The day has finally come, so it’s time for one last 2022 NFL Mock Draft with trades, going a full seven rounds. Unlike some mock drafts, this is not what I expect to happen. Rather, this is what I would do as the general manager of all 32 teams. As bridge quarterbacks are the talk of the town surrounding this class, I am still confident enough in four quarterbacks to secure them within the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Want to go beyond reading this 7-Round Mock Draft and do one of your own? Take a spin on the free PFN Mock Draft Simulator with trades.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Round 1, Picks 1-16
It’s draft day. Let’s take one last look ahead of the first round. Again, this is not what I think will happen, but what I think should happen. Please keep that in mind throughout the entirety of this 7-Round Mock Draft. All 262 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft include analysis. Let’s go.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
The top player on my board reads Jermaine Johnson II and he’s an easy selection at No. 1. Johnson has climbed to No. 2 on the PFN Consensus Big Board and also ranks No. 1 on PFN Analyst Ian Cummings’ final board. After winning ACC Defensive Player of the Year in his lone season at FSU, he’s ready to be put on the biggest stage of them all and has clearly shown he can adapt to a new playbook with speed and grace. Johnson immediately gives the Jaguars a cornerstone defensive player.
2) Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
You could call it a surprise. And sure, it may be, but the Detroit Lions need an answer at the quarterback position. There are a handful of players at the position that I’d be confident enough to build my franchise around in this draft, and Malik Willis is absolutely one of them. However, as part of this plan, Willis is sitting behind Jared Goff for the 2022 season and learning the offense. Then, we’ll deploy him in 2023 and beyond.
3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The mix of heavy draft capital and incredible versatility pushes Kayvon Thibodeaux to this selection. The Houston Texans need an identity on defense and Thibodeaux gives them one. gives them one. That new identity reads: Feared pass rusher off the edge with incredible versatility and run-stuffing ability.
4) New York Jets: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
There are several directions the New York Jets could go with this pick (and their second first-round pick, to be honest). Yet, Aidan Hutchinson “sliding” to them here is a no-brainer. Carl Lawson returns this fall. Pairing him with Hutchinson gives the Jets one of the most formidable pass-rushing units in football.
5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
There are a few truly terrific tackles in this class. However, there is an uncertain aspect to picking tackles when you have to upset their natural position. Ikem Ekwonu will have to shift to the right side as Andrew Thomas locks down left tackle in New York. Yet, Ekwonu seems to have the fundamentals and technique to adjust to the right side just fine, giving Daniel Jones an immediate upgrade.
6) Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Tackle is a big need for the Carolina Panthers, but so is quarterback. So big, in fact, that we pass on a tackle here and get a future QB1 in Kenny Pickett. He’s pro-ready right now, and the Panthers have a roster that can compete for second place in the NFC South this season. Pickett gives them a better chance to win now — and in the future — than Sam Darnold.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Drake London, WR, USC
The Giants fielded trade offers here, but no one matched what Drake London potentially brings them. He’s a unicorn in the sense that he’s magical with the ball in his hands and presents a skill set that is uniquely his. A big man with a dual-sport background, London can’t be brought down by one defender. Additionally, he can come down with any ball over any defender and immediately presents a mismatch in the red zone.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The best all-around route runner with speed to burn heads to the Atlanta Falcons as Garrett Wilson comes south. Wilson has made defenders who attempt to slow him down look silly as far back as his dominant high school days. The growth and level of play he displayed at Ohio State only honed his craft. He’s ready to be the Falcons’ WR1 right away.
9) New Orleans Saints (mock trade from DEN via SEA): Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Mock Trade: The Saints send pick Nos. 16 and 19 to Seattle in exchange for pick Nos. 9 and 109.
Here we are — the biggest trade of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. We all knew the New Orleans Saints had been loading up for something ahead of the draft after securing a second first-round pick. We just didn’t know it would be for Evan Neal as the big man from Alabama started to slide down the board. In this hypothetical trade, the Saints called the Giants, but New York wanted another first-round pick. Instead, in the middle of a rebuild, Seattle moves back to 16 and 19 while allowing the Saints to secure their biggest need.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is good enough to be the fourth overall pick. The Jets just happen to get lucky in this draft, as there are bigger fish to fry for the teams in between them. Hamilton closes space in coverage like no other and brings the lumber in the run game. He’s a rare blend of size and speed with sound technique. Hamilton doesn’t plod around. Instead, he is decisive and creative with his angles in run defense.
11) Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
The new face of the franchise in the nation’s capital is none other than Sam Howell. He joins the Washington Commanders to compete with Carson Wentz right away, as Howell gives Washington a higher ceiling than Wentz. Howell makes every throw and has an underrated athleticism that will allow him to buy time in the pocket and maintain his vision downfield. His arm strength and off-platform ability will pay dividends in Year 1 as he adjusts to the NFL speed.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
It took a while, but the first cornerback is off the board. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is a true lockdown cornerback with sticky coverage ability. He immediately transforms a Minnesota Vikings secondary devoid of talent on the outside and makes them a formidable coverage unit. In three years at Cincinnati, Gardner didn’t allow a touchdown and was dominant game in and game out.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
It’s important to look at the sum of the Texans roster. Are they a playoff team in 2022? Likely not. Are they a postseason team with a few upgrades and a year or two under Lovie Smith? Absolutely. As such, Jameson Williams slides into the WR1 role in 2023 after rehabbing in 2022 and playing in spot duty once he’s medically cleared. He’s worth the investment in draft capital whether he plays in 2022 or not.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
A sticky cover corner with an NFL lineage, Kaiir Elam heads to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round like his uncle, Matt Elam, did. Kaiir, a multi-year starter in the SEC, was dominant at times and possesses a high football IQ. He’ll pass off defenders in his coverage easily, as he understands route concepts and schemes in the blink of an eye. Elam is a true CB1 and is as good as Gardner, Andrew Booth Jr., and Derek Stingley Jr. at the top of this draft.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Speaking of, Andrew Booth Jr. is the next player off the board, as the Clemson cornerback lands with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles need a few pieces in the secondary, and Booth is a viable CB1 candidate who has recently unleashed some of his high-end potential. Some may fear his injury history, but his outstanding play and ball skills are enough to seal the deal at pick No. 15.
16) Seattle Seahawks (mock trade from IND via PHI via NO): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Talk about an all-timer for the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle decides to pass on Evan Neal, secures an additional first-round pick, and still gets Charles Cross at pick No. 16. The Seahawks are in rebuild mode, but Cross immediately makes their offensive line that much better. He’s technically sound and should be terrific in all facets once he gets his feet wet in an NFL offense.
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