2022 NFL mock draft: Three-round projections



A month might as well be a year when discussing the NFL news cycle.

A month ago, Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner were still Seahawks and Matt Ryan was still a Falcon.

A month ago, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes still had hopes of throwing passes to Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, respectively, next season.

A month ago, Deshaun Watson wasn’t guaranteed to make $230 million over the next five seasons … from the Browns.

Between all of the trades and the first wave of free agency, the NFL’s second season (I refuse to call it an offseason anymore) continues to dominate the headlines.

With less than a month to go before the draft kicks off on April 28 in Las Vegas, we haven’t seen the last trade and there are still plenty of talented free agents left in the pool.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

MOCK PREAMBLE 

This is an attempt at figuring out the best players available in this season’s draft class, and which teams they’d match up well with considering the draft order courtesy of tankathon.com. The closer we get to draft day, the more I attempt to match what teams will actually do with their draft picks as opposed to what I believe they should do.

Last season, I was the fourth most accurate NFL draft prognosticator in print according to The Huddle Report. I’m tied for seventh overall (out of 133) over the past five years.

The NFL draft has become a nice appetizer before our main course in September. A mock version of said draft is meant to educate, and even entertain. At very least, it helps you pass the time.

Follow me on Twitter @UTEddieBrown so we can continue the conversation.

Here’s my updated 2022 NFL mock draft, now through three rounds including compensatory picks:

FIRST ROUND 

1. Jacksonville (3-14) — Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan, Sr.

The Jaguars have invested in the offensive line during free agency and they have two young lineman who could still pan out (Walker Little and Jawaan Taylor). Jacksonville has drafted an edge rusher in the first round two of the last three years, but have only produced 50 sacks total since 2020 — tied for second-fewest in the NFL during that span. Hutchinson’s season was shades of Chase Young’s 2019 dominant campaign, culminating in him finishing second in the Heisman voting. He’s a high-floor prospect who wins with technique and strength. Top needs: Edge, OL, LB

2. Detroit (3-13-1) — Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia, Jr.

The Lions have been near the bottom of the league in sacks and QB pressure rate the last three seasons, and there simply isn’t a quarterback available worthy of this pick. Walker’s size gives him an advantage over Kayvon Thibodeaux in Detroit’s system. He offers premium versatility and immense power. Walker is an elite run defender, but will need to sharpen his technique to become a more consistent pass rusher. Top needs: QB, Edge, S

3. Houston (4-13) — Evan Neal, T, Alabama, Jr.

Thankfully for the Texans, every position is one of need, so it’ll be hard to mess this up (even for them). Davis Mills could have been the top quarterback in this class had he stayed another year at Stanford, so Houston will pass on a signal-caller here. Neal is a physical specimen (6-foot-7, 337 pounds) who improved every season in Tuscaloosa and thrived at both tackle positions and left guard. Top needs: OL, DB, RB

4. N.Y. Jets (4-13) — Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati, Jr.

The Jets haven’t had a cornerback in the Pro Bowl since Darrelle Revis in 2015. Gardner made it through the playoff loss to Alabama unscathed. He finished his collegiate career with 1,100-plus snaps, nine interceptions and zero touchdowns allowed. Gardner’s combine was flawless. Top needs: Edge, CB, WR

5. N.Y. Giants (4-13) — Ikem Ekwonu, T, NC State, So.

The Giants need to add toughness and athleticism to their offensive line. If the Jaguars pass on Hutchinson, it’ll likely be for Ekwonu. He was the most dominant run-blocking tackle in the Power-5 conferences this season — it really wasn’t close — and I envision him thriving at tackle or guard in the NFL. Top needs: OL, Edge, LB

6. Carolina (5-12) — Charles Cross, T, Mississippi St., So.

The Panthers need to consider moving down if they’re targeting a quarterback in the first round — they’ve been connected to Kenny Pickett. Otherwise, it’s clear they need to upgrade the offensive line. Cross is a powerful blocker who developed into a dominant pass protector last season and could end up cracking the top-10 come draft day. Top needs: QB, OL, Edge

7. N.Y. Giants from Chicago (6-11) — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame, Jr.

The Giants surprisingly terminated the contract of last year’s defensive captain Logan Ryan at the beginning of free agency. Hamilton is a hybrid playmaker who combines the versatility of Isaiah Simmons with instincts that are reminiscent of Hall of Famer Ed Reed. Those who pick nits with his 40-yard dash times are digging really deep for criticism. Top needs: OL, Edge, LB

8. Atlanta (7-10) — Drake London, WR, USC, Jr.

The Falcons current wide receiver room included Auden Tate, KhaDarel Hodge, Olamide Zaccheaus (a restricted free agent), Damiere Byrd, Frank Darby and Chad Hansen. London led the nation in contested catches with 19 and he only played eight games after his season ended with a broken ankle. His size, athleticism, route-running and flair for the spectacular catch will make him a problem for defensive coordinators in the NFL. London recently moved his individual pro day to April 15 after suffering a mild hamstring strain during preparation. Top needs: WR, Edge, S

9. Seattle from Denver (7-10) — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon, So.

If the Seahawks draft a quarterback, it won’t be here. They’ll either wait until the second round, where they currently have picks No. 40 and 41. Or they will package those selections to move up into the backend of the first round. No matter how much GM John Schneider needs to address the O-line or defensive backfield, he hardly ever invests early picks in those positions. So I’m giving them a pass rusher. Only the Ravens allowed more passing yards than Seattle last season. Thibodeaux is a top tier athlete who wins with speed. His ceiling is massively high, but it might take a few years for his technique and toolbox to catch up to his talent. The narrative coming out of Indy was Thibodeaux came off as “cocky” in his interviews with teams. The same thing was said about Micah Parsons last year. Top needs: QB, OL, CB

10. N.Y. Jets from Seattle (7-10) — Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida St., Sr.

The success of Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme is predicated on creating pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. Johnson is capable of being three-down player as a potentially elite run defender and an underrated pass rusher. Top needs: Edge, CB, WR

11. Washington (7-10) — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio St., Jr.

The Commanders dealt for Carson Wentz so I doubt they will invest this pick in the position. Wilson’s ability to threaten a defense at every level would pair nicely with Terry McLaurin, who has recently entered into contract extension talks with the team. Top needs: WR, CB, G

12. Minnesota (8-9) — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU, Jr.

Who better to mentor the former Tiger All-American cornerback than a former Tiger All-American cornerback, veteran Patrick Peterson, who recently resigned with the Vikings. Stingley features rare ball-tracking skills that make him a threat to take the ball away anytime it’s in his vicinity. As an 18-year-old, he produced one of the most impressive true freshman seasons in college football history in 2019. Durability has been a concern ever since. He’s a top-five talent, but there’s still a lot of questions surrounding him. Top needs: DB, G, Edge

13. Houston from Cleveland (8-9) — George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue, Jr.

There are much worse strategies than selecting a pass protector and pass rusher with your two first round picks. All roads lead to the quarterback when it comes to team-building. New coach Lovie Smith is familiar with Karlaftis from his days in the Big Ten West. He has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the nation during his three seasons in West Lafayette. His inside-outside versatility, and overwhelming power could make him a star at the next level. Top needs: OL, DB, RB

14. Baltimore (8-9) — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah, Jr.

The Ravens were beaten by the Rams in a duel for Bobby Wagner’s services. Here, the best linebacker in this draft falls right in their lap. The Otay Ranch product can rush the passer (he had seven sacks), impact the run game and make plays in coverage — he had four interceptions this season. Top needs: DL, CB, C

15. Philadelphia from Miami (9-8) — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio St., Sr.

Drafting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson remains a mystery to me. It’s rare a route technician with reliable hands can also run as fast as Olave. The Mission Hills product might have made it into the first round had he left school last year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he cracks the top-20. He’d pair nicely with DeVonta Smith and go along way in correcting the Reagor mistake. Top needs: WR, DL, LB

16. New Orleans from Philadelphia through Indianapolis (9-8) — Trevor Penning, T, Northern Iowa, Jr.

Some think the Saints are stockpiling first-rounders in order to package them and move up for one of the quarterbacks. I believe they made the deal with the Eagles to leapfrog the Chargers for one of the top-four offensive tackles to replace Terron Armstead. Penning finished tied for 10th in the Walter Payton Award voting, an award given to the most outstanding offensive player in Division I FCS. He faced superior competition in Mobile for the Senior Bowl and didn’t flinch while showcasing his athleticism at the combine. Top needs: WR, OL, DL

17. L.A. Chargers (9-8) — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington, Jr.

The Chargers addressed their porous run defense with the signings of Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson. While J.C. Jackson was a splash signing, Michael Davis struggled mightily in coverage and against the run last season. McDuffie plays bigger than his 5-11 frame. He’s one of the surest tacklers at the position in this draft class and his instincts are elite. Top needs: OL, CB, DL

18. Philadelphia from New Orleans (9-8) — Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia, Sr.

The Eagles resigned veteran Fletcher Cox to a one-year deal, but I’d be surprised if he’s on the roster in 2023. At 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, the Outland and Bednarik trophy winner is an immovable object who could anchor the Eagles’ run defense for years to come. His 4.78-second 40-yard dash in Indy suggests there’s some potential as a pass disruptor as well. Top needs: WR, DL, LB

19. New Orleans from Philadelphia (9-8) — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama, Jr.

The Saints desperately need someone to stretch the field opposite of Michael Thomas. Williams is a home run hitter with game-breaking speed. He’s also a weapon on special teams, as a returner — he returned two kicks for touchdowns in 2021 — and in coverage. The dynamic receiver injured his left knee against Georgia, but still grades out as a first-rounder if his rehabilitation remains on schedule. Top needs: WR, OL, DL

20. Pittsburgh (9-7-1) — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty, Sr.

Mitch Trubisky is making premium backup quarterback money, which means he’s currently not the long-term solution at the position for the Steelers. The buzz coming out of Mobile was Pittsburgh was crushing on Willis, much like they did with Najee Harris last year. Willis’ dynamic mobility and strong arm were certainly on display there, in Indy and at his pro day. There are serious accuracy issues that will need to be ironed out in the NFL, but I’d trust Mike Tomlin and his staff to help Willis reach his full potential over almost anybody else. Top needs: QB, WR, DL

21. New England (10-7) — Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College, Sr.

My gut says Bill Belichick will go defense here, but the Patriots need to fortify Mac Jones’ protection. Johnson is a team captain-caliber player who thrived at left tackle and guard, but he projects as an impact interior lineman in the NFL. He played center most of the week in Mobile, and was impressive, considering he had never played the position before. Top needs: Edge, G, WR

22. Green Bay from Las Vegas (10-7) — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas, Jr.

I’ll be shocked if the Packers fail to draft a wide receiver in the first round, again. Burks is a vertical threat, but also features immense YAC ability — he broke 15 tackles on 66 receptions this season. Top needs: WR, OL, LB

23. Arizona (11-6) — Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia, Sr.

The Cardinals actually have quite a few needs for a playoff team. The top-five wide receivers are off the board, so they address their defensive line here. Wyatt’s first step is as good as it gets in this draft class. His explosiveness and agility are elite for his size (6-foot-3, 315 pounds). Top needs: WR, CB, DL

24. Dallas (12-5) — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia, Jr.

Leighton Vander Esch resigned, but the Cowboys still need a linebacker who frees up Micah Parsons to focus primarily on rushing the passer. Luke Gifford isn’t it. Murmurings about Dean’s size not translating well to the next level have hurt his draft stock. It certainly didn’t hurt the Butkus Award winner in the SEC, where the tape showed a dynamic blitzer who is capable of making plays all over the field. Top needs: LB, DL, G

25. Buffalo (11-6) — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida, Jr.

Levi Wallace signed with Pittsburgh and Tre’Davious White is currently rehabbing an ACL injury. Elam is a 6-foot-2 corner with elite ball skills who fine-tuned his technique after an underwhelming sophomore season. His game is built on speed and physicality, which you normally don’t see in the same toolkit. Top needs: OL, CB, WR

26. Tennessee (12-5) — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh, Sr.

The Titans could create $17.8 million in cap space by releasing or trading Ryan Tannehill as a pre-June 1 designation in 2023. Pickett has good size, overall athleticism and solid arm talent, but needs to work on his anticipation throws and his comfort within the pocket. His hand size (or lack there of) has been a story, but he handled himself perfectly in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and at the combine, where every team who interviewed him came away impressed. Top needs: WR, OL, CB

27. Tampa Bay (13-4) — Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M, Jr.

The Buccaneers lost starting guards Ali Marpet (retirement) and Alex Cappa (free agency), but resigned center Ryan Jensen and traded for Patriots starter Shaq Mason. Left guard remains a glaring need. The former five-star recruit can play either guard or tackle at a high level — Green made starts at every single offensive line position except center this season. Top needs: OL, DL, TE

28. Green Bay (13-4) — Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa, Jr.

The Packers utilized seven different offensive line combinations with nine different players taking meaningful snaps during the 2021 season. Drafting the Rimington Trophy winner and unanimous All-American would be a steal here. Linderbaum was a multisport athlete in high school who earned multiple letters in wrestling, track, baseball and football. He’s a top-10 player in this draft class, but will likely be drafted later because he plays center only. Top needs: WR, OL, LB

29. Kansas City from Miami through San Francisco (10-7) — Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan, Jr.

Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes both bolted during the first wave of free agency, while it remains to be seen if Tyrann Mathieu will return. Hill features a mix of athleticism, intelligence and instincts that enables him to play every position in the defensive backfield. He will need to tamp down his tendency to gamble, but that’s part of being a playmaker sometimes. Top needs: WR, CB, Edge

30. Kansas City (12-5) — George Pickens, WR, Georgia, Jr.

JuJu Smith-Schuster will almost certainly run most of his routes out of the slot with Marquez Valdes-Scantling likely being utilized as a field stretcher. Pickens is big (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and strong with an impressive catch radius. There aren’t many one-on-one battles he won’t win. I originally thought off-field and durability concerns could hurt his draft stock, but it doesn’t appear to be doing so. Top needs: WR, CB, Edge

31. Cincinnati (10-7) — Bernhard Raimann, OL, Central Michigan, Sr.

The Bengals have actually done a really good job of rebuilding their offensive line with the additions of La’el Collins, Ted Karras and Alex Cappa. Raimann is surprisingly polished for only having two years of experience at tackle. The former tight end graded out as one of the best offensive lineman in the country last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He allowed zero pressures over his last six games of 2021 and could move inside to challenge Jackson Carman at left guard if need be. Top needs: CB, TE, DL

32. Detroit from L.A. Rams (12-5) — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati, Sr.

If there’s a quarterback the Lions fall in love with, he’ll likely be selected here. Ridder is the most pro-ready signal-caller in the draft. He’s a field general with solid anticipation, a good arm and is athletic enough to make plays outside of the pocket. Coaching should be able to help refine his technique in the NFL and help improve some fixable accuracy issues. Top needs: QB, Edge, S

SECOND ROUND

33. Jacksonville — Quay Walker, LB, Georgia, Sr.

34. Detroit — Lewis Cine, S, Georgia, Jr.

35. N.Y. Jets — Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota St., Sr.

36. N.Y. Giants — David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan, Jr.

37. Houston — Breece Hall, RB, Iowa St., Jr.

38. N.Y. Jets from Carolina — Tyler Smith, T, Tulsa, So.

39. Chicago — Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn, Sr.

The Bears will need to add two cornerbacks this offseason so Jaylon Johnson won’t have to continue to chase top receivers all over the field. McCreary simply doesn’t allow much separation and he’s battle-tested out of the SEC. He’s capable of thriving in man and zone. Top needs: WR, OL, CB

40. Seattle from Denver — Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi, Jr.

41. Seattle — Tariq Woolen, CB, Texas-San Antonio, Sr.

42. Indianapolis from Washington — Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan, So.

Moore would work well opposite Michael Pittman Jr. His elite agility makes him a nightmare in the open field, but he’s even more difficult to bring down if a defender gets their hands on him — he broke a FBS-high 26 tackles last year. Top needs: WR, OL, CB

43. Atlanta — Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota, Sr.

44. Cleveland — Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn St., Sr.

Dotson would pair nicely with recent addition Amari Cooper. He features the game-breaking speed to beat defenses at all three levels and is good against press coverage despite his size (5-11, 185). He has very good hands and is a very capable blocker. Top needs: WR, OL, DL

45. Baltimore — Travis Jones, DL, Connecticut, Jr.

46. Minnesota — Logan Hall, DL, Houston, Jr.

47. Washington from Indianapolis — Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky, Sr.

48. Chicago from L.A. Chargers — Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama, Sr.

49. New Orleans — Perrion Winfrey, DL, Oklahoma, Sr.

50. Kansas City from Miami — Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn St., Sr.

51. Philadelphia — Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin, Jr.

52. Pittsburgh — Nicholas Petit-Frere, T, Ohio St., Jr.

53. Green Bay from Las Vegas — Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming, Jr.

54. New England — Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington, Jr.

55. Arizona — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson, Jr.

56. Dallas — Cameron Thomas, Edge, San Diego St., Jr.

57. Buffalo — Daniel Faalele, T, Minnesota, Sr.

58. Atlanta from Tennessee — Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan St., Jr.

59. Green Bay — Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn St., Sr.

60. Tampa Bay — Trey McBride, TE, Colorado St., Sr.

61. San Francisco — Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA, Jr.

The 49ers need to fortify their offensive line and Rhyan provides value at both tackle and guard (where he’ll likely challenge to start right away). Top needs: OL, CB, Edge

62. Kansas City — Jalen Pitre, DB, Baylor, Sr.

63. Cincinnati — Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati, Sr.

64. Denver from L.A. Rams — Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma, Jr.

Bonitto is slightly undersized for an edge defender, but he’s a dynamic pass rusher and relentless in his pursuit of running backs. He’s capable in coverage as well. Top needs: S, LB, T

THIRD ROUND

65. Jacksonville — Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia, Sr.

66. Detroit — Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise St., Sr.

67. N.Y. Giants — Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA, Jr.

68. Houston — Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon, So.

69. N.Y. Jets — Christian Harris, LB, Alabama, Jr.

70. Jacksonville from Carolina — Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois, Sr.

71. Chicago — Alec Lindstrom, C, Boston College, Sr.

72. Seattle — Abraham Lucas, T, Washington St., Sr.

73. Indianapolis from Washington — Dylan Parham, C, Memphis, Sr.

74. Atlanta — Wan’Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky, Jr.

75. Denver — Kellen Diesch, T, Arizona St., Sr.

76. Baltimore — Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska, So.

77. Minnesota — Cole Strange, G, Chattanooga, Sr.

78. Cleveland — Drake Jackson, Edge, USC, Jr.

79. L.A. Chargers — David Bell, WR, Purdue, Jr.

This is what drafting the best player available looks like. Bell’s route-running is advanced and his YAC ability should make him an impact player early in his career. Top needs: OL, CB, DL

80. Houston from New Orleans — Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson, Jr.

81. N.Y. Giants from Miami — Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina, Jr.

82. Atlanta from Indianapolis — Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati, Jr.

83. Philadelphia — Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama, Sr.

84. Pittsburgh — DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M, Jr.

85. New England — Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama, Sr.

86. Las Vegas — Max Mitchell, T, Louisiana, Jr.

Mitchell is an athletic, aggressive lineman with experience at both tackle positions, who excels in the run game. Top needs: OL, DL, LB

87. Arizona — Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati, Sr.

88. Dallas — Thayer Munford, OL, Ohio St., Sr.

89. Buffalo — Brandon Smith, LB, Penn St., Jr.

90. Tennessee — John Metchie III, WR, Alabama, Jr.

91. Tampa Bay — Kingsley Enagbare, Edge, South Carolina, Sr.

92. Green Bay — Josh Paschal, Edge, Kentucky, Sr.

93. San Francisco — Marcus Jones, CB, Houston, Sr.

94. Kansas City — Dameon Pierce, RB, Florida, Sr.

95. Cincinnati — Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia, Jr.

96. Denver from L.A. Rams — Darrian Beavers, LB, Cincinnati, Sr.

97. Detroit — Troy Andersen, LB, Montana St., Sr.

98. New Orleans — Nick Cross, S, Maryland, Jr.

99. Cleveland — Dohnovan West, C, Arizona St., Jr.

100. Baltimore — Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi St., Jr.

101. Philadelphia from New Orleans — Brian Asamoah, LB, Oklahoma, Jr.

102. Miami from San Francisco — Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia, Sr.

Tindall often gets overshadowed on one of the greatest college defenses ever, but he may have been the fastest linebacker in the nation. Top needs: LB, Edge, OL

103. Kansas City — Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis, Sr.

104. L.A. Rams — Luke Goedeke, OL, Central Michigan, Jr.

This tight end turned tackle will likely end up at guard at the next level. His strength, instincts and fiery demeanor should help him continue to be a force in the run game. Top needs: OL, Edge, CB

105. San Francisco — Zach Tom, OL, Wake Forest, Jr.



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