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Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

Mar 25, 2022
Garrett Wilson Mock Draft

NFL Free Agency may never actually come to end. Breaking news coming about superstar players being moved in blockbuster trades happens seemingly every single day, but we must trudge forward with the release of NFL Mock Draft 3.0.

NFL team needs have changed drastically with all the transactions in free agency, which impacts how they approach the draft. Some teams that looked to be in the market for certain positions among the 2022 NFL rookie class, maybe going in a totally different direction than they would a few weeks back.

Hence why I’ve gone and created the 2022 NFL Draft Needs For All 32 NFL Teams Post-Free Agency — as my guide to align this latest mock draft with what NFL teams will do when they are on the clock.

Let’s dive in.

*As noted this mock draft is based on what I think will happen, not necessarily what I would do in each team’s position.*

1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Aidan Hutchinson (Edge – Michigan)

The odds-on favorite to be selected No. 1 is Michigan pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson (-375). His 2021 PFF defense grade (94.5) is the highest among any edge defender entering the NFL since Washington Commander Chase Young.

Because the Jaguars took care of addressing their team needs in free agency, they can select the No. 1-ranked player on my 2022 NFL Draft Big Board. Hutchinson and defensive end Josh Allen will form a scary pass-rush duo in DUVAL.

2. DETROIT LIONS: Travon Walker (Edge – UGA)

Only the Atlanta Falcons boasted a worse pressure rate on defense than the Lions did a season ago. Seems only fit that Georgia edge defender, Travon Walker, is the pick to provide a spark to the knee-cap hungry Detroit defense.

Walker led the Georgia Bulldogs No. 1-ranked defense in total pressures this past season with 13 coming during their playoff run.

His rare agility at 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds will be a major issue for opposing offensive lines. The former Bulldog flashed his rare speed/bend at the NFL Combine with a 4.51 40-yard dash (98th percentile) and 6.89 3-cone drill (93rd percentile).

With 35½ inch arms to boot, Walker possesses rare traits that make him worthy of the No. 2 overall pick.

3. HOUSTON TEXANS: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)

After “loading up” on offensive personnel in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans looked primed to flip the script and add to their defense that ranked 31st in yards per play allowed.

An edge defender or safety Kyle Hamilton are both in play, so I could envision Houston going in either direction. However, with the general manager Nick Caserio stemming from the New England Patriots system – notorious for valuing pass coverage in favor of pass rush – Houston opts for a do-it-all defensive playmaker.

Adding the dynamic defensive back from Notre Dame should fill the gap in the safety position vacated by Justin Reid, who signed a new deal with Kansas City this offseason.

Hamilton should fit well in Lovie Smith’s zone-heavy defense that moves safeties in the box and slot.

The talented safety didn’t necessarily increase his draft stock after running a 4.59 40-yard dash, but that raw time requires context. Hamilton is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, so it’s actually a solid time when adjusting for size. The Fighting Irish product also posted elite numbers in the jumping drills with a 38” vertical jump (81st percentile) and 131” broad jump (100th percentile).

Hamilton is a top-end defensive talent in this draft and provides recourse against ever-evolving NFL offenses. With so much to offer — strong tackler, desired length/size and coverage ability — he fits the profile for a team that is just looking to draft the best player available.

I’m also less convinced that the Texans take one of the top offensive linemen here, after they restructured the contract of starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil. He isn’t going anywhere.

4. NEW YORK JETS: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge – Oregon)

The New York Jets have a multitude of holes on their roster, especially on defense, so they look to bolster that side of the ball with elite pass-rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Oregon product generated 48 pressures in 11 games his junior season – 4.4 per game. That mark ranked tenth among the 2022 edge class.

Pairing Thibodeaux with their 2021 prized free-agent acquisition, Carl Lawson, will help form a dynamic pass-rush duo for Gang Green.

Thibodeaux also checks off a lot of the prospect boxes that Joe Douglas typically drafts. He went to a Power Five school and looks the part as an athletic specimen. Thibodeaux’s 45.8 40-yard dash ranks in the 93rd percentile and his 10-yard split ranks in the 87th percentile.

If he showcases more at Oregon’s Pro Day on April 1st, he could become the favorite to don the green and white come September.

5. NEW YORK GIANTS: Evan Neal (OT – ALA)

Out with the old, in with the new. Big Blue cleaned house this offseason hiring Brian Daboll as head coach and Joe Schoen as general manager. Both guys spent their last several seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Management/ownership understands they need to put Daniel Jones in a position to succeed this season, to identify him as their long-term answer at quarterback.

The easiest way to achieve that goal is to add protection upfront in the form of offensive lineman, Evan Neal. The Alabama tackle finished top-10 in his draft class in the lowest pressure rate allowed (2.4%) in his first season as a full-time left tackle.

Neal should help fortify PFF’s third-worst offensive line that will be without Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, and Billy Price due to free agency. The Giants did add some interior help through the veteran marketplace, but tackle is a must in the draft.

6. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Ikem Ekwonu (OL – NC State)

The Panthers offensive line was an absolute mess in 2021, allowing the league’s sixth-highest pressure rate. Taylor Moton is their best pass protector at right tackle, but left tackle needs to be improved from the hodgepodge unit of Cam Erving, Brady Christensen and Dennis Daley from a season ago.

They improved the interior in free agency with center Bradley Bozeman and guard Austin Corbett, but still don’t have any in-house answers at tackle. With the sixth overall pick, Carolina is primed to take a franchise left tackle.

With the sixth overall pick, Carolina is primed to take a franchise left tackle. NFL.com insider Daniel Jeremiah said just that on the Rich Eisen show claiming the team is “dead set” on drafting an offensive lineman at 6, even if it’s a reach.

Ikem Ekwonu is that guy. Ekwonu allowed zero quarterback hits in 2021 and offers versatility to also line up at guard. He’s also an absolute mauler in the run game – PFF’s fifth-highest graded run-blocker in 2021.

The Wolfpack offensive lineman did wonders for his draft stock at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

7. NEW YORK GIANTS: Ahmad Gardner (CB – CIN)

Having already addressed the offensive line with their first pick, the Giants flip the script defense with their second first-round selection. With reports swirling that the team is willing to eat part of cornerback James Bradberry’s salary to maximize trade compensation  – $21 million cap hit in 2022 – Big Blue replaces the former Pro Bowler with lock-down press cornerback from Cincinnati, Ahmad (Sauce) Gardner.

New defensive coordinator Don Martindale is more than happy to put corners on an island that fits Gardner’s strengths to a tee. He played the second-most snaps from man coverage among his classmates in 2021 and allowed just 55 total receiving yards. Gardner has also never allowed a touchdown in coverage.

Meanwhile, Bradberry ranked outside PFF’s top-65 cornerbacks last season in man coverage grade.

8. ATLANTA FALCONS: Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)

The Falcons are in full-on tank mode. The team is taking a whopping $40.5 million dead cap hit after trading Matt Ryan — the largest dead cap hit in NFL history — setting the franchise back from where they were a season ago.

They have to play the long-term game to get back in contention for 2023/2024, and that starts with adding to the wide receiver position And more specifically, not putting a fringy rookie quarterback in a bad situation.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley is already suspended for the 2022 season, and Russell Gage signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason.

To address the need, the Falcons select Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson who generated an 84% open target rate in 2021. At just 20 years old, the former Buckeye also scored 12 receiving touchdowns, compiled over 1,000 receiving yards and generated the FBS’ 12th-highest passer rating when targeted (141.7).

If Atlanta doesn’t go WR here, I wouldn’t be shocked if they go offensive tackle. They have left tackle Jake Matthews locked up, but right tackle Kaleb McGary is a free agent in 2023. Might be wise to invest in blocking now to protect the rookie quarterback they draft in the future.

9. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Malik Willis (QB – Liberty)

A forward-thinking team doesn’t trade away a 33-year old franchise quarterback unless they have a tentative contingency plan in place. And no, that plan does not feature Drew Lock as the Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback.

All the buzz out of Indianapolis was that Seattle loved Malik Willis, so I’d imagine that he is the rookie quarterback they envision selecting at this spot. Willis impressed teams at the combine, with overall offensive knowledge, ability to retain offensive info and play-calls for the position.

He also showcased his big arm at Liberty’s pro day with several NFL executives and coaches closely watching. Willis finished the 2021 season as PFF’s fourth-highest graded passer on throws of 20-plus air yards.

His dual-threat ability — averaged nearly 100 rushing yards per game over the last two seasons — mimics that of a younger Russell Wilson, so it’s no wonder why Seattle is so high on the incoming rookie quarterback.

10. NEW YORK JETS: Drake London (WR – USC)

The Jets saw the Bengals offense take off in Year 2 after they paired their second-year quarterback with a dynamic rookie wide receiver. If they want Zach Wilson to take a similar leap in Year 2, New York needs to give him more offensive weapons. And the fact that the Jets were all-in on going after Tyreek Hill, is a tell-tale sign that one of their first-round picks will be a WR.

Insert Drake London. The USC product boasts all the skills to be an alpha possession receiver at the next level.

The 6-foot-4 and 219-pound towering wide receiver only played in eight games in 2021 due to an ankle injury but made every game count. He commanded a 38% target share and led all WRs in contested catches (19). London concluded the year third in yards per route run (3.52) in his draft class.

London has been a force since he first stepped onto USC’s campus, as he hauled in five touchdowns and 567 receiving yards as a true freshman while sharing the field with future NFL wide receivers Michael Pittman Jr., Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns. It’s utterly impressive considering London was just 18 years old at the time.

Still yet to turn 21 years old entering the NFL, his game as a big-bodied wideout echoes a spry Michael Floyd.

11. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Kenny Pickett (QB – PITT)

Poor quarterback play held Washington from being able to take a step forward in 2021. Their offense trotted out the league’s seventh-worst offense per PFF. As the newly-named Commanders, they needed to upgrade the position.

Veteran quarterback Carson Wentz is far from perfect — but he’s still an upgrade from what Washington was thrusting under center in 2021. Just keep in mind that the Commanders can get out of Wentz’s contract in 2023 so they are still in the market to draft a signal-caller in the upcoming draft.

They do exactly that by selecting Kenny Pickett — and his small hands — as their future franchise quarterback.

Pickett finished third in PFF passing grade from a clean pocket (94.3) and first in his class in adjusted completion percentage (79%). His overall experience and breakout season make him the most NFL-ready quarterback in this class.

12. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Derek Stingley (CB – LSU)

The Vikings ranked fifth in most passing yards allowed this past season and have a glaring hole at cornerback. Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander played the most snaps for Minnesota and remain unsigned. That leaves just Cameron Dantzler as a starter surrounded by less-than-ideal options.

The Vikings fill the void by selecting Derek Stingley Jr., who was seen as a can’t miss option after his freshman season. The LSU product has regressed some the past two years, but talent showcased in 2019 – PFF’s highest-graded corner – is worth it.

Anticipate that Minnesota probably has a solid read on Stingley’s profile heading into the draft, based on them hiring former LSU defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach, Daronte Jones.

13. HOUSTON TEXANS: Jermaine Johnson (Edge – FSU)

The Texans have holes all over their roster, so they can afford to just draft the best player available as they progress forward in the post-Deshaun Watson era.

Therefore, the Texans cannot pass up on Jermaine Johnson from Florida State at pick 13. The Georgia transfer tied Aidan Hutchinson with 14 sacks to lead the 2022 NFL Draft class.

14. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Tyler Linderbaum (C – Iowa)

Last season’s starting center Bradley Bozeman signed with Panthers, thrusting former 2020 undrafted free agent Trystan Colon-Castillo into the projected starting center job. They could definitely benefit from upgrading at the position in Round 1 by drafting plug-in-play center Tyler Linderbaum.

He has graded out as PFF’s No. 1 center in the nation over the last two seasons.

Linderbaum also owns the second-highest run grade among all OL in the nation, which bodes well for him in a run-heavy system. The dude is a mauler.

Ravens general manager Eric Decosta compared Linderbaum to Marshal Yanda saying “…that he [Linderbaum] can really be the centerpiece of your OL.

15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)

Trent McDuffie was PFF’s fifth-highest graded 2022 draft-eligible cornerback in 2021, allowing no more than 39 receiving yards in any game. With the aptitude to play both zone and man coverage, the former Washington Huskie can become a major immediate contributor to an NFL secondary.

The Eagles need to replace free agent cornerback Steven Nelson, so drafting McDuffie also helps plug a hole on defense. Pairing him opposite Darius Slay will provide the Eagles with one of the top cornerback duos in the league.

16. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)

The crux of the Eagles’ problems on defense last season can be traced back to their porous linebacker play. T.J. Edwards is a solid starter, but he is still slow and it’s bare-bones behind him on the depth chart. Hence why Devin Lloyd is the pick. The Utah product is a do-it-all linebacker with the ability to cover tight ends, generate pressure and play on all downs.

He finished the 2021 season with eight sacks and 90 solo tackles – ninth-most in the FBS. Lloyd should mitigate the damage that tight ends inflicted on the Philly faithful last year.

17. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Charles Cross (OT – MISS ST.)

The Chargers made out like bandits when tackle Ra’Shawn Slater fell to them at No. 13 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. And they strike gold once again, with Charles Cross falling to them at No. 17 overall.

Cross is a locked-and-loaded franchise left tackle after taking over 1,200 snaps from that position the last two seasons. The Mississippi State Bulldog was elite from Week 4 onward as PFF’s second-highest graded pass-blocker (87.6).

He also showed up against the strongest competition allowing just two combined pressures in four SEC matchups against Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn.

He’s an immediate upgrade over right tackle Storm Norton — PFF’s worst-graded pass-blocking tackle in 2021.

18. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Trevor Penning (OT – Northern Iowa)

The Saints need to replace left tackle Terron Armstead after he got paid big money to sign with the Dolphins, which is why they draft Trevor Penning. The Northern Iowa tackle’s draft stock has been increasing since the Reese’s Senior Bowl, and his NFL Scouting Combine performance pushed him even further up draft boards.

The 6-foot-7 and 325-pound behemoth ran a 4.89 40-yard dash (97th percentile) and blazed a 7.25 in the 3-cone drill (96th percentile) — tied for the fastest time of tackles that tested.

With a prospect profile that draws parallels to former first-round tackle Nate Solder, Penning won’t need to wait very long to hear his name called on draft night.

Penning’s 97.3 overall PFF grade and 99.9 run-blocking grade both ranked first in all of Division 1 college football in 2021.

19. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Treylon Burks (WR – ARK)

The wide receiver position needs to be addressed on offense. Jalen Reagor looks like a total bust after two seasons, so the Eagles still need to pair DeVonta Smith with another top-tier wideout.

Enter Treylon Burks.

The Razorbacks wideout finished first in his class in yards per route run (3.57) while also ranking No. 1 in yards per route run when lined up outside (6.08) among all receivers. It’s an encouraging sign that a size-speed specimen delivered when aligned on the perimeter, as he spent 77% of his career in the slot.

His 8.5 yards after the catch rank 14th among 169 qualifying wide receivers (92nd percentile) over the past two seasons, and that caters perfectly to the Philadelphia offense.

The Eagles finished second in screen pass rate in 2021.

20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Matt Corral (QB – Ole Miss)

The Steelers have not been shy making their draft plans known to the media and the other 31 teams. Last year everybody knew they were going to select Najee Harris, and this year it seems so obvious they will draft a quarterback at some point — most likely at pick No. 20.

Head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert have been highly involved in Pro Days featuring this year’s crop of top rookie quarterbacks.

So with the 20th overall pick, Pittsburgh selects Matt Corral as their future franchise quarterback. Pour one out for Mitchell Trubisky.

Corral rallied Ole Miss to a 10-2 record while finishing third in the SEC in passing yards (3,343) and 11th in the nation in PFF passing grade from a clean pocket (91.6).

He also rushed for nearly 750 yards and 11 scores. It’s that exact dual-threat ability fantasy football dynasty managers should be looking to invest in for years down the line. He could really make some noise in an offense littered with playmakers.

21. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)

Zion Johnson is a solid starting guard from Day 1 and would be an immediate plug-in-play option for the Patriots after they lost Shaq Mason and Ted Karras this offseason. Johnson allowed just two quarterback hits and six total pressures in his final season at school.

The local BC Eagle tested extremely well at the NFL Combine posting top marks in the shuttle (4.46, 93rd percentile), 3-cone (7.38, 92nd percentile), bench press (38, 97th percentile) and vertical jump (32”, 91st percentile).

22. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Jameson Williams (WR – ALA)

No Davante Adams. No Marquez Valdes-Scantling. No problem. Green Bay addresses their glaring hole at wide receiver by adding Alabama speedster Jameson Williams. He can be the spark plug that the Packers need after a monster season as the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 receiver.

Williams commanded a 31% dominator rating by hanging 1,561 receiving yards, 20 yards per reception and 15 touchdowns — all achievements that ranked top-three among his 2022 NFL Draft class. His gargantuan yardage totals were fueled by his ability to create yards after the catch and downfield. He finished top-seven among all college wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception (9.3) and receiving yards on 20-plus air yard throws.

Williams has shades of Will Fuller and Mike Wallace to his game; a big-play waiting to happen.

23. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Jordan Davis (DT – UGA)

The defensive line is a great area of need with NT Corey Peters a free agent and OLB pass-rusher Chandler Jones in Las Vegas. The Cardinals were a bottom-10 run defense in terms of yards per carry in 2021, and Jones led the squad in total pressures.

Jordan Davis can be an elite run-stuffer at the next level after wrapping up 2021 third in the class in defensive run-stop rate.

But he has the athletic profile to become an absolute game-wrecker versus the passing game. His 4.78 40-time at 341 pounds is the best weight-adjusted time among 487 interior defenders to run at the combine.

24. DALLAS COWBOYS: Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)

Lucky for Dallas, the draft has plenty of interior offensive linemen available for them after they lost Connor Williams and La’el Collins this offseason.

Kenyon Green can start from day one at left guard after finishing 2021 as the highest-graded SEC guard in his draft class.

But what separates Green is his versatility. The Texas A&M Aggie has experience playing every position across the offensive line outside the center position. That experience will make him a highly-coveted target in the first round.

25. BUFFALO BILLS: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)

2021 starting outside cornerback Levi Wallace, signed with the Steelers this offseason giving the Buffalo Bills a prime opportunity to upgrade at the position. Stud corner Tre’Davious White is also returning from a torn ACL, so it makes sense for them to add depth through the draft.

At 6-foot-2 and 196 pounds, cornerback Kaiir Elam is the perfect target for Buffalo. The Florida Gator allowed the nation’s third-lowest passer rating when targeted (18.3) as a true freshman in 2019. Facing SEC wide receivers for three straight seasons will translate well into the NFL.

26. TENNESSEE TITANS: David Ojabo (Edge – Michigan)

It remains to be seen how far Michigan pass-rusher David Ojabo will fall after tearing his Achilles. He was projected to be a long-term investment anyway, so teams may not have been expecting immediate production. His upside is still so tantalizing after his 11-sack breakout season, that teams may not be able to resist waiting until Day 2.

And if there’s any team willing to pull the trigger on an elite talent that falls due to injury concerns it’s the Titans. General manager Jon Robinson was more than happy to select both Jeffery Simmons (2019, 19th overall) and Caleb Farley (2021, 22nd overall) in past drafts.

27. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: George Karlaftis (Edge – Purdue)

Tampa has yet to re-sign Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Steven McClendon in free agency; they need to inject more youth across their defensive line alongside 2020 first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

Purdue’s George Karlaftis fits the mold in a Todd Bowles 3-4 scheme. As a freshman in 2019, Karlaftis generated the tenth-most pressures in the FBS. And after a truncated 2020 season due to COVID-19, the Boilermaker edge rusher finished 2021 11th in the nation in pressures per game (4.5).

28. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Bernhard Raimann (OT – Central Michigan)

As tempting as it is to give the Packers another wide receiver, I want to try and keep this mock draft realistic. Considering Green Bay has never drafted a wide receiver in Round 1, giving them two this year seems like overkill.

The Packers have some question marks at their right tackle spot opposite David Bakhtiari with Dennis Kelly unsigned, and Billy Turner released. Elgton Jenkins is also coming off a late-season torn ACL suffered in Week 11.

So instead of wide receiver, they boost the offensive line with Bernhard Raimann.

The 6-foot-7 tackle went from playing tight end two years ago to PFF’s third-highest graded tackle in 2021 (94.6). His short-area quickness and burst — 91st percentile 20-yard shuttle, 85th percentile 3-cone drill, 97th percentile broad jump — will go a long way to ensuring the Central Michigan product gets selected in Round 1.

29. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)

The Chiefs have a major hole at wide receiver after losing Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson this offseason. The team signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling to stretch the field on the outside and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot, but I doubt they are done adding to the position.

Chris Olave can separate from defenders at an elite level. The former Buckeye wrapped up his 2021 season in the 96th percentile in separation versus single coverage and caught seven touchdowns on throws of 20-plus air yards.

Olave cemented himself as a top-20 selection by blazing a 4.39 40-yard dash (90th percentile) at the NFL Combine.

With parallels to Calvin Ridley based on route running ability, the Chiefs are sprinting the card in to select Olave.

30. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Devonte Wyatt (DT – UGA)

In the defensive trenches, the Chiefs have to find a way to draft talent before the start of the 2022 season. Alex Okafor and Melvin Ingram are free agents. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed signed with the Packers.

Ingram was the team’s second-most efficient pass-rusher behind Chris Jones and the highest-graded run defender. Reed played the most snaps along the interior of the defensive line.

They add Devonte Wyatt with their second first-round selection to shore up the defensive line.

The Georgia Bulldog finished the 2021 season as PFF’s highest-graded interior defensive lineman as the central force to the No. 1 defense in the nation. He’s been overshadowed a bit by all the other talent for the Bulldogs entering the draft — most notably fellow DT Jordan Davis — but it’s undeniable that Wyatt was the better pass-rusher at Georgia.

He is the only interior defensive lineman in the class to rank top-6 in both PFF run and pass-rush grade last season. His true pass-rush grade ranked first on the Georgia defense.

With 4.77 40-yard dash wheels (97th percentile) and 111” broad jump (82nd percentile) to boot, Kansas City will have an immediate impact player by drafting Wyatt.

31. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Andrew Booth Jr. (CB – Clemson)

With the offensive line revamped during free agency, Cincinnati can shift focus to finding another starting perimeter cornerback. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton are solid, but another strong piece could help the defense tremendously. Eli Apple was brought back in free agency, but his up-and-down play is not a long-term answer at the position.

Andrew Booth Jr. doesn’t have a signature calling card to his game because he is so well-rounded. The Clemson cornerback has spent the majority of his career in a zone coverage scheme while generating an elite sub-40 passer rating when targeted.

32. DETROIT LIONS: Sam Howell (QB – UNC)

Jared Goff will still be in the plans for the Lions in 2022 with a $15.5 million roster guarantee this season. Seems most likely he will be the starter while the team grooms a rookie franchise quarterback behind him. Goff has a potential out in his contract before the 2023 season.

Ergo, Brad Holmes and company select UNC quarterback Sam Howell at the end of the first round to get that fifth-year option.

Howell earned the starting quarterback job at North Carolina as a 19-year old true freshman and never looked back. He finished fourth in the FBS with 38 touchdown passes in his first season, cementing himself on the NFL radar. He followed up an impressive introduction with an even more dominant performance as a passer in 2020, finishing as the nation’s sixth-highest-graded quarterback (92.3) and fourth-best deep passer (98.0) in an offense littered with future NFL talent.

And perhaps Howell’s Tarheel roots will be enough to convince Detroit to take him over other enticing QB options. New Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was a quarterback at UNC from 2004-2007.

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Andrew Erickson is a fantasy analyst at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @AndrewErickson_.

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