2022 NFL Mock Draft: Five wide receivers go off the board in Round 1

Five wide receivers break into Round 1 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, including a vaunted Ohio State duo and a Mountain West standout.

It doesn’t take much math to know that the possibilities are endless for every 2022 NFL Mock Draft. But here at Pro Football Network, we’ll work to run through as many of them as possible, regardless of the loss of sleep or sanity. In this rendition of the 2022 NFL Draft, five receivers go off the board in Round 1, including a standout from the Mountain West Conference.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16

Which players go off the board in the first half of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft?

1) Houston Texans: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

The Texans are in the process of an extended demolition. Soon, they’ll have to start rebuilding from scratch. Even though the roster may not be completely ready to support a young QB in 2022, you can’t fault the Texans for beginning their rebuild at the most important position. Spencer Rattler gives Houston an ascending talent to make the focal point of their next era.

2) Detroit Lions: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

There’s a chance Jared Goff puts up a respectable 2021 season with the Detroit Lions. However, those chances decline if the offensive line isn’t as good as projected. Penei Sewell’s early struggles and a largely barren receiving corps may lead to a forgettable season for Goff. The Lions have to find a new QB eventually, and Sam Howell is a worthwhile investment with his arm strength and gunslinger style.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

This is a popular pick in the Mock Draft Simulator for a couple of reasons. The Jacksonville Jaguars still aren’t past the best-player-available stage in their development, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is widely considered the best player available at this selection. Other players like Kyle Hamilton and Derek Stingley Jr. can also contend, but Thibodeaux’s impact on the pass-rushing rotation could be unmatched.

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

The scarcity of established talent in the New York Jets’ cornerback room is well-documented. It’s not out of the question that some of the Jets’ young DBs show development in 2021. Still, it’s more likely than not that cornerback remains a pressing need in 2022. Derek Stingley Jr. arguably fills that need better than anyone. He is an elite athlete with length, instincts, and star potential.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

As of now, both Ja’Marr Chase and Sewell are taking their lumps as rookies. Thus, we can’t definitively say whether or not the Bengals made the right decision in Round 1 this year. We likely won’t know the answer in 2022 either, but Cincinnati can work on filling more needs nonetheless. Evan Neal can improve his balance and add more polish to his game, but his sheer combination of size and athleticism is reminiscent of Mekhi Becton.

6) Philadelphia Eagles: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

It’s always preferable to upgrade at quarterback. Yet, Philadelphia could enter next offseason with Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew as their signal-callers — a situation similar to that of the 2021 Broncos with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. The Eagles certainly have other needs to fill, one of those being cornerback. Kaiir Elam — a long, fluid, and explosive DB — helps legitimize an ailing secondary.

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

The Giants’ offensive line has been lamented in recent years, and it’s not on track to get considerably better. Kenyon Green happens to be a stellar mix of best player available and need at this point. He’s an elite offensive line prospect (the best on PFN’s Top 50 Big Board). And with his experience at both guard and tackle, he can fill in wherever the Giants need him.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees should be able to scheme some success out of a young Falcons defense in 2021. Still, Arthur Smith’s Atlanta squad could use more talent — particularly in their pass-rushing room. For a hybrid front that regularly employs linebackers, Drake Jackson has a lot of appeal. The 6’4″, 250-pound defender has a dense frame and extraordinary explosiveness. His high motor and versatility further compound his upside.

9) Carolina Panthers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

No one knows how to feel about the Carolina Panthers with Sam Darnold, but there’s no denying the defense’s potential. There’s high-level talent at every level with a core of Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, Haason Reddick, Jeremy Chinn, Donte Jackson, and Jaycee Horn. Add in Kyle Hamilton — a dynamic, do-it-all safety with a penchant for playmaking — and this defense goes to another level.

10) New York Giants: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

The Giants could have picked a quarterback here, but the Mock Draft Simulator still believes in Daniel Jones. Instead, the MDS goes to the defensive side of the ball and picks the first linebacker off the board in Alabama’s Christian Harris. Harris is more of a projection than a sure thing, but his talent is undeniable. The 6’2″, 232-pound defender has excellent density, burst, and twitch. He and Blake Martinez form a formidable duo.

11) New Orleans Saints (from Denver Broncos): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

We have our first trade: New Orleans swaps picks with the Denver Broncos. The MDS seems to be a student of character, as the Saints regularly trade up for players they value. With his technical prowess, deep speed, and soft hands, Chris Olave certainly seems like a player they’d be fond of. If Jameis Winston leads the Saints to the playoffs with their current WR group, the prospect of adding Olave to the mix is only more exciting.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, two Ohio State wide receivers go back to back. In any other year, that would be a rare projection. But this year, Olave and Garrett Wilson are two of the best prospects at their position. By year’s end, Wilson might even be in higher regard. Wilson is a contested-catch savant with elite lateral athleticism and a ton of twitch and explosiveness. He provides a great three-level threat for Derek Carr.

13) Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

No matter how you spin it, the Cardinals will need EDGE help soon. Chandler Jones — a frequent topic of trade rumors — is a free agent in 2022. J.J. Watt is a free agent in 2023. It makes sense for the Cardinals to invest in young talent now. George Karlaftis is a great name to consider. With a powerfully built 6’4″, 275-pound frame, he provides some projected versatility and upside at multiple spots. Watt could be a great mentor for him.

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

Unless Ryan Fitzpatrick puts up another 30-touchdown season, the Washington Football Team should be looking for a new quarterback next year. And even then, Fitzpatrick is almost 39 years old. Using a first-round pick on a QB next year makes too much sense for Washington. The only question is, which quarterback should it be? Malik Willis, with his elite athleticism and tantalizing arm strength, gets the nod from the MDS.

15) Minnesota Vikings: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

The Vikings have improved their offensive line on paper, but those improvements haven’t yet translated to the field. The unit’s depth has been an issue through preseason, and first-round rookie Christian Darrisaw has had two groin surgeries since January. Put as simply as possible — they need more help. At guard, Ikem Ekwonu can be a pleasant change. He’s an athletic blocker with great reach, grip strength, and assertiveness.

16) Los Angeles Chargers: Drake London, WR, USC

Half of the 2022 NFL Draft cycle will involve pairing Justin Herbert with various receivers and imagining how unfair they’d be together. Drake London is just another example. At 6’5″, 210 pounds, London has a dominating frame in downfield situations. He also has the run-after-catch ability to provide value closer to the line. For Herbert, he’d be a big-play threat and mismatch for defensive coordinators to wrestle with.

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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