2022 NFL Mock Draft V3.0 - Pro Days Edition
Pro Days are well underway, Free Agents have signed and are now packing to move to their new cities, and to top it off there have been trades aplenty happening.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading the tea leaves and between the lines to figure out if a team wants to stay put, move up or down, and whether they’re willing to listen to potential trades so that I can factor that into this latest mock.
Aidan Hutchinson – DE – Michigan – It looks like the Jags, rather than solidify a shaky O-line, are going to take the safest (their opinion, and mine) option and select Hutchinson who may not be a home run pick, but he will be a solid 9-12 sacks a year player for the foreseeable future. I’m also reading that the Jags want to trade down, maybe to take Derek Stingley Jr (see above link) but also because they simply have so many holes to fill on a roster that is picking at the top spot for the second year in a row.
Previous selection – Evan Neal – OT – Alabama
Kayvon Thibodeaux – DE – Oregon – Despite what this link says, I feel Detroit will still be picking #2 come April 28th, mostly because trading down is so hard in the NFL and you rarely receive value for the pick. You need a player that is head-and-shoulders above everyone else (usually a QB, but not always) and a team that wants said player. Unfortunately, the players at the top of this draft are all about equal, they all have good and bad points and I don’t see any “certain” Hall of Fame players. While the Jags aren’t high on Thibodeaux, the Lions have something they don’t, a former teammate at Oregon, 2021 first-round pick Penei Sewell, to give them info on what he’s like as a teammate and in training as the Jags have concerns about Thibodeaux’s “love of the game”.
Previous selection – Aidan Hutchinson – DE – Michigan
Ikem Okwonu – OT – North Carolina State – The Texans may keep both Laremy Tunsil AND draft an OT, but I feel like Tunsil will be dealt to someone, possibly Baltimore or Pittsburgh, who is looking to improve (or maintain) their offensive line and is left out in the cold with regards to first-round offensive tackles. Why? Because if you’re going to rebuild, you trade every asset you have and REBUILD, you don’t half-ass(et) it. Okwonu can play whatever position you want him to and could take over for Tunsil on David Mills’ blindside, meanwhile, you (potentially) get another second and fourth-round pick to build with.
Previous selection – Okwonu
New York Jets
Evan Neal – OT – Alabama – The Jets are drafting another tackle in the first round because Mekhi Becton just can’t stay on the field (playing in fifteen of thirty-three potential games the last two years) and while he might rebound to stay healthy, you can’t take the chance of a shaky o-line derailing Zach Wilson’s development. Neal should be able to step in and compete against Becton and RT George Fant come training camp with the least productive of the three sliding in as a backup. It’s been popular to slot a receiver at this pick the last week or so, but there’s no one in this draft worth taking with this pick.
Previous selection – Kayvon Thibodeaux – DE – Oregon
New York Giants
Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame – IF SI’s Peter King is to be believed (and he probably should be), the G-men are looking to trade down in the first round in 2022 so that they can obtain multiple picks in the 2023 first round, where, and I’m speculating here, they can position themselves for a run at either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Trading down isn’t a bad idea, especially when you can take a player like Hamilton, keep your second first-round pick this year (albeit moved significantly lower), and add another pick for next year like Matt Johnson at Sportsnaut suggests.
Previous selection – Hamilton
Jermaine Johnson – DE – Florida State – ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Panthers taking Travon Walker from the University of Georgia at this spot and while I do like Walker, I don’t like him enough to take him at this spot. Johnson has a scouting report that is very similar to Walker’s, but with one notable difference – Walker’s hand counters/secondary pass rush moves are severely lacking in comparison. When I’m drafting a player this highly, I expect that their minuses will be minimal-to-nonexistent, not having the ability to keep an offensive tackle guessing and simply expecting to be able to “out-athlete” a player in the NFL either won’t work at all or won’t work for very long.
Previous selection – Charles Cross – OT – Mississippi State
New York Giants
Charles Cross – OT – Mississippi State – If, as the article linked above suggests, the Giants are looking to trade for a pick in next year’s draft, they’ll probably want to (and see teams) target this pick as opposed to number five. Since I don’t include trades I’m giving the Giants another offensive lineman that they can then slide 2021 pick, Andrew Thomas, over to the right side and plug Cross in as their blindside protector. If they trade down you could see a lineman such as Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum or Boston College OG Zion Johnson be a target.
Previous selection – Devin Lloyd – LB – Utah
Chris Olave – WR – Ohio State – Not that I’m the type to say “I told you so”, but how much better would Falcons fans feel knowing that the Justin Fields/Mac Jones-era was about to begin instead of the “Oh ****, Marcus Mariotta is our QB!?!?”-era? Well, that ship has sailed, and with Matt Ryan gone to the Colts for a third-round pick aaaaand . . . *shuffles papers* that’s it? A third-round pick?!? *Sigh* Anyhow, the Falcons are unlikely to select a QB here and will simply play out the season and look to take their next cornerstone player in 2023. Olave should be a good compliment to Kyle Pitts and in 2023 when Calvin Ridley’s suspension is up, whoever they select will have a very talented receiving corps available to assist them.
Previous selection – Olave
Trevor Penning – OT – Northern Iowa – With it unlikely that the Seahawks bring in any high-priced talent to compete for the starting spot with newly acquired Drew Lock, I feel it’s equally unlikely that they draft a QB at this spot. The front office believes that Lock was in a tough spot in Denver and wants to see what he can do; but it’s not like they won’t have competition, that link above mentions Gino Smith and Colin Kaepernick as possibilities for camp as well. My draft philosophy starts at the line and moves out, Penning gives the ‘Hawks a physical beast of a tackle who might work out at the LT spot or have to “fail” over to be a great right tackle.
Previous selection – Penning
New York Jets
Ahmad Gardner – CB – Cincinnati – The Jets were bad on defense last year and they were especially bad in the secondary, allowing opposing QBs to post a 53.5 QBR (31st in the NFL) against them. I’ve been high on “Sauce” since last October and he showed he can hold his own in the College Playoff when the Bearcats played Alabama. With a shutdown corner on one side, the Jets can roll help to the other and maybe (maybe!) become something approaching a good defense.
Previous selection – Gardner
Devin Lloyd – LB – Utah – In my previous two mocks I’ve had Lloyd heading to the Giants, but it feels like they’re already looking to next year’s draft with the news that they’re looking to trade down. If they make that trade, whoever is jumping up is looking for either an offensive tackle (I have four in the Top 10 and no other tackles have a first-round grade) or a player like Kyle Hamilton or Kayvon Thibodeaux is sliding unexpectedly. That’s good news for the Commanders who desperately need a linebacker behind the two-headed DE monster of Chase Young and Montez Sweat. I could also see them sticking with my previous selection of Derek Stingley Jr, but for now, this is the pick.
Previous selection – Derek Stingley Jr. – CB – Louisiana State
Travon Walker – DE – Georgia – I spent a good amount of time weighing the pros and cons of each of the players I was considering here and stay with Walker for two reasons – A) the best guard prospect available will probably still be there if you traded down ten spots and B) Until (unless?) Derek Stingley Jr’s Pro Day Workout shows that he’s recovered from the Lis Franc injury he had surgery for, Stingley is just too much of a risk. So instead the Vikes are “stuck” with the best remaining EDGE rusher in this draft. Tough luck guys.
Previous selection – Walker
Derek Stingley Jr. – CB – Louisiana State – Yes, I know what I said just a few sentences ago, however, I fully expect that Stingley shows up and does all the drills at his Pro Day and looks the part of an NFL corner. The biggest needs for the Texans are still quarterback, tight end, offensive guard, and THEN corner, and since none of those positions have a prospect who is worth drafting at this slot, and since Stingley was looked at as a potential #1 overall pick at one time, taking him at 13 feels like an absolute steal. All of that said, I fully expect the Texans to try to trade this pick and move down in the draft in an effort to fill up all the holes on their roster (maybe Kansas City wants to move up?).
Previous selection – (Cleveland) Treylon Burkes – WR – Arkansas
Devonte Wyatt – IDL – Georgia – It feels like Wyatt was made to play for the Ravens. He can line up anywhere along the defensive line and make his presence felt. His ability to set the edge playing as a 7-technique or collapse the pocket from the inside at the 1- or 3-technique makes this pick a no-brainer. I would like to see him improve his functional strength and put some more pop in his hands, but otherwise, you’re drafting a player who can play anywhere you need him to along the defensive line.
Previous selection – Jermaine Johnson – DE – Florida State
Garrett Wilson – WR – Ohio State – I’m reversing the order a little from my last mock as I feel that (if they didn’t before the Eagles are on the clock) the possibility of a team trading up to snag Wilson is too high to start with defensive help. I’m not as high on Wilson as a lot of evaluators and I would rather have Treylon Burks or Christian Watson if I was forced to select a receiver here, but I’m not the one making the picks for the Iggles. Regardless, Wilson is an absolute burner and that’s going to be important with the number of RPO plays that the Eagles run. His best attributes are his ability to make things happen after the catch and the ability to get a clean release while creating separation; I expect this will be on full display come the 2022 season.
Previous selection – Andrew Booth Jr. – CB – Clemson
Andrew Booth Jr. – CB – Clemson – Getting a CB to help out the secondary will be big and Booth is someone you can expect significant contributions from in his rookie year. He offers you everything you want to see in an NFL corner- competitiveness, athleticism, the ability to play all types of coverage, and top it off with the ability (and more importantly, the willingness) to stick his nose in and be a factor in run support. That last part makes me think that Philly fans will take to Booth should the Eagles draft him. If he has a weak spot in his game, it’s his hand usage on the line, I’d like to see him be more aggressive redirecting opposing receivers off the snap.
As I was putting the finishing touches on this article I received this notification.
Obviously, this will change things in the next mock draft.
Previous selection – Garrett Wilson – WR – Ohio State
Las Angeles Chargers
Jordan Davis – DT – Georgia – When you finish 30th in the NFL against the run (*Ahem* behind the Jets, Lions, and Jags), there’s only one way to go with this pick and that’s finding a tackle to drop anchor in the middle of the offensive line and force them to run outside where either Joey Bosa or Khalil Mack are waiting. Davis showed up and the Combine and blew everyone away with his performance; it was the most impressive Combine performance I’ve seen recently, maybe ever; a man that size should not be able to move like that. It’s debatable how well Davis will perform against the pass, but if he can move the Bolts from the bottom third against the run to the top third, I think they’ll live with it.
Previous selection – Devonte Wyatt – DT – Georgia
New Orleans Saints
Treylon Burkes – WR – Arkansas – I’ve had the Saints taking two different QBs in my first two mocks but now that they’ve signed Jameis Winston to a new two-year deal, they’ve pushed that need to the future, that doesn’t mean they won’t take a QB in the later rounds, but making this team competitive in a weak-ish NFC will take precedence. Burks would give the Saints another great weapon to aid in that goal. A powerful, thick-bodied receiver that offers the Saints some versatility as he was used all over, including lining up in the backfield. He needs to work on his routes but having Michael Thomas as a teammate should help with that.
Previous selection – Kenny Pickett – QB – Pittsburgh
Nakobe Dean – LB – Georgia – The signing of Hassan Reddick from Carolina lessens the urgency for an EDGE rusher in the first round but it could still be in play if someone like Jermaine Johnson would be available here. Dean is the best available LB at this stage and will be that playmaker in space that it feels like every team will need soon (if not right now). He needs to work on shedding blocks and not allowing offensive lineman to take him out of the play when they get to the second level, but the things he does do are so good he could be an absolute steal here.
Previous selection – Dean
Malik Willis – QB – Liberty University – I still think Kenny Pickett would be the better option here and I’m not sure you can discount the Steelers taking one of the OGs available, either Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green. It feels like Steelers HC Mike Tomlinson values mobility, something that Willis has in bunches. I feel that Willis will hurt RB Najee Harris’ continued development as he tends to look for the big downfield play as opposed to the check-down throws that Harris turned into gold last season.
Previous selection – Willis
New England Patriots
Trent McDuffie – CB – Washington – McDuffie is one of three players who I haven’t moved from my first mock and I’ll be honest, unless Stingley or Booth fall to the Patriots, McDuffie is the pick here. While I think the Pats could take a receiver here, it feels like they’ll solidify the corner opposite J.C. Jackson and McDuffie is just the guy to do it. If they decided to go with a receiver, I would think they’d be targeting a player like Jahon Dotson or potentially Jameson Williams.
Previous selection – McDuffie
Green Bay Packers
Jameson Williams – WR – Alabama – With the trade of Davante Adams to Las Vegas the Packers' need for a receiver went from about a 5 or 6 to about an 11, enter Williams. Yes, he’s currently recovering from a torn ACL but he is hopeful that he can be ready for camp in mid-July. I’m more than a little skeptical about that claim as the recovery time for an ACL tear is usually eight-to-nine months, though some can complete the recovery in about six months. I would think that we would be looking at him starting to practice in mid-August and beginning the season on the PUP list, then returning after week six. Regardless of when he is game-ready, the Pack would have a (pre-injury) Top 10 player with the 22nd pick.
Previous selection – (Las Vegas) Tyler Linderbaum – C – Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum – C – Iowa – I’m not certain that this pick won’t be a guard even if Linderbaum is available. However, he’s also been praised as the “best center prospect in ten years” by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, and getting a player like that in the bottom third of the draft is a gift. Could the Cardinals go with Kenyon Green? Sure, he’s got versatility, and being able to slot in at multiple positions is never a bad thing, but a generational player (even at center) is nothing to pass up.
Previous selection – Zion Johnson – OG – Boston College
David Ojabo – EDGE (LB) – Michigan – I’m keeping Ojabo at this pick despite the Achilles Tendon rupture he suffered during his Pro Day Workout on March 18. My reasons are pretty simple - A) The Cowboys still have a big need at both the EDGE and LB positions and this fills both, and B) Ojabo is the best remaining pass rusher in this draft. Achilles injuries aren’t the death blow to a career that they used to be, we just saw Cam Akers return to play in the Super Bowl after tearing his last July, and while Ojabo may miss time this season, he’s a special talent with athleticism to spare. All that said, I fully expect Jerry Jones to do whatever he wants to do and draft. . . I dunno, a receiver. *throws hands up in frustration*
Previous selection – Ojabo
Drake London – WR – Southern Cal – After cutting Cole Beasley and replacing him with Jamison Crowder, I wonder how content the Bills are with their WR corps entering the season. Since they’ve already addressed the DT and OG positions in free agency (as well as added EDGE Von Miller) I feel an upgrade at the receiver position is happening unless they REALLY like one of the running backs (you’ll need ESPN+ to read the article) and I’m not sure they do since they could have had Javonte Williams last year with the 30th pick and passed and, to me, Breece Hall isn’t near the player Williams is.
Previous selection – Christian Harris – LB – Alabama
Jahon Dotson – WR – Penn State – With Robert Woods brought on to replace Julio Jones, I have to feel that adding another option isn’t a bad idea considering that both Woods and AJ Brown missed significant time last season. Dotson should be able to hold down the spot opposite Brown letting Woods work the slot. His hands and route running (and track speed) should set him up for success especially if Derrick Henry can return to pre-injury form (10 TDs and 937 RuYds in 8 games) forcing teams to pick their poison.
Previous selection – Drake London – WR – Southern Cal
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Zion Johnson – OG – Boston College – Through three mock drafts I’ve had fourteen teams that I’ve drafted three different players for; while I’m not sure about past years, it feels like this exemplifies the chaos that happens when there aren’t both highly thought of QBs and “no brainer” picks at other positions. Whatever. I’m drafting the best guard, in my opinion, in this draft for Tampa. Johnson went to the Combine and killed it from a workout perspective with 32 reps in the Bench Press (#1 among OL), was Top 5 in the Vertical Jump, 3 Cone Drill, 20yd Shuttle, and tied for 6th in the Broad Jump. This helps to make up for the losses of Alex Cappa (FA-Bengals) and Ali Marpet (Retired).
Previous selection – Jordan Davis – DT – Georgia
Green Bay Packers
Kenyon Green – OG – Texas A&M – With the Packers already having filled their need at receiver this pick goes toward keeping Aaron Rodgers (and eventually) Jordan Love upright and in the game. Green, in contrast to Zion Johnson, did NOT have a great Combine, finishing towards the bottom of most drills. That concerns me a little, but then I go watch his tape again and I relax . . . a little. I try not to let a poor Combine performance affect my opinion on players that much, but the fact is it’s the most important job interview they’ll have before the draft and Green showed up with a big mustard stain on his tie.
Previous Selection – Christian Watson – WR – North Dakota State
Kansas City Chiefs
Christian Watson – WR – North Dakota State – Picking up this selection from the Dolphins in the Tyreek Hill trade (along with the #50 and #125 picks this year and 4th and 6th round selections in 2023) wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great, but not terrible since the trade could gently be described as a salary dump. The Chiefs weren’t going to pony up $30M a season for Hill so why not get something for him. They’ve signed Juju Smith-Schuster to replace Hill but with Travis Kelce entering his tenth NFL season (He’ll turn 33 in October) they’ll need to look to the future with this pick. Watson is a favorite of mine in this draft and if he can get eased into the rotation I feel he’ll be a big producer in Red Zone situations and eventually take over one of the starter slots.
Previous selection – (Miami) Jameson Williams – WR – Alabama
Kansas City Chiefs
George Karlaftis – DE – Purdue – With the pick of Watson the Chiefs addressed their offense so we’ll address their defense here. The Chiefs may take a corner here but I’m thinking that there aren’t any that KC will like enough at this spot so I’m shoring up their pass rush with Karlaftis. If he has a weak spot in his game, it’s that his frame is probably just about maxed out so adding another 15-20 pounds is going to take real effort. He also can fall in love with a single pass rush move and use it repeatedly; ask a pitcher who has a 100 MPH fastball but no change up how long that works. Still, he is a high effort player who has a good variety of moves and unexpected power in his hands that catches tackles and guards unaware. He feels like he’s going to end up a consistent Pro Bowler, maybe not elected, but the coaches will want him.
Previous selection – Karlaftis
Kaiir Elam – CB – Florida – With the release of Trae Waynes on March 16th after resigning Eli Apple just days before, the Bengals pretty much committed to a cornerback with their first-round pick. Good thing for them there’s a suitable one just waiting to be selected. I talked about him in the last mock (going to the Bengals) and after Florida’s Pro Day workouts earlier this week I think he’s solidified himself as a first-round pick. He stood on his Combine 40 Yard Dash time of 4.39 (T-6th best) but skipped the rest of the drills in Indianapolis. This time around he also had an unofficial 37.5” Vertical jump (would have been T-4th best at the Combine among corners) and an official 4.21 in the 3-Cone (change of direction drill, would have been T-8th among ALL players). I think he can add some heft to the Bengal's secondary.
Previous selection – Elam
Kenny Pickett – QB – Pittsburgh – I do NOT believe that Pickett will be available this far down, if anything, I think that if he is still available after Pittsburgh picks at #20, someone will make a move with New England and trade up in the first round (or back into) to take him. I feel that Pickett has the highest floor of all of the 2022 QB prospects and that his extra starts (49 – 26 more than Malik Willis and 16 more than Matt Corral) will benefit him a great deal. Pickett is sneaky athletic, has a good pocket presence, and blends a gunslinger mentality with a field general’s decisiveness.
Previous selection – Kenyon Green – OG – Texas A&M