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DiDi’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

(Image credit: Mark Lane/USA Today Sports)

Written By: Matt Di Domenico

Twitter: @didomenicomatt5

Now that free agency has slowed down a bit and hopefully no more big-time trades happen in the next couple of days, I wanted to release a mock draft for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. This is my straight opinion with an explanation below the selections. There will be trades included in this mock which have been broken down with a draft calculator.

Pick #1: Jacksonville Jaguars- Aidan Hutchinson Edge, Michigan

For the second year in a row, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be picking number #1 overall and really this pick is between 3 potential players in my opinion. Those potential 3 players are Aidan Hutchinson, Evan Neal, and Ikem Ekwonu. I understand the point that Jacksonville could add even more offensive line help with Neal or Ekwonu, but Hutchinson is one of those impactful edge rushers that the Jaguars simply cannot pass on. Hutchinson rushes the passer with a high motor and simply would be a great addition to get after opposing QBs on the other side of Josh Allen. Hutchinson can bend and mix speed to power at a very high level. If Jacksonville did not sign Brandon Scherff or franchise tag Cam Robinson, then one of the offensive linemen would have been the selection here.

Pick #2: Detroit Lions- Kayvon Thibodeaux Edge, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux has seen his draft stock fall in the past couple of months. After Thibodeaux ran his 40-yard dash of 4.58 seconds, he made the decision to not participate in the on-field workout portion of the combine. That decision has questioned Thibodeaux's passion for the game of football. Even before this situation at the combine happened, questions about his passion for the game were being raised. Many eyebrows have been raised, and Thibodeaux is a huge wildcard for this draft. The Detroit Lions are in a spot where they will not be competing for a few more years so to me, the best decision is to take a risk on the explosive and dominant pass rusher in Thibodeaux. Lions head coach Dan Campbell will be the true test to see if Thibodeaux has that passion for football. Getting that explosive edge rusher for the Lions' 31st ranked defense from a season ago needs to happen for this franchise.

Pick #3: Houston Texans- Evan Neal OT, Alabama

The Houston Texans are so far away from even competing and really getting this roster filled with the proper talent to even win more than one game in 2022. After trading their star QB Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, I was so tempted to take either Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett but in reality, the best decision for this franchise moving forward is to get a sure bet player that can be impactful for that next franchise QB. Evan Neal is one of those versatile offensive linemen that can play at either OT positions. Neal would fill in at the RT spot because of the presence of Laremy Tunsil at the LT position. Neal could even play at the interior of the offensive line, but I think the Texans select him to help out at the edge.

Pick #4: New York Jets- Ahmad Gardner CB, Cincinnati

At pick #4, it really was between two players here for the New York Jets. Those two players were the lockdown CB in Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner out of Cincinnati or the Swiss army knife in Kyle Hamilton out of Notre Dame. “Sauce” Gardner was the pick here simply because the Jets need to get that dominant CB that can play with these talented and explosive WRs in the AFC East. Gardner is one of those lengthy and fast CBs that plays with a lot of confidence. This is a player that would excel in a spot with Robert Saleh. The Jets really need to get back at having one of those dominant CBs that shuts down a team’s #1 WR and can even cover a quarter or half of the football field. Gardner is a huge fit for the Jets and now the Jets look like a team that is ready to make some noise.

Pick #5: New York Giants- Ikem Ekwonu OT, NC State

Very similar to the Houston Texans pick here with the New York Giants at pick #5. The Giants grab Ikem Ekwonu out of NC State. Ekwonu is arguably the best offensive linemen prospect in the entire draft. Ekwonu is a lot like Evan Neal when it comes to his versatility of playing at the edge or inside of the offensive line. New York needs to improve this offensive line desperately and Ekwonu should fill right into that RT spot for big blue. What I like the most about Ekwonu is that he has great body control and footwork to mirror top pass rushers. This is a huge win here for the Giants and Daniel Jones. Would be a great first selection for the first-year general manager Joe Schoen.

Pick #6: Carolina Panthers- Malik Willis QB, Liberty

After having an impressive pro day, Malik Willis has had his draft stock increase a decent amount. Even with that in mind, I still think the Carolina Panthers will be taking a QB here at pick #6. I do feel that Matt Rhule and Scott Fitterer are making decisions to save their jobs. Both men hope that Willis will be their guy in doing so. Willis is a big-armed QB that can make plays outside the pocket. I do not feel that Carolina will take Kenny Pickett instead of Willis because Pickett is a very similar QB to Sam Darnold who is currently on the roster already. Willis will be a nice fit here for the Panthers and I do think it is a small reach that Carolina will and will have to make come draft night.

Pick #7: New York Giants- Kyle Hamilton S, Notre Dame

Big blue grabbed Ikem Ekwonu at pick #4 and now the New York Giants come back to grab one of my favorite players in the entire draft. There were so many considerations to make here at pick #7 for the Giants, but the talent that Kyle Hamilton has was just way too high for the Giants to pass up on. Hamilton really is a Swiss army knife that can do it all. Hamilton can play both free and strong safety in addition to coming down into the box to play an ILB role. This is one of the most talented players in the entire draft and Joe Schoen would be foolish to pass up on Hamilton. Edge rusher was a need here for big blue, but I feel they can find a solid edge prospect in the later rounds.

Pick #8 (Trade) Philadelphia Eagles- Drake London WR, USC

(ALT Receives: #15, #19, #166, 2023 7th-Round Pick)

First trade of the mock draft and I feel it will be coming from the Philadelphia Eagles because of the amount of draft capital that they have in this draft. The Atlanta Falcons certainly are in rebuild mode and trade back here. The Eagles come up to pick #8 with a trade with the Falcons to grab their WR1. Philadelphia gives up picks #15, #19, #166, and their 2023 7th-round pick to take Drake London out of USC. London is one of those dominantly physical WRs that is simply a freak. The run after the catch ability that London has is simply rare. Defenders do not want to hit the 6’4” 219-pound receiver in the open field. In addition, London has great hands and the ability to separate from defenders. Huge pick for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles still have pick #16 later in the first round.

Pick #9: Seattle Seahawks- Charles Cross OT, Mississippi State

Russell Wilson now has been traded to the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks have to find a new franchise QB, but Seattle does not take that QB here at pick #9. The Seahawks do not take Kenny Pickett here because I think the Seahawks roster is simply too far out to make a move on a rookie QB already. With that in mind, a rookie QB would not fare well, especially behind the offensive line that shipped Wilson off to Denver. Instead, the Seahawks improved the underperforming offensive line by taking Charles Cross out of Mississippi State. Cross is one of the best pass-protecting linemen in the draft and will be the future blindside protector at LT for Seattle. The Seahawks need to improve their offensive line before they go out and get their single caller.

Pick #10: New York Jets- Jermaine Johnson Edge, Florida State

Now that the New York Jets grabbed their shut down CB at pick #4 with Ahmad Gardner, they come back here at pick #10 to take their high-running edge rusher out of Florida State. This pick was really between the two edge rushers in Jermaine Johnson and Travon Walker. The Jets go with Jermaine Johnson simply because of the passion and drive that is all over the film. Johnson was a huge riser after his dominant senior bowl performance. Johnson is one of those edge rushers that is quick off the LOS and rushes with a variety of pass-rushing moves. Saleh gets his edge rusher that will play with the passion that he wants. This Jets roster is starting to take form to compete in the AFC East.

Pick #11: Washington Commanders- Garret Wilson WR, Ohio State

There were plenty of players for the Washington Commanders to consider here at pick #10, including high-quality CBs with Derek Stingley Jr. and Andrew Booth Jr. still on the board. Instead, I decided to give the new Commanders QB in Carson Wentz another top target in Garret Wilson out of Ohio State. Wilson is an explosive playmaking WR with a 4.38 speed. Wilson can play at any of the receiver positions and is simply explosive after the catch. Wilson is an excellent route runner that will fill in nicely with Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. Wentz now has top receiving options that can do a multiple of things on the football field.

Pick #12: Minnesota Vikings- Derek Stingley Jr CB, LSU

Derek Stingley Jr. is the no-brainer pick here for the Minnesota Vikings at pick #12. The Vikings are very thin at the CB position and need to add some more talent at the position. Stingley has had some up and down film the past two years but has shown some tremendous talent throughout his time at LSU. Stingley has some quick speed and fluid hips to stick with receivers deep down the field. This will be the first selection by the new general manager in Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for the Vikings. The Vikings are trying to build a roster to finally take down Green Bay which will be a tough task of course. Making more huge additions to a defense that will look to improve in 2022 should be the goal here for Minnesota at pick #12.

Pick #13: Houston Texans- Travon Walker Edge, Georgia

The Houston Texans come right back here at pick #13 to improve their pass rush by taking the huge edge rusher out of Georgia in Travon Walker. Walker has the body type and speed to play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 DE or can play standing up in a 3-4 OLB role. When rushing the passer, Walker has violet hands that allow him to create separation when coming off the edge. This is one of the top edge rushers that was huge in Georgia's ability to win the College Football Playoffs. For Houston, they got their future OT in Evan Neal and now get their future edge rusher here in Walker who will attempt to turn this Texans defense around for years to come.

Pick #14: Baltimore Ravens- Jordan Davis DT, Georgia

A tough decision for the Baltimore Ravens here at pick #14 after seeing the explosive edge rusher in Trevon Walker go off the board a pick before. The Ravens still grab a Georgia defensive lineman here at pick #14 with the huge DT in Jordan Davis. Davis just blew up the NFL combine and has had his stock rise over the past month. Davis stands at a massive 6’6” and weighs in at 341-pounds. Even with all that weight, Davis was able to run a 4.78 40-yard dash. Davis is a DT that will plug up the middle of this Ravens defensive line right beside Michael Pierce who will be turning 30 in November. This is a powerful DT that will gain a whole lot of attention because of the push he can make up the middle of the pocket.

Pick #15 (T: PHI) Atlanta Falcons- Jameson Williams WR, Alabama

After trading down from pick #8 to pick #15, the Atlanta Falcons are able to add to their roster with the talented and speedy WR out of Alabama in Jameson Williams. The Falcons get Williams and also add picks #19, #166, and a 2023 7th-round pick. Williams is one of the fastest players in the entire draft. If Williams never tore his ACL, he would arguably be the first WR taken in this draft. The Falcons need incredible help at the wide receiver position and Williams can create a tremendous amount of separation throughout his routes. The YAC ability is enormous in Williams play so the Falcons are getting quite the playmaker once he is fully healthy. There have been too many problems in Atlanta’s receiving core so it needs to be addressed in this draft.

Pick #16: Philadelphia Eagles- Andrew Booth Jr. CB, Clemson

Very underrated player here is Andrew Booth Jr. out of Clemson. After trading up to pick #8 to take Drake London, the Philadelphia Eagles take Booth Jr. with the 16th pick to sure up their secondary and CB group. The Eagles need to add more talent and pure skill to their CB room. Darius Slay had a good season last year but he is 31. Having Avonte Maddox as the CB2 certainly is not ideal. Booth Jr. has a very quick burst and feet to close the gaps on WRs all over the field. Booth Jr. is also a very solid tackler in open space and his ball skills are top notched. Booth Jr. reminds me a lot of Jaire Alexander who would be a perfect CB for this Eagles defense.

Pick #17: Los Angeles Chargers- Devonte Wyatt DT, Georgia

Many mock drafts have the Los Angeles Chargers taking an OT here at pick #14. Trevor Penning is still on the board which would seem like the ideal pick for the Chargers, but I simply went with Devonte Wyatt out of Georgia because he is simply too intriguing. Wyatt being paired up with this defensive line of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack would just be dangerous. Wyatt has explosive punches and pop that allow him to penetrate the A-gap so quickly. Wyatt is one of those defensive linemen that shows incredible pursuit to get after the intended ball carriers. The Chargers beef up that defensive line and can still come back in the later rounds to address more protection for Justin Herbert.

Pick #18 (Trade) Kansas City Chiefs- Treylon Burks WR, Arkansas

(NO Receives: #29, #50, #135, #252, 2023 7th Round Pick)

Tyreek Hill was dealt to the Miami Dolphins for a set of picks and now the Kansas City Chiefs have to replace his production. The Chiefs have already gone out, signing Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency. Even with those signings, the Chiefs still make a trade up to pick #18 here. The Chiefs have too much draft capital not to trade up, and they do so by dealing picks #29, #50, #135, #252, and a 2023 7th round pick. With all that, the Chiefs grab their guy in the physical Treylon Burks out of Arkansas. Kansas City adds another talent for the WR room and for Patrick Mahomes to throw to. Burks is a WR that can simply do it all. On film, his speed, hands, pure route running, and pure ability to get physical with defenders popped all over the place. Burks' play reminds me a lot of A.J. Brown on the Titans. This Chiefs offense still looks as strong as ever with this selection and they still hold on to the 30th pick.

Pick #19 (T: PHI) Atlanta Falcons- Devin Lloyd LB, Utah

The Atlanta Falcons could have gone many different directions with this pick after they already addressed the WR problem. One direction was taking a chance on a young QB. However, Devin Lloyd out of Utah is one special LB that would be a great addition to this Falcons defense. Lloyd has the sideline to sideline burst that just pops everywhere on film. Lloyd is also a defender that can play multiple LB positions for this defense. Lloyd could be used as an OLB in this 3-4 scheme that Atlanta has set in place. Yes, the Falcons still have Deon Jones, but Lloyd would be excellent playing and lining up next to Jones. The drafting of Lloyd here at pick #19 gives the Falcons arguably the best LB duo in the league.

Pick #20 (Trade) Buffalo Bills- Trent McDuffie CB, Washington

(PIT Receives: #25, #89, #185, 2023 4th-Round Pick)

Super aggressive move here by general manager Brandon Beane and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills trade up from pick #25 in addition to giving up picks #89, #185, and a 2023 4th-round pick. The Bills have to make this trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers to get their guy in CB Trent McDuffie. The Bills make this move here simply because it allows them to jump in front of New England who is also in need of a CB. McDuffie is a very aggressive CB that can hit some opponents like a LB. McDuffie has very solid body control and quickness when in coverage as well. The Bills starting all-pro CB in Tre'Davious White is coming off an ACL tear in 2021, so the Bills must get more CB talent in their facility to make that Super Bowl push in the AFC.

Pick #21: New England Patriots- Nakobe Dean LB, Georgia

Since the value at the CB position is not here at the moment for the New England Patriots at pick #21, they go in a different direction which is LB Nakobe Dean out of Georgia. Once again, the Patriots take a top defensive talent in the draft. Dean was one of the best players on that championship Georgia team and surely will make an impact on this Patriots defense. Dean is that true 3-down LB that is extremely explosive when he makes contact with a ball carrier. Dean has the versatility and athletic ability to even cover RBs coming out of the backfield. The Patriots have to improve their defense to compete with the Buffalo Bills. CB would have helped a lot here at pick #21 but Dean certainly is a great plan B option for Belichick and the rest of the Patriots staff.

Pick #22: Green Bay Packers- Chris Olave WR, Ohio State

Finally! The Green Bay Packers finally take a 1st-round WR here at pick #22. The Packers dealt their all-pro WR in Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders for this pick and an extra 2nd round pick. On top of the Adams trade, Green Bay lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Packers are in desperate need of WR talent and simply WRs for their roster. That need for a WR will lead to Green Bay taking the speedy WR in Chris Olave out of Ohio State. Olave is a WR that has excellent body control, runs crisp/smooth routes, and has the ability to pick up quick extra yardage after the catch is made. This is a great fit for Olave where he gets to have the reigning MVP in Aaron Rodgers throwing him the rock.

Pick #23: Arizona Cardinals- Kenyon Green OG, Texas A&M

The one area of focus for the Arizona Cardinals moving forward should be protecting Kyler Murray at all costs. The RG position on the offensive line is very weak for Arizona. Justin Pugh, who is the starting LG, will be a UFA next season for the Cardinals as well. With that in mind, the Cardinals take Kenyon Green here with the 23rd overall pick. Green is one of the best interior offensive linemen in this draft. Green has a very deadly punch off the snap of the ball to knock rushers off balance. Green was able to clear a lot of running lanes during his time at Texas A&M. With Aaron Donald still in this division of the NFC West, the Cardinals have to bulk up their line moving forward, or else Kyler Murray will be in the turf more often than not.

Pick #24: Dallas Cowboys- Trevor Penning OT, Northern Iowa

Protecting QB Dak Prescott has to be the number #1 objective for the Dallas Cowboys as well moving forward in this draft. The Cowboys parted ways with RT La’el Collins and lost LG Conner Williams to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. In addition, LT Tyron Smith has had injury concerns in the past and is at the age of 31. All this leads to the selection of OT Trevor Penning out of Northern Iowa here at pick #24. Penning is a nasty OT that will throw rushers to the ground with complete force. This is an OT that plays with a lot of power and is very compacted. Penning should fill right into the RT role for this Cowboys offensive line. The Cowboys could have gone edge here but the offensive line is a bigger need and will have to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Pick #25 (T: BUF) Pittsburgh Steelers- Kenny Pickett QB, Pittsburgh

Smart idea by the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade down with the Buffalo Bills to gain picks, and most importantly still get Kenny Pickett moving forward at the QB position. By making this pick, the Steelers have their QB of the future. Pickett does have small hands but stands at a height of 6’3”. Pickett has the arm strength to push the ball deep down the field and has the ability to extend plays with his legs. Pickett will have to compete for the starting QB job against Mitch Trubisky who was picked up in free agency by Pittsburgh. The Steelers take a risk here on Pickett because of the production he had in 2021. The Steelers were able to get more picks in trading down with Buffalo and look to take their time with Pickett.

Pick #26: Tennessee Titans- Jahan Dotson WR, Penn State

Since the release of receiver Julia Jones, the Tennessee Titans have added WR Robert Woods in a trade. Woods however is coming off an ACL tear so we do not know where he will be at. With that in mind, the Titans still need to go and get receiver help. That big need then leads Tennessee in taking Penn State's own Jahan Dotson. Dotson has some of the best hands in the entire draft. This is a WR that will fit in nicely besides Brown and Woods. Dotson has experience playing in both the slot and boundary receiver roles at Penn State. In addition, the Titans can use Dotson for special teams if they do not have a designated return man.

Pick #27: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Tyler Linderbaum C, Iowa

One of the biggest steals in the entire first round here at pick #27 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the selection of Tyler Linderbaum out of Iowa. Yes, Tampa Bay does have a stud center in Ryan Jensen that they just re-signed, but I do think that Linderbaum has the talent to move over to OG and be effective. I did go back and forth here between Linderbaum and Zion Johnson, but I went with Linderbaum because I think he is the better prospect. The Buccaneers have a hole at LG and protecting Tom Brady is the number #1 goal for this team moving forward. Linderbaum is a very aggressive offensive lineman that will put defenders into the turf. This is a player with an incredible amount of drive and toughness. The straight power and skills at the POA in Linderbaum's arsenal are just too much for Tampa to not take the risk on.

Pick #28: Green Bay Packers- Daniel Faalele OT, Minnesota

With the Green Bay Packers' 2nd pick in the first round, the Packers select the massive Daniel Faalele out of Minnesota. Faalele is a 6’8”, 384-pound RT that would fill right into the starting RT spot after the Packers released Billy Turner to get over the salary cap. For Faalele’s size, he moves surprisingly well off the LOS. Faalele does need to improve his quickness and mirror ability in pass protection, but this is a rare-sized human being that has incredible traits of power at the POA. The Packers have to get more depth on the offensive line and Faalele would be a great fit for this Packers team moving forward. I know a lot of people are expecting a 2nd WR taken with the 28th selection but this is a very deep draft when it comes to receivers.

Pick #29 (T: KC) New Orleans Saints- Christian Watson WR, North Dakota State

Yes, that is right, no QB taken here by the New Orleans Saints after they traded down with the Kansas City Chiefs. I think the Saints are really going to give Jameis Winston his fair shot after he tore his ACL in 2021. Picking at #18 really does not make a lot of sense, especially with the offer Kansas City could provide. Instead, the Saints can still address the WR position with the selection of Christian Watson out of North Dakota State. Watson is a do it all WR that ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at 6’4” and 202 pounds. Watson excels in press coverage and has the ability to make contested catches all over the field. The Saints have to get that true WR2 after having past troubling seasons with Michael Thomas.

Pick #30: Kansas City Chiefs- George Karlaftis Edge, Purdue

One of, if not the best power edge rushers coming out of this draft. George Karlaftis would be a perfect fit for the Kansas City Chiefs here at pick #30. Karlaftis is an edge rusher that can rush standing up in a 3-4 scheme or with his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 scheme. Karlaftis has explosive movement off the LOS, good balance, and is really explosive with his hands at the POA. Karlaftis was able to power through a lot of OTs but was also able to set the edge in the run game at a decent rate during his time at Purdue. This is an edge rusher that the Chiefs will utilize rushing out of a 5-technique. The Chiefs have to get that dominant pass rusher on the opposite side of Frank Clark and Karlaftis is that guy here at pick #30.

Pick #31: Cincinnati Bengals- Kaiir Elam CB, Florida

It was quite the year for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021. Getting all the way to the Super Bowl as a 4th seed and falling short to the Los Angeles Rams was quite the accomplishment for such a young team. The Bengals are still retaining most of their players from their Super Bowl run. The Bengals have also revamped their offensive line in free agency, so it really is not a need here at pick #31. Instead, Cincinnati takes Kaiir Elam out of Florida to help improve the depth in the CB room. You can never have enough CBs in today's NFL. Elam has good hips and athletic traits that allows him to attack WRs early on at the LOS. Elam has great size and shifty feet to mirror WRs when they enter the breaking point of their routes. The Bengals only signed Eli Apple to a 1-year deal so Elam can be the replacement in future years.

Pick #32: Detroit Lions- Daxton Hill S, Michigan

Going QB here at pick #32 is a real possibility for the Detroit Lions. The reason why it is extremely possible is because of the 5th-year option to utilize if a QB was selected here. However, I do not think the Lions will value any remaining QBs left on the board to go at this pick. With that, Detroit selects one of its own in Michigan's Daxton Hill. Hill is a very versatile safety that I see playing at the FS role for this Lions team. Hill is so versatile that he can even play in the nickel CB role. This is not a dominantly strong player in run support but will certainly help this struggling Lions secondary. The Lions have to improve their secondary and Hill is only going to be an assist.

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