NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 NFL Mock Draft: How first round would play out according to fan-favorite picks in PFF's Mock Draft Simulator

Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What would the 2022 NFL Draft look like if it was left up to fans to make the picks, not teams? Using PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator, we can get a look through the wisdom of the crowds that have been drafting for months now.

We now have data from millions of drafts, providing a snapshot of the top players and positions fans are targeting in each round and at each selection in the draft.

This mock will use the fan-favorite player at each selection, unless that player is off the board already, then it will move to the next-most popular selection. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE AIDAN HUTCHINSON, MICHIGAN

Percentage drafted: 51%

There is no shock at the top, and the clearest consensus fan pick is the first one. Jacksonville’s fans are grabbing the same player most mock drafts have them selecting — Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. Hutchinson is the most complete prospect in this year's edge rusher class, with an elite 94.5 PFF grade in 2021 and a 25.0% pass-rush win rate. Hutchinson may not quite be on the level of Myles Garrett or the Bosa brothers as a prospect, but he is hard on their heels, and all three have become elite NFL players.


2. Detroit Lions: EDGE KAYVON THIBODEAUX, OREGON

Percentage drafted: 20.2%

The current perception is that Kayvon Thibodeaux’s stock is sliding, with a constant discussion about just how much he loves the game and whether he is as consistent as previously thought. That talk hasn’t permeated through to the fans drafting on the Mock Draft Simulator, however, and Thibodeaux is still the most popular pick for the Lions at No. 2 overall. He earned a 92.1 PFF pass-rushing grade this past season, notching 48 pressures with a 23.2% win rate. Those are all elite data points.

3. Houston Texans: S KYLE HAMILTON, NOTRE DAME

Percentage drafted: 20.2%

Another player who seems to be losing status at the top of the draft is Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton, thanks largely to relatively pedestrian 40-yard dash times between the combine and his pro day. Hamilton is still the favorite to go at No. 3 once Thibodeaux is off the board. There may be questions about his timed speed, but his tape is littered with plays where he shows exceptional range, and he ranked fourth in the nation in defensive stops against the run and pass last season. 

4. New York Jets: CB AHMAD ‘SAUCE’ GARDNER, CINCINNATI

Percentage drafted: 17.8%

Another team whose most popular pick is Thibodeaux, the Jets settle for selecting arguably the best cornerback in the draft. Cornerback may not be quite the positional need it was for the team before free agency, but increasing the chances of high-end play there is never a bad thing. Gardner famously didn’t allow a touchdown in his college career, and he also allowed just 43% of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught.

5. New York Giants: T EVAN NEAL, ALABAMA

Percentage drafted: 24.5%

Tackle represents 51.4% of the picks made by Giants fans between the “big three” of Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross. Neal and Ekwonu are separated by just one percentage point, with Neal having the slight edge. He gained experience playing both left and right tackle at Alabama and could slot in immediately opposite Andrew Thomas on a revamped line. Neal allowed 15 pressures across 650 pass-blocking snaps last season.

6. Carolina Panthers: QB MALIK WILLIS, LIBERTY

Percentage drafted: 22.9%

Panthers fans know they need a quarterback, and both Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett are being selected a lot at No. 6 overall, with tackle Charles Cross the other player garnering a lot of attention. Willis is the quarterback to roll the dice on in this draft given his upside and potential. He has a cannon for an arm, but it's his rushing threat that makes his early floor much higher. He averaged 4.7 yards after contact for his college career and broke 90 tackles in 2021 alone.

7. New York Giants (via CHI): EDGE TRAVON WALKER, GEORGIA

Percentage drafted: 10.1%

Giants fans are aligned on tackle with their first selection, but with their second pick just two spots later, things are far more chaotic. Ahmad Gardner is actually the most popular pick, with 12.2% of mocks landing him here, but he's now off the board, so they grab the rapidly-ascending edge rusher from Georgia, Travon Walker. Few players can match Walker’s athleticism and potential, but his college production is a long way behind the other top prospects, so he is a classic case of potential over production. 

8. Atlanta Falcons: WR DRAKE LONDON, USC

Percentage drafted: 15.5%

The Falcons may need a quarterback, but the fanbase isn’t buying it at No. 8 overall. Only Malik Willis ranks among their top several draft picks, and he is taken in less than half the percentage of drafts as the top receivers. Drake London leads the way at that position, giving Atlanta another big-bodied receiver to go along with the hybrid skill set of Kyle Pitts. London made 19 contested catches in just eight games before injury ended his 2021 season.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): T CHARLES CROSS, MISSISSIPPI STATE

Percentage drafted: 14.9%

Seattle may be in desperate need of a quarterback, but Seahawks fans don’t want to spend No. 9 overall on one according to the mock draft data. Again, Malik Willis is the only quarterback showing up in their most common draft picks. Yet, the fans are spreading the picks between offensive linemen and cornerbacks. Charles Cross is the last of the top three tackles remaining, and arguably the best pass-protector of the group. He allowed 16 pressures on 719 pass-blocking snaps last season.

10. New York Jets (via SEA): WR GARRETT WILSON, OHIO STATE

Percentage drafted: 19.2%

Jets fans really want USC’s Drake London with this pick, but in this mock, Atlanta grabbed him two picks earlier. London represents almost one-third of all the mock draft selections for the Jets at this spot. Garrett Wilson is a very different style of player but is a neat pivot at the same position to continue to add receiving help for quarterback Zach Wilson. He’s an explosive receiver who runs good routes and is impressive at the catch point given his size. According to mock drafts, the Jets seem destined to emerge with a top cornerback and receiver from their two top-10 selections.

11. Washington Commanders: LB DEVIN LLOYD, UTAH

Percentage drafted: 17.6%

It was somewhat surprising to see Devin Lloyd as by far the most popular pick for the Commanders at No. 11 overall. Washington has made recent investments at the position with Jamin Davis, a first-round pick a season ago, and Cole Holcomb, who looks like a nice find in the fifth round in 2019. Lloyd is the modern prototype for the position, and you can make a case that neither incumbent player has done anything to prevent the Commanders from drafting him if they believe he’s a superstar.

12. Minnesota Vikings: CB TRENT MCDUFFIE, WASHINGTON

Percentage drafted: 21.9%

Minnesota desperately needs cornerback help, even after re-signing Patrick Peterson. Trent McDuffie is easily the most popular pick among Vikings fans, though the lack of love for Derek Stingley may be due more to the number of drafts he’s off the board by this point than it is because Vikings fans prefer McDuffie. The Washington product has exceptional tape but is a much smaller player than teams typically like at the position. Teams drafting him this high will be hoping he can be an outlier at that size or develop into an elite slot cornerback long-term.  

13. Houston Texans (via CLE): T IKEM EKWONU, NC STATE

Percentage drafted: 11.1% (At Pick No. 3)

We're cheating a little bit with this pick. Technically, Ekwonu doesn’t feature among the most popular picks from the Texans fans at this spot, but it’s because he’s rarely available here. He is one of the most popular selections for them at No. 3 overall, and if he was still on the board at No. 13, it seems likely fans would jump on the chance to secure that kind of value. Ekwonu’s tape is like a clinic of run blocking, with PFF grades of at least 93.8 on zone and gap run concepts alike.

14. Baltimore Ravens: DI DEVONTE WYATT, GEORGIA

Percentage drafted: 16.3%

The Ravens have needs in the interior on both sides of the football, but all of their fans' most popular selections have been on defense. Devonte Wyatt is being overshadowed a lot during the pre-draft process by his Georgia teammates Jordan Davis and Travon Walker, but he has been arguably the best player of the three. He posted impressive PFF grades in all areas last season and was a dominant force at the Senior Bowl, earning the best PFF grade of any defender during the practices.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): EDGE GEORGE KARLAFTIS, PURDUE

Percentage drafted: 11.4%

The Eagles are now down to two first-round picks, not three, after trading with the New Orleans Saints, but the story remains the same: Their fans want defensive reinforcements. There are receivers who show up among the most popular selections, but the biggest percentages belong to defenders. Devin Lloyd is the single most popular selection here, but in this mock, Washington snagged him four picks earlier, so that leaves Purdue’s George Karlaftis as the pick.

Karlaftis is the forgotten man of this draft class of edge rushers. While all the attention goes elsewhere, he has been overshadowed, but he tallied 54 pressures last season and a 90.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grade against true pass sets.

16. New Orleans Saints (via IND through PHI): WR CHRIS OLAVE, OHIO STATE

Percentage drafted: 19.0%

There’s a fair chance the Saints aren’t done trading up in this draft, and their trade with Philadelphia was simply the first of a multi-step process to move up in the draft to secure a player. If it isn’t, however, New Orleans fans see the team's needs clearly as tackle and wide receiver. At No. 16, Chris Olave is the most popular choice, but it’s very close between him, Jameson Williams and Bernhard Raimann. Olave brings an unrivaled smoothness of movement and route running and would provide an excellent complement to Michael Thomas in the team’s receiving corps if Thomas returns to 100% health.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: WR JAMESON WILLIAMS, ALABAMA

Percentage drafted: 17.8%

Chargers fans are all-in on the AFC arms race — within the AFC West, in particular. Not content with solely locking up Mike Williams this offseason, they’re adding more firepower with Alabama speedster Jameson Williams. If not for a torn ACL suffered in the national championship game, Williams may well have been a top-10 overall prospect, but at Pick No. 17 overall he represents a great pickup for the Chargers. Williams brings rare speed to the table and averaged 20 yards per reception in his final college season.

18. Philadelphia Eagles via (NO): LB NAKOBE DEAN, GEORGIA

Percentage drafted: 19.3%

With their second first-round pick, the Eagles are going back to the well on defense, this time selecting Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. Philadelphia doesn’t typically draft linebackers high or dedicate a lot of resources to the position, but that’s resulted in the team having one of the league’s worst linebacker situations for years. Dean at this spot could be a game-changer for them. He has great instincts alongside his range and would provide a nice athletic complement to T.J. Edwards’ savvy.

19. New Orleans Saints via (PHI): T BERNHARD RAIMANN, CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Percentage drafted: 15.2%

 If the Saints were really just parlaying future draft picks into multiple first-round selections this season when they traded with Philadelphia, the fans have them filling their two biggest holes and coming away happy from this first round. Bernhard Raimann began his college career as a tight end, but he's already come a long way in his development at tackle. He allowed 10 pressures across 12 games this past season and was one of the best-graded tackles in the nation.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB KENNY PICKETT, PITTSBURGH

Percentage drafted: 7.9%

Steelers fans want Malik Willis at this pick, but he is long gone in this mock draft. Raimann was the second-most popular pick, and he was sniped one selection earlier by the Saints. This leaves Pittsburgh fans with their third-most popular selection, quarterback Kenny Pickett. The talk about Pickett all offseason has been about his unusually small hands for a quarterback, measuring at 8.5 inches, half an inch shorter than the nine-inch cut-off teams like to see. Pickett had an outstanding final college season, seeing his PFF grade jump more than 20 grading points from the previous year.

21. New England Patriots: CB DEREK STINGLEY, JR. LSU

Percentage drafted: 0.2%

For the second time in this draft, we're cheating the rules a little bit. Derek Stingley’s average draft position is 7.7, and he is the third overall player on the PFF Big Board. New England is the first team in a while whose biggest need is cornerback, and while the most popular available pick is Clemson’s Andrew Booth, Jr., I think the fans would probably grab Stingley if he was available here. Stingley’s freshman season in 2019 was the best-graded freshman performance in PFF College history, and he has elite No. 1 potential. 

22. Green Bay Packers (via LV): WR TREYLON BURKS, ARKANSAS

Percentage drafted: 15.2%

With no Davante Adams, Green Bay is desperate for wide receiver help. While the team's most popular pick at this spot by far is Ohio State’s Chris Olave, he was selected by the Saints six picks earlier. Over a quarter of the mock drafts have the Packers taking Olave here, but the next-most popular pick is Treylon Burks from Arkansas. Burks is a huge receiver who boasts impressive game speed, even if his timed number at the combine was a little disappointing (4.55-second 40-yard dash). Burks averaged over nine yards after the catch and was a threat any time he got hold of the football last season.

23. Arizona Cardinals: C TYLER LINDERBAUM, IOWA

Percentage drafted: 27.6%

At one point, Tyler Linderbaum was being regularly mocked inside the top 10 of the draft, but for no particularly good reason, his stock seems to be on the slide. He is the best center prospect to enter the draft since PFF college grading began in 2014, and there is little reason to expect him to be anything other than a good player right out of the gate at the next level. Arizona’s offensive line took a big step forward when it acquired Rodney Hudson, but his career is in its twilight, and there is a potential need alongside him in the meantime.

24. Dallas Cowboys: G ZION JOHNSON, BOSTON COLLEGE

Percentage drafted: 12.4%

Dallas is one of the more predictable teams in the league in terms of addressing needs with their top draft picks wherever possible, and Zion Johnson allows them to fill the void created by Connor Williams‘ departure in free agency. Johnson’s PFF grade improved in each of the past two seasons and he allowed just six pressures in 12 games last season. His run-blocking grades were also excellent, and he is one of the most technically proficient interior linemen available in the draft.

25. Buffalo Bills: CB ANDREW BOOTH JR., CLEMSON

Percentage drafted: 17.9%

Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. is the top selection for Buffalo fans here. Cornerback is certainly one of the biggest needs on a pretty loaded roster, with Levi Wallace’s departure in free agency opening up a starting job to be won opposite Tre’Davious White. Booth is low on experience, but he has elite footwork and movement skills, and the potential payout — if he develops with more playing time — is massive. 

26. Tennessee Titans: EDGE JERMAINE JOHNSON II, FLORIDA STATE

Percentage drafted: 12.7%

Tennessee’s most popular selection is Zion Johnson to fill a hole on the offensive line, but Johnson went a couple of picks earlier to Dallas in a very possible scenario come draft day. Titans fans’ second-most popular selection is edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II from Florida State, a player whose draft stock has been skyrocketing lately. Tennessee has big money already tied up in Bud Dupree and Harold Landry III on the edge, but hitting on a player like Johnson could give them some real flexibility to get cheaper in the future without sacrificing quality.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: G KENYON GREEN, TEXAS A&M

Percentage drafted: 10.9%

Tampa Bay fans are intent on filling the vacant left guard spot left by Ali Marpet‘s retirement this offseason. We have seen the regime do something similar when it drafted Tristan Wirfs to complete the offensive line in Tom Brady’s first year with the team, so it makes a lot of sense. Their preference is Zion Johnson, but a consolation prize is Kenyon Green. At one point, Green was being regularly mocked within the top 15 picks of the draft, but now he seems to be more of a borderline first-round selection. The Bucs grab him here at fair value.

28. Green Bay Packers: WR SKYY MOORE, WESTERN MICHIGAN

Percentage drafted: 12.3%

Even if Green Bay drafts a wide receiver at No. 22 overall, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to grab a second one just six picks later. The team was criticized for lack of depth at that position when it had Davante Adams — the game’s best receiver — so without him they certainly need more than one addition to the room. Skyy Moore is a very different type of receiver to Burks, and while his ceiling is up for debate, he may be one of the safest receivers in the draft in terms of his floor. Moore averaged 3.4 yards per route run last season and dropped only three balls from 125 targets.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (via SF through MIA): CB KAIIR ELAM, FLORIDA

Percentage drafted: 21.8%

The Chiefs likely would love to add some receiver help in this draft after trading away Tyreek Hill, but the value at the tail end of the first round might not match that need. The most popular selections from the fans are all at cornerback, with over one-fifth of drafts giving them Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. He has prototypical size and speed, and though his PFF grade hasn’t always lived up to that potential, he fits the template of what the Chiefs like at the position.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE BOYE MAFE, MINNESOTA

Percentage drafted: 21.1%

Arguably the biggest issue with Kansas City’s roster right now is Frank Clark‘s bloated contract, which hasn’t been justified by his production since the team traded for him. Boye Mafe gives the Chiefs a cheaper edge rusher who can generate some pressure and allow them to get out from under Clark's deal and free up cap space for the future. Mafe earned the highest PFF pass-rush grade among all edge rushers at the Senior Bowl and generated a 19.2% pass-rush win rate last season.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: S JALEN PITRE, BAYLOR

Percentage drafted: 8.4%

Baylor’s Jalen Pitre is the fourth-most popular selection by fans at this spot, but the three players ahead of him have all been taken already. Fans are looking to either complete the team's offensive line overhaul by grabbing one more interior player to play left guard or to bolster a secondary that got by last season but could use an injection of talent. Pitre achieves the latter, albeit at a position that is usually taking a back seat to cornerback. He played effectively a slot corner role in college but will pair nicely with Jessie Bates III at safety.

32. Detroit Lions (via LAR): S LEWIS CINE, GEORGIA

Percentage drafted: 12.7%

The fans came close to giving the Lions a quarterback at this spot, with 11.5% of mock drafts going with North Carolina's Sam Howell. Detroit would be an interesting landing spot for any of the quarterbacks who will have a big adjustment from their college offense, of which Howell is certainly one. The Lions can play Jared Goff for one more season and let any rookie learn from the bench. In the end, they attack defense and add Georgia safety Lewis Cine. Within that elite Georgia defense, Cine made more than his fair share of plays and is a tackling machine. He can set a tone for a defense that is still in need of a real identity.

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