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 /
2 of 4
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5).
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5). /

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Picks 9-16

9 – New York Giants (from Chicago Bears): Tyler Linderbaum – Center – Iowa

The Giants were hoping that Nick Gates would return to his best this season, but a leg break has left him with an uncertain future. Linderbaum would be an instant upgrade to the offensive line and anchor it for a decade.

He’s athletic, physical, and intelligent. With Daniel Jones entering a make-or-break season, the Giants must give him the opportunity to succeed. Few picks would be celebrated by Jones as much as Linderbaum would.

10 – Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco 49ers): Kenyon Green – Guard – Texas A&M

The Dolphins have invested in their offensive line in recent years – Austin Jackson was a first-round pick, Liam Eichenberg was taken in the second, and so was Robert Hunt. They’re yet to find the solution, though, and Tua Tagovailoa has been spending a lot of time under duress in the pocket.

In Kenyon Green, they get a player who can be plugged into any spot on the offensive line and provide an upgrade. He can improve the unit’s run blocking and pass protection from day one.

11 – New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Garrett Wilson – Wide Receiver – Ohio State

Mekhi Becton, Connor McGovern, and Elijah Vera-Tucker are great starting points for an offensive line. They’ve also traded for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from the Chiefs, who could hold down a guard position. That means that the Jets can invest in a wide receiver to help Zach Wilson.

In this mock draft, they turn to his namesake. Garrett Wilson is a nuanced route runner who can get open but also win in contested catch situations. He’ll join a QB who isn’t afraid to throw deep passes into traffic.

12 – Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam – Cornerback – Florida

Vikings fans will groan at the thought of taking another cornerback early in the draft, but Elam is different. He’s a much more complete player than Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes, Mackensie Alexander, or even Trae Waynes. Elam could step in right away, either with Cameron Dantzler or as part of a trio with Dantzler and Patrick Peterson. He has the length that Mike Zimmer likes in his cornerbacks and, if he’s still the head coach, it’s a sensible pick.

13 – Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis – Quarterback – Liberty

The Sam Darnold experiment looks as if it could be coming to an abrupt end. Injury and inconsistency have caused questions to be asked about the former Jets quarterback. In Malik Willis, the Panthers would get to add an exciting playmaker who could be unleashed in Joe Brady’s offense. He’s capable of making plays with both his arm and his legs and that will appeal to Panthers fans.

14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis Colts): Kyle Hamilton – Safety – Notre Dame

With their third pick of the first round, the Eagles complete their defensive transformation. Hamilton is a complete safety who can run, hit, and cover. Some think he’s a lock for the top-10, but we see safeties fall every year. Hutchinson, Booth, and Hamilton would give the Eagles one of the best young defenses in the league.

Jalen Hurts is developing well, but he’s a mobile QB who is more suited to a ball-control style of football. Hamilton is a playmaker and would help the Eagles win low-scoring games.

15 – Denver Broncos: DeMarvin Leal – Defensive End

The Broncos have question marks on both sides of the ball, but they take the best player available approach here. Leal has been a wrecking ball this season, dominating offensive linemen. With Von Miller out of the picture, Leal could be the perfect running mate for Bradley Chubb.

Vic Fangio would love a player with the versatility of Leal, who can play both outside and inside. He could move him around based on matchups and it would be a home run pick.

16 – Cincinnati Bengals: Ahmad Gardner – Cornerback – Cincinnati

Logic would dictate that the Bengals are heavily aware of Sauce Gardner, who has been playing in the same city for the past three years. The Bengals have invested in their defense and still have holes on the offensive line, but Gardner would be a great addition. He has the size to hold up in a physical division and would give the Bengals the legitimate number one cornerback they’ve been searching for.