2022 NFL Mock Draft V 2.0 - Post-Combine edition
Now that the combine is over and we have a new set of numbers and tapes to evaluate players with, we start to see some players changing position; some slightly (“Sauce” Gardner), some really improving their stock (Calvin Austin III), and some who disappointed and are needing a big Pro Day workout to salvage their position (that would be you, Kyler Gordon).
Pro Day workout began last week with MAC school Miami (OH) kicking things off on March 8.
Evan Neal – OT – Alabama – For now, I’m sticking with Evan Neal, but on the opening day of the combine a story was published on ESPN about the possibility of the Jags selecting Ikem Ekwonu at the first slot. If I were the Jacksonville GM, yes, Ekwonu is my first pick; I feel like this is a smokescreen to get a team like the Jets or Texans to move up and get the player they want while the Jags still get Neal and gain another pick to move down a couple of slots. Even with the Jags placing the Franchise Tag on Cam Robinson, I feel this is the right pick.
Previous selection – Neal
Aidan Hutchinson – EDGE (DE) – Michigan – There might be some question as to who the first pick will be, but unless the Lions are committing to the best bluff I’ve ever seen at the NFL Draft, there’s no question who they’re taking. Hutchinson posted the best times among the DEs in the 3-Cone and 20-yard shuttle drills (testing change of direction and lateral quickness respectively) and his 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash was right in line with top NFL pass rushers (1.62). Hutchinson better like Honolulu Blue because that’s what he’s gonna be wearing come Draft Day.
Previous selection – Hutchinson
Ikem Ekwonu – OT – North Carolina State – When his official measurement came in at 6’4” and 310 lbs, Ekwonu was solidified as an OT; there was a bit of concern that he would measure smaller and then be looked at as more of a guard prospect, but that was not that case. Combining his measurements with his performance in drills and Evan Neal’s decision to forego participating before his pro day, you saw Ekwonu inching his way up into the discussion for the #1 selection. Just yet though, Houston is able to take the former Wolfpack tackle and protect whoever is their QB next season.
Previous selection – Ekwonu
New York Jets
Kayvon Thibodeaux – EDGE (DE) – Oregon – Hutchinson didn’t do anything to hurt his stock and the Lions might be so locked in on him it may not have mattered what Thibodeaux did at the combine. He did post the best score in the Bench Press (27 reps) and a good time in the 40-yard dash (4.58) but it will be a week or so before the behind the scenes interview and Wonderlic test results start to leak out (or about the time this article is published) and we can panic over a linebacker scoring a 12 or whatever it’ll be this year.
Previous selection - Thibodeaux
New York Giants
Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame – New York needs help all over the board so why not just take the best player available (#1 player overall on some boards) and solidify that spot for the next 10 years? Hamilton chose to workout at the combine, something that not a lot of top players have chosen to do over the years, and performed well, placing in the top 5 in all drills except bench press (did not participate) and the 40-yard dash (tied for last among safeties – 4.59). Despite the somewhat disappointing 40 time, he plays fast in the game and his instincts have him in a place to make a play virtually every down.
Previous selection – Devin Lloyd – LB – Utah
Charles Cross – OT – Mississippi State – With Hamilton off the board and me not quite willing to have either Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett slotted here just yet (depending on how the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes turn out), we’re filling the Panthers’ second most pressing need and giving them a tackle they can rely on. Cross is probably the best pass blocker in this class but his run blocking is a bit suspect; my opinion is that in the Air Raid offense the Bulldogs play, he’s not asked to do a lot of run blocking, and just because you don’t see someone doing something doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. His results at the combine weren’t great (OK, but not great) and Trevor Penning is closing the gap.
Previous selection – Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame
New York Giants (From Chicago)
Devin Lloyd – LB – Utah – Lloyd feels like a player who is going to fall victim to his not being a workout warrior and posting great times. His play prior to this year was good but the 2021 season was the year he vaulted from “good” to “great” and he’s the clear number one linebacker in this class at a position the Giants need to fill. Could you see the G-men go with an EDGE rusher to compliment Azeez Ojulari or maybe see them go with Trevor Penning who, I feel, is going to go soon in this draft after his great showing at the combine? Sure, but I’m not.
Previous selection – Charles Cross – OT – Mississippi State
Chris Olave – WR – Ohio State – With the news of Calvin Ridley’s suspension for the 2022 season because of placing bets on the Falcons and other NFL teams, the Falcons' choices shrunk to two options – A) Draft their QB of the future and count this season as lost or B) Draft Ridley’s replacement (or understudy?) and try to win a weak NFC South in 2022. With the “Win Now!” mentality of the NFL, I’m betting that they roll the dice with Matty Ice for one more year and draft Olave who not only ran a great 4.39 at the Combine but also showed that he was more than a vertical threat in the Gauntlet drill.
Previous selection – Treylon Burkes – WR – Arkansas
Seattle Seahawks (From Denver)
Trevor Penning – OT – Northern Iowa – With the trade of Russell Wilson (and a 2022 4th Round pick) to the Broncos for two 1sts, two 2nds, a young TE, and a QB that they might be able to reclaim, the rebuild in Seattle is well underway. My thought is that there isn’t a QB that the Seahawks will like enough to draft at this spot so they draft the best remaining OT, though they could also get their pick of whatever cornerback they like the best too, and kick the QB can to 2023 when Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and a host of other players will be available.
Previous selection – (Denver) David Ojabo – EDGE – Michigan
New York Jets (From Seattle)
Ahmad Gardner – CB – Cincinnati – After Derek Stingley’s inability to workout at the Combine, “Sauce” moves up to take his place. Coming off of a great workout with a solid 4.41 40 time, Gardner has all but cemented himself as the #1 corner in this draft. There’s not much more I can say about Gardner that I haven’t said before, but if he performs to the same level in the NFL that he did in College, “Revis Island” might have a new name.
Previous selection – Derek Stingley Jr. – CB – Louisiana State
Derek Stingley Jr. – CB – Louisiana State – I was a little stuck here with this selection. The Commanders have plugged their hole at QB with the trade of picks (two 3rds and swapping of 2022’s 2nd Round picks) for Indy’s Carson Wentz. With no tackles available that wouldn’t be a crazy overdraft and the best available LB (Nakobe Dean) still somewhat of a reach at this spot I’m going with the best player available.
Previous selection – Malik Willis – QB – Liberty
Travon Walker – EDGE (DE) – Georgia – The Vikings will likely be taking multiple CBs in this draft and there are at least two remaining that should be first-round picks (Andrew Booth Jr. and Trent McDuffie) due to one starter and one primary backup being (pending) free agents. So, they can draft the third-best CB (and if they like him, why not?) or they can take an EDGE player that they definitely need. Obviously, I’m going EDGE as I like Walker as much as anyone not named Aidan or Kayvon in this draft. He’s athletic and holds up well setting the edge or playing the run. He’ll need to work on his pass rush moves, but he wins enough with his quickness and speed/power ratio that he won’t be lost as a rookie.
Previous selection – Ahmad Gardner – CB – Cincinnati
Treylon Burkes – WR – Arkansas – Unless the Browns both really like one of the QBs and really don’t like Baker Mayfield’s future with the team, the pick here is either a receiver to replace OBJ (and Landry, though the Amari Cooper trade helps a bit) or a DT to help in the run game. Given the showing that Jordan Davis put on at the Combine, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the Browns took him. I like Burkes though, he’s a big, thick-cut receiver who will run through arm tackles if you give him the chance and he can be a security blanket for whoever is under center for the Browns in 2023.
Previous selection – Chris Olave – WR – Ohio State
Jermaine Johnson – DE/OLB – Florida State – With the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva, finding a replacement tackle is all the more important. Unfortunately for the Ravens, there is no one at this slot of the draft that makes sense to invest that high of a pick in. Will they trade down if no one is available? Probably. So, I’m giving them Jermaine Johnson who has really caught everyone’s attention starting at the Senior Bowl and continuing at the Combine.
Previous selection – Travon Walker – EDGE (DE) – Georgia
Philadelphia Eagles (From Miami)
Andrew Booth – CB – Clemson – Getting Booth at the 15th pick in the draft feels like it will be a steal in a few years, we’ll have to wait on that. Depending on how much you like him he’s the 2nd or 3rd best CB in this draft. Not overly big, but plays that way, he brings a blend of attitude, instincts, and physicality that I think Philly fans (or any fans) will really embrace.
Previous selection – George Karlaftis – EDGE (DE) – Purdue
Philadelphia Eagles (From Indianapolis)
Garrett Wilson – WR – Ohio State – I doubt that Wilson is available to the Eagles (at any pick) but I also know that I like him a LOT less than most other player evaluators and this is probably the farthest down you will see him in a mock draft between now and draft day. His drops concern me a lot, enough that I would pass on him in the first round entirely if I were a GM. Everything else though is just fine, excellent in fact. Speed, route running, and (the reason why I am taking him here) his ability to take part in the RPO game; something that every team uses to one degree or another and that Philly, especially, will benefit from.
Previous Selection – Andrew Booth – CB - Clemson
Los Angeles Chargers
Devonte Wyatt – DT – Georgia – I’m sure there will be plenty of debate with this selection, whether it should be Wyatt or Jordan Davis who “only” showed up to the combine and ran a 4.78 40 (Patrick Mahomes ran a 4.8 40, weighing 116 lbs less). While Davis is a true mountain of a man, I like Wyatt just a little more because of his pass-rush ability and the possibility of moving him outside as a 3-4 DE if the Chargers decided to go that direction in the future.
Previous selection – Trevor Penning – OT – Northern Iowa
New Orleans Saints
Kenny Pickett – QB – Pittsburgh – There seems to be a lot of doubt out there about who the Saints like and even what position they’ll be targeting, but I feel that this will be where they end up. Why? Because if you don’t have a QB you’re always looking for one. Despite the (IMO) overblown issue of Pickett’s hand size (measured at 8 1/2”) I think he has the highest floor but not the highest ceiling (that would be Malik Willis) of any QB in this class. Having Alvin Kamara and a healthy Michael Thomas to throw to would be a huge boost.
Previous selection – Matt Corral – QB – Mississippi
Nakobe Dean – LB – Georgia - I went back and forth on this pick between Dean and former teammate Jordan Davis. In the end, I went with Dean because the style of play in the NFL has changed so much that it’s become a space league. No, not an outer space league (yet), but a league where you need to be able to make plays in space and Dean can absolutely do that. If anything he’s too aggressive in his pursuit leading to missed tackles and overrun plays. But if a player is going to make mistakes, he should make them fast.
Previous selection - Dean
*Malik Willis – QB – Liberty – I feel like Kenny Pickett is the selection here if he’s available, but he’s not and I can certainly see why some people would like Willis here, if the Steelers aren’t going to be able to shore up the tackle spot, you may as well take someone who can move and make somethin’ outta nothin’. With the highest ceiling in this QB class, Willis has the arm strength, mobility, poise, and leadership that will afford the Steelers time to let him grow as a decision-maker.
*The Steelers signed former Bears and Bills QB Mitch Trubisky on 3/14 as their “expected starter”. If you believe that Trubisky is the answer, you’re asking the wrong questions.
Previous selection – Kenny Pickett – QB – Pittsburgh
New England Patriots
Trent McDuffie – CB – Washington – You could also see Nakobe Dean go here (if he was available), they both just “feel” like a Belichick guy who plays there for 10 years and is a nightmare. McDuffie had a great combine running a 4.44 40 and generally looking like what the tape said he was. If there’s a negative coming out of the Combine, it’s that he came in at less than 6’ (5’ 11”) and some teams now perceive him as a nickel corner. That’s their loss though as McDuffie has shown that he can play inside or outside and has done it in a conference with plenty of offense every week.
Previous selection – McDuffie
Las Vegas Raiders
Tyler Linderbaum – C – Iowa – Linderbaum didn’t work out at the Combine in Indy, but I don’t think it’s going to affect his draft position a bit. After the disastrous reign of Mike Mayock (five first-round picks, two of which are no longer on the team) I think that new GM Dave Zeigler will be selecting someone who will be a productive AND safe pick - enter Tyler Linderbaum. If there’s a risk here it’s that it’s unlikely he’ll be able to kick over to guard and play there, that is a minimal risk though.
Previous selection – Linderbaum
Zion Johnson – OG – Boston College – I’ll admit, this might be a tiny, tiny reach at this spot, but I’m seeing Johnson drafted at 25 and 27 (Buffalo and Tampa respectively) in other mocks, so I feel fine taking him here. After a great combine workout, Zion has probably moved himself up as high as any prospect that isn’t primarily a tackle (or Tyler Linderbaum) can go. He had the top score in the bench press and was Top 5 in the Vertical, 3-Cone, and 20-yard Shuttle among offensive linemen.
Previous selection – Keyon Green – OG – Texas A&M
David Ojabo – EDGE (LB) – Michigan – I feel like this is a value pick as much as a “fit” pick. With Randy Gregory off to Denver, the Cowboys need to replace his production as a pass rusher and Ojabo is perfect for that. He was very impressive at the NFL Combine and though I think he’ll require some work to get there, he can replace Leighton Vander Esch as the WLB in Dallas. Another possibility would be George Karlaftis who would be more of a direct 1-for-1 replacement for Gregory.
Previous selection – Jermaine Johnson – EDGE (DE)- Florida State
Christian Harris – LB – Alabama – Had a great showing at the Combine, though he only performed the 40 (4.44, 2nd among LBs) and the vertical and broad jump (34.5” and 11’ respectively), he came out in better shape than going in. His Pro Day at Alabama (March 30) could boost him even farther, but I doubt it will be enough to catch Nakobe Dean. The Bills filled their biggest need (guard) with the FA signing of Rodger Saffold and tendering G Ryan Bates leaving CB and LB their biggest needs. If Harris isn’t the pick, Kaiir Elam (CB-Florida) might be.
Previous selection – Zion Johnson – OG – Boston College
Drake London – WR – Southern Cal – With both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones missing chunks of time last season (4 and 7 games respectively) the Titans could be looking to add another pass-catcher as insurance. London, for me, is that guy. I also considered Jamison Williams, but with the Titans in “Win Now” mode, I decided against a player that will likely be missing at least the preseason and a few games at the start of the regular season.
Previous selection – Garrett Wilson – WR – Ohio State
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jordan Davis – DT – Georgia – Well, the Bucs got some good news this week and it doesn’t get a lot better than having the best QB of all time come back for one more run at a Super Bowl Championship. I had the Bucs drafting Jameson Williams in my last mock as a “futures” pick and looking at the 2022 season as a give-up year; now, not so much. Retaining CB Carlton Davis (3 yrs/$45M) and WR Chris Godwin (Franchise Tag) as well as adding Russell Gage from division rival Atlanta makes the Williams pick almost silly. Davis makes the Bucs line a nightmare to run against and boosts the defense for one more go at a ring.
Previous selection – Jameson Williams – WR – Alabama
Green Bay Packers
Christian Watson – WR – North Dakota State – There are a few directions the Packers could go but in the end, I felt that bringing in a rookie OT who is still learning the position (Central Michigan’s Bernhard Reimann) or a TE that might be a huge overdraft (Colorado State’s Trey McBride) would be a mistake. Instead, I’m taking Watson who might have more pure physical talent than anyone left on the board and makes everything look so easy and smooth that he might be the steal of the draft wherever he goes.
Previous selection – Drake London – WR – Southern Cal
Jameson Williams – WR – Alabama – Let’s continue this run of receivers with the player who lost the most when he tore his ACL in the National Championship Game. The third year in a row that the Dolphins have taken an Alabama player in the first round and he might end up being the best of them. Once he returns, probably after Week 6 (roughly nine months after the injury), he should be an absolute weapon in the slot making the ‘Phins’ offense something you’ll have to watch out for.
Previous selection – Daxton Hill – S – Michigan
Kansas City Chiefs
George Karlaftis – EDGE (DE) – Purdue – It’s possible the Chiefs grab Jahan Dotson here and pump their offense up to ridiculous heights, but their offense isn’t the issue, it’s their defense. Taking a rusher like Karlaftis would give them a serious bump in the pass rush department by adding him to the mix with Frank Clark and Chris Jones. His shuttle drill at the combine showed what a smooth mover he was and having an active player like him as your immediate backup can’t be bad.
Previous selection – Rodger McCreary – CB – Auburn
Kaiir Elam – CB – Florida – When the Bengals signed OGs Alex Cappa and Ted Karras this week, this pick immediately became a corner. And Elam is a big, physical corner who can play man-press with the biggest receivers in the NFL. A bloodline NFL player, his father (Abram) and uncle (Matt) both played in the NFL and I believe that he has the ability to be better than either of them. He’s not the surest tackler out there, but as I’ve said before, that’s the least of my concerns when discussing a corner’s weak points.
Previous selection – Christian Harris – LB – Alabama
Kenyon Green – OG – Texas A&M – I like Green’s versatility, he played every position on the offensive line during his time in College Station except for center, but he’ll likely find a home at either guard spot or maybe as a right tackle. A road grader in the run game, you can expect a player that plays with intelligence, explosion, and quickness. If Detroit chooses, they could line up Green and last season’s first pick Penei Sewell together and simply grind games out on the ground, a thought that probably makes HC Dan Campbell smile.
Previous selection – David Bell – WR - Purdue