NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Malik Willis goes No. 1 overall to Houston, Kayvon Thibodeaux first defensive player drafted

Orlando, FL, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks to pass the ball during the second quarter against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers during the Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The last time PFF put out a mock draft, it was merely days removed from the 2021 draft.

After a summer of scouting and a week to see how the 2022 prospects had matured over the offseason, we’re back again to look at where the prospects could fall next spring.

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1. Houston Texans: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Could it be? With a lot of the top dogs at the quarterback position stumbling out the gate, Willis had a clean outing against lowly Campbell. It’s not like Willis is going to be drafted for his performance against the competition level he’s facing. He’ll be taken highly because he brings more to the table physically than any other quarterback in the class. With a cannon for a right arm and running back-esque rushing ability at 6 feet and 218 pounds, Willis can be the dual-threat playmaker everyone is looking for.

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The No. 2 overall pick could very well look a lot like it did in 2020 when Chase Young went to Washington. The Lions will likely be in the market for a quarterback, but the prospects of adding a blue-chip edge-rusher like Thibodeaux may be too much to pass up. He was unblockable on 19 snaps against Fresno State last week before tweaking his ankle.

3. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Trae Waynes is a likely cap casualty with a $16 million cap number in 2022, as he’s not yet played a game for the Bengals after signing last year (and won’t this weekend). Stingley is too talented to pass up and was the highest-graded corner in the country as a true freshman.

4. New York Jets: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Oh, mama. The Jets could be in line to assemble the largest tackle duo in the NFL, with the 6-foot-7, 363-pound Mekhi Becton on the left side and the 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal on the right. With right tackle Morgan Moses only on a one-year deal, it would qualify as a need, too.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Drafting a safety in the top-five seems blasphemous until you flip on Hamilton’s tape. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he can be much more than just a safety. His two picks and a forced incompletion this past weekend against Florida State were a great example of how versatile he can be in coverage.

6. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Christian Harris, Alabama

The Raiders' affinity for Alabama players is no secret, as they’ve drafted one in the first round for three straight years. Harris brings a much more physical presence to the position than what they have at the moment, and he is one of the best blitzing off-ball linebackers in the country. He racked up 31 pressures on 116 pass-rushing snaps in 2020, notching three more against Miami last week.

7. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

It doesn’t take too many plays to see how talented Rattler is. The problem is that he’s basically playing a different game at Oklahoma than he’s ever going to play in the NFL. He gets away with so many bad habits because of Lincoln Riley’s offense. Three turnover-worthy plays against Tulane simply won’t fly in the league. While Rattler isn’t a complete “project,” it might take his tools a little while to adapt to the NFL game.

8. Carolina Panthers: OT Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

In Green’s first start at right tackle for the Aggies after playing left guard last year, he received the PFF stamp of approval. He didn’t allow a single pressure and earned an 89.5 overall grade against Kent State. His high-end athleticism will play far better in space at tackle than it did at guard the past two years.

9. Atlanta Falcons: DI DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

Leal bridges the gap between edge-rusher and defensive tackle. At 6-foot-4 and 290 pounds, he can and does play both at a high level. He has a rare first step for a man his size and a number of ways to win as a pass rusher, which is something the Falcons haven’t had in a while.

10. New York Giants: IOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

This might seem high for a center, but given the state of the Giants offensive line, I’ll allow it. Linderbaum will likely be the best center prospect we’ve graded at PFF after earning the highest grade in the FBS at the position last year. He’s one of the most athletic centers you’ll see, and his wrestling background shows in the trenches.

11. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears): EDGE Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina

Enagbare picked up where he left off last year, earning a 95.6 overall grade on 17 snaps in Week 1 against Eastern Illinois. His combination of length, explosiveness and violent hands is a winning one. 

12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

While we’ve only seen him for 460 snaps in his career, that’s more than enough to know that Booth has the goods at the position. He has exceptional feet and more than enough speed to be a lockdown man corner in the NFL. Against Georgia last week, he was targeted four times and allowed only one yard in coverage.

13. Washington Football Team: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina

Howell may be a candidate to return for his senior season should his supporting cast play as it did against Virginia Tech last week (it did not help him out). He went from an 82.0 grade as a freshman, to 92.3 last year, to a rough 56.8 in Week 1.

14. Denver Broncos: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Corral could be a big riser this year after what we saw from him against Louisville Monday night. His downfield zip was fantastic when driving the ball into tight windows, and he was far more measured in the chances he took downfield. Of course, it was still Louisville’s defense. If he plays like that against the big boys of the SEC, he’ll be in the mix even higher than this.

15. Arizona Cardinals: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Elam doesn’t quite have the elite physical tools of the two corners off the board already, but he does have the production. The 6-foot-2, 196-pounder has been playing since he was a true freshman and has only allowed 452 career yards on 636 coverage snaps.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Carson Strong, Nevada

Strong passed his first test against Cal last weekend with flying colors. Now, we have September 18th and October 2nd circled on our calendars here at PFF, as that’s when Strong faces Kansas State and Boise State respectively in what are likely the two best defenses he’ll face all year. 

17. Dallas Cowboys: S Brandon Joseph, Northwestern

Joseph is the best single-high safety in the class and goes to a Dan Quinn scheme where that’s a prominent role. The Northwestern safety has range and ball skills for days, which is why Joseph led all safeties with six picks last season despite playing only nine games.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis Colts): EDGE Zach Harrison, Ohio State

Harrison started his junior campaign off with a bang against Minnesota last Thursday night,as his strip-sack was a crucial play in the Buckeyes victory. He’s always had the physical ability but looks to be using his hands far more effectively already this season.

19. New England Patriots: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Hutchinson is a quintessential Patriots defensive lineman with his ability to two-gap as well as line up anywhere along the defensive line. He can be the Trey Flowers type of defender they’ve been missing the past few years. Ranked No. 2 on Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, Hutchinson is starting to tap into that athleticism as a pass-rusher, notching a 92.2 pass-rushing grade in Week 1.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins): EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

The double-dip at defensive end? Don’t put it past general manager Howie Roseman, who is notorious for his desire to build through the trenches. Karlaftis is another versatile defensive end who can drop down to three-technique if need be at 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds. He has some of the most active hands in the country and stories of his work ethic coming out of Purdue are the stuff of legend.

21. Los Angeles Chargers: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

The Ohio State duo will duke it out all year for who’s WR1, but in the end, it may just come down to the eye of the beholder. Olave is the better pure downfield threat while Wilson is the all-around playmaker.

22. New Orleans Saints: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Don’t blame McDuffie for Washington’s poor performance last week against Montana, as he allowed one catch on four targets for 14 yards while accumulating two pass breakups. He’s a physical corner who plays bigger than he's listed (5-foot-11, 195 pounds). He’s also one of the best tacklers in the country, missing only three tackles on 67 attempts.

23. Tennessee Titans: IOL Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State

Rodger Saffold turns 34 next year and has a $12.9 million cap hit, so he could very well be a cap casualty. Ekwonu is a similarly powerful guard who can still play in any scheme. He had the highest rate of positively graded run blocks of any player in the country in 2020.

24. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

It’s no secret that the Jets need corner help. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Gardner fits the length profile that Robert Saleh looks for in his defense. He also fits the talent profile, as he’s allowed a 35.5 passer rating over his entire career.

25. Cleveland Browns: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The vertical threat in the Browns offense all but went away when Odell Beckham Jr. went down last season, but Olave can be Cleveland's vertical threat insurance going forward. After hauling in eight of 12 deep receptions last year, Olave hauled in his only one for a 61-yard score last week.

26. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

The Lions' need for a receiver is obvious, as they may very well have the worst such group in the NFL this season. Burks is a size-speed demon at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds. He had a rough showing in Week 1 with a couple of drops, but only had four all of last season.

27. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco 49ers): LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Dean is an incredibly explosive linebacker. At only 225 pounds, he’s proven capable of stacking and shedding offensive linemen who have a 100-plus-pound advantage over him. That was on display last week as a pass rusher against Clemson, as he registered two sacks and three hurries on 11 blitzes. That’s perfect for Brian Flores’ scheme.

28. Baltimore Ravens: S Jalen Catalon, Arkansas

Catalon is a missile at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, and he has that “it” factor you can’t coach at the position. He personifies the term “football player” due to the way he flies around the field without fear. His instincts are exceptional, as he has five picks and five pass-breakups since taking over as the starter last year.

29. Green Bay Packers: WR Drake London, USC

London may be the same size as Allen Lazard, but they possess two completely different skill sets. London doesn’t have Lazard’s speed, but he has a much larger catch radius, more consistent hands, better releases and is far better after the catch. London is a legit weapon with the ball in his hands, as he's broken 29 tackles on only 84 receptions in his career.

30. Buffalo Bills: DI Jordan Davis, Georgia

Sean McDermott loves an immovable nose tackle, which is what Davis can be. The 6-foot-6, 340-pounder is an enormous presence in the middle of Georgia’s defense. His high-end reps are jaw-dropping, but his consistency still leaves something to be desired.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Jordan Battle, Alabama

There are not going to be many starting spots open in Tampa, but with Jordan Whitehead on the last year of his contract, safety could be one once the draft rolls around. Battle has been starting since his freshman year and has already shown NFL-caliber versatility.

32. Kansas City Chiefs: ED Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

This edge class is brimming with talent, as this marks the sixth edge off the board in this mock, which doesn’t even include possible first-rounders in USC’s Drake Jackson, Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, and Georgia’s Adam Anderson. Sanders looks like a man amongst boys at his competition level, earning a 90.4 pass-rushing grade in Week 1 against Miami (OH). He has the ideal body type for the position as well as high-end athletic traits.

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