The 2022 NFL Draft is a little over a week away, and with fans chomping at the bit to find out who their team will add to the fold, Pro Football Network wants to feed your need to read. This 2-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft doesn’t involve trades, but it does show how an unconventional top 20 can create a stir through the second round.
2022 2-Round NFL Mock Draft: Round 1 | Picks 1-16
Let’s kick off this mock draft with the first 16 picks, which feature the Houston Texans, New York Giants, and New York Jets all picking twice.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The first overall pick will be hard to unload for value in this draft. The pick really shouldn’t be dealt for anything other than a ransom of assets, but in a draft with little juice at QB, the Jaguars aren’t going to be able to command that price.
With that in mind, Aidan Hutchinson is a nice “blast from the past” rusher. As Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy has stated, Hutchinson is comparable in size and athleticism to former Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots pass rusher Chris Long. New Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson worked with Long in Philly for two years, and the Jaguars could use a consistent pass-rushing presence in his mold. Hutchinson might not be Jadeveon Clowney or Myles Garrett, but if he can be Long or even Mario Williams, he’ll be worthy of the first overall pick in this class.
2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Like Jacksonville, Detroit would probably prefer to trade back for value. Also like the Jaguars, the Lions don’t really have the leverage to move back for a draft nest egg. With that in mind, they should target an immediate starter with incredible upside: Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The Lions dropped Trey Flowers this offseason, so Thibodeaux can come right in and take his spot on the edge. While there’s been chatter about Thibodeaux’s effort and overall interest in the game, his athleticism and pass-rushing upside speak for themselves.
3) Houston Texans: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Texans have two top-15 picks and several needs. Regardless of position, Houston should go with a game-changer with the third overall pick. Ahmad Gardner is a dynamic playmaking machine who should immediately make a difference for the Texans, who have holes throughout their rebuilding roster.
While the Texans could seemingly draft an offensive tackle or a pass rusher for better value, Gardner transcends his positional value in a rather weak class. Gardner could be the face of the defense for the next decade.
4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
From a positional value standpoint, this would be a reach. As offensive tackles begin to fall, the Jets know they’ll have plenty of options at No. 10. Kyle Hamilton, a 6-foot-4 and 220-pound safety, offers a unique versatility on the back end. He is built like a linebacker and moves like a cornerback.
With the Jets looking to retool their defense, Hamilton could be a centerpiece in the secondary. Holding a top-five pick, New York needs to chase dynamic upside. With Hamilton’s size, his high floor will justify the selection.
5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Giants’ biggest weakness heading into the offseason was the offensive line. After making some minor, cap-squeezed moves at guard and center, New York’s new regime needs to upgrade its right tackle spot. Evan Neal would be a monumental upgrade over Matt Peart opposite Andrew Thomas.
The Giants need more talent in the trenches, and while Travon Walker could make sense here, Neal is the much smarter play.
6) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
While the Panthers definitely need an upgrade at QB, the value just doesn’t line up here. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Liberty’s Malik Willis would be the targets if the Panthers went the QB route, but Ikem Ekwonu, the local product, makes the most sense at No. 6.
The Panthers don’t have a pick on Day 2, so going with the logical need and upgrading at left tackle was the right move instead reaching for a signal-caller who might not be able to deliver right away.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Giants need upgrades in the trenches, and Travon Walker is a unique talent who could be an immediate impact player for Wink Martindale. While Walker isn’t a sack machine, he is a dominant line mover in both phases.
Walker’s best fit is at 5-technique, where he can take advantage of his intriguing size, speed, and strength. He’s not going to average 12 sacks a season off the bat, but there is plenty of upside in Walker’s pass-rushing trajectory.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
While the Falcons will definitely consider drafting a QB here, their playmaking talent is probably the worst in the league. The signing of Marcus Mariota is a short-term fix, but it’ll only be made better with improved weaponry. Garrett Wilson is a polished route runner with impressive speed and sure hands. He can immediately help Mariota and tight end Kyle Pitts in the passing game, and he has All-Pro upside.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The Seahawks can’t walk into training camp with Drew Lock or Geno Smith as their QB1. Kenny Pickett is ready to play in the NFL, and he should be able to succeed Russell Wilson with his upside. Pickett is a strong leader, and he has the tools to thrive as a starting quarterback in the NFL. With the draft assets the Seahawks received in the Wilson trade, they should be able to build around Pickett rather quickly if they draft well.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
The Jets are a work-in-progress on defense. After adding Hamilton at No. 4, the Jets double dip with the addition of Jermaine Johnson II, the biggest standout of this year’s Senior Bowl workouts. Johnson will be an immediate impact player up front, and he could produce sacks in bunches in the Meadowlands. He’s the type of weak-side pass rusher Robert Saleh needs on the line.
11) Washington Commanders: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
With Carson Wentz now under center, the Commanders need to upgrade their passing weapons. Washington can’t just rely on Terry McLaurin at this point, despite his impressive Pro Bowl performance over the past three years. Chris Olave and McLaurin could become a dynamic Ohio State alum duo for Wentz.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Vikings need a tone-setter on the defensive line, and Jordan Davis is a unique athlete at nose tackle. Davis is a blue-chip lineman with plenty of upside left to explore. With the Vikings beginning a new era, laying down the foundation of the defense is extremely important for Minnesota.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Texans know they aren’t going to be contenders anytime soon. With the lack of immediate growth in the future, the Texans can play things a bit differently. Jameson Williams is a dynamic playmaker coming off an ACL injury. While he could return by the end of his rookie season, Williams’ inevitable landing spot will be determined by his upside beyond 2022. That upside is special, and the Texans should look at the long-term dynamics with this pick.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Ravens could use some help on the back end. With Marcus Peters aging, the Ravens should reinforce their secondary and improve the cornerback spot opposite Marlon Humphrey. Derek Stingley Jr. has no business falling this far, but the Ravens will take advantage — as they always do — with this pick.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The board hasn’t really shaken out in the Eagles’ favor here. With Davis, Stingley, Wilson, and Johnson off the board, the Eagles should play to their longtime philosophy of building in the trenches. While George Karlaftis’ production waned last year, he’s still a logical strong-side complement to Josh Sweat on the edge.
A five-man EDGE rotation of Karlaftis, Sweat, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Tarron Jackson is much more appealing than last year’s dynamic. Karlaftis profiles as a young Ryan Kerrigan, which is a lot more appealing than the old Kerrigan who was in Philly last season.
16) New Orleans Saints: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Despite his pulsating hype during the draft process, Malik Willis’ best value range is probably in the teens. The dynamic dual-threat QB has a ton of upside, but according to multiple sources in the league, he will need time to adjust to the NFL. And by the way, that’s not just a knock on Willis. That sentiment is shared with the majority of the QB class.
Willis has Pro Bowl upside, but it’ll take a few years before he can reach that pedestal. Luckily, the Saints have Jameis Winston under contract for the next two years.