The NFL regular season is in the books, college football has crowned its National Champion. Now it’s time to turn out sights to the NFL Draft. Right now this is a very, very early look before the combine and pro days, which can also sometimes lead to the most accurate examination of the draft.
It comes at a time before we fall in love with the measurables and dream of possibility, instead focusing purely on who produced, and who didn’t during their college careers. It’s perhaps the best time to look at the class.
2022 NFL Mock Draft
|1||Jacksonville Jaguars||Evan Neal||OT||Alabama||OL, WR|
|2||Detroit Lions||Aidan Huchinson||DE||Michigan||WR, EDGE|
|3||Houston Texans||Kyle Hamilton||S||Notre Dame||DB, DL|
|4||New York Jets||Derek Stingley Jr.||CB||LSU||WR, CB|
|5||New York Giants||George Karlaftis||DE||Purdue||OL, EDGE|
|6||Carolina Panthers||Charles Cross||OT||Miss. State||OL, QB|
|7||New York Giants 1||Kenny Pickett||QB||Pittsburgh||OL, EDGE|
|8||Atlanta Falcons||Malik Willis||QB||Liberty||EDGE, OL|
|9||Denver Broncos||Kayvon Thibodeaux||DE||Oregon||QB, LB|
|10||New York Jets 2||Garrett Wilson||WR||Ohio State||WR, DB|
|11||Washington Football Team||Tyler Linderbaum||C||Iowa||QB, OL|
|12||Minnesota Vikings||Andrew Booth Jr.||CB||Clemson||CB, EDGE|
|13||Cleveland Browns||DeMarvin Leal||DL||Texas A&M||DT, WR|
|14||Baltimore Ravens||Ikem Ekwonu||OT||NC State||OL, DT|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles 3||David Ojabo||DL||Michigan||EDGE, S|
|16||Philadelphia Eagles 4||Devin Lloyd||LB||Utah||EDGE, S|
|17||Los Angeles Chargers||Jameson Williams||WR||Alabama||DT, WR|
|18||New Orleans Saints||Chris Olave||WR||Ohio State||QB, WR|
|19||Philadelphia Eagles||Ahmad Gardner||CB||Cincinnati||EDGE, S|
|20||Pittsburgh Steelers||Matt Corral||QB||Ole Miss||QB, OL|
|21||New England Patriots||Roger McCreary||CB||Auburn||DB, WR|
|22||Miami Dolphins 5||Kenyon Green||OL||Texas A&M||OL, RB|
|23||Las Vegas Raiders||Jahan Dotson||WR||Penn State||WR, DT|
|24||Arizona Cardinals||Kaiir Elam||CB||Florida||DB, DL|
|25||Cincinnati Bengals||Daxton Hill||CB||Michigan||DB, OL|
|26||Buffalo Bills||Jaxson Kirkland||OL||Washington||OL, DL|
|27||Detroit Lions 6||Carson Strong||QB||Nevada||WR, EDGE|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Trent McDuffie||CB||Washington||DB, DL|
|29||Kansas City Chiefs||Treylon Burks||WR||Arkansas||DB, OL|
|30||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Derion Kendrick||CB||Georgia||OL, CB|
|31||Tennessee Titans||Zion Johnson||OL||Boston College||OL, TE|
|32||Green Bay Packers||Drake London||WR||USC||WR, EDGE|
|1 From Chicago in draft trade to select Justin Fields|
|1 From Seattle in Jamal Adams trade|
|3 From Miami in trade to select Jaylen Waddle|
|4 From Colts in trade for Carson Wentz|
|5 From 49ers in trade to select Trey Lance|
|6 From Rams in trade for Matthew Stafford|
Jaguars understand what’s needed
The top of this draft is very defense heavy, but as intoxicating as a top pass rusher might be, Jacksonville has to support Trevor Lawrence better. Evan Neal is an athletic freak who can provide a literal mountain of protection at 6’7, 341 pounds, but Neal moves like a man 70 pounds lighter than his weight.
This is a move I think makes a lot of sense, and the Jaguars could trade down a little and still take Neal — but this is a trade-free mock, so I’m calling it like I see it.
What happens with the QBs?
The 2021 QB class is wild. We’re sandwiched between a year with some amazing college QBs who didn’t really blow anyone away in their rookie seasons, and before 2023 when C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young enter the draft.
It makes picking a QB this year a risky proposition, but I still think we see a few teams roll the dice on the position. Keep in mind that Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford are just two guys who came out during supposed “weak” QB drafts.
I still have four QBs going in the first round because there are a lot of QB needy teams I could see pulling the trigger. It’s just the nature of the position: Keep drafting until you find one.
Kayvon Thibodeaux where?
I know this will cause some angst. If you look at most mocks Thibodeaux goes in the top three. Here’s my thinking: He’s brilliant, and he’s raw. Thibaodeaux relies on raw athleticism and not technique to generate his pressure. We’ve seen this work in the past, we’ve also seen in blow up in the faces of drafting teams.
It’s for this reason I have him sliding a little lower. Certainly not out of the top 10, but to Denver where I think he can become a natural replacement for Von Miller and his ability is too good to pass up.
The passing league
While the top of the draft is line heavy, we’re going to see more of a movement towards shutting down the pass. I have nine players from the secondary going in the first round, which seems ridiculous — but this was always a deep class for defensive backs, and everyone in the NFL knows the direction the league is headed.
Keep an eye on Carson Strong
The Nevada QB I have going deep to the Lions as a low-risk investment in the future. It’s also a case where I could see him flying up the boards and into the top 10 by the time this whole thing is over.
Scouts are going to fall in love with Strong’s frame, accuracy and decision making. He’s got a big arm, and while he’s a traditional pocket passer with no running threat to speak of, Strong had a lot of responsibility pre-snap to read coverage and do work.
I think Dan Campbell is an old school guy. Strong is an old-school QB. I could also see a lot of teams liking him enough to move him high up the board following workouts.