NFL Mock Draft 2022: Eagles, Jets land defensive stars with slew of top picks; Steelers, Broncos find QBs
With the 2021 NFL season turning the page to November after seven weeks of action, it’s time to clock in with another 2022 NFL mock draft. There’s now more of an idea of what teams are not making the playoffs and which need to focus more on rebuilding and improving their team for next season.
Multiple teams have multiple first-rounders and some of the early developments are setting up big opportunities to rack up top prospects. Two of those teams, the Eagles and Jets, would account for five of the first 13 picks.
NFL mock draft 2022
1. Detroit Lions
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-1, 215 pounds)
There are many defensive studs battling for the title of top overall prospect in the class, but the Lions cannot afford going in that direction with Jared Goff looking terrible as a bridge quarterback. Willis has a cannon for an arm and great speed. He should have the potential to make scouting jaws drop at the position and make them less concerned about his small-school status given his awesome play so far.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (6-5, 258 pounds)
The Eagles may be thinking about quarterback with one of the three high first-rounders for now given their developing lukewarm feeling toward Jalen Hurts, but they also need to rev up the edge pass rush with Brandon Graham tearing his Achilles’ before his age 34 season and Derek Barnett heading into free agency. Thibodeaux has continued to look the part of the most explosive disruptor available.
3. Houston Texans
- Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan (6-6, 265 pounds)
The Texans need to replace the high-energy of J.J. Watt on their pass rush and run defense. They can tap into the Big Ten again for the ideal 4-3 defensive prospect who has smashing it for the Wolverines, taking over games by getting into the backfield often. Hutchinson uses great technique and strength to rack up sacks (5 in 7 games).
4. New York Jets
- Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU (6-1, 195 pounds)
The Jets have gotten some good cornerback play in the first of Robert Saleh’s defense, but in a zone scheme that connects to Seattle’s “Legion of Boom”, they need a more dynamic playmaking presence. Stingley is a do-everything impact defensive back who can cover a lot of ground and different types of receivers.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (6-7, 350 pounds)
Trevor Lawrence will need better offensive line support in Year 2. So will Travis Etienne when he returns from his foot injury, to boost his running game. Neal is a no-brainer to dominate as a pass protector and run blocker for many years to come. Cam Robinson is fading badly as a pending free agent, so Neal should straight right away at left tackle.
6. Philadelphia Eagles
- Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6-4, 220 pounds)
The Eagles will have a need at safety in 2022, either needing to replace aging Rodney McLeod or pending free agent Anthony Harris. Hamilton makes a lot of sense as an intelligent all-around force to clean up for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
7. New York Giants
- Kenyon Green, G/OT Texas A&M (6-4, 325 pounds)
The Giants need to upgrade their offensive line badly and they can go for the best, most versatile player to help them there, one who could start for them at either left guard next to Andrew Thomas or right tackle opposite Thomas. Green’s size and strength profile as that of a long-time run-blocking rock.
8. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
DeMarvin Leal, DT/DE, Texas A&M (6-4, 290 pounds)
The Jets can go to work on another key area of their pass defense. Leal is the real deal as a versatile disruptor who can thrive lining up anywhere inside or outside on Saleh’s four-man front. He’s shown off his interior pass-rushing skills with 5.5 sacks but he also is a stout run stopper.
9. Washington Football Team
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (6-0, 200 pounds)
Washington has enough evidence, after bridge starter Ryan Fitzpatrick went on the shelf with a hip injury, that Taylor Heinicke, despite some arm and athleticism flashes, isn’t an option for a franchise quarterback. Corral is a dynamic athlete and confident runner who also shows aggressiveness with a big arm. He has quickly refined his raw skills under Lane Kiffin.
10. Miami Dolphins (from 49ers)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 189 pounds)
The Dolphins did well by using a first-rounder on the speed and quickness of Jaylen Waddle to lift Tua Tagovailoa and need to think about re-signing tight end Mike Gesicki, too. But Waddle is more of a complementary inside-outside big play threat. Olave has great speed, quickness and burst to fill the role of a true No. 1 well, given DeVante Parker’s continued injury issues while signed through only 2023.
11. New England Patriots
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 188 pounds)
Wilson has been a good complementary technician to Olave and does everything required of him well but he also has his share of big-play qualities. That sounds like a Patriots-style of receiver to give Mac Jones a younger playmaker to boost Hunter Henry and Jakobi Meyers.
12. Denver Broncos
- Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (6-4, 215 pounds)
Ridder has been a great, tough leader for the Bearcats, also showing he’s a natural dual threat for the NFL with his strong arm and running skills. The Broncos are getting good play from Teddy Bridgewater but he’s only a bridge and Drew Lock already has proved not to be John Elway’s answer.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (from Colts)
- Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson (6-0, 200 pounds)
Darius Slay has rediscovered his groove as savvy shutdown and big-play corner but he has a makeshift starter opposite him in Steven Nelson, who is a pending free agent for his age 29 season. Booth is a strong, active corner who has the speed and ball skills to make a lot of big plays.
14. Carolina Panthers
- Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State (6-5, 310 pounds)
The Panthers will think about quarterback should the right scenario develop (such as picking early) but they can always fall back on the desperate need for a rock of a an all-around agile offensive tackle. Cross has a powerful upper body, strong hands and a mean and nasty aspect to his blocking, too.
15. New York Giants (from Bears)
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (6-3, 290 pounds)
The Giants would be smart to double up on can’t-miss offensive lineman in the first round. After landing Green, Linderbaum, an intelligent rock of an interior blocker and a perfect long-term line leader, would be a great fit, too, as a major upgrade from Billy Price.
16. Kansas City Chiefs
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue (6-4, 275 pounds)
Moving Chris Jones to defensive end has not worked out well for the Chiefs, given he’s been hurt and Frank Clark, also batting injury, has been disappointing with his effectiveness on the other end. They need to slide Jones back inside and get a legitimate fresh-leg force for the outside in their 4-3. Karlaftis has has elite athleticism for his size.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC (6-4, 250 pounds)
Jackson had a slow start with limited production for the Trojans and had to deal with a foot injury, too, but he’s back standing out with a big October getting to the quarterback. His agility and versatility are ideal for Dean Pees’ version of the 3-4.
18. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (6-3, 220 pounds)
Pickett has surged into first-round consideration with other big-name QBs fading thanks to outstanding play to make the Panthers a formidable ranked offensive-minded foe in the ACC. He has natural deep-ball accuracy and football intelligence, both which profile well in the current Steelers offense under Matt Canada. The ideal successor is lining up for Ben Roethlisberger.
19. Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Peterson was a disappointing one-year stopgap before his injury. Bashaud Breeland keeps getting burned. The Vikings’ desperately need to clean up corner for Mike Zimmer. Elam has the size and coverage efficiency to develop into a savvy shutdown type.
20. Cleveland Browns
- Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (6-6, 340 pounds)
The Browns have two Maliks starting instead, the veteran Jackson, who’s a 31-year-old pending free agent, and McDowell, a young retread second-rounder. Davis would make a ton of sense to put inside along with Myles Garrett. Davis has a massive frame and would fit well in their run-stopping scheme.
21. New Orleans Saints
- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (6-3, 225 pounds)
Between Michael Thomas’ lingering injury issues and still not having a reliable No. 2 option, the Saints need to think about wideout ahead of QB considering they are winning with a still-young Jameis Winston. Burks is good enough with his size and speed to develop into a field-stretching well-rounded No. 1 type to complement Thomas’ possession skills well.
22. Los Angeles Chargers
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (6-3, 200 pounds)
Gardner is a well-rounded cover man who matches his size with agility to get all over the field to handle different types of receivers, which is what the Chargers still need for Brandon Staley. He would be a nice complement to rookie Asante Samuel Jr.
23. Baltimore Ravens
- Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma (6-4, 292 pounds)
Brandon Williams, 32, is fading at nose tackle. Derek Wolfe, 31 hasn’t been healthy to support Calais Campbell, either. The Ravens need a versatile option up front. Winfrey already has great power and technique and just needs to work on his efficient speed to remain a disruptor in the NFL.
24. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (6-5, 255 pounds)
The Lions, after addressing quarterback with the top picks, need to turn their attention to shoring up the pass defense up front for Aaron Glenn. Sanders has freakish pass-rush qualities and can line up in many places to get to the quarterback.
25. Dallas Cowboys
Ikem Ekwonu, G, NC State (6-4, 320 pounds)
Connor Williams is a pending free agent and Zack Martin will be on the other side of 30 next season. Here’s a potential upgrade from Williams at left guard. Ekwonu, who has played left tackle for the Wolfpack, is rising fast as an intimidating, powerful prospect. He can boost the Cowboys’ interior run blocking with size and strength.
26. Buffalo Bills
- Drake London, WR, USC (6-5, 210 pounds)
London has shot up in a weaker wide receiver class using his size, hands and quickness to dominate the competition in 2021. He has been a pass-catching machine all the way through the red zone with 79 catches for 1,003 yards and 5 TDs in only 7 games. He can be a long-term complement to Stefon Diggs outside vs. 34-year-old Emmanuel Sanders.
27. Tennessee Titans
Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah (6-2, 235 pounds)
The Titans will have a massive void to address in the middle of their defense as Rashaan Evans, Jayon Brown and Avery Williamson are all unsigned for 2022. There are many intriguing rangy playmakers in the class, but none had pulled away from the other until Lloyd stared to look every bit the part as a leader, thumpy tackler, savvy cover man, good pass rusher and all-out active producer.
28. Green Bay Packers
John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (6-0, 195 pounds)
The Packers have some flash young players to complement Davante Adams at wideout, but none of them are consistent, well-rounded reliable threats for Aaron Rodgers. Whether it’s still Rodgers or Jodan Love at QB (and keeping in mind Adams is also unsigned), Metchie, rounding into a more complete target like top Crimson Tide prospects before him, is a solid fit.
29. Las Vegas Raiders
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (5-11, 195 pounds)
Veteran Casey Heyward Jr. and rookie slot Nate Hobbs have been their best defensive backs, but recent high draft picks Treyvon Mullen Jr. and Damon Arnette have been disappointing in coverage and now both are injured. McDuffie offers great explosiveness and quickness in coverage and can also handle bigger wide receivers.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia (6-0, 225 pounds)
The Buccaneers need to groom a replacement for fading and now injured Lavonte David who will be going into his age 32 season in 2022. Dean is having a big year, honing his pass rush skills inside on top of his rangy athleticism that allow him fly sideline-to-sideline to make plays. There were concerns about his size (heft vs more than height) but his playmaking is starting to more than compensate for that.
31. Cincinnati Bengals
- Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (6-5, 315 pounds)
The Bengals have gotten OK play from Jonah Williams at left tackle but fading Riley Reiff has not played all that well at left tackle. Wherever Cincinnati might pick as a surprise AFC playoff team in 2022, it should be well positioned to upgrade the pass protection for Joe Burrow, validating the pick of wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase early in the 2021 draft. Petit-Frere has risen up boards as he’s taken on a prominent role on the left side and showed off exceptional all-around blocking for an explosive offense.
32. Arizona Cardinals
Adam Anderson, OLB, Georgia (6-5, 320 pounds)
Chandler Jones is a pending free agent going into his age 32 season and after one massive game (5 sacks) against the Titans, he hasn’t done much as a pass rusher or run defender. The Cardinals should be thinking more about a replacement. Anderson’s natural speed and explosiveness give him a high pass-rushing floor and he can round into a more complete player with better moves.