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

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 17-32

How does the rest of the first round shake out?

17. New England Patriots: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Is there any more of an ideal Patriots pick than another running back in the first round? The answer is no, especially when it’s a Matt Campbell-coached running back like Breece Hall.

Campbell’s running back résumé is starting to stand alone with David Montgomery and Kareem Hunt. Adding Hall to that mix will only sweeten the pot for running backs all across the country to want to attend Iowa State to make that NFL leap. Hall creates space on his own and possesses that innate ability to find the holes his offensive line produces.

Making matters even sweeter, he’s a dominant receiver out of the backfield with the ball in his hands, turning routine swing routes or screens into large chunk plays.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

Once one of the league’s strongest-armed quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is not the future in the Steel City. Instead, that strong-armed quarterback will be aptly named if this 2022 NFL Mock Draft has anything to say about it.

Carson Strong lives up to the name with an incredibly live arm and tremendous downfield, vertical throwing ability. Strong is a big, imposing quarterback with a proven ability to hit any throw on the field, particularly shining on throws past the sticks.

Listen to the bell, Roethlisberger. It tolls for thee. It’s time to find Big Ben’s replacement, and Strong could be it.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Snap judgments will say the Eagles drafting a quarterback with their first pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft is silly given Jalen Hurts is there. Even harsher keyboard critics will say Malik Willis has a similar skill set to Hurts, but that’s just lazy.

Willis is a dominant athlete with the ball in his hands, sure. However, what Hurts lacked in true quarterback mechanics and intangibles in college, Willis has in bunches. Willis’ downfield throwing ability is among some of the best in the class, as is his touch over the second line of defenders. He has proven to be able to read defenses well. Though he’ll break contain often, he always looks to keep his eyes downfield and make plays with his arm rather than his legs.

There are similarities in the two quarterbacks, Hurts and Willis, but if the Eagles don’t find success with the former, the latter should not be scoffed away.

20. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

It took a bit for the draft class’ first wide receiver to be taken, but that’s just the way the needs/draft board fell in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. With the influx in talent at the wide receiver position over the past two seasons, teams are left with other holes to fill as their top need instead of pass catcher.

Chris Olave, however, has all the potential to be the draft’s most well-rounded receiver coming out of Ohio State. The Saints know a thing or two about well-rounded receivers from Columbus. Though Olave isn’t quite Michael Thomas, he’s surely one of the better pure receivers in recent memory.

A receiver who does everything right, Olave’s best attribute is his sure hands and ability to separate at and before the catch point. Whoever the quarterback is in the Bayou will certainly like that.

21. Dallas Cowboys: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

There is too much value in DeMarvin Leal at this point of this draft to miss for the Cowboys. He offers potential game-wrecking ability with his pass rushing, something Dallas has been missing for some time up the middle. With few holes on defense and no offensive linemen that fit this draft slot, Leal plugs in as a starter right away in Big D.

He’s a large individual with the size and strength to make an impact against any interior offensive lineman. He rushes the passer well but plays well to fend off blocks in the run game while eating up space to plug holes.

Leal’s upside is as a multi-year starter on the interior of the Cowboys’ defensive line. That’s too good to pass up.

22. Tennessee Titans:  Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Even after losing Corey Davis but signing Julio Jones this past offseason, the Titans should absolutely be in the market for a field-stretching receiver in the vein of Treylon Burks. Some might say Burks’ best attribute is his size at 6’3″, 232 pounds. In actuality, it’s how he moves that frame that is most impressive.

Even at that size, he has no wasted movement in his routes or with the ball in his hands. He’s a true after-the-catch threat and fits in nicely on any kind of passing attack in the NFL. Burks has a tremendous route tree and finds holes in zones just as quick as he beats man coverage.

Burks can take games over if necessary, but playing complement to A.J. Brown means he won’t have to. It’ll also mean he’ll draw single coverage more often than not — advantage, Titans.

23. New York Jets: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

With their second pick of this draft, the Jets move to address their biggest need on defense — coverage. Though he’s an all-around menace to defenses, Christian Harris has shown the ability to stick with a variety of receivers, from pass-catching tight ends to running backs out of the backfield.

He’ll roam sideline to sideline but is also a feared pass rusher on the blitz, routinely picking his shots with accurately timed rushes to get home with pressure or a sack. Age on the defensive second line for the Jets is a factor moving forward, as is Jarrad Davis’ ability in coverage.

Harris gives New York the ability to move on from Davis after his contract expires next offseason.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It’s no question the Colts need help in the receiver room entering 2021, let alone next season. Garrett Wilson has arguably the highest of the proverbial ceilings in this receiving class if his recruiting prowess is taken into account.

From what he’s shown on the field, however, he’s left little doubt that he could indeed reach that upper level of not only college football receivers but next-level prospects as well. With a bevy of highlight-reel moments already to his credit, what gets lost in the shuffle is Wilson’s all-around ability from pre-snap reads of the defense to separation ability with his route running.

Wilson presents a mismatch with his full onslaught of traits. He also possesses the versatility to line up anywhere from outside to the slot or even in the backfield.

25. Miami Dolphins: Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson

With much to do about the Xavien Howard situation, the Dolphins were possibly linked to a cornerback with their second pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. This 2022 NFL Mock Draft sees them land a potential stud on the outside in Andrew Booth. A walking highlight reel, Booth is a sticky corner with great movement skills in his backpedal.

He possesses great vision and perhaps even better instincts. What makes Booth so desirable, however, is his sheer athleticism, both with his jumping ability and his speed. He doesn’t give up many big plays (if at all) and has great catch-point prowess.

He gives the Dolphins terrific insurance if Howard was to jettison South Beach and if Noah Igbinoghene doesn’t pan out in Year 2.

26. Cleveland Browns: Ali Gaye, DE, LSU

A relatively new name to the first round and major college football in general, Ali Gaye is a breakout candidate for LSU this fall. A former junior college all-star, Gaye impressed in his first season with the Tigers a year ago. He has a feared pass-rush set and terrific instincts at the line of scrimmage.

He deflected 7 passes at the line using his length to his advantage if he didn’t get home with pressure. At 6’6″, 262 pounds, Gaye uses his frame tremendously well with terrific speed and burst off the snap.

Another great year in the LSU system will see Gaye skyrocket all the way into the Round 1 discussion. He could aid a team like the Browns, who have Jadeveon Clowney under contract for the 2021 season.

27. Buffalo Bills: Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon

Hailing from a Ducks secondary that has produced multiple NFL Draft picks over the past two seasons, Wright may just be the best of the lot from head coach Mario Cristobal and cornerback coach Rod Chance. Wright has an amazing skill set and coverage ability that allows him to utilize his strength through every one of his movements.

He can play off coverage well. Yet, he is best in press, where he can use that physicality and strength. Though a fiery brand of coverage, Wright has the speed – both short and long – to make up for any lost ground in his physical brand of coverage.

NFL teams can never have enough cornerbacks and should absolutely covet good cornerbacks at that. If the chips were to fall as they do in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, GM Brandon Beane shouldn’t run — he should sprint to hand in this ticket.

28. Detroit Lions: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Arguably the best all-around receiver in the entire 2022 NFL Draft class, the Lions select Tolbert, who can win anywhere on the field. With tremendous size for a receiver at 6’3″, 195 pounds, Tolbert makes everything look effortless.

Tolbert is a valuable contested-catch receiver with sure hands, more than just a potential red-zone target at the next level. He is a shifty route runner, an elusive after-the-catch threat, a home run candidate on any route, and an exceptional blocker in the run or passing game. He wastes no movement and loses no speed through his cuts. There are multiple occasions of Tolbert streaking free down the field in 2020, but his quarterback was unable to locate him. His separation ability is second to none in this class.

Tolbert is an incredibly hard worker with an exceptional work ethic to go along with his skills on the field. Any NFL team would welcome his all-around ability, and the Lions receive a gift with him on the board at the tail end of the first round. Get to know the name; you’ll begin to hear much more of it as 2021 progresses into 2022.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Ravens are thin at tackle. Ronnie Stanley returns from a leg injury, and Alejandro Villanueva enters the lineup on a two-year contract with a team opt-out after Year 1. Charles Cross has the tools needed to develop into a top-tier tackle in the NFL as well as the size.

What he’ll have to work on, however, is maintaining protection on extended plays that naturally come in the NFL. He won’t necessarily have access to play extension with the Mike Leach Air Raid offense at Mississippi State. He’s a disruptive blocker in space and could become a force in the NFL with some growth in true pass sets.

30. Green Bay Packers: David Bell, WR, Purdue

Gone may be Aaron Rodgers, so it’d only be fitting to finally get the team some receiver help in the first round, right? David Bell is a catch-point magician who possesses the draft class’ best body control.

He runs great routes and possesses an above-average ability to separate while his body control does the rest. Bell is a true outside threat with an ability to kick inside and become a mismatch against smaller nickel backs or linebackers in coverage.

Whoever is throwing footballs in Green Bay in the future would love it if the real draft shook out like this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

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

The Bucs enter the 2021 season as defending champs and return all 22 starters. That’s set to be so 2021, however, as that will absolutely not be the case in 2022. One need for the Bucs that can be projected will be running back as their backfield, though crowded this fall, is set to thin out after the year.

Isaiah Spiller is an every-down back with arguably the best feet among any player in college football. Spiller wades through the gaps in the offensive line with ease and has plenty of ability to create independently. Anytime you get the recommendation of The Footwork King himself, you know that player’s good.

Bucs go ahead and crown him — Spiller’s ready.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati

The Chiefs need pass rushers going into the 2021 season after the Frank Clark troubles. There’s no doubt that they’d need to address it before the 2022 season. Though this could largely be attained in free agency, Myjai Sanders is a solid addition with the final pick of the first round in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

A massive man outside, Sanders is a freak of nature at 6’5″, 258 pounds, and movement skills that mirror wide receivers. He’s a sack machine while possessing well-above-average tackling ability in space. He won’t burn you in run defense, either.

Sanders can play multiple positions on the defensive line and has experience as a stand-up pass rusher as well. He can do it all and could quickly become a fan favorite in KC.