2022 NFL Mock Draft: WRs dominate back half of Round 1

The 2022 NFL Mock Draft season hasn’t quite reached its fever pitch yet. In fact, we haven’t even quite reached August yet. Still, the later stages of July are certainly the best time for a new Two-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, as it allows ample time to get to know NFL Draft prospect names that you’ll hear on Saturdays in just a short while.

Some of the names in the two rounds below are marquee, name-brand names. Some are not. That’s the real benefit of a late-July mock, exercise the brain a bit to expand away from the apathetic mock draft analysis out there and hope for chaos.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

We used the Las Vegas odds on the 2021 NFL standings to determine the draft order. You want to be mad, be mad at Vegas.

1. Houston Texans: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

College football’s best passer goes first overall. It’s a story that has been told over and over at this point, and until the NFL changes to a non-pass-happy league, it’s one that will continually be told.

Sam Howell is the owner of several of college football’s top throws over the past two seasons. He is primed to be the next ACC QB taken by Houston and the next big-armed quarterback to go first overall. Howell’s skill set is eerily similar to a former No. 1 overall quarterback – Matthew Stafford – in one particular skill — the ability to put their entire body, from legs up, into their throws. Howell may be more creative in his off-platform throws than Stafford, but not by much, whereas Stafford has Howell beat just a touch in arm strength.

Overall, though, these two align much more than given credit, as Howell’s arm strength is top-notch. He’s a name linked to the No. 1 pick since he stepped foot on campus in Chapel Hill, and it’s for good reason.

2. Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Spencer Rattler has exemplary traits of a modern-age NFL quarterback and has the fortunate aspect of playing in a Lincoln Riley offense that has produced two of the past four first-overall picks. Rattler has every bit of the arm talent as his successors Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and is equally as great of an athlete.

What Rattler lacks is the true dominant season that both Mayfield and Murray had in their draft-eligible seasons. However, 2021 is certainly shaping up to be that year for Rattler. There’s plenty of arm strength in Rattler’s game and even more ability to play out of structure, something he can rely on in college but not as much in the NFL.

While some of his best throws have been left on the table with drops from his receiving corps, Rattler’s highlight reel is still littered with accurate balls. The Lions and their fans should be happy to shift power from Goff to Rattler if this were the pick.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

A gift falls into the Jaguars’ lap when it goes QB-QB to start the draft. Kayvon Thibodeaux, the clear-cut best defensive player in this draft, slips to No. 3 overall. A true threat to get home with at least a quarterback hurry on every one of his pass rushes, Thibodeaux is rounding out his all-around game as he enters Year 3 at Oregon.

A formerly highly-coveted recruit, he has done nothing but live up to the hype that followed him to Eugene. Thibodeaux has every attribute you want in a pass rusher at the collegiate and NFL level, be it bend, strength, speed, leverage, or hands. What separates him from the rest of the class of pass rushers is his ability in the open field with his tackling skills.

Thibodeaux is a bonafide star in the making and one that Jaguars fans should rally behind happening. This defense needs help, and he can help in a major fashion with his all-around skills.

4. New York Jets: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

A surprise pick to some, sure, but not to others. Kaiir Elam has every bit of the ability of his SEC counterpart in Derek Stingley. Unfortunately for Elam, he never got the name-brand recognition of a Heisman Trophy-winning season from his quarterback to give him that national fame.

While Stingley got cooked by Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith during their famed showdown, Elam more than held his own against Alabama a year ago, specifically against Smith. Elam has terrific size at 6’2″, 195 pounds, as well as incredible ball skills. By year’s end, he should have nearly 30 starts under his belt. He will be one of the more experienced corners in this class, as well as the bloodline of being the nephew of former NFL first-round pick Matt Elam.

It’s lofty for the Gators cornerback, but his prowess on the field can absolutely lift him to this draft stature.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

A splash pick by the Jets opens up the Bengals’ ability to draft yet another LSU Tiger in Derek Stingley Jr. Widely seen as a can’t-miss prospect, Stingley has perhaps the best ball skills in coverage since newly-minted Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.

That being said, there still is some worry in Stingley’s game that he’s a flash in the pan. Stingley has great coverage ability in press-man coverage; he was left on an island a ton in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Yet, he did suffer bad beats at times.

The ability is there for Stingley, and proving that 2019 was the baseline is pivotal. Otherwise, a down year in 2021 could see him slide out of even pick No. 5.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

A more logical selection in the 2022 NFL Mock Draft we cannot find. Kyle Hamilton is as close to a generational prospect at safety that we’ve seen in years, and he should be a sure-fire starter in the secondary.

Hamilton is a true free safety with amazing coverage ability in space and man coverage if needed. With tremendous size, Hamilton has also shown positional versatility and great instincts in run defense from a box safety position as well. He can fly all over the field and stop every aspect an opposing offense is attempting to establish.

The Eagles are entering 2021 with Marcus Epps penciled in at starter, and Anthony Harris is still a relevant unproven from year-to-year consistency. Hamilton would immediately upgrade the Eagles’ secondary.

7. New York Giants: Kenyon Green, G/OT, Texas A&M

The Giants have taken to the state of Texas to find a versatile offensive line prospect in the past, so they are no strangers to a player of Kenyon Green‘s stature. Green is an interior prospect but has the size and movement skills to potentially kick outside to tackle.

Green allows Joe Judge the capability of moving on from Will Hernandez if 2021 doesn’t pan out. Consequently, it also maintains the ability to potentially plug and play Green at other positions on the offensive line. Green is a mauler in the run game and no slouch in pass protection. He should be able to carry that level of play from the SEC to the NFL just as easily.

8. Atlanta Falcons: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

It is no surprise that the Falcons need some help on defense. The top need could arguably be placed upon getting after the opposing passer. George Karlaftis had an absolutely dominant freshman season before a fluky year at Purdue during the global pandemic.

During his freshman season, Karlaftis seemingly recorded more quarterback hits than any other edge player in 2019. He brings with him limited football experience but an incredible athletic background as a two-time state shot put champion. He’s a creative pass rusher with a unique set of skills to beat linemen in front of him with his hands, strength, speed, leverage, or bend.

Dante Fowler hasn’t produced in a non-Aaron Donald-led defense, and pass rush is becoming increasingly important as the league continues its passing development. The elite upside in Karlaftis is too good to pass up in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

9. Carolina Panthers: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Panthers could have drafted a tackle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft but instead chose a cornerback. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the best player available here just happens to be a tackle for Carolina.

Evan Neal makes large individuals look small and makes mincemeat of defensive players in front of him. At 6’7″, 360 pounds on a good day, there isn’t an NFL player that will hold a candle to his size or raw strength for a man of his size. What separates Neal from other big men on the offensive line is terrific hand speed and lateral movement ability for his big frame.

Cameron Erving would be nothing more than a placeholder for Neal if he were to fall to them at No. 9.

10. New York Giants: Drake Jackson, DE, USC

The Giants had virtually no pass rush from the edge in 2020. Even though they selected Azeez Ojulari this past April, Drake Jackson‘s selection would make a ton of sense to round out the top 10. Jackson has a tweener edge-rusher frame at 6’4″, 255 pounds, proving his versatility in several ways in the USC defenses the past two seasons.

He’s been able to effectively rush the passer both as a down lineman as well as a stand-up outside linebacker, proving he’d fit right in with however Patrick Graham would want to utilize him. His run defense needs a bit of work if he’s expected to be that three-down outside linebacker instead of just a situational pass rusher. However, he’s showcased enough elite traits getting after the passer to warrant a closer look.

11. Denver Broncos: Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State

Perhaps the biggest and first shock of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Broncos draft a splash quarterback in the longtime Iowa State signal-caller. This is, of course, guessing that the Broncos don’t make a play for Aaron Rodgers before the start of the 2021 season.

Purdy has elite arm talent, tremendous poise, natural athletic ability, and a keen sense of what defenses are throwing at him. He’s also a gifted athlete with the ball in his hands. Yet, he doesn’t utilize his ability to run with the ball to his detriment, rather just to his aid if necessary. A complete game from Purdy is among the most accurate we’ve seen in college football in recent years and among the best we’ve seen in seemingly a decade.

A full year of complete Purdy, and this wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The tools are there; can he harness them to make a meteoric rise in the 2022 NFL Draft? Just call me Pat Mahomes because ‘I’ll see it when I believe it.’ And I believe it.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Ahmad Gardner lacks nothing in coverage while giving up no size advantage to any receiver type. Though the long speed for Gardner may not be there, his short-area quickness and agility more than make up for his lack of straight-line speed, as does his burst when he makes his breaks on the football.

He’s terrific in man coverage, and the aforementioned burst is enough to close the gap even with the largest of cushions given up. Gardner hasn’t allowed a big play in what feels like his entire collegiate career and has a top-notch résumé to boot.

In the collective pot that is a varietal wasteland of former first-round picks for Las Vegas, fear not Raiders fans, this pick will not be lost in the “Sauce” (Gardner).

13. Arizona Cardinals: Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia

Off-field issues aside, Kendrick has landed at Georgia and will be eligible to play to start the season with the Dawgs. Arizona drafted three defensive backs in 2021 but none higher than the fourth round and neither with more upside than Tay Gowan. With that in mind, there’s still the need for a shutdown cornerback in the desert.

Kendrick can be that shutdown corner in the mold of a former SEC-to-Arizona defensive back. At 6’0″, 190 pounds, Kendrick has solid size for the position and incredible athleticism. A converted wide receiver, his skills at the catch point are unrivaled in this draft class.

His potential is seemingly unlimited at this point of his career, and with the way this 2022 NFL Mock Draft has unfolded, he’s too good to pass up here.

14. Washington Football Team: J.T. Daniels, QB, Georgia

His lack of mobility may scare some, but J.T. Daniels has every throw in his arsenal for the next level. Catching fire once he was fully cleared to play, Daniels averaged over 300 yards per game in just four starts last season with Georgia.

Daniels is a progressive thrower with unique angles and all-around arm talent. He’ll make the correct read more often than not. He has some of the best awareness in the pocket in this draft class. Accuracy is a plus with his arm. He has a penchant for throwing receivers open and finding spots where only his receiver can make the play.

Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the future of the Washington Football Team — Daniels could be.

15. Minnesota Vikings: Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

Even though the Vikings went heavy defensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft, they didn’t get a pass rusher with the skill set of Zach Harrison. And the way this board has fallen in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Vikings would be hard-pressed to skip out on Harrison here.

Unlimited potential is the key phrase with Harrison as he’s only started a handful of games in his career. What he may lack in experience, he has truly shown he can make up for that with an incredibly flashy set of pass-rush moves, athleticism, and size.

Minnesota is a few pieces of the puzzle away, and one of those missing corner pieces is a Pro Bowl edge rusher. Harrison has flashed that Pro Bowl ability.

16. Los Angeles Chargers: Ikem Ekwonu, OG, NC State

What if the Chargers could draft a versatile, durable, mammoth, technically-skilled offensive lineman. That’d be a no-brainer, right? The way this 2022 NFL Mock Draft fell, it certainly is.

Ikem Ekwonu is a dominant force in the run game, consistently winning reps not only at the line of scrimmage but in space and at the second level. At 6’4″, 325 pounds, Ekwonu gives up size to few individuals in the trenches and will certainly showcase that plenty this fall.

The Chargers need an influx of talent and youth on the offensive line and Ekwonu offers them both.

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