2022 NFL Mock Draft: Senior Bowl performances vault Sam Howell, Malik Willis into Round 1

Four quarterbacks are taken in the first round of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, including two quarterbacks who excelled at the Senior Bowl.

The Senior Bowl is behind us and with new information in hand, the 2022 NFL Draft mock circuit is ramping up. Using Pro Football Network’s free Mock Draft Simulator, we take a stab at what the simulation now thinks of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Including trades, there are a few new players to take note of after their performances during the all-star games these past few weeks.

This mock draft order is up to date, pending the result of the Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

Four quarterbacks are taken in Round 1 of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Who are they, what did they do during their all-star performances, and is this the number we should be leaning towards at the end of April?

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The MDS believes this to be a no-brainer as much as you and I do. Evan Neal immediately projects as a Day 1 starter and is capable of protecting a franchise quarterback.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are rebuilding in front of our eyes after the failed Urban Meyer experiment and protecting Trevor Lawrence should be priority No. 1. Neal is a big man with a bigger reach in both facets. He’s a potential All-Pro candidate in Year 1.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Detroit’s top choice of edge defender will likely be here for the Detroit Lions, and in this version, they grab Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson somehow won with power and strength as fast as his teammate won with speed this past season. He and David Ojabo paired to form the top edge-rushing duo in college football in 2021 with ease. Hutchinson fits right into the Lions’ hard-nosed, physical defense under Dan Campbell and Co.

3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

What a consolation prize for the Houston Texans. As Kayvon Thibodeaux slides to No. 3, it’s an easy decision to grab the talented edge defender. Thibodeaux is athletic as they come, with all the requisite tools to disrupt passing attacks for years. He also presents a problem in the run game. Thibodeaux has some of the best instincts in the class — not just among edge defenders, but among all defenders.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The New York Jets will certainly need help at a bevy of positions and have the luxury of potentially drafting the best player available here. This version has them taking Kyle Hamilton — arguably the safest pick of this class — with their first top-10 selection.

Hamilton closes space in the blink of an eye and lays the lumber when he hits ball carriers. He can separate ball from body in both facets and should immediately bolster both the coverage and run defense units in the Big Apple.

5) New York Giants: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The New York Giants, like their crosstown rival, have the luxury of potentially grabbing the best player available at a variety of need positions. This simulation has them taking their top edge defender in George Karlaftis, making it three edge defenders in the top five picks.

Karlaftis is a power rusher who bullies his way past tackles with ease. He can continually work on fine-tuning his speed game, but his sharp football IQ is among the best in the class.

6) Carolina Panthers: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The top interior prospect, Kenyon Green heads to the Carolina Panthers. Green is nimble on his feet and ferocious with his hands. He dominates in the run game with great pad level and solid fundamentals. Green is also solid in pass protection and comes with versatility to play across the entire offensive line.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Giants can’t get out of the top seven picks without nabbing an offensive lineman. Thus, they grab Charles Cross here. Cross is a big man with sound technique in the passing game. He’s got strength and great footwork, but his balance is off the charts. Though he’ll have to prove himself in a consistent rushing game, there were flashes of brilliance with him in space, albeit on limited reps in the Mississippi State offense.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The top cornerback in this mock draft heads a bit south to the Atlanta Falcons. Andrew Booth Jr. has some of the top athleticism we’ve seen from a cornerback in some time. His leaping ability and catch-point skills resemble that of a receiver. He can also run with receivers in a variety of coverage schemes, allowing him to fit just about anywhere in the NFL.

9) Denver Broncos: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The first quarterback taken is Matt Corral as he heads to the Denver Broncos. Corral is a talented man with an even more talented arm. What separates Corral from the class is his ability with his legs while maintaining vision downfield to make proper reads on scrambles and broken pockets. He can make every throw from every platform, and his ceiling is incredibly high given his accuracy. Corral is the future in Denver.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

After grabbing the top defensive back in the class, the Jets grab the top skill player in Garrett Wilson. A receiver with no real weaknesses, Wilson can run every route and catch everything in sight. His presence in the Jets’ passing attack will go a long way at Zach Wilson’s development as he now has a true No. 1, X receiver.

11) Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

A Senior Bowl performance to remember, Sam Howell made everyone forget about the 2021 season. He showcased that his troubles during this past season simply may be placed on the system he played within.

Howell was sharp with his reads during Senior Bowl practices, and his accuracy was the best of the six quarterbacks in attendance. All Howell needed to do was prove he was the same quarterback we saw in 2019 and 2020, and he did just that in Mobile.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The best football from Derek Stingley Jr. may have come back in 2019, but that raw level of talent has not been matched. Sure, he had some concerns this past season, but Stingley’s ball skills have never been in question.

Stingley can cover a variety of receivers and isn’t phased when put against a WR1 on an island. He’s aggressive and plays a physical brand of football. Stingley will fit in nicely in Minnesota.

13) Cleveland Browns: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Jameson Williams suffered an ill-timed ACL injury in the national championship but should be fine come training camp if recent reports are to be believed. As good as he is as an individual, Williams made the Alabama offense run in 2021. Without him in the lineup against Georgia, the Crimson Tide looked like a completely different team. He’s a game-changer and could go a long way at extending Baker Mayfield’s career in Cleveland.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Baltimore Ravens grab a true lockdown cornerback in Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. The former Cincinnati Bearcat blanketed an entire side of the field for three seasons in the Queen City.

Gardner is physical, long, fast, and has oily hips that he swivels in the direction of the ball or receiver at will. He’s just scratching the surface of his coverage ability as he was tested against Alabama and didn’t give up a touchdown. In fact, Gardner didn’t give up a touchdown in his three-year college career.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Devin Lloyd heads to the Philadelphia Eagles as the top linebacker in the 2022 NFL Draft. Lloyd has an incredible ability to be able to travel from sideline to sideline with ease. His run-defense instincts are top-notch, but his coverage ability is what pushes him here for Philadelphia. Lloyd can cover tight ends across the route tree or running backs out of the backfield. There is nothing Lloyd can’t do, nor can’t do at an elite level.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

With their second pick in as many selections, the Eagles take another defender, grabbing the fourth cornerback in the top 16. Kaiir Elam from Florida is a long cornerback with terrific ball skills. What separates Elam from most of the cornerbacks is his ability to understand route concepts and passing plays ahead of the throw. His anticipation coupled with his coverage IQ allows him to pass off receivers and make snap plays on balls not even in his target window.

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