With the NFL Combine in the rearview mirror and NFL free agency nearly in full swing, the 2022 NFL Draft is beginning to take its final form. Mock drafts become more predictive the closer to the actual event they get. As such, while my draft analyst bias seeps through here and there, this 2022 NFL Mock Draft is met to be what I believe will happen once Roger Goodell graces the stage in Las Vegas this April.
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2022 3-Round NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
Possible free agent signings, scheme fit, and draft trends were used to predict this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. While Combine numbers shouldn’t weigh more than a prospect’s tape, NFL teams have size and testing thresholds. So, if a player doesn’t meet them, they may fall completely off their boards. And if a player surpasses them, the franchise may reach for them. Nevertheless, let’s see how the draft could shake out in April.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Mich.
The Jaguars are all but out on the top offensive tackle sweepstakes after franchise tagging Cam Robinson for the second year in a row on Tuesday, March 8. With Jawaan Taylor under contract at the opposite tackle spot, the only pick at No. 1 overall is one of the top edge rushers. Aidan Hutchinson shook off any questions about his athleticism with a 4.74 40-yard dash and 6.73 three-cone drill at 6’7″ and 260 pounds.
2) Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Lions are not good enough to hedge at the quarterback position. They either take one at No. 2 or not at all. My bet is on Malik Willis, who, by all reports, blew scouts away at the NFL Combine. He arguably owns the strongest arm and the best set of legs in the class. His tools are first-round worthy, but Willis is far from a polished prospect as a true quarterback.
3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With Kayvon Thibodeaux and the top offensive tackles still on the board, the Texans have a choice to make. Protect Davis Mills or whoever else is under center, or select a blue-chip talent on the defensive line. Thibodeaux is deadly from a wide alignment and can start from Day 1. His first step and ability to corner are otherworldly for a man of his size (6’4″ and 254 pounds).
4) New York Jets: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Zach Wilson flashed at times in 2021, but he looked like a rookie. And that’s okay. But if the Jets want their face of the franchise to continue developing, they need to protect him.
LT Mekhi Becton’s future is a bit up in the air, RT Morgan Moses is a free agent, and George Fant is better as a guard. Good thing Alabama’s Evan Neal can start at either tackle position out of the gates. Neal needs to clean up his technique, but you can’t coach his size and physical tools.
5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
Ikem Ekwonu began the year as a fringe first-round guard prospect. Now, you can routinely find him at the top of mock drafts. He has always had the talent, but he showed vast improvement in 2021 that solidified his stock.
The Giants need offensive line help…bad. Andrew Thomas has the LT spot locked down, but every other position is up for grabs. Let the “Pancake King” take over at RT, and New York instantly possesses one of the best tackle tandems in the league.
6) Carolina Panthers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and PJ Walker proved they are not the future. Starting them or some other veteran journeyman only wastes a year and likely gets head coach Matt Rhule the ax.
Enter matt corral. He is an athlete from the QB position with a consistent throwing motion and base. The tools to be a franchise pass are there for the Panthers to unlock.
7) New York Giants (from CHI): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The G-Men attack both trenches in the top 10, selecting edge rusher Travon Walker at No. 7 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Like many of the EDGE prospects in this class, Walker is an athletic marvel. He should not be able to move the way he does at 6’5″ and 272 pounds. He is a long-limbed bull rusher that pairs well with Azeez Ojulari on the other side.
8) Atlanta Falcons: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Typically, uber-athletic edge rushers are rare. But in the 2022 NFL Draft, they’re seemingly a dime a dozen. The Falcons may reach for a receiver with the Calvin Ridley situation front and center. However, watching David Ojabo wreak havoc along the defensive line is too good to pass up. He has top-10 physical attributes but lacks an elite pass-rush plan. Still, Ojabo’s frame and athleticism likely won’t make it out of the top 10 come April.
9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Ahmad Gardner, BC, Cincinnati
The Seahawks actually did it. They shipped a 33-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback out of town. How a team can let their situation get to that point is unfathomable. But hey, the Broncos don’t mind. With Russell Wilson now taking his Mr. Unlimited persona to Denver, Seattle is in a full-on rebuild. They’ll likely be picking in the top three next year, especially if they trot Drew Lock out as their 17-game starter.
So, their main objective in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft is to add as much talent to the roster as possible. After the Combine, Ahmad Gardner‘s “first cornerback off the board” status is written in Sharpie. Gardner was built for Seattle’s Cover 3 defense, with his long arms and press-man ability. Oh, and he didn’t give up a single touchdown in three years as a starter at Cincinnati.
10) New York Jets (from SEA): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is somewhat of a controversial player in the NFL Draft. Some believe the positional value of the safety position will drop him out of the top 10. Others expect him to go in the top five due to his overall skill set.
Well, I’m firmly fence-sitting by placing him at No. 10 to the Jets. Yet, this is likely his floor because of his insane range and 6’4″ frame. Robert Saleh wouldn’t mind passing on fringe top-10 CBs and EDGEs when he can potentially grab the best player in the class.
11) Washington Commanders: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Even though Washington traded for Carson Wentz, he’s unlikely to become the franchise’s long-term future. The Commanders will presumably play themselves out of the QB race next year with him under center. Thus, they turn their attention to Sam Howell. Scott Turner’s RPO/spread-heavy offense will give Howell favorable looks while he learns to read defenses and go through his progressions quickly.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
With how Jermaine Johnson II performed at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, it wouldn’t surprise me if he went in the top 10. Regardless, he falls to the Vikings in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, gifting Minnesota with a stellar edge defender to pair with Danielle Hunter. Johnson can set the edge in run defense, use leverage to beat blocks, and owns easily projectable tools to the NFL.
13) Cleveland Browns: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Browns can go in a few directions. They need edge help with Jadeveon Clowney likely walking, and the defensive tackle spot is lacking. Either way, wide receiver is by far their biggest need, and they have their pick of the litter.
Garrett Wilson instantly slots in as a starting slot or Z option with the potential to take over as an X. Jarvis Landry may be on his way out, so nabbing a reliable WR for Baker Mayfield to throw to is vital.
14) Baltimore Ravens: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Power, road-grading ability, and a Saw movie-level of nastiness are what the Ravens covet on the offensive line. Trevor Penning has each in spades, with elite Combine testing numbers to boot. He has a long way to go as far as technique and pass-blocking ability, but Penning can start at RT from Day 1.
15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Let the Eagles’ defensive revolution begin. Spoiler alert: I have Philly going defense with all three of their top-20 picks. First up is Derek Stingley Jr. The LSU CB is a lockdown corner who has been bogged down by injury and inconsistent play. Still, the CB1 potential is there, and if he can remain on the field, Stingley can legitimately shut down one side of the field.
16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
After what Jordan Davis did at the Combine, he has to be the first DT off the board. Right? Not in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Devonte Wyatt possesses the best first step and all-around skill set in the class. Unlike Davis, Wyatt can fit in any scheme and line up anywhere between the tackles.