The 2022 NFL Draft is just three days away. This time last year, we were anticipating Urban Meyer’s arrival in Jacksonville, pondering if the 49ers would select Mac Jones third overall, and discussing if Carson Wentz was the answer for the Colts. Oh, how much can change in a year. The 2022 NFL offseason hasn’t been short of shocking trades, and news and rumors continue to run rampant. So, sifting through the waters, let’s conduct one of the final 2022 NFL Mock Drafts of the cycle.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
There will be major trades on draft night, but nothing is certain. However, look for the Giants, Seahawks, Eagles, Saints, and one of the Packers or Chiefs to trade up or back on Day 1. Also, there is a lot of smoke around the NFL Draft, so take news and rumors with a grain of salt.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
According to Chief Draft Analyst and NFL Insider Tony Pauline, Jags GM Trent Baalke wants Travon Walker, while owner Shad Khan prefers Aidan Hutchinson. Baalke’s draft record isn’t inspiring, and as the owner of the team, Khan should have the final say. Much is made of Walker’s freaky athleticism, but Hutchinson is no slouch, producing a 6.73 three-cone and a 4.15 short shuttle at the NFL Combine.
2) Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Whoever the Jaguars take at first overall affects who the Lions will take. With Travon Walker on the board and hometown hero Hutchinson off of it, Detroit selects the Georgia star. He wasn’t allowed to pin his ears back for the Bulldogs, so he is much more of a projection compared to other pass rushers. Regardless, he has the physical tools you bank on. And the Lions could use a home run on their defense.
3) Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. no matter what. That is a sticky note I have had in my room since the LSU’s star shined bright as a true freshman in 2019. So, it is unsurprising to me when reports point to the Texans possibly taking him at third overall. He has All Pro upside, which is often what franchises seek in top-five selections.
4) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
If Kayvon Thibodeaux is still available at No. 4, I anticipate the Jets pouncing. Their coaching staff reportedly loves him, and although the front office may have their trepidations, Thibodeaux is feasibly a better prospect than Hutchinson. His first step and cornering ability will cause problems for offensive tackles, and he is strong in run defense as well.
5) New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Giants evidently “love” Charles Cross. Do they love him enough to make him the fifth overall selection? We won’t know until draft night, but I wouldn’t be surprised to them go OT first and then defense with their No. 7 selection (just in case Carolina decides to go OT instead of QB). Cross owns the best pass sets in class and has the lateral agility to mirror edge rushers.
6) Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Kenny Pickett owns a long average time to throw and can struggle to go through progressions, but he has ties to the Panthers. Owner David Tepper is fond of him, and head coach Matt Rhule recruited him out of high school.
The Panthers are in such a state where they essentially must draft a quarterback. The coaching staff would not survive trotting out Sam Darnold for another year. Though, to be honest, Pickett profiles too well to Darnold. Take that for what you will.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
James Bradberry likely has one foot out of New York, and if he is gone, the Giants need to find his replacement. Ahmad Gardner was built for Wink Martindale’s defense. He is impressive in press, and his 6’3″ frame and 33″ arms are tough to throw on.
8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
There is no worse wide receiver room than Atlanta’s. Period. They need to replenish it and fast. Garrett Wilson is the consensus WR1 in the class. He is one of the few receivers who can grow into a legitimate WR1 due to his three-phase ability — before the catch, at the catch point, and after the catch.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
While I don’t believe Evan Neal slides this far down the board, it makes sense in this scenario. Seattle might have eyes on Malik Willis here, but their offensive line is in shambles. With Duane Brown gone, they need a new franchise left tackle. Enter the 6’7″ behemoth that is Neal. He is explosive out of his stance and has experience all over the offensive line.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Jets want to trade this pick for Deebo Samuel, but if that doesn’t occur, they may use it to select a similarly game-altering receiver. Torn ACL aside, Jameson Williams is neck and neck with Wilson for the WR1 mantle. Williams is a true deep threat but can also gain yardage after the catch. He is more sudden than some assume, and he can help tap into Zach Wilson’s potential.
11) Washington Commanders: Drake London, WR, USC
The run on WRs continues with Washington taking USC’s Drake London. Flying the big-bodied pass catcher cross country, London will instantly become Carson Wentz’s favorite target. That isn’t a shot at Terry McLaurin. But if you go through Wentz’s career, his top targets have all had similar statures to London. However, London is a more fluid mover than Alshon Jeffery, Travis Fulgham, and Michael Pittman Jr.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
Minnesota would love a corner here, but the value seems to land on an edge rusher. Jermaine Johnson II might be a top-10 pick when it is all said and done, but the Vikings would love to have him behind Za’Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter. He would instantly make one of their most depleted units from last season their biggest strength.
13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Ikem Ekwonu at No. 13? If you’ve read the other picks, it makes sense. Houston would hand the card in with as much ferocity Ekwonu delivers when pancaking a defensive lineman. He can slot in at right tackle or guard in Year 1 and kick over to LT if/when Laremy Tunsil leaves H-Town.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
As we get closer to the 2022 NFL Draft, the more I believe Jordan Davis will be the Ravens’ selection — if available. The Seahawks have shown interest in the big man from Athens, but if they don’t select him, he could fall right into Baltimore’s lap. He can two-gap from nose tackle or shift out into 3-tech and collapse pockets.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
One of the biggest sliders in the pre-draft process, Kyle Hamilton could go from a potential top-five pick to just inside the top 15. A 4.59 40-yard dash left some to go back and rewatch his tape. Sure, his top speed isn’t the fastest, but his instincts offer him a head start compared to the rest of the class. The Eagles could deploy him as a big nickel, split-field safety, or even single-high looks.
16) New Orleans Saints (from IND via PHI): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Saints will presumably take an offensive tackle with one of their first-round picks. With Trevor Penning there at No. 16, New Orleans selects him in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. He needs to hone in his aggressiveness both for his technique’s sake and not incurring penalties for his team. Still, his broad shoulders, overall athleticism, and mean streak are what OL coaches dream of.