1-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Jermaine Johnson, and the EDGE class dominate the top picks

The 2022 NFL mock draft circuit is in full swing, and this latest iteration sees four edge defenders taken in the first four picks.

The 2022 NFL mock draft circuit is bound to heat up as the NFL Draft inches closer. Today’s 1-Round Mock Draft sees the edge class dominate the top half of the first round and dictate the rest of the picks along the way. Here’s the latest run through the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

Aiding in the selections here was the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator. Take the free PFN Mock Draft Simulator with trades for a spin!

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The best player overall in this class — and for a long time now — has been Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Oregon edge rusher presents a challenge for all tackles, whether they’re bigger or smaller. Faster or slower. Thibodeaux has an array of pass-rush moves in his arsenal that allows him to get by all linemen.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

A power rusher with a great instinct of when to use his deceptive speed, Aidan Hutchinson rose to prominence this season. Alongside David Ojabo, the Michigan duo were the best pass-rushing combo in all of college football. Hutchinson is a threat to get to the quarterback on every single play while also adding an ability to shift around to a slew of different alignments on a defensive front.

3) Houston Texans: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Positional versatility is the name of the game for Travon Walker. The Houston Texans are in search of a bevy of upgrades and that’s what Walker is. Drop him in coverage, no sweat. Rush the passer, no trouble. Stuff run fits, that’s easy. Walker does it all.

4) New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

The best motor in the class heads to the New York Jets as Jermaine Johnson II caps a run of four edge defenders to start this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Johnson won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors in his lone season in Tallahassee for good reason. He’s a menace on every play, never giving up, and presenting a relentless player in all facets.

5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The first tackle off the board heads to the New York Giants as Evan Neal will have to acclimate to the right side opposite Andrew Thomas. However, Neal has positional versatility in his game already, having played guard at Alabama. Learning right tackle might be easier for him, and as such, he’s the selection to revamp a porous Giants’ offensive line.

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

The Carolina Panthers are high on Ikem Ekwonu, and he lands in an ideal destination. Moving just a bit away to Charlotte — from Raleigh — Ekwonu’s home away from home will have him anchoring a Panthers line that needed help. Sure, the Panthers also need a quarterback, but they have their sound left tackle for years to come in Ekwonu.

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

The Giants grab the first tackle and the first wide receiver off the board by selecting Garrett Wilson here. Wilson, a speed threat, also comes fully equipped with dominant catch-point skills, terrific yards-after-the-catch ability, and a full route tree. There’s not much Wilson can’t do. And even better, there is not much Wilson doesn’t do at an elite level.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC

Needing at least one receiver in this draft, the Atlanta Falcons play the long game by selecting Drake London. He may not be able to go at 100% in fall camp, but there are few players to ever play the game like London when healthy. A rare blend of power and speed, soft hands, and ironclad after-the-catch ability, London is a unicorn. He’s more than ready to become a WR1 when healthy.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

After reports surfaced that Kenny Pickett is neck and neck with Malik Willis for QB1, Pickett is the first quarterback off the board in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Pickett is pro-ready today and will need very little seasoning to take the reins from Drew Lock in Seattle. He bet on himself in Year 5 at Pitt, and it’s paid him in spades. A Heisman Trophy finalist and top-10 pick, it’s been a great ride so far for Pickett since he opted to return to Pittsburgh in 2021.

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

Locking down a side of the field for the Jets in the near future is Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. After not allowing a touchdown in all three seasons at Cincinnati, Gardner is the top cornerback off the board. The Jets need cornerback help — they get it in the form of a sticky corner with the best ball skills in the class.

11) Washington Commanders: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Ascending to the top of the quarterback ranks after a great pre-draft process, Malik Willis lands with the Washington Commanders. He’s not quite pro-ready despite having an NFL arm and NFL throws to every level in his arsenal. Willis will have to adapt to a pro system and likely stands best to serve a year (or close to a year) under Carson Wentz. The Commanders have the defense to win right now and the quarterback to win in a year.

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

All Derek Stingley Jr. needed to do was prove he was healthy. And by all accounts, he is after his showing at the LSU Pro Day. That confirmed the belief that he can regain his 2019 prowess that saw him as the likely CB1 for this class. Though he doesn’t land as the top cornerback off the board, his proverbial ceiling is the highest in this class because of that tremendous 2019 season.

13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Houston Texans need to replace a ton of lost talent over the years. Most recently, however, star safety Justin Reid is gone. Kyle Hamilton remains on the board. It’s a no-brainer for this pick as Hamilton is likely the safest player in this class. He presents a massive challenge for opposing offensive coordinators as he can — quite literally — do it all. Need him to cover the slot or stop the run? Play a free-roaming safety? He’ll do it — and at a high level.

14) Baltimore Ravens: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The big man from Athens heads to the Baltimore Ravens as George Karlaftis is the fifth edge defender off the board within the top 14 picks. Karlaftis is a big man with an ascending profile. He can rush the passer from various alignments and fits in with Baltimore’s hybrid front quite beautifully.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The offense is in question for the Philadelphia Eagles despite improving from 2020 to 2021. Yet, the defense has more holes. Kaiir Elam fills a big need at cornerback. Improving their secondary will be key — Elam does just that in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. He can cover opposing receiver No. 1s on the outside and even pass off receivers to help in zone coverage. Elam is versatile and talented.

16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

After making a blockbuster trade to obtain a second first-round pick, the New Orleans Saints land their biggest need in Charles Cross. After watching Terron Armstead leave in free agency, left tackle had a massive hole. A massive hole is there no more as Cross slides right in from Day 1. He’s technically sound and a refined pass protector. Though he’ll have some adjusting to do in the run game in Year 1, Saints QB Jameis Winston should love this pick.

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