2022 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers find Big Ben’s replacement at Boston College

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32

Ohio State dominates the second half of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft first round, starting with the 17th overall pick.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers find Big Ben's replacement at Boston College

17. New England Patriots: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

As the last Patriots’ first-round wide receiver selection attempts to trade his way out of Foxborough, it might be considered ill-advised to allow New England to dip into the wide receiver well on Day 1. Their track record in drafting pass catchers has been nothing short of catastrophic, with Deion Branch’s 2002 selection being the last true success story.

Nonetheless, the Patriots’ need to address the position is clear. Their current trio to start the 2021 NFL season of Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, and Jakobi Meyers isn’t going to fill AFC East opposition with fear this fall.

On the other hand, Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave certainly will. Although he has yet to break 1,000 yards as a college receiver, Olave has the goods to succeed in the NFL. A speedster with exceptional route-running ability, the 6’1″ pass catcher is a threat at all three levels of the field. Whether it be Cam Newton or Mac Jones running the offense in 2022, it’ll be substantially upgraded with the addition of Olave.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Phil Jurkovec, QB, Boston College

Following the meteoric ascension of Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson in the last two seasons, everyone wants to know who will be the next quarterback to emerge almost out of nowhere to become a first-round prospect. There are multiple contenders in this 2022 NFL Draft quarterback class.

However, none of them carry the same intrigue while having the supporting cast to help facilitate the enormous leap than Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec. The former Notre Dame signal-caller had a stellar campaign in his first season on Chestnut Hill, throwing for 2,558 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding another 3 scores on the ground. Jurkovec has the benefit of a potential Joe Moore Award-winning line in front of him, and in Zay Flowers, has one of the most under-appreciated wide receivers in the nation as his primary target.

Big Ben is back for one last rodeo, and his successor isn’t on the Steelers’ roster right now. At 6’5″ and 226 pounds, with a strong arm and deceptive mobility, Big Phil could emerge as a ready-made replacement in Pittsburgh.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

Further defensive reinforcements come for the Eagles with their second first-round selection in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. For a team with excellent pass-rush production last season, adding a defensive lineman might seem like a luxury. Yet, they have several players on the line set to hit free agency after this year. It’s unlikely they can afford to keep them all.

Even if they could, DeMarvin Leal is too much of a steal in the middle of Round 1 to turn down. The versatile defensive lineman can play as a defensive end while he has the physical profile to become an interior DL in the NFL. Furthermore, he has the speed and pass-rush toolbox to be an issue for offensive lines across the nation.

20. New Orleans Saints: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The fantasy football clamor for shares in Adam Trautman should tell you everything you need to know about the state of the New Orleans Saints WR room. Outside of Michael Thomas, there is no natural standout talent. As a result, running back Alvin Kamara was the team leader in both receptions and receiving yards last season. Whether the starting quarterback in 2022 is Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, they’ll need offensive enhancements to be competitive in the NFC South.

There aren’t many offensive enhancements better than Arkansas utility man Treylon Burks. A 6’3″ monster at the position, he possesses the catch-ability that you’d expect for a physical wide receiver. However, he combines that with a deceptive speed and elusiveness in the open field. Burks has even been used out of the backfield for the Razorbacks, providing ridiculous offensive versatility.

21. Dallas Cowboys: Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern

Despite adding versatile DB Israel Mukuamu in this year’s draft, the safety position is still considered the most significant need for the Dallas Cowboys early in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle. Suppose there isn’t a substantial improvement from a defense that allowed the second-highest touchdown percentage per play and third-most total touchdowns last season — not to mention the 10th-fewest interceptions. In that case, the need will still be there come April.

By that time, Northwestern’s Brandon Joseph should have asserted himself as the second safety in the class. The Wildcats’ safety led the nation in interceptions last college football season, and those statistics only tell half the story. A ridiculous athlete who combines the physical profile to be successful, with an acute football intelligence, Joseph is the real deal.

22. Tennessee Titans: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

The Titans could easily swoop for a wide receiver with their first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Although they added Julio Jones this offseason, a young injection of talent at the position wouldn’t be out of the question. For that reason, I have them adding Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross in the fourth round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

Meanwhile, the Titans address a potential issue in the center of their linebacker group with their first pick. Both Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown are out of contract at the end of the season, and it seems unlikely they keep both on the books. In DeMarvion Overshown, they add an intriguing playmaker to man one of their inside linebacker spots.

Up until last season, Overshown was a safety for the Longhorns. That experience gives him the potential to be one of the top coverage linebackers in the class. Moreover, he’s a heavy hitter with the ability to impact the game in multiple ways with his fluid movements around the field.

23. New York Jets: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

Although Ohio State doesn’t have a top-10 defensive end prospect in the mold of Chase Young or the Bosas, in Zach Harrison and teammate Tyreke Smith, they have a pair of potential first-rounders. The 6’6″, 265-pound pass rusher is currently held in higher regard in draft circles than his teammate. As such, he comes off the board less than a handful of places ahead of Smith in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

Harrison’s impressive speed and strength profile will be a valued addition to a Jets’ defense that needs to find another potential starter at defensive end. They made moves in free agency and last year’s draft, but there’s still work to be done to upgrade a unit that ranked in the bottom-10 of the NFL in pass-rush pressure last year.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

After Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, the Indianapolis Colts brought in Sam Tevi and Eric Fisher to provide blindside protection for new quarterback Carson Wentz. Despite those additions, it would be a surprise to see them not use an early-round selection on securing the long-term successor at left tackle.

Charles Cross is a lean, mean, offensive tackle machine. The Mississippi State offensive tackle has a rare combination of impressive speed, athleticism, strength, and a vicious approach to the game. Attempting to go toe-to-toe with the combination of Cross and Quenton Nelson would be a terrifying prospect for defenses across the nation.

If the Colts are selecting this late in the day, this pick will likely head to Philadelphia. However, that’s dependent on Wentz playing 75% of the team’s snaps this season. He’s only met that threshold once in the past three seasons.

25. Miami Dolphins: Tyler Linderbaum, OC, Iowa

Although running back is a popular choice for the Dolphins in 2022 NFL mock drafts, the franchise has shown that they’re willing to wait until later rounds to address that position. If they wouldn’t select one with multiple first-round picks last year, it seems unlikely they’d jump at the chance to draft an RB in this spot with comparatively diminished draft capital.

I felt like Miami made a mistake not adding a center last year. In Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum, they get an absolutely cracking offensive lineman, who, for me — is comfortably the best center in the 2022 class. He gives the Dolphins a reliable snapper of the ball, a strong and athletic pass protector, and a mauler in the ground game. Linderbaum would be the final piece of a spiffing offensive line in South Florida.

26. Cleveland Browns: Tyreke Smith, DE, Ohio State

Aside from Myles Garrett, there’s more “prove it” than proven production on the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line. Jadeveon Clowney is only on a one-year deal, and the depth behind him and Garrett is hardly awe-inspiring. As a result, defensive end should be the target in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft above all other positions.

Tyreke Smith hasn’t received the same level of first-round attention as pass rushers like Aidan Hutchinson and Myjai Sanders have. Yet, the Ohio State product has the athletic profile to emerge as a dangerous defensive end this fall. Smith possesses delightful change of direction ability, remarkable lateral agility, and excellent play speed. Furthermore, he converts speed to power exceptionally well.

27. Buffalo Bills: Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State

Although the Bills added three new cornerbacks from the college ranks this spring, finding a starter alongside Tre’Davious White will be the main order of business in the 2022 NFL Draft. In Sevyn Banks, they get the latest defensive back to roll off the Ohio State production line at the position in the back end of the first round.

Banks is a gifted athlete with the size and physical attributes to be successful in the NFL. Standing at 6’1″ and with decent length, the Ohio State cornerback has straight-line speed, incredible fluidity of movement, and plays the game with physicality. There are some improvements in reading the game that he needs to make this fall. But if Banks brings it all together, he can become a productive playmaker at the next level.

28. Detroit Lions: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

With the Lions investing the second overall pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft on Howell, it’ll be imperative to surround him with playmaking pass catchers if he’s to be successful in Detroit. Although they added a raft of wide receivers this offseason, only Amon-Ra St. Brown has the potential to be a dominant force in the NFL.

The second half of arguably the top college football WR duo this fall, Garrett Wilson has next-level potential. He can effortlessly gain separation and has an incredibly reliable pair of hands. For those that feel Matthew Stafford’s formative years were spent without sufficient playmaking support, the selection of the Ohio State wide receiver will get the engines revving in the Motor City.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Ikem Ekwonu, OG/T, NC State

The trade of Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs left a gaping hole in the Ravens’ offensive line. They’ve attempted to fill the gap with the addition of Alejandro Villaneuva, Ja’Wuan James, Adrian Ealy, and Foster Sarell. However, they’re equivalent to fixing a broken leg with a bandaid and a wet paper towel.

NC State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu can be the answer to several issues across the Ravens’ line. In 2020, he earned All-Conference honors at both guard and tackle, a phenomenal achievement and ringing endorsement of his ability to adapt and play anywhere required. Described as the “most feared lineman in the ACC,” Ekwonu is violent, versatile, and athletic. He’s just the type of offensive lineman that the Ravens’ ground game could get behind.

30. Green Bay Packers: Drake London, WR, USC

Whatever your take on the Aaron Rodgers’ offseason debacle is, it’s clear that the Packers have largely neglected the wide receiver position early in the NFL Draft during his time in “Title Town.” With EIGHT receivers out of contract at the end of the upcoming season, Green Bay will likely be unable to avoid splashing significant capital on a pass catcher.

USC wide receiver Drake London isn’t like most pass catchers. The former multi-sport standout has the size of a big-bodied pass catcher at 6’5″ but combines it with the speed and agility of a smaller receiver. London can make yards after the catch while proving a formidable opponent in contested catch situations. He would emerge as a go-to threat for Rodgers or Jordan Love, depending on who lines up under center in 2022.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

When you achieve the unprecedented feat of returning your entire starting Super Bowl-winning lineup, something has to give later on down the line. The NFL isn’t designed to facilitate that level of roster continuity, which is the predicament that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will find themselves in ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Of the players currently on the roster, 37 will be out of contract next spring.

The RB room will be particularly hard hit. A total of five running backs could hit free agency, including Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones II. In Isaiah Spiller, they have a ready-made replacement late in the first round of our 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The Texas A&M running back has the physicality to run between the tackles while having sufficient speed to win around the outside. Spiller is also willing and able as a pass protector, which is particularly valuable when your quarterback is approaching the twilight of his career.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon

There has been a propensity for the NFL to sleep on Oregon cornerbacks. The Ducks haven’t had a first-round defensive back since Alex Molden in 1996. However, with Mykael Wright, they have a player with the potential to break that drought. With a physical approach to the game, Wright plays bigger than his listed 5’11” frame. Additionally, his extraordinary length allows him to be disruptive in pass coverage. The junior cornerback is also a versatile athlete, playing multiple alignments and excelling on special teams.

The Chiefs have several ways they could go in the 2022 NFL Draft. Later in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they add a dynamic wide receiver in Jalen Tolbert while upgrading the defensive line in Rounds 3 and 4. Still, some of their offseason moves would indicate a lack of satisfaction with their secondary. Wright would improve that situation significantly ahead of the 2022 NFL season.