The 2022 NFL Draft is but a few weeks away, and the mock drafts are really starting to heat up. There hasn’t been less certainty around the draft in years. The average draft position of the most frequent second overall pick is 4.1, according to Benjamin Robinson’s Grinding The Mocks project, which has tracked mock draft data since 2018. That 4.1 ADP is a whole point lower than the next-lowest season (2018), showing the unpredictable nature of the top of the board.
2022 3-Round NFL Mock Draft: Round 1 | Picks 1-16
Pass rushers and offensive tackles have dominated the top half of Round 1 for most of the NFL Draft cycle. However, the tackles slipped a bit here.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Many people don’t understand the term “odds-on favorite.” It means that a player has better than even odds of being chosen. That is the case with Aidan Hutchinson and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bettors would have to risk $225 to win $100. Las Vegas knows what it’s doing most of the time. With Cam Robinson playing on a second franchise tag, this seems like a forgone conclusion.
2) Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This, however, is not a foregone conclusion. There is no denying the Lions’ need for a long-term QB solution. Jared Goff isn’t good enough to compete for championships in his current form. Malik Willis would likely benefit from sitting behind Goff for a season, as his projection is a whole lot of raw talent that needs molding. But if Detroit believes he is a future franchise QB, no price is too high.
3) Houston Texans: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Context is essential when it comes to addressing production concerns in college. Travon Walker‘s lack of high-end statistics is a product of his usage at Georgia. They deploy three down linemen often, and he was used to set the edge from heads-up or inside the tackle. He wasn’t allowed to pin his ears back from a wide 9. Houston gets a strong run defender with freaky athleticism, but projecting Walker as a consistent double-digit sack contender is risky.
4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The “anonymous scout” is at it again for the third straight season, attacking a top-tier Oregon prospect. Justin Herbert wasn’t a leader. Penei Sewell wasn’t working hard and had maturity concerns. Although it’s still early, it seems those two are doing just fine at the NFL level. Kayvon Thibodeaux is arguably the most talented player in this draft class, and he falls into the Jets’ lap at No. 4.
5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Andrew Thomas improved his game in Year 2 after struggling as a rookie to live up to unrealistic expectations set by Dave Gettleman over-drafting him. Luckily for Giants fans, the bad man is gone, and they can begin to recover. First, they need to see if they have something in Daniel Jones. Evan Neal immediately steps in as a high-functioning right tackle, which leaves only left guard and center as massive needs for New York on the OL.
6) Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Although this fit feels forced, the late, great John Clayton told 93.7 The Fan that David Tepper “loves Kenny Pickett and wants Kenny Pickett.”
Unless you’re Jerry Jones, you don’t necessarily make that call as an owner, but the ties to Pickett go beyond that. Matt Rhule recruited Pickett to Temple back in the day, and the whole gang was there during Pickett’s Pro Day.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
While Jermaine Johnson II is an older prospect at 23, his athleticism, production, and Senior Bowl performance have elevated his status among the draft community. He is the best run defender among the pass-rush group, and he possesses the power and athleticism to beat blockers as a rusher. His two downsides are his age and lack of bend. Luckily for New York, Azeez Ojulari can take care of that himself. Johnson’s 82-inch wingspan is a huge plus as well.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Ahmad Gardner quelled any concerns with his game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. He stood toe to toe with the best athletes in college football and never blinked. As a cornerback who’s nearly 6-foot-3, it’s a tad concerning that he didn’t opt to test in the agilities, but his tape suggests he’s agile enough to thrive at the next level. As long as Dean Pees is around, Gardner should make completing passes difficult in Atlanta’s zone-heavy coverage scheme.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. has some of the most natural ball skills of the past decade. It’s actually shocking that he wasn’t a WR convert at one point. He’s also an explosive and fluid cover corner with a strong frame and natural man-coverage skills. Stingley must stay healthy at the next level, but his work ethic is unquestionable. It might be the reason he got hurt in the first place.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton has been overanalyzed recently. Some are taking a few ugly reps in the slot against a 5-foot-9 receiver and going crazy because Hamilton didn’t look like Darrelle Revis in coverage. The reality is he is 6-foot-4. Anatomically speaking, it doesn’t make sense for his body to have the reactive athleticism to cover someone six inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter. Robert Saleh won’t put him in that position often, and Hamilton thrives everywhere else.
11) Washington Commanders: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
In a world full of unknowns, it sure feels like the Commanders will draft Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave if the board falls this way. That would make Washington’s receiving corps dominated by Buckeyes receivers. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and Wilson would form a dynamic trio. Nevertheless, questions remain at the quarterback position for Washington.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
There’s bold, and then there is “drafting a 23-year-old pass rusher with underwhelming production, short-ish arms, and raw tape with the 12th pick” bold.
However, some of Boye Mafe‘s tape is excellent. His lack of production was partly due to reduced snaps on defense during his career at Minnesota. His first step is terrifying, he’s a loose athlete, and his hands are active. Despite lacking the ideal arm length, he has an 81.5-inch wingspan and does a great job of getting skinny on his long-arm move. Danielle Hunter would be an excellent mentor for Mafe, and he’d stay right at home in Minnesota.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Honestly, it’s a shame Jordan Davis wasn’t a top-10 pick. In a vacuum, he may be the best player in the draft class. However, as a big fella, he isn’t on the field as often as his edge-rushing and pass-defending counterparts and is therefore seen as less valuable.
Anybody at Georgia would tell you otherwise, as do their defensive splits when Davis is on and off the field. He stays paired with teammate Walker, making the Texans’ defense incredibly athletic.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
This is an even more shocking turn of events in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. However, the teams with a real need at tackle all passed in favor of skill position players. Ikem Ekwonu was in play for the top pick before the Jaguars tagged Robinson again. He will change sides as a blocker, but his improvement from 2020 to 2021 suggests he is a quick learner. Ekwonu will be a perfect fit for Baltimore.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Trent McDuffie isn’t unlike most Washington cornerbacks who make the leap to the NFL level. Whatever the last two coaching staffs have been teaching them has worked because they’ve been the most pro-ready group of college cornerbacks over the past decade.
The difference with McDuffie is while he isn’t of prototypical size, he is a fantastic athlete with top-notch intelligence. He’ll slide right in as Philadelphia’s second cornerback.
16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
With the slip of offensive tackles comes another consequence for the league. The Saints now don’t have to know life without a ridiculously talented left tackle. Sure, Terron Armstead hasn’t been incredibly healthy recently, but he was on the roster!
Charles Cross is arguably a top-10 talent in this draft class. He’s the most aesthetically pleasing pass protector in the class, and he’s been downright disrespected as a run blocker throughout the process.