2022 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1
The Super Bowl has come and gone, which means the draft season is upon us! The pre-draft process has been in full swing, and the Senior Bowl has already caused players’ values to shift across big boards. With the NFL scouting combine coming up, we are sure to see a ton of movement after official testing numbers are out. This mock will be out the day it starts, so those measurables will not be accounted for, but we can still get an idea of what team’s could do come April. Let’s dive in.
*Note this mock draft will have no trades.*
#1 – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Evan Neal (OT, Alabama, 6’7″ 351)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the number one overall pick for the second year in a row. Unfortunately for them, this year’s class has a ton of question marks at the top. The best option could be to trade back, but with no clear-cut quarterback in the class, they may not have suitors willing to move up for the pick. That means they’ll be selecting from four options: OT Evan Neal, OT Ikem Ekwonu, EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, or EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Kayvon Thibodeaux has been a player that I’ve been high on the last two seasons, but with the Jaguars hiring Doug Pederson and their need at offensive line, it’s hard to imagine him being the pick. The Jaguars need to build around Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC). They should select Evan Neal out of Alabama to ensure he stays healthy. Neal is a versatile lineman who only allowed 22 pressures the past two years at both tackle positions. His versatility also allows them to be creative with rebuilding their offensive line in the off-season.
#2 – DETROIT LIONS: Aidan Hutchinson (EDGE, Michigan, 6’6″ 265)
The Lions solidified their offensive line last season with their selection of Penei Sewell (OL – DET). They ranked 13th in the NFL according to PFF, and with more experience, Frank Ragnow’s (OL – DET) crew should be a top-10 line next season. That leaves the Lions with a choice between the two best edge rushers in the draft.
Aidan Hutchinson would be the hometown favorite at this spot, and the pick is almost too good to pass up. Hutchinson would give Detroit a key building block on their defense, fitting Dan Campbell’s system. Hutchinson is the perfect blend of power and explosiveness that embodies what a bull-rushing defensive end is supposed to play like. The Heisman candidate had 74 pressures in 2021 and was one of the main reasons Michigan was in the College Football Playoff. Detroit is changing its culture, and Hutchinson would fit perfectly in their rebuild.
#3 – HOUSTON TEXANS: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE, Oregon, 6’5″ 258)
Houston is the true wildcard in the 2022 draft. The scenarios are endless for a team that has a need at every position on the football field. The aftermath of Bill O’Brien’s tenure is still lingering, and the new front office has been a mess the entire off-season. Just look how they’ve handled the Deshaun Watson (QB – HOU) situation and then their head coaching position. There is no telling what executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby and general manager Nick Caserio will do. The best-case scenario would be a team falling in love with a quarterback and giving up draft capital to move up, but the Texans will likely pick from the No. 3 spot with that looking unlikely.
With that pick, I expect them to take Oregon Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thibodeaux could be the best player in this draft, giving them a foundational piece to build around on their defense. Thibodeaux will test very well at the combine, and these rumors about his effort level will subside when they see him back on the field. He is one of the most explosive players in this draft, and his athleticism is off the charts. The selection of Thibodeaux will pair him up with fellow Edge Jonathan Greenard (DE – HOU) and should give the Texans a deadly one-two punch.
#4 – NEW YORK JETS: Ikem Ekwonu (OT, NC State, 6’4″ 320)
With two of the best defensive players in the draft off the board, the Jets have a difficult decision. They can either address their defensive issues, or they will need to upgrade their offensive line. The Jets’ luxury is that they have two first-round picks, so they’ll likely take the best player available with their first pick. Even though Kyle Hamilton is still on the board, I believe the Jets will have NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu ranked higher.
The Jets have been rebuilding their offensive line the past few seasons with the additions of Mekhi Becton (OL – NYJ) and Alijah Vera-Tucker (OL – NYJ). They finished 11th in the league in PFF’s offensive line ranking this past year and showed improvement down the stretch. Even then, building an offensive line is something that every team should prioritize, especially with the investment that they have made with Zach Wilson (QB – NYJ). Ekwonu offers versatility for teams because he can start at either tackle position or guard in any scheme. He would give the Jets maneuverability on the line and could solidify the line for years to come.
#5 – NEW YORK GIANTS: Charles Cross (OT, Miss St, 6’5″ 310)
The New York Giants are in the midst of another rebuild. This time with GM Joe Schoen running the show. Schoen has had a proven track record in the past and served as the assistant general manager of the Buffalo Bills since 2017. He has 20 years of scouting and executive experience in the NFL. Before the Bills, he was the assistant director of college scouting and had a proven track record of finding talent. This draft will be his first to build a framework for his team, and the first thing they need to fix is their offensive line.
Charles Cross is the perfect player in that scenario. He’s still a little raw for the position being a redshirt sophomore with just 22 starts at left tackle, but in those starts, he’s shown to be a polished pass-blocker, and that should excite you about his potential. Scouts also rave about his run-blocking ability even though Mississippi State’s offense lacks a considerable amount of rushing attempts. Cross will become an immediate starter and could be the best lineman in the 2022 class.
#6 – CAROLINA PANTHERS: Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa, 6’3″ 291)
As you’ve noticed, there is a running theme of this mock, and that’s just how bad offensive line play is in the NFL right now. The Panthers are no different. According to PFF, they were graded as the 31st offensive line and were abysmal in 2021. They could look to add pieces in free agency, but they need to improve their line play, or it won’t matter who their quarterback is. According to reports, the only guaranteed starter on that team for 2022 is Taylor Moton (OL – CAR). GM Scott Fitterer already declared that the offensive line would be a priority in the off-season, so that’s where I expect them to go in this draft. Luckily for them, Iowa Center Tyler Linderbaum is still available.
Drafting Linderbaum instantly improves their interior line, and he could be a top-3 player at the position. Linderbaum is the type of foundational player you can build your line around. Scouts have raved about his unique athleticism, and his hand placement is exceptional. He is one of the strongest players in this draft class and coaches at Iowa rave about his leadership from the center position. He will be one of the smartest players on the football field – something the Panthers have needed for years.
#7 – NEW YORK GIANTS: David Ojabo (EDGE, Michigan, 6’5″ 250)
With their second pick in the top seven, the Giants address one of their biggest needs. The Giants finished 31st in adjusted line yards allowed in the rushing game (4.78) and struggled to pressure quarterbacks all season. After improving their offensive line, they then address their defensive line and take the player with one of the highest ceilings in the draft class. That’s Michigan’s David Ojabo. This might seem a little early for Ojabo, but he had an incredible 2021. He recorded forty-one pressures and had eleven sacks and at times looked like the best defensive player on the roster. While he only has one big season of college production, his combination of size, speed, and power off the edge should excite you about him as a prospect.
Ojabo could be the best pass rusher in the class and would provide the Giants with a foundational piece on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator Don Martindale’s scheme is built off of blitz and pressure. He needs elite rushers who can excel in this sort of defense, and Ojabo fits that profile.
#8 – ATLANTA FALCONS: Kyle Hamilton (S, ND, 6’4″ 224)
The Falcons have to believe that they have a chance to win the division next season. Because of that belief, I don’t see them going quarterback with this pick, especially with Matt Ryan’s (QB – ATL) contract, and it is a down class there. Their wide receiver room needs an upgrade, but with the depth in the class and the free-agent options out there, I expect them to wait on that position. That leaves one of the best players on the board being available in Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton is a unicorn at his position, mirroring Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL) last season.
Hamilton would give the Falcons a playmaker on defense. He has the frame of a linebacker but has the agility of a defensive back. Watching Hamilton cover ground on defense is a thing of beauty, and his man-coverage ability allows defensive coaches to utilize him all over the field. His anticipation creates takeaway opportunities, giving defensive coordinator Dean Pees a swiss army knife to use in his scheme. Hamilton also gives them the type of weapon they need on defense to compete for a division title.
#9 – DENVER BRONCOS: George Karlaftis (EDGE, Purdue, 6’4″ 275)
The Denver Broncos have needed a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired. Unfortunately, this class does not have a quarterback worth drafting in the ninth spot. The Broncos have been touted as a team that is a quarterback away from competing for a title, and trusting a rookie to lead a win-now team just doesn’t seem like the right option. They will most likely add a veteran quarterback. This could also be a prime spot for teams to trade up, and I expect that to happen. If they stand pat, they should draft George Karlaftis out of Purdue.
George Karlaftis would fill the gaping hole that was left on defense after Von Miller (LB – LAR) was traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Karlaftis totaled 97 tackles, 14 sacks, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, and one defensive touchdown in his career at Purdue. He would fit well in the Broncos scheme, and assuming the Broncos acquire a QB elsewhere, could be a key piece for Denver on defense. Especially in a division with Justin Herbert (QB – LAC) and Patrick Mahomes (QB – KC).
#10 – NEW YORK JETS: Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, LSU, 6’1″ 190)
With their first pick in this mock, the Jets improved their offensive line by drafting tackle Ikem Ekwonu. This pick, they are excited to grab Derek Stingley Jr. out of LSU. Coming into LSU, Stingley was the No. 3 rated player in the country and was dominant his freshman season, earning first-team All-American honors. He recorded six interceptions that year and was a playmaker all over the field. In the past two seasons, he’s dealt with injuries and hasn’t lived up to expectations after his freshman season, but his athletic measurables are off the charts. He’s a physical corner who has the ideal frame for a cornerback. The raw talent is there, and it would be hard to pass him up at this pick.
As far as the fit for the New York Jets, it would be a perfect match. Michael Carter II (CB – NYJ) showed promise last season, but outside of him, the secondary was inconsistent all season. Stingley would be an immediate impact player on that defense.
#11 – WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Matt Corral (QB, Ole Miss, 6’2″ 205)
This 11th pick seems like a perfect chance for the Commanders to acquire a quarterback, but not in the actual draft. I expect them to use it in a package deal to get a veteran quarterback that could become available. Since we aren’t including trades in this mock, the Commanders look at the quarterback position and select Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. Corral off the board as QB1 could be a surprise to some, but as someone who has been high on him before his junior season, I believe in his talent. Corral wasn’t eligible to go to the Senior Bowl, so there is some mystery about him right now, but if he performs well at his Pro Day, he can solidify a top-15 selection.
Corral has the attributes of a franchise quarterback. Throughout his career, he displays the leadership you need from the position, and coaches rave about his coachability. He will fit in Scott Turner’s offense that pushes the ball downfield with timing concepts. Washington utilizes heavy play-action, and Turner has also implemented RPOs in their system. Corral has demonstrated the ability to run this type of offense in college and 60% of his dropbacks last season involved play-action. Corral also completed over 40% of his throws on attempts of 20+ yards last season. He’s the perfect fit within this offense.
#12 – MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE, Florida St, 6’5″ 260)
As the General manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has some franchise-changing decisions to make. Adofo-Mensah comes over from the Cleveland Browns after serving as their Vice President of Football Operations. He’s regarded as an analytics-minded executive who has worked under some of the best minds in football. The key question is, what will they do with Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)? In my opinion, they will likely bring him back because of his contract situation, so that will leave Adofo-Mensah with some options. Look for the Vikings to address the defensive side of the ball by picking defensive end Jermaine Johnson II.
Johnson here may seem like a reach, especially with the cornerbacks that are still left on the board; however, Adofo-Memnsah comes from two teams that prioritized the defensive line position, and the Vikings need to improve their pass rush. Johnson crushed his Senior Bowl appearance, and NFL coaches raved about his ability to win in 1-on-1 reps. This is a high ceiling draft pick with some risk, but Johnson is the type of player the Vikings could build their defense around.
#13 – CLEVELAND BROWNS: Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama, 6’2″ 189)
The Browns need weapons at the wide receiver position. After trading OBJ, it was obvious that this wide receiver room lacked talent, and with the likelihood we could see a Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE) departure, the Browns will need to completely re-tool the position. The key question will be who will be on the board to draft at pick 13. In this mock, no receiver has been taken, which means the Browns will draft their highest-rated receiver at the position: Alabama WR Jameson Williams.
Before tearing his ACL in the National Championship, the Alabama standout receiver had 1,572 yards and fifteen touchdowns and was one of the most explosive players in college football. He’s a deep threat that possesses next-level ball tracking ability and would immediately open up the Brown’s offense. Even with the ACL injury, he will be highly coveted by NFL teams, and with the depth in this draft at the position, the Browns can afford to wait on the prospect. I also expect them to add at least one wide receiver in free agency, giving them flexibility.
#14 – BALTIMORE RAVENS: Ahmad Gardner (CB, Cincinnati, 6’2″ 188)
After starting the season at 8-3 in 2021, the Baltimore Ravens would lose six straight to finish outside the playoff picture. The Ravens were hit with more injuries than any other team in the NFL last season and were incredibly unlucky down the stretch. The Ravens need help on the defensive line. Still, with Johnson and Karlaftis off the board, they will address their secondary needs by selecting Ahmad Gardner from the University of Cincinnati.
Gardner’s value has been all across the board early this off-season, where some scouts have him in the top ten while others have him bring drafted in the back-half of the first. This pick would give the Ravens one of the most talented cover corners in the draft. Gardner had one of the best seasons for a cornerback, and his ball skills are elite. His versatility in both man and zone concepts is something that teams will covet, and he’s an excellent fit for Baltimore.
#15 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Drake London (WR, USC, 6’5″ 210)
The Eagles have three picks in the first round of the Draft, and that will give them a ton of ammo to work with. I could easily see them moving all three of the picks to gain additional draft capital, but if they stay put, I fully expect them to draft a receiver with one of their picks in the first round. The Eagles have clearly emphasized that they are prepared to build around Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI), and Hurts needs better weapons than Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI) and Quez Watkins (WR – PHI). That weapon will be USC WR Drake London.
While Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson is still on the board, it sounds like the Eagles are enamored with London. London would compliment DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI) well and give the Eagles a weapon that can line up all over the field. London has excellent film, and his analytical profile checks most boxes. He would give this Eagles offense a needed boost and help Jalen Hurts develop.
#16 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Andrew Booth Jr. (CB, Clemson, 6’0″ 200)
After locking up a key piece for their offense, Philadelphia then adds a key piece to their defense. There are many different ways they could go with this pick, but in my opinion, they’ll use it to solidify their secondary. The perfect player to do that is Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr. There is a need for depth at the position outside Darius Slay (CB – PHI). Veteran Steve Nelson (CB – FA) did great in 2021, filling in as a stop-gap, but he isn’t a long-term option. Avonte Maddox (CB – PHI) has proven to be a great nickel back corner, but the Eagles need to find another CB1, and Booth could be their guy.
Booth Jr. excels in both press and zone coverage, which fits defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s system. Booth has elite athleticism and is a ball hawk. Booth could also give Gannon the freedom to take more risks and call more blitzes to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks, something the Eagles didn’t do last season.
#17 – LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State, 6’0″ 192)
This pick will become much clearer once we know what the Chargers decide to do with Mike Williams (WR – LAC). Williams is a free agent, and there hasn’t been much talk about if the Chargers are willing to pay him what he wants. Williams looked great early in the season but struggled down the stretch, making the situation much murkier. Williams has always been underrated, but his inability to be consistent and stay healthy has frustrated both the team and fans. In this scenario, they let Williams walk and fill his role with my WR1 in the draft Garrett Wilson.
Wilson is one of the most pro-ready receivers in this class. He has an exceptional release off the line of scrimmage; his YAC ability will set him apart from his counterparts in this draft. He is a perfect fit in this Chargers offense and would be able to play inside and out. Wilson and Justin Herbert would form a dangerous duo.
#18 – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Sam Howell (QB, North Carolina, 6’0″ 220)
The Saints are at a crossroads as a franchise. They lost Drew Brees after the 2020 season and then lost head coach Sean Payton after the 2021 season. They have a projected salary cap of $202.8 million, which is $42 million over the cap limit even after some recent restructuring. That’s a problem. New head coach Dennis Allen and longtime general manager Mickey Loomis have some difficult decisions moving forward. The most important one is at the quarterback position. With the salary cap situation the way it is, I expect the Saints to start their mini-rebuild by selecting Sam Howell in the draft. This allows them to get a quarterback at the rookie salary and will give them more flexibility with roster construction.
Howell is a prospect that possesses an incredible arm and could fit the Saints system well. Many had him touted as QB1 in this class for the last three years before his sub-par 2021 season. The real issue is his mechanics and footwork, which can be fixed. Even then, the Saints could feel that Howell is their guy, and with a little bit of coaching, he could finish as QB1 of the draft class.
#19 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia, 6’0″ 225)
With their third pick in the first round, the Eagles grab one of the best defensive players in the class, Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. There are some legitimate questions on whether or not Howie Roseman would select a linebacker in the first, but this defense needs playmakers at every level, and Dean would give them just that.
Dean won the 2021 Butkus Award and was the key player on one of the best defenses in college football history. He possesses the skill that every team looks for in an off-ball linebacker and is an explosive athlete. That athleticism also allows him to be great in coverage, which the Eagles have lacked in recent seasons. He was one of the top pass rushers in college football and should get some Micah Parsons (LB – DAL) athletic comps heading into the actual draft. If the Eagles want to improve their defense and add an explosive playmaker, Dean would be my pick.
#20 – PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Malik Willis (QB, Liberty, 6’0″ 225)
The Steelers are looking for a franchise quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. While they have a glaring need at the offensive line, I expect them to use their first pick on a quarterback. There is just no chance that they feel comfortable rolling out Mason Rudolph (QB – PIT) next season, and the quarterback position drives wins in this league. The worst kept secret is that the Steelers covet Malik Willis, which is the player I expect them to grab in the draft.
Willis is going to be the most debated prospect in this class. He has a ceiling that no other quarterback possesses, but he’s a risky prospect. He’s a dual-threat athlete who would immediately transform the Steelers’ offense. He can create plays out of structure, which the Steelers should covet, given their situation on the offensive line. His arm strength is the real deal, and he can drive the ball anywhere on the field. The question mark will always be his accuracy and consistency. He has the tools to be an NFL starter; it will just come down to whether or not he gets the support needed to develop.
#21 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas, 6’3″ 225)
The Patriots need to give Mac Jones (QB – NE) a legitimate offensive weapon. Jones looked good at times last season, but the Patriot’s lack of weapons on the outside severely limited him as a quarterback and allowed defenses to stack the box against their offense. In all of his glory, Bill Belichick has routinely been burned by wide receivers in previous drafts and could be wary of drafting another receiver in the first after the N’Keal Harry (WR – NE) failure. The Patriots know they need a dynamic weapon, and Treylon Burks is their pick.
Burks had 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns last year at Arkansas and is an explosive receiver. Along with his explosiveness, he also possesses a physicality at the position that many are comparing to D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA). Burks is that level of athlete, and many scouts have him as their WR1 in this draft class. Burks would give the Patriots one of the best players they have had at the position in the last decade, and he would provide Mac Jones with a much-needed weapon.
#22 – LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia, 6’6″ 340)
The Raiders are in desperate need of defensive line help. New general manager Dave Ziegler knows this. Ziegler played the role of Belichick’s right-hand man in New England’s personnel department last season, and he knows the importance of a strong defensive line. The AFC West is loaded with offensive talent, and the Raiders need players who can clog up gaps and provide pressure up the middle. Look no further than Jordan Davis out of Georgia.
Davis is quite honestly one of the biggest men I have ever seen on a football field, and he is a physically imposing defender. He is one of the strongest players in this draft class and was a defensive anchor for the Georgia Bulldogs. Scouts rave about his ability to shed blocks and his athleticism for his size. Davis has one of the highest ceilings in this class at his position, and the Raiders would be getting a solid building block.
#23 – ARIZONA CARDINALS: Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington, 5’11” 190)
The Cardinals will most likely address the defensive side of the ball in the first round. They need depth at both the corner and defensive line positions. With Trent McDuffie still on the board, it’s hard to pass on him here based on team needs. The Cardinals need to address their secondary, especially in the NFC West. They ranked 31st in the league in Cover 1 coverage last year, and in their playoff game against the Rams, they got exposed. They currently have four corners under contract, with Marco Wilson (CB – ARI) being the best of the bunch. For those reasons, we should see Trent McDuffie’s name called here.
McDuffie is the type of player that would excel in Vance Joseph’s scheme. He can play multiple schemes and positions on the field. He’s a top-notch athlete, and his anticipation is up there with the top cornerbacks in the class. He could hold his own against the top receivers in the NFC West, and for a team in win-now mode like the Cardinals, he’s the perfect selection.
#24 – DALLAS COWBOYS: Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M, 6’4″ 325)
Dallas comes into the off-season needing to upgrade their offensive line, which should be their top priority. Connor Williams (OT – DAL) looks like he will be leaving in Free Agency which would open up a starting spot immediately. Connor McGovern (OL – NYJ) struggled last season, and there were rumblings that management isn’t sure he’s going to be a long-term solution. Tyron Smith (OL – DAL) is great when he’s healthy, but he hasn’t been able to play a full season in two years, so there should be some urgency to address the line. That pick should be Kenyon Green.
Green would be the perfect fit on the line, and if Williams were to leave in free agency, would become an instant starter. He’s also versatile and can be moved to tackle if Tyron Smith gets hurt. Green is a solid run blocker who shows enough athleticism to get to the second level of defenses. He can also hold his own in pass blocking situations. Green is one of those lineman who, with refinement, can be a foundational piece on the offensive line for years.
#25 – BUFFALO BILLS: Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida, 6’2″ 193)
The Bills should have won the Super Bowl last season. They were the most talented team in the NFL and had they been able to get one stop with 13 seconds left in their game against the Chiefs, I firmly believe they would have won the title. Unfortunately for Bills fans, that didn’t happen. One of their weaknesses in 2021 was their secondary. After Tre’Davious White (CB – BUF) was lost for the season, they could never find the consistency that was needed. Levi Wallace (CB – BUF) looked O.K. at times, but he is an unrestricted free agent, and there is a possibility that they do not bring him back. If they don’t, they should select a corner in the draft, and that player for me would be Florida CB Kaiir Elam.
Elam would give the Bills a versatile corner with good speed and physicality. One of his strengths is his vision on the football field paired with his aggression. His aggression sometimes gets him into trouble, but he plays with an edge and is excellent in press coverage. He’ll need to refine his technique a bit not to get penalties called on him, but he would give the Bills a much-needed physical presence at the position.
#26 – TENNESSEE TITANS: Chris Olave (WR, Ohio St, 6’1″ 187)
The Tennessee Titans offense regressed in 2021. One reason for their decline can be chalked up to Derrick Henry’s (RB – TEN) injury but there was more to it than just the absence of Henry. The Titans have struggled to find a reliable No. 2 receiver for quite some time now. General Manager Jon Robinson tried to fill that void when he traded for Julio Jones (WR – TEN) last off-season, but Jones couldn’t stay healthy. The Titans are still searching for a legitimate number two option behind All-Pro AJ Brown (WR – TEN). That option could very well be Ohio State receiver Chris Olave.
Olave’s skill set would fit well in a Tannehill-led offense. Tannehill ranked in the bottom half of the league in deep ball passing last season and the Titans had no weapons that could be a threat in the underneath part of the field. That’s where Olave excels. He is an exceptional route-runner, and his ability to get in and out of breaks is next level. Olave could provide this offense with a reliable WR2 that could be moved around all over the offense. For a team that sees its window closing, Olave would be a perfect fit.
#27 – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia, 6’3″ 315)
The Buccaneers are the most challenging team right now to mock for. After losing Tom Brady to retirement and most recently Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet, the Buccaneers are a team that needs to figure out their identity. Even though they need a quarterback, I don’t see them reaching for one in this draft, especially after drafting Kyle Trask (QB – TB) in Round 2 last season. That leaves me to believe they will use this pick on their defensive line. Ndamukong Suh (DL – TB), William Gholston (DL – TB), Steve McLendon (DL – TB), and Pat O’Connor could all leave the team in free agency, leaving a gaping hole on that defensive front. Not to mention they need to get younger at the position. I would expect them to grab DT Devonte Wyatt from Georgia with the way the board played out.
Devonte Wyatt may be the other Georgia defensive tackle in this class, but he’s a great prospect on his own. Wyatt’s strength lies in his explosiveness and ability to create a pass rush. Wyatt was also versatile at Georgia, playing 0-tech through 5-tech. His strength also allows him to be above average in the running game. Wyatt would give Tampa Bay a great young piece on the defensive line that could be a quality starter as soon as next season.
#28. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah, 6’3″ 236)
The Green Bay Packers will be impossible to mock until we know what will happen with Aaron Rodgers (QB – GB) and Davante Adams (WR – GB). Until their situations are known, we are all guessing at this point where the Packers will go. For that reason, I’m going to stick with the defensive side of the ball and address their linebacker position. De’Vondre Campbell (LB – GB) had an excellent 2021 season, but he’s a free agent, and it doesn’t look like they will be able to afford him. If they don’t, they could strengthen their linebacking core and grab one of the best defensive players still left on the board in Devin Lloyd.
Lloyd was a three-year starter at Utah and earned first-team All-Pac 12 in 2020 and 2021. He also added a first-team All-American selection last year. He was dominant in 2021, and he fits the mold for a modern NFL linebacker. His range is incredible, and his quickness allows him to fill gaps quicker than most linebackers in this class. That quickness also helps him in coverage, where he can close on routes and is one of the better coverage linebackers. This is a best available player pick by the Packers until we see how their off-season unfolds.
#29 – MIAMI DOLPHINS: Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa, 6’7″ 322)
The Miami Dolphins line has been a mess the past few seasons. The Dolphins have emphasized the line, using four picks on Day 1/2 prospects the past three seasons; they just haven’t gotten the picks right. Their pass blocking was the worst in the league in 2021, and they allowed 235 pressures. When you think about the fact that Miami used a quick passing offensive scheme and RPOs, that number looks even worse. Their run blocking wasn’t much better, as the Dolphins only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. That means the Dolphins will again have to draft an offensive lineman, which will be Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning.
Penning dominated the Senior Bowl and exhibited a nastiness that scouts will fall in love with. In the three years he started at Northern Iowa, he started at both tackle spots and guard, which gives the Dolphins versatility. He’s an excellent run blocker, and he could be an above-average pass blocker with some coaching. He would give the Dolphins an immediate upgrade on their offensive line.
#30 – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Daxton Hill (S, Michigan, 6’0″ 192)
The Chiefs have many options with the 30th pick in the draft. This pick could be a big spot for quarterback-needy teams to move up into the first to draft whichever quarterback falls into the back end of the first. They could also look to bolster their receiver room, but based on this mock’s draft board; they would be reaching at that position. That leaves us with their secondary, which is an area that they will look to bolster in 2022. Tyrann Mathieu (S – KC) and Daniel Sorenson are both free agents, along with cornerbacks Charvarius Ward (CB – KC) and Mike Hughes (CB – KC). Luckily for the Chiefs, a top safety in the class falls to them, and that’s Michigan’s Daxton Hill.
Hill would give the Chiefs another playmaker in the secondary even if they can bring back Mathieu, and if they can’t, that allows them to replace him. He’s also a physical player that can perform well close to the line of scrimmage. Hill has also shown to be an above-average nickel defender, fitting Kansas City’s defensive scheme.
#31 – CINCINNATI BENGALS: Zion Johnson (G, Boston College, 6’3″ 316)
Let’s be perfectly clear: The Cincinnati Bengals need offensive line help. The Bengals were able to ride Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) and Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) to the Super Bowl this season, but Burrow took an absolute beating. They gave up over fifty sacks this season, and they need to do a better job of protecting Burrow if they want any chance to return to the Super Bowl. Look for them to draft Zion Johnson out of Boston College based on that need.
Zion had himself a great week at the Senior Bowl and could solidify his draft position at the combine. According to PFF, he graded out as the seventh-best guard in College Football, and coaches have raved about his work ethic. He’s a plug-and-play guard in the NFL that would instantly help out this Bengals offensive line.
#32 – DETROIT LIONS: George Pickens (WR, Georgia, 6’3″ 200)
The Detroit Lions just need talent. After selecting Aidan Hutchinson second overall in this mock, they then look to grab an athlete at the WR position. That pick would be George Pickens. Heading into the last off-season, Pickens was easily a top-three wide receiver in this class, and many ranked him as their WR1. Then he tore his ACL during spring ball, and his stock has continued to dip ever since. It was big for him to make it back this season, and he had a few explosive plays down the stretch that showed his potential.
There have always been questions about his maturity level and route running, but never question his work ethic. The first thing that pops off the tape is his athleticism. He is an athletic freak, and at 6’3, 200, he has the ideal frame you want for the NFL. He also uses that athleticism to get 50/50 balls. He uses his elite eye discipline to make uncatchable balls catchable and has some of the best hands in college football. The Lions could use a player like him in their offense.
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