The 2022 NFL Draft is closer than some might think, and with the college football season more than halfway complete, we start to look to the future. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we try to match each NFL team with the prospect that could make the most significant impact. Using PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator, let’s take a look at both team needs and best fits.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16
In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, quarterbacks actually go higher than some would expect. However, there are also some surprises at the end of the first round. Note that the draft order is reflective of the current draft order after Week 8.
1) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux has cemented himself as one of the best pass rushers in the game right now. At some point, the Lions are likely going to be aiming to get a QB in this draft. However, none of the options have really emerged as being worthy of the first overall pick.
Instead, in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, Detroit decides to bring in former Penei Sewell teammate Thibodeaux to help on defense. Sewell was recently asked about practicing every day against Thibodeaux, and he gave him a rave review.
“He’s very athletic, so he gave me a run for my money come practice days,” Sewell said this pasT week. “It was a battle.”
2) Houston Texans: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
The Houston Texans are a bad football team. They are going to need to use the 2022 NFL Draft to start a full-blown rebuild. Tyrod Taylor and Davis Mills are not the answers at the QB position. We don’t know what kind of return they are going to get for Deshaun Watson — if any. But the team decides to pull the trigger on a new franchise QB by drafting Matt Corral out of Ole Miss.
At the beginning of the year, Corral was not in the QB1 discussion. However, like Zach Wilson and Joe Burrow before him, Corral’s draft stock has seen an impressive ascension. Corral has thrown for 2,202 yards with 15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, adding 519 rushing yards and 10 more scores for a 6-2 Ole Miss team.
3) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
There is a chance that the Eagles have three picks in the top 15 of the 2022 NFL Draft. With their first in this mock, they decide to focus on their secondary. Florida’s Kaiir Elam has continued the reputation of strong Gators defensive backs.
The Eagles currently have 30-year-old veteran Darius Slay leading their unit, but he has regressed this season. They also have another veteran — Steven Nelson — on the other side. Bringing in Elam will provide some much-needed youth on Philadelphia’s defense and give them an immediate starter. There is still a debate for CB1 between Elam and Derek Stingley Jr., but our Mock Draft Simulator gave the edge to Elam this time around.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The edge talent in the 2022 NFL Draft is impressive, to say the least. With a ton of scrutiny on their defense so far this year, the Jaguars use a top-five pick on Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. When I say Jacksonville’s defense has been incredibly bad, that is not facetious. They are allowing a whopping 386 yards per game and have struggled to get to opposing QBs. The Jaguars need a lot of help on both sides of the ball, but Hutchinson is the right choice for them here.
5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
When the New York Giants came out of the 2021 NFL Draft, GM Dave Gettleman was criticized for failing to focus on the club’s offensive line. That will not be the case this time around as they bring in Alabama’s Evan Neal to help protect Daniel Jones. Neal, a 6’7″, 360-pound behemoth, started for Nick Saban’s team from the start. He started at guard in 2019 and right tackle in 2020, displaying his versatility. He will be a welcome addition to an offensive line that ranks 28th in PFN’s offensive line rankings.
6) Washington Football Team: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Washington Football Team started the year with high hopes after winning the NFC East last season. However, when QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went down with a serious hip injury, they had to turn to Taylor Heinicke as their starter. Heinicke hasn’t been awful, but the organization needs to start thinking ahead.
That is exactly what they do by bringing in Liberty QB Malik Willis. Willis has played so well this season that he’s skyrocketed up draft boards and has been in contention for QB1 in this draft class. After putting up 62 points against UMass this past week, Willis now has 1,986 passing yards with 21 TDs and 6 interceptions. He has also added 684 yards on the ground with 9 additional TDs.
On a recent podcast, ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay actually compared Willis to Kyler Murray. If that comparison is even somewhat accurate, Washington will be quite happy with this pick.
7) New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The New York Jets have struggled with Zach Wilson going through rookie growing pains and missing time due to injuries. However, head coach Robert Saleh has gotten some good play out of their defense. Adding a dynamic playmaker in Derek Stingley Jr. from LSU will make this defense that much better.
Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst Oli Hodgkinson put it best when breaking down Stingley’s scouting profile: “Stingley demonstrates impressive ball tracking prowess and regularly puts himself in a position to make a play. When the ball is in the air in his vicinity, there is every chance of a turnover.”
8) Philadelphia Eagles: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles are going to need a number of pieces to help fill out their roster. Having this many picks in the first round will certainly help with that. With their second pick in Round 1, they decide to give Jalen Hurts another weapon. Ohio State’s Chris Olave is one of the best receivers in Ohio State history. He is the first wide receiver off the board and gives the Eagles a legit route runner to play alongside DeVonta Smith.
9) Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis): Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
With their third pick in the top 10, the Eagles decide to bring in PFN’s top-rated guard and center in the 2022 NFL Draft. Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green is a top prospect in this year’s draft and should fit in well trying to protect the mobile Hurts.
PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings had this to say about Green: “He’s a stout, powerful blocker with tremendous energy off the snap, balance, and finishing ability in all phases. Green consistently dominates CFB competition.”
10) New York Jets (from Seattle): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Jets use their first two picks in the draft to focus on their defense. After selecting one of the top CB prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft, they add Notre Dame superstar Kyle Hamilton to their secondary. With Hamilton and Stingley in Saleh’s system, expect this defense to take another step forward. If the offense can do the same, the Jets might be able to figure things out.
11) New York Giants (from Chicago): Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA
The NFC East is currently in a position to dominate the first half of the 2022 NFL Draft with an unbelievable six picks in the top 15. The Giants decide to double-dip and bring in another offensive line prospect in UCLA’s Sean Rhyan. Pairing Rhyan with Evan Neal will improve their offensive line substantially. These first picks will be music to RB Saquon Barkley’s ears as he might finally have an offensive line conducive to a successful rushing attack.
12) Atlanta Falcons: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
The Atlanta Falcons are once again facing a losing season and are likely to finish in the bottom of the NFC South. In the 2021 NFL Draft, they decided to use the fourth overall pick on TE Kyle Pitts instead of taking Matt Ryan’s replacement. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, they finally draft his eventual successor. North Carolina’s Sam Howell has had an up-and-down year, but it is hard to argue his raw talent.
Before the start of the 2021 season, Howell was considered not only a Heisman Trophy frontrunner but a potential top-five pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. His stock has taken a hit as of late, but his potential is immeasurable. The Falcons are likely to roll with Ryan for another season, so Howell will be able to learn behind the veteran for at least one season.
13) Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The reality of the situation for the Miami Dolphins is that they are going to need to retool their entire offensive line if they want to be successful moving forward. Do I think that the Dolphins will actually be selecting here in the 2022 NFL Draft? No. I think they will likely trade this pick to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson. However, if they keep this pick, the Mock Draft Simulator has them taking Iowa’s best player, Tyler Linderbaum.
Miami’s offensive line has been awful this season, ranking 29th in our offensive line rankings. Linderbaum is an immediate upgrade at the position and will be pivotal to the success of Tua Tagovailoa (if he remains their QB in 2022).
14) Minnesota Vikings: Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
The Minnesota Vikings went from having one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL last season to one of the best this year. They actually rank near the top of the league in QB sacks in 2021. However, this past week, they lost defensive end Danielle Hunter for the season when he tore his pectoral muscle. They know how important this position is to their roster, and Cincinnati’s Myjai Sanders will provide some impressive depth.
15) New England Patriots: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
The New England Patriots and Bill Belichick tend to surprise with their selections in most drafts. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, that is no different. With a revolving door of RBs on their roster following the trade of Sony Michel, the Patriots decide to bring in Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller to hopefully become their three-down back.
16) Denver Broncos: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Dever Broncos surprised many by trading away future Hall of Famer Von Miller the day before the 2021 NFL Trade Deadline. Now, they have a glaring hole in their pass rush. How do they fix it? By bringing in one of the top edge-rushing talents in the 2022 NFL Draft, Purdue’s George Karlaftis.
PFN’s Oli Hodgkinson had this to say about Karlaftis: “For his size, he moves incredibly well, surprisingly so. He displays excellent burst, can change direction smoothly, and can often be found chasing down the opposition. His combination of size and speed is the stuff of nightmares for opposing quarterbacks.”