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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson headline defensive draft

It's officially 2022 NFL Mock Draft season, and the defensive players dominate this iteration run by the PFN Mock Draft Simulator.

The 2021 college football season is one game away from the culmination of its regular season. As such, we turn to the Pro Football Network Mock Draft Simulator after Week 13 action in the NFL. With the most up-to-date draft order at our disposal, here’s how the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft shook out in this mock draft.

This mock draft is reflective of the draft order after the completion of Week 13’s Monday Night Football game. 

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16

1) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

While there may be some doubt as to who the best edge defender is in this class, there is no doubting the skill set that Kayvon Thibodeaux possesses. A pure athlete with elite traits, Thibodeaux should instantly upgrade the Detroit Lions pass-rush unit and more. He has incredible production and bounced back from an injury this season, showcasing his toughness.

2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The rapid rise of Aidan Hutchinson isn’t done yet. Here, he lands at No. 2 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars after helping push Michigan into the College Football Playoff for the first time. Hutchinson wins with power, speed, bend, and hands. He’s a complete package along the edge whose rapid ascension this season has caught the eyes of Heisman voters.

3) Houston Texas: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

One of the true safe picks of this draft, Kyle Hamilton is as rangy as safeties come. He can close space in coverage with the blink of an eye and fill run fits all the same. The Houston Texans have a bevy of needs as they rebuild. After picking Hamilton, however, safety is no longer a need.

4) New York Jets: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The New York Jets take defensive players with back-to-back picks here starting with Andrew Booth Jr. at cornerback. Booth is a tremendous athlete who should test off the charts this offseason. It took some time this year, but his ball skills started to shine down the stretch.

5) New York Jets (from Seattle): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The Jets go back to the defensive side of the ball with their second pick among the top five selections. George Karlaftis is a raw pass rusher who is still learning the game.

There is no questioning his motor, but there is a slight question as to whether he can beat NFL tackles given his lack of pass-rush moves. Coaching Karlaftis up will be key, but his raw athleticism, pure power, and great hand speed are too elite to pass up.

6) New York Giants (from Chicago): Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The New York Giants make a splash pick as they grab the first quarterback of the draft. Matt Corral has arm talent for days and plenty of athleticism with his legs to buy time in the pocket or take off with the football. Corral isn’t the purest of passers in this class, but his arm talent is exceptional. The Daniel Jones era appears to be over.

7) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

What does every rookie quarterback need? Great pass protection. As the speed increases at the NFL level, so do the pass rushers. Evan Neal is equipped to handle all types of professional pass rushers, and he’s ready to do so on Day 1.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

A new WR1 is crowned with this mock draft iteration. Garrett Wilson has elite traits all over the field and perhaps the best body control of any receiver in recent memory. On the field with two other incredibly talented receivers, Wilson’s plays are what come to mind when you think of Ohio State football this season.

9) Carolina Panthers: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

Despite posting about as quiet of a season as you can have, DeMarvin Leal is still a game wrecker. He possesses a great first step and can move up and down the defensive line with ease. He’ll knock interior linemen back into run lanes all the same as he gets to the passer. Leal is a surefire starter from the get-go.

10) Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Minnesota Vikings grab Florida’s Kaiir Elam, continuing the Elam legacy. Elam is a great cover corner, who can stick with receivers in man coverage. There are few question marks in his game, and he possesses some of the best ball skills in coverage among the 2022 NFL Draft class.

11) New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Chris Olave doesn’t have just one elite trait — he has multiple. Whether it’s his routes or his hands, he does everything right. Olave is a special receiver, and at pick No. 11, the Saints are essentially shoehorned into adding the Buckeyes receiver to their corps.

12) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Philadelphia Eagles grab this 2022 Mock Draft’s third cornerback in the top 12 picks. Derek Stingley Jr. had a quiet and short 2021 season after an injury sidelined him, but there’s no denying his talent.

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He showcased “generational ball skills” throughout his three-year career at LSU. Stingley also has the ability to play both man and zone coverages, fitting into an array of spots with the Eagles.

13) Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The best linebacker that no one was talking about in college football is finally getting his due. Devin Lloyd has been racking up tackles and changing offensive game plans for years in Salt Lake City. Now he heads to Philadelphia with the Eagles’ second pick in as many selections. Lloyd is the best sideline-to-sideline linebacker in the class and perhaps the best LB in coverage to boot.

14) Denver Broncos: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

The rapid ascension of the Michigan edge rushers is capped by David Ojabo‘s selection at pick No. 14. The Denver Broncos certainly have a need at quarterback, but with no one QB matching Ojabo’s rating on the board, the edge rusher is the pick.

Ojabo is as fast as they come and possesses the draft class’ best spin move. The Scotland native is still coming into his own as a pass rusher — and that should scare NFL offenses.

15) Las Vegas Raiders: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Talk about a talented receiving corps that once was. Now-Alabama receiver Jameson Williams becomes the third former Ohio State pass catcher drafted in the top 15 picks.

The Las Vegas Raiders grab Williams after he rocketed up draft boards with his play to close Alabama’s season. Williams possesses every trait NFL offenses covet, including long speed, crisp routes, and elite ball-tracking.

16) Cleveland Browns: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

The big man in the middle, Jordan Davis heads to the Cleveland Browns to anchor their defensive line for the next decade-plus. Davis is a massive man who moves like a linebacker. If you don’t believe that, go watch the tape — he literally drops into coverage at times for Georgia. He wrecks game plans and motors up and down the field. Davis is must-watch television and a terrific athlete.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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