2022 NFL mock draft: Breaking down every pick in the first round
Arizona Republic NFL writer Bob McManaman offers his fourth edition of his 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac.
The NFL Draft is April 28-30 in Paradise, Nevada and we take a look at how things could play out in the first round. Last year in my final mock draft, I correctly projected 26 of the 32 players that would be selected in the first round, with eight going to the designated spot I projected.
My picks are based on observations, team needs, scouting services and various NFL sources:
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1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14): EDGE Aiden Hutchinson, 6-6, 265, Michigan
After much debate and careful consideration, I decided to keep Hutchinson as the No.1 overall pick over Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker because it’s the right move to make by the Jaguars. The former Michigan star would look great in a Lions’ uniform, but Detroit misses out if Jacksonville does the right thing.
(Mock 3.0, Mock 2.0 and Mock 1.0 picks: Hutchinson/Evan Neal/Neal)
2. Detroit Lions (3-13-1): EDGE Travon Walker, 6-5, 275, Georgia
They’d love Hutchinson, but he’s gone. The Lions could go with Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner or one of the quarterbacks here. I’ll roll the dice, though, and project that Walker is the guy. He’s been soaring up draft boards and he’s going to go higher than maybe he should, based on production at least.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 picks: Kyle Hamilton/Hutchinson/Hutchinson)
3. Houston Texans (4-13): OT Ikem Ekwonu, 6-4, 320, N.C. State
In this edition, Ekwonu becomes the first offensive lineman off the board. And it seemed to me that Evan Neal of Alabama was always going to assume that designation. Ekwonu lit it up at the combine, however, and has everybody buzzing. The Texans should pounce on him at No. 3.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 picks: Walker/Hamilton/Thibodeaux)
4. New York Jets (4-13): EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, 6-5, 258, Oregon
No change. There are some questions about Thibodeaux’s football desire, but that probably won’t stop the Jets from trying to improve their lackluster pass rush. Personally, I’d rather take cornerback “Sauce” Gardener here, but the Jets will lose him to the Giants, just watch.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Thibodeaux/Thibodeaux/Hamilton)
5. New York Giants (4-13): OT Evan Neal, 6-7, 350, Alabama
If the ultra-aggressive Ekwonu doesn’t go No. 3 to Houston, he lands here in my book. The Giants can’t go wrong with Neal, though. New York needs another starting tackle opposite Andrew Thomas and this guy would be the answer.
Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 picks: Neal/Ekwonu/Ekwonu)
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6. Carolina Panthers (5-12): QB Kenny Pickett, 6-3, 220, Pittsburgh
If the Panthers decide to stick with Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback in 2022, I’ll be stunned. Carolina might trade out of this spot for another QB-needy team, but I can see Pickett going No. 6 regardless. We’ll get a better idea 48 hours before the draft, if not earlier. Trust me.
Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Ekwonu/Pickett/Charles Cross)
7. New York Giants (via Bears): CB Ahmad Gardner, 6-2, 188, Cincinnati
The Giants will win the first round with these two picks. It doesn’t mean both players will become Hall of Famers, of course. All it means is that, for now, the national pundits will fawn all over the G-Men as if they are instant playoff contenders, which they are not.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Gardner/George Karlaftis/Karlaftis)
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10): WR Garrett Wilson, 6-0, 192, Ohio State
I’ll stand with this pick, even though it’s important to remember that a quarterback could still go at this spot. Again, it might not be the Falcons who end up drafting here. If they do, they need a wide receiver badly and Wilson is probably the safest pick, as good as some of the others are.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Wilson/Drake London/Treylon Burks)
9. Seattle Seahawks (7-10) (via Broncos): CB Derek Stingley Jr., 6-1, 195, LSU
These guys could do almost anything and it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. They might go quarterback or offensive line, but how Seattle would it be for them to try and re-fortify their secondary by adding a guy like Stingley?
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Malik Willis/Devin Lloyd/Pickett)
10. New York Jets (via Seahawks): WR Drake London, 6-5, 210, USC
Let’s face it, quarterback Zach Wilson is going to need all the help he can get on offense and is good as London is, it probably won’t be enough given everything else that’s wrong with this team. London could be great, but how long will it take with this franchise to catch up?
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Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: (London/Gardner/Gardner)
11. Washington Commanders (7-10): S Kyle Hamilton, 6-4, 220, Notre Dame
With the top two cornerbacks off the board, look for Washington to still address its secondary and draft the best safety in this year’s class. Hamilton can do it all and it’s not like the Commanders can’t use the help.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Stingley Jr./Stingley Jr./Matt Corral)
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-9): EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, 6-5, 254, Florida State
Unless they reach for a cornerback here or pluck a wide receiver to pair opposite Justin Jefferson, keep your eyes on this prospect. I previously had Johnson sliding all the way to the Cardinals at No. 23, but I can’t see that happening now. His stock is rising.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Treylon Burks/Trent McDuffie/Stingley Jr.)
13. Houston Texans (4-13) (via Browns): WR Jameson Williams, 6-2, 189, Alabama
Here’s more help for the offense, even though Williams won’t be ready for a while as he continues to rehab and recovery from a torn ACL. There’s enough depth at wide receiver for the Texans until arguably the best receiver prospect in this year’s class is ready to roll.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Trent McDuffie/Wilson/Wilson)
14. Baltimore Ravens (8-9): OT Charles Cross, 6-5, 310, Mississippi State
It’s either offensive or defensive line and I continue to be torn as to whether it’s Cross or Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who continues to shoot up draft boards. I’ll roll the dice here again and this time, project that it’s Cross. But it could be Davis.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Jordan Davis/Cross/Davis)
15. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) (via Dolphins): DT Jordan Davis, 6-6, 340, Georgia
Four mock drafts, four different picks at No.15. As much as a linebacker makes sense here, the Eagles simply don’t draft them in the first round. Could they go with a wide receiver here for the third straight year in the first round? Maybe. My guess now is they take the hot ticket in Davis, who has become a rising star.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Devin Lloyd/Burks/London)
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16. New Orleans Saints (9-8) (via Colts, Eagles): WR Chris Olave, 6-1, 188, Ohio State
Would the Saints really go with a quarterback here after bringing back Jameis Winston and signing Andy Dalton? They might, but the word is they’re after one of the top five wide receiver prospects and my favorite one in this year’s draft class is Olave.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: George Karlaftis/David Ojabo/Ojabo)
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8): OT Trevor Penning, 6-7, 321, Northern Iowa
No change. The Chargers are pretty well stacked, but they still can improve their offensive line in front of quarterback Justin Herbert. Adding Penning as a book end opposite Rashawn Slater would be huge.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Penning/Davis/Nakobe Dean)
18. Eagles (via Saints): LB Devin Lloyd, 6-3, 235, Utah
So, they don’t take a wide receiver here after all, but they do land the best inside linebacker in the draft in Lloyd, a wildly athletic, five-star prospect. Previous picks here were assigned to the Saints until they traded out of this spot in a strange deal with Philly.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0: Cross/Penning/Olave)
19. New Orleans Saints (via Eagles): OT Tyler Smith, 6-5, 324, Tulsa
With Terron Armstead leaving to the Dolphins in free agency, the Saints will be looking for help at offensive tackle and although four are already off the board, don’t sleep on Smith. He has all the traits needed for a cornerstone anchor for the O-line.
(Mock 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Tyler Linderbaum/Linderbaum/Kenyon Green)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1): QB Malik Willis, 6-1, 215, Liberty
In my last Mock Draft, I had Willis going No. 9 to the Seahawks. With Willis now available, I can see the Steelers still having some real interest in him. I wouldn’t put it past Pittsburgh to strongly consider Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, either. He’s a winner.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Desmond Ridder/Willis/Linderbaum)
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21. New England Patriots (10-7): CB Trent McDuffie, 5-11, 195, Washington
There’s no real telling what the Patriots will do at this spot, assuming they even stay here. If McDuffie slides this far, though, I don’t think New England would pass on him. He can become a real star in this system and will be starting sooner rather than later.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 picks: Olave/Walker/Lloyd)
22. Green Bay Packers (13-4) (via Raiders): WR Jahan Dotson, 5-11, 184, Penn State
After trading Davante Adams to the Raiders and losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Chiefs in free agency, there is no doubt the Packers draft a wide receiver with at least one of their two, first-round picks. Dotson, in my book, would be an ideal selection. He gives them speed to burn as an outside threat and has all the character traits to be a longtime hero in Green Bay.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Williams/Andrew Booth Jr./McDuffie)
23. Arizona Cardinals (11-6): WR Treylon Burks, 6-3, 225, Arkansas
They could go with an edge rusher here such as George Karlaftis or Boye Mafe. Cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. and Kaiir Elam are available, too. So are interior offensive linemen such as Tyler Linderbaum, Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson. But just think what Burks could add to Kyler Murray and the offense. He’s Arizona’s answer to Deebo Samuel and the Cardinals get him for five years at a reasonable price.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Johnson II/Olave/Walker)
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24. Dallas Cowboys (12-5): C/OG Tyler Linderbaum, 6-3, 290, Iowa
After going with a defensive player in my first three mock drafts, I can see the Cowboys addressing their offensive line and nabbing Linderbaum to man the middle of it. It might not be a sexy pick, but it’s a smart one.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Mafe/Dean/Johnson II)
25. Buffalo Bills (11-6): CB Andrew Booth Jr., 6-0, 200, Clemson
Unless the Bills surprise us and draft a running back here, which they could do in Iowa State’s Breece Hall, I still think they’re going cornerback. This time, however, it’s Booth Jr. instead of Florida’s Kaiir Elam.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Elam/Elam/Elam)
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26. Tennessee Titans (12-5): LB Nakobe Dean, 5-11, 229, Georgia
If one of the wide receivers slip to them, the Titans will probably pounce. They could go interior offensive line here, too, with someone like Kenyon Green or Zion Johnson. Dean might fall into the second round, but I think he would be a very good fit in Tennessee’s defense, even though he’s a tad undersized.
(Mock 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Dean/Williams/George Pickens).
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): OL Kenyon Green, 6-4, 325, Texas A&M
The Jahan Dotson train stopped at Pick No. 22, so the Buccaneers have to go in a different direction after I projected the former Penn State wideout going here from the very beginning. Green is a versatile lineman with great intangibles who can step in at guard right away, which would be helpful. Safety is another option as well.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Dotson/Dotson/Dotson)
28. Green Bay Packers: OL Bernhard Raimann, 6-6, 303, Central Michigan
Packers fans are probably hoping Green Bay doubles down on wide receiver with its first two draft picks, but that probably won’t happen. In this scenario, they go with a player who converted to tackle from tight end and can play either side in a pinch. Right tackle is where he probably starts and that’s not a bad thing for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. O-line was also the pick in each of my last two Mock Drafts.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Smith/Green/Booth Jr.)
29. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) (via Dolphins): EDGE George Karlaftis, 6-4, 275, Purdue
Karlaftis is an intriguing prospect who figures to go anywhere in the bottom third of the first round or into the top third in the second round. “The Greek Freak” is raw, but he brings it and has an insane passion for the game. With the proper development, he could become a real star.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Booth Jr./Raimann/Panning)
30. Kansas City Chiefs: S Daxton Hall, 6-0, 191, Michigan
They might be tempted to go with a wide receiver here, but they can’t miss with Hall, who is the perfect type of defensive weapon to deploy in the pass-happy AFC West. Hall can play anywhere in the secondary – and has – and is as good in run support as he in defending the pass. This is a player to watch.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Devonte Wyatt/Pickens/Williams)
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31. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): TE Trey McBride, 6-4, 246, Colorado State
For the longest time I’ve been convinced the Bengals would go with an offensive lineman here – and they still might – but why settle for the ninth or 10th best prospect at that position when you can help fortify your offense with the No.1 tight end in this year’s entire class? He’s a solid, two-way talent with size, strength and catching prowess.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Daniel Faalele/Faalele/Nicholas Petit-Frere)
32. Detroit Lions (via Rams): QB Matt Corral, 6-2, 212, Mississippi
You have to think the Lions will draft a quarterback at some point and it may as well be at this spot for that extra year of contract control. Corral is a gritty competitor who processes things incredibly fast and he’ll not only push Jared Goff, but maybe give him a run for his money.
(Mock 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 pick: Pickett/David Bell/Willis)
Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch.
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