2022 NFL Mock Draft: One quarterback selected as defense dominates on Day 1

Just one quarterback gets selected in the first round and defense dominates Day 1 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft with a twist.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32

The second half of the first round in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft features five wide receivers.

17) New England Patriots: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Trying to predict what might happen next spring is practically impossible, especially given the unpredictable nature of the NFL. When I started writing this piece on Wednesday morning, cornerback Stephon Gilmore was projected to be the Patriots’ highest-valued free agent. Now, he isn’t even on the roster having been traded without playing a game in 2021.

Rather than rewrite an entire 142-pick 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Patriots stick with their selection of Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. — and I’ll tell you why. Gilmore was always unlikely to be with the team next season, and J.C. Jackson is another New England free agent likely to warrant a huge contract.

In Booth, the Pats land a cornerback who can be better than them both. For me, he is the CB1 of this class. He has insane athletic ability, even more baffling ball skills, and plays against the run with the requisite physicality. Sure, there are some mental aspects to iron out, but the Clemson cornerback is a rare talent.

18) Arizona Cardinals: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina

Let’s lay our cards on the table. Chandler Jones is comfortably one of the most disruptive pass rushers in the NFL. The guy is a beast, and he showed that he can still be productive in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season with 5 sacks against the Titans. However, the Cardinals and Jones are far apart in contract negotiations, and it seems unlikely that they get a deal done next spring.

All that is of course irrelevant for the purposes of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. With an average salary of $16 million, he’s clearly Arizona’s most valuable asset. They replace him here with the most valuable asset on a poor South Carolina Gamecocks team. Kingsley Enagbare‘s size, explosion, and positional versatility will make him an alluring prospect for any NFL team.

19) Los Angeles Chargers: Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma

While the continued overhaul of the offensive line, a tight end, or even a pass rusher to pivot off of Joey Bosa might be considered essential needs for the Chargers in the 2022 NFL Draft, the addition of Perrion Winfrey gives Los Angeles a natural replacement for impending free agent Linval Joseph.

A former JUCO product, Winfrey has been impressively dominant from the interior of the Oklahoma defensive line. Incredibly powerful, Winfrey also possesses exceptional length, which allows him to disrupt at the line in a multitude of ways. If he continues to develop down the stretch of the season, there’s no doubt he can be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the class.

20) Dallas Cowboys: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

Safety projects to be a position of need for the Cowboys in the 2022 NFL Draft, regardless of the nature of this mock. However, when you also factor in that Keanu Neal is set to be their highest-paid free agent with an average salary of $4 million, the need becomes even more pressing.

Lewis Cine might be a stranger to those who casually study first-round mock drafts, but let me assure you that the Georgia playmaker is set to make as big an impact on the draft as the mark he leaves on any offensive player that gets in his way. His motto should be “diagnose and destroy” given his ability to read the game and blow up plays in the run game.

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

This selection is about as unlikely as you’ll find in any 2022 NFL Mock Draft out there. The offensive line is the Saints’ strength, and left tackle Terron Armstead is the cornerstone of the unit. He’s also an impending free agent with an average contract value of $13 million.

What isn’t unlikely is Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning finding himself in the first round. According to Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline, there are already scouts who have him graded over Alabama’s Neal. At 6’7″ and 340 pounds, Penning has NFL size, phenomenal length, athleticism, and a vicious demeanor.

22) Tennessee Titans: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas

Like the Panthers earlier in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Titans could lose their center to free agency in the spring. Also like Carolina, Tennessee isn’t going to use a first-round selection on the position with Linderbaum off the table.

However, the Titans have two linebackers on a collision course with free agency, with Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans both due for contract extensions. It’s unlikely they keep both, so they replace one here with ascending Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown. Boasting uncommon size and athleticism for the position, Overshown might be the best coverage linebacker in the class due to transitioning from safety just over a year ago.

23) New York Jets (from Seattle): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

After replacing Maye with Hamilton earlier in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Jets use their second pick of the first round to part ways with Jamison Crowder. Their selection of Chris Olave gives Zach Wilson a pass catcher with genuine track speed and route-running savvy. The Ohio State star is the top WR on our 2022 NFL Draft Big Board.

24) Denver Broncos: Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia

The Broncos picked up their option on Von Miller back in March, keeping one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers in Mile High for the 2021 season. The future beyond that is uncertain, with Miller approaching 33 years old and $20 million in average salary. Broncos fans would hate to see him leave, but that is a genuine possibility.

While Adam Anderson may lack the physical profile of Miller, he certainly doesn’t lack the pass-rush prowess. The lean outside linebacker is fast, ferocious, and has a bag full of pass-rush tools. While he has to prove he can be more than just a situational pass rusher, the upside and production are off the charts.

25) Cleveland Browns: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

While Jadeveon Clowney has done enough to justify his one-year prove-it deal, the potential for the pact to prove cost-prohibitive may mean the Browns are still in the market for a pass rusher in the spring. At the moment, there is no more disruptive defensive lineman in the nation than Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. Long, strong, and flexible, Hutchinson has been dominant from multiple alignments in multiple facets of the game.

26) Green Bay Packers: Drake London, WR, USC

Another 2022 NFL Mock Draft, another selection of a wide receiver for the Packers. However, this one comes with a caveat. Davante Adams could hit free agency next spring, with a $14.5 million average salary potentially proving too much for Green Bay to hold on to him.

While there have been few more productive receivers in the NFL in recent times than Adams, replacing him with the most productive pass catcher in college football would make sense. USC’s Drake London has the physical tools to be a boundary and red-zone threat while possessing enough athleticism to be dangerous as an after-the-catch weapon.

27) Baltimore Ravens: Tyler Davis, DT, Clemson

The Ravens have one of the most terrifying defensive lines in the NFL with Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams at its very heart. With both set to hit free agency this spring, replacing at least one of them in the 2022 NFL Draft is a distinct possibility.

Clemson’s Tyler Davis might not have the sheer size of Campbell or the mass of Williams, but he’s explosive, powerful, and has an innate knowledge of how to win with leverage. Urgent as a pass rusher and aggressive in run defense, Davis has the tools to slide seamlessly into Baltimore’s defensive line.

28) Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

I can almost hear the moans of disappointment from Dolphins fans when they read that they’ve been projected to take another first-round receiver in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. While I appreciate that Miami has issues that go beyond its wide receiver room, there’s no escaping the fact that both Will Fuller and Albert Wilson are free agents at the end of the season.

While Jaylen Waddle provides explosive game-changing speed, Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson can be his counterfoil. It’s not that Wilson lacks explosion or speed, but his calling card is his ability at the catch point. The Ohio State receiver is also a devastating route runner who can embarrass defensive backs and linebackers with relative ease.

29) Detroit Lions (from Rams): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The Lions’ receiving room is barer than Walmart after Black Friday sales. Even though they added Amon-Ra St. Brown in the 2021 NFL Draft, there is barely a household name on their roster. That may mean that they choose to extend Tyrell Williams at the end of the season, but in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they replace him with Treylon Burks.

The Arkansas wide receiver is a fascinating study into the exceptional nature of the human body. The 6’3″, 225-pound pass catcher is as physical as expected, yet he has incredible ankle-breaking agility. Oh, and he also has ludicrously sized hands that require custom-made gloves.

30) Buffalo Bills: Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss

The three top potential free agents for the Bills are Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, and Vernon Butler. Or, as they’re more commonly known, the majority of Buffalo’s defensive line. While they’ve invested multiple draft picks at the position, losing Hughes and Addison would be a huge blow to the Bills’ defense.

That’s where Sam Williams comes in. With all due respect to the rest of Buffalo’s defensive line room, there aren’t many players with the physique of the Ole Miss defensive end. He possesses ridiculous explosion that propels his 6’4″, 265-pound frame to alarming speeds. He’s strong, long, and extremely dangerous as a pass rusher or run stuffer.

31) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Bell, WR, Purdue

After bringing back their entire Super Bowl-winning starting 22, it’s safe to say the Buccaneers are going to be managing some interesting free-agency situations in the not-too-distant future. While running back, defensive line, and even offensive line have been touted as possible draft needs, their most high-profile potential free agent is wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Purdue pass catcher David Bell is an athletic receiver whose long speed can take the top off the defense, whose agility makes him elusive in the open field, and whose physicality makes him a dangerous contested-catch threat. His body control has been a joy to behold so far this year.

32) Kansas City Chiefs: Jalen Catalon, S, Arkansas

Can you imagine the Chiefs’ secondary without Tyrann Mathieu? The Honey Badger has become the standard-bearer at the position since he was drafted out of LSU by the Cardinals. Well, Chiefs fans may need to prepare themselves for that inevitability with Mathieu potentially commanding a $16 million market value (per Spotrac).

With the final pick of the first round in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Chiefs find his replacement with the equally ferocious Jalen Catalon. The Arkansas safety has burst into the national consciousness with a series of eye-catching performances this fall. Heavy hitting, athletic, and intelligent, Catalon plays with a motor that never runs cold.

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