2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, defense overwhelms the top 10 selections

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 17-32

Eight defenders went off the board in the first 11 picks; how many go in the last 16?

17. New England Patriots: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

The Patriots seem to have whiffed on Sony Michel as he is a candidate to be cut before this season. Damien Harris is on the roster and may produce like a top-25 running back. Yet, with Isaiah Spiller offering much more versatility, the Patriots opt to snag the Texas A&M back. Spiller is a powerful runner with exceptional vision and footwork. Moreover, he is stellar as a pass protector but does not offer too much as a receiver.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The days of Ben Roethlisberger owning the AFC North is over. The Steelers have not found a successor nor needed to for the last 17 years. Still, as Big Ben enters his 18th season, it’s time for the torch to be passed on to the next Pittsburgh signal-caller. Despite picking at 18 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Steelers can select that player in Malik Willis. The Liberty QB torched his opponents last season to the tune of 3,194 total yards and 34 touchdowns.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

The Eagles continue rebuilding their secondary by securing the services of Alabama safety Jordan Battle. With Slay and Stingley on the outside, all Battle has to do is make sure nothing goes over the top and destroy everything in front of him — both are things he excels at. Just like that, Philadelphia goes from a bottom-tier secondary to one of the best in the league.

20. New Orleans Saints: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

With the nickname “Sauce,” you have to have the swagger of a CB1. Ahmad Gardner has enough swagger for an entire CB unit. If he can reign in his aggressive playstyle five yards past the line of scrimmage, he could challenge Elam and Stingley as the best corner in the country. Regardless, the Bearcats star is already in the top five at the position, and he isn’t four or five.

21. Dallas Cowboys: Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati

Two Cincinnati defenders go off the board back to back in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Edge defender Myjai Sanders absolutely crushed the AAC last year. In four fewer games than 2019, he recorded 4 more tackles for loss (10.5) and 3 more sacks (7). The Cowboys are in dire need of pass-rush reinforcements off the edge. Some amalgamation of Randy Gregory, Bradlee Anae, and Chauncey Golston is not the answer.

22. Arizona Cardinals (via Tennessee): Zion Nelson, OT, Miami FL

After trading back, the Cardinals are still able to secure one of the best tackles in the nation. Zion Nelson was horrendous in 2019, but he was relatively new to the position. He exhibited immense improvement last year, and there is little doubt he will continue to progress in 2021. The Hurricanes have not had an offensive lineman go in the first round since 2015. Will Nelson end that drought in 2022?

23. New York Jets: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

The Jets made one of the most underrated moves this offseason by signing Carl Lawson. Lawson has been stellar on the Bengals’ defensive line but never racked up the sack numbers that drive fans and general managers crazy. Subsequently, Cincinnatti let him walk for Trey Hendrickson, who was a rotational piece before totaling 13.5 sacks in 2020. New York goes all-in with Lawson and offers him some help, drafting another stud pass rusher out of Ohio State in Zach Harrison.

24. Indianapolis Colts: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

Like safeties going in the top 10, drafting a tight end in the first round will have some rolling their eyes. However, like Hamilton was no ordinary safety, Jalen Wydermyer is not just another tight end. While he is not the athletic freak of nature that is Kyle Pitts, Wydermyer is a true inline tight end who can catch and block at exceptional levels. Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox are competent in their own right, but neither is the full package like the Texas A&M TE.

25. Miami Dolphins: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Andrew Booth‘s athleticism might be the best at the cornerback position this season. However, he needs to hone in the other aspects of his game in order to be worthy on Day 1. Nevertheless, even if he isn’t ready from a mechanics and instincts standpoint, that is something Xavien Howard and Byron Jones could help with. That is if Howard is still in town.

26. Cleveland Browns: Drake London, WR, USC

The Browns currently own possibly the best entire roster on paper entering the 2021 season. Yet, that does not mean it is without holes. Specifically, receiver is a position the Browns need to pay attention to in 2022. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are getting up there in age, and OBJ hasn’t even been his All-Pro self in Cleveland. USC’s Drake London can play both on the outside and in the slot. At 6’3″, most would pigeonhole him as a boundary WR only, but London possesses the shiftiness and route running to stick inside as well.

27. Buffalo Bills: Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma

The Bills front seven needs support, so they draft Perrion Winfrey in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft to bolster the unit. Winfrey is strictly a defensive tackle but would take attention away from Ed Oliver. Even if Oliver receives more double teams, the former JUCO standout could feast in one-on-one battles.

28. Detroit Lions: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina

After taking their face of the franchise with the No. 2 pick, the Lions set their eyes on the defensive side of the ball. Romeo Okwara has actually been a solid pass rusher for Detriot and re-signed with the team last year. Drafting a player in the first round who would have to sit behind Okwara and Trey Flowers seems like a wasted pick, but Kingsley Enagbare would benefit greatly from learning behind the two veterans while rotating in. Enagbare is raw technically but has the tools and athleticism to be a menace rushing the passer.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

The Ravens traded away OT Orlando Brown to the Chiefs this offseason. Consequently, they will be trotting out 32-year-old Alejandro Villanueva at right tackle this season. While he is a good band-aid for a year, Baltimore needs to find Brown’s heir apparent next draft. They do just that in the 2022 NFL Mock Draft run by PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator. Rasheed Walker can cement his name among the best in the class with another stellar campaign this season, having locked down Sean Clifford’s blindside since 2019.

30. Green Bay Packers: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn

The 2022 linebacker class is an open race with more than a handful of players aiming for first place. One of those players is Auburn’s Owen Pappoe. The Tigers’ playmaker is already solid against the run, as a tackler, and in coverage. He isn’t exceptional in any one area, but his physical skill set is off the charts. Pappoe flashes shades of Bears linebacker Roquan Smith in his ability to shed blocks, rack up tackles in the middle, and cover the flats.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Buccaneers draft an edge defender in Round 1 for the second straight year? They just won the Super Bowl and are favorites to return this season, so why not? Aidan Hutchinson has a lot to prove this year as he’s generated just 4.5 sacks in three years. Sacks are not the be-all-end-all statistic some claim it to be, but 4.5 sacks in 22 games played is concerning. Regardless, Hutchinson has the size, speed, and potential to prove his worth on Michigan’s defensive line this year.

32. Los Angeles Chargers (via Kansas City): Brenton Cox Jr., EDGE, Florida

Brenton Cox is the eighth edge defender to go off the board in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. That may seem unbelievable, but if every one of these players reaches their ceilings this season — the odds are admittedly slim — this could come to fruition in the 2022 NFL Draft. With Melvin Ingram recently signing with the Steelers, the Chargers need to provide a running mate for Joey Bosa. Although we have yet to see what new defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill’s scheme looks like, if it is anywhere near his mentor’s (Vic Fangio), Cox would be a perfect fit.

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