1-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Garrett Wilson and Malik Willis headline mid-Combine indulgences

The Combine is in full swing during this 2022 NFL Mock Draft that sees Garrett Wilson rise and four quarterbacks selected in the first round.

Indulging in a 2022 NFL Mock Draft during the height of the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine can be fun. And that’s what this 2022 NFL Mock Draft is all about. With some impressive times during the 40-yard dash mixed in with some less-than-impressive accuracy, we picked through the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft for fun. With running backs and linemen in action and the defensive players still to come this weekend, here’s a mid-Combine first round of a 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

The Combine itself doesn’t change rankings too much for the top prospects. Tape always trumps simulated events and test scores at the Combine. Yet, the importance of the annual 2022 NFL Combine comes in the form of confirmation of players’ athletic abilities. Some prospects have secured their first-round status, while others have cemented their Day 2 evaluations.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Looking like a lean 337-pounder, Evan Neal was calm, composed, and confident during his time with the media during the Combine. He also expressed the versatility he brings having played multiple positions at Alabama.

Yet, here with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the big man need only to focus on left tackle as he presents a massive upgrade to the Jags. Neal also becomes an elite blindside protector for the face of the franchise, Trevor Lawrence.

2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux is the first EDGE off the board as the Detroit Lions grab him with their first of two first-round selections. Though edge defender isn’t their top need, Thibodeaux is bound to be the top player on multiple teams’ boards. His performance at the Combine should only secure that. Grabbing him here at pick No. 2 will immediately and dramatically upgrade the Lions’ pass-rushing unit.

3) Houston Texans: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

The draft class’ best spin move off the edge belongs to David Ojabo. He lands with the Houston Texans as a talented speed rusher despite his large frame. Ojabo combined with Aidan Hutchinson as the best pass-rushing duo in college football a season ago.

Yet, they both demonstrated a keen ability to stop the run off the edge. Ojabo has the ability to play down on the line at a number of positions or off the ball, as his versatility plays in with his athleticism nicely.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Perhaps the draft class’ top player overall, Kyle Hamilton slides to the New York Jets at pick No. 4. Hamilton has the range of a true free safety and the power of a hard-hitting strong safety all wrapped in a massive frame. He comes downhill well in run defense and closes off an entire half of the field in coverage.

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

The New York Giants need to improve 80% of their offensive line this offseason. Kenyon Green is a solid and safe bet to at least encroach on that 20% mark, as he can play multiple positions. The only downgrade against Green is that he can only play one position on each snap. He’s terrific in pass protection but better when he’s on the move, mauling defenders in the run game.

6) Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

All the talk around the first few days of the Combine surrounded Malik Willis. As he proves to be capable of landing as the top quarterback, the Carolina Panthers secure their future with the Liberty signal-caller. He’s a dominant passer with incredible athleticism.

Though we didn’t see him workout at the Combine, his interviews, presence, and general ability to win over everyone in the room went past the game, past the workouts, and secured his fate as QB1.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Despite the initial excitement of someone from the wide receiver group breaking the Combine record in the 40-yard dash, Garrett Wilson ranked as the seventh-fastest after the official results came out. Wilson, who was originally outpaced by his teammate, actually put up a slightly better number (4.38) in the 40 than Chris Olave’s 4.39.

Still, this duo became just the second set of teammates to record 40 times under 4.4 in the event’s history, joining another pair of Buckeyes in Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Atlanta Falcons need an edge rusher, and a potentially game-changing one falls to them here. As stated earlier, Aidan Hutchinson paired with Ojabo to form college football’s best pair of edge rushers a season ago. He’s a pure power rusher but still presents challenges for even the strongest tackles to stop with his understanding of his leverage and pass-rush moves.

9) Denver Broncos: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

There’s the slight chance the Denver Broncos could be enamored with a quarterback and select any one of a handful of options here. Despite that, George Karlaftis taking up the mantle of Von Miller is too enticing to pass up. Karlaftis stops backs in their tracks if he gets his hands on them. He also presents a massive man to shut down in the pass-rushing game.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The first cornerback off the board heads to the Jets. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner should lock down a side of the Jets’ secondary with ease. After not allowing a reception of more than 13 yards in his final season at Cincinnati, Gardner went three full years without allowing a touchdown in his coverage. He’s the definition of a lockdown cornerback.

11) Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

They’ve got a new identity, and now the Washington Commanders have a new face of the franchise. Sam Howell has proven time and time again in the 2022 draft circuit that he’s got all the tools necessary to lead an NFL team. Howell’s also proven that he’s athletically capable of making special plays happen. He has an NFL arm and elite athleticism, a rare blend for a future franchise quarterback.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Another cornerback off the board and another first-round CB for the Minnesota Vikings. Andrew Booth Jr. has raw athleticism and terrific ball skills that round out his overall ability as a lockdown cornerback. He can play the ball incredibly well, both with his back to it and with it in front of him. Booth is currently ascending as a prospect and would be a terrific acquisition for a team in need of multiple cornerbacks in this draft.

13) Cleveland Browns: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Scorching the 2022 NFL Combine with his athletic ability, Chris Olave joined Wilson as the second pair of teammates to record sub-4.4 40-yard dash times in the event’s history. Olave is who we thought he was: a track star with great receiving skills. He’ll burn most defensive backs with his release and subsequent speed before high-pointing the ball and utilizing his body control to bring down even the toughest of catches.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The proverbial ceiling for Derek Stingley Jr. is quite high. He showcased an elite ability to cover a variety of receivers — and elite receivers at that — during the 2019 season.

However, the proverbial floor is similarity quite low, as he never quite rebounded to form following the 2020 season. Still, Stingley possesses a raw ability that is unmatched in this class. The gamble here at pick No. 14 is worthy of the type of high-end play he can present.

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

The top linebacker in the class heads to the Philadelphia Eagles as they continue to rework their defense this offseason. Devin Lloyd presents a challenge in all facets for offenses to overcome. He can stuff the run with terrific instincts. Lloyd utilizes a quick first step when he blitzes and can power past offensive linemen. His best aspect, however, comes in coverage, where he is unmatched in this or any recent linebacker class.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Eagles’ defense continues to get a makeover as Philadelphia pulls the trigger on Kaiir Elam. A legacy player, Elam has great ball skills and an understanding of a variety of coverages. He’s long, quick, and wrapped up in an impressive frame with even better athleticism. 

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.

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