Not all 2022 NFL Mock Drafts are created equal. They come in all shapes and sizes, and each sets out to accomplish something different. In this iteration, we gathered some of the best minds around the country who cover individual teams closely to draft who they believe should be the pick at each respective spot in the NFL Draft order.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
We start off hot with the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans making exciting selections. Most interesting? Not a single quarterback is taken in the first 16 picks of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Selected by: John Shipley (Jaguars Report)
Chalk is dull, but sometimes chalk is the best way to go. Although Aidan Hutchinson‘s ceiling may not be the highest in the class, his floor as a defensive end is high. He possesses more than enough power to be a plus run defender at the next level immediately.
This selection felt like a foregone conclusion after tagging Cam Robinson for the second time. Hutchinson was the odds-on favorite to be the first pick until this week when Travon Walker took over the odds. Hutchinson brings production and good athletic testing to the table, making him a far safer selection than others in the class.
2) Detroit Lions: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
Selected by: Ian Cummings (Pro Football Network)
With an Expected Draft Position (EDP) of 13 and a lower positional ranking than the likes of Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux on most sites, this was a surprising selection. However, value is in the eye of the beholder, which is why we see so many surprises on draft day.
NFL teams do not care how the media or fans feel about a player. If they believe Drake Jackson is a future 15-sack player, they will draft him second overall without batting an eye.
Jermaine Johnson II dominated the Reese’s Senior Bowl and then went out and tested as a 92nd-percentile athlete, posting a 9.22 Relative Athletic Score. Johnson lacks the high-quality bend of most consistent double-digit NFL sack artists. However, he’s also arguably the best run defender of any EDGE in the class.
3) Houston Texans: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Selected by: Cole Thompson (Fan Nation)
With uncertainty surrounding the long-term future of Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard, Cole Thompson decided to take the first offensive tackle off the board. With a roster construction as the Texans have, this move feels right. Houston won’t be competing this season, so why not invest in one of the most critical positions for the long-term future? Howard’s on the final year of his deal, and Tunsil won’t play in 2023 at his current cap number ($35 million).
Ikem Ekwonu‘s improvement from 2020 to 2021 is arguably the most promising positive development in any of the 2022 NFL Draft prospects. He went from an unrefined mauler to a legitimate blindside brick wall. While more development is needed, Ekwonu looks well on his way to being a franchise left tackle for a long time. And if Tunsil does stick around for the long haul, they could be one of the best tackle duos in the league.
4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Selected by: Connor Rogers (Bleacher Report)
Connor Rogers doesn’t buy the bait surrounding Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s work ethic. For the third straight season, an Oregon Duck has come under the spotlight in a negative light that could affect their draft stock. With Justin Herbert, it was about his leadership and the offense he ran at Oregon. Penei Sewell, meanwhile, was immature. Yet, both appear to be doing just fine.
Now, Thibodeaux heads to New York in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The New York Jets haven’t had a legitimate EDGE post 10+ sacks since Calvin Pace in 2013. Most of the pass-rush help they’ve had comes from bigger, more traditional interior players. Thibodeaux joins Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers, creating a trio of pass rushers that are all sufficient talents.
5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Selected by: Dan Schneier (Big Blue Banter)
Dave Gettleman’s final passion project as a general manager was to completely decimate the roster by whiffing on every draftable and signable offensive lineman aside from Andrew Thomas. He should have Jedrick Wills or Tristan Wirfs if you really want to be depressed.
Evan Neal has superstar potential, and his ability to play multiple positions at a high level is a positive. He’ll immediately lock down the right side of the line while positively impacting the rushing attack as well. Neal is ranked third overall on the PFN Top 300 Consensus Big Board.
6) Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Selected by: Jared Feinberg (Blue Chip Scouting)
While many mock drafts and prospect rankings have Charles Cross gapped by Ekwonu and Neal, the PFN Draft crew doesn’t believe that to be the case. Cross is the team’s fifth-ranked player on the Consensus Big Board.
The Panthers desperately need a long-term answer at QB, but building the foundation of a contender is more important than throwing a potential QB to the wolves early on. While Carolina made strides by signing Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett, they needed a left tackle like an infantryman needs Grizzly Wintergreen to get through a six-hour guard duty.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Selected by: Dan Schneier (Big Blue Banter)
The thing is, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner was always CB1. The summer months were fun because we could project with this crop of cornerbacks to the future. However, it appeared as though Gardner had work to do early on, as his EDP began in the mid-to-late 20s and stayed there… until the college football season started.
A stellar final season — culminating in an outstanding effort against Alabama — elevated his draft stock toward the top. Gardner’s 4.41 speed was the icing on the cake that cemented his value. While a cornerback early feels awkward with James Bradberry and Adoreé Jackson on the roster, Bradberry’s tenure with the Giants appears to be coming to an end based on this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Selected by: Aaron Freeman (Locked On Falcons)
When building a defensive end in a lab or on Madden, one makes them look exactly like Travon Walker. He has every measurable imaginable at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, with 35.5-inch arms. Walker’s 9.99 Relative Athletic Score is proof he isn’t just lovely to have as the first player off the bus.
His role limited his production at Georgia. His selection is a projection, there’s no argument to the contrary. However, given his physical attributes and flashes of brilliance, it’s expected that a more traditional DE assignment will bring out the best in Walker. At the very least, he should round into an outstanding run defender and pressure machine, much like Jadeveon Clowney has been throughout his career.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Selected by: Michael-Shawn Dugar (The Athletic)
The Seahawks’ selection of Derek Stingley Jr. feels like nature healing in Seattle. Artie Burns, Sidney Jones, and Tre Brown aren’t going to get the job done on the outside for Seattle. While the tide turned toward Cincinnati’s Gardner for a long time, many are coming back to tell the world they believe Stingley is special.
Quandre Diggs is already one of the better free safeties in the league. Stingley lets Seattle shade coverages away as a backside defender in quarters lined up against a single receiver. His man-coverage ability is unmatched in this class. The Seahawks are reloading, and they get a high-caliber cover corner at the back of the top 10.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Drake London, WR, USC
Selected by: Connor Rogers (Bleacher Report)
While Drake London didn’t run an expansive route tree at USC, his lower body flexibility is the most significant difference between him and other big receivers. London gets in and out of breaks, and he creates separation underneath against man and zone coverage. He also separates by threatening leverage and attacking blind spots.
Then, there’s his ability in contested situations. London’s arguably the best since folks started charting contested situations. His basketball background is evident when he elevates for the ball, displaying top-tier coordination to secure passes. Zach Wilson thrived on these plays in college. While he can’t do that consistently at the NFL level, it will be nice to have a receiver that can make a play when Wilson takes a risk.
11) Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Selected by: Mark Bullock (Free Agent, formerly The Athletic)
Bullock made this statement on behalf of the organization about the pick.
“With receivers like Wilson and Olave available, it’d be hard to pass on grabbing a weapon for Wentz to work alongside Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. However, Kyle Hamilton fits into Washington’s Buffalo Nickel (big nickel) role that Landon Collins vacated perfectly. His size, instincts, and tackling ability makes him a perfect fit for the position and helps round out the Commanders’ defense nicely. With only one receiver gone so far, the team will hope the receiver run happens a bit later and push some down to their pick in the second round.”
If you’re looking at a 2022 NFL Mock Draft that doesn’t have one of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, or Kyle Hamilton ending up in Washington at this point, the writer either knows something no one else does, or they’re not reading the room at all.
Hamilton’s flaws have been magnified recently after his testing concluded and he ran a 4.59. Clips of Alec Pierce and others in the slot against Cincinnati made some sour on the freaky Notre Dame safety. Putting any 6-foot-4 defensive back in the slot against smaller, shiftier players with a two-way go is setting anybody up for failure. It would be an anatomical miracle for a player that size to mirror a 5-foot-8 slot receiver.
In the Collins role and as a half-field coverage player, Hamilton will be a difference-maker from Day 1 in Washington.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Selected by: Arif Hasan (The Athletic)
Hasan made this statement on behalf of the organization about the pick.
“A receiver allows you to dictate coverage and gives the Vikings a long-term answer to Adam Thielen as he ages. That lets them solve a short-term goal and a long-term need at the same time without being subject to the issues with positional value or “reaching” inherent at this point in the draft.”
Wide receiver isn’t often seen as a need for Minnesota. However, they’ve consistently been a difficult team to draft for because their needs are not aligned with the strength of the top of the class.
Hasan said this would be the perfect trade-back scenario. Since none of the QBs have gone, maybe a team wants to move up to get the top one in the draft class. However, the logistics of this exercise didn’t allow for that.
Thinking long-term is often scoffed at. But Jameson Williams helps add an otherwise lost downfield element to the Vikings’ offense immediately and possesses WR1 upside. It’s too early to address the interior OL, and both top cornerbacks are gone.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Selected by: Cole Thompson (Fan Nation)
While he’s not there yet, Thompson believes that Garrett Wilson could be a Stefon Diggs type at the next level for Houston. Brandin Cooks’ speed is a weapon, and Wilson brings a truly elite receiver’s natural flexibility and playmaking ability. Growth is necessary to become a more consistent route runner, but the tools are all there.
Wilson also plays with great speed and can make plays with the ball in his hands. While he is a “smaller” receiver, Wilson plays physically for his frame, although he’s not powerful. He also has found production from both the slot and the outside during his time at Ohio State and should be used as a chess piece for Davis Mills.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Selected by: Spencer Schultz (SB Nation)
The mock draft format might be what the selector would do and not how the organization would pick. However, sometimes everything comes together perfectly.
Baltimore has always coveted the big men. Jordan Davis is the biggest and most athletic of them all. He’s explosive enough to shoot gaps and run through a man’s face but also has the recognition ability and technique to two-gap at a high level.
Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Calais Campbell, and Davis should make life easier for the Ravens’ linebackers and their edge rushers. While he’s one of the most talented players in this draft and makes a massive difference in defensive production when he’s on the field, Davis will only play around half the team’s defensive snaps. Still, he’s worth the 14th pick and more in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Selected by: John Stolnis (Bleeding Green Nation)
The Eagles have a type. They had one in big receivers like Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but that was largely unsuccessful. Now, they may not start a receiver over 195 pounds. Zach Pascal is bigger but likely won’t start in a trio of Chris Olave, DeVonta Smith, and Quez Watkins. Jalen Reagor is listed under 200 pounds as well.
Philadelphia wants separators, and Olave is every bit of that. He must work hard to improve his play strength to get off press consistently, but Philadelphia should move their receivers around to avoid that at all costs. Olave was a TD machine at Ohio State, and it was because of his precise route running in confined areas. He’s a Calvin Ridley-esque player on the field, which Jalen Hurts has a bit of experience with.
16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Selected by: Seth Galina (Pro Football Focus)
Galina made this statement on behalf of the organization about the pick.
“The Saints haven’t really had a Burks type of player in their offense for a while. The complementary pieces have always been speed-only receivers – from Devery Henderson to Robert Meachem to Ted Ginn – so a Burks pick would represent a shift to a certain degree. Skyy Moore could be the more classical pick for the Saints, but it might be too early for him.”
Sometimes a draft falls in a way that makes decision-makers and fans want to throw their chairs across their room. That’s exactly the case for New Orleans here. Galina expressed displeasure with how the board fell before making the Treylon Burks selection.
There’s no denying the Saints need to supplement their offensive weaponry with a talented receiver. Burks is a unique talent. While he’s not (nor is anybody) Deebo Samuel, Burks’ physicality and vision as a ball carrier make him a dangerous player after the catch. He also flashes great tracking and stacking skills to win vertically.