Cam Mellor’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Matt Corral, Kenny Pickett, Sam Howell become first-round franchise quarterbacks

In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, a combined 10 players along the edge or at quarterback are selected in the first round.

The Conference Championship Games are set. The 2022 NFL Draft order is ready to be mocked, with 28 draft picks now solidified. How does the 2022 NFL Draft possibly shake out now that the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been eliminated? Will Tom Brady mull his future plans all offseason long?

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

With quarterback a need for a bevy of teams and an altogether weaker class at the position, the back half of Round 1 should be exciting. Let’s take Pro Football Network’s free Mock Draft Simulator for another spin. Here’s how the MDS sees the first round going.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft starts as it should. Don’t question it, Jacksonville — grab the guy who’s been the best player available since last May. Kayvon Thibodeaux is a game-changer off the edge. He’ll crush backs in the run game and consistently destroy tackles when rushing the passer.

Thibodeaux comes with a proverbially high ceiling but also a naturally high floor. He’ll immediately change the Jaguars’ defense for the better.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

A Michigan man headed to the Detroit Lions. In a match made in Motor City, Aidan Hutchinson embodies head coach Dan Campbell’s attitude with his play on the field. Hutchinson is a power rusher with incredible strength and balance. He’ll push the pocket with ease while also presenting a challenge to scheme against in all facets.

Hutchinson has great hands and a better motor. He’ll command double teams and allow mismatches elsewhere on defense. The Lions grab a good one.

3) Houston Texans: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The run on edge defenders continues with George Karlaftis heading south to the Houston Texans. Karlaftis, like Hutchinson, is a power rusher with great hands and an even better football IQ. He’s dominant against smaller linemen and has positional versatility that the new Texans staff would be wise to harness.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton may be the best overall player in this draft class, depending on your team needs. While the New York Jets could use help on the edge, their biggest need on defense is someone with Hamilton’s skill set. He can close space in the run game with ease, coming downhill regularly. But his bread and butter is his range across the field in coverage.

Hamilton, a massive safety at 6’4″, has the best range in this class. He’ll diagnose passes and disrupt passing angles with his prowess in coverage. He represents a big challenge in handling as an offensive coordinator before he even steps foot on the field.

5) New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The first tackle taken is not who you may think it would be here in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. And yet, he may have the best upside of any player in this class. Charles Cross is the first of the New York Giants’ two top seven picks in the draft. Cross has incredible balance and strength, a terrific combination for any tackle prospect.

His game translates to the NFL, as he’s shown to be a mauler in the run game when given an opportunity. But he has elite traits in the passing game. The Giants need help along the offensive line, and Cross presents the highest upside at this point.

6) Carolina Panthers: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

A fair consolation prize at pick No. 6, the Carolina Panthers select a mammoth of a man in Evan Neal. While we’ll hear about his size for the rest of his NFL career, the bigger point remains in Neal’s development: he’s still growing as a tackle. After a year on the inside, the 6’7″ man kicked outside and dominated at left tackle.

Neal is a power tackle but possesses enough movement in his feet to get after it in the run game. The top two tackles will have long careers in the NFL ahead of them.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The first cornerback drafted, Andrew Booth Jr. heads to the Giants with their second pick in the top seven. Booth is a talented, lengthy cornerback with the ability to play either side of the field. He routinely makes highlight-reel plays on the ball with terrific ball skills. Yet, that isn’t the best part of his game.

Booth is terrific in all types of coverages, sticking with receivers or passing them off in zone. His football intelligence is top-notch, and he possesses stellar athleticism.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Atlanta Falcons will surely have to figure out a plan for life after Matt Ryan. But until they do, Garrett Wilson provides upside to a receiving corps lacking a star. Wilson has elite traits from his routes to his hands and everything in between. He’s a monster at the catch point and hardly has to use that skill because his separation is elite.

9) Denver Broncos: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Matt Corral is the first quarterback selected in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft as he goes to the Denver Broncos under GM George Paton. Sure, they’ve got to figure out a coaching staff, but a franchise quarterback is also needed. Corral has arm strength for days and understands his arm angles better than anyone in the class.

He’ll drive his throws when necessary and layer shots over coverages as needed. Corral also owns raw athleticism to make time in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. He’s the future in Denver and could ultimately seal Paton’s fate as a GM if he is the pick.

10) New York Jets (From SEA): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Jets have some work to do on offense, but when you have a potential CB1 sitting available at pick No. 10, you run. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner possesses excellent man coverage skills, routinely blanketing an entire side of the field and wiping away the opposing team’s No. 1 wide receiver. Gardner is terrific in all types of coverage, especially when tested. He didn’t give up a touchdown in his entire three-year college career.

11) Washington Football Team: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Washington Football Team doesn’t grab a quarterback in this mock draft, or at least not in the first round. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that Derek Stingley Jr. is available here. Stingley has a stellar set of film from the 2019 season. The only problem? He didn’t quite replicate that over the past two seasons.

Yet, Stingley’s upside and potential high-level play he offered during that fabulous 2019 season are too much to pass up. If he can reignite that ability he showcased, he’s got the best ball skills the NFL Draft has seen in some time. And Washington gets a lockdown cornerback for a decade-plus.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Jordan Davis is as big as he is menacing. He gives the Minnesota Vikings a valuable interior pass rusher as well as a stout run defender. Davis is an imposing man in the middle and allows Minnesota to play him on all three downs. There isn’t much he can’t do, and there isn’t much he doesn’t do incredibly well.

13) Cleveland Browns: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

After tossing linemen around like it was his job at Texas A&M, DeMarvin Leal officially makes it his profession to throw linemen to the ground after being selected by the Cleveland Browns. Leal is a big man with a feisty personality in the middle. He can play all around the defensive line and gives the Browns a chess piece to move against different blocking schemes.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M

The first interior lineman taken, Kenyon Green shores up the Baltimore Ravens line on the inside. Green is a strong man with impressive hand usage and a mauling attitude in the run game. And he offers plenty of upside in the passing game.

As the Ravens need help at a bevy of positions on the inside, Green gives them the flexibility to plug and play him wherever most needed. He’s so good that he’ll give Ravens fans memories of Marshal Yanda.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (From MIA): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Sideline to sideline, there is nowhere Devin Lloyd can’t patrol. He’ll come down in run defense with a vengeance and play back in coverage with elite skills. Lloyd anchors what should be a revamped defense for the Philadelphia Eagles with this selection. He’s been referred to as Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham’s best defensive player over his career.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (From IND): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The Eagles grab a talented receiver who unfortunately tore his ACL in the national championship earlier this month. With their draft capital, it’s almost a sure thing Philly can draft for need as well as take a risk when other teams couldn’t. Jameson Williams is not necessarily “a risk” for his play on the field, but because of his rehab from the torn ACL.

Williams had more plays of 50-plus yards than his now teammate DeVonta Smith and has all the elite traits you’d ask for from a WR1. He’ll high-point the football with ease over cornerbacks and burn safeties with his speed and route-running prowess. He’s a sure deal if healthy.

Cam Mellor is the Senior Director of the College Football/NFL Draft vertical for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here. Follow him on Twitter: @CamMellor.