NFL Draft News & Analysis

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Detroit Lions draft Aidan Hutchinson at No. 1, QB Kenny Pickett lands with the Houston Texans at No. 3

The lull between the end of the college football regular season and bowl season is the perfect time to examine the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

With a new No. 1 pick, quarterbacks shooting up draft boards, yet another deep receiver class and a very blurry tier of top-end talent, the first round will be as unpredictable as any in recent memory. Here's how the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft would look right now if I were in charge of all 32 NFL teams.

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1. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Hutchinson has taken his game to a level that has been untouched by anyone else in this class. He just hasn’t been blocked the past two weeks, and his 94.6 overall grade is in the Chase Young range. The Michigan star stays home and gives the Lions a certified game-changer.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

This isn’t giving up on K’Lavon Chaisson, but it is admitting they need to get after opposing quarterbacks better. Thibodeaux is still an athletic project, but he’s got the ideal explosiveness, length and bend combination to excel on the edge.

3. Houston Texans: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

The Texans have to inspire hope for the future somehow, and third-rounder Davis Mills hasn’t been it. Even if this might look like an over-draft, Pickett has franchise quarterback tools. And unlike the massive risers around college football in recent memory, Pickett hasn’t had a ton of NFL talent propping him up.

4. New York Jets: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Drafting Neal wouldn't just give the Jets the most physically imposing tackle duo in the NFL, it would deliver what could be the most physically imposing tackle duo in NFL history. The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder has an elite physical skill set and has improved by leaps and bounds every year. He’s fresh off a one-loss performance in the 2021 SEC Championship Game against Georgia’s vaunted defense.

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5. New York Jets (via Seattle): CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Zach Wilson gets his pass protection and Robert Saleh gets his shut-down corner. Stingley’s length and speed are tailor-made for Saleh’s defense, and he has the press pedigree in the best conference in America. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound cornerback was the country's highest-graded player at the position as a true freshman before injuries struck.

6. New York Giants (via Chicago): EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Karlaftis was one of the most consistent edge-rushers in the country this past season, finishing with a 90.6 pass-rushing grade. He’s got inside-outside versatility and a motor that won’t quit. At 275 pounds, he’d be a decidedly different kind of edge rusher across from the speedier Azeez Ojulari.

7. New York Giants: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The Giants need pass protection in any way, shape or form they can get it. Cross can bring that to the tackle position when Nate Solder moves on. He allowed only 16 pressures on a ridiculous 719 pass-blocking snaps this season.

8. Atlanta Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Safeties may not have the positional value, but Hamilton is a different breed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. The Fighting Irish star recorded six combined picks and pass breakups in only seven games this season.

9. Carolina Panthers: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

While they’re stuck with Sam Darnold’s contract, they still have to address the quarterback position for the future. Corral oozes physical ability, but the 6-foot-1, 205-pound quarterback's size will be held against him, as will the favorable Ole Miss offense.

10. Minnesota Vikings: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

The Vikings love themselves some physical freaks on the edge, and Walker qualifies as such. At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Walker has a rare get-off at that size. He’s still figuring out how to rush the passer, as evidenced by his 65.1 pass-rushing grade, but that’s a nice place to start.

11. New Orleans Saints: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Williams is the first receiver off the board because players with his kind of speed don’t last long in the draft. His 21.4 yards per reception this season would represent the perfect complement to Michael Thomas.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Positional value may cause Linderbaum to fall, but he’s as good a center prospect as you’ll see. Linderbaum has been the highest-graded player at the position in each of the past two seasons.

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13. Philadelphia Eagles: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

The Eagles love to build through the trenches, and Davis is about as strong an anchor as you’ll find. At 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, he’s near immovable in the middle of Georgia’s defense. He can also learn from one of the best bull-rushers of the past decade in Fletcher Cox.

14. Denver Broncos: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

The Broncos have been decimated at the position this season, so Lloyd would bring some needed stability. He’s as complete an all-around linebacker as you’ll see in college football and recorded 30 pressures, 52 stops and four picks this season.

15. Las Vegas Raiders: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia

Dean may be on the small side for the position, at 6-foot and 225 pounds, but he’s a tone-setter nonetheless. He earned a 91.3 pass-rushing grade and 90.5 coverage grade this season.

16. Cleveland Browns: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Wilson finished the regular season on a tear, recording 371 yards and six scores in his final three games. He possesses elite separation ability and is a terror for corners to try and stick with at every level of the field.

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17. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis): EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan

Ojabo has been playing football for only five years, which makes his rocket-ship ascent even more intriguing when projecting to the NFL. After only playing 26 snaps in his Michigan career before this season, Ojabo has an 88.2 pass-rushing grade on 508 snaps this year.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina

Even after a disappointing junior campaign as a passer, Howell still has the kind of arm talent NFL evaluators will fall in love with. He’s also protected the ball well over his career, with only 21 turnover-worthy plays over the past two seasons combined.

19. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Burks has the YAC ability to easily fit into the Dolphins' offense, as he broke 15 tackles on 65 receptions this season. He also brings a vertical threat on the outside that DeVante Parker hasn’t quite provided.

20. Washington Football Team: OT Icky Ekwonu, N.C. State

With Charles Leno Jr. on a one-year deal, Ekwonu can be the long-term answer at left tackle. The N.C. State product leads all offensive tackles in college football in big-time blocks and has made big strides by allowing only 13 pressures this season.

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21. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Booth has such easy movement skills and only improved the more playing time he got this past season. He came down with three picks and two pass breakups in his final two games.

22. Los Angeles Chargers: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

McDuffie is tailor-made to play in Brandon Staley’s defense. He’s an exceptional tackler with tremendous instincts. For his career, he’s missed only six tackles on 101 attempts.

23. Buffalo Bills: IOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Green has experience at every offensive line position except center that will come in handy with the underperforming Bills line. He’s allowed only 20 pressures over the past two seasons.

24. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): WR Drake London, USC

London was a shoo-in for the Biletnikoff Award before breaking his ankle in Week 9 against Arizona. He piled up 1,084 yards on 88 catches with 22 broken tackles and 19 contested catches in only eight games.

25. Dallas Cowboys: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Opposite Trevon Diggs, Elam has the length for Dan Quinn’s defense that would give opposing offenses fits. The Florida cornerback allowed just 46.8% of his targets to be caught over his three-year career in the SEC.

26. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Ahmad Gardner has a chance to make himself a ton of money against Jameson Williams in the playoffs. He’s given up only 117 yards all season long but hasn’t faced much in the way of top competition.

27. Baltimore Ravens: S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State

The Ravens love versatile and athletic secondary defenders — and that’s Brisker. He’s been consistent as can be, too, with overall grades of 82.0, 82.8 and 82.4 in his three seasons at Penn State.

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28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

Olave is an incredibly polished route-runner with reliable hands. The Bucs could lose multiple receivers this offseason, and their vertical offense could also use Olave’s 4.4 speed.

29. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Drake Jackson, USC

Jackson was one of the few bright spots on USC this season. He made a significant leap from 2020, going from a 66.6 pass-rushing grade to 87.7.

30. Green Bay Packers: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan

One of the biggest risers in the draft class. Raimann only transitioned from tight end to tackle in 2020 and is now the second-highest-graded tackle in college football.

31. New England Patriots: CB Roger McCreary, Auburn

McCreary has the press-man pedigree the Patriots will love. He’s also earned the highest coverage grade in college football this season at 89.7.

32. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

The true junior has already declared, but he didn’t exactly do his draft stock any big favors this year. After earning an 88.3 overall grade as a sophomore in 2020, his production fell off to 70.3 this season. Some of that was workload and kicking inside more, but his inability to produce from the interior at 290 pounds is a tad concerning. Still, he has a similar body type to J.J. Watt and could learn from the future Hall of Famer.

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