The 2022 NFL Draft is approaching with every passing week of the NFL season. With an increasingly clearer picture of the draft order, we hit the Mock Draft Simulator once again. Using PFN’s free Mock Draft Simulator, let’s take a look at both team needs and best fits in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16
Two quarterbacks are taken in the first half of the first round — but who takes them? And most importantly, which QBs are drafted?
1) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Lions are winless at this point of the season and need help at a bevy of positions. Without a franchise-changing quarterback at this point in the draft cycle, the Lions go best player available. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a franchise-changer, albeit at a position of lesser importance than quarterback. Still, he has no flaws in his game and can change contests with the greatest of ease. He becomes the cornerstone of a new Lions defensive regime.
2) Houston Texans: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
A bit of a surprise right off the bat, Chris Olave is as talented as they come in the 2022 NFL Draft. Houston selects the Ohio State receiver as they also search for a new identity. Presumably, second-year QB Davis Mills will need weapons and Olave is just that. He doesn’t do anything below average, whereas he does everything far above average. Olave is likely the safest option at receiver in this class.
3) Philadelphia Eagles: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The big man of the 2022 NFL Draft, Evan Neal’s measurements are sure to turn heads. But he’s much more than just a big man. He can move to the second level with nimble feet while possessing a rock-solid base in pass protection.
Neal’s fit with Philadelphia is interesting, but with an aging Lane Johnson, this gives Philadelphia insurance, depth, and versatility to revamp their once-feared offensive line.
4) New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Jets have two picks in the top 11, and they use their first selection to help revamp their coverage unit. Derek Stingley Jr. is the first cornerback off the board despite playing spot duties in 2021. With injuries derailing his final season in Baton Rouge, Stingley will have to prove that his 2019 season is his proverbial floor. That campaign demonstrated an elite-level ceiling we haven’t seen from a cornerback prospect in some time.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The run on edge defenders not named Kayvon starts here as George Karlaftis heads south to Jacksonville. The Purdue standout is still evolving his game. Nonetheless, he presents a challenge as offensive tackles should struggle to match his blend of speed and power. Karlaftis is a massive man with a football intelligence that rivals anyone else in the class.
6) Washington Football Team: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Football Team is strong on the defensive front but lacking playmakers on the back end. Given the pass-happy ways of today’s NFL, Washington grabs Kyle Hamilton — a free-ranging free safety with elite closing speed. Hamilton can close space in coverage unlike most safeties in recent memory. His ability to defend the run and play multiple positions conjures up comparisons to current Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James.
7) Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Andrew Booth Jr. is the next cornerback off the board and joins Philadelphia’s first draft selection, Evan Neal. Booth is a terrific talent on the outside and possesses great ball skills. He has shifty hips and is an athlete’s athlete. Like nearly every team in the NFL, the Eagles need help at cornerback, and this pick goes a long way toward tightening up their coverage unit.
8) New York Giants: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson is the next edge rusher off the board, heading to the Giants with their first of two picks in the top 11 selections. Hutchinson has had a tremendous year at Michigan in 2021, routinely pushing the pocket and affecting the opposing offense in more ways than one. He has terrific strength and power to push tackles back, and what has been most surprising in 2021 is the speed at which he can assert his dominance.
9) New York Giants: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The Giants’ second pick in the top nine selections sees them address one of the most underrated positions in football — center. Tyler Linderbaum is a generational talent in an era of the term being tossed around too freely. He possesses everything a player needs to anchor his future NFL offensive line for the next decade. Linderbaum immediately improves New York’s front five.
10) Atlanta Falcons: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Falcons are likely done with the Kaleb McGary experiment after next season — he has been a pain point for an otherwise surprisingly above-average offensive line. Charles Cross has tremendous upside if he can pass the “measurables eye test” during the offseason scouting cycle. It may take a year to get him acclimated to true passing sets in the NFL as he hails from the Mike Leach Air Raid-principled offense, but if Andre Dillard of the Eagles is any indication, it’ll be worth it.
11) New York Jets: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
The edge run continues as Drake Jackson becomes the fourth pass rusher taken in the top 11. Jackson is a freak of an athlete and has perhaps the draft class’ best get-off. At times, he will be in the quarterback’s face before the tackle has even taken two steps back. His speed increases a Jets pass-rushing unit that will also receive the services of Carl Lawson next season.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
The next great Michigan safety is Daxton Hill. The Vikings cannot pass up the skill set that he brings to the table with the 12th overall pick. Hill is a true space closer in coverage and comes downhill in run defense. There is perhaps no one better in coverage in the entire class than Hill. He gets to learn from Harrison Smith as he adjusts to the NFL speed, and there is likely no one better for a player like Hill to learn from than Smith in 2022.
13) Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Sam Darnold experiment lasted a year it seems, as the Panthers go to Liberty’s Malik Willis. Willis enters the fold at quarterback while the NFL watches what happens with Carolina and Darnold this offseason. Willis is a raw talent who has seen growth in terms of his throwing ability in 2021. He doesn’t get much help at Liberty, but he has elevated his players at times over the past two seasons. There are “safer” options at No. 13, but there are far fewer players who could change a franchise’s direction than Willis.
14) Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles make their third selection in the first 14 picks and grab the second Ohio State receiver. Garrett Wilson has proven to be a valuable commodity for Ohio State, routinely grabbing balls well out of his catch radius. He possesses terrific speed and routes, running a full tree. Wilson joins former Heisman Trophy winner and 2020 first-round selection DeVonta Smith in Philadelphia to form a fearsome duo at receiver.
15) Denver Broncos: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Denver grabs North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who can make any throw on the football field. He didn’t quite elevate his team like many thought he could in 2021, as UNC has largely disappointed this season. But Howell has rebounded nicely down the backstretch. There will be growing pains, but his raw talent as a passer is too much to pass up here.
16) Jacksonville Jaguars: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
Trade: Jacksonville sends pick Nos. 36 and 77 in 2022 and their 2023 first-round selection to the Cincinnati Bengals for pick No. 16 in 2022.
The Jaguars give up a future first-round pick to jump back into the first round in 2022, grabbing UCLA’s Sean Rhyan to bolster their offensive line. Jacksonville’s line has been horrendous to date in 2021, and given the draft capital invested in Trevor Lawrence, it’s imperative he is protected.
With few offensive tackles on the board worthy of a high pick, Jacksonville’s leap back into the first to grab the former UCLA Bruin could be seen as a bit of a stretch. Yet, Rhyan is a stout pass protector and a solid run blocker who should be able to play right away.