2022 NFL Mock Draft: Can Oklahoma provide another No. 1 overall pick?

Since the inception of the seven-round NFL Draft format, there have been 18 quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall. Yet, despite those 18 players coming from 15 different schools, no program has been more prolific than Oklahoma at providing No. 1 overall picks at the position. So, can Spencer Rattler join Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Bradford in that esteemed society? Let’s find out with our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft!

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

The draft order was derived from the Las Vegas odds on the 2021 NFL standings.

1) Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell may have been singing about the environmental concern, but she could have been thinking about the Detroit Lions quarterback situation. Although Jared Goff helped guide the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance just two years ago, there’s no denying that he’s a downgrade on the outgoing Matthew Stafford. Their projection as the worst team in the NFL in 2021 by the Las Vegas odds is testament to this.

Despite the financial ramifications of Goff’s contract, they bring in Spencer Rattler to change the franchise’s fortunes. The Arizona high school record holder for passing yards suffered a shaky start to his first season as the starter for Oklahoma last year. However, his development through the season was remarkable. There’s no doubting his arm strength, pocket presence, and ability to make plays out of structure. Another season of consistent development should ensure he sews up the QB1 spot in the 2022 NFL Draft.

2) Houston Texans: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

“Houston, we have a problem.” Those iconic words were never actually uttered by Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert. Instead, they were a film dramatization of his actual communication. However, if Swigert were to look at the Houston Texans’ roster right now, those would probably be the exact words he would utter.

With a lack of clarity over the quarterback situation in the future, you have to believe that the Texans will strike for a signal-caller in the 2022 NFL Draft. Sam Howell‘s performances over the past two years for North Carolina have electrified the college football world. He’s tough, mobile, and has the arm strength to make all the throws. Howell’s build and play style have earned comparison to Baker Mayfield. How he performs this season with a depleted supporting cast will go a long way to determining whether he challenges Rattler for the label of QB1.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

In my previous 2022 NFL Mock Draft, I had the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting Alabama’s gargantuan offensive tackle Evan Neal. With Trevor Lawrence secured under center, ensuring that their face of the franchise is protected is essential. They gave up the eighth-most sacks in the NFL in 2020, and I’m not 100% convinced that Walker Little is the long-term answer at left tackle.

With that being said, this time around, Oregon’s defensive monster Kayvon Thibodeaux is still on the board. The athletic defensive end is a contender to be the best player in the 2022 NFL Draft class, and getting him third overall would represent an absolute steal.

Take all the superlatives you can think of to describe athleticism, and then go back to the dictionary and find some more because I can guarantee you don’t have enough. An outstanding pass rusher who is equally adept at stopping the run is just what the dismal defense in Duval desires.

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

If the Philadelphia Eagles are selecting fourth overall, as they do in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, you have to imagine that quarterback will be a genuine consideration. The front office kept faith in Jalen Hurts through this year’s draft, surrounding him with talent rather than threatening him with competition. Let’s not pretend he’s deeply entrenched as the starter, but also, let’s not pretend that he’s the biggest problem either.

The Eagles have to find some production out of the secondary. Although they weren’t one of the worst teams in terms of passing yards allowed last year, they ranked in the bottom 10 of the NFL for yards per pass attempt allowed, completion percentage allowed, and interceptions. The team from the City of Brotherly Love was too loving with opposition offenses.

Enter Derek Stingley. A genuine lockdown corner, Stingley secured 6 interceptions and 15 pass deflections as a true freshman. He’s a defensive playmaker who combines athleticism and ball skills to upgrade the Eagles’ secondary.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

“Insanity; doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein wasn’t an NFL general manager. Still, if he were, he wouldn’t allow the Cincinnati Bengals to go through another year without them selecting an offensive tackle in the first round. Despite the addition of Jackson Carman and D’Ante Smith this cycle, offensive tackle still figures to be their most significant need.

Yet, Einstein wasn’t an NFL GM, and neither is he the author of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. In Kyle Hamilton, the Bengals land a player for whom insanity can be used as the highest compliment.

The Notre Dame safety has an insane athletic profile. His ability to play all over the field is asinine. The Bengals would be mad to let one of the best players in the 2022 NFL Draft slip through their fingers. Whether Jessie Bates III stays or not, Hamilton will immediately upgrade the Cincinnati secondary.

6) New York Jets: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

By the time the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around, it will be 10 years since Darrelle Revis moved “Revis Island” away from East Rutherford. Although he returned for a brief stint from 2015-2016, the New York Jets haven’t had a lockdown corner since. It showed last year, as they ranked near the bottom of the NFL in multiple pass defense metrics. As a result, cornerback figures to be one of their most extensive needs.

Despite missing out on Stingley, the Jets land a cornerback in Kaiir Elam, who isn’t far behind in terms of talent. At 6’2″ and 193 pounds, he combines NFL size with incredible fluidity and ball skills. The Florida cornerback may not have the gaudy statistics of his competition from LSU, but he’s a genuine contender to be the best in the cornerback class.

7) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

Thanks to their trade with the Chicago Bears in the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants are in an excellent position to alter the franchise’s fortunes dramatically. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they hold two top 10 selections, a sign that sticking with Daniel Jones for another year maybe didn’t work out all that well. Of course, the natural assumption is that they’d use this selection on a quarterback, but we all know what assumptions do.

The 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class contains a lot of uncertainty at this point. Although the Giants will get a new signal-caller shortly, there isn’t a prospect that necessitates them running up to the podium here. However, in offensive lineman Kenyon Green, there is.

They need to address the offensive line, and, for me, Green is comfortably the best offensive lineman in the class. He’ll play tackle for Texas A&M this year, but he’s an elite interior lineman. Wherever he lines up for the Giants, he will automatically upgrade the line.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, DE, USC

Matt Ryan lives another day!

The Atlanta Falcons were expected to select his successor at the end of last season but instead chose Kyle Pitts. No doubt the 36-year-old quarterback will go through the same scenario next year. Still, if the Falcons would pass up the opportunity to select Justin Fields, why would they settle for an inferior quarterback a year later?

Let’s be honest — there are more issues with the Falcons than their quarterback. Despite having a reasonable run defense, their pass defense was abysmal. They allowed the most yardage in the NFL last year while giving up the fourth most touchdowns. The secondary needs some work, but the problems start upfront with a lack of pass rush.

The Falcons remedy that with the selection of USC’s Drake Jackson. Jackson has an uncommon combination of size and athleticism. He’s a versatile defensive piece who can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt.

9) Denver Broncos: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Can Oklahoma provide another No. 1 overall pick?
Dec 26, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) celebrates with his family in the stands after an overtime victory over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being linked to Fields, Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, and adding Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock has survived into the 2021 NFL season. Suppose the Denver Broncos are selecting in the top 10 for a second consecutive season. In that case, it’s unlikely that any quarterbacks on their roster will be the starter by the beginning of the 2022 NFL campaign.

If you thought there was a spirited debate about this year’s QB class, you haven’t seen anything yet. There are zero consensuses about any of the 2022 QB prospects, and right now, they could fall in any order. Liberty’s Malik Willis has the attributes to meet the demands of the modern-day NFL quarterback.

There isn’t another signal-caller in the class that is as creative with their legs. In addition, Willis has an absolute cannon for an arm. There is room for improvement, but the same could be said for any quarterback in the class.

10) New York Giants: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

The Giants are all in on Daniel Jones — apparently. Their moves in the draft and free agency have set the third-year quarterback up for success. The addition of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney offers Jones the best wide receiver room he’s had so far. As a result, there are no excuses. There has to be success this season. Picking twice in the top 10 would suggest that success is absent from the 2021 Giants.

Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder gives the Giants an exciting alternative to Jones. Yes, there are some accuracy issues that he needs to iron out. But when you combine the prototypical height of an NFL quarterback with a mesmerizing ability to create plays outside of the pocket, Ridder provides an intriguing potential replacement. He’ll likely compete at the Senior Bowl too, where winning the MVP award would practically guarantee him being drafted by the Giants.

11) Washington Football Team: Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

At this rate, the Washington Football Team will have found a new name before quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick calls it a day. This is the former Harvard quarterback’s ninth different team in his 16-year career. Despite his longevity and the excitement that he often brings to an offense, Fitzpatrick isn’t the franchise’s long-term future.

Furthermore, with an incredible defense and some phenomenal offensive playmakers, a selection this early in the 2022 NFL Draft will suggest that neither he nor Taylor Heinicke could get the job done.

Kedon Slovis has the potential to be the man to command the position. Exceptional as a newcomer, his injury-related sophomore slump has sullied his draft stock. Still, the USC quarterback exhibits astonishing football intelligence, leadership, and ball placement. Although last season was a struggle, he showed he could deliver the ball to all areas of the field as a freshman. A return to that form should help boost his stock.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

With multiple players across the defensive line set to hit free agency, the Raiders will have not just depth issues but quality issues from a pass rush perspective ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Despite the emergence of Maxx Crosby, Jon Gruden’s team has failed to rush the passer with any consistency. They have to get better upfront, and they do just that in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

DeMarvin Leal is a dangerous defensive lineman who can line up anywhere across the line. He’s excelled at defensive end for Texas A&M but has the size to play defensive tackle in the NFL. In addition, Leal possesses excellent movement skills for his size and comes equipped with an array of pass-rush tools.

13) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OG, NC State

Can Matt Rhule help kickstart Sam Darnold’s stalling career? The Panthers seem to be more excited and supportive of the former USC signal-caller than the Jets ever were. Although selecting 13th overall in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft might not seem like a success, it’s an improvement from last season.

So, assuming Carolina continues with Darnold under center, how do they best support him in the draft? Despite adding Brady Christensen this year, the offensive line will continue to be overhauled, and this time they address the interior.

Ikem Ekwonu isn’t a household name, but the NC State offensive lineman will be soon. He can play tackle and guard, but he is best utilized inside. Furthermore, teams can put his characteristics as a mauler to excellent use both in the ground and passing games.

14) Minnesota Vikings: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

Even with standout defensive end Danielle Hunter, the Minnesota Vikings have one of the worst pass-rush units in the NFL. Last year, they ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks, pressures, and quarterback knockdowns. They added Janarius Robinson and Patrick Jones II in this year’s draft to help, but the fact remains that they need a premier pass rusher if they want to compete in the NFC North.

Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis would give the Vikings a dominant pass rusher who has the size and athletic profile to be a scheme versatile defensive lineman in the NFL. At 6’5″ and 275 pounds, the Greek-born Karlaftis puts the big in “big defensive end.” Additionally, he has surprising speed and an arsenal of pass-rush tools, making him disruptive when rushing either inside or outside.

15) Arizona Cardinals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Although D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum signed contract extensions within the past 18 months, the Arizona Cardinals need to consider the future of their offensive line. There may be needs that are considered more significant, such as cornerback or even pass rush. Still, as this 2022 NFL Mock Draft has fallen, they get an incredible opportunity to secure one of the best offensive tackles in the class.

Alabama’s Evan Neal is a man mountain at 6’7″ and 360 pounds. Despite his considerable size, he has decent mobility and speed while being as strong as they come. Neal is expected to play left tackle for the Crimson Tide this season, having previously lined up at right tackle and guard. That versatility will be highly coveted at the next level.

16) Pittsburgh Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Despite a crowded quarterback room in Pittsburgh, is there anyone primed to take over the starting job from Ben Roethlisberger? Although he returned for another year, his time is coming to an end. Quarterback was a popular mock draft choice for the Steelers before this year’s annual selection event. So it won’t be a surprise if the position dominates every mock draft for the team in 2022.

At the risk of bowing down to conventional wisdom, quarterback is the Steelers’ direction in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Carson Strong has the prototypical NFL quarterback size at 6’4″ and 215 pounds. In addition, he comes equipped with a strong arm and excellent awareness in the pocket. Having impressed with 27 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions last season, his development through the 2021 college football season could see him become one of the best quarterbacks in the class.

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