NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 NFL Mock Draft: LSU CB Derek Stingley goes top-three, Seattle Seahawks land Georgia EDGE Travon Walker

We’re officially one week away from the 2022 NFL Draft. While this year's draft has less consensus at the top as most years, there are still plenty of big names that teams will strongly consider — and potentially move up to select — in the first round.

For this mock draft, PFF data science extraordinaires Tej Seth, Arjun Menon, Ryan Weisman and Conor McQuiston took turns selecting all 32 first-round picks. We'll include grades from the PFF Mock Draft Simulator for each. For this exercise, we did not allow trades — although you can trade using the mock draft simulator.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan


The first pick of the draft has seemingly come down to Hutchinson vs. Travon Walker. However, because Hutchinson has the production and the athletic testing, he should be the pick here for the Jaguars. In 2021, he had the highest PFF grade among all defenders in the FBS, which helped Michigan to make the College Football Playoff for the first time under Jim Harbaugh. Additionally, the Jaguars need to find guys who can contribute immediately to try and maximize Trevor Lawrence’s rookie contract. Hutchinson is a guy who can step in Day 1 and give the Jaguars a quality edge rusher opposite of Josh Allen. — Arjun Menon

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon


The Lions' pass-rush grade of 64.7 last season was good for 29th in the NFL, so an EDGE should be the easy pick here. Since Aidan Hutchinson was off the board, the decision came down to Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Travon Walker. While Walker has a 99th-percentile athletic profile, it’s hard to ignore that Thibodeaux’s true pass-rush win rate was 24% last season while Walker’s was only 10%. This is especially impressive for Thibodeaux considering Walker played on the most talented defense in college football while teams actively schemed away from Thibodeaux throughout his collegiate career.  Betting on both talent and production is picking Thibodeaux at No. 2 overall. — Tej Seth

3. Houston Texans: CB Derek Stingley, LSU


Almost any top-10 prospect could have gone here to fill any number of positions the Texans need. With positional need out of the picture, it came down to who was the best prospect. Derek Stingley Jr. is an extraordinary athlete at the cornerback position. He boasted a 91.7 PFF grade during his freshman year — the best in college football — only allowing 38.3% of completions while intercepting more passes than TDs allowed. Although his next two seasons were plagued with injuries contributing to lackluster production, the prospect of Stingley returning as an astonishing athlete with strong man-coverage skills is too much to pass up at third overall. — Ryan Weisman

4. New York Jets: OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State


With Mekhi Becton and George Fant on the roster, offensive tackle is not the Jets' biggest need. However, the only edge rusher who would not be a reach at the current slot, Travon Walker, does not offer the immediate pass rushing upside the Jets need. No wide receiver in this class is worthy of a top-five pick. This leaves the decision between Sauce Gardner and the elite offensive tackle prospects. We choose Ekwonu here because although he is the weakest pass protector of the group, his mauling run-blocking would be perfect alongside Becton. Offensive tackle has more surplus value than cornerback, and the Jets' immediate need is to support Zach Wilson. Additionally, in the event that the Jets elect to keep both Fant and Becton, Ekwonu has the versatility to bump down to guard and solidify their offensive line in three out of five spots. — Conor McQuiston

5. New York Giants: OT Evan Neal, Alabama


The Giants are badly in need of OL help. Even though Andrew Thomas has the left side locked down, Nate Solder’s departure leaves a big hole at right tackle. It was pretty much a toss up between Neal and Charles Cross, both of whom rank highly on big boards across the media. However, Neal played RT full-time as recently as 2020, while Cross has been primarily a left tackle in his collegiate career. Since Neal has shown the ability to play both tackle spots at a high level, the Giants can slot him wherever they need him to play and have a bookend tackle for years to come. — AM

6. Carolina Panthers: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State


With a 53.9 pass-block grade (28th in the FBS) and 58.7 run-block grade (26th) in 2021, the Panthers badly need offensive line support. Since both Ekwonu and Neal were off the board, standout left tackle Charles Cross seemed like the logical choice having only allowed 16 pressures on 719 pass-blocking snaps last season. While a quarterback could also be considered here, this class just isn’t enticing enough to use a top-10 pick on a QB, and their offensive line could use a cornerstone left tackle to support whichever quarterback starts Week 1. — TS

7. New York Giants (Via CHI): CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati


Sauce Gardner is the best all-around corner in this draft class after earning an 87.2 coverage grade (ninth in the FBS) and a 77.8 run-defense grade (10th) in 2021. Picking him here was effectively a no-brainer, especially considering that the Giants' defense had PFF's eighth-worst defensive grade last season with a coverage grade that ranked only 17th overall. Gardner is in the 98th percentile for height and arm length, allowing him to lock down even the most athletic receivers in press coverage. With this pick, the Giants are getting an intelligent cornerback who did not allow a single touchdown in his college career. — RW

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) and cornerback Coby Bryant (7) react after cornerback Arquon Bush (not pictured) blocked a field goal at Nippert Stadium. Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

8. Atlanta Falcons: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama


With all three of the top OTs and both top CBs off the board, this functionally boils down to the Falcons choosing between an EDGE and a wide receiver. Atlanta currently has two players who have had at least 50 receptions in a single season: hybrid player Cordarelle Patterson and phenom TE Kyle Pitts. Their top pass catcher projects to be Damiere Byrd, who has only graded above a 60.0 with multiple targets twice in his career. Since the Falcons can reasonably expect one of Arnold Ebiketie, Boye Mafe, David Ojabo and Drake Jackson to be available in the second round, Williams’ game-breaking speed is the pick. — CM

9. Seattle Seahawks (Via DEN): EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia


Travon Walker’s fall finally ends with the Seahawks. Walker’s athletic profile is absolute insane, testing in the 90th percentile in multiple categories. Walker, however, is a project. There will likely be a development curve for him, and it may take him a year or two before he finally grows into the edge rusher with the upside everyone has been talking about. The Seahawks are the right fit for that process, especially since it looks like they’re in the rebuilding stage with no franchise QB. It will also allow the Seahawks to test what his optimal playing time is, since Walker had less than 400 pass-rushing snaps this past season for the Bulldogs. — AM

10. New York Jets (Via SEA): WR Drake London, USC


The Jets should be doing everything they can to support Zach Wilson, and adding a wide receiver to complement Corey Davis and Elijah Moore is a logical choice. Drake London is everything a team would want in a true No. 1 receiving option, with 87th percentile height and weight and comparisons to Michael Pittman Jr. and Tee Higgins. London was taken over Garrett Wilson because London’s personnel-adjusted yards per route run was 3.25 last year while Wilson’s was 2.80 — very impressive considering London had worse quarterback play. — TS

11. Washington Commanders: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington


The Commanders need to bounce back from their 27th-ranked coverage defense (50.1 coverage grade), and Trent McDuffie is the perfect option at this pick. McDuffie will replace William Jackson III (77th ranked) at outside corner and play alongside Kyle Fuller (3rd ranked), which allows the defense to utilize one of the most agile athletes in this draft. He has not allowed a single touchdown since his 2019 season and is the most talented tackling cornerback in this year’s draft class. Jack Del Rio implements a cover-3 scheme with an above average usage of cover-4, which calls on athletes who can perform well in zone coverage as well as tackle. This means McDuffie is the right option here. — RW

12. Minnesota Vikings: ED George Karlaftis Purdue


In this exercise, the Vikings miss on their biggest need — cornerback — after the top three go off the board before this pick. While they could reach for Tyler Linderbaum to shore up their interior offensive line, we’ll take George Karlaftis to give them much needed pass-rushing depth. Danielle Hunter has been spectacular when on the field, never grading below a 75.0 since his rookie year, but missed all of 2020 with a herniated disk and half of 2021 due to a torn pectoral. New acquisition Za’Darius Smith should help alleviate some of these concerns, but he will be on the wrong side of 30 when the season starts. Karlaftis’ 25.4% pass rush win rate ranked fifth in the FBS last season among players with at least 250 pass-rush snaps, giving the Vikings much needed pass rush juice with the frame and strength to bump inside on pass-rush downs if necessary. — CM

13. Houston Texans (Via CLE): S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame


This is a spot where the Texans should be ecstatic to see Hamilton. While he may be one of the best players in the class, taking a safety in the top three (the Texans also have the third pick), isn’t financially smart long-term. However, getting Hamilton at pick 13 should be a no-brainer. The Texans have needs at almost every position, so they should be going best player available, which in this case is Hamilton. — AM

14. Baltimore Ravens: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia


The Ravens are going to see a shift in their style of defense going from the uber-aggressive Wink Martindale as defensive coordinator to Mike Macdonald, who has roots in more two-high structures. The two-high defense relies on its spine starting with a nose tackle that can take up two gaps in the run game, and there is no better prospect in this draft to do that with than Jordan Davis. Davis was this year’s combine darling with 98th percentile height, 95th percentile weight and an absurd 40-yard dash time of 4.78. Davis might not always show up on the stat sheet, but he will be a critical piece in Baltimore’s defense as they shift to a new scheme. — TS

Nov 6, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) tackles Missouri Tigers running back Tyler Badie (1) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

15. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah


The Eagles have not had a productive history drafting linebackers, with only three since 2016. It’s no wonder they were the 11th-worst team when defending the run (48.5 run defense grade). Even with this in mind, picking Devin Lloyd over Garrett Wilson is questionable, admittedly. Having a good wide receiver lineup alongside Devonta Smith is an exciting prospect, and the Eagles have invested so much draft capital in mid-round receivers in recent years without much to show. Still, they are in need of a reliable SAM linebacker who can both cover and rush the passer. Having played safety in high school enables him to control space and close holes like no other linebacker in this draft class. Additionally, his 31 pressures in 2021 (sixth) and 88.4 pass-rush grade illustrate his ability to become an all-around linebacker who can contribute right away. — RW

16. New Orleans Saints (Via IND through PHI): WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State


With no trades in this mock draft and no QBs off the board, the Saints can move forward with confidence that neither the Eagles nor Chargers will take a QB in the next two picks, leaving them with a QB at 19. They could make a small reach for a tackle such as Trevor Penning, Tyler Smith or Bernhard Raimann to make up for the loss of Terron Armstead, however we’ll be giving them some much needed help in the WR room. Michael Thomas is expected to return at full strength after missing last season with an ankle injury, but it remains to be seen if he will be as effective without future Hall of Famer Drew Brees throwing him the ball. Even if he is, the Saints desperately need an upgrade in the second spot over Marquez Callaway and his 69.3 grade last season. Garrett Wilson ran a 4.38 at the combine after averaging 5.86 YAC/reception in 2021. He will fit nicely into the Saints' West Coast-oriented system. — CM

17. Los Angeles Chargers: G Zion Johnson, Boston College


The Chargers are a tough team to draft for because they filled almost every hole on their roster in free agency, especially on defense. Zion Johnson makes the most sense for them because out of the offensive linemen left on the board — he’s the most pro-ready player. While Trevor Penning or Bernhard Raimann instantly fills a hole at right tackle, they both are FCS projects and may not be an impact contributor. With this pick, the Chargers can kick Matt Feiler back out to RT (where he graded better with the Steelers), or sign a cheap RT remaining on the market. Johnson’s PFF grades have gotten better each year of his career, and he should help that Chargers' offensive line protect Herbert following the wave of pass rushers migrating to the AFC West. — AM

18. Philadelphia Eagles (Via NO): WR, Chris Olave, Ohio State


The Eagles satisfied their biggest need at pick 15, and the top defensive backs are off the board. Taking a wide receiver to help Jalen Hurts’ development and open up their offense to more explosive passing is the way to go here. Olave is an extremely polished route runner and can step in from Day 1 for the Eagles as they attempt to build off of last year’s playoff appearance. He will be a great complement to Devonta Smith, as he has more than enough speed to separate down and only a 4.9% career drop rate. He won’t give Eagles fans Agholor flashbacks. — TS

19. New Orleans Saints (Via PHI): QB Malik Willis, Liberty


The Saints desperately need a receiver, but at this point they've missed on the top prospects in this draft. Jameis Winston is a viable option for the Saints, but there are questions regarding his athletic ability and decision making. Picking Willis here was based off of a gut feeling, a similar phenomenon that the Saints are believed to follow at this pick. Inputting Willis at the quarterback position across any offense will immediately allow them to stretch the field by utilizing his incredible arm strength. He likes to throw to the widths of the field while having a tendency to shy away from the middle. He has a few questions, including his accuracy and ability to perform under pressure. With a deep passing grade of 97.0, big-time throw rate of 10.7 % (ranked 1st) and his ability to run, Willis will most definitely contribute to an exciting offense. — RW

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson


Although the Steelers’ known love affair with Malik Willis failed to come to fruition, they could still take Kenny Pickett or any of the other top QBs to be their future franchise passer. They could also look toward Trevor Penning, Tyler Smith or Bernhard Raimann to help alleviate their offensive line woes. Instead, we’ll be taking them in a slightly different direction in addressing their secondary. Booth is a long corner with significant press coverage experience and shows adequate ball skills with 9 pass breakups in his final season on only 50 targets. This should be an upgrade over projected starter Justin Layne, who only played a cumulative 25 snaps in coverage last season despite being active for all 17 games. — CM

21. New England Patriots: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida


The Patriots have a huge hole at corner after Bill Belichick traded Stephon Gilmore and let J.C Jackson leave in the same season. To run his man-heavy scheme, he needs long, physical corners that can press at the line and take away the top receivers on opposing teams. Elam has that ability. He only allowed 19 catches on 34 targets, all while playing in the toughest conference in college football. Despite his costly penalties on the year, he’ll be going to a system that has turned multiple Day 3/UDFA corners into quality starters, so he can develop and give Belichick a corner that could fit the Gilmore mold. — AM

Dec 30, 2019; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Kaiir Elam (5) reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half in the 2019 Orange Bowl game at Hard Rock Stadium. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

22. Green Bay Packers (Via LV): OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa


With the top four wide receivers already off the board, it seemed logical for a Packers team without many other holes to build up their offensive line with Trevor Penning. He is primarily a left tackle who also has experience at right guard and is a truly dominant run-blocker with nine of his 12 games last season earning a 90.0 run-blocking grade or better. At 6-foot-7 and 325 pounds, he has type of athletic profile the Packers would look for. — TS

23. Arizona Cardinals: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa 


Tyler Linderbaum is the best center in this draft class by a landslide. Adding a strong presence on the offensive line would cover their final hole on the offense, and Linderbaum at No. 23 overall does just that. He is fantastic in the zone-running scheme (96.1 PFF grade) and an even better pass-blocker (96.6). The Cardinals love to utilize read options and inside zone runs with Kyler Murray, so having Linderbaum lead the offensive line is a dream come true for them. — RW

24. Dallas Cowboys: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia


The Cowboys could look to improve their interior offensive or defensive line with the likes of Kenyon Green or Devonte Wyatt here. They could even look to deepen their pockets at wide receiver with Treylon Burks or George Pickens or at edge rusher with Jermaine Johnson II or Arnold Ebiketie. With these positions looking strong enough to address needs in later rounds, however, we have them taking Nakobe Dean to round out their LB corps. While Dean did not run at the combine nor his pro day, he appears to be an exceptional athlete and his mechanical engineering degree lends credence to his intelligence and work ethic. Having Dean would allow the Cowboys to continue to use Micah Parsons as a chess piece without sacrificing an ability to fit the run or cover in the middle of the field. — CM

25. Buffalo Bills: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas


The Bills are the favorite to win the Super Bowl by the betting markets, and we decided to increase how explosive their offense can be. Gabriel Davis was a late-season revelation last year, but it’s never a bad thing to add more receivers to  a room, especially when they’re built like Burks. Looking at the Bills receiving room, Burks would instantly become the biggest player there, which could help the Bills in avoiding regression in the red zone this year after finishing first in red zone TD rate in 2021. He also adds YAC ability, as he finished in the 87th percentile in YAC production among college players dating back to 2014. — AM

26. Tennessee Titans: ED Jermaine Johnson, Florida State


The Titans need an edge rusher to complement Jeffrey Simmons on the defensive line. Johnson is a true three-down lineman who played 61 snaps a game last season. He can shore up the run game on the edge after posting 22 run stops in 2021 and can also get home to the quarterback, having racked up 14 sacks last season. The Titans could really use him to get after the gauntlet of AFC quarterbacks they have to face this year to get back to the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. — TS

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DB Lewis Cine, Georgia


The Buccaneers are fantastic all around, but adding Lewis Cine to replace Logan Ryan at strong safety — or even to develop under him — is a viable option. Cine is the second-best safety in this draft class piloted by his tackling ability (he missed only 6.9% of career tackles). He is an exciting all-around safety with incredible range, a product of his 4.37 second 40-yard dash and his 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump, both in the 96th percentile. As soon as Cine makes a decision to exit his break, he’s a force on the field. His only question is finally deciding when to get out of the break, although this is something he can learn during the offseason. — RW

28. Green Bay Packers: ED Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State


With the Packers securing Trevor Penning at 22, they look to shore up either their WR room or their EDGE room with the 28th pick. While plenty of talent is still on the board at WR, such as George Pickens, Jahan Dotson, Skyy Moore, Christian Watson and John Metchie, the Packers can reasonably expect at least one to be on the board when their second-round pick comes up at 53. (They also have the capital to move up in the second if need be.) They cannot be as confident with the edge rushers. While Ebiketie is significantly smaller than the Packers’ current edge rushers, his 22.2% pass-rush win rate ranked 13th in the FBS among rushers with at least 250 pass rush snaps. This ability coupled with his 34 inch arms should supply much needed depth for the Packers’ pressure as Preston Smith approaches the wrong side of 30. — CM

Nov 13, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Arnold Ebiketie (17) reacts following a sack on Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara (12) at Beaver Stadium. Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

29. Kansas City Chiefs (Via SF through MIA): CB Jalen Pitre, Baylor


The Chiefs need to upgrade their defense at edge and corner. The way the draft played out, the value at edge rusher wasn’t there, so Pitre is the pick for the Chiefs. Pitre had a great season for Baylor, finishing with an 88.6 PFF grade in 2021 and a 53.9 passer rating allowed when targeted. Steve Spagnulo needs corners that can hold up one on one when he sends his all-out blitzes, so taking the best corner on the board makes sense. Additionally, the Chiefs need to fill the void that Charvarius Ward left in free agency. — AM

30. Kansas City Chiefs: WR George Pickens, Georgia


As the Chiefs refocus their offense after the Tyreek Hill trade, getting someone who might be the best at catch point in the whole draft in George Pickens would be very beneficial to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. While Pickens was dominant in 2019 with a 85.5 PFF grade and 726 yards, it is concerning that he didn’t play as well in 2020 and tore his ACL in the spring before the 2021 season. However, the Chiefs have the luxury of taking a risk on trying to rekindle the upside he showed three years ago and turning into a dominant No. 1 wide receiver. — TS

31. Cincinnati Bengals: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M


The Bengals were inches away from having a shot to win the Super Bowl, but Aaron Donald broke through the interior offensive line to force an incompletion from Joe Burrow on fourth down. Of course, it would be ludicrous to say that inputting Kenyon Green in that moment would have won the Bengals the Super Bowl, but he gives them a better shot. The offensive line is still really the only question for the Bengals. Adding Green gives the Bengals an explosive athlete who is extremely versatile, having played every position on the line besides center. Green can use his lower body strength to explode off of blocks, allowing Joe Mixon to succeed in a zone-running scheme. Green boasted a 93.2 zone-blocking grade as well as an 83.6 pass-blocking grade in 2021. — RW

32. Detroit Lions (Via LAR): DB Daxton Hill, Michigan


An obvious opportunity presents itself here: The Lions could potentially take a QB and have him on a rookie deal with a fifth-year option. However, given the lackluster quality of the QBs in this class, we will pass in order to improve the Lions’ secondary. Hill is a tremendous athlete with a 4.38 40, 6.57 3-cone and 4.06 short shuttle. He took significant snaps at slot corner and deep safety for the Wolverines, giving him chess piece versatility for a thin Detroit secondary. — CM

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