It’s here. The pinnacle of the NFL offseason and the reason I and many others have jobs — the NFL Draft. As a result, it’s time to conduct my final mock draft. Typically, I utilize mock drafts as an exercise in team-building, acting as the general manager for each franchise. However, the exercises are over. It’s time for the real deal. In this 2-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, I use all the available information to predict just how the draft could fall.
2022 2-Round NFL Mock Draft: Round 1 | Picks 1-16
Commissioner Roger Goodell, have a seat in your draft chair and let me do the honors. With the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select…
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Would I take Travon Walker first overall? Maybe not, but it’s not an absolute no. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of smoke about Walker being the top player on multiple teams’ boards. Georgia’s defense didn’t allow Walker to pin his ears back and simply rush the passer, but his athletic profile offers an immense upside.
2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If Walker goes No. 1, expect the Fighting Dan Campbells to bite every knee cap en route to the podium. Aidan Hutchinson is a home-grown talent that is worthy of the top selection. It seems some are underrating Hutchinson’s freaky athleticism despite his insane 6.73 three-cone and 4.15 short shuttle.
3) Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Nick Caserio and Co. want to find out if Davis Mills is the future. And they need true blue-chip talent, not ceiling projections. Evan Neal fits the criteria and can lock down the right tackle spot before moving to the left side if Laremy Tunsil leaves H-Town.
4) New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Kayvon Thibodeaux is still on the board, but the Jets desperately need an elite outside corner. It doesn’t get much more elite than 0 touchdowns allowed across three college football seasons. That stat is a bit overused, so here is another: Ahmad Gardner didn’t give up more than 20 yards in a single game in 2021.
5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The Giants selecting an offensive lineman is as safe a bet as the sun rising tomorrow. Ikem Ekwonu is their pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, but if Neal is still on the board, he could very well be the selection. Ekwonu entered the year as a guard-convert. However, he proved he could not only hold his own at tackle but thrive there. He will need to flip sides with Andrew Thomas at LT, but I trust the “Pancake King” is up to the task.
6) Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Owner David Tepper is fond of Kenny Pickett, and head coach Matt Rhule recruited him out of high school. The Panthers have put themselves in a position where they essentially must draft a quarterback. They simply cannot trot out Sam Darnold for another year without their fanbase and locker room revolting. That isn’t to say Pickett will be all that much better as a rookie. He struggles to go through his progressions quickly, and that long time to throw will be an issue in the NFL.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
New York wants to build from the trenches out on both sides of the ball. So after securing Ekwonu with their first selection, they turn their attention to the defensive line. Much has been made of Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s football ambitions, but if you actually watch his tape, he hardly takes a play off. His mix of bend and get-off will cause issues for opposing tackles, especially with Azeez Ojulari on the other side.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With Malik Willis on the board, the Falcons should think about pulling the trigger on the Liberty QB. But if they do, who would he throw to? It’s Kyle Pitts and a whole lot of names. In fact, that is the case with much of Atlanta’s roster. Whether it’s Willis or Marcus Mariota starting, the Falcons will likely own another high draft pick in 2023.
Thus, they opt to replenish the wide receiver room, taking the top-rated WR in the class: Garrett Wilson. Wilson is one of the few receivers who can grow into a legitimate WR1, due to his ability to win before the catch, at the catch point, and after the catch.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
I’m not sure I would make this selection with how many holes are on the roster. Nonetheless, the Seahawks have done their due diligence with QBs this offseason. They have Drew Lock and Geno Smith on the roster, but neither is the long-term answer. Malik Willis‘ floor is actually higher than many expect simply due to his rushing ability. The tools are there to hone, but it will take time for Willis to be an accurate passer.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
They may have passed on Thibodeaux, but the Jets nab an exceptionally talented edge rusher in Jermaine Johnson II. The Florida State star enjoyed one of the best pre-draft processes in the class, consistently winning at the Senior Bowl and producing excellent numbers at the Combine. He can set the edge with the best of them and will make head coach Robert Saleh’s life easier.
11) Washington Commanders: Drake London, WR, USC
If the Commanders want to give Carson Wentz the best chance to succeed, they need to get him a big-bodied weapon like Drake London. Since Wentz entered the league in 2016, his favorite targets have been Jordan Matthews (2016), Alshon Jeffery (2017-2019), Travis Fulgham (2020), and Michael Pittman Jr. (2022). London fits that mold and is arguably the best of the bunch. He would also take a load of pressure off Terry McLaurin.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
After seemingly falling down boards, Derek Stingley Jr. generated an effortless performance at LSU’s Pro Day. Now, he is moving back up and may ultimately go in the top 10. However, he could feasibly fall just outside, landing with the Vikings. Minnesota desperately needs a CB1, and who better to learn from than former LSU star Patrick Peterson?
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Could the board have fallen better for Houston? Kyle Hamilton is one of the best prospects in the class and can help transform a defense bereft of top-tier talent. Hamilton can make up for a lot of issues and will help change the culture following Deshaun Watson’s departure.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Outside of Trevor Penning, I don’t think there is a more “Ravens” pick than Jordan Davis. Baltimore brought Michael Pierce back, but at this point in his career, he shouldn’t stop the Ravens from selecting Davis. The 6’6″ and 341-pound behemoth can two-gap against the run while also bowling over smaller centers and guards as a pass rusher.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
A torn ACL will drop Jameson Williams some, but his talent is WR1 worthy. He can take the top off defenses and produce after the catch all the same. To unlock Jalen Hurts’ max potential, the Eagles need to surround him with better weapons than Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins.
16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Saints traded with the Eagles for another first-round pick in 2022. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they use said pick on Terron Armstead’s replacement: Charles Cross. Cross’ pass sets are a thing of beauty, as is his mirror ability against edge rushers. His run blocking is more of an unknown than some others due to Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, but Cross is no slouch.