The 2022 NFL Draft is just days away. Here is my “what I would do” mock draft based on my evaluations.
We are just days away from the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. NFL front offices’ final big boards are set, and draft scenarios are being discussed in mock drafts. 2022 marks the first complete pre-draft process since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following is a mock draft of what I would do if I was GM of all 32 teams, based on my evaluation of each player, scheme fit, and need.
This is a unique draft, with the lack of standout quarterback prospects, but this draft still has top-end talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball and at wide receiver. Let’s see how things shape up.
2022 Mock Draft:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Hutchinson to the Jags is a clear-cut selection for me. Before the offseason, an offensive lineman would have been considered here, but after putting the franchise tag on Cam Robinson, and signing Brandon Scherff, an edge across from Josh Allen became the bigger hole.
Aidan Hutchinson also happens to be the best player in the class, in my opinion. The Heisman runner-up is an incredibly refined pass rusher, racking up 14.5 sacks last year.
2. Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Whatever the veracity of the negative smoke that has surrounded Thibodeaux in the pre-draft process, it is clear the Lions would be getting a great football player. When healthy Kayvon Thibodeaux has been one of the pass rushers in the country since his freshman year.
Detroit has been an increasingly popular spot to mock a quarterback here, but I believe that any of the quarterbacks would be a reach for the top 5. After investing in the offensive line over the past year, the Lions select a high-quality player at a premium position.
3. Houston Texans: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The Houston Texans had the 29th-ranked offensive line last year, according to PFF. While the Texans’ problems have been more related to the interior offensive line than the tackle position, the tackle is not even a sure thing given Leremy Tunsil’s injury last year.
The Texans can draft Ekwonu, who I believe is the best offensive lineman in the draft and an immediate plug-and-play top-end run blocker. Ekwonu can also play guard or tackle, and the Texans can figure out where to put him later.
4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
With the top two edge rushers off the board, the Jets go with Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner from Cincinnati. On the surface, cornerback is not the biggest need for the Jets since they have Bryce Hall and acquired D.J. Reed from the Seahawks. It is still smart for NFL teams to make a good unit great. The Jets would be selecting a potential pro-bowl, shutdown corner, and making a good unit possibly one of the league’s best units in the process.
5. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
It is not anything new to mock an offensive lineman to the Giant. It has been one of the league’s worst units for years. With that said, drafting a tackle would still be the right decision for the Giants by not missing out in a top-heavy class.
Here, they take tackle, Evan Neal. They would likely put him at right tackle opposite Andrew Thomas, who showed some promise at left tackle last year.
6. Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The tackles are coming off the board quickly. The Panthers could take a quarterback here, but it is hard to justify one for the sixth overall pick. Here, the Panthers fill a glaring need that is still a premium position by selecting maybe the best pass blocker in this draft class in Charles Cross.
The Panthers had the second-worst offensive line in the NFL last year, according to PFF, and left tackle has been a revolving door for them for years.
7. New York Giants: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
The Giants double-dipping in this offensive line class. Why not? The 7th overall pick is usually too early to select an interior offensive lineman, but I believe Zion Johnson is a special player. Johnson was lightly recruited out of high school and originally played at Davidson, before playing at Boston College and majoring in Computer Science.
As intelligent as he is as a player, his physical ability matches that. Johnson is an incredibly technically refined player, rarely gets overpowered, and should be a plug-and-play starter in the NFL. The situation with the Giants’ offensive line is suddenly not as dire in this mock draft scenario.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Derrick Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Atlanta Falcons are another possible spot for a quarterback but are likely years away from competing with their current roster construction. As a result, they should push that quarterback decision down the road.
They need talented players in the building and may as well swing for the fences and take the player with the highest upside. Stingley is a risk for any team that drafts him but if he reaches his potential, the Falcons would have one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL, along with A.J. Terrell.