2022 NFL Mock Draft: Trades dominate bottom half of Round 1

In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, trades dominate the latter half of Round 1, as several teams make moves for their favorite players.

We live in a new age of technology, where relentless innovations consistently challenge convention. We now have self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and mock draft simulators that can take on the general manager role for all 32 teams. Follow along with our latest 2022 NFL Mock Draft, as PFN’s Free Mock Draft Simulator runs through the draft board and provides yet another scenario for the 2022 NFL Draft.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16

Who does the MDS take off the board within the first 16 picks of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft?

1) Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Yes, the Texans need a quarterback, but they also need just about everything else. The 2021 NFL Draft didn’t help, as the Texans first picked in early Round 3. The Mock Draft Simulator understands the Texans’ state of sheer disincorporation and opts to give them a sure thing on defense instead of a wild card at QB.

Kyle Hamilton has a legit case to be the best prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. And in a class with Kayvon Thibodeaux, that’s saying something. He’s an elite athlete at 6’4″, 219 pounds. He’s versatile and incredibly instinctive. Hamilton can be an immediate blue-chip player for a defense that needs a lot of help.

2) Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

The Lions are treating Jared Goff like their starter for now. However, as the season drones on, without Sean McVay or a healthy assortment of weapons, the honeymoon phase between Goff and the Lions could ultimately end. When that happens, Dan Campbell’s regime will need a new franchise QB. Spencer Rattler is perhaps the safest bet at this point. He progressed a great deal in 2020 and has the arm talent to separate himself.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

This isn’t so much an indictment of Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson as it is an endorsement of the sheer upside that Kayvon Thibodeaux provides — at one of the most important positions. Thibodeaux has an absurd combination of explosiveness and length. He’s tailor-made to be a top-three pick. He immediately adds to the pass rush while also providing a high floor as a run defender.

4) New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The MDS could have been more creative with this one. The Jets are tied to Derek Stingley Jr. in about 50% of all 2022 mocks that exist. Nevertheless, we can’t fault the Mock Draft Simulator for this one because it’s the most popular pick for a reason. The Jets need cornerback help with a capital N-E-E-D, and Stingley is arguably the best CB on the 2022 NFL Draft board. He has an elite combination of length, closing speed, and ball skills.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Here’s the Mock Draft Simulator passive-aggressively saying the Bengals should have taken Penei Sewell instead of Ja’Marr Chase. In all seriousness, it was a tough choice for the Bengals, and there were reasons for Cincinnati to reunite Chase with Joe Burrow. However, Burrow’s protection can still improve and should be of the utmost importance after his injury. Evan Neal has the elite physical traits to eventually be one of the best.

6) Philadelphia Eagles: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Nick Sirianni has been hesitant to commit to Jalen Hurts as a starter. Hurts has drawn positive reviews from teammates, but his odds of earning the long-term starting job are relatively low. And if the Eagles pick at sixth overall in 2022, we can assume Hurts didn’t do enough to stay on top. Sam Howell might be Sirianni’s choice at QB. The Tar Heels’ signal-caller has impressive toughness, arm talent, and flashes exciting natural accuracy.

7) New York Giants: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

On paper, the Giants have a formidable receiver trio in Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney. They also have nice depth with players like Sterling Shepard and John Ross. Toney, however, has had an up-and-down offseason. If Toney doesn’t pan out, New York may want to play it safe in Round 1 with a player like Chris Olave. Olave has a refined, meticulous style, with speed to generate big plays downfield.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

The Falcons added some nice defensive pieces in the 2021 offseason, but the team’s edge-rushing core is still uncomfortably bare. Given that the pass rush is one of the most important departments, it’s not something Arthur Smith and Dean Pees should neglect in 2022. USC’s Drake Jackson would be a good investment here. He’s an athletic, well-built rusher who flashes uncanny bend, torso flexibility, and power.

9) Carolina Panthers: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It feels like the Panthers are spoiling Sam Darnold at this point. Even if Robby Anderson walks in 2022, the Panthers still have Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and now Garrett Wilson. With his elite short-range explosiveness, twitch, and 50-50 prowess, Wilson could help soften the blow of potentially losing Anderson. He may not be ranked above Olave right now, but the 2021 season could change that.

10) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The MDS clearly still believes in Daniel Jones. Rather than using their Round 1 pick duo to reset at quarterback, the Giants have instead bolstered their offensive supporting cast. In fairness, while Jones needs to earn another year in 2021, his job would be easier with Olave and Kenyon Green. Green, in particular, has the versatility to fix New York’s patchwork line. He’s also athletic, powerful, well-balanced, and aggressive.

11) Denver Broncos: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

Although the Broncos pick at No. 11 according to the Las Vegas odds, the MDS chose to give Drew Lock a vote of confidence and passed on available quarterbacks to bolster a near-elite defense. Christian Harris is more of a projection than a sure thing at this point, but if he can reach his ceiling, the 6’2″, 232-pound linebacker can be a hyper-productive defensive catalyst behind Denver’s front.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

This is another trendy pick in draft circles. In like fashion to Stingley, there’s a reason DeMarvin Leal is the Raiders’ most common match as well. The Raiders didn’t do nearly enough to improve their interior line presence this offseason, and they may experience the consequences of that failure in 2021. Leal is the best interior defensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft. If he drops to this point, he’s a perfect match of need and BPA.

13) Arizona Cardinals: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

You think RBs don’t matter? The MDS politely disagrees. Sure, it might not be optimal for Arizona to take a running back in the top half of Round 1 — especially if Kliff Kingsbury is still fighting for his job. Nevertheless, one could argue Isaiah Spiller is a Round 1 running back. He’s incredibly dense, physical, and aggressive, but he also has some nasty lateral agility and suddenness. All the tools are there for him to be a difference-maker.

14) Washington Football Team: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Rarely does the phrase “a QB away” actually represent the situation being described, but it couldn’t be more true for the Washington Football Team. Washington has the weapons and the protection on offense, as well as a budding, formidable defense. All they need is a QB, and Malik Willis could be the one. He needs to improve his accuracy and decision-making, but he’s an investment with astronomical upside given his arm strength and athleticism.

15) Minnesota Vikings: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Even after adding Patrick Jones and Janarius Robinson, the Vikings may need more edge talent in 2022, especially if Danielle Hunter ends up being traded. George Karlaftis is a fun pairing, as he gives the Vikings some multidimensional assistance on the defensive line. Standing at around 6’4″, 270 pounds, Karlaftis has great size and natural power. He’s also an incredible athlete with torrid closing speed and urgency.

16) Los Angeles Chargers: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

The Chargers have their man in Justin Herbert. Now, it’s time to keep adding weapons to his arsenal. Josh Palmer should help alongside Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton. However, the team still lacks a bonafide No. 1 tight end (sorry, Donald Parham truthers). Jalen Wydermyer can fulfill that role. He’s a big-bodied pass catcher with savvy route running and great contested-catch ability.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and his voice and face on Pro Football Network Daily. Follow him on Twitter @ian_cummings_9.


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