I would normally kick this 2022 NFL Mock Draft off with sprawling sentences of indulgent prose. But there are only three weeks left until the 2022 NFL Draft. There’s no time to waste. Let’s dive right into the latest full 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft and see how your team fared.
2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: Round 1 | Picks 1-16
How does the beginning of Round 1 shake out in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft? Let’s begin with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, who take two defensive players off the board.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia
Looking at the sum of the parts, Travon Walker might not be worth the No. 1 pick at this point in time. His hand usage is very much a work in progress. Having said this, the Jaguars are likely more concerned about whether he can eventually pay back the price of the No. 1 pick by realizing his potential — and the answer is yes. Will Walker reach his ceiling? That remains to be seen. But he’s essentially a Super Saiyan with the athleticism and power to be disruptive all across the line.
2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson may not be the Joey Bosa-level prospect he’s been advertised to be at times. But Hutchinson’s red-hot motor is a constant trait that can help him supersede limitations like a lack of bend and shorter arms. He doesn’t always play to his testing numbers, but he has the explosiveness and agility to be a mismatch for tackles, and his violent disposition gives him a leg up in hand-fighting situations.
3) Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
It’s certainly a close race for OT1 between Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, but we sometimes gloss over just how good Neal is. For his size, he’s an incredibly smooth pass protector, with incredibly efficient motion and calculated hands. He also knows when to unleash his monstrous raw power and athleticism, particularly in the running game, where he can pave open lanes. If the Texans are going to run with Davis Mills, giving him a right tackle like Neal is the move to make.
4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
On the surface, the character concerns surrounding Kayvon Thibodeaux seem without merit. But there’s only so much we can know on the outside. That’s why teams like the New York Jets are conducting interviews with Thibodeaux this month. If he passes the test, there shouldn’t be any reservations picking him No. 4 overall. Thibodeaux has elite explosiveness off the snap, and with his length, he can generate devastating power.
5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll seem set on attempting to resurrect the career of Daniel Jones. If you’re going to commit to that, you can’t cut corners. That’s why investing in the trenches is of the utmost importance for the Giants. And at No. 5 overall in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Ikem Ekwonu isn’t a player you want to overthink. Ekwonu is a mauler with eye-popping athleticism in space, running down defenders like an apex predator. Moving him to right tackle presents some uncertainty, but the traits are worth it.
6) Carolina Panthers: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
In any other class, Desmond Ridder wouldn’t be the first QB off the board. But with no runaway option in the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s anyone’s guess which QB goes first. If it comes to the Panthers to make that call, it makes sense for them to narrow it down to the QBs with the highest floors. Matt Rhule doesn’t have much more time to waste with Sam Darnold. Ridder needs to improve his mechanics, but he has high-end traits and experience. He was a winner at Cincinnati — NFL teams care about that, sometimes to a fault.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
If I were an NFL general manager, I’d feel very comfortable picking Jermaine Johnson II. In fact, he offers more comfort and safety as a prospect than Walker, Thibodeaux, and even Hutchinson. Not only is Johnson a great athlete with stellar size and length, but he’s also a technician around the edge who arguably has the best hands in the class. He’s incredibly strong and forceful, and he’s precise with his timing. He can win around the edge with his burst and bend or go right through tackles with his power.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
After signing Marcus Mariota, the Atlanta Falcons don’t necessarily have to take a quarterback. But if Malik Willis falls to No. 8 overall, it’s something they have to consider. The Falcons know it, too, as they hosted Willis on a visit this offseason. Willis arguably has the highest ceiling of the 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks. He’s incredibly athletic in short ranges, with high-end evasion ability and a rocket arm. Let him sit and learn. And in the meantime, Atlanta has eight more picks to help improve the roster.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
I love redemptive arcs as much as the next person, but it feels like a long shot for Drew Lock to revitalize his career in Seattle. But neither Lock nor a rookie quarterback is going to be successful if the Seahawks don’t improve the offensive line. With Duane Brown now a free agent, Seattle has a void at left tackle. They can easily fill it here by taking Charles Cross. Cross is a little lean, but he’s a nimble athlete with elite recovery, and he can use his length to disrupt and negate pass rushers.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
This pick is a perfect storm, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. The Jets presumably have their boundary CBs in D.J. Reed and Bryce Hall. And in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the top four edge rushers are already off the board. Tackle is a legitimate option for the Jets, who’ll have Mekhi Becton and George Fant battling for the left tackle spot. Per Tony Pauline, Joe Douglas is very high on Trevor Penning and could jump at the chance to add a nasty, dominant, physical presence to his offensive line.
11) Washington Commanders: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
In my opinion, the Washington Commanders made the wrong choice by trading multiple early-round picks for Carson Wentz. Time will ultimately tell, but the only way for the Commanders to potentially make this wrong move right is to give Wentz weapons. At No. 11 overall, Garrett Wilson is the best weapon on the board. His teammate Chris Olave is more refined at this point, but Wilson has visibly higher upside with his explosiveness, twitch, run-after-catch ability, and instincts.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Every prospect has a floor. I think this is Ahmad Gardner‘s. Quarterbacks and other needs may push him just outside the top 10, but he’s not getting past the 12th overall pick if he’s there. The Minnesota Vikings desperately need an infusion of talent at the cornerback position. And Ahmad Gardner is a great fit for Ed Donatell’s zone-matching scheme. He can match and carry receivers with his athleticism, and he has the length, explosiveness, and instincts to be a playmaker on the boundary.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
If Mills is going to work out long-term at the quarterback position for the Texans, then mere protection isn’t good enough. The Stanford product also needs weapons. And in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, he’s getting them. Chris Olave is one of the top receivers on the board, and he offers a nice contrast from size threats like Nico Collins and Chris Conley. Olave is a smooth, efficient route runner who can splice into open zones with explosiveness and throttle control. And when the ball comes his way, he’s an expert at tracking it.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Just like that, after his pro day, all the questions surrounding Derek Stingley Jr. are gone. To be fair, it was reasonable to be wary of the injuries. But Stingley is fully healthy now, and he proved it this past week. At LSU’s Pro Day, Stingley ran a 4.44 and likely could’ve run faster had he been further along in his recovery. He also jumped 38.5″ in the vertical. Stingley is an elite athlete, and he supplements that athleticism with smooth technique and ball skills on tape. He’s a wise long-term investment for Baltimore.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is a top-10 prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. But as good as he is, safeties do tend to fall down the board. And with his 40-yard dash time, there’s one more reason for teams to potentially rationalize that fall. Turn on the tape, and it becomes clear that, while Hamilton doesn’t have elite long speed, his elite explosiveness, size, and processing capacity more than compensates. For the Eagles, he’s a versatile addition who can play deep, play in two-high, and line up as a Buffalo nickel.
16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Drake London, WR, USC
The Saints could ultimately package their first-round picks in pursuit of a quarterback, or they could take a signal-caller that falls to 16. But at that point, it might be more prudent for New Orleans to run it back with Jameis Winston — a familiar passer who was playing well before his injury in 2021 — and add talent elsewhere in Round 1. If the Saints choose Door No. 2, Drake London should be near the top of their list. He has smooth, dynamic athleticism for his 6’4″, 219-pound frame, and he’s a phenomenal contested-catch threat as well.