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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Philadelphia trades up for a franchise QB

The Philadelphia Eagles trade up to select a quarterback in this 2-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Who did they select at No. 2 overall?

2022 NFL Draft season never ends at Pro Football Network, and quite honestly, it may be the only reason you are here. While my first 2022 NFL Mock Draft during this offseason was to be an analyst and namedrop some prospects to get to know, this version is a bit different.

In fact, this iteration was completed in an opposite viewpoint — not as an analyst, rather as the general manager of each team. Trades were on the table, as was a healthy prediction of how the season would fare for each team on a positional basis. Contracts and potential 2022 free agent signings at positions of need were also considered.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16

Remember, this is what I would do as the GM of all 32 teams.

1) Houston Texans: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The Texans roster is in such bad shape that they’re even a few steps away from being in rebuild mode. That being said, a franchise quarterback is just what they would need to enter that mode.

It’s apparent Deshaun Watson doesn’t want to be there, nor does the city of Houston want him there. Starting fresh with the draft class’ top arm talent on NFL throws is an easy decision.

Sam Howell runs a pro-style, Air Raid offense (if that’s even a term) with quick reads and ample arm strength. He has never had to elevate talent around him through two seasons at North Carolina. But if he proves he can elevate the UNC roster in 2021, Howell will prove he deserves to be the No. 1 overall pick.

2) Philadelphia Eagles (from Detroit): Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

(Philadelphia sends 2022 picks 6, 38, 56, and 2023 1st for Detroit’s No. 2 overall pick)

Is a trade-up to No. 2 a shock to some anymore? No, it can’t be. Not after the frenzy of movement we’ve seen for quarterbacks the past few years.

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft is no different. There are arguably two cornerstone franchise quarterbacks in this class, and if you’re as needy at quarterback as the Eagles should be at year’s end, this is a no-brainer. It’s a lot of draft capital to give up, including next year’s first-rounder, but moving on from a Lincoln Riley “project” to a Lincoln Riley “sure thing” is worth it.

Spencer Rattler has proven to be able to move the sticks, score touchdowns, and run the Sooners’ offense with little trouble. He was shaky to start the season but rattled off some of the nation’s best throws in 2020. Another year in OU’s offense, and we should see a third Riley QB battle for the No. 1 overall pick in the past five years.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

This is a common name in a common spot to a common team. However, Kayvon Thibodeaux is no common man. With a full season of good health, he may also prove to be the best overall prospect regardless of position.

Edge defenders aren’t quite in such high demand as quarterbacks as they don’t win you the games a QB does. But Thibodeaux is a lock to go here if available. He can play across any defensive line and rush from a variety of positions. He’s a stout run defender with linebacker-like sideline-to-sideline speed.

He was also strong enough as a 19-year-old DE to bully NFL linemen just the same as he is fast enough to run around them. Thibodeaux may be the safest pick in this class.

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

Speaking of safe picks, I don’t see Derek Stingley Jr. as that. Yet, he lands at fourth overall in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The proverbial “ceiling” of Stingley is All-Pro cornerback, similar to that of Jalen Ramsey.

However, the “floor” for the LSU CB is equally as low as he showed size constraints and durability issues at times in 2020. As great as his ball skills are (and they’re elite), Stingley needs a bounce-back year in 2021 to prove he’s the all-world talent he showed he could be in 2019.

My money is on Stingley proving 2020 was the anomaly. As such, the Jets land a decade-long starter at a cornerstone position on defense.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

It’s no surprise that the Bengals need some help on the offensive line. When you can grab a 6’7″, 360-pound tackle with crazy athleticism, you do it. When you can also select the top player at a position of need, you do it.

Cincinnati opted to pass up on a generational tackle a season ago in this very spot, but they won’t do it with Evan Neal. The epitome of a freak for his size, Neal is more than just a brick wall. He’s a brick wall who can move like a wacky-waving-inflatable-armed tube man. Joe Burrow would be a happy, happy man.

6) Detroit Lions (from Philadelphia): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Lions moved down from No. 2 but still grab a position of need with Tracy Walker likely exiting in free agency. Why didn’t they take a quarterback at No. 2? That’s because I’m not not sold on Jared Goff at this stage.

Providing Goff plays some plus-football, the stage is set for the Lions not to be selecting second that early in the first place. Moving down was an easy decision for Detroit in this 2022 mock draft. Getting Kyle Hamilton just makes it that much sweeter.

Hamilton is the top player on the board at safety, and unlike many years, that is likely to be the case no matter which draft board you look at. He can cover like a sticky, press-man cornerback while laying the wood in the run game like a linebacker. He’s made for today’s NFL.

7) New York Giants: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Unlike the Lions before them, I am not sold on the chance that the Giants get plus-play from their quarterback in 2021. Even if they do, Daniel Jones likely isn’t the future in the Big Apple.

Malik Willis could be that future and, at worst, comes with added excitability around next season. He’s a dynamic runner with more than enough skills to be an above-average passer in the NFL. Is he worthy of a top-10 pick right now? Perhaps not. That’s why we play the games, though.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, DE, USC

It’s safe to say the Falcons’ depth on the defensive line is not quite what they want it to be, even entering the 2020 season. There is hope, but there are no sure-fire players along the edge.

Since his days in high school, Drake Jackson has proven to be a sure thing, doing nothing in his time at USC to prove he’s not a high-caliber pass rusher. He’s an incredibly talented and athletic edge rusher end who has the ability to drop into coverage. Jackson is what the Falcons need in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

9) Carolina Panthers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

You need to get to know Nevada QB Carson Strong — a sentiment expressed on PFN’s Between the Hashes podcast. There may be a learning curve as he adjusts to running an NFL offense, but there is no questioning Strong’s arm.

Strong may not only have the strongest arm in the class but the best arm of the past two decades or so. He can challenge defensive backs with beautiful shots in the vertical game with speed, poise, and accuracy.

Strong’s offensive game plan will give him some headaches as he adjusts to life in the NFL, but he’s every bit of a project worth undertaking in Carolina.

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

As dominant as they come, the Giants get a decade-long starter on the inside with the potential to kick outside for their new quarterback. Kenyon Green is solid in pass protection with quick hands and great strength but owns even better athletic ability in space.

As such, he’s a mauler in the run game who accurately picks and chooses his block attempts from the first to second level. If he has a year with no sacks allowed and plus-run blocks, every 2022 NFL Mock Draft will have Green in the top 10.

11) Arizona Cardinals (from Denver): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

(Arizona sends 2022 pick 13 and 2023 2nd for Denver’s 2022 pick 11)

Malcolm Butler is on a one-year deal at cornerback for Arizona, and the Cardinals need someone opposite Byron Murphy for the future. Although they took Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan in the 2021 NFL Draft, neither player have the upside of Wilson’s college teammate, Kaiir Elam.

Perhaps the best pure cover corner in the class, Elam has length in spades. He possesses oily hips that allow him to move with any type of receiver. Elam also boasts great short-area speed and feet.

This is all to say he’s likely on par, if not even better than Stingley at this time. So, trading up to get their guy was an absolute must for Arizona. Especially with CB-needy Las Vegas sitting in front of them.

12) Las Vegas Raiders: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is every bit of a top-notch cornerback, despite playing at Cincinnati. He’s proven to be a reliable CB with tremendous ability in zone coverage. If Gardner can improve in man coverage with his back to the ball, there’s a chance he won’t be available at No. 12. He’s in this 2022 mock draft, however, and the Raiders sprint their card to the commissioner.

13) Denver Broncos (from Arizona): Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

The Broncos couldn’t say yes fast enough when the Cardinals came calling for the 11th pick. If we were running things at Denver, we’d be on the horn shopping this pick too, with no top player at a position of need available.

At this stage, any quarterback available isn’t a Year 1 starter, so the services of Drew Lock may have to suffice another year — or month. Regardless, Rasheed Walker is there, and he comes in to play opposite Garett Bolles.

With Walker’s emergent consistent level of play at Penn State the past two years, he’s a building block on a now-stout offensive line. Don’t worry; quarterback is still the top need that we’ll address in Round 2.

14) New Orleans Saints (from Washington): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

(New Orleans sends 2022 picks 20, 97, and 2023 2nd for Washington’s 2022 pick 14)

Another Ohio State wide receiver for the Saints? You better believe it. Except this time, the Saints move up to select Chris Olave by sending two picks this season and next year’s second-rounder to Washington. Nevertheless, Olave is worth it.

A dominant receiver at the catch point, Olave has a tremendous size-speed combination that he uses to his advantage. He comes with a valuable deep-threat ability to push the defense vertically. But what separates Olave from the rest of the pack is his ability to make highlight-reel catches look mundane.

His level of play is hard to come by, and this is not a lot to trade up to get him in actuality.

15) Minnesota Vikings: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

George Karlaftis is still learning the position, even the sport of football. As crazy as that sounds, with his potential, Karlaftis could be the steal of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, no matter where he gets selected.

An absolute dominant pass rusher from the 2019 season, Karlaftis struggled last year due to injury and the pandemic. He’s 6’4″, 275 pounds of athletic muscle with enough strength to move stout guards. Karlaftis moves around tackles with a mean chop and excellent hands all the same.

16) Los Angeles Chargers: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

The Chargers need to surround QB Justin Herbert with weapons the best they can but also need protection for their young signal-caller. Jalen Wydermyer is too good to pass up as a valuable pass-catching tight end, especially compared to the offensive linemen on the board.

Wydermyer is a dynamic weapon who has proven to hold his own in the blocking game. He’d be a mismatch in the passing game against any linebacker or cornerback, perfect for Herbert to find over the middle of the field.

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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