Check the Senior Bowl off the list of events that precede the NFL Draft. Next up? The 2022 NFL Combine and pro days. In the meantime, another 2022 NFL Mock Draft will have to suffice. Looking to do your own mock draft? Check out the Pro Football Network’s free Mock Draft Simulator to create your ideal team!
2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16
If you need a defender, the first half provides plenty of players to select. Let’s dive in.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
It will be tough to convince the Jaguars to pick someone whose primary objective isn’t to protect Trevor Lawrence. Evan Neal fills the need in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, so it’s not the most exciting pick. However, if Lawrence has time to throw and the offense can take off, drafting Neal will be one of the best decisions they make. Also, Jacksonville adds “intimidation by stepping off the bus” by drafting a 6’7″, 360-pound left tackle.
2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The debate between Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson will go on until the draft begins. While the Lions don’t necessarily need a defensive end more than some other positions, passing on one of the two will be tough. Thibodeaux has the power and speed to be an immediate contributor, and the staff can mold him into a star.
3) Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Houston has plenty of needs, so drafting nearly anyone appears to be the move. Fortunately, they’ll have the option of picking between Aidan Hutchinson and Thibodeaux. Hutchinson brings a tough mentality to the defensive line and should be around the organization for a while.
4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
New York needs help in the secondary — adding a unicorn seems like a great way to address that need. At 6’4″, Kyle Hamilton brings unique size to the safety position, and his presence elevates the Jets’ back end. He’s the definition of a game-changer, capable of covering receivers deep and laying the wood on ball carriers in the trenches.
5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Multiple players rounded out their game this year. But not many put themselves into the top 10 like Ikem Ekwonu. Initially known primarily for his physicality in the running game, Ekwonu proved that he could be a dominant factor in pass protection as well. The Giants need to protect their quarterback (whoever that might be), and Ekwonu instantly changes the tenacity of the offensive line in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
6) Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Malik Willis elevated his draft stock at the Senior Bowl, and many analysts are vaulting him to the top of their position rankings. Now, imagine Willis and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield together. That’s a nightmare to stop. Plus, Willis gets time to learn the system with Sam Darnold still on the roster, so there’s plenty of time for him to get comfortable.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
If you want a bully on your defensive line, George Karlaftis is your guy. The Purdue defensive end brings a ton of power to his game, but his athleticism and bend around the edge are also underrated. First, the Giants add a nasty blocker in Ekwonu. Now, they draft the defensive equivalent.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Jermaine Johnson II, DE Florida State
Drafting Jermaine Johnson II this high might be a stretch, but Johnson did well at the Senior Bowl to raise his draft stock. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team take a chance on him. He’s a relentless pass rusher with a ton of energy — he can add some youth to any DL he joins.
9) Denver Broncos: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Though there might not be a consensus top quarterback, teams still need to add them to their rosters. Denver could look to trade back, but drafting Matt Corral seems like a solid choice. His injury in the Sugar Bowl shouldn’t scare teams away from Corral’s talent, as his arm and athleticism speak for themselves.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Ahmad Gardner has been my top cornerback since the 2021 season began and nothing’s changed. He shut down everyone he faced in college, and that’s the biggest reason why he’s the best.
Whether it’s running stride for stride with receivers, being physical at the line, or coming up to make a tackle, Gardner can do it all. The Jets needed help in the secondary, but they might become one of the best with Gardner and Kyle Hamilton.
11) Washington Commanders: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Again, teams still need quarterbacks, and Washington is one of them. Opinions on Kenny Pickett vary from the first to the second round, so it’s anyone’s guess where he’ll be selected. His success with Pitt this past season gives teams a lot to like, but the latest drama surrounds his hand size. Washington might not care based on what they see on film.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Minnesota is currently debating Kirk Cousins’ future, but they also need a long-term option at quarterback. Whether Cousins sticks around or not, taking Sam Howell works either way. Kevin O’Connell’s first draft as head coach of the Vikings gives him a chance to take his quarterback, and this 2022 NFL Mock Draft believes he will.
13) Cleveland Browns: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
Here’s another prospect whose stock remains volatile in any 2022 NFL Mock Draft you see. It seems like people are trying to convince themselves that there are major problems with DeMarvin Leal‘s game, but that’s just not true. He has great power to compete on the inside, but he also has the speed to get around the edge. Cleveland won’t overthink taking him, and the combination of Myles Garrett and Leal is terrifying.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
While everyone debates over Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth Jr. gets overlooked frequently. It’s fitting given that’s exactly what happened for most of the 2021 season. Clemson’s struggles shadowed the defense, so the hype surrounding Booth might not start until we get closer to the draft.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
I’ll continue saying it — use the film instead of the testing results when evaluating Kaiir Elam‘s speed. The numbers either confirm what the film shows or aren’t worth using. Throw in his length and you get a cornerback that’s going to thrive in the NFL.
16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Devin Lloyd‘s the definition of a tackling machine. He just knows where the football will be and how to make a play. He has solid instincts along with great power to send a message, and the Eagles’ defense gets a lot better by adding him. Philadelphia needs playmakers on their defense, and they get three opportunities in the first round to add that talent.
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