2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32
Now we are getting to the teams that have a legitimate chance of making it to the postseason. Which players would boost their odds the most?
17) Cleveland Browns: Drake London, WR, USC
Odell Beckham Jr. seems to have burned every bridge on his way out of Cleveland. That leaves Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins, and Anthony Schwartz as the only ones in the Browns’ receiving room.
That is until Drake London walks in and cements himself as the WR2. (Remember, we are assuming all players are healthy, so we can throw London’s season-ending injury out for now). London was a member of the USC basketball team, and it frequently shows on the football field. He is one of the best contested-catch receivers in the FBS and has played significant snaps in the slot and outside.
18) Kansas City Chiefs: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Kansas City’s defense has caused Patrick Mahomes to look human. One cornerback, even with the nickname “Sauce,” won’t plug all the holes. But Ahmad Gardner would make up for a lot of their shortcomings.
At 6’3″ and a rocked-up 200 pounds, Gardner has manhandled every receiver who dares line up across from him. He has reined in the over-physical nature that saw him constantly flagged in 2020. Additionally, his length is an automatic deterrent for opposing QBs, as is his press-man ability.
19) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
I thought about going QB here, but Sam Darnold has the Panthers at 4-4. And with this 2022 NFL Mock Draft sending players to their respective teams immediately, a new signal-caller doesn’t make the most sense. Instead, the Panthers go with Ikem Ekwonu, the Pancake King.
No offensive lineman in the class, let alone the country, have more awe-inspiring pancakes on their highlight reel. We know he can run block, but Ekwonu has also drastically improved as a pass protector.
20) Los Angeles Chargers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Chargers would have loved Ekwonu, but Treylon Burks is one hell of a consolation prize. The 6’3″, 225-pound WR obviously passes the size requirement, but he also owns impressive long speed. Burks joins Keenan Allen and Mike Williams to create one of the deadliest receiving trios in the NFL.
21) Pittsburgh Steelers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Somehow, someway, the Pittsburgh Steelers are still in the AFC Playoff picture. If Mike Tomlin and Co. really want to make a push this season, they will need some reinforcements along the offensive line. Insert Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning. He may be playing in the FCS, but don’t let that blind you to Penning’s talents. He is massive (6’7″ and 321 pounds) with the athleticism and mentality you want in a franchise tackle.
22) Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
This is one of the bigger steals of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Andrew Booth Jr. falls to a CB-needy Cincinnati Bengals squad that was briefly atop the entire AFC. Can they get there again? Definitely, especially if they added an uber-athletic corner to the back end. Booth Jr. has some of the best feet and hips in the entire class — he effortlessly mirrors receivers downfield.
23) New Orleans Saints: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Although the New Orleans Saints are 5-2 and just one game back from the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, they are without their QB1 and WR1 for the rest of the season. Taysom Hill has his fans, but I do not believe he can lead this team to the postseason. Now, I’m not sure Carson Strong would be able to as a rookie, but at least he is a true QB with impressive arm strength.
Strong owns the ideal frame (6’4″, 215 pounds) and quick release you want from a first-round passer. Furthermore, he isn’t the most agile, but he is a better athlete than many assume.
24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers really do not have any pressing needs this season. However, you can never have too many quality corners, specifically with Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis III on the injured reserve.
Trent McDuffie can start in the NFL today and not look out of place. His breaks on routes are exceptional, and he jumps out of the building (41.5-inch vertical during the spring). McDuffie is at his best with the game in front of him due to his first-class tackling and play-recognition speed.
25) Buffalo Bills: Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
At 6’2″ with elite length and tackling prowess, Martin Emerson is one of the best zone corners in the class. That fits perfectly across from Tre’Davious White, who might be the best zone corner in the NFL. Emerson doesn’t have jaw-dropping physical tools, but he more than makes up for it with stellar processing speed.
26) Las Vegas Raiders: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Despite one of the worst offensive lines in football, the Raiders are surprisingly 5-2 and in first place of the AFC West. Imagine if they had some competent play up front? After starting at right tackle last year, Nicholas Petit-Frere has locked down Ohio State’s blindside. He owns a lightning first step and is quick off the line, often getting into his set before the defensive lineman can react.
27) Dallas Cowboys: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
After ignoring the position the past few drafts, the Dallas Cowboys finally select a safety in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. And boy, the wait was worth it. Jordan Battle is quite comfortably the SAF2 in this class behind Hamilton. Honestly, he would be the SAF1 in most other years.
Nonetheless, Battle is a complete safety with all the physical tools you could wish for. He is truly scheme-independent and would be a massive upgrade over Damontae Kazee in the single-high role of Dan Quinn’s defense.
28) Green Bay Packers: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Jahan Dotson doesn’t have any single trait that will lead to him becoming an alpha in an offense. Yet, he doesn’t have to in Green Bay, with Davante Adams being the target hog. Aaron Rodgers is in desperate need of another dependable weapon, something Dotson has been (152 receptions, 2,265 yards, and 19 touchdowns in his collegiate career). The Penn State product runs crisp routes and can start and stop with the best of them.
29) Baltimore Ravens: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Patrick Queen and Nakobe Dean in the same LB corps? Sign me up. Dean shoots out of a cannon when he keys on routes and runs and out-leverages opposing blockers like a DE. He plays with his head on fire, feeling larger than his listed 6’0″, 225-pound frame. Additionally, Dean can run sideline to sideline and click and close without breaking stride.
30) Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
The Lions have to give Corral another weapon to target outside of Amon-Ra St. Brown. John Metchie III didn’t record his first 100-plus-yard receiving game until Week 7, but he’s been consistent the last two years. Sure, he hasn’t blown up like DeVonta Smith, but that is more a testament to Smith’s abilities rather than a knock on Metchie. He possesses the speed to stretch defenses and the route running to create separation with ease.
31) Tennessee Titans: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Titans could target an offensive lineman, receiver, or cornerback in the first round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, but none will be more impactful than DT Jordan Davis. At 6’6″ and 340 pounds, Davis can single-handedly overhaul Tennessee’s run-defense woes. He may not be the greatest pass rusher, but he has just enough moves to push the pocket with his otherworldly size.
32) Arizona Cardinals: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Roger McCreary may not receive the same hype as Stingley, Gardner, or Booth, but he is not far behind them. He has the ball production and SEC experience NFL decision-makers salivate over. Moreover, he reads routes quickly and can stick with most receivers in man coverage.