We’ve hit yet another milestone on the path to the 2022 NFL Draft, with the all-star circuit now taking hold. There are now fewer than 100 days before the climactic showcase, where over 250 eligible prospects will find new homes at the NFL level. Here at PFN, we’ve already run more simulations than Troy and Abed in the Dreamatorium, but there’s always room for more. With that said, let’s dive right into our January 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
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2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
The draft starts now. These are the first sixteen players off the board in our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Having the No. 1 overall pick puts the Jaguars in an enviable position. And with a roster that’s still far from contention, they could feasibly pick the best player on their board without issue.
But there’s a crucial factor that must be considered beyond talent: the necessity of supporting Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville might not have Evan Neal as their No. 1 overall player, but he’s the top-five talent who best fits what they need to succeed.
2. Detroit Lions: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Let’s be honest: We’re splitting hairs with the top four or five edge rushers in this class. They’re all phenomenal prospects, and with so many variables at play, the first EDGE off the board isn’t set in stone. And David Ojabo isn’t out of the discussion.
If he tests as expected, he’ll confirm he has elite athletic upside to go along with imposing length and an underrated pass-rush arsenal. Ojabo has Chandler Jones upside. That’s worth the No. 2 pick.
3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
This is a dream scenario for the Texans, who need a dream scenario more than anybody right now. Ranking this EDGE group is a particularly subjective process, but Kayvon Thibodeaux is widely regarded as a top-three prospect.
Thibodeaux possesses a player with a long, looming frame, who gets off the line with inhuman explosiveness. Add in his torso flexibility and power capacity, and he’s a blue-chip addition for a talent-devoid Houston squad.
4. New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
We’ve heard about the positional value of the safety position all season. And it’s true — NFL teams have, in the past, devalued the safety position in the NFL Draft. I’d like to believe they see Kyle Hamilton a little bit differently, though.
Hamilton isn’t your average safety. He’s an elite athlete at 6’4″, 220 pounds, with eye-popping range on the back end, and the versatility to line up all across the secondary. The Jets need this kind of player. And they shouldn’t pass him up.
5. New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
New GM Joe Schoen gave starting quarterback Daniel Jones a vote of support in his introductory press conference. And co-owner John Mara admitted to “screwing up” Jones at every step of the way. There’s still belief in Jones, but now, it’s time for the Giants to put their money where their mouth is.
Invest heavily in the offensive line. You need a bouncer for your quarterback, and who better than Ikem Ekwonu — a hyper-physical mauler with scary athleticism and dominant upside.
6. Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Every instinct says quarterback here — because the Panthers don’t have one. But PFN Lead NFL Analyst Dalton Miller made a great point about this in his Panthers offseason preview. Darnold is untradeable, and his fifth-year option takes up a lot of cap space.
If the Panthers did draft a QB, they wouldn’t have the resources to build around him. The better option here might be to kickstart the offensive line rebuild with Charles Cross — a deceptively powerful lineman with calculated hands and rare athleticism.
7. New York Giants (from CHI): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Bills, with Schoen in their front office, drafted three edge rushers in the first two rounds over the past two draft cycles. Two of those edge rushers — Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa — had arms over 34 inches long. Thus, it’s reasonable to believe that Schoen will value that trait highly when he searches for a complement to Azeez Ojulari. Travon Walker is one of the largest edge rushers in this class, and with his length and athleticism, he carries elite power capacity.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Arm length matters in the trenches. It’s not a reason to rally against a prospect on its own, but in a tightly contested EDGE class, it could make a difference (for some teams) between Aidan Hutchinson and somebody else.
Hutchinson is rumored to have sub-33-inch arms. Still, he’s a worthy top-10 pick, and a team like Atlanta could be the beneficiary if he falls. Hutchinson’s a stellar athlete at 6’6″, 260 pounds, with violent, twitchy hands, and a motor that runs hotter than the sun’s corona.
9. Denver Broncos: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
There’s no consensus on who QB1 of the 2022 NFL Draft is. But Kenny Pickett has a strong case as the safest option if his hand size proves to be a non-issue at the Senior Bowl. Since the Broncos still have their first-round pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we can assume they didn’t land Aaron Rodgers. But in Pickett, they have a talented, mechanically-sound passer with off-script ability on a cheap rookie deal.
10. New York Jets (from SEA): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Joe Douglas doesn’t often spend first-round picks on cornerbacks — he’s the anti-Rick Spielman, in that sense. But Douglas can’t keep kicking the can down the road. The Jets need more high-level talent on the back end.
In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they go a long way toward solving that issue with Hamilton and Ahmad Gardner. A rare athlete for his 6’3″, 200-pound frame, Gardner is a chippy competitor with lockdown potential.
11. Washington Football Team: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Malik Willis doesn’t perfectly fit the win-early mold at quarterback that Washington needs. But he’s the kind of addition that would help generate excitement amidst a rebranding effort.
This isn’t just a hollow PR move, though. Willis can play. He may need some time to adjust at the NFL level, but he has high-end athleticism and arm talent and flashes special creative capacity. If his situation is passable in Washington early, he could surprise in Year 1 and eventually grow into a franchise QB. When in doubt, bank on traits.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
The Vikings are officially rebuilding under new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. And with each passing day, it seems more and more likely that Kirk Cousins is traded. He’s a good quarterback, but he no longer fits the Vikings’ contention window.
Minnesota should cut their losses and hit the restart button with a rookie QB. Carson Strong, with his rocket arm, quick processing, and pocket poise, has the tools to be an upgrade in structure — as long as his knee checks out at the combine.
13. Cleveland Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Browns don’t feel as dangerous as they used to feel with Baker Mayfield. But it seems more likely that Kevin Stefanski will try to help Mayfield rebound in 2022.
One way to do that is to give him the best wide receiver prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. Garrett Wilson can create at all three levels — before the catch, at the catch, and after the catch — and his universal excellence gives Cleveland an anchor at WR.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Some people hate nose tackles in Round 1. Some people love them. If I can be a sort of mediator here, you’re both wrong.
Provided that their talent matches the billing, nose tackles can be worth it in Round 1 — if they land in the right scheme. If your scheme requires a 6’6″, 340-pound man to two-gap on early downs and free up opportunities for other rushers (as Baltimore’s does), then you have the green light to pick human mountain Jordan Davis.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
With three picks bunched up in the 15-19 range in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, it’s almost a guarantee that a top-10 caliber talent is going to fall to the Eagles. It’s just a matter of who?
Here, miraculously, Andrew Booth Jr. slips to Philadelphia, providing the Eagles with an elite-level talent opposite Darius Slay. Booth is still a bit of a projection, but his combination of burst and fluidity is straight-up uncommon, and he has awe-inspiring ball skills as well.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Eagles fans will rejoin us later. They’re probably busy running laps around the house after seeing this pick. There aren’t many better ways to revamp a defense than adding Booth and George Karlaftis in Round 1. Karlaftis doesn’t quite have the elite initial burst that many covet, but he’s still a good athlete with build-up speed and surprising ankle flexion. His defining trait, however, is his bull-like power in the trenches.