2022 NFL Mock Draft: George Karlaftis, Sam Howell, and Matt Corral highlight three rounds of picks

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft provides a little levity to the grim situations facing teams drafting high. Which teams come out on top?

2022 NFL Mock Draft | 17-32

They missed out on the thrill of being top-half-of-the-first-round talents, but the group of names in the back half are just as intriguing. NFL clubs can get some serious value in this portion of the draft.

17) Cleveland Browns: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

I do a lot of geographical draft selections early on because many college fans are professional fans of the surrounding team, but I swear that’s not what this is. Chris Olave isn’t Justin Jefferson or Stefon Diggs, but if you squint really hard, that’s the type of game he possesses.

Olave has the lower-half flexibility of a floor gymnast and hands like a Venus flytrap. His advanced footwork on top of his natural gifts makes him a smooth separator. He complements Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz like a Hefeweisen pairs with beer cheese and a soft pretzel.

We’re out to help Baker Mayfield find success in 2022!

18) Pittsburgh Steelers: Sean Rhyan, OT, UCLA

The Steelers came home last offseason to see the wife took the kids and left a note to not try and find or contact them ever again. Their offensive line simply disappeared.

Sean Rhyan has an NFL frame ready to take on powerful pass rushers. He’s adequately flexible and has vast reserves of athleticism in his Batman-style gizmo belt. In fact, there are times when his combination of power and athleticism provide awe-inspiring results on the field.

With so many needs on the Pittsburgh offensive line, they can take solace in knowing that one of the tackle spots is now filled.

19) New Orleans Saints: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

It was unfortunate to lose out on the Olave and Wilson sweepstakes, but Treylon Burks is a receiver fit for the new-look Saints offense. His frame and power should allow him to thrive as a run blocker, which seems to be the main function of a Saints receiver these days.

Hopefully, a healthy Jameis Winston changes that next season — that’s where Burks fits in. Winston loves to let it loose, and Burks’ 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame is a massive target for LASIK Winston.

Don’t think Burks can’t sink his hips and get in and out of route breaks, though! He’s plenty adept at creating separation. But his fit with Sean Payton, someone who has made the most out of Marques Colston among others is what excites me most.

20) Minnesota Vikings: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

Drake Jackson has seen a fall from grace since his high standing over the summer according to most outlets, but he’s still a well-proportioned pass rusher with good athletic upside. Everson Griffen is an elder statesman at this point (and unfortunately troubled), so pairing someone with a hopefully healthy Danielle Hunter is crucial.

He goes 20th in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft for that very reason. We’ve seen what Minnesota can create out of the clay of an athletic rusher. It might take a minute, but Jackson will eventually be able to do the crazy thing where he goes from a two-point stance, bends over, puts a few fingers down, and does the same exact thing from a different starting point.

Shoutout to Rod Marinelli!

21) Buffalo Bills: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Trent McDuffie reminds me of every Washington cornerback ever, except in a more athletic package. The Huskies are a train wreck right now, but they’ve never failed to cultivate an environment to make CBs as pro-ready as anywhere else in the country.

Usually, it’s in guys that either aren’t the ideal size or do not possess top-tier athleticism. Although McDuffie isn’t the prototypical 6-foot-1 cornerback, he fits in the more modern mold of a Jaire Alexander size.

Levi Wallace has long performed admirably as a knight in the Bills’ army of two-tier defensive backs. Nonetheless, they now have a long-term answer to the question of who will pair with Tre’Davious White on the outside.

22) Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

I don’t normally go out of the way to call a league full of professionals idiotic. Still, I am going to call the NFL idiotic in their devaluation of the center position. Tyler Linderbaum as a blocker is worth a top-10 selection, but he might barely sneak into the first round (depending on if teams can stop turning up their noses to the position).

Creed Humphrey should be the example we look at to buck that trend. Linderbaum won’t test the same, but his tape is even more impressive. He’s listed light, coming in at under 290 pounds. If he weighs in around there, he could fall out of the first round entirely.

But don’t tell all the bodies he’s stacked up in the Big Ten that he’s sub-300 pounds. They’re too preoccupied trying to survive the onslaught coming from #65.

23) Los Angeles Chargers: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

The remedy for the Chargers’ inability to breathe on opposing run games is to find a solid interior defender in free agency and to upgrade the linebacking corps in the draft.

Nakobe Dean, come on down! He’s a stout run defender on a defense that is more impressive than any I’ve seen in the past five college seasons. Modern football has become far more difficult for linebackers. There is far more two-gapping on the front line, making intellectuals at the position a must.

There’s no denying playing behind Davis and Walker helps, but Dean triggers quickly, and he brings athleticism and pop that we don’t often see in modern linebackers. He’s also no slouch as a pass rusher.

But if you hear a Micah Parsons comp, delete that human from your life — that’s unfair to everyone involved.

24) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

This feels disgusting to type. Ndamukong Suh is aging, and there are fewer holes on this roster than a freshly paved state highway. DeMarvin Leal is a bit of a tweener, but that mold can survive, if not thrive, alongside his mutant teammate Vita Vea.

Leal can play out to the 5-technique and sink down all the way inside as a pass rusher. His versatility is a calling card, but he never necessarily became a consistent run defender while at Texas A&M. There may be speed bumps, but he can afford to hit some along the way on a roster this talented.

25) New England Patriots: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

I dislike placing a receiver to the Patriots in the first round of any 2022 NFL mock draft. The issue is, there is no other need on offense, and they need playmakers at the position. Jakobi Meyers is solid, but Nelson Agholor is unreliable. This offense lacks that true downfield threat.

Jahan Dotson will have a steep learning curve in the Patriots’ passing attack, but his upside, post-catch prowess, and ability to separate make him an ideal fit in New England. Even as he grows in the Patriots’ offense, his burst and body control will help as a downfield weapon.

26) Kansas City Chiefs: Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina

Big, long, and strong is the name of the game for Kingsley Enagbare. But for a player his size, you wouldn’t think he’d be so fluid. There is a lot to mold with the young defensive end, but to drop back into coverage at his listed weight of 265 pounds is astonishing to see.

There is a ball-of-clay element to his game currently, but I’ve grown accustomed to trusting modern NFL positional training. Call it an overcorrection, but I’m not going to whiff on athletic marvels anymore (at least not for being too low on them).

The Chiefs need a solid, young, outside pass rusher. Frank Clark has been unreliable in 2021 for the most part, and Chris Jones is best utilized on the interior.

27) Detroit Lions: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

I don’t love the idea of a late first-round quarterback, but the Lions should fold the franchise if they go into 2022 with Jared Goff, David Blough, and Tim Boyle as their quarterbacks. Just demolish the Ford Center, lock all the key cards, and stop showing up.

Lions fans need something, anything really, to root for. Carson Strong lives up to his name in arm talent. He isn’t incredibly mobile, which somewhat limits his upside as a younger player growing into the position, but he can move about the pocket and create throwing hallways.

The Lions still need weapons, and if they want to, they can still start Goff in the meantime. But they have to start taking swings at the future, or they risk alienating what fan base they have left.

28) Dallas Cowboys: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

The safety play in Dallas isn’t necessarily bad, but Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee are both on one-year deals.

Oh, and Daxton Hill might be the fastest safety I’ve ever seen. Don’t blink as a quarterback. If you do, that slight hesitation is enough for Hill to drive on a football. Like Cowboys defensive weapon (no position) Micah Parsons, Hill seems to teleport from place to place.

He’s not as clean a prospect as Hamilton. Additionally, the safety position, in general, seems undervalued. I wouldn’t personally let him outside of the top 15 based on potential alone, but I also understand the NFL and I don’t see eye to eye about a lot of things.

29) Baltimore Ravens: Darian Kinnard, G/OT, Kentucky

The Ravens have proven on multiple occasions they don’t really care how the job gets done, as long as it gets done before it’s time to punch that clock. That’s the kind of game Darian Kinnard has.

I’m not projecting him as a first-round pick. However, Baltimore absolutely needs a right tackle, and Kinnard’s wide frame and powerful hands are just what they want in their tackles.

Even though we’ve seen Baltimore transition to a more pass-heavy game, they still prefer to beat defenses over the head on the ground. With hopefully all of their RB stable back healthy in 2022, Kinnard could help them become unstoppable once again.

It may be in Rounds 2 or 3, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in black and purple.

30) Green Bay Packers: Drake London, WR, USC

With Drake London on the field, we can play a little bit of Madden. Just send the offense out, max protect for Aaron Rodgers (if he’s still somehow there), and allow him to chuck up Hail Marys to one of the most dominant contested-catch artists of all time.

If we know one thing about the Packers, it’s that they like big receivers on the outside, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb. London’s frame would also help a young and inexperienced Jordan Love, should that be the direction Green Bay is forced to go in 2022.

31) Tennessee Titans: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Alabama is recycling receivers at this point, and it’s honestly just disgusting. THEY DIDN’T EVEN RECRUIT THIS ONE ORIGINALLY!

No, Jameson Williams transferred from Ohio State, who probably has three first-round picks playing for them right now. This is why the portal is important. It stinks for college teams losing players, but it is great because it makes it so players aren’t hidden on depth charts.

Williams isn’t leading the team in catches, but he’s dominating in yards and touchdowns. In an NFL world consistently getting closer to the line of scrimmage in the passing attack, downfield threats have ironically become far more valuable.

Look at the Raiders’ offense with Henry Ruggs, then without him before DeSean Jackson got his feet under him in Las Vegas. That downfield threat opens up so many opportunities. With reported 4.33 speed at 6-foot-2, Williams is an ideal third option in the passing attack for a healthy Julio Jones and A.J. Brown.

32) Arizona Cardinals: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

A résumé with 9 INTs and 14 pass deflections is nothing to scoff at. Ahmad Gardner isn’t as clean a cornerback prospect as the top of the group, but his nickname is still “Sauce” and he, therefore, remains in Round 1 of any 2022 NFL mock draft I do until his formal evaluation is complete and I can no longer do so.

Or maybe he’ll remain, who knows?!

Gardner has outstanding length and athleticism to pair with Byron Murphy on the outside of Arizona’s defense. Murphy took a step in 2021, becoming the lockdown defender we thought was possible coming from Washington. It makes me feel good about Gardner’s possible development in Arizona.

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