2022 NFL Mock Draft: Denver Broncos find their franchise QB

The Denver Broncos are one of five teams to swoop for a first-round quarterback in our latest 4-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32

A pair of Ohio State wide receivers come off the board in the second half of the first round.

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

All it took was three preseason games, and the New England Patriots cut ties with Cam Newton and anointed Mac Jones the heir to Tom Brady’s New England empire. While there are multiple lazy comparisons between the rookie and the seven-time Super Bowl champion, one problem permeates from the old Patriots passer to the new.

Wide-receiving weapons are still a scarcity in Foxborough. The continued development of Jakobi Meyers gives Jones a reliable threat, but offseason additions at the position leave a lot to be desired.

Ohio State’s Chris Olave should establish himself as one of the top receivers in college football this fall. An accomplished route runner with exceptional long speed, Olave has the football intelligence to find soft spots in the defense.

18. Los Angeles Chargers: Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina

The Los Angeles Chargers offensive line remains a work in progress. If an elite guard talent were available with the 18th pick in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they’d have likely secured one. Furthermore, a tight-end talent like Jalen Wydermyer could be a target at a position where the Chargers replaced Hunter Henry with the veteran Jared Cook and a relatively unknown quantity in former Georgia Bulldog Tre’ McKitty.

Instead, they add a destructive pass-rush threat to play opposite Joey Bosa in Kingsley Enagbare. The South Carolina defensive end garnered Day 2 attention last spring but has first-round potential. Enagbare has multiple pass-rush moves in his arsenal, plays faster than his listed 260 pounds, and can drop back into coverage.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Although they used their first pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft to acquire a new quarterback, let’s not pretend that the Eagles’ primary problems are the lack of offensive production. There are issues at all three levels of the defense, with Philadelphia ranking near the bottom in several defensive metrics last season.

The additions of Marlon Tuipulotu and Milton Williams secured the future at the heart of the defensive line, but they need a leader and a playmaker in the linebacker group. At present, Alabama’s Christian Harris is the top linebacker on our Top 50 Big Board. Harris explodes as a blitzer, while his experience as a high school defensive back helps him disrupt the game in coverage.

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

Anthony Castonzo’s retirement has left the Indianapolis Colts with a 6’7″ sized hole to fill at left tackle. While they’ve attempted to wallpaper over the crack with Eric Fisher, Sam Tevi, and now Matt Pryor, there’s a need to actually fill the hole to secure the foundations of their offensive line.

At 6’5″ and 305 pounds, Charles Cross might not be of the same stature as Castonzo, but he more than makes up for what he lacks in height with aggression on every snap. A lean, mean, offensive tackle machine, Cross attempts to put his man in the dirt on every play. Athletic, strong, and intelligent, Cross has the potential to hold down the blindside for whoever emerges as the Colts’ long-term future under center.

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. Joseph is the real deal as a ridiculous athlete who combines the physical profile to be successful with acute football intelligence.

22. New Orleans Saints: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

When your running back is the team leader in receptions and receiving yards, you know there’s something wrong with your wide receiver corps. Such was the case for the New Orleans Saints last season with Alvin Kamara.

With Michael Thomas sidelined for the start of the season, it speaks volumes that second-year tight end Adam Trautman is considered a breakout star before this season kicks off.

Jameis Winston needs help, presuming he’s the quarterback in 2022, and he gets it with Ohio State pass catcher Garrett Wilson. While his teammate Olave is favored in this mock draft, Wilson’s ability at the catch point and smooth athleticism should give Winston a threat both before and after the catch.

23. Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Both Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown are out of contract at the end of the year, making linebacker a distinct possibility for the Tennessee Titans in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, before the capture of Julio Jones, wide receiver was the apparent need, and with youth very much against the former Falcon, the Titans add another playmaker in Treylon Burks.

There’s a resemblance in the physical profile of the two pass catchers, with Burks matching Jones’ 6’3″ height with a slight weight advantage. The Arkansas WR has deceptive speed for a player of his size, and his usage all over the formation gives him valuable versatility. Physical, yet agile, Burks can ghost through coverage and possesses impressive after-the-catch ability.

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

The Jets made moves in free agency and last year’s draft to upgrade a bottom-10 defense in pass-rush pressure. With the injury to Carl Lawson further exposing the desperate need to improve the position, it would be no great surprise to see them use the first round of the NFL Draft to secure a long-term solution off the edge.

Although Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison isn’t as highly regarded as Joey Bosa and Chase Young before him, his speed and strength combine to make him a potential Day 1 starter in the NFL. Harrison has ludicrous speed for a 6’6″, 265-pound pass rusher.

25. Cleveland Browns: Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati

Despite signing Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal, and Takkarist McKinley impressing during the preseason, there’s more “prove it” than proven talent behind star pass rusher Myles Garrett. Discovering a dominant defensive end should be the Browns’ first order of business in the 2022 NFL Draft, and Myjai Sanders could be their man.

The 6’5″, 258-pound pass rusher was an ascending prospect at the end of last year’s draft cycle. With another year of disruption and production, the first round isn’t out of the question for the Cincinnati Bearcat. If he can control his explosion and natural bend to hit home more often this season, his stock will only elevate.

26. Detroit Lions: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

The Lions have picked two quarterbacks after selecting Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Brad Kaaya and Jake Ruddock were never required to lead the team, but if the Lions match Vegas’ expectations, they will need to secure a new quarterback sooner rather than later.

Carson Strong is the archetypal NFL quarterback. At 6’4″ and 215 pounds, he is the poster boy for a traditional pocket passer. Despite this, he has some impressive mobility skills to manipulate the pocket. An intelligent, decisive thrower, he’s strong by name and nature when it comes to the ability to drive the ball down the field. In many respects, he’s the perfect post-Stafford quarterback who arrives, unfortunately, a year too late.

27. Miami Dolphins: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

If you’ve been following along with my mock drafts in the months since the end of the 2021 NFL Draft, you’ll know that pairing the Miami Dolphins with Tyler Linderbaum has become something of an obsession of mine. I thought the Dolphins should have taken a center last time around, and it makes sense for them to snatch up the top prospect at the position.

However, Miami seems happy with what they have in Michael Deiter at the pivot, so while I still think it would be wise, even at this early point, it seems unlikely. What they do not have, however, is a true RB1. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they secure a budding star at the position in Isaiah Spiller.

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 given some of the offensive line issues in previous seasons, may be just as valuable.

28. Baltimore Ravens: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

A newcomer to the first round of our 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has flown somewhat under the radar compared to more well-known teammate Thayer Munford. However, the 6’5″ offensive tackle has exceptional athletic ability, impressive length, and proven adept both as a pass protector and run blocker.

Although he is rumored to be switching to left tackle, his experience at right tackle will prove crucial to a Baltimore Ravens offensive line that lost Orlando Brown to the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason.

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

There are very few certainties in life, and the Aaron Rodgers offseason palaver with the Green Bay Packers goes to prove just that. Right now, we know two things: Rodgers will line up at Lambeau this season, and the Packers will need to add a wide receiver regardless of who is under center in 2022.

The upcoming class is brimming with talent, but in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Packers land on a unique prospect at the position. Drake London is a former multi-sport standout who 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.

30. Buffalo Bills: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Although the Bills added a couple of cornerbacks this offseason, they still lack a true CB2 to line up across from Tre’Davious White. For some analysts, it was one of their more significant needs last draft cycle, and it projects to be their biggest need in 2022.

Thankfully for Buffalo, the board has fallen in such a way that they can snag one of the best in the class at the back end of the first round. Ahmad Gardner has incredible football instincts, contains the requisite size and length to be impactful in coverage, and comes downhill with ferocious heat against the run game.

Furthermore, Gardner plays the position with the swagger that defines all the great cornerbacks. He does not lack in confidence, telling Pro Football Network’s Cam Mellor that his expectation this season is “to be the #1 shutdown corner in all of college football, which I think is easy to do.”

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Deslin Alexandre, DT, Pittsburgh

Considered by many as the perfect landing spot for one of the top running backs in the 2022 NFL Draft, Breece Hall was a potential pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 31st selection of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Nevertheless, with an intriguingly deep class of RBs, there’s no need to reach.

Instead, they grab a player who could be a riser amongst the defensive line ranks in Pittsburgh’s Deslin Alexandre. An intriguing, versatile defensive lineman, Alexandre can play off the edge or from the interior without skipping a beat. While there are some areas to clean up this fall, the explosion, length, and power make him a dangerous mismatch.

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

While the Kansas City Chiefs are favored to make the Super Bowl for a third consecutive season, there are still various ways they could go in the 2022 NFL Draft to make improvements to their team. No team is ever truly complete in the NFL, and Kansas City has multiple positions of need.

Some of their offseason moves would suggest dissatisfaction with the secondary, so with the final pick of the first round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they land Oregon cornerback Mykael Wright. Although he measures in at 5’11”, Wright plays bigger than his listed height. Athletic, long, and with special-teams versatility, he has the potential to be the first Oregon cornerback selected in the first round since Alex Molden in 1996.

Oliver Hodgkinson is an NFL Draft and College Football Analyst for Pro Football Network. Check out the rest of his work here, and you can find him on Twitter @ojhodgkinson.