2022 NFL Mock Draft – Tom 1.0

Here is my first 2022 NFL Mock Draft. After hours of research into team needs, draft prospects and possible free agent signings, I very much look forward to comments that begin “there’s no way that…”. It’s the NFL Draft. Anything can happen.

The festive period is a time for all NFL fans to dream. For some, it is the lure of the postseason. For others, top of their list to St. Nick is a change of Head Coach, General Manager or Quarterback. When New Year appears, many will be disappointed. While the chance of a brighter future remains, though, the dream is very much alive.

Of course, free agency can change the entire landscape of the NFL Draft. But until that comes, let’s have some fun. This is a “what I would do” rather than a “what will happen” type of mock draft. As always, let me know your thoughts.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Primary need: OT

Here we are again, Jacksonville. Last year, the direction that Jacksonville was heading was absolutely clear. Fans decried the idea of the “dysfunctional” New York Jets snagging Trevor Lawrence, and breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in… erm, Jacksonville.

The Urban Meyer fiasco is now firmly in the rearview mirror. Perhaps Meyer’s greatest gift to the franchise was a pitiful season leading to back to back first overall picks in the NFL Draft.

This year, the spot is a poisoned chalice. Jacksonville would love to trade down with teams that have plentiful draft capital (both New York sides, Detroit and Philadelphia in particular). However, with two premium edge rushers on the board, it is unlikely. Jacksonville needs one of their rivals to fall head over heels in love with one of them, and thoroughly out of love with another.

With that unlikely to happen, Roger Goodell approaches the podium to announce that the Jaguars select Evan Neal, OT, Alabama. Neal is a monstrous Left Tackle that will be required to start from Day One in the 2022 NFL season. Jacksonville replaces the outgoing Cam Robinson, and apologises to Lawrence for the shambles of 2021 with this selection.

2. Detroit Lions
Primary need: WR

Detroit has holes on both sides of the roster. This gives GM Brad Holmes freedom to select his favourite prospect regardless of positional needs.

It seems that Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson is destined to remain in the state where he played his college ball. Hutchinson is 100% effort, 100% of the time. He is precisely the sort of player that Head Coach Dan Campbell can build a team culture around.

Detroit is hoping to have snagged a premium talent that can transform the franchise’s fortunes and culture. It could be their JJ Watt moment. No pressure, Aidan.

3. Houston Texas
Primary need: QB

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Deshaun Watson. He won’t be a Texan next year. A guilty verdict on multiple charges of sexual assault may spell the end of his NFL career. If he gets off (no pun intended), Watson will be moving out of Houston. At least the Texans will have some additional draft capital should the latter happen.

It is hard to ignore the other blue chip edge rusher here. We mentioned the parallels for Detroit and Aidan Hutchinson with JJ Watt. Well, The Houston Texas are on the other side of that experience now. The selection of Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon is a no-brainer. Until recently, Houston would have needed the first overall selection to snag Thibodeaux. Here, they get him at #3. Thibodeaux has two years of stellar production at the most important position on defence. Houston needs all the help it can get in a full rebuild, and this is the perfect place to start.

4. New York Jets
Primary need: CB

Last year, The Jets missed out on once in a lifetime QB talent Trevor Lawrence by one pick. They get a familiar taste of disappointment by missing out on the two blue chip talents at Defensive End in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

The Jets have a need across the secondary. The problem is, until now Joe Douglas hasn’t spent premium draft capital on that element of his roster.

The problem for New York this year has been their run defence, but there doesn’t seem to be a value pick here at #4 overall. This could be an opportunity for The Jets to trade back, should a team fall in love with a mediocre Quarterback class.

With no trades permitted in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, The Jets take to the podium and select Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State. Mekhi Becton appeared in just one game in 2021, before a longer than expected recovery from injury kept him out of the bulk of the season. The best ability is availability. Becton hasn’t proven that.

Should Becton recover fully, then Cross can provide a long-term partner at Right Tackle. If his career continues to be plagued by injuries, New York quickly moves on at the position.

5. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears)
Primary need: DE

Whatever The Giants do here, it won’t be Dave Gettleman making the pick. It has been a miserable era for The G Men, whether taking a Running Back #2 overall or selecting Daniel Jones at his franchise QB.

It is time for a fresh start in East Rutherford, both on and off the field. The New York Giants select Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss. Daniel Jones isn’t the answer. Could Corral be? He is clearly QB1 in a poor rookie class at the position. Corral has a strong arm, and loves to throw the ball downfield. He doesn’t rely on his legs to get him out of trouble, but he is able to run from oncoming defenders and extend plays.

6. New York Giants
Primary need: DE

The Giants offensive line, well, stinks. Like their rivals at Gang Green, an early selection just two years ago hasn’t paid off. Andrew Thomas has been serviceable, but the problems on the offensive line are far from over.

The Giants select Ikem Ekwonu, OG, NC State with their second first round pick of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Some list Ekwonu as a tackle, others at guard. He is an aggressive player that thrives in the violent aspects of the game. He can slot in at either guard position, though will be most effective at Left Guard alongside Thomas.

7. Carolina Panthers
Primary need: QB

Ok, so rolling the dice on Sam Darnold failed. Spectacularly. Could the Panthers go QB here?

It all depends on what happens in free agency. Carolina has never been far from any mention of a new home for Deshaun Watson. Tua Tagovailoa’s good form in Miami will be music to the ears of Panthers fans.

If we assume that Carolina solves its problem at Quarterback in free agency, it can address a need on the offensive line in the Draft. Texas A&M lineman Kenyon Green (OG) is the clubhouse leader with Cross and Ekwonu off the board.

8. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)
Primary need: CB

The Jets finally address their need at Defensive End with the selection of Purdue Defensive End George Karlaftis. Gang Green will be hoping that Carl Lawson returns to full fitness in 2022. Karlaftis is an explosive athlete that could compliment Lawson as a pass rushing tandem the franchise hasn’t seen since, well, ever.

9. Atlanta Falcons
Primary need: QB

The Falcons will run it again with Matt Ryan, but his decline should be concerning to any Falcons supporter.

There has been a serious dearth of talent in the skill positions in Atlanta. Kyle Pitts is an impressive athlete at Tight End. The problem is at Wide Receiver. Julio Jones hasn’t been replaced, and the absence of Calvin Ridley is a real cause for concern.

Step forward Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State. Wilson is the best route runner in this receiver class. He has produced the goods for The Buckeyes under two QBs, and terrorised defensive backs across the Big Ten.

Pitts and Wilson make a tantalising pair for the Falcons’ QB of the future. If Ridley returns, we could be talking about the most electrifying receiver corps in the entire NFL.

10. Washington Football Team
Primary need: QB

Washington has needed a Quarterback since forever. There isn’t a prospect here that jumps out as a natural fit, but don’t rule out Pitt’s Kenny Pickett.

In a surprising turn, Washington has their pick of some top end secondary talent. This is where the value is, and this is where they select Derek Stingley Jnr, CB, LSU. A fully fit Derek Stingley is a top three prospect. However, recent injury troubles have seen his draft stock take a tumble.

If Stingley Jnr is able to stay healthy, Washington has a true shutdown corner. When you pair him with a fearsome pass rush, you wonder how opposing Quarterbacks are ever going to be able to get the ball moving against the Football Team.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)
Primary need: DE

Philly is swimming in draft capital thanks to savvy trades with Miami and San Francisco. It’s a good job, because the defence needs a facelift.

With the high value picks at Defensive End off the board, the Eagles select heat-seeking missile Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia. Dean has been a revelation on the nation’s best defence. His ability to chase down the ball carrier will leave any Defensive Coordinator salivating. And while we’re on the subject of boosting the Philadelphia defence…

12. Philadelphia Eagles
Primary need: DE

… The Eagles pair Dean with Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame. Hamilton is a huge, imposing Safety that is built like a linebacker. A feared tackler in the box, he also impresses in coverage.

Congratulations Philly, you just found two Day One starters on defence.

13. Denver Broncos
Primary need: QB

Denver fans, your need for a QB is satiated. But not in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Let’s assume that John Elway finally gets his man, Aaron Rodgers, in free agency.

The Broncos snag David Ojabo, DE, Michigan as a pass rusher that might go some way to filling the void left by Von Miller.

Ojabo has been outshone by his teammate Aidan Hutchinson. Let us not forget that Hutchinson’s production has come partly as a result of the attention offensive lines need to dedicate to nullifying Ojabo. He has an impressive burst off the line of scrimmage. Expect him to become a household name alongside his fellow Wolverine in years to come.

14. New Orleans Saints
Primary need: QB

I think that The Saints franchise will back themselves to get the most out of Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder. Ridder is a smart QB with good ball placement. He can, and does, hold onto the ball for too long on occasion, but Sean Payton will be relishing the opportunity to develop his potential.

Ridder may play understudy for some of the 2022 NFL season to Taysom Hill. The good news for Ridder is that everyone, Hill included, knows that The Saints need a long term answer at the position.

15. Cleveland Browns
Primary need: WR

The Browns make a high-value pick here with the selection of Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia. I love this matchup. Is it because Davis is a steal at #15 overall, or just the thought of Davis and Myles Garrett on the same defensive line? Probably a bit of both.

Davis is a monstrous athlete that powers right through the centre of opposing offensive lines.

A Wide Receiver is in high demand in Cleveland, but there should be value on Day Two for The Browns to address that position.

16. Las Vegas Raiders
Primary need: WR

The Raiders take a speedy Alabama receiver in the First Round of the NFL Draft. What could possibly go wrong? THE Raiders select Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama.

Jameson Williams’ draft stock has rocketed since his transfer from Ohio State to ‘Bama. He will be hoping to continue his upward trajectory catching passes from Derek Carr.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Primary need: QB

It isn’t just Steelers fans that have noticed the decline of Ben Roethlisberger. It’s time to move on. Luckily, The Steelers don’t need to look out of state for his replacement. They select Heisman Trophy nominee Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt as their signal caller of the future.

Pickett has played his way from a perennial Day Two pick to a mid-First Round talent. Although the third QB off the board, there are signs there to suggest that Pickett can be Pittsburgh’s next franchise QB. He is a very different athlete to Big Ben, if we can call the incumbent such. Pickett doesn’t just extend plays with his feet. Sometimes, his feet are the play. Just keep the fake slides to a minimum, Kenny.

18. Baltimore Ravens
Primary need: OT

Baltimore need all the help they can get on the offensive line. Is there a player here worth a first round pick? Keep an eye on Trevor Penning. Currently, Penning looks to be a Day Two pick, but has been creeping up draft boards as the season progressed.

Baltimore get some help on the other side of the trenches with the selection of DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M. Leal is a remarkable athlete with all the requisite measurable to play on the inside and as a pass rusher.

I know Baltimore have pumped a lot of premium draft capital on defence in recent years. Fans may want something shiny on offence, but Leal’s ability is hard to ignore at this spot.

19. Minnesota Vikings
Primary need: DE

The Vikings have needs right across defence, with an edge rusher being their primary need. They could also do with strengthening at cornerback, but it seems that The Vikings have been attempting to improve this position in the draft forever.

Instead, Minnesota takes Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah. Lloyd is a phenomenal athlete, and a close second to Nakobe Dean in this position group. Anthony Barr may be a free agent come next season, and although not a like for like replacement, Lloyd can compete for first team snaps right away.

20. Buffalo Bills
Primary need: CB

An easy one here for Buffalo, as they run to the podium to select Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson. Booth was the standout performer on a poor Clemson program in 2021.

Booth has the size, arm length and agility to compete with most receivers. He is physical without attracting penalty flags. Buffalo builds strength on strength with one of the easiest picks in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.

21. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers)
Primary need: OT

Miami’s offensive line troubles have been masked by recent performances from QB Tua Tagovailoa. Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa) is great value here. A good to great centre can solve a key position on the offensive line for 10-15 years. Miami will hope that Linderbaum can provide some stability to a unit that has struggled to gel.

The Dolphins have invested significant draft capital on their front trench in recent draft years. They add another piece to a young group here.

22. Los Angeles Chargers
Primary need: DT

Will Mike Williams sign an extension with Los Angeles in the off-season? If not, a Wide Receiver might be on the cards here. The Chargers will be hoping to keep hold of their prized asset, who has over 1000 receiving yards this year.

If not, then look no further than Drake London (WR, USC) as a long term replacement. London is the “big guy” of this WR class. He is able to use his physicality to bully defensive backs and pluck the ball out of the air in contested catches. London is far from the finished article, but could flourish alongside strong arm QB Justin Herbert.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis)
Primary need: DE

Philly fans, I can hear you desperately crying out for a pick on offence after going back-to-back on defence earlier in the First Round. But can you ignore Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida if he is on the board here?

They say defence wins championships. The Eagles are leaving this 2022 NFL Mock Draft with three standout defenders from this draft class.

The transformation of this defensive unit is complete with the acquisition of Elam. You didn’t get the edge rusher you craved, but the pieces are there to make The Eagles a fearsome unit on defence.

24. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams)
Primary need: WR

Ok, Detroit. You’re about to get something nice and shiny. Please, please don’t ruin this talent!

You need a receiver more desperately than any other team in the NFL. How’s about Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State. Olave has four solid years of production at Ohio State.

Yes, I know you got a Michigan native with your first pick, and this guy comes from the wrong side of the divide. But Chris Olave is that good. With a wealth of college experience, he should be ready to take the leap to the NFL.

25. Cincinnati Bengals
Primary need: CB

The Bengals begin a run of franchises in great need of a cornerback. They can’t afford to wait until Day Two to address the position. Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati remains in-state to join a defensive backfield in need of some, well, “sauce”.

Receivers have had a torrid time trying to get the better of Gardner. Although there are questions about the quality of opposition faced, The Bearcats’ trip to the CFB Playoffs has provided the perfect stage.

26. Tennessee Titans
Primary need: CB

Here’s one out of left field. Think back to when Green Bay took Jordan Love against all apparent consensus. The Tennessee Titans select Malik Willis, QB, Liberty.

Willis needs to sit and learn. He has proven himself to be too turnover prone this year. The Titans aren’t in a rush to move on from Ryan Tannehill, but can solve the problem of his successor before it even arises.

Tennessee provides the perfect place for Willis to master his play action passing. If he can cut down on turnover worthy plays, Willis may prove to be the most entertaining (and successful) of this year’s QB group.

27. Arizona Cardinals
Primary need: CB

The Cardinals bolster their offensive line with the selection of Nicolas Petit-Frere (OT), Ohio State. They’ve missed the run on top cornerback prospects, and instead choose to protect Kyler Murray.

The Cardinals began the season on fire, but have waned as the year has progressed. A large part of that is the O line’s inability to protect Murray effectively. Petit-Frere has experience at both tackle positions, and will likely contribute in his rookie season.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Primary need: RB

Tom Brady is like the spolit kid at Christmas: what do you get the boy who has everything?

Well, a premier Running Back wouldn’t go amiss. Kenneth Walker (RB, Michigan State) is a long term RB1.

For how long can Tampa Bay rely on Playoff Lenny and Ronald Jones? Ke’Shawn Vaughn isn’t the answer. Nor is Leveon Bell.

The Buccaneers need a back that they can rely on, long term. Walker is exactly that. He had an incredible 2021 season, cementing his place as the best RB in his draft class. His ability to play through contact is particularly impressive.

29. New England Patriots
Primary need: CB

The Patriots have two Safeties out of contract at the end of the year. Michigan’s Daxton Hill (S) could be the answer to their problems at the position.

Bill Belichick shocked the footballing world when he selected Kyle Dugger on Day Two of the 2020 NFL Draft. The surprise here is that Hill has fallen this far. His talent is countered by the lesser value placed on the Safety position.

Hill has eye-popping athletic ability that will tantalise Belichick’s defensive mind.

30. Dallas Cowboys
Primary need: DT

The Cowboys take a punt on the versatility of Kingsley Enagbare, DE, South Carolina. Enagbare can play on the interior or the edge, which is music to the ears of a franchise in need of help in both areas.

With Enagbare and 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons, the Cowboys are set to be a disruptive unit for years to come.

31. Kansas City Chiefs
Primary need: CB

The Chiefs’ defence took a step forward in 2021. Still, they need help in the defensive backfield. Many consider Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington) to be a Day Two selection. The lure of a fifth year option might be enough for Kansas City to snag him here.

McDuffie has produced for The Huskies since his true freshman year, and has impressed with his athletic ability.

32. Green Bay Packers
Primary need: OT

Green Bay could lose both Aaron Rodgers and star wideout DeVante Adams in the off-season. This could be a tragic development for a team that is used to going deep in the playoffs.

Have we seen enough of Jordan Love to know that he is the Green Bay QB of the future? Surely he deserves a year at the helm to prove his worth.

Green Bay can build a new future by pairing Love with Arkansas WR Treylon Burks. Burks is an impressive athlete that explodes off the line of scrimmage. When you consider his size, it is all the more impressive. Rumour has it that his gloves are custom-made, such are the size of his hands.

-Tom Scott

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