With the college football season hitting Week 5 and another surprising NFL season right behind in Week 4, it’s time to clock with another edition of Sporting News’ 2022 NFL mock draft. In our last mock in early September, quarterbacks dominated the picks from 1-32.
The current first round of projected selections is QB-heavy again, only with a shakeup of when and where the top prospects at the position are taken. There’s also a heavier presence for the four top programs at the moment — Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and Oklahoma. Expanding through the AP top 15, Iowa Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Florida, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Michigan are also all well represented.
Based on the updated draft NFL order coming out of Week 3 (according to Tankathon) but not factoring in any potential playoff results, here’s how the early 2022 picks might look:
NFL mock draft 2022
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (6-7, 350 pounds)
Trevor Lawrence will need better offensive line support in Year 2. So will Travis Etienne when he returns from his foot injury, to boost his running game. Neal is a no-brainer to dominate as a pass protector and run blocker for many years to come.
2. New York Jets
- Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (6-5, 258 pounds)
Even with a minor ankle injury early in the Ducks’ season, it’s not disrupting his status as the most disruptive outside pass rusher in this class. Thibodeaux should get back on track with a showcase game vs. Stanford’s Tanner McKee.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (from Colts)
- Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU (6-1, 195 pounds)
Stingley is a do-everything impact defensive back and the Eagles need to replace rapidly declining Darius Slay with a new big-play corner.
4. Detroit Lions
- Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-1, 215 pounds)
Willis has a cannon for an arm and great speed. He should have the potential to make scouting jaws drop at the position and make them less concerned about his small-school status given his awesome play so far. The Lions will need a QB, too, with Jared Goff serving as a shaky bridge.
5. New York Giants
- Drake Jackson, EDGE (6-4, 250 pounds)
The Giants have a chance to upgrade both their offensive and defensive edges with two first-rounders. Jackson’s agility and versatility are ideal for Patrick Graham’s version of the 3-4.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)
- Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6-4, 220 pounds)
The Eagles will have a need at safety in 2022, either needing to replace aging Rodney McLeod or pending free agent Anthony Harris. Hamilton makes a lot of sense as an intelligent all-around force to clean up for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
7. New England Patriots
- Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 189 pounds)
The Patriots had a piecemeal wide receiver coprs in Mac Jones’ rookie season but here have a chance to get him a top-flight No. 1 for Year 2. Olave has great speed, quickness and burst to fill that role well.
8. Atlanta Falcons
DeMarvin Leal, DT/DE, Texas A&M (6-4, 290 pounds)
The Falcons need more impactful defensive linemen of any ilk to support Grady Jarrett and Leal is the real deal as a versatile disruptor for Dean Pees.
9. Houston Texans
- Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (6-0, 200 pounds)
Deshaun Watson has played his last down for the Texans and rookie third-round fill-in Davis Mills isn’t the long-term answer. Corral is a dynamic athlete and confident runner who also shows aggressiveness with a big arm. He is refining his raw skills well during a Heisman-caliber campaign. He can prove his worth dueling Bryce Young and Alabama this week.
10. Philadelphia Eagles
- Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (6-5, 255 pounds)
Sanders has freakish pass-rush qualities and will be a good reason for the Eagles to double up on defensive impact for Gannon given Derek Barnett will be a free agent. He is getting mad blocking respect from the opposition this season.
11. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
- Kalir Elam, CB Florida (6-2, 196 pounds)
The Jets will need to upgrade corner for Robert Saleh, looking for their version of Richard Sherman. Elam has the size and coverage efficiency to develop into a savvy shutdown type.
12. New York Giants (from Bears)
- Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (6-5, 316 pounds)
The Giants need to replace Nate Solder opposite 2020 first-rounder Andrew Thomas however they decide to play their bookends (left vs. right) for Daniel Jones (or another QB). Nelson is an athletic and quick blocker with a strong pass-run combination.
13. Washington Football Team
- Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (6-4, 215 pounds)
Taylor Heinicke has some good attributes for Scott Turner’s offense, but he’s not meant to be a franchise QB — which is why the team signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to serve as a bridge. Strong’s last name is an apt description for his massive arm and he also possesses underrated athleticism, giving him Josh Allen-like appeal in his transition to the NFL. Ron Rivera also should consider a Cam Newton type 11 years later.
14. Minnesota Vikings
- Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson (6-0, 200 pounds)
The Vikings’ secondary is a mess with aging Patrick Peterson and struggling Bashaud Breeland at cornerback. Booth is a strong, active corner who has the speed and ball skills to make a lot of big plays.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (6-1, 220 pounds)
Ben Roethlisberger already should have a true heir apparent, but this is the best way to replace him 18 years after he went in the first round. The Steelers will be targeting a quarterback who can hang well in the pocket and make all the throws but also has the ability to extend plays with his footwork. Howell is smart, seasoned and accurate.
16. Kansas City Chiefs
- Aidan Hutchison, EDGE, Michigan (6-6, 265 pounds)
The Chiefs could use a boost in their pass rush with a productive player built to excel in their scheme. Hutchinson uses great technique and strength to rack up sacks.
17. New Orleans Saints
- Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma (6-1, 200 pounds)
Rattler hasn’t been playing close to his best but has proved he’s a gamer in Lincoln Riley’s system. Even though he’s slipped on boards in relation to his shaky play, don’t believe too much into the boos from Sooners fans and believe more in the boom from his skill set. He needs the right NFL coaching to get the most out of his accuracy and athleticism, Sean Payton is just the man, getting his Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill mashup as the true franchise replacement for Drew Brees.
18. Cleveland Browns
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 188 pounds)
The Browns have some options at No. 2 outside wideout to support Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry (when that pair is healthy together) but could use a reliable route runner to gain Baker Mayfield’s full trust. Wilson has been a good complementary technician to Olave and does everything required of him well.
19. Buffalo Bills
- John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (6-0, 195 pounds)
The Bills signed Emmanuel Sanders for only one season and aging slot option Cole Beasley is signed only through 2022 .Although Gabriel Davis has flashed when given the chance to complement Stefon Diggs, Buffalo needs a versatile speed merchant who can line up everywhere. Like other recent first-round Alabama wideouts, Metchie is rounding out into a more complete target. It doesn’t hurt that Metchie grew up not too far away in Brampton, Ontario.
20. Tennessee Titans
- Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (6-3, 290 pounds)
Linderbaum is a intelligent rock of an interior blocker and a perfect long-term line leader in the NFL. The Titans will need a replacement for pending free agent Ben Jones in 2022.
21. Green Bay Packers
- Adam Anderson, OLB, Georgia (6-5, 320 pounds)
Za’Darius Smith will be 30 next season, his final year under contract. Preston Smith is also signed through only 2022. The Packers need to get an impact replacement and Anderson is rising up draft boards fast playing for a nasty Bulldogs defense. His natural speed and explosiveness give him a high pass-rushing floor and he can round into a more complete player with better moves.
22. Miami Dolphins (from 49ers)
- Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia (6-0, 225 pounds)
Dean is having a monster year alongside Anderson as well, showing his pass rush skills inside on top of his rangy athleticism that allow him fly sideline-to-sideline to make plays. There were concerns about his size (heft vs more than height) but his playmaking is starting to more than compensate for that.
23. Cincinnati Bengals
- Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington (6-7, 310 pounds)
Jonah Williams has struggled to settle at left tackle and Riley Reiff, on a one-year at right tackle, also hasn’t given the help Joe Burrow needs to be his most comfortable throwing downfield. Kirkland’s frame and athleticism are made for smooth pass protection as he uses both his hands and feet well.
24. Dallas Cowboys
- Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M (6-4, 325 pounds)
Connor Williams is a pending free agent and Zack Martin will be on the other side of 30 next season. The Cowboys could use an interior upgrade, period, with center Tyler Biadasz having some issues. Green’s size and strength profile as that of a long-time run-blocking rock.
25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (6-6, 340 pounds)
Ndamukong Suh is 34 and unsigned after this season. Vita Vea is going into the final year of his rookie contract. The Buccaneers need a massive-frame disruptor to main their run-stopping prowess and one that can immediately replace Suh.
26. Baltimore Ravens
- Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma (6-4, 292 pounds)
Brandon Williams, 32, is fading at nose tackle. Derek Wolfe, 31 hasn’t been healthy to support Calais Campbell, either. The Ravens need a versatile option up front. Winfrey already has great power and technique and just needs to work on his efficient speed to remain a disruptor in the NFL.
27. Los Angeles Chargers
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue (6-4, 275 pounds)
The Chargers should be interested in this other freakish Greek athlete to pair with Joey Bosa in Brandon Staley’s 3-4 knowing Uchenna Nwosu hasn’t played well as a pending free agent. Karlaftis has has elite athleticism for his size and is doing better translating that into pass-rush impact.
28. Carolina Panthers
- Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (6-7, 340 pounds)
Penning is getting more attention for a unique combination of athleticism and strength. The small-school pedigree is less concerning given the way he pops out vs. his level of competition. The Panthers have Taylor Moton on the right side but desperately need.a long-term left tackle who can handle all kinds of pass rushers.
29. Denver Broncos
- Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (6-4, 215 pounds)
Ridder has a big chance to establish his high place in this class against Notre Dame. He’s been a great tough leader for the Bearcats’ best team, also showing he’s a natural dual threat for the NFL with his strong arm and running skills. The Broncos are getting good play from Teddy Bridgewater but he’s only a bridge and Drew Lock already has proved not to be John Elway’s answer.
30. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
- Christian Harris, ILB, Alabama (6-2, 232 pounds)
Harris is another speedy sideline-to-sideline playmaker from the SEC with fine pedigree (with more prototypical size). The Lions just need to get better everywhere defensively so for now he would represent the best available player after addressing QB earlier.
31. Las Vegas Raiders
- Ikem Ekwonu, G, NC State (6-4, 320 pounds)
The Raiders need to get back to having nasty interior run blocking and having a mauler who can move defenders out of the way. Ekwonu is rising fast as an intimidating, powerful prospect.
32. Arizona Cardinals
- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (5-11, 195 pounds)
The Cardinals need to find their new Peterson. McDuffie offers great explosiveness and quickness in coverage and can also handle bigger wide receivers.