2022 NFL Mock Draft: Evan Neal, Aidan Hutchinson kick off Round 1

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft includes trades, two quarterbacks, and a bevy of value for every team in the first round.

The 2022 NFL Mock Draft season is in full swing. As we look ahead to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and pro day circuit, the free Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator gives it another go. Taking a stab at the first round of the NFL Draft is a very useful exercise, especially with free agency forthcoming.

As NFL teams look to address big free-agency needs, it’s important to see just who they could potentially target in Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s a full 2022 NFL Mock Draft simulation from the PFN Mock Draft Simulator.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

Two quarterbacks headline the top half of Round 1, but there is some serious value in this EDGE class. And that’s putting it lightly.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Protecting their No. 1 asset is key and the Jacksonville Jaguars get their man. Evan Neal is a blindside protector for Trevor Lawrence and then some. At a menacing 6’7″, Neal is light on his feet and comes with positional versatility. However, he won’t have to use that versatility as he fills a need at left tackle and can block extremely well in both facets of the game.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

A consolation prize for picking second is getting their man. The Detroit Lions will likely have their choice of edge rushers in this class — here, they select Aidan Hutchinson from just up the road. Hutchinson is a raw power rusher who somehow wins so quickly that he beats speed rushers to the quarterback. He’s a dominant player against the run as well, rounding out an all-around elite game.

3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Athletically, they don’t come quite like Kayvon Thibodeaux. A large man with an incredible ability to move up and down the line of scrimmage, Thibodeaux excels when getting after the passer. He moves with vicious intent and transforms the Houston Texans’ defense with one draft pick.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Selecting fourth and getting some analysts’ No. 1 player available seems like great value for the New York Jets. Kyle Hamilton covers a ton of ground in both run defense and coverage. He also comes with the ability to lay the lumber, as Hamilton moves his incredible frame around at light speed. He’s a surefire Pro Bowler in the coming years, potentially in Year 1.

5) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The New York Giants will be hard-pressed not to grab an offensive lineman in the first seven picks as they have two selections. Here, they grab Kenyon Green, who can fill in at either guard position in the future. He’s sound in pass protection but perhaps at his best in space, moving from the first to the second level in the run game.

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

Making the largest splash so far, the Carolina Panthers grab Matt Corral due to positional importance. They aren’t sold on Sam Darnold — and the quarterback free-agent class is dismal at best. Corral could absolutely develop into an All-Pro-caliber quarterback based on his arm talent and ability to move the pocket. He’s a great athlete with an even better arm. This is more than just a pick based on positional value — he’s a game-changer.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Grabbing the third edge defender of the top seven, the Giants select Purdue’s George Karlaftis. A pure power rusher, Karlaftis will need to secure a few more pass-rush moves in his arsenal. While that happens, New York can rely on his ability to overmatch most NFL tackles with his blend of quickness and strength at the point of contact.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The top cornerback selected heads to the Atlanta Falcons as Andrew Booth Jr. makes the short move south. Booth has incredible ball skills and presents a challenge for wide receivers, as he’s sticky in all types of coverage. He can play the ball high or pass off receivers in coverage to make plays that aren’t even in his targeted range.

9) Denver Broncos: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Denver Broncos GM George Paton takes a gamble on Derek Stingley Jr., who looked the class’ best cornerback back in 2019. Despite not living up to that hype in 2020 or 2021, Stingley still presents an intriguing prospect given his upside. If he can return to his 2019 form and prove the past two seasons were anomalies, Stingley could be a top cornerback in the NFL in no time.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The first receiver off the board heads to the New York Jets as they start to build around Zach Wilson. Garrett Wilson is a bona fide star at the receiver position, possessing elite-level skills in nearly every aspect.

He can separate from his receivers at both the line of scrimmage and along his route breaks. Wilson also has a dominant skill at the catch point and top-notch body control. He’s a WR1 for Gang Green’s young quarterback.

11) Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The Washington Commanders have a new name and a new face of the franchise. Sam Howell proved that his 2021 tape (that had some flaws) was the anomaly after his Senior Bowl performance. He has an accurate arm with plenty of arm strength to make every NFL throw. Howell can also bank on his athleticism to help him adjust to the NFL game and buy time in the pocket to find his reads.

12) Minnesota Vikings: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

An interior pusher of the pocket can be incredibly valuable — just ask the Cincinnati Bengals. That’s what the Minnesota Vikings grab at pick No. 12 in DeMarvin Leal. A pure pocket pusher, Leal also presents a challenge with his size and speed in the run game. He disrupts opposing offenses in more ways simply pass rushing, even if that is his bread and butter.

13) Cleveland Browns: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Cleveland Browns certainly will have had time to do their due diligence on this receiver class as they hope to build around Baker Mayfield. Right in their backyard (almost) are two of those top options. With Wilson gone, Chris Olave gives the Browns an elite possession receiver with traits to bank on. Olave is the career leader in receiving touchdowns scored at Ohio State — he can have a similar impact in Cleveland.

14) Buffalo Bills (from BAL): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Trade: The Bills send pick Nos. 25, 57, and 89 to Baltimore in exchange for pick No. 14.

A lockdown cornerback with no touchdowns given up over the past three seasons heads to Buffalo. The Bills trade up to grab Ahmad Gardner to anchor their secondary for years to come. Gardner is sticky in coverage and locks down an entire side of the field with little trouble. He also has innate run defense skills that he utilizes to set the boundary.

15) Kansas City Chiefs (from MIA via PHI): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Trade: The Chiefs send pick Nos. 30 and 62 in 2022 plus a 2023 third-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for pick No. 15.

Moving up to secure their top target opposite Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs send three total picks in exchange for one to grab Jameson Williams. With reports stating Williams is on the mend following an ACL injury in January, his impact in the receiving game is too great to pass up. He was a dominant player at Alabama in his lone season with the Crimson Tide, excelling all over the field but specifically on plays of 50 yards or more, where he comfortably led the nation.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Despite entering the season with concerns of being overmatched at left tackle, Ikem Ekwonu proved he’s more than capable of handling a tackle spot in the NFL. As such, the Philadelphia Eagles grab Ekwonu here and bank on his ability to potentially player multiple positions on their line. Ekwonu has a great base, better hands, and elite strength at the point of contact.

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