2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux goes No. 1 to Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles stock up on offensive weapons | NFL Draft | PFF

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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux goes No. 1 to Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles stock up on offensive weapons

NFL mock drafts have varying purposes, and it can be frustrating for the fans who don’t like to see any before the month of March when they don't know exactly what that purpose is. 

The point of this mock draft — and any mock draft during the season — isn’t for player-to-team accuracy. Some of that exists, but the draft order and team needs will change far too much for that to be the main focus at this time of year. Instead, this mock is all about giving those who are already “on to next year” an early peek at where their team stands in the draft order and a handful of names to know as the college football season starts to wind down and 2022 NFL Draft season starts to heat up.

This is much more of a “what I would do” mock draft, with a focus on introducing some of the best players I've scouted in this upcoming draft class. If you think your team might need a cornerback, here are some prospects who are showing first-round tape. If your team needs trench players, here is where the class is strongest and where the sweet spots for them might be. And, of course, we’ll gauge which quarterbacks will rule the headlines leading up to draft weekend.

It’s never too early to think about how your favorite NFL team can improve or examine the next draft class. Here are the players and teams to watch as we approach the home stretch of the 2021 college football season

The draft order is determined by record, with strength of schedule used as a tiebreaker. The PFF rank and remaining schedule have been taken from PFF's power rankings tool. The remaining schedule is ordered from toughest (1st) to easiest (32nd).

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1. DETROIT LIONS:  EDGE KAYVON THIBODEAUX, OREGON

Record: 0-6
Strength of Schedule: .590
PFF Rank: 32nd
Remaining Schedule: 28th

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Thibodeaux has been turning heads since his true freshman season, and he’s been at his best in his first draft-eligible year. He’s missed some time due to injury, but his 91.6 pass-rush grade is top-10 in the country. With no quarterback in the first overall pick conversation this year, most signs point to Thibodeaux being the first player taken.

2. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (via MIA): CB DEREK STINGLEY JR., LSU

Record: 1-5
Strength of Schedule: .459
PFF Rank: 27th
Remaining Schedule: 3rd

Stingley’s junior season has fallen somewhat short of expectations. He has missed time due to a foot injury and likely won’t play another game after undergoing surgery.

Don’t let Stingley's struggles — and the struggles of LSU's defense as a whole — sway you from believing how talented he is. Back in 2019, Stingley put up some of the best tape we’ve ever seen from a true freshman cornerback. He earned an elite 91.7 grade while being honored as a consensus All-American. He is still the cover-corner jewel of the 2022 draft class, giving you the length, speed and style for press-man schemes.

3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS:  OT EVAN NEAL, ALABAMA

Record: 1-5
Strength of Schedule: .465
PFF Rank: 30th
Remaining Schedule: 13th

On 468 snaps this season, the former five-star recruit has allowed only eight total pressures and hasn’t given up a single sack. At 6-foot-7, 370 pounds, Neal is a rare blend of size and athleticism for the position.

4. HOUSTON TEXANS: S KYLE HAMILTON, NOTRE DAME

Record: 1-5
Strength of Schedule: .470
PFF Rank: 31st
Remaining Schedule: 13th

Few players on either side of the ball have stood out more than Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton this season. So far this year, the versatile safety has played 88 snaps in the box, 232 at slot corner, six at outside corner and 118 at free safety. He’s that next Jeremy Chinn/Isaiah Simmons kind of defensive chess piece.

I won’t do much team analysis because the team needs will change between now and then. And I don’t have a quarterback here because we have no idea how the Watson situation will develop. Plus, this quarterback class doesn’t have a clear-cut top-10 guy, even though we know the NFL will likely force one anyway.

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5. NEW YORK GIANTS: EDGE AIDAN HUTCHINSON, MICHIGAN

Record: 1-5
Strength of Schedule: .540
PFF Rank: 28th
Remaining Schedule: 21st

It is hard to find many, if any, players in college football who have earned more money this season than Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. The Michigan star was a fringe top-50 player entering the season, but thanks to a relentless motor, strong hands and ideal size at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he now sees his name in the top-10s.

No edge defender in the country has a higher overall grade than Hutchinson's 92.6, which includes an 86.2 grade against the run and 92.1 grade as a pass-rusher.

6. NEW YORK JETS: CB AHMAD GARDNER, CINCINNATI

Record: 1-5
Strength of Schedule: .440
PFF Rank: 29th
Remaining Schedule: 8th

How about these for shutdown stats? Among corners who have played more than 500 snaps since 2020, Cincinnati’s Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has allowed the fewest yards (268), fewest first downs (12), and he has not allowed a single touchdown over that span.

He’s got the stats, the size at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, and the speed to succeed on the outside at the next level for a team that plays a lot of man coverage. He also doesn’t just play on one side of the field. 

7. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: OT IKEM EKWONU, N.C. STATE

Record: 2-4
Strength of Schedule: .459
PFF Rank: 21st
Remaining Schedule: 14th

N.C. State’s massive left tackle Ikem Ekwonu has been stellar on the blindside this season. First and foremost, he brings serious size to the position at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds. Before this season, he knew how to be a bully in the run game, posting an 85.0 run-blocking grade in 2019 and a 91.2 run-blocking grade last season. This season, he's taken that strength and finessed it into the passing game, as well, leaping in pass-blocking grade from 55.3 last season to 83.4. He’s now establishing himself as a total-package offensive tackle. 

8. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: OL TYLER LINDERBAUM, IOWA

Record: 2-4
Strength of Schedule: .469
PFF Rank: 26th
Remaining Schedule: 1st

Tyler Linderbaum entered the season as one of the top prospects in the country, and so far it’s all status quo for the Iowa center.

Linderbaum finished last season with a 91.5 overall grade and somehow got even better this year, recording a 93.1 grade through seven weeks. His quick movements and excellent core strength give him the flexibility to succeed in any kind of blocking scheme and certainly gives you the zone-run ability from the middle if you want it.

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9. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (via IND): WR CHRIS OLAVE, OHIO STATE

Record: 2-4
Strength of Schedule: .490
PFF Rank: 19th
Remaining Schedule: 1st

There are so many good wide receivers in the country and the draft class this year, but few — if any — make it look as smooth and as easy as Olave does. I would have put money on the Buckeyes receiver being a late first-round pick last year, and this year he’s continued to expand his first-round tape. He has posted a PFF grade above 83.0 in each of the last three seasons.

10. NEW YORK JETS (via SEA): WR TREYLON BURKS, ARKANSAS

Record: 2-4
Strength of Schedule: .535
PFF Rank: 13th
Remaining Schedule: 10th

Burks’ 81.3 receiving grade in 2021 is lower than his 88.9 grade from last season, but don’t let those few points sway your mind from thinking he’s not a potential WR1 in the NFL. Receivers simply do not move at the speed and explosiveness at which Burks does at his size of 6-foot-3, 225 pounds.

11. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM: QB MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Record: 2-4
Strength of Schedule: .540
PFF Rank: 25th
Remaining Schedule: 24th

The last time an NFL team picked the first quarterback off the board this low was in 2013 when the Buffalo Bills took E.J. Manuel at No. 16 overall. In fact, that’s the only time since 2001 a quarterback hasn’t been picked in the top 10.

With that said, it’s unlikely we’ll have to wait this long to see the first quarterback taken, but this class hasn’t really given us a sure-fire standout for the top 10, let alone one who would go No. 1 like we’ve seen most years.

If any quarterback is going to capture the draft with a high selection, it feels like Willis can be that guy. The Liberty product is that alluring combination of athleticism and traits, with a rocket arm and a ball-carrying ability like a running back. He’s late to the game as a starter, as this is just his second season as a college starter after being a backup at Auburn for two seasons. Now at Liberty, he has a 92.0 overall grade this season with an 89.7 passing grade and an incredible 95.1 rushing grade. The lack of consistent accuracy and ball placement feels like the only thing holding him back from being QB1 in this class.

12. ATLANTA FALCONS: IDL JORDAN DAVIS, GEORGIA

Record: 2-3
Strength of Schedule: .439
PFF Rank: 24th
Remaining Schedule: 18th

Find me 15 better college football players than Jordan Davis. You can’t.

People will push back on him being a top-10 or even a top-20 pick because he’s a defensive tackle/nose tackle who doesn’t play that flashy 3-tech pass-rushing style that gets you drafted high at that position.

But here’s the thing: this guy plays like Thanos vs. Thor, Captain America and Ironman in Avengers: Endgame. Throw your best at him, throw multiple people at him — it doesn’t matter. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, and he deserves to be one of the top players chosen in this class.

PFF's Player Props Tool leverages PFF's Fantasy Football Projections to reveal betting opportunities within player prop markets.

13. MIAMI DOLPHINS (via SF): WR DRAKE LONDON, USC

Record: 2-3
Strength of Schedule: .525
PFF Rank: 12th
Remaining Schedule: 15th

Contested-catchers make draft scouts nervous. After all, how much do you really want to sit here and bet on a guy who isn’t great at separation to make a contested catch consistently? Math would tell you that’s a bad bet. Drake London would tell you you’re wrong.

The USC product currently leads the country in contested catches with 18 — eight more than the next-closest player. His 16 forced missed tackles after the catch is also the best in the nation. If there’s a contested-catch receiver to go after in this class, it’s the 6-foot-5, 210 pound London.

14. DENVER BRONCOS: DL DEMARVIN LEAL, TEXAS A&M

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .485
PFF Rank: 22nd
Remaining Schedule: 21st

Leal brings a ton of versatility to the defensive line, as he has played 143 snaps at defensive tackle, 23 at nose tackle, 33 at defensive end and 223 as a pass-rushing outside linebacker. His movement skills at 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds give him the potential to be a top-15 selection.

15. CAROLINA PANTHERS: IOL KENYON GREEN, TEXAS A&M

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .495
PFF Rank: 23rd
Remaining Schedule: 32nd

Green brings both versatility and experience to the entire offensive line. So far this season, he’s played 81 snaps at left tackle, 112 at left guard, 106 at right guard and 142 at right tackle. He’s a unique swing lineman with starter qualities at each spot.

16. NEW YORK GIANTS (via CHI): OT CHARLES CROSS, MISSISSIPPI STATE

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .554
PFF Rank: 20th
Remaining Schedule: 26th

Cross is a long and athletic offensive lineman with a ton of potential. He’s still a bit of a work in progress, but he’s a consistent starter at left tackle, and he has looked better and better with each season, going from grades in the 60s last season to an 81.2 overall grade in 2021.

PFF Greenline uses exclusive game and player data to make projections on NFL game spreads, moneyline, and over/under.

17. CLEVELAND BROWNS: EDGE DRAKE JACKSON, USC

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .569
PFF Rank: 9th
Remaining Schedule: 19th

There was a lot of summer hype for Jackson in terms of the upcoming college football season and an audition for the NFL draft, and he has lived up to it. His 88.8 pass-rush grade is second in the Pac-12, behind only Kayvon Thibodeaux, and it’s a top-20 mark for all pass-rushers in the country who have played more than 100 pass-rush snaps. He has a nice blend of length and burst that, at times, gives you Brian Burns vibes.

18. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: EDGE KINGSLEY ENAGBARE, SOUTH CAROLINA

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .588
PFF Rank: 3rd
Remaining Schedule: 17th

No pass-rusher in the country has a higher pass-rush grade in our system than South Carolina’s Kingsley Enagbare. It’s been against some easier competition, and his production has been more hurries and pressure than it has been sacks.

Still, he’s a versatile edge player who can win from his hand in the dirt and from a two-point stance. His inside move is proving to be his bread and butter this season, and the better he’s gotten at attacking the outside shoulder first, the more he’s been able to go to that inside counter. He’s starting to put it all together.

19. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: CB KAIIR ELAM, FLORIDA

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .574
PFF Rank: 15th
Remaining Schedule: 18th

Elam being this low on a mock draft might turn some heads, as he was getting some top-10 hype before the season. He might end up there, but for now, I still think the top-20 range is his comfort zone.

His 65.7 coverage grade so far this season is a bit disappointing after posting coverage grades in the 80s in each of the past two seasons. But at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Elam presents the kind of length and athleticism you want to invest in.

20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: QB MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS

Record: 3-3
Strength of Schedule: .578
PFF Rank: 18th
Remaining Schedule: 30th

Corral’s mock draft range is all over the place. I’ve seen it as high as in the top five, and I’ve seen some mock drafts not even include his name at all. This season marks two years in a row where his play and his grade have been good, and for that, I have to think he’ll be a first-rounder somewhere.

Pittsburgh would love to pounce on a young promising quarterback of Corral’s caliber. He’s a big moxie guy who brings a ton of fire to his craft. He also has the arm strength to support that gunslinger mentality, though I have some reservations about his ball velocity and overall arm talent.

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21. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: WR GARRETT WILSON, OHIO STATE

Record: 3-2
Strength of Schedule: .495
PFF Rank: 8th
Remaining Schedule: 23rd

Wilson is another player who could be much higher in mock drafts, depending on who the author is. For me, this wide receiver class is so good and so diverse that someone is going to be picked lower than what some fans think is appropriate.

Regardless of where his name is in the order, Wilson is a very talented former five-star wide receiver who brings NFL athleticism to the field every time he suits up on Saturdays. He’s a mesh-route machine when it comes to yards after the catch, and he also shows great body control and quick feet when running routes deeper down the field. He’s a three-level threat kind of player.

22. BUFFALO BILLS: CB TRENT MCDUFFIE, WASHINGTON

Record: 4-2
Strength of Schedule: .378
PFF Rank: 2nd
Remaining Schedule: 2nd

We all thought the Bills were going to attack their CB2 spot last offseason in the draft, and it didn’t happen. Instead, they decided to double-dip on pass rushing. It has proven to be a great choice so far, but you can certainly see them using 2022 resources on a corner. McDuffie plays on a bad Washington team, so he won’t get a ton of national publicity during the season, but just wait until people get to his tape. He’s a feisty outside corner with really nice instincts. Taller corners in this class might force his name down a bit just because he is shorter than 6 feet, but he has still shown first-round ability.

23. TENNESSEE TITANS: CB ANDREW BOOTH, CLEMSON

Record: 4-2
Strength of Schedule: .404
PFF Rank: 11th
Remaining Schedule: 5th

The biggest question mark for Booth going into this season was whether or not he could continue his high level of cornerback play as a full-time starter. Even though Clemson is not the team we thought they would be, Booth has shown flashes of good play. At 6-foot and 195 pounds, he’s an ideal size for an outside cornerback with an aggressive style for takeaways and fantastic ball skills.

24. DALLAS COWBOYS: S JORDAN BATTLE, ALABAMA

Record: 5-1
Strength of Schedule: .480
PFF Rank: 9th
Remaining Schedule: 16th

At his best, Battle is an impactful safety who offers the versatility to play both free safety and strong safety on any given play, often rotating and responding well to pre-snap motion. His 88.6 overall grade is second-best on the Alabama defense, and his 90.2 coverage grade is the best coverage grade among safeties in all of college football. His best work still comes when he’s playing a slot or strong safety role coming downhill, but he has shown more comfort for deep coverage this season, which could spell a first-round selection.

PFF’s WR/CB Matchup Chart is a fantasy football tool that you can use to help you set the best lineups. You can toggle between showing the Matchup Advantage column against all projected coverage or the individual defenders. Click here for access.

25. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: LB DEVIN LLOYD, UTAH

Record: 4-2
Strength of Schedule: .500
PFF Rank: 13th
Remaining Schedule: 22nd

It's hard to find many defenders who have truly transformed their game like Lloyd has over the past few seasons. He led his team in tackles during his first year as a starting linebacker in 2019, but his coverage grade was 60.2. The following season it was a 65.3 — better but still tough to trust. This season, not only is he still tackling well, but his coverage grade is an impressive 81.2, showing the full transformation of a weakness into a strength to his game.

26. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: OT DARIAN KINNARD, KENTUCKY

Record: 4-2
Strength of Schedule: .500
PFF Rank: 15th
Remaining Schedule: 4th

Kinnard is a massive right tackle who can find a home at either tackle or guard at the next level. His powerful phone booth style of play lends itself better to guard, but his experience at right tackle means he can start there in a pinch. He needs to work on his balance more, especially if asked to play more in space on the outside. However, he’s a tone-setter in the run game with an 85.1 run-blocking grade, and his 85.0 pass-blocking grade this season shows improvement in his finesse game, too.

27. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: CB ROGER McCREARY, AUBURN

Record: 5-1
Strength of Schedule: .454
PFF Rank: 1st
Remaining Schedule: 9th

There aren't many weaknesses on the Buccaneers' roster, so this pick could go any way for the second year in a row. But we are seeing what is happening to their secondary with some injuries mounting up, so why not fortify the depth of that group?

McCreary has had the benefit of Auburn not playing the best opponents to start their season, but he has been impressive nonetheless. His 88.3 coverage grade is best on the team and seventh-best in the country among corners who have played at least 100 snaps in coverage. Auburn still has Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Alabama on their schedule, which will be good tests for their CB1.

28. DETROIT LIONS (via LAR): QB SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Record: 5-1
Strength of Schedule: .500
PFF Rank: 7th
Remaining Schedule: 11th

Howell came into this season with top-five potential, but we always knew it was going to be tough for him. He lost his top two wide receivers in Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown, plus his top two running backs in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter to the 2021 draft. With this situation, we were wondering how much Howell could elevate the rest of the new cast. He has played fine but hasn’t exactly elevated them to a level where we’re thinking he can consistently do that in the NFL. His 72.2 passing grade is much lower than the 91.5  grade he earned last year. It’s not over for Howell by any means — it’s just not as easy as some hoped it would be to pencil him into the top 10.

29. CINCINNATI BENGALS: OT TREVOR PENNING, N. IOWA

Record: 4-1
Strength of Schedule: .510
PFF Rank: 17th
Remaining Schedule: 31st

The Bengals? Picking at No. 29 in a mock? You better believe it.

Regardless of the early season success from the Bengals, their offensive line is still what needs the most attention. This feels like a perfect excuse to slide in Penning, who is quietly having one of the best seasons of any offensive lineman in college football. His 88.0 pass-blocking grade is one of the best in college football.

30. GREEN BAY PACKERS: WR JOHN METCHIE III, ALABAMA 

Record: 5-1
Strength of Schedule: .500
PFF Rank: 6th
Remaining Schedule: 27th

It’s hard for me to have one of my favorite prospects in the country this low in a mock draft. I think Metchie is the total package. He brings good athleticism to the position, both for route running and yards after the catch. He is tough as nails to bring down on first contact, has good hands in traffic and blocks his ass off. He reminds me a lot of Chris Godwin. I could see him going higher than this, but he is a first-rounder regardless.

31. BALTIMORE RAVENS: WR GEORGE PICKENS, GEORGIA

Record: 5-1
Strength of Schedule: .520
PFF Rank: 5th
Remaining Schedule: 25th

Prior to his unfortunate ACL tear in spring practice this offseason, Pickens was on track for WR1 status. His 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame brought NFL athleticism and strength. Pickens' stock is totally up in the air at this point since we haven’t seen him post-injury. If he can get back to the player he was as a freshman and sophomore, he’ll be a Round 1 talent.  

32. ARIZONA CARDINALS: EDGE GEORGE KARLAFTIS, PURDUE

Record: 6-0
Strength of Schedule: .480
PFF Rank: 4th
Remaining Schedule: 23rd

Karlaftis has been making some serious noise this season, posting an 86.4 overall grade and 87.8 pass-rush grade, both of which are far and away the best of his college career. His hands are fast and strong, and he has a motor that doesn’t stop. At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, he has the body type to succeed in multiple fronts. Karlaftis is not as imposing with strength as edge rushers of his size have been before, and that’s why his name is lower on this list after such praise. But his 32 total pressures this season speak for themselves.

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