2022 NFL Mock Draft: What I would and wouldn't do edition
Where will Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Drake London, and other 2022 draft prospects fall in two simultaneous mock drafts?
I finally decided to do a 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Today’s motivation was to take mock draft picks made by other writers and to spin those decisions in another direction. This is never to say that the writers made “bad picks” or did anything wrong, it’s just an opportunity to take another angle so that we can learn even more about the teams and the prospects.
The “Main Mock Draft” will be the large letters and the “My Pick Mock Draft” will be the small “my pick” section below. It is essentially two mock drafts happening simultaneously.
The order is based on current records and my gut feelings at the moment. This is Part I and I’ll post Part II on Wednesday for picks 17-32. If you leave a comment, I’ll send you a comp’d lifetime subscription.
I will post each mock without commentary, followed by the
much longer edition below.
The Other People’s Picks Mock Draft:
Jaguars - DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Lions - QB Malik Willis
Giants - OT Evan Neal
Texans - QB Matt Corral
Eagles - S Kyle Hamilton
Jets - CB Derek Stingley, Jr.
Falcons - DE Drake Jackson
Colts - CB Andrew Booth
Steelers - QB Carson Strong
Patriots - WR Treylon Burks
Vikings - LB Devin Lloyd
Dolphins - OT Jaxson Kirkland
Saints - QB Spencer Rattler
Jets - WR Chris Olave
Giants - DT DeMarvin Leal
Eagles - DE George Karlaftis
The My Pick Draft:
Jaguars - OT Evan Neal
Lions - DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
Giants - QB Malik Willis
Texans - CB Derek Stingley, Jr
Eagles - DE Aidan Hutchinson
Jets - S Kyle Hamilton
Falcons - WR Drake London
Colts - OT Trevor Penning
Steelers - DT DeMarvin Leal
Patriots - OT Charles Cross
Vikings - QB Kenny Pickett
Dolphins - WR Treylon Burks
Saints - WR Chris Olave
Jets - DE Drake Jackson
Giants - LB Devin Lloyd
Eagles - WR Justyn Ross
1. Jaguars - DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
CBS Sports recently had Kayvon Thibodeaux going first, as do many sites, but let me attempt this argument thusly.
Obviously, Thibodeaux is going to fit with ANY NFL team. There’s no way for me to say “I wouldn’t do this!” with regards to Thibodeaux because in all likelihood, all 32 teams would want to add him to their defense. So I’m going to make the argument this way: Jacksonville drafted LB Josh Allen in 2019, then LB K’Lavon Chaisson in 2020, plus edge is a fairly deep class in 2022. The Jags could look to improve their defense with the next pick, but to help Trevor Lawrence with their first …
My pick: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Plug in Neal and get a third round compensatory selection when Cam Robinson leaves next year.
2. Lions - QB Malik Willis, Liberty
Matt Miller has Willis going second overall to the Lions recently, but I don’t think that 2022 will be the right time for Detroit to plug in its franchise QB. It almost certainly keeps the Lions out of contention for a first round QB in 2023 (probably a better class than this one) and we should be able to assume that Detroit will be picking high enough to consider a franchise QB again in a year. I would rather see the Lions pick the BPA — which definitely is NOT Malik Willis — and for GM Brad Holmes to continue building the best possible roster around the position than to force in a development project simply because they’re picking in the top-three and Jared Goff isn’t the answer. No, Goff’s not the answer, but he is virtually guaranteed to be around in 2022 (check the contract) and that’s all the reason you need to not force in a competition that eventually becomes 2022’s version of the Bears or 49ers.
My pick: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
3. Giants - OT Evan Neal
Not everyone thinks New York will pick this high, but PFN recently projected Georgia DT Jordan Davis to the Giants at six. Davis is a candidate to win the Heisman this year on the nation’s best defense and he’s gone from fringe first rounder to getting in the conversation for the top-10. “He’s 360 lbs and is faster than everyone on this call” said a college coach recently. But I don’t think the first round is where New York needs to go for defensive tackle, nor is Daniel Jones going to be the answer.
Because few people think the Giants could be this bad, nobody is really mocking Neal to them. But they would if they thought that the Giants would be picking third and Neal was still available.
My pick: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
If you have to put Willis anywhere in the top-five, then a team like the Giants — with a potentially-awesome offense around the QB position next season — is a better place to start.
4. Texans - QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
CBS had Matt Corral going to the Texans in a mock draft recently. Yes, Houston will need a QB. Yes, we should wait until the Deshaun Watson trade actually happens, then find out what kind of compensation they’ll be getting, because the 2022 first round order is going to change somewhat after that happens. Corral’s having a good year and he might be that good of a prospect by next April, but truly no QB has given us the type of season yet that would make us think he should go this high. Not even Willis. This Corral pick is so forced (not saying that NFL teams don’t force QB picks — clearly they do) that I can’t say that I would do it. And Houston has so many problems that they shouldn’t force a QB pick that also makes them pass on an elite player at another position.
My pick: CB Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU
There was a time the Texans had Tyrann Mathieu, and they let him get away. Stingley’s stock hasn’t necessarily gone down in the last two years but if he could have entered the NFL Draft after his freshman season in 2019, he would’ve been a lock for the top-three. He’s considered that good, but Stingley hasn’t shown us much since and he won’t again — Stingley’s out this season. This didn’t stop Ja’Marr Chase, Penei Sewell, Micah Parsons from retaining elite prospect status in 2021.
5. Eagles (via MIA) - S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
CBS Sports has Kyle Hamilton going to Philadelphia, with the pick they acquired from the hapless Dolphins. It’s completely sensible and Hamilton would be a fantastic pick for Philadelphia, especially as a bonus from Miami. I’m instead going to follow the path of Matt Miller with this pick …
My pick: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Miller has the Eagles taking Hutchinson, as do some other sites, and for the purposes for this mock draft, I’ll go with that too. Hutchinson should step right in for a departing Derek Barnett in 2022.
6. Jets - CB Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU
I am tempted to put Drake London in contention here, giving Zach Wilson a big time red zone target to complement Corey Davis and Elijah Moore. But anybody right now would jump at the chance to draft Derek Stingley for the Jets at sixth overall. I already picked Stingley though…
My pick: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
The Jets have zero interceptions in the first five games and Hamilton is the definition of a play-making ballhawk at the safety position. In words that Seahawks fans don’t want to here: every Jamal Adams negative could actually be an area of strength for Hamilton.
7. Falcons - DE Drake Jackson, USC
To be honest, I don’t think I’m quite this low on the Falcons. I would rather put a team like WFT here but most people just don’t share that opinion with me so any prospect that I put here for WFT at seven might be too high when many others are projecting WFT in the late teens. With that out of the way…
Of course Drake Jackson would be a good pick for the Falcons, a team that is constantly finding it difficult to find high quality pass rushers. Last season, Deion Jones led the team with 4.5 sacks and so far it is hardly guaranteed that anyone on Atlanta’s defense will top that this season; Dante Fowler and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner are tied for the lead with two. But for the sake of making it interesting, let’s see what happens with a different USC Drake.
My pick: WR Drake London, USC
Crazy for Atlanta to pick Kyle Pitts and Drake London in back-to-back years, to not replace Matt Ryan, and to not go defense? Welcome to 2022 professional football.
The Bucs overloaded at receiver and tight end. The Rams overloaded at receiver. The Cowboys, Cardinals, Bills, and even the Ravens to some degree can boast that they’ve successfully concentrated their efforts on having “too much” talent at receiver and tight end. Head coach Arthur Smith saw first hand in Tennessee what it was like to have A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Derrick Henry around Ryan Tannehill, a player acquired via trade, not the draft. That’s a move that’s becoming quite common recently, but we can’t discount the possibility that Matt Ryan could be great again with this supporting cast. Since there’s not going to be a “Derrick Henry” in the 2022 draft, Smith can add RB talent in free agency and then go scare the hell out of defenses next year with Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London.
8. Colts - CB Andrew Booth, Jr., Clemson
If this is truly where the Colts stand in 2022 — a top-10 pick and Carson Wentz didn’t play in 75% of the snaps, therefore keeping this pick in Indy instead of going to Philly — then GM Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich truly can’t afford to play it safe in the draft. They need players who can help immediately and that might be a boom-or-bust type. While that could be Andrew Booth, and the Colts have allowed 15 touchdown passes, most in the NFL, cornerbacks are not often ready to contribute as rookies. Ballard and Reich would both be on the hot seat at this point.
I’m also not confident to project anybody for a “Matt Eberflus defense” if the Colts are picking in the top-10.
My pick: LT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
I know that not all of my picks will be popular, perhaps even derided. To be clear: Yes, I have awareness. Some people will be confused about Drake London over Chris Olave and others, many will be confused about Penning landing in the top-10. But we are still six months away from the draft and there’s a lot to be decided so “accuracy” was never the name of the game here anyway. There will be names in the top-20 picks next year that nobody is referencing in the top-20 right now, and Penning is one of the most likely prospects to see a February stock boost.
Trevor Penning has been called a better tackle prospect than Evan Neal by some people and the 6’7, 360 lb lineman from Clear Lake, Iowa is hardly a longshot to be drafted in the first round. The Colts need to give Carson Wentz help. Big help. This does it ASAP.
9. Steelers - QB Carson Strong, Nevada
Several sites have made this connection and most mock drafts will simply connect Pittsburgh to whichever QB prospect that writer likes the most at that position.
My pick: DT DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
I don’t think GM Kevin Colbert has been this patient during his QB search just to get antsy during one of the worst QB classes of the last ten years. Just in case anyone doesn’t know: Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t that great either. DeMarvin Leal would be the boost that the Steelers defensive line needs.
10. Patriots - WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
NBC Sports has New England picking Treylon Burks at 8th, which is reasonable. I like Burks a lot and New England’s wide receivers unit is one of the worst in the NFL. Which probably sounds insulting but just look at how much the bar has been raised recently…Nelson Agholor should not be your number one. Jakobi Meyers should not be your number two. BUT… Bill Belichick has a poor track record with receiver picks and a top-10 selection is too important to use on a position that could be filled later in the draft or through a trade/free agency.
My pick: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Three tackles in the top-10 and Charles Cross could help make life a little easier for the Patriots offensive line.
11. Vikings - LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
When I look at Minnesota’s schedule, I do see a team that could be picking much higher than this. Definitely much of that is to do their problems in the secondary and if the Vikings can help it, they might make a strong push to go get Derek Stingley, Jr. in the draft.
PFN recently projected Devin Lloyd to the Vikings at 12.
My pick: QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has been called a “more athletic Kirk Cousins” and you know who happens to love the regular version of Kirk Cousins? Well, Pickett is an upgrade from that! Minnesota could do a lot of things to get a tiny bit better and then find themselves going 10-7 in 2022. So what? Aren’t you sick of that, Vikings? Some will say this is too high for Pickett, but that is completely unprovable. There isn’t a single QB who has a consensus first round grade and Kenny Pickett is one of the candidates to eventually earn that. Besides, Minnesota once picked Christian Ponder this early.
More likely than not, the Vikings rebuild is going to be “fully on” in 2022.
12. Dolphins (via SF) - OT Jaxson Kirkland, Washington
A CBS mock has Miami selecting Jaxson Kirkland out of Washington with the 22nd pick (clearly we either differ on the 49ers playoff chances or this is old) and I don’t think that 12 would be “too early” for Kirkland. That’s how loaded the offensive tackle class is potentially going to be. The Dolphins don’t completely screw themselves over in the Jaylen Waddle trade because they still get the pick from San Francisco and while Kirkland would be a fine pick, it’s hard to ignore just how big of a problem “offensive line youth” has been for Miami recently. Then to do it…again?
My pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Receivers in back-to-back years? Yes. I’m going to continue pounding this idea home, as I have all year long: weapons, weapons, weapons.
Here’s what everyone else who covered the 2021 draft saw: Quarterbacks!
Here’s what I saw: Four of the top-10 picks were skill positions. That was more top-10 picks than quarterbacks. Here’s what I’m seeing right now: Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Kyle Pitts, Rondale Moore, and Kadarius Toney are all crushing it. More are coming.
Jaylen Waddle leads all rookies in receptions, but needs help and DeVante Parker has got to be coming up on his final season.
13. Saints - QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Yeah, so about that… Sporting News recently had the Saints picking Spencer Rattler in the first round. Be careful with that mock, it’ll bite ya.
Rattler might not even be the Sooners starting quarterback anymore but instead let me use that as a jumping off point: Saints draft any quarterback in the first round? I don’t think so. I’m scratching that idea off of my bingo card but I bet that a lot of mocks will do it.
My pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Some would call it a steal to get Chris Olave as the third receiver off of the board or outside of the top-12. I really do not see Sean Payton panicking about the quarterback position at this point and clearly the team can’t rely on Michael Thomas. New Orleans almost has to go receiver.
14. Jets (via SEA) - WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
To be honest, this mock draft style has been a little difficult for even me to follow! I don’t know if anyone has mocked Chris Olave to the Jets but a receiver makes sense. As I’ve said, weapons. Plus, New York can’t really expect anyone other than Corey Davis or Elijah Moore to be a big time player for them next season.
As for Seattle, this is just a possibility that must be addressed with Russell Wilson out for an indefinite amount of time.
My pick: DE Drake Jackson, USC
He’s still on my board. I believe.
15. Giants (via CHI) - DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
So yeah, this would be pretty much a steal but let’s focus on the important thing: an opportunity to talk about DeMarvin Leal! From ProFootballNetwork:
The Texas A&M defensive lineman is one of the most versatile linemen in the nation. The Aggies have used him in every conceivable alignment along the defensive front during his two seasons in College Station. Leal has demonstrated the ability to play with his hand in the ground or stood up, with no discernible difference in his capacity to impact the game.
Leal is having the best season of his career and will surely go in the top-10.
My pick: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Probably the Giants’ biggest weakness… on defense. I just don’t see a Daniel Jones upgrade here.
16. Eagles - DE George Karlaftis, Purdue
When I look at the Eagles schedule, I actually think they could make the playoffs. But at 2-3, could they also wind up in the top-10? Of course. I don’t think Jalen Hurts is inspiring that much confidence but the schedule is quite easy and there are talented players on this team. George Karlaftis could also be a top-10 pick, so it makes sense for Philadelphia to look at him at any point.
My pick: WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
I know! But hear me out!
So, if Justyn Ross could have declared for the 2019 draft, he would have been a top-10 pick. At 19. He didn’t have as many explosive plays in 2019 and he missed all of 2020. His return hasn’t been spectacular, but nothing about Clemson’s offense has been good without Trevor Lawrence. Many NFL teams go wild for former top-ranked recruits and all it could take for the former number one player in Alabama to go this early is a great Scouting Combine and a clear medical report.
Yes, the Eagles would be taking a first round receiver in the straight years. But is Jalen Reagor good yet? Did I miss something? With Quez Watkins out for the year, Philly’s problems at receiver will only become more obvious.
I’ll be back with Part II on Wednesday.
Great work as always Kenneth! I’m not a huge CFB fan overall, but your new found interest is infectious and I’m looking forward to more of this content!
The first 5 picks are definitely going to be interesting. I like putting Stingley ahead of Hamilton. Safeties can be difference makers, but CBs are just so important on nearly every play. You only have one QB in the top 5, which is 100% rational but (in my mind) unlikely. I bet AT LEAST two of these top-5 picks are QBs, even in a relatively QB-poor draft. Heck, some team (Steelers? Colts? Dolphins?) might even trade up into the top 5 for a QB. Seems like some team makes that mistake every damn year.