It’s Christmas….Erm…Draft Day!! It’s time now for my annual final mock draft. I have followed this draft day tradition since 2017 and I’m absolutely thrilled to bring it here to Draft Diamonds! This looks to be something of a weird year, as there are no Quarterbacks in contention to be the first pick, but against popular opinion, I still believe that as many as five quarterbacks will be taken in round 1.
Which ones will get drafted? Where will they land? Who’s going to slide as a result? What other surprises are in store? Only one way to find out.
Here are some of my predictions for round 1.
- At Minimum three QBs will be drafted in round 1, four feels likely, but I personally believe as many as five will be taken on day 1.
- The draft will begin with three…no… FOUR edge rushers being taken back to back.
- There will be five first round trades
Without Further Ado, here’s my final mock draft of the 2022 draft season.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia
Michigan’s Aiden Hutchinson is probably the direction they should go here and personally, I would use this draft to build around Trevor Lawrence and take one of the two-star Offensive Tackles with this pick. There is far too much smoke with this selection for there not to be fire, I believe Walker is a full tier below the other in contention but is a dynamic athlete with big-time potential. This is the type of bad process that get’s GMs fired and ruins franchise Cornerstone QBs like Lawrence but he could very well develop into the kind of player to prove me wrong.
2) Detroit Lions: Aiden Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
This pick just feels perfect, local star player who dominated the sport last year gets to stay home in a culture that is a perfect fit for his personality and play style. This stuff just writes itself. There is some consideration about taking a QB here, but if Hutchinson is available, the Lions turn in this draft card the second they are on the clock.
3) Houston Texans, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
The Texans could go in about forty directions here, but after missing out on Julius Peppers in their first-ever draft, it seems every time the Texans have had a top-three selection and there is a truly elite pass-rush prospect available, they pounce. First Mario Williams in 2006, then Jadaveon Clowney in 2014, and now Thibodeaux in 2022.
4) New York Jets, Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State
Four Picks, Four Edge Rushers off the board! I know that’s probably crazy, but that’s where all the reporting seems to be headed. Johnson is reportedly the top prospect on the Jets board and while they could (and should) draft one of those elite offensive tackles here, and hope Johnson falls to them at the 10th pick, I firmly believe the run on edge rushers will cause them to panic here.
5) New York Giants: Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty
I believe that Malik Willis will absolutely be picked at this slot, regardless of who selects here. Several teams will be calling to try to move in front of the Carolina Panthers for Willis but I believe there is a strong chance that the Giants’ new brass will try to use the same formula that it used to win in Buffalo. Draft a raw quarterback with fantastic tools and a genuine personality, surround him with a great culture, and hope that they hit big on their lottery ticket. I personally don’t believe Josh Allen’s formula is repeatable, wouldn’t go near Willis this high (I think he needs time to develop) but if the Giants see him as similar, they almost have to go in this direction.
6) Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Pittsburgh
This pick comes down to one factor… are they going to publicly back Matt Rhule or are they going to admit he’s a lame-duck coach or do they back him with thier actions. I firmly believe that Rhule knows that he can’t win and save his job with Sam Darnold at Quarterback. He needs a rookie that can start and win games right away, and I believe the soon to be 24 year old Kenny Pickett, despite a low cieling, is capable of winning games in year one (similar to Mac Jones last year). It doesn’t hurt that Rhule once recruited Pickett to Temple, so there is a very long relationship in place, after seeing the Kliff Kingsburry- Kyler Murray connection I will not discount that detail.
7) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, Tackle, North Carolina State
This draft could not have gone any better from the Giants perspective, landing their QB1 and still getting their pick of all of the offensive linemen in this draft. I believe that Evan Neal and Charles Cross will get some looks here but Ekwonu is the most dominant run blocker I’ve scouted in some time, and if you draft Willis, then you are going to call a large number of designed QB runs. This move should also be beneficial to Saquon Barkley, who has struggled mightily behind the Giants’ suspect run blocking.
8) Minnesota Vikings (Via: Atl): Ahmad Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
TRADE! The Falcons have a ton of needs and more than anything just need more lottery tickets. I have a feeling this could be the most called about pick in the top ten, as the Eagles, Vikings and really any team looking for a top corner will likely be trying to get in front of the Seahawks to get their pick of this corner class. The Vikings win out and take the star corner who has never allowed a touchdown catch despite three years of starting experience.
9) Seattle Seahawks: Evan Neal, Tackle, Alabama
I believe that the Seahawks were ready to draft Gardner had he not been taken one pick earlier, but landing Neal here would be the answer to an issue former Quarterback has been begging them to solve since 2014. Neal very well could have been the number one pick, so to get him here would be an absolute steal. I believe Derek Stingley could be considered but I don’t see how anyone but Neal could be the pick.
10) New York Jets: Jameson Williams, Wide Reciever, Alabama
This pick comes down to Williams, Drake London, Charles Cross or Derek Stingley and I believe you could make a case for all four. Looking at the Jets offseason, they clearly took many big swings to acquire big time play makers to stretch the field for Zach Wilson, attempting to trade for both Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill and I believe that’s the need they address here. I’m not sold on Williams as the top pass catcher in this class but I do believe that the league likely is, and that’s reflected here.
11) Baltimore Ravens (Via Wsh): Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia
The Ravens have needs all along their defensive line and could be in play for an edge rusher here but teams have been drooling over the potential of Davis ever since he put up an all time great performance at the NFL combine. For Washington, this is an opportunity to recover the two 3rd round picks it spent on Carson Wentz early this offseason.
12) Atlanta Falcons (via Min): Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State
The Falcons are a mess, and they could go a number of ways to address their multitude of needs but after the Calvin Ridley suspension, the Falcons literally have no one at Wide Receiver and while Marcus Mariota likely isn’t seen as the long term answer, they have to get him at least someone to throw to. Wilson is my WR4 of this class but he’s dynamic and got better as a seperator every year at OSU and in the future could form a dynamic trio with Ridley and 2021 first round pick Kyle Pitts.
13) Philadelphia Eagles (Via Hou): Derek Stingley Jr, Cornerback, LSU
The Texans are an absolute mess, and could go a number of ways and the Eagles were in on the trade that ended up being the Sauce Gardner pick but this time they closed the deal. Stingley is coming off of two down years but has all the traits to be dominant and has shown on tape that he can suffocate top players in the SEC. After missng on Gardner, the Eagles get their man.
14) Washington Commanders (via Bal): Kyle Hamilton, Saftey, Notre Dame
Washington just landed my top rated player in this draft at pick 14… that’s a steal. A bad workout and the devalueing of the safety position, lead to the Commanders sprinting to the podium to make a pick that not event they could botch. Hamilton is a game breaking safety and will anchor that defense for the next decade.
15) Houston Texans: Charles Cross, Tackle, Mississippi State
The Texans could have very well taken a Tackle at pick three but chose not to do so, but instead land Cross who could (and should) have been a top ten pick. Cross, who allowed just two sacks on 719 pass blocking attempts, will allow the Texans to protect their young QB Davis Mills.
16) New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning, Tackle, Northern Iowa
A scout that I trust quite a bit recently called Penning a “Saints kind of player” and while I believe there is a real chance they could draft their QB of the future here or address the glaring need they have at Wide Receiver, but the selection of Cross one pick earlier likely means that the Saints grab their man to block for Winston or (instert rookie here) for the forseeable future.
17) Los Angeles Chargers: Chris Olave, Wide Reciever, Ohio State
In what is a likely shock to some readers, the Chargers continue to build their weapons around star QB Justin Herbert. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are both on the roster, and very expensive but the division, and conference as a whole, are in something of an arms race. Add in the fact that Allen is beggining to enter the tail end of his prime and it’s easy to see why adding a player I’ve heard described as “Keenan Allen with the speed to get deep” isn’t as crazy it might initially seem.
18) Philadelphia Eagles: Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC
The Eagles are in need of a big bodied “X” Wide Reciever that can help take young QB, Jalen Hurts to a whole new level. I’ve heard that linebacker could be in play here but the team has plenty of capital and can move up in second round to address that need if they choose to do so.
19) New Orleans Saints: Desmond Ridder, Quarterback, Cincinnati
If Olave were available he could get real consideration here but he’s gone and that means the Saints turn to QB. I personally take Sam Howell or Matt Corral here, but I believe that the Saints will probably prefer Ridder, who absolutely owned the pre- draft process. Ridder will be able to back up Jameis Winston for a year and then step in and use his leadership and ability to get the ball out very quickly to stabalize the position over the next few years.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Howell, Quarterback, North Carolina
There is a good chance the Steelers move up to take a QB but in this mock, I have them staying put because I believe they like Howell and Ridder almost evenly. Howell, my QB1, is going to thrive on a team with Mike Tomlin, ample pass catching talent and a culture that melds well with Howell, whom I’ve heard is obsessive in his preperation.
21) Dallas Cowboys (via New England): Tyler Linderbuam, Center/Guard, Iowa
There is a strong chance that New England moves up for Chris Olave, but what we do know is that they are very unlikely to stay put. This year they take advantage of Dallas’ desire to get ahead of Arizona for their pick of the interior offensive linemen. Linderbaum is rumored to not be a target of Dallas, but that’s is likely a smokescreen, it’s unlikely that the Cowboys would be uninterested in the best Center prospect since Travis Fredrick. If the Cowboys stay put, keep an eye on Zion Johnson, Treylon Burks, Nakobe Dean or Kenyon Green at 24.
22) Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas
The Packers could very well move up to address the position, but if they stay put, Burks is the likely pick here. He is big, strong and dynamic and could step in and help fill the void left by the Devante Adams trade from day 1.
23) Arizona Cardinals: Zion Johnson, Guard/Center, Boston College
The Cardinals are in real need of some interior line help and while they missed out on their ideal pick of Tyler Linderbaum, Johnson who is very physical and could very well start at guard or at center as he showed ath the senior bowl is more than just a great consolation prize.
24) New England Patriots: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
Classic New England: Trade back, get a few picks and still land the top player on thier board in Karlaftis. Karlaftis is the versatile defensive lineman who can win in the run game or in the passing game that they have historically coveted.
25) Detroit Lions (via Buf): Matt Corral, Quarterback, Ole Miss
I went back and forth on this pick quite a bit but there is a real feeling that the Titans are considering drafting an eventaul replacement for Ryan Tannehill as his limititations have become painfully obvious next to the star studded Quarterbacks that have flocked to the AFC this offseason. If the Lions planned on using it’s second pick on a franchise passer then it would be wise to move ahead of Tennesee. Corral has great arm strength, mobility and a very quick release and I believe he and Hutchinson perfectly embody the culture Dan Campbell is creating in Detroit. It’s a new day for Lions fans and the Team finally has an identity.
26) Tennessee Titans: Kenyon Green, Guard/Tackle , Texas A&M
After missing out on the QB prospects this year, the team now has to refocus to rebuilding around the returning Derrick Henry, and it’s clear that the team should prioritize getting the offensive line straight to keep both Henry and Tannehill upright. Green is one of the most verasitile Linemen in this years’ crop and if not for a poor workout would likely be a top 15 pick. He falls to a Titans team that can greatly use his services.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington Huskies
I wanted to address the offensive line here but this team was held back by a long string of injuries to it’s secondary. A player like McDuffie who only allowed 111 yards all of last season, could walk in and start from day one on a team that spent last season digging through free agents, just trying to get guys to start games.
28) Green Bay Packers: Tyler Smith, Tackle, Tulsa
I wanted to double up at Wide Receiver here, but Elgton Jenkins ACL injury means that there is a glaring hole at right tackle, at least at the beginning of the season. Smith needs some work as a pass blocker is already one of the top run blockers in the draft. Jenkins is only 26 and will likely return at some point, but he is a free agent and assuming the Packers keep him, just move Smith over to guard where I believe he probably projects better long term anyway.
29)Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Watson, Wide Receiver, North Dakota State
Its likely that the Cheifs don’t stay put at 29 and 30, they are candidate to move and if they do, their one pick will be on a Wide Receiver. This comes down to George Pickens and Watson. Pickens is a fantastic talent and he projects easier than Watson does, but Kansas City didn’t just lose any wide receiver, they lost Tyreek Hill and that means they need someone to take the top off of the Defense and that’s definitely Watson. There are some drop issues there but the talent is out of this world and at 29 you’ve got to take a chance on that.
30) Kansas City Chiefs: Lewis Cine, Safety, Georgia
Assuming that the Chiefs stay put here, they are going to have a Tyrann Mathieu sized hole in thier secondary that they absolutely have to fill with a playmaker and a leader in the defensive backfield. Cine is all of those things and more, if the position wasn’t devalued, he would be a top 10 pick. If the Chiefs believe that they can re-sign Mathieu, then Nakobe Dean will be the pick here.
31) Cincinnati Bengals: Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Georgia
The Bengals really want an interior lineman here but they proved last year they are willing to take talent over need and it worked really well last season. Nakobe Dean is a top 15 talent that can play all three linebacker spots and while some will attack this pick, I only caution you to look at last year.
32) Buffalo Bills: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
The Bills have a very good running back in Devin Singletary, and a decent back in Moss, but they need true star runner and Hall is that in spades. This pick is about taking some pressure off of Josh Allen who showed he was capable of rushing for 763 yards last season but should never be asked to do so again for the sake of his long term health.