2022 NFL Mock Draft: Trenches dominate the first round

Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97). Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97). Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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NFL Draft
Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97). Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

There are sure to be some interesting selections next April, but here’s why trenches dominate the first round in my latest 2022 NFL mock draft.

We’re over halfway through the NFL season and beginning to get a clearer idea of which teams will be picking where. We’re also finding out exactly which areas of each team are in need of an upgrade.

This is a strong defensive group that is sure to feature some elite talent at the next level, but the trenches will include some of the best prospects that will be selected in April. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The draft order is taken from Tankathon.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 1-8

1 – Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux – Defensive End – Oregon

The Lions need help everywhere, so can afford to take a BPA approach this year. Simply put, Thibodeaux is the best player in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Jared Goff may not be the long-term answer, but the Lions are giving him very little help and he’s not the reason they’re losing.

They can afford to give him another year, safe in the knowledge that they’ll likely be picking near the top of the draft again in 2023. Thibodeaux looks dominant every time he’s on the field and would instantly upgrade the Lions’ pass rush and their entire defense.

2 – Houston Texans: Matt Corral – Quarterback – Ole Miss

The Texans still have Deshaun Watson under contract but it would be a surprise at this point if he played for the franchise again. They will be desperate to find an answer at the position and it doesn’t look as if either Tyrod Taylor or Davis Mills are it.

In Matt Corral, they get a player who is improving every year and adding some consistency to the highlight-reel plays. He’s impressed through the air and on the ground and looks as if he’ll be the first quarterback taken.

3 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins): Aidan Hutchinson – Defensive End – Michigan

The Eagles defensive line is strong on the interior with Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Milton Williams making up a disruptive trio. They could use help on the edge, though, and Hutchinson gives them that. Josh Sweat is having a strong start to the season, but Derek Barnett could be upgraded. Hutchinson would give them another athletic rusher and contribute to an impressive defensive line.

4 – New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr. – Cornerback – LSU

The priority for the Jets should be upgrading the offense to help second overall pick Zach Wilson, but Stingley would be a huge upgrade to the defense. The cornerback group badly needs investment and Stingley has been locking players down since he was a freshman.

He’ll bring an attitude and confidence to the team that could completely change the identity of the defense and put them in a much better position to face the young quarterbacks in the AFC East.

5 – Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal – Offensive Tackle – Alabama

The Jaguars are a team that could go in almost any direction and would come out of it a better team. Their priority has to be trying to get the best out of 2021 first pick Trevor Lawrence, though. In Neal, they get the best offensive lineman in the class and a player who has experience at both left and right tackle. Not only will he keep pressure off Lawrence and give him time to make plays, but he’ll help James Robinson, Travis Etienne, and the Jaguars running game.

6 – Washington Football Team: Carson Strong – Quarterback – Nevada

Washington has been thinking year to year at the quarterback position since Kirk Cousins left. Whether it’s been Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or Taylor Heinicke, they’re yet to find the long-term answer. Strong is a traditional pocket passer who could find Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel accurately and often. He’d keep the offense on track.

7 – Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr. – Cornerback – Clemson

Darius Slay has been a good addition to a cornerback group that was the worst in the league just a couple of years ago. He’s an aging player but could be a great mentor as Booth becomes more of a playmaker. With Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, and McLaurin in the division, adding a player with speed and coverage skills is a necessity. He would be a huge upgrade to the defense.

8 – New York Giants: Jordan Davis – Defensive Tackle – Georgia

There’s no guarantee that Dave Gettleman will still be the general manager of the Giants by the time the draft rolls around. If he is, though, Jordan Davis is exactly the type of player he’ll love. Gettleman has previously used first-round picks on Star Lotulelei, Vernon Butler, and Dexter Lawrence. He’s addicted to big defensive tackles.

Davis is 6’6, 340 pounds, and an outstanding athlete. He eats double teams and would join Lawrence and Leonard Williams to give the Giants one of the most intimidating defensive fronts in the league.