It is not hyperbole to say that the 2022 NFL Draft has more uncertainty than any draft in recent memory.
Since I took over as the lead draft analyst in 2019, I have never felt less confident about a final mock. While I’m mildly confident in the ranges prospects will come off the board, exact team fits are anybody’s guess at this point.
I’ve been mocking Aidan Hutchinson to the Jags since December, but there’s too much smoke to ignore at this point. It would be unprecedented from a grading perspective, given that Walker put up just a 70.5 overall grade last season, but his physical tools are unmatched in the draft class.
2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
The dream scenario for the Lions. Edge isn’t necessarily a need, but you won’t find a more of a Dan Campbell disciple in the draft class. Hutch was the highest-graded defender in college football last year at 94.5.
Stingley’s pro day put him firmly back in the top-10 of this year’s draft, as the smooth-moving corner reminded evaluators how special his feet and ball skills are for the cornerback position. The LSU product recorded five picks and 15 pass breakups as a true freshman.
The pick of the tackle litter falls into the Jets' lap here. The top three tackles are nearly indistinguishable on most boards you’ll see, making this decision a glorified toss-up on who New York will have as their OT1.
Gardner’s commitment to ball is unparalleled — he is all business on and off the football field, and business is good. Gardner allowed a grand total of 343 yards over the past two seasons.
The Panthers need pass protection. They also need a quarterback. If they draft a rookie quarterback without shoring up the pass protection, however, there’s very little chance of that rookie succeeding to the point where he saves the jobs of the coaching staff.
7. New York Giants (From CHI): T Evan Neal, Alabama
Neal has a mini-tumble from the high billing he got during the season after opting out of all athletic testing. The Giants can’t pass on the only tackle in the top-tier of this class with experience on the right side.
The Falcons have time for Williams to recover from an ACL injury because they know they aren’t playing for this season after the Matt Ryan trade. Williams' speed is the trump-card trait no one can match in this receiver class.
9. Seattle Seahawks (From DEN): EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Thibodeaux has been billed by multiple reports as “not everyone’s cup of tea.” That’s perfectly fine for Seattle, though, as they can afford the time for him to develop.
10. New York Jets (From SEA): EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
The freak show gets another addition. The Commanders have added some insane athletic outliers to their defense in recent years, and the 6-foot-4, 220-pound safety is no exception.
Wilson may be the single most dynamic receiver in the draft class, and that’s something the McVay offensive tree is built to take advantage of. The Ohio State receiver broke 15 tackles after the catch last season.
13. Los Angeles Chargers (From CLV, via HST): T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Penning may very well be seen as the last viable starter in this tackle class, meaning the Chargers have an impetus to jump tackle-needy teams like the Ravens and Saints. Penning has been working out with Rashawn Slater this offseason, and that could give Tom Telesco some much-needed inside info.
Davis just feels like a Raven. They aren’t going to let their defensive front crumble to the point of what we saw last year for long. Davis can wreak havoc from the nose.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (From MIA): CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
McDuffie is perfect for the Eagles' zone-heavy defense (80% of snaps in 2021). He possesses an extremely high football IQ and is dynamite as a tackler, with only seven misses on 102 career attempts.
16. New Orleans Saints (From IND, via PHI): QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Pickett is likely the most seamless fit into Pete Carmichael’s offense of any quarterback in the draft. The Saints have to stay cheap at quarterback to keep the current roster intact.
17.: Houston Texans (From LAC): LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
The Texans need culture-changers, and Lloyd qualifies as that. He earned grades above 80.0 in all three facets of the linebacker position last year and his nearly 6-foot-8 wingspan is perfect to drop to the middle in Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (From NO): EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
The Eagles have a “type” along the edge, and Karlaftis fits that to a T. He’s a powerful bull-rusher who has been producing ever since he racked up 55 pressures as a true freshman in 2019.
19. New Orleans Saints (From PHI): WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
With Michael Thomas as the underneath threat, Olave can provide the much-needed field-stretching in the Saints offense. His “NFL readiness” will be coveted by the Saints, as well.
It may take a trade-up in the actual draft, but Willis seemed like the apple of Mike Tomlin’s eye this pre-draft process. Last season, the Liberty passer put up the third-highest big-time throw rate we’ve seen in our eight years of college grading.
Bill Belichick has a history of transforming talented all-around jumbo athletes into productive off-ball linebackers. Walker fits that bill as well as anyone in this class. It showed on tape as a tackler, where he missed only seven of his 138 attempts in his career.
22. Green Bay Packers (From LV): WR Drake London, USC
London gets a mini-fall here, with few clean fits after the early run on the position combined with his ankle injury and lack of pre-draft testing. He fits the Packers' size mold and immediately brings the best catch radius in the draft to Aaron Rodgers.
The Cardinals could go a bunch of different ways, but the need and value of Booth make a ton of sense here. Booth ended his Clemson career with three picks and two pass breakups, allowing just three catches from 12 targets for 86 yards in his final three games.
Johnson’s versatility wins out for the Cowboys' offensive line needs. He showed well at center during Senior Bowl practices, will be a plug-and-play guard and can even play tackle in a pinch if need be. He allowed all of six pressures last season.
25. Buffalo Bills: DI Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Brandon Beane goes back to the defensive line well, this time to get another elite athlete on the interior. Wyatt was the highest-graded defensive lineman at the Senior Bowl and can make an impact from Day 1.
Green has guard-tackle versatility and has been producing for three seasons as a starter. He played four positions in the first six weeks of 2021.
Hill is the best pure man slot corner in the draft class. That’s a skill set Todd Bowles’ defense will no doubt covet. He could even be seen as a corner by some with his absurd 6-foot-7 wingspan.
The Packers like young, athletic offensive linemen, and Smith fits that bill. He led the nation with 21 big-time blocks in 2021. He also led the nation with 16 penalties.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (From SF, via MIA): WR George Pickens, Georgia
Pickens has the alpha talent the Chiefs offense is missing with Tyreek Hill in Miami, only he comes with a number of red flags. The Chiefs have boomed on players with red flags far more than they’ve busted.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Boye Mafe, Minnesota
Mafe is an ascending edge rusher with an elite physical profile. The Chiefs may very well buy into the show he put on at the Senior Bowl, where he earned a 92.6 pass-rushing grade over the week.
Linderbaum isn’t a scheme fit for everyone, meaning there’s not a clear fit prior to this. The Bengals sure aren’t upset about it because he’s perfect for their wide-zone-heavy attack.
Why not throw another proverbial dart at the quarterback dartboard? The improving Lions aren’t likely to own a top-five pick next spring, making this maybe their best chance at drafting the quarterback of the future. Howell led the draft class in big-time throws over his career.