The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is less than one week away and buzz is building. Here are the latest NFL Draft news and rumors we are hearing inside league circles.
Will we see three quarterbacks taken in the first round?
The belief around the league is three quarterbacks will end up in the first round: Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, and either Desmond Ridder or Matt Corral. As I mentioned previously, Ridder is getting a lot of first-round grades around the league. However, Corral is building late momentum, and more and more teams feel he could end up in the top 32.
So who will the quarterbacks end up with? Right now, it looks like a sure bet the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers take a signal-caller in the first round. Word is there’s a very real possibility the Seattle Seahawks move into the back end of Round 1 and grab their quarterback of the future.
Staying on Seattle for a second, there have been a lot of mock drafts having them taking offensive tackle Trevor Penning with the ninth pick. And while many on the outside feel that’s a reach, league insiders say it’s a definite possibility the Seahawks go in that direction, and the choice makes sense. Penning’s stock has been moving north since the Senior Bowl, and I previously mentioned him as a potential choice for the Jets with the 10th pick.
What are the Jets going to do with their two picks?
As far as the Jets are concerned, while chatter grows that Ikem Ekwonu could be the pick at No. 4, those in the league feel the Jets will go defense early and take a pass rusher with their first pick.
Word I’m getting, whether it’s the Jets or other teams in the top 10, is the coaches love Kayvon Thibodeaux, but front office personnel have a lot of concerns. This makes perfect sense and is something I’ve spoken about often in the past, including on that New York Post podcast. The coaches see the film on Thibodeaux, see the potential, and feel they can coach the best out of him. Front office people see the red flags and want to back off.
What do the Jets do with the 10th pick? No surprise here, but word in league circles is the Jets, and most specifically Joe Douglas, are all in on using that pick to acquire Deebo Samuel.
Risers and fallers ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft
Right now it’s about 50/50 as to whether or not Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean ends up in the first round. While he’s a first-round talent, the position he plays is not one sought out late in Day 1 as teams would rather use those picks to select a cornerback, receiver, or quarterback to ensure they get the fifth-year option.
On the other hand, Dean’s teammate, Quay Walker, is flying up boards. General managers love his size, athleticism, and ability to play three downs. It’s unlikely Dean ends up in the first round, but it’s looking like he’ll be off the board early on Day 2.
Two other players receiving high praise are Michigan safety Daxton Hill and Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross.
It doesn’t look like Hill gets out of the first round as teams feel he can play everywhere — free safety, in the box, or over the slot receiver. Cross is the top offensive tackle on some boards around the league, and many teams rate him ahead of Evan Neal. No one I spoke with expects Cross to get past the Carolina Panthers at No. 6, something I reported last month.
And while some players are rising, Kyle Hamilton continues to fall. Many in the league tell me they think Hamilton ends up somewhere between picks 15 to 20. That’s still later than I expected and is a precipitous drop for a prospect still graded by some as the top player in this draft.