The NFL’s annual Black Monday slew of firings got off to a fiery start with multiple head coaches getting the axe. With the final regular-season games in the books, the 2022 NFL Draft order is set for the first 18 picks. As such, we let the Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator go for a spin in this iteration of a 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
The Mock Draft Simulator threw some surprises our way in this version. Don’t look now, but edge defenders do not go first or even second.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The new name of the game in Jacksonville? Protect Trevor Lawrence. After investing the first overall pick in their franchise quarterback a season ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars get their blindside protector for the next decade-plus in Evan Neal. A big man with even bigger upside, Neal is fierce in pass protection. He’s terrific in the run game as well.
But his bread and butter is his pass sets. Neal gives the Jags a stalwart protector for their young quarterback to grow with.
2) Detroit Lions: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The rangiest safety in recent memory, Kyle Hamilton draws comparisons to a larger Derwin James. The Detroit Lions can go in a wide variety of directions here, but grabbing a chess piece for the secondary is the move. Hamilton closes space in the blink of an eye and thumps downhill in the run game. He does all this with a massive frame and keen instincts. Hamilton should be a Pro Bowler in Year 1.
3) Houston Texans: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The top cornerback drafted is Andrew Booth Jr., and he goes ahead of the edge rushers in this mock draft iteration. Booth is just scratching the surface of his athletic ability in terms of making plays on the field. You can’t coach athleticism or ball skills, and Booth has those in spades. He’s also shown growth over his career with the Tigers. He’ll lock down a side of the field for Houston for years to come.
4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
There he goes. Largely seen as the consensus No. 1 pick over the past few months, Kayvon Thibodeaux sees a bit of a slip here. The New York Jets, however, get a steal for their defense. With the return of Carl Lawson and the selection of Thibodeaux, the Jets should field one of the better pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
Thibodeaux is as talented as they come and rushes the passer with an array of moves. He also moves down the line of scrimmage with ferocity in the run game to boot.
5) New York Giants: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
A big man with the power to push past any tackle, Aidan Hutchinson heads to the Big Apple. The New York Giants grab Hutchinson with their first of two picks in the top seven selections. Hutchinson is a power rusher but has plenty of bend and athleticism in his rushes.
He’ll also prove to be a handful in the running game when he’s placed on an NFL defensive line. Whoever is chosen as the Giants’ next general manager grabs a potential steal in this class with Hutchinson at No. 5.
6) Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
The jury is out on how much longer Matt Rhule will be the head coach of the Panthers. However, it appears Sam Darnold’s days as the starting quarterback are numbered as Carolina nabs Matt Corral in this mock draft. Corral has plenty of arm strength to hit every level of the field. He also has shown the ability to throw from every platform and has a bevy of athleticism with his legs.
Corral keeps his eyes downfield and always looks for plays in the passing game before relying on his legs off scrambles. He’s QB1 here and will have high expectations in the NFL.
7) New York Giants (from Chicago): Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M
The Giants need help all over their offensive line. After going defensive line at No. 5, they stay in the trenches and add the versatile Kenyon Green with their second top-seven pick. Green can essentially play all five offensive line positions but excels inside at guard. He will be able to move all around the offensive line this summer to find his sweet spot. The Texas A&M product is incredibly athletic and has strong hands in both the pass and rush game.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Georga Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The third edge defender in the top eight and third in the past five picks, George Karlaftis heads south to the Atlanta Falcons. Karlaftis is a power rusher like Hutchinson but possesses perhaps the best football IQ of any player in this class. His motor is among the strongest at any position, as well. Karlaftis continually raises the bar of what’s to be expected of him and surpasses it with every rep.
9) Denver Broncos: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
With strong hands, stronger arms, and an even stronger base, Charles Cross will anchor a side of the Denver Broncos offensive line for years to come. Cross battles well against a bevy of pass-rushing types and will lean on his pass-blocking skills while he acclimates himself to a real rushing attack. Whoever is quarterbacking the Broncos in 2022 will have a solid set of tackles with Cross and Garett Bolles.
10) New York Jets (from Seattle): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The New York Jets grab their second top player at his respective position with Garrett Wilson at No. 10. Wilson also fills the mantra of “build around Zach Wilson” and gives the young quarterback a viable WR1 candidate for 2022 and beyond. Wilson is an elite route runner and maybe even better at the catch point. He’s elusive after the catch, but more importantly, elusive through his routes as he creates separation at every break.
11) Washington Football Team: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
A massive big-play threat, Jameson Williams heads to Landover to join the Washington Football Team with the 11th selection. The team will have a new nickname — and likely a new quarterback — by the time this selection is made. That new QB will have an uber-talented wide receiver on the outside who can run past defensive backs and jump through the roof. Williams exercised the transfer portal to its fullest extent this season, exploding onto the scene with Alabama.
12) Minnesota Vikings: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
The player with the best single pass-rush move heads to the Minnesota Vikings as David Ojabo joins a new regime in Minneapolis. Ojabo’s spin move is the top move in this class and arguably among the best we’ve seen in years. He’ll beat even the quickest of tackles with his speed. Ojabo’s game is expanding, as he proved to be a valuable run defender in 2021.
13) Cleveland Browns: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
The best interior defensive lineman heads to the Cleveland Browns. DeMarvin Leal is a talented pass rusher and ferocious run defender on the inside. He tosses offensive linemen away like yesterday’s news and always seeks to find the football. Leal can improve his pass-rushing arsenal, but at this moment, his power and athleticism will get him far enough. He’s continuing to improve his game with every rep and will have one of the best to ever do it to help him hone his craft in Myles Garrett.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The second cornerback selected, Kaiir Elam strengthens a Baltimore Ravens secondary that struggled at times in 2021. Elam is a skilled cover corner with plenty of versatility to play in a multitude of coverages. His keen instincts allow him to play off his receivers and routinely make plays on passes that aren’t even in his primary coverage area. Elam is a lockdown, rock-solid cornerback.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The 2020 and 2021 tape didn’t match the 2019 tape for Derek Stingley Jr., but his ceiling is maybe the highest in this class. And that’s not just at cornerback — that’s overall. His ball skills shown in the 2019 campaign were the best we’ve seen in decades. He’s been marred by injuries and lack of time on the field since, but one simple fact remains. Had Stingley entered the 2020 NFL Draft, he likely would’ve been the first non-QB taken. He’s that good when he’s at his best.
16) Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The best overall linebacker is next up as the Philadelphia Eagles go defense with back-to-back picks. Devin Lloyd is a sideline-to-sideline threat with terrific upside. He’s incredibly experienced, and he’s just as sharp in run defense as he is when he blitzes. But his best asset is his coverage ability. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said Lloyd is the best defensive player he’s ever coached. That’s high praise for one of the best to ever do it at the collegiate level.