Based on the law of averages, we’re destined to see a couple of quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It may not be a top-heavy quarterback class, but with multiple teams in need of a signal-caller of the future, expect a handful of QBs to go in the top 32. With that in mind, we let our free Mock Draft Simulator take the first round for a ride again.
Editor’s note: We’ve updated this mock draft with the most current 2022 NFL Draft Order after Monday Night Football.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
The big news of this first round certainly is quarterbacks. Who is selected, and which team made the biggest leap?
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
A meteoric rise for Aidan Hutchinson concludes with being selected No. 1 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hutchinson returned for one final year at Michigan and dominated college football in the process. A rare blend of power and finesse, Hutchinson can win off the edge in a variety of ways.
2) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Detroit Lions get a consolation prize by the name of Kayvon Thibodeaux. It’s a great time to need an edge defender, as there are plenty of them in the 2022 NFL Draft, including arguably the two best players overall. Thibodeaux is terrific at the point of attack and is as cerebral as he is athletic. He’ll win before the snap with his dominant physical stature. He backs that up with an impressive arsenal of pass-rush moves. Thibodeaux is also a great run defender.
3) Houston Texans: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
A common theme is developing so far: Attack the defensive side of the ball at the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Houston Texans have a bevy of needs, but selecting the top cornerback on their board would prove to be a win in the long run.
You can never have too many good cornerbacks in today’s NFL, and Andrew Booth Jr. may just become an elite CB. With range and athleticism in spades, Booth came on strong down the stretch and showcased why he’s potentially the best long-term solution at the position in this class.
4) New York Jets: DeMarvin Leal, DI, Texas A&M
The New York Jets receive a massive boost with the selection of DeMarvin Leal. Combine him with the return of Carl Lawson on the edge, and the Jets have two Pro Bowl-caliber additions to their defensive line in 2022. Leal has the versatility to move all around the front and should dominate inferior interior linemen with ease.
5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
I heard you Giants fans. I heard you. So did the Mock Draft Simulator, as it pegged the New York Giants with the selection of an offensive lineman with their first overall pick. Evan Neal is a massive man and looks likely to become a stalwart in pass protection for whichever quarterback he’ll be blocking for in the Big Apple. With nimble feet and a ferocious attitude, Neal is the complete package.
6) New York Jets: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Jets go back to the defensive side of the ball with their second pick in the top six. New York adds a terrific playmaker on the outside with the selection of Kaiir Elam. With great football lineage, Elam has some of the draft’s best ball skills and can play both man and zone coverage well. He’s athletic, long, fast, and instinctive. Elam is the real deal.
7) Denver Broncos: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Trade: Denver sends picks 11 and 42 in the 2022 NFL Draft and a 2023 first-rounder to Carolina in exchange for the Panthers’ No. 7 overall selection in 2022.
The Broncos send two first-round picks and a second-round selection to the Carolina Panthers to jump to Pick No. 7 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Denver GM George Paton grabs his quarterback of the future in the process. Matt Corral is far from a perfect QB prospect, but he’s got athleticism and productivity to match his high draft stock. With a near-elite arm, Corral excels both inside and outside of structure. While there are many needs on the Broncos’ roster, the need to find an answer at QB has risen to the top.
8) New York Giants: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Talk about a steal — the Giants nab the top safety in the class and perhaps the safest pick of them all in Kyle Hamilton. A dominant free safety, Hamilton’s range in coverage is as impressive as his ability to come downhill in the run game. He’ll close windows in pass coverage and stymie rushing attacks for no gain all the same.
9) Washington Football Team: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The first receiver off the board heads to the nation’s capital as Garrett Wilson joins the Washington Football Team. Wilson doesn’t just have one elite skill — he has a toolbox full of elite skills. From route-running technicalities to sure hands and everything in between, Wilson is every bit of a WR1 at the next level. Now he just needs a quarterback…
10) Atlanta Falcons: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Atlanta Falcons grab the draft’s third cornerback of the top 10. Selecting LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. comes with risk while also presenting a potentially huge reward. His 2019 play was some of the finest cornerback play we’ve seen in some time. But he has failed to replicate that season of elite play, and we’ve been left with more questions than answers. Just who is Stingley? What is his proverbial ceiling? How about his injury history? There’s a lot to ask for a top-10 pick, but that’s how good his 2019 tape was.
11) Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Trade: Carolina receives picks 11 and 42 in the 2022 NFL Draft and a 2023 first-rounder from the Denver Broncos in exchange for pick No. 7 in the 2022 NFL Draft.
With the first pick of their haul from the Broncos, the Carolina Panthers grab Charles Cross to anchor their offensive line. Cross comes from a quarterback- and offensive line-friendly system at Mississippi State. Yet, he has more than proven he can hang in all facets of the game. He’s a mauler in the run game when the opportunities have been presented, and he’s just as stout in true passing sets. Cross immediately bolsters a Carolina offensive line that needs help.
12) Minnesota Vikings: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
The next Michigan edge defender has to wait just 11 picks to be called. The Minnesota Vikings grab David Ojabo to improve their pass-rushing unit immediately. Ojabo wins with speed and has the class’ best spin move. He’s no slouch in the run game, but Ojabo should make an immediate impact against the pass. He will disrupt passing lanes if he doesn’t get to the quarterback thanks to his terrific football intelligence. The best thing is, Ojabo’s best days are still ahead of him.
13) New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The New Orleans Saints may have their choice of former Ohio State receivers as Chris Olave lands in their laps at Pick No. 15. Given the Saints’ recent track record of success with OSU wideouts, it would be no surprise to see them select Olave. The Bayou would be a friendly place for a player like Olave, who wins all over the field. With some better quarterback play, Olave and Michael Thomas would make one of the most feared duos in football.
14) Cleveland Browns: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Cleveland Browns have a fearsome pass-rushing duo with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. However, Clowney is on a one-year deal and may cost too much to retain next year. George Karlaftis enters with the sky as his limit. He’s continually learning the game and adding to his pass-rush moves.
Pairing him next to Garrett would be great for Cleveland and even better for Karlaftis, as he gets to learn from one of the best.
15) Pittsburgh Steelers: Drake London, WR, USC
With an incredible skill set, Drake London heads to the Pittsburgh Steelers at pick No. 16. London will certainly have to prove his ankle injury is nothing serious long-term, but he’s every bit of one of the best wide receivers in this class. He has a great catch radius and even stronger hands. London may need to work on a more complete route tree, but he has contested-catch ability and the hops to see success right away.
16) Los Angeles Chargers: Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M
The Los Angeles Chargers have certainly made amends to their porous offensive line in recent offseasons. This is yet another time to grab some help as they select Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green. A versatile lineman, Green can play all five positions across the front five but excels on the inside. He’s a big man with great hands and terrific lower body strength. Green’s versatility isn’t limited to just alignment, as he’s terrific in the run game and pass sets.
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