the Texans can likely secure someone like Arnold Ebiketie early on Day 2.

What they won’t be able to secure then is a pass catcher of the caliber of USC’s Drake London. Inserting London into the Texans’ offense alongside Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins would provide Mills with a dangerous arsenal. The USC star makes 50/50 balls seem 100% in his favor. He also adds unexpected after-the-catch value for his size.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

The Baltimore Ravens have been one of the early winners from the first wave of free agency moves. They’ve been able to add pieces at key areas of need, including right tackle. However, they’re yet to address a defensive line that is set to see multiple departures. While everyone was agog at Davis’ performance at the Combine, another Georgia DT is working his way up draft boards. Explosive and powerful, Devonte Wyatt possesses game-changing athletic ability of his own as a disruptive defensive line prospect.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The addition of Haason Reddick was a great start to the Philadelphia Eagles addressing their defensive line needs in free agency. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they continue that rebuild with Georgia’s Travon Walker. An exceptional athletic talent, Walker possesses impressive versatility having played both inside and out for the Bulldogs. He can be disruptive on the edge but has the frame to battle in the trenches. Furthermore, he’s demonstrated the ability to drop back into coverage, adding further value.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Although the Eagles added DeVonta Smith last April, don’t be surprised if they use one of their first-round picks to give him a reliable running mate in the wide receiver room. Jameson Williams may be coming off the back of an ACL tear in the CFP National Championship, but at this point, we don’t expect it to damage his draft stock. Williams can be that speed threat that the Eagles hoped they were getting with Jalen Reagor.

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