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Cam Mellor’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux go 1, 2

The first two picks of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft hail from the edge of the defensive line as Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux go 1 and 2.

With it fastly approaching, it’s time to take Pro Football Network’s Mock Draft Simulator for a spin ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. The top half of the draft is likely to be dominated by defensive players. As such, it should come as no surprise that four of the first five picks hail from the defensive line. Included in that is a one-two punch from the edge with Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux battling it out for first overall selection.

With the most up-to-date draft order, let’s take a look at the Mock Draft Simulator’s latest results.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

The top half of the draft is defense-heavy, but the first quarterback is also selected.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Don’t let one game fool you: Aidan Hutchinson is a raw power rusher with incredible talent. Don’t let his performance against Georgia in the College Football Playoff sway you at all. After all, he got the “Chase Young treatment” in that outing. Hutchinson was schemed against — he was double-teamed, chip-blocked, run away from, and confused with elaborate blocking schemes.

It will be impossible for NFL teams to grant that same type of respect to Hutchinson when he’s a member of a pro defensive line. As such, he can be expected to impact the Jacksonville Jaguars defense in the same way Young has affected the Washington Football Team.

2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

“Falling” to No. 2 in this draft is in no way indicative of Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s falling talent. Instead, it’s a vindication of just how great he has been for his entire career at Oregon. Only a Heisman Finalist performance from Hutchinson in 2021 has dethroned Thibodeaux from the top overall spot.

Thibodeaux does everything that you’d expect from an elite defensive lineman, and he makes it look easy in the process. The Detroit Lions grab an incredibly gifted pass rusher who also possesses raw athleticism to stop all kinds of running plays.

3) Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The first offensive player taken cements Davis Mills’ status as the Houston Texans’ future quarterback. Evan Neal is a pure blindside protector in the passing game. He also possesses the power and tenacity of a mauler in the run game. Neal is a building block for a franchise a few players away from competing, and he’s a step in the right direction.

4) New York Jets: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

The New York Jets will be incredibly busy in the top 10 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft. In this mock, they begin by grabbing Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal with their first of two choices in the top seven selections. Leal is a versatile lineman who presents challenges to smaller offensive linemen all the same as he causes problems for larger bodies along the opposing front five.

With Carl Lawson returning, Leal is free to play a bevy of positions from inside out. Jets head coach Robert Saleh selects a movable chess piece with terrific upside along the defensive line.

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

George Karlaftis is the third edge defender taken, and he comes off the board to the New York Giants’ with their first of two picks in Round 1. With tremendous power to push tackles upfield, Karlaftis did his best against smaller offensive linemen during his career at Purdue. He can also move past bigger linemen with a growing arsenal of pass-rush moves.

6) Carolina Panthers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

With the sixth pick, the Carolina Panthers have a variety of directions in which they can go. However, as Kyle Hamilton slips to pick No. 6, the Panthers are gifted arguably the safest of the top-end defensive backfield players. Hamilton has incredible range and ferocious hitting power. He immediately upgrades Carolina’s secondary with his mere presence.

7) New York Jets (from Seattle): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The top cornerback of the draft is none other than Andrew Booth Jr. from Clemson. Booth presents a ton of upside at the position as he just recently realized his full potential in a down year for the Tigers. The Jets now have two young defensive cornerstones to build around in Booth and Leal.

8) New York Giants (from Chicago): Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Sure, the Giants are going to go with Daniel Jones in 2022. Or at least that’s what has been reported. That shouldn’t deflect them from potentially upgrading the most important position in all of team sports. Matt Corral isn’t a sure thing, especially following his injury in the Sugar Bowl.

But his upside is tremendous. The fact that Corral will likely have to adjust to a more pro-style system after playing in Lane Kiffin’s Ole Miss offense only makes this pick make more sense. Give Jones one final year to see if he can figure things out while letting Corral learn the NFL game.

9) Washington Football Team: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The first wide receiver is taken after the first quarterback is taken as Garrett Wilson heads to the nation’s capital. Though they’ll have a new team name when this pick is made, the Football Team grabs an incredibly talented wide receiver with a ton of elite skills in his arsenal. Wilson is dominant at the catch point and has shifty routes. He does it all.

10) Atlanta Falcons: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Kaiir Elam becomes the second cornerback selected, heading just a bit north to the Atlanta Falcons. Elam, an NFL legacy player, has great ball skills and even better coverage ability. He sticks with receivers in a bevy of coverages and has a knack for finding the football. Elam usurps his SEC counterpart in this mock draft as a vindication of his ability on the field.

11) Denver Broncos: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Like many teams, the Denver Broncos could go in an array of directions with the 11th pick. With no quarterback grabbing their attention, they decide to add Charles Cross to help shore up protection across the offensive line.

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Cross may have some growing pains in an NFL offense as he hails from the Air Raid offense with the Bulldogs. But his demonstrated ability is more than enough to warrant this high of a selection. He’s got great strength in his frame and utilizes his hands along with his legs to move side-to-side with ease.

12) Minnesota Vikings: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

The second Michigan edge defender to be selected within the first 12 picks, David Ojabo wins in a completely different way as his teammate Hutchinson. Ojabo defeats defenders with speed and an arsenal of quick pass-rush moves that rival some of the best in the NFL. He isn’t quite Micah Parsons, but Parsons’ emergence as a gifted pass rusher who wins with speed gives glimpses of what Ojabo could become in the pros.

13) Cleveland Browns: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

A big-play threat like no other, Jameson Williams resurges a Cleveland Browns wide receiving corps in need of vitalization. Williams is a downfield threat because of his ball-tracking skills, route-running ability, and terrific top-end speed. He also wins across the field with those same traits, making him an all-around elite receiver.

14) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Derek Stingley Jr. falls to pick 14, the first of three first-round selections for the Philadelphia Eagles. Stingley may have failed to realize the potential he put on tape in 2019, but his early selection only proves how good that 2019 season was.

He was tremendous in both man coverage and in zone, and he routinely made highlight-reel plays in press-man coverage against top receivers. Plus, Stingley’s ball skills are among the best college football has had to offer in the past decade.

15) New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The third receiver drafted and the third that called the Ohio State receiving room home. With Wilson gone early and former Ohio State WR Williams selected at No. 13, Chris Olave joins the New Orleans Saints at No. 15 overall. Olave is a skilled receiver with great hands and crisper routes. What he does well, he does incredibly well. In fact, there really isn’t anything he doesn’t do well.

16) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

The big man in the middle heads to the Ravens as Jordan Davis is more than just a space-eater on the interior. He’s an avid pass rusher with great run-stuffing abilities. Davis is a pure interior defensive lineman with the versatility to shift from inside all the way to 5-tech. He’ll help anchor a youth resurgence on Baltimore’s defense.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. He is also the co-host of Between the Hashes, a college football and NFL draft podcast. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter @CamMellor

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