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After the Divisional round and quite possibly the greatest slate of games the NFL playoffs have ever seen, more of the draft order is now set and the Coaching/GM carousel keeps rolling. The Conference Championship round is up next with the Senior Bowl the week following. There were no trades in doing this mock but as we get closer to the draft and more things are clear (coaching vacancies filled, full order set, free agency, etc.), future versions will likely contain trades. This was done purely based on what I think is the best move for each team. Let’s go ahead and kick off the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars are on the clock with the 1st overall pick for the second straight year. They selected their QB of the future in last year’s draft. Obviously having the first pick, there are many holes that need to be filled and the Jaguars have a few options at premium positions with the first pick. The Jags could opt to choose from a deep OT class and provide Lawrence with some security, but I see them helping a pass rush that finished in the bottom five of the league. Thibodeaux, who has been projected as the top pick since basically last year’s draft, fends off Hutchinson and gets paired with former top 10 pick Josh Allen to create a formidable front for Jacksonville
For Detroit, this should be a no-brainer. The Lions have a HUGE need on the edge and a hometown kid is the best edge player on the board. They finished in the bottom three in sacks, QB hits, and QB knockdowns in the league and were also bottom five in rushing defense. Hutchinson made many believe he deserved to be the top overall pick with a stellar year for the Wolverines. Instead, he gets to stay home and is selected second.
S, Notre Dame
In a little bit of a surprise move, the Texans go with the Safety from Notre Dame. Hamilton could well end up as the best player in the entire draft. He is a game-changing defender that can play multiple alignments, cover sideline to sideline and the back end, and come up in the box to stuff the run. With the two top edge defenders off the board, Houston selects the next best player available.
New York Jets
The Jets need to provide NY’s top pick last year, QB Zach Wilson, some help after giving up the fourth-most sacks. There is also some speculation that former top pick Mekhi Becton will be moved in the offseason creating additional need along the offensive line. If the Jets believe they can reconcile with Becton they may decide to draft another need position here, such as edge or CB, or attempt to trade down.
New York Giants
OT, NC State
The Giants have the luxury of having two picks in the top ten. They need to upgrade the offensive line to give Daniel Jones (or whoever the new regime goes with at QB) and Saquan Barkley a better chance to succeed. Ekwonu played himself into a position to be one of the top three tackles selected in a deep class. He will be a day one starter on the Giants line and has the versatility to line up wherever they need him.
OT, Mississippi State
The Panthers desperately need better play from the offensive line. They could go with an upgrade to the interior, but I believe they will choose Cross here to bookend with Taylor Moton. Cross is an athletic tackle who will greatly help out in the Panther's run game. He is very sound in pass blocking as well.
New York Giants
Back on the clock and the Giants choose to stick with upgrading the trenches. Michigan made it into the CFP mostly on the strength of their defense. Ojabo was one of the biggest reasons alongside Hutchinson. He is fast on the edge with a variety of pass rush moves in his arsenal.
The Falcons had one of the league’s worst defenses. They do have some bright spots on the defense but need to continue to add talent. They could go with a CB here to pair with Terrell, but I think the Falcons go with the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. Davis is crazy athletic for a man of his immense stature and will solidify the defensive front with Grady Jarrett.
The Broncos new coach could push to select a QB. I believe they will replenish the defensive side and draft a replacement for Von Miller. Karlaftis possesses the size and speed to man the edge opposite Bradley Chubb.
New York Jets
Andrew Booth Jr
The Jets look to upgrade their defense with the second of their two top ten picks. Andrew Booth Jr is a do-it-all corner who is best in man coverage. He is highly capable in zone coverage with room still to improve. Booth has elite ball skills and isn’t afraid to come up and help with the run either.
QB, Ole Miss
Washington takes the first QB off the board. None of the QBs in the class really separated themselves from the pack during the season so the choice here is between a handful of guys. Corral has plenty of solid traits and gives the Football Team a QB who can be a threat to make plays on the run as well. I believe he has the best chance to step in and start for a team on day one if necessary and Washington has some decent weapons already to help him out.
IDL, Texas A&M
The Vikings may be needing to retool their defensive front this offseason. They start here by selecting one of the most versatile linemen in the draft. Leal can be a rusher on the edge, provide pressure on the interior, and be stout against the run.
WR, Ohio State
Cleveland is going to roll with Baker at QB for one more year at least. They don’t have a ton of needs but one area they need to restock is at WR. After trading OBJ mid-season and rumors of not retaining Jarvis Landry, the Browns will need to provide Baker with some weapons. Wilson has exceptional route running and the athletic ability to be a big threat after the catch.
The Ravens could select an offensive tackle with this pick but there may be a greater need with free agency likely depleting their front. Walker possesses rare athleticism for a defensive end and would fit perfectly in the Ravens scheme.
Derrick Stingley Jr.
Even though the Eagles made the playoffs, they still have several holes to fill in order to take the next step. They do have three first-round picks to help fill them. Here they take one of the top DBs in the class to pair alongside Slay. Stingley Jr has long been considered the top CB in this class however injuries and some inconsistent play have brought that into question. The Eagles are trusting that Stingley Jr’s elite athleticism and ball skills can elevate their defense.
IOL, Texas A&M
The Eagles offensive line was surprisingly good this past season, but they are losing key pieces from that squad on the interior. Luckily, the top interior lineman in the draft falls to them at 16. Green is an athletic guard who is a mauler in the run game and solid in pass protection.
Los Angeles Chargers
OT, Ohio State
The Chargers just missed out on the playoffs so don’t have many glaring holes. One thing for sure is that they need to protect their star QB Justin Herbert at all costs. Petit-Frere has the length, athletic frame, and quick feet teams look for in a tackle. Has high upside but a couple of awful games may give some pause. Petit-Frere can also play either right or left side if the Chargers need.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints will have a new Head Coach and so the Taysom Hill experiment is likely over (though due to his contract he may still have a role). Jameis Winston may not be retained either and so the Saints look to draft a QB. Pickett shot up draft boards with his play this past season. He demonstrated growth in every facet of his game and has all the tools to be an NFL starter. Pickett may experience some growing pains but has a high ceiling.
S, Penn State
Back on the clock for the third time, the Eagles go back to helping out their secondary. Brisker is an explosive athlete who can patrol the entire field. He is a playmaking safety that can erase a lot of mistakes on the backend.
Big Ben announced his retirement from what should be a Hall of Fame career. Pittsburgh will need to find a new QB to come in and compete. Coach Mike Tomlin is on record as wanting someone who has good mobility. Ridder fits the profile to replace Big Ben with a big arm and the ability to be a threat on the move. The Steelers could go offensive line here also and see if either Haskins or Rudolph can step up or find a veteran via trade or free agency.
New England Patriots
Lloyd falls into what could be a perfect situation for him in a Belichick defense. He is a long, athletic linebacker who is fantastic against the run and can also cover Tight Ends and backs out of the backfield.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders could easily take a WR here. They also need some help along the offensive line and select the best center in the class. Linderbaum can anchor the line and is a mauler in the run game.
The Cardinals have had a need at DB for some time now and finally address it early in the draft. McCreary has the potential to lock down his side of the field. He is a physical, athletic corner with great awareness and experience in any coverage.
EDGE, Florida State
The Cowboys could have a hole at defensive end with Randy Gregory set for offseason surgery and free agency and Demarcus Lawrence future with the team in question. Johnson has the versatility to play either side of the line, stand up and rush, or put his hand in the dirt. He should pair well with rookie DPOY Micah Parsons.
The Bills are one of the most complete football teams in the league and don’t have any real needs. They could add to the Edge, O-Line, or even CB depth. Coming off a crushing loss they look to load up even more firepower to compete with the other explosive offenses in the AFC and select Williams. If not for the injury in the Championship game, he might have been the first WR taken and possibly even cracked the top 10. The Bills have the luxury to be able to select Williams and allow them time to ease into the lineup in the event Williams needs the recovery time.
The Titans have one of the best defensive fronts in the league and now look to upgrade in the secondary. Sauce is a long, athletic corner who can shut down a number one WR. He had a fantastic career in college and may end up being the best corner in the class.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR, Ohio State
The Bucs lost Antonio Brown during the season and may likely lose Chris Godwin in Free Agency which suddenly leaves them a bit thin at WR. Olave has superb route running and gains excellent separation. He should fit seamlessly into Tampa Bay’s offense.
Green Bay Packers
WR, Penn State
The Packers will probably need to draft offensive weapons if they hope to keep Aaron Rodgers happy and playing in Green Bay. The Packers could also select an OT or get help on the Edge. Dotson is the speedy playmaker who runs crisp routes that Rodgers loves to have around.
OT, Northern Iowa
The Bengals surprised by taking the division crown on the back of their explosive offense. They really need to protect their young star QB Joe Burrow as they let him get sacked more than any other single QB. Penning plays with a physicality that the Bengals offensive line unit is lacking.
Miami is going to give Tua every chance to be successful here by pairing rookie standout Jaylen Waddle with Treylon Burks. Burks is a big, athletic target who the Dolphins just need to find a way to get the ball in his hands quickly or send up for 50/50 balls. He can line up in the slot, outside, or even in the backfield. Burks could be used much like the 49ers utilized Deebo this year and be a star.
I would have the Lions select a QB but it would make no sense since there are no trades in this scenario. KC and Jacksonville are not taking a QB in the next two picks so Detroit can take a QB at 34. Instead, the Lions double down on Michigan defensive players. Detroit tries to capitalize on the best Wolverine defense, possibly in recent memory, in order to reinvigorate the fanbase and the franchise. Hill is a rangy, versatile safety who has no issues coming downhill and plugging the run game.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs may have just as big of a need on the Edge but just can’t resist reloading and upgrading on offense. London would give Mahomes a massive weapon on the outside that would be perfect for intermediate routes over the middle. London won’t be seeing many double teams with Kelce and Hill around and will easily win the most contested catches by using his huge frame and basketball background.