2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: Chiefs, Saints make franchise-altering trades in Round 1

In the final full 7-round 2022 NFL Mock Draft of the cycle, the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Saints all trade up for high-upside prospects.

Just days before the main event, it’s time for the final full 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft of the cycle, complete with trades. All the minutes, hours, and mock scenarios have led to this point. On the front step of the 2022 NFL Draft, let’s take one last look at how the board might fall.

2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

Is Travon Walker or Aidan Hutchinson the first overall pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft?

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Trent Baalke himself has said the Jaguars narrowed down their options at No. 1 overall to four players. We know Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson are two of those players, and maybe the top two candidates. Neither would be worth the No. 1 overall pick if this class had more blue-chip talent. But if it comes down to the two of them, Walker is the better investment. He has the burst and elite power capacity to be a special player if he can refine his game.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

If Aidan Hutchinson goes No. 1 overall, I could see the Lions potentially eyeing a quarterback early on. But if Hutchinson is available, he seems like a player Detroit would have trouble passing on. His tireless motor is a staple of Dan Campbell’s philosophy, and his violent style would be welcomed on the edge. I don’t think he has quite the amount of upside you want at this point, but he can be a steady pressure producer.

3) Houston Texans: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

There are whispers that Ahmad Gardner is in play for the Houston Texans at No. 3 overall. Tailor-made for Lovie Smith’s zone concepts, Gardner has outrageous length and explosiveness. He’s also incredibly physical and has the zone awareness to be a ballhawk whenever passes come his way. He’s not the most fluid player, but he’s a tone-setter who can discourage quarterbacks from testing his side of the field.

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

If you ask me, Jermaine Johnson II is more worthy of the No. 1 overall pick than both Hutchinson and Walker. Johnson’s pass-rush productivity rate isn’t as high as Hutchinson’s, but Johnson was often asked to read the run before pinning his ears back as a pass rusher. At the Senior Bowl, that responsibility wasn’t there, and we saw him dominate with his lightning-fast feet, lateral agility, violent hands, and power capacity. He has blue-chip upside in NY.

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

Few picks make more sense than Evan Neal to the New York Giants. Whether it’s at No. 5 or No. 7, I want Neal across from Andrew Thomas, protecting Daniel Jones on Sundays. The only way to get the most out of Jones is to make sure he’s comfortable. And with his dominant wingspan, smooth pass sets, and patient, methodical hands, Neal can do exactly that from the right side. One could argue he’s the best prospect in this class.

6) Seattle Seahawks (mock trade from CAR): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Seattle sends picks No. 9, No. 40, and a 2023 second-rounder for pick No. 6 from Carolina.

With no other picks in the top 100, the Panthers are a clear trade-down candidate here. And if the board falls this way, teams could fight to take their pick of the QB class. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Seahawks are the ones who leap ahead, moving from No. 9 to No. 6. The Panthers get more picks, and Seattle gets a quarterback with the upside to be great. Malik Willis has a lot of work to do, but someone is going to bank on his traits.

7) New Orleans Saints (from NYG): Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

New Orleans sends picks No. 16, No. 19, and a 2023 third-rounder for picks No. 7 and No. 67 from the New York Giants.

We’ve speculated about what the purpose of the Saints’ trade with the Eagles for an extra first-round pick was. It could be that the Saints want to package those picks in a trade-up, but for who? Quarterback is a rational conclusion to make, but one of the big three offensive tackles makes even more sense. The price here is high, but Ikem Ekwonu is worth it. With his athleticism, power, and mauler mentality, he can be a franchise LT.

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

Garrett Wilson doesn’t quite fit the mold we’ve come to expect from Arthur Smith’s receivers. But there’s been a buzz around the match between Wilson and Atlanta. Wilson lacks the size that Smith’s receivers often have, but he does have the three-level appeal that grants an immediate facelift to Atlanta’s WR unit. Wilson is a deadly separator, an acrobat in the air, and a high-level RAC threat with his twitch and agility.

9) Carolina Panthers (mock trade from SEA): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

For the most part, two scenarios are discussed for the Panthers in Round 1. Should they trade down, or stand pat and pick a quarterback? In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Panthers do both. They move from No. 6 to No. 9 and still manage to get a signal-caller from this class. Kenny Pickett doesn’t have an elite arm, and his process isn’t perfect. But he’s a high-floor passer with enough physical tools to make Carolina competitive.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Jets could go WR here. But it’s a deep class — deep enough where there’s no need to force the issue. Tackle, on the other hand, is not very deep at the top. So if a prospect like Charles Cross is still on the board, the Jets shouldn’t hesitate to snap him up. He’ll likely have to transition to right tackle while Mekhi Becton and George Fant battle at left tackle. But Cross has the athleticism, length, and recovery capacity to be a high-level starter.

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

Like many teams in the top of the first round, the Commanders could consider a pass catcher here. But if Kyle Hamilton is still on the board, he’s bound to be one of their top options. The Commanders met with Hamilton ahead of the draft. And on the field, he brings plenty to like. He doesn’t have elite long speed, but he does have elite size and explosiveness and very good instincts. He can play two-high or be a big slot.

12) Kansas City Chiefs (mock trade from MIN): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Kansas City sends picks No. 29, No. 50, and a 2023 first-rounder for pick No. 12 from Minnesota.

There’s talk that the Minnesota Vikings want to trade back. There’s also talk that the Chiefs are mulling a trade up, potentially into the top 15. This deal costs them 2022 capital, as well as their first-round pick in 2023. But they come away with a game-changing talent in return. Jameson Williams is an elite speed threat, but he also sports a long, near-6’2″ frame and impressive body control.

13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Trevor Penning might not be in the same tier as Neal, Ekwonu, and Cross, but he’s still widely regarded as a first-round prospect and arguably the last first-round prospect in this tackle class. If Houston has the chance to add him to their front five, they might want to pounce on it. They’ll have to move him to right tackle. But if Penning can clean up his technique, he has the athleticism, strength, and nasty demeanor you want.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

We still don’t know what exactly the character concerns are with Kayvon Thibodeaux. On the surface, however, it feels like the NFL over-thinking another high-level prospect. Let’s not get carried away — Thibodeaux isn’t on the level of Chase Young or Joey Bosa. His hips aren’t overly flexible and his hands need more work. But he has elite explosiveness and power capacity. And opposite Odafe Oweh in Baltimore, he could be a menace.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

The Eagles are reportedly big fans of Jordan Davis, and it’s easy to see why. Davis would be a great fit as the nose tackle in 4-3 under fronts that Jonathan Gannon likes to use. There’s very little pass rush ability to speak of right now with Davis. But looking at his athletic profile, there are clearly tools to mold. And in the immediate timeline, he can be an elite 0-technique who frees up other linemen and keeps linebackers clean.

16) New York Giants (mock trade from NO): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Giants have a looming need at cornerback, and Derek Stingley Jr. is a top-five talent in the 2022 NFL Draft. This is one of the easier decisions to make in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The only potential hang-up is Stingley’s length. In the past, Joe Schoen’s Bills displayed a preference for length at cornerback. But Stingley plays a lot bigger than his frame, and he’s a special athlete who can mirror anyone and suffocate WRs at the stem.

Ian Cummings is an NFL Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Ian’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.