4-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers shoot up the board to snag Malik Willis

4-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Pittsburgh Steelers shoot up the board to snag Malik Willis

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 17-32

The first half of Day 1 enjoyed its fair share of excitement, but the second half isn’t far behind.

17) Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley give the Los Angeles Chargers a solid foundation for their offensive line. However, the departure of Bryan Bulaga and question marks at the guard position should see the Chargers add further security for Justin Herbert in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Boston College’s Zion Johnson has emerged as one of the top interior linemen in this class. Schematically and positionally versatile, Johnson is an excellent technician with impressive athletic ability. He’s played guard and tackle for the Eagles while taking snaps at center in the Senior Bowl, making him a valuable asset for any NFL team.

18) New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Considered a potential landing spot for one of the class’ quarterbacks, that situation now feels unlikely with the New Orleans Saints bringing back Jameis Winston on a two-year deal and signing Andy Dalton as his backup. One option at 18 is wide receiver, but in a deeply talented class, there are later-round options for the Saints.

With Terron Armstead departed in free agency, protecting Winston should be a priority. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, that responsibility falls to Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning. Boasting prototypical NFL size, Penning is an impressive athlete who plays the game with a savage demeanor.

19) Kansas City Chiefs (from PHI): Drake London, WR, USC

Projected trade: The Kansas City Chiefs send picks 29, 50, and 121 to acquire pick 19 from the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Kansas City Chiefs have already been active in the trade market, shipping Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a host of extra draft capital. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they utilize some of that capital to snag one of the top wide receivers in this class.

Calling Drake London a replacement for Hill is incorrect. They’re not remotely similar players. What they do get, is a Frankenstein-esque pass catcher who combines size and contested-catch ability with deceptive athleticism and physicality that allows for yards-after-the-catch potential. Why trade up for London? There are at least three teams that would have taken him before the Chiefs were on the clock at 29.

20) New York Giants (from PIT): Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Having traded down from fifth overall in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Giants land one of the top players at a position of need. The interior linebacker duo of Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder could use an upgrade, and the depth behind them isn’t great either.

Nakobe Dean is a devastating heat-seeking missile in the ground game and possesses coverage versatility and exceptional football intelligence. The Giants get the added bonus of gazumping the New England Patriots for Dean’s services.

21) New England Patriots: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Despite welcoming back Malcolm Butler to Foxborough and adding Terrance Mitchell in free agency, the cornerback room still poses as one of the main issues for the Patriots. Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson have both been allowed to leave New England since the last NFL Draft.

Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam battled injury in his final season in “The Swamp,” halting some of his expected development as a CB prospect. However, Elam possesses NFL size at 6’2″, and his 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine highlighted the speed that which he plays the game.

22) Green Bay Packers (from LV): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Davante Adams is gone. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is gone. For the first time in this 2022 NFL Draft cycle, I’m writing a mock feeling confident that the Green Bay Packers must draft a wide receiver in the first round. With two selections in the back end of Round 1, it’s a near impossibility that one of them doesn’t turn into a weapon for Aaron Rodgers.

A weapon is exactly what Chris Olave is. While he might have played in the shadow of teammates Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Olave has track speed, excellent ball-tracking skills, and the spacial awareness to ghost into soft spots in coverage and be a danger on the sideline too. He’s an underrated route runner, particularly in the red zone.

23) Arizona Cardinals: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

How far will Michigan EDGE David Ojabo fall is one of the greatest question marks ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. The exciting, explosive pass rusher was set to be a top-10 pick before suffering an Achilles injury at the Michigan Pro Day. Speed, bend, length, pass-rush tools, Ojabo has many of the traits of an elite NFL pass rusher.

Yet, the injury is set to cloud his draft stock. As mentioned above with Alabama WR Williams, first-round selections are expected to be immediate contributors, and it’s unlikely that Ojabo will achieve this. However, the Arizona Cardinals halt his slide in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft as a long-term replacement for the Las Vegas Raiders-bound Chandler Jones.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota

Name a pass rusher, any pass rusher, from the initial wave of NFL free agency, and it’s likely that the Dallas Cowboys swung and missed on them. They had a deal in place to bring back one of their own in Randy Gregory and somehow managed to let him slip away to the Denver Broncos. They were reportedly in on Von Miller, who will reside in Buffalo for the foreseeable future.

If you’re looking for an explosive pass-rush presence in the 2022 NFL Draft — which the Cowboys are — you’re not going to find much better than Minnesota’s Boye Mafe. After his most statistically successful season for the Gophers, Mafe has ascended through the process with an exceptional showing at the Senior Bowl, followed by an elite testing performance at the NFL Combine.

25) Buffalo Bills: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Despite making some free agency additions to the offensive line, bolstering the interior with a player of Kenyon Green‘s caliber would have multiple benefits for the Buffalo Bills. Green’s insane anchor in pass protection would give Josh Allen more time to throw. The Bills’ largely poor running game would benefit from his athletic ability as a puller and mauling nature that he brings to the offensive interior.

Some teams have reportedly been working the Texas A&M guard at center, adding an additional layer of versatility to his profile. He’s already got experience at both left and right guard. Once considered a top-10 pick, Green’s stock has been impacted by him being rotated across the offensive line by the Aggies this season. He’s still a starting talent if developed correctly.

26) Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Following the release of Julio Jones, the Tennessee Titans are a natural landing spot for one of the top wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft. There are other possibilities, of course. They need to address right tackle, but taking one here would be a reach. The addition of Austin Hooper removes the necessity to reach for a tight end, too.

Despite the negative attention that his Combine performance has garnered, Treylon Burks remains one of the top pass catchers in this class. The Arkansas WR has the size at 6’2″ and 225 pounds to be a physical presence at the NFL level. His 33 1/2″ arms allow him to be a menace in contested-catch situations. However, Burks also possesses positional versatility to be used as a dangerous weapon in multiple ways by an offense.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut

The return of Tom Brady has seen additional benefits for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Center Ryan Jensen, running back Leonard Fournette, and wide receiver Chris Godwin are all back. Even tight end Rob Gronkowski could make his way back. As well as being great news for Bucs fans, it may also alter their approach to the upcoming draft.

One player who is yet to commit to a return to the Bucs is Ndamukong Suh. While he could still return, finding an imposing defensive tackle prospect to replace him could be a key priority. Connecticut’s Travis Jones could be that player. Although bigger than Suh at 326 pounds, Jones is powerful, explosive, and has the length to be disruptive both against the run and as a pass rusher.

28) Green Bay Packers: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

With the 28th overall pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft and their second first-rounder following the Adams trade, the Packers have the luxury of matching need with best player available.

Inserting Utah’s Devin Lloyd alongside De’Vondre Campbell would give the Packers an excellent inside linebacker duo. Lloyd brings a ferocious downhill presence who combines physicality with football intelligence to deliver in coverage as well.

29) Philadelphia Eagles (from SF via MIA and KC): Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

Having traded down to gather even more picks in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Eagles are still in position to bag a potent playmaker at a position of need. They already started their secondary overhaul with the addition of Stingley. Now, Georgia safety Lewis Cine elevates the unit further.

An aggressive run-stopping athlete who plays the game with a jolting physicality, Cine’s athletic profile also translates well to coverage. He’s a versatile chess piece with leadership qualities that will help secure this Eagles secondary.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Having secured a game-changing WR with their initial first-round pick, the Chiefs focus on defense with the 30th selection. Cornerback is a very real possibility here, but there’s no escaping the need to add a Day 1 starting EDGE player.

Penn State pass rusher Arnold Ebiketie is coming off a highly productive first season at the Power Five level. He possesses the bend, explosion, length, and power to be an impactful player for the Chiefs.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Having plowed resources into an offensive line overhaul in free agency, the Cincinnati Bengals can afford to take the BPA approach to the early stages of the 2022 NFL Draft. As a top-10 overall player on my big board, they get a steal at a position of need in Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr.

Booth is an exceptional athlete who displays vertical explosion with some of the most acrobatic interceptions and pass breakups that you’ll have seen in college football in the past three seasons. Combined with his ball skills and physicality against the run, Booth has everything you look for in an NFL cornerback. However, some injury concerns are impacting his stock and look set to facilitate a fall.

32) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

The Detroit Lions finish off the first round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft with an almost inevitable selection. Although they added DJ Chark Jr. in free agency, his one-year deal doesn’t change their need to add a pass catcher in April. If anything, it strengthens the need to find a long-term option.

With Chark as their big-bodied pass-catching threat, Jahan Dotson gives the Lions a smaller, speedier weapon, who showcases exceptional body control and the vertical agility to go up and snag the ball well above his frame.