Cam Mellor’s 2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Kenny Pickett bring hope to new franchises in Round 1

Who makes the cut in the latest 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft, where does your favorite team go, and which players should you know come April?

2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft | Round 1, Picks 17-32

The first half of the first round was just the first part of the fun. Here’s the back half of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, making selections as if I was the GM of every team.

17) Los Angeles Chargers: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Spending big money in free agency, the Los Angeles Chargers addressed all their major needs, for the most part. Now, LA needs just a few more pieces — they are well on their way to the playoffs, it seems. Jordan Davis is that piece. The big man can big-time move. Davis fills up the middle of their defensive line and should allow both Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa favorable matchups off the edge. That’s a scary front: Davis, Mack, and Bosa.

18) New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The loss of Terron Armstead has yet to be shored up through free agency, and as such, grabbing a left tackle is a no-brainer. Jameis Winston needs a blindside protector, and Trevor Penning is just that. Making matters even better, Penning is a true road grader. Alvin Kamara will be a happy man with Penning paving the way.

19) Philadelphia Eagles: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Their third pick in the top 19, the Eagles grab Nakobe Dean to anchor their defense. Dean is a coach’s player in the sense that he’s essentially a coach on the field. His football IQ is sharp, but his film study relents itself to making highlight-reel plays look routine. He constantly understands when and where the offense is attempting to attack. Combine that with the fact that he’s an ox who runs like a gazelle, and you’ve got a near-perfect NFL linebacker.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The future face of the Pittsburgh Steelers is Kenny Pickett, not Mitchell Trubisky. Similar to Washington with Wentz, the Steelers and Trubisky seem to be aligning themselves with the bridge quarterback idea. Pickett could be the future sooner than later, similar to his former ACC rival Howell. He’s got every bit of an NFL arm despite his smaller hands, and Pickett showcased that in 2021 and all throughout the offseason workout circuit.

21) New England Patriots: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Needing to fill the loss of J.C. Jackson, the New England Patriots absolutely look to the draft at No. 21. Trent McDuffie comes NFL-ready and has the ability to immediately pencil in as the boundary corner. McDuffie plays longer than his frame indicates, and he has keen instincts and plus run defense.

22) Green Bay Packers (from LV): Drake London, WR, USC

After trading Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Green Bay Packers will absolutely be in the market for at least one wide receiver in the early stages of the 2022 NFL Draft. Here, they grab Drake London as Aaron Rodgers’ new No. 1 target. London, a former two-sport star at USC, finished the 2021 season as the Pac-12’s leader in receiving yards despite missing the back half of the season. He presents a valuable receiver both at the catch point and with his incredible after-the-catch ability.

23) Arizona Cardinals: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Sure, Travon Walker is rumored to be a candidate for the Jaguars at pick No. 1. As far as I am concerned, this landing spot is perfect for both parties. Walker can utilize his versatility with the Arizona Cardinals more so than the other EDGE-needy teams ahead of them. And the Cardinals get a player who can rush the passer from a variety of positions or drop back in coverage almost all the same. Walker is an enigma but in a great way.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

You have to be some receiver to become Ohio State’s career leader in touchdown receptions, and that’s just what Chris Olave is. The Dallas Cowboys need to find a replacement for the production from Amari Cooper, and you can bet on Olave to fill that void. He’s a shifty route runner with more than enough speed, strong hands, and terrific body control.

25) Buffalo Bills: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

That proverbial ceiling is calling for the Buffalo Bills here. Losing Levi Wallace needs to be tended to even with the signing of Siran Neal. If Derek Stingley Jr. is available, Buffalo can bank on his 2019 tape as the real player they receive. Call me skeptical of his ability, but Stingley’s 2019 tape would’ve been good enough for him to go top 10 in the 2020 NFL Draft. Still, getting him right health-wise as well as focused on the game will be crucial for him to reach his potential in Buffalo.

26) Tennessee Titans: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

Perhaps a surprise pick to some, but I always aim to isolate talent outside of situation. For Christian Watson‘s sake, that takes out the factor of playing lesser competition he played against to showcase what he’s great at. And he’s great at a lot. A large man with terrific speed, first step, and strong hands, Watson has everything you’d expect a potential No. 1 receiver to have. Yet, with A.J. Brown handling WR1 duties, Watson will receive favorable matchups in coverage and could explode in the Tennessee Titans’ offense.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are Super Bowl favorites once again with the return of Tom Brady. They’re expected to be playing well into January. David Ojabo is expected to return to the field in the late stages of this year and should be more than ready for a playoff run. The Bucs don’t have any pressing needs and should be happy to wait for Ojabo to return to form after suffering an unfortunate Achilles injury at the Michigan Pro Day.

28) Green Bay Packers: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

A high motor and durable frame, Jermaine Johnson II heads north to Green Bay. I cannot find a more lovable player in the state of Florida in this class. As such, Packers fans should love this pick. Johnson won ACC Defensive Player of the Year in his lone season in Tallahassee, and he dominated the Senior Bowl. He’s got an array of moves to bank on when rushing the passer, but he also comes up and down the line of scrimmage with ease in the run game.

29) Kansas City Chiefs (from SF via MIA): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

This isn’t the only receiver the Kansas City Chiefs will select in this draft, but it’s a good one. The beginning of the rebuild of their receiving corps began with the signings of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling — and it continues in the 2022 NFL Draft. Treylon Burks isn’t a complete receiver, but it doesn’t matter. He wins more often than he doesn’t and presents a challenge at the catch point with his on-field athleticism.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

If their performance in the playoffs was any indication, the need for a cornerback is a big one for KC. Kyler Gordon can play various coverage positions, notably in the slot, as he presents an upgrade to the coverage unit that allowed Gabriel Davis to go for 4 touchdowns. Gordon comes NFL-ready like his former college teammate McDuffie, as he similarly plays larger than his frame would indicate.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

Needing a variety of offensive line positions, the Cincinnati Bengals receive a gift in the sense of Tyler Linderbaum‘s slide. Drafting a center in the first round isn’t a lot of capital to spend if it’s a top need, and it’s a top need for Cincinnati. Linderbaum is absolutely worthy of being placed in the category of “generational talent” — that is what he is. A former wrestler with the knowledge of how best to use his leverage and strength, it’ll be no time before Linderbaum is dominating on Sundays.

32) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Despite signing a trio of receivers in free agency, the Detroit Lions lack a true playmaker at the position opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown. Now, Willis has a shiny new target to find in the passing game, and Jalen Tolbert has — by far — the best quarterback he’s ever had throwing to him.

Tolbert won the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year a season ago after he single-handedly rewrote the South Alabama record book. He’s a dynamic receiver who can play all over the field, win with his speed, routes, and hands, as well as rack up the yards after the catch.

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