Cam Mellor’s 2022 7-Round NFL Mock Draft: Sam Howell anchors five first-round quarterbacks

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft goes seven rounds full of picks and analysis for every pick from No. 1 to No. 262.

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

The back half of Round 1 isn’t done with the fireworks and surprises. Two more quarterbacks hear their names called as this 2022 NFL Mock Draft continues.

17) Los Angeles Chargers: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The first true interior offensive lineman to be selected heads to the Los Angeles Chargers. Kenyon Green can essentially play all five positions on the offensive line but projects to line up at either guard spot. He’s a mauler in all facets, routinely getting the first step on defenders in the run game and stymying their attempts at the passer in the passing game.

Green would mark an immediate upgrade over either of the Chargers’ 2021 starters at right or left guard. He also would make center Corey Linsley just that much better. Linsley could help mold Green while also capitalizing on the fact that he’s got a potential Pro Bowl player to his right or left in Green.

18) New Orleans Saints: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The free-agent QB class is abysmal, and it appears the New Orleans Saints are tied to Taysom Hill for another year at least. With a murky salary cap situation and a new regime in the Bayou, a new face at quarterback is warranted. After a great week at the Senior Bowl, Malik Willis firmly entrenched himself as a potential QB1 in the NFL.

He bounced back from a shaky Day 1 in Mobile to put on a display with his arm talent. Willis threw too many fastballs on Day 1, but once he took something off his throws during Days 2 and 3 as well as during the game, the talent was evident. The best part about Willis’ display at the Senior Bowl was that he showcased growth while also keeping his best attribute a secret: his legs. Willis is more than capable of leading an NFL team with his arm, but factor in his legs and athleticism, and you’ve got a bigger problem if you are a defensive coordinator.

19) Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Philadelphia’s third pick in five selections is another defensive player. The Eagles nab the best linebacker this class has to offer. Devin Lloyd has been hailed as the best defensive player legendary Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has ever coached, and that’s praise enough for me. And then you watch the tape on Lloyd. He’s doing things you didn’t think were possible from a massive middle LB.

Lloyd’s best attribute is his coverage ability, dropping back and picking off receivers, routes, and passes all the same. He’s no slouch in the run game as he possesses elite instincts and can go sideline to sideline with the best of them. Lloyd also rushes the passer with great success when given the opportunity. He’s a three-down linebacker tailor-made for today’s NFL.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

The law of averages states that we’ll see more quarterbacks than you think selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. But there’s also too much murkiness surrounding several teams and a poor free-agent class at the position not to think five quarterbacks could be selected in the first round. Given that it is the most important position in team sports and too many teams are in need of a new face at quarterback, five in Round 1 shouldn’t actually be a surprise.

Carson Strong is a big-armed QB who has yet to shed the “statue” label some lazy scouts have given him. The ball leaves his hand differently as he possesses the best arm strength in this class. His slide to pick 20 and as the fifth QB selected here is no indictment on him. Rather, his skill set fits in with a very unique offense.

It just so worked out that he slid to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who need a gunslinger with an underrated accuracy and the ability to hit every level of the field. Strong looks like a younger Ben Roethlisberger from his MAC days with his pocket maneuverability and arm strength.

21) New England Patriots: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The New England Patriots grab Derek Stingley Jr. and hope they can pin their hats on his traits and 2019 tape that showcased how elite he could be. Still, there are concerns with Stingley’s ability in coverage as he really fell off after that 2019 season, leaving more questions than answers. Stingley has terrific ball skills when in top form, high-pointing the football over receivers with ease.

He makes plays on all types of routes and has a great ability to jam receivers at the line. But, unfortunately for him, each of his positive traits needs to be followed by that “when-in-top-form” moniker. Stingley has upside when healthy, and it wasn’t until pick 21 that I felt comfortable with grabbing a potential question mark at a prime position to select him.

22) Las Vegas Raiders: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

After the Henry Ruggs tragedy, the Las Vegas Raiders are void a playmaker on the outside. Once Jameson Williams returns to the field, the Raiders will be void no more. Williams is a terrific downfield threat, leading the nation in plays of 50+ yards by a comfortable margin.

Williams transferred to greener pastures in 2021, which led to a historic season prior to the injury. Speaking of that unfortunate ACL tear in the national championship, Williams’ impact on his offense was no more apparent. After he went down, the Alabama offense completely clammed shut. He meant everything to the Crimson Tide and kept their offense humming. It should be expected for Williams to have that same level of impact with Las Vegas.

23) Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Like a few others, the slide for George Karlaftis down to No. 23 is not an indictment of his talent. Instead, it’s more so the fact that four edge rushers have already been drafted, and the other teams selecting ahead of the Arizona Cardinals didn’t need an EDGE as their top priority. Karlaftis is a powerful rusher and a great eventual replacement for the aging J.J. Watt in the desert.

Karlaftis wins with power, pushing past inferior tackles in the pass-rushing game. He also comes down the line of scrimmage in the run game with ease, routinely disrupting rushing lanes with his power. Possessing a natural strength that is unlike any in this class, Karlaftis leaps off the screen when you watch him. He’ll have to improve his pass-rush arsenal, but relying on his elite strength and hand usage is a great place to start.

24) Dallas Cowboys: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

With a couple of positions of need for the Dallas Cowboys, I got a good look at the big board before the timer went off. That said, grabbing Daxton Hill to use freely in the secondary was essentially a no-brainer. Hill has great instincts in coverage and run defense, using them to read and react to plays in the blink of an eye.

When he does read a play, it’s usually correct, and he comes downhill with a vengeance. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a short flat route or an RB finding a crease, Hill makes the right call more often than not. Deploying him at free safety or nickel cornerback, the Cowboys can do no wrong with him. Knowing how they used Micah Parsons in Year 1 leads me to believe they’ll be able to figure out how to best utilize Hill’s skill set as well.

25) Buffalo Bills: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

A big man with a bigger presence, Jordan Davis immediately transforms whatever defensive line he goes to in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The Buffalo Bills grab him to pair next to Ed Oliver in 2022. Oliver, a speed pass rusher, may have lanes opened up for him as Davis, a power rusher, will command double teams with his massive frame.

Taking it a step further, Davis is a technically sound run defender. He has great hands to fight away linemen, but his strength allows him to influence the point of attack for most interior runs. Davis is a treat to watch and a havoc-wreaker on defense.

26) Tennessee Titans: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Expecting Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel to know a thing about linebackers, he helps make the call here with Nakobe Dean at pick 26. Dean was routinely seen calling out pre-snap reads that accurately predicted where the intended rushing direction was during his time at Georgia. He’s a smart, heady linebacker with amazing strength in his compact frame.

Dean should immediately factor into the lineup for Tennessee. Both David Long Jr. and Zach Cunningham could be gone from the team following the 2022 season. Dean could be used on coverage in sub-packages in Year 1 or straight up as the three-down starter on the inside as he’s good enough to do either with great success.

Odds are the Titans grab a linebacker in free agency or the draft to help with depth and future plans. There’s no better answer to those questions than Lloyd or Dean in this draft, however.

27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will absolutely need to figure out the QB situation with Tom Brady’s retirement sinking in. However, with five quarterbacks drafted already, there isn’t one that sits available to grab here. Therefore, the Bucs go with Travon Walker to bolster their defense in more ways than one. Walker is a talented pass rusher with an array of pass-rush moves, but his versatility is even more impressive.

Walker can play all around the defensive line from outside the ends to head up on the center. He’s a talented defender against the pass and the run but also showcases an ability to drop into coverage. That’s likely not to be seen in the NFL, but that athletic ability is too good to pass up for Tampa here.

28) Green Bay Packers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

No matter who the quarterback is in 2022, the Green Bay Packers will absolutely need a few more weapons on the outside. Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love, the Packers grab Chris Olave from Ohio State to help bolster their receiving corps. Olave doesn’t possess a single elite skill, rather, he does nothing at anything below an above-average level.

He’ll be a great, sure-handed No. 2 WR option opposite — in an ideal world — Davante Adams in 2022. Olave is the career touchdowns leader in Buckeyes history. All he does is get open and score on a variety of defensive backs. He’s got a full route tree, some of the best separation in this class, and wins with his contested-catch skills when necessary.

29) Miami Dolphins (from SF): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Needing a center as their top need, a dream scenario falls to the Miami Dolphins at No. 29. Tyler Linderbaum could fall under the “generational talent” label, but centers just aren’t a top need for any of the teams ahead of the Dolphins here. Linderbaum is a force in the run game, pancaking first and second-level defenders all the same.

What makes him so impressive is his ability to command the offense and lead the offensive line in all facets. He’ll bark out calls and protection schemes, giving Miami a true leader on the OL in the process. That and the fact that Linderbaum is technically sound in both facets on the offense makes him a great pick with maybe the best value in the class here.

30) Kansas City Chiefs: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Needing to add to their offense and defensive secondary, the Kansas City Chiefs make the decision to grab the alpha of the WR room from the Senior Bowl. All week long, Jalen Tolbert put on a display with his elite skills in his hometown of Mobile. Tolbert has soft but strong hands and proved that his success in the Sun Belt wasn’t just due to a lack of top-tier competition.

Tolbert also showcased the ability to lose DBs at the line of scrimmage, utilizing a strong first step on multiple occasions to leave his defender in the dust. If there’s one quarterback who knows how to get the ball out quickly and accurately, it’s Patrick Mahomes. He’ll love Tolbert’s skill set that is as well-rounded and elite as anyone else in this class.

31) Cincinnati Bengals: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Cincinnati Bengals have few holes on their Super Bowl roster. But one thing that could be said is that they need to address their OL and add depth as well as potential upgrades at a couple of positions. Trevor Penning is a possible upgrade at right tackle, but we know the adjustment period may take some time.

Similar to their division-rival Baltimore (who took Cross to play behind Stanley while he learns right tackle), Penning can play in a pinch for Jonah Williams at left tackle but can take the reigns on the right side at the same time. He’s got a mean streak and a ferocious attitude, but with a little seasoning, Penning could be a massive improvement to an offense that will continually strike fear into their opponents.

32) Detroit Lions (from LAR): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

A common theme for the Lions at pick 32 is a quarterback. Again, with five quarterbacks already selected, the odds they grab the sixth are not great. As such, they grab another position of need with Treylon Burks. Despite rumors of his offseason training regiment not going well, Burks possesses a long game that can exploit NFL defenses.

Burks doesn’t have a full route tree, but his “go” route and contested-catch skills are among the best in the draft. He also has tremendous speed and acceleration for a guy his size. Working with Lions WR coach Antwaan Randle El will go a long way at expanding his route tree as well as further NFL traits he needs to continually develop to potentially turn him into a viable WR1 for Detroit.

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