2022 NFL Mock Draft: Giants make surprise move, Eagles rebuild their defense, and the Steelers add Big Ben’s replacement

In our latest first-round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, how many QBs go off the board, and does defense dominate the selections in the top 10?

For the first time in a while, 2022 NFL Mock Drafts have a different look to them. The Jacksonville Jaguars took over the top spot in the 2022 NFL Draft this week after losing to the Houston Texans, while the Arizona Cardinals slipped up against the Detroit Lions. Detroit now has two wins and a tie. So here is Jacksonville in pole position at the top of the draft in back-to-back years. Which direction do the Jaguars go in this first-round 2022 NFL Mock Draft?

You’re about to read a completely enthralling 2022 NFL Mock Draft courtesy of PFN’s Draft Team. Want to go beyond reading and do one of your own? Take a spin on PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

With the draft order getting somewhat of a shake-up in Week 15, how does the top half of our 2022 NFL Mock Draft shape up? With Jacksonville selecting at the top of the order, does it change how the first few picks go, and where will the first QB come off the board?

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Jaguars need elite talent to rebuild their roster all around. You could make a case for any position here if the talent level was high enough for the first overall pick. It just so happens that arguably the top two blue-chip talents in this year’s draft are edge rushers, and we’ve seen how influential an edge rusher can be if selected correctly (Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt).

Aidan Hutchinson‘s stock is rising, and scouts are starting to believe that he might be a nose in front of Kayvon Thibodeaux in the draft process. Hutchinson gives the Jaguars a menace off the edge, with insane first-step explosiveness and an already plethora of knowledge on the use of his hands and arms in fighting off linemen. A defensive line coach’s dream.

2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

I’m going with back-to-back edge rushers at the top of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, as both of these teams look for difference-makers to inspire their rosters going forward. The Lions have fought and battled and scrapped all season. Credit to Dan Campbell, who has a roster without any superstars, playing themselves into games all season long with pure grit and determination.

Kayvon Thibodeaux adds an element of flare to that. And with a defense that works as hard as Detroit’s does, having somebody off the edge who can wreak havoc and cause a turnover and/or short-field situation out of nowhere is exactly what they need.

3) Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

I quite like what we’re seeing early on from Davis Mills, and while I do believe there are quarterbacks deserving of top-10 selections in 2022, top three is too high for me. I could see a scenario where the Texans trade down to the lower end of the top 10 or teens to select a QB. But honestly, at this point, Mills has done enough for them to avoid needing to do that.

Kyle Hamilton is a 6-foot-4, sideline-to-sideline safety who can just about do it all. His athletic ability supersedes the stereotype for somebody of his size, and his ball skills and tracking are superb. Hamilton is excellent coming downhill, and you can line him up pretty much anywhere you’d like. The Texans need a lot of pieces, and adding a safety doesn’t solve all of their problems. Yet, it does offer a difference-maker that opposition QBs need to account for anywhere on the field.

4) New York Jets: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

While Evan Neal may have transitioned to left tackle this past season at Alabama, he’s every bit as experienced and capable playing on the right side. With Mekhi Becton on the left, and Alijah Vera-Tucker at left guard, adding Neal to that offensive line would give Zach Wilson a brick wall to work behind for the next several years.

Neal excels in the run game, helping create gaps for his running backs. He is also extremely quick in passing sets. Neal gets to the defensive lineman first and often gives himself an advantage as a result.

5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Giants have all of these weapons on offense, but amidst the offensive line crisis, that talent is going to waste. They need to head into the 2022 NFL Draft with the intent to fix that situation. Starting here at No. 5 with Ikem Ekwonu is a good start to that strategy.

Ekwonu projects as a starting left tackle at the next level after dominating at NC State since arriving as a freshman. Ekwonu is aggressive, extremely powerful, and could easily be the best tackle in this class. I do believe if the Jets needed a pure LT, rather than somebody who can play on the right, that Ekwonu might even have been the first tackle off the board in 2022. This guy will be Saquon Barkley’s best friend in New York.

6) New York Giants (via Chicago): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

Somewhat controversial, some might say, but with everything the Giants had at their disposal this season, the output has been poor, and we’re now three seasons into the Daniel Jones experiment. I’d be ready to give it up. The Giants gained this pick from the Bears, who traded up and made a play for their franchise quarterback. Why not do the same with that very pick?

The Giants have two back-to-back picks and the pick of the litter at QB. They have time to evaluate each and every one of them, fall in love with the right one, and send the franchise in the right direction. Kenny Pickett has the mobility to escape the pocket and take off when he deems necessary. He adds an extra element to the Giants’ offense that’s been somewhat lacking. The weapons are in place already in New York, and with Jones still under contract for at least one more season, there’d be no rush to throw Pickett straight in.

7) Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

There isn’t a world where the Carolina Panthers allow their current QB situation to spill over into the 2022 season. The offensive woes have already cost offensive coordinator Joe Brady his job, and we don’t yet know how much longer Matt Rhule will be allowed to run things down in Carolina.

The Sam Darnold experiment has not worked, and Cam Newton is not the answer, either. Carolina needs to act and get their franchise QB in place. Matt Corral has had tremendous success under Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. He has supreme arm talent and the ability to run very effectively. Corral throws one of the prettiest deep balls in all of football and has done a great job this season protecting the ball, limiting turnovers, and making pro-level decisions.

8) New York Jets (via Seattle): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Let’s give Robert Saleh a young rookie very similar to Nick Bosa, who he can nurture and build into one of the most dangerous edge talents in the NFL. With the 49ers, Saleh’s defense was built upon the foundations of an elite defensive line. I believe to fully embed his philosophy in New York, he needs to do the same again.

George Karlaftis has the versatility to play off the edge or at OLD, having proved his ability at both at Purdue. He’s got a wealth of rushing moves already down to a tee. Putting him to work with Saleh is a match made in heaven.

9) Atlanta Falcons: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

The Falcons have lacked a genuine pass rush all season. DeMarvin Leal would change that and quickly. You can line Leal up in just about any gap across the line, and he’ll go and make plays. He has great technical ability to force pressure, collapse a pocket, and create chaos in the backfield, which is exactly what the Falcons need.

To win football games, it starts in the trenches, and a difference-maker like Leal is a steal at No. 9. He should not be passed up by a Falcons team that needs to remodel itself on defense.

10) Washington Football Team: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Kenyon Green has the versatility to play at least three positions on the offensive line. He has experience at both guard spots but could also transition into an excellent right tackle. Washington needs to bolster their line and may not be able to retain veteran Brandon Scherff, who’s currently on the franchise tag.

Green was a five-star recruit out of high school and would help create spaces in Washington’s run game. His pass protection is excellent too. Green brings a wealth of experience with him into the NFL, which will help to give him a kickstart as a pro.

11) Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Eagles may need other positions too, but with Derek Stingley Jr. still available at No. 11 — considering the talent pool now available — this feels like a no-brainer. Stingley made a name for himself as a freshman, as he locked down some of the best receivers in college football, added 6 interceptions, and got the attention of the entire nation.

Stingley was a top 100 all-time high school recruit, according to 247 sports, grading a 0.998 out of 1.000. He’s lived up to that hype throughout college and would be a great addition for the Eagles here.

12) Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami): David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

Hutchinson’s teammate and opposite side rusher is also selected in the top half of the first round. Following the Stingley addition, the Eagles add a raw talent edge rusher in David Ojabo, who has shot up draft boards this season.

Ojabo has a similar background in football to Joseph Ossai, who was drafted by the Bengals last year. They started playing later than all the other kids and picked up the game at an intense rate, with tremendously high upside. Ojabo took up football in his junior year of high school and was regarded as a strong four-star recruit by the time the recruitment process began. He possesses excellent acceleration and burst. Coached into the right scheme, I love Ojabo’s potential.

13) Denver Broncos: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The Denver Broncos are so close to being an excellent football team but are being let down by mediocre play at the QB position. Neither Teddy Bridgewater nor Drew Lock are capable of taking this team on a deep playoff run, and it’s time to put the patchwork QB scenarios to bed in Denver.

It’s been years since they had a genuine franchise QB, and Sam Howell is the guy. Howell faced adversity early this season, having lost his entire group of weapons to the draft in the offseason. Early on, it looked like it might be a long season for the Tar Heels, but Howell showed his leadership in uniting the group. He’s thrown 91 touchdowns in three seasons at UNC while setting the school record for passing yards (17,036). He comes into the 2022 NFL Draft a very tough, accurate, and powerful quarterback with great ability to run.

14) New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

In 2017, the Saints desperately needed a cornerback and sat patiently at No. 11 when Pro Bowl talent Marshon Lattimore dropped right into their laps. He was the best corner in the class, and team needs from the franchises ahead of them just meant it worked out perfectly for them.

The same happens here. Sitting at 14 in this mock and in desperate need of a wide receiver, they get the best guy the 2022 NFL Draft has to offer. Chris Olave could be outstanding in New Orleans and would serve as either a great teammate for Michael Thomas or a replacement, assuming he’s played his last snap for WHO DAT Nation.

Olave is a premium route runner and a technician at the position. He plays the game smart, understands how to get himself open at all times, and is the latest in a long line of talent to come out at receiver from OSU.

15) Cleveland Browns: Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

Jordan Davis is an absolute machine of a man who can fill multiple gaps on the defensive line all by himself. The Browns are in a position where their roster is so talented they can choose whatever they please in this draft.

Davis is 6’6″, 340 pounds, and can stuff the run with the best of them. He’s a very powerful young talent with great explosiveness. Adding him to a defensive line already featuring Myles Garrett off the edge in order to also plug up the middle would be a great move for the Browns.

16) Las Vegas Raiders: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

The Raiders have a lot of holes, and general manager Mike Mayock needs a strong draft to stop the rot from spreading any further for the franchise.

Tyler Linderbaum, who is typically undersized for an NFL offensive lineman, makes up for his 290-pound frame with mobility, excellent hands and fighting, and violence as a blocker. He’s very fluid in his movements, works extremely hard, and comes from a background in wrestling, which helps his game tremendously. Linderbaum could slot in at center for the Raiders, and with a little additional development, become one of the most fun to watch in the NFL.

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