2022 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

I made my first mock draft for the 2022 season a few weeks ago, and I already feel like trashing the whole thing. Since then, we’ve had multiple top-five wide receivers get traded, a handful blockbuster trades, and dozens of free agents switching teams. Not exactly a prototypical offseason in the NFL. Today, I’m going to take another crack at it in Mock Draft 2.0, and hopefully, this one can hold up through whatever craziness the rest of the off-season has to offer:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Aidan Hutchinson

It just makes too much sense for me to not ink it in as the pick. The Jaguars went and spent big at just about every position in free agency, but the place they still need help at is the defensive line. Hutchinson would come in and be a key difference-maker in the front seven on day one.

Why Aidan Hutchinson Is Not a Lock to Be NFL Draft's Top Pass-Rusher |  Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

2. Detroit Lions: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux

Yes, I’ve been hearing all about Malik Willis the last few weeks, but it hasn’t changed my perspective and it shouldn’t have changed the Lions either. No matter what way you spin it, no quarterback in this draft is good enough to be taken at two, and Detroit isn’t the best place to develop a project quarterback like Willis. With that being said, the Lions opt to take a tried-and-true edge rusher with an insane ceiling in Thibodeaux. 

Lions send 7 reps, including GM Brad Holmes, to Kayvon Thibodeaux's Oregon  pro day - Pride Of Detroit

3. Houston Texans: OT Evan Neal

The Texans need to improve at just about every position, so they can’t really go wrong with whoever they pick here. Their plan seems to be to build around Davis Mills, so they will choose to pick one of the safest prospects in all of the the draft in Evan Neal. The anomalous lineman can play multiple spots on the line, and bringing him in would allow them to get an accurate gauge on how good Mills can be with proper protection.

BamaInsider - Is Evan Neal a future No. 1 overall pick? His Alabama  teammates think so

4. New York Jets: OT Ikem Ekwonu

The Jets had themselves a nice little spending-spree in free agency, but one of the places they didn’t really improve at is offensive line. They will choose to pick Ekwonu, who is the best and most physical run blocker in the entire draft. Playing him opposite of former first-rounder Mekhi Becton will create the most physical tackle tandem in the NFL.

2022 Jets NFL Draft Prospect OL Ikem Ekwonu, NC State - Gang Green Nation

5. New York Giants: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner

While some may consider this pick a reach, it is a reach that is worth making. A true lockdown cornerback is one of the rarest things in all of the NFL, and Sauce Gardner is one of the best prospects I’ve seen in years. The Giants are likely to shop their CB1 James Bradberry, and scoring a defender like Gardner would help to fill that gap and improve the secondary for years to come.

Potential Jets draft target Sauce Gardner makes bold claim on Twitter

6. Carolina Panthers: CB Derek Stingley Jr.

Stingley is a very polarizing draft prospect, with one of the highest ceilings in the draft but coming with a big injury risk. The Panthers have worked on fixing their secondary a lot over the past couple of seasons, picking up Xavier Woods, drafting Jaycee Horn, and trading for both Stephon Gilmore and CJ Henderson. While Woods and Horn will both be key parts of the defense, Gilmore is likely to walk in free agency and Henderson has been rather disappointing. The team is in a good enough place to take a shot on a boom-or-bust prospect like Stingley.

LSU's 2-time All-American CB Derek Stingley Jr. out indefinitely

7. New York Giants [via CHI]: OL Charles Cross

The Giants have needed help at offensive line for basically every off-season in recent memory, and in this draft, they will finally make a real move to fix that issue. Cross is an elite, versatile option at the position, and pairing him up on the line with Andrew Thomas would help elevate the team’s worst position.

Charles Cross NFL Draft 2022: Scouting Report for Mississippi State OT |  Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights

8. Atlanta Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton

Yes, I know they’d like to get new quarterback Marcus Mariota some help on the offense, but the talent of Hamilton at this price is too good to pass up. Considered a generational talent by many, Hamilton would bring more youth and talent to the rebuilding Falcons. Adding him to a secondary that already has A.J. Terrell in it would create one of the best young cores in the league.

NFL Draft Flawed Evaluation: Is Kyle Hamilton Still Washington Commanders  Target at No. 11? - Sports Illustrated Washington Football News, Analysis  and More

9. Seattle Seahawks [via DEN]: QB Malik Willis

We see the first quarterback off the board go to the Seattle Seahawks, who are in desperate need of a franchise-quarterback after trading Russell Wilson to Denver. Drew Lock simply won’t be able to cut it for this team, and while Willis is a bit of a raw prospect, he has just as high of a ceiling as any quarterback prospect I’ve ever seen. In Seattle’s case, sitting Willis behind somebody like Geno Smith for a year or two before playing him would be ideal.

2022 NFL Draft: Malik Willis, a tale of two quarterbacks

10. New York Jets: ED Travon Walker

Walker has been one of the highest-risers in draft projections since the start of the off-season, and the Jets will buy into the hype and take him as a top-ten prospect. While he is a bit of a project, the 6-5, 275 pound rusher will provide the versatility and athleticism off the edge that the Jets have been missing in their defense.

Georgia Football: Travon Walker - A freak of nature.

11. Washington Commanders: WR Garrett Wilson

The Commanders just recently traded for Carson Wentz, and in this scenario, they go out to get him help in the receiving core. While Terry McLaurin is a good player, he just isn’t enough to keep Washington’s passing attack as a consistent threat to opposing defenses. Wilson’s mix of speed and route running would add another dimension to the passing game that opponents would have to respect.

NY Jets draft: Ranking the top WR prospects in 5 key stats

12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Trent McDuffie

The Vikings have had a thin secondary over the past couple of seasons, and they will opt to shore up the cornerbacks by drafting a hyper-talented player like McDuffie. Drafting him to learn behind a veteran cornerback like Patrick Peterson is an ideal scenario for his development, and he would be a difference maker on the defense on day one.

Washington Huskies football star CB Trent McDuffie declares for 2022 NFL  Draft

13. Houston Texans [via CLE]: DE George Karlaftis

The Texans will shore up the trenches on both sides of the ball in this scenario, grabbing Karlaftis just ten picks after grabbing Evan Neal. The Purdue product has displayed great physicality, and he is also great in stopping the run. His explosiveness leaves something to be desired, but he would be one of the best players in their front-seven immediately.

Purdue Football: NFL Draft - 2022 - George Karlaftis - Hammer and Rails

14. Baltimore Ravens: OT Trevor Penning

The Ravens found themselves with another position of need following the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva, and Penning would be a perfect fit in their run-first offense. A nasty, downright mean blocker, Penning would dominate in the trenches and open up gaps for Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins to run through.

Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning preparing for NFL Draft | The Gazette

15. Philadelphia Eagles [via MIA]: LB Devin Lloyd

The Eagles, having three first-round picks, should use their capital to rebuild an aging and thin defense. The team will opt to take who I think is the best linebacker in the draft in Devin Lloyd, who’s versatility would add tremendously to the defense. He would be the sideline-to-sideline, explosive linebacker that they’ve been missing over the past few seasons.

Utah Defensive Player to Watch: Linebacker Devin Lloyd - Land-Grant Holy  Land

16. New Orleans Saints [via PHI via IND]: ED Jermaine Johnson II

Johnson is one of the most popular risers in this class, and for good reason. The Saints didn’t trade for this pick for no reason; they need to improve at a lot of positions, and that includes edge rusher. The Florida State product has excellent explosiveness and pass-rushing moves, and he would be an exceptional number-two rushing option behind Cameron Jordan in New Orleans.

Film review: Jermaine Johnson II — should he be in play for the Giants? -  Big Blue View

17. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Jordan Davis

I have been proclaiming this pairing from the mountain-tops since the end of the season, so there’s no chance that I won’t pair them up yet again. Jordan Davis, in my opinion, is one of the most overrated players in the draft because he is so one-dimensional. The great part about this pairing is that the Chargers only need that one dimension. He could come in, dominate the run game like he does, and not be expected to get pressure on the quarterback. The projected marriage here in Los Angeles is great for both sides.

Heisman odds: What about Georgia DL Jordan Davis?

18. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Drake London

While it’s not ideal for Philadelphia to have had to take three wide receivers in the first-round of three straight drafts, that is what it has come to. Devonta Smith actually had a very solid rookie year for the Eagles last season, but they were missing aggressiveness at the position. London would fix that instantly, bringing his high-catch point and hulking build with him and helping transform the Eagles’ receiving core.

USC Football: Drake London Poised to Carry the Mantle for Wide Receiver U.  - AthlonSports.com | Expert Predictions, Picks, and Previews

19. New Orleans Saints: WR Jameson Williams

In another pick that is becoming increasingly popular, Williams would be heading to New Orleans. The team is expecting to get Michael Thomas back before the start of next season, and pairing a speedy, down-field threat like Williams with a reliable possession receiver like Thomas would create a wide receiver duo that’s very hard for opposing defenses to game plan for.

Chiefs' NFL Draft fits: Alabama WR Jameson Williams is a playmaker -  Arrowhead Pride

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Sam Howell

While it’s tough to not ink in Pickett to the Steelers here, I just think Howell is the better fit for the team. The UNC product brings everything to the table that the team was missing with Big Ben the past couple of seasons, including a cannon for an arm and solid mobility. He is arguably the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, and while the team did bring in Mitch Trubisky to compete for the job, Howell would ultimately be the better franchise quarterback for them, even if he has to wait out Trubisky’s contract.

North Carolina at Notre Dame expert predictions, odds, betting trends: Sam  Howell tries to end Irish's Playoff hopes – The Athletic

21. New England Patriots: LB Nakobe Dean

The Patriots defense was solid overall last year, but one glaring hole was exposed towards the end of the season: the linebacker position. They lacked any kind of speed or athleticism there, and the group they had couldn’t go sideline-to-sideline or cover a tight end. Enter Nakobe Dean. His versatility as a pass rusher and in coverage paired with the usual linebacker abilities would help elevate New England’s defense to a whole new level. While size is a little bit of a concern with him, he makes up for it by being exceptional everywhere else.

Nakobe Dean Draft news: Georgia linebacker to enter 2022 NFL Draft -  DraftKings Nation

22. Green Bay Packers [via LV]: WR Chris Olave

Olave was one of the big risers from the NFL combine, but the hype for him has died down a bit. He is still among the top receivers in this class, and the Packers have found themselves in desperate need of more options since trading Davante Adams. The Ohio State product would be Aaron Rodgers’ top weapon instantly, and this should be a name they are looking to pursue one way or another.

Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits scouting report: Ohio State WR Chris Olave -  Blogging The Boys

23. Arizona Cardinals: C Tyler Linderbaum

Linderbaum is one of the most pro-ready prospects in all of the draft, and that works out great for the Cardinals, who are in need of an interior lineman. They still have Rodney Hudson under contract for one more season, but Linderbaum can play anywhere on the interior and is one of the safest picks in the entire draft.

NCAA: Tyler Linderbaum donates $30,000 to children's hospital

24. Dallas Cowboys: OL Kenyon Green

The Cowboys’ offensive line is slowly deteriorating, with their aging stars battling injuries and having very little help from the younger players on the roster. Kenyon Green wouldn’t be able to fix all of those issues, but he can certainly help to shore-up a shaky position for the team. He has the versatility to play at any spot on the line that they need him, and he would be an impactful player for Dallas on day one.

Versatile Kenyon Green helps Texas A&M fix its offensive line

25. Buffalo Bills: RB Breece Hall

While some may think this pick is questionable, it is undeniable that drafting arguably the top back in the class would add another dimension to this Bills team. I mean, they are one of the most unstoppable offenses in the NFL without having a consistent running attack. Bringing in Breece Hall to be the workhorse, power-back while sprinkling in Devin Singletary in passing and third-down scenarios would create perhaps the league’s most deadly offense.

2022 NFL Draft Player Comparisons: Breece Hall looks similar to prior  top-10 RB draft picks | NFL Draft | PFF

26. Tennessee Titans: ED David Ojabo

Drafting Ojabo is very risky, considering that he ruptured his achilles during his Pro-Day recently, but it is a risk that the Titans should be prepared to make. When healthy, he is a game-changing edge with excellent speed and a deep bag, and it wouldn’t take long for him to be one of the best players in Tennessee’s front seven. 

Michigan LB David Ojabo has torn Achilles - mlive.com

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OL Zion Johnson

The Buccaneers find themselves back in Super-Bowl contention just weeks after being thought of as a rebuilding franchise, but they do have a new position of need. The interior of the offensive line is now running very thin, with guard Alex Cappa leaving the team in free agency and other guard Ali Marpet retiring earlier this offseason. Zion Johnson would do good in replacing one of those guys. The 6’3, 315 pound animal would be an important addition in protecting Tom Brady and opening up running lanes for Leonard Fournette.

Zion Johnson Could Compete for a Starting Spot at Guard for the Commanders  - Hogs Haven

28. Green Bay Packers: CB Andrew Booth Jr. 

The Packers are running a little thin at cornerback, with there being no reliable options beyond Jaire Alexander on the current roster. Booth would fill the cornerback two role nicely, adding reliable coverage with good run support to Green Bay’s secondary. This pairing would be a good fit for both sides, and the price is very realistic for the contending Packers.

2022 NFL Draft Scouting Report: CB Andrew Booth Jr. | Wolf Sports

29. Kansas City Chiefs [via MIA via SF]: WR Treylon Burks

In a very unexpected move this offseason, the Chiefs traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for several draft picks. This left a clear and obvious hole at the position, and drafting Treylon Burks would be a nice way to fill it. The team already has speed in MVS and reliability in JuJu, and Burks would account for their need for a big and aggressive receiver.

2022 NFL Draft prospect profile - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas - Big Blue  View

30. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Kaiir Elam

Now with two first-round picks, the Chiefs can really start to fix the positions that they have been lacking at. They’ve been needing more reliable corner play in their secondary over the past couple of seasons, and that will be amplified next season with Charvarius Ward leaving the team in free agency. Elam won’t be a perfect fix for all of their problems, but he has a high ceiling and would be an instant starter at the position.

Could Florida CB Kaiir Elam replace Joe Haden at CB for the Steelers? -  Behind the Steel Curtain

31. Cincinnati Bengals: ED Drake Jackson

After massively improving their weakest position in free agency, the Bengals don’t find themselves with many glaring holes. Adding an edge defender like Drake Jackson would do a lot of good for the defense, and they would be getting him at a very affordable draft price. He would be a good fit on the team, and would add another pass-rushing threat opposite of Trey Hendrickson.

Drake Jackson || USC Trojans Defensive End || 2021 Highlights - YouTube

32. Detroit Lions [via LAR]: QB Kenny Pickett

Nobody would disagree if I said that Jared Goff just simply isn’t cutting it. They need something to inspire hope for a dismal offense, and drafting Kenny Pickett would be the perfect addition to go with the other young pieces in the offense. They are quietly building a solid young supporting cast on offense, and Pickett would be set up for success if he could sit and learn for a year or two.

College-to-pro projections for Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett | NFL Draft | PFF

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