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Matthew Freedman’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Post-Free Agency

Mar 29, 2022


 
We are officially one month away from Round 1 of the 2022 NFL draft, which kicks off on Thursday, April 28.

Now that the bulk of free agency has subsided, it’s time to update my official 2022 NFL mock draft.

Over the past three years, I’m the No. 3 mocker in the FantasyPros Accuracy Contest. (I’ve manually gone through and added up all the points earned, as I have nothing better to do with my time.) Obsessing about Round 1 is what I do.

Andrew Erickson Mock Draft

Because I’ve been focused on March Madness, and because this draft is wide open at the top, I’ve made just a couple bets on the 2022 draft so far (Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett to be the first quarterback selected respectively at +200 and +175 odds). As I make more bets, I will post them first in our FREE BettingPros Discord and then write up my bets for publication via article. To get my draft bets as quickly as possible, join Discord.

Historically, I’ve done well betting on the draft.

  • 2019: 54-29 (+17.7 units)
  • 2020: 124-88 (+26.2 units)
  • 2021: 158-140 (+32.0 units)

Maybe that trend will continue this year. Per usual, I intend for this mock to be actionable for bettors.

Check out consensus first round selections for every team >>

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker (Edge, Georgia)

This is just me taking a stand.

I use a “wisdom of the crowds” approach by surveying an index of sharp mock drafts created by experts with established records of success — but in 90% of these mocks Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson is the No. 1 pick. That’s some serious group think.

There’s not really a 90% chance that Hutchinson goes No. 1. Of all the potential outcomes, that’s the likeliest — but Travon Walker could overtake him.

Hutchinson might have the higher floor, but Walker probably has the higher ceiling given his athletic profile.

  • Height: 6’5″
  • Weight: 272 pounds
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.51 seconds
  • Three-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds

I’m a wimp, so I imagine that in my final mock draft I’ll have Hutchinson going No. 1 — but right now Walker to the Jags is my miniscule act of rebellion.

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson (Edge, Michigan)

The Lions get their guy. They’ll be lucky if Hutchinson actually falls to them at No. 2. I know that.

Hutchinson dominated in 2021 with 14 sacks in 14 games, and the Lions have a clear need on the defensive line. Born and raised in Michigan, where he played his high school and college ball, Hutchinson is a perfect fit for the in-state Lions.

3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal (OT, Alabama)

The Texans need help at the position after cutting right tackle Marcus Cannon. Plus, left tackle Laremy Tunsil has a potential out in 2023.

A three-year SEC starter with five-star recruitment pedigree, Evan Neal offers great versatility given that he started at left guard as a freshman, right tackle as a sophomore, and then left tackle as a junior.

4. New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)

With his combination of size (6’3″ and 190 pounds) and speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash), Ahmad Gardner has an excellent chance to be the No. 1 cornerback selected in the class, and the Jets need help in the secondary.

5. New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu (OT, North Carolina State)

Looking at the Giants offensive line hurts my eyes. A unanimous All-American selection with tackle/guard versatility, Ikem Ekwonu plays with a delightful-to-watch nastiness.

6. Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)

The Panthers are stuck with Sam Darnold‘s fifth-year option, but they still need a quarterback of the future after failing to acquire Deshaun Watson this offseason.

They could still add a veteran via trade (maybe Jimmy Garoppolo?), but for now I’m assigning them a quarterback.

Malik Willis has a real shot to be the No. 1 passer in the draft. In two years as the starter at Liberty (after transferring from Auburn), Willis completed 62.4% of his passes for 5,107 yards and 47 touchdowns to 18 interceptions and added 338-1,822-27 rushing.

With his mobility and arm strength, Willis has the raw tools to succeed in the NFL.

7. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE, Oregon)

Entering the 2021 college football season, Kayvon Thibodeaux was regarded as the No. 1 player in the 2022 draft class. He was a five-star recruit entering Oregon, and he didn’t significantly underwhelm last year with seven sacks in 10 games.

The Giants catch a good break in getting a player of Thibodeaux’s quality outside the top five.

Pick via Chicago Bears

8. Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)

The Falcons could conceivably take a quarterback after trading franchise mainstay Matt Ryan to the Colts, but wide receiver is a bigger need given that Calvin Ridley (suspension) will be unavailable for 2022.

Garrett Wilson last year had 70-1,058-12 receiving and 4-76-1 rushing in 11 games as a true junior, and he looked like a potential No. 1 option at the combine with his speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash).

9. Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross (OT, Mississippi State)

Despite trading franchise quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason, the Seahawks seem doubtful to take a passer in Round 1 of the draft.

Todd McShay went out of his way on a recent episode of First Draft to note that Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll weren’t at any of the recent pro days for the top quarterbacks in the class.

That’s notable for a couple of reasons.

  1. All the other quarterback-needy teams with Round 1 picks had strong representation at the pro days.
  2. When the Seahawks drafted Wilson in 2012, Schneider and Carroll made the pro day circuit for the top passers that year.

Based on their actions, the Seahawks seem likely to go with a veteran — or maybe a Day 2 rookie? — to replace Wilson.

If they do that, they’ll need an offensive lineman to protect him, and Charles is a first-team All-SEC left tackle. They could do worse.

Pick via Denver Broncos

10. New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE, Florida State)

The Jets need bodies on the defensive line, and Jermaine Johnson is an impressive specimen given his combination of size (6’5″ and 254 pounds) and speed (4.58-second 40-yard dash).

The redshirt senior has had a long and winding journey to the NFL, but the Last Chance U alumnus put up 16.5 sacks in 19 games in his two final seasons (Georgia and Florida State), and he won ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2021.

Johnson has the talent to be an instant NFL contributor.

Pick via Seattle Seahawks

11. Washington Commanders: Drake London (WR, USC)

Now that the Commanders have quarterback Carson Wentz, they need to get him another pass-catching option other than wide receiver Terry McLaurin.

With his production (88-1,084-7 receiving in eight games last year) and size (6’4″ and 219 pounds), Drake London has the potential to be a Mike Williams-esque downfield dominator on the perimeter.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, LSU)

Entering the 2021 college season, Derek Stingley Jr. was widely ranked as the No. 1 corner in the 2022 draft.

The Vikings let starting cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander walk in free agency, so they need to address the position in the draft.

13. Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)

The Texans could take Kyle Hamilton as high as No. 3, but he might slide outside of the top 10 because of his position.

Hamilton has a Derwin James-esque skill set: He can play deep, at linebacker, in the slot against wide receivers and tight ends, and on the edge as a situational rusher.

In getting Neal at No. 3 and Hamilton at No. 13, the Texans come away with maybe the two best players in the class.

Pick via Cleveland Browns

14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)

The Ravens need to solidify the interior of their front seven, and Jordan Davis is unquestionably the premium defensive tackle in the class.

Davis is a hand-in-glove fit for the Ravens.

Check out Andrew Erickson’s Draft Needs for Every NFL Team >>

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)

Last year, the Eagles allowed a league-high 69.4% completion rate. They need a cornerback, and Trent McDuffie is a consensus first-rounder and true junior with three years of starting experience in the Pac-12.

Pick via Miami Dolphins

16. Philadelphia Eagles: Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas)

With great size (6’2″ and 225 pounds) and sufficient athleticism (4.55-second 40-yard dash), Treylon Burks is a strong complement to 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith. As a true junior last year, Burks was 66-1,104-11 receiving and 14-112-1 rushing in 12 games.

Pick via Indianapolis Colts

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa)

The Chargers released right tackle Bryan Bulaga and could look to the draft to find his replacement. Trevor Penning would be a viable option.

Each year, there’s usually an FCS player who finds his way into the first round after a distinguished college career. In 2022, that guy could be Penning, who was a Walter Payton Award finalist in his final season.

18. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)

Over the past three years, Chris Olave has proven himself to be an NFL-ready pass catcher with 163-2,505-32 receiving in 31 games. In the short term, Olave could be a dynamic field-stretching supplement to injury-riddled No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas. In the long term, he could be Thomas’ replacement.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)

The Eagles signed linebacker Kyzir White this offseason, but his deal is for just one year, and they are thin at the position after him. An All-American off-ball thumper with coverage capability, Lloyd was No. 2 in the nation in 2021 with 22 tackles for loss.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)

Despite his childlike hands …

Kenny Pickett is likely to go in Round 1, and the Steelers probably won’t enter the 2022 season with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph competing for the starting job.

At least we know that Pickett’s double-gloved hands can handle the Pittsburgh weather.

21. New England Patriots: Andrew Booth Jr. (CB, Clemson)

The Patriots have lost cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (release) and J.C. Jackson (free agency) over the past year, so they are thin at the position. Booth is a likely first-rounder with good recruitment pedigree (4-5 stars) and the versatility to play in press and zone schemes.

22. Green Bay Packers: Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)

The Packers traded away Davante Adams and lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, so they need to find a wide receiver for oft-disgruntled quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Due to the knee injury he suffered in the College Football Championship, the Packers are able to get Jameson Williams on the cheap.

If not his for injury, I’d have him as my No. 1 receiver in the class. Last season, Williams as a true junior looked like one of the best players in the nation with 79-1,572-15 receiving and 3-23-0 rushing in his only year at Alabama after transferring from Ohio State.

Pick via Las Vegas Raiders

23. Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis (EDGE, Purdue)

Chandler Jones is now with the Raiders, and J.J. Watt is 33 years old and coming off an injury-hampered season. The Cardinals defense needs more pressure off the edge, and George Karlaftis is a first-team All-Big Ten three-year starter with NFL-caliber power.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)

Right tackle La’el Collins (release) and left guard Connor Williams (free agency) are no longer with the Cowboys, and left tackle Tyron Smith has missed 20 games over the past two years.

Johnson has good athleticism (5.18-second 40-yard dash) for his size (6’3″ and 312 pounds), and he’s versatile enough to play at tackle or guard.

25. Buffalo Bills: Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida)

The Bills have few needs, but No. 1 corner Tre’Davious White (knee) is coming off a serious injury, and No. 2 corner Levi Wallace (free agency) is now gone. A three-year SEC starter, Elam has the experience, size (6’2″ and 191 pounds), and speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) to match up as a perimeter corner.

26. Tennessee Titans: Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)

If not for defensive line teammates Travon Walker and Jordan Davis, more draftniks would be hyping up Devonte Wyatt, who tore up the combine (4.77-second 40-yard dash at 304 pounds). Wyatt would be a strong presence in the interior of the Titans line next to defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M)

Left guard Ali Marpet retired this offseason, and unlike quarterback Tom Brady he plans to stay retired.

A three-year SEC starter with five-star recruitment pedigree, Kenyon Green is a terrific plug-and-play replacement with the long-term potential to kick out to the outside as a tackle.

28. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Smith (OT, Tulsa)

The Packers struggled at offensive tackle throughout the 2021 season. Perhaps they can stabilize the position with the return of David Bakhtiari (knee) and addition of Tyler Smith, who had little hype before the combine but has since moved up draft boards thanks to his athleticism (5.02-second 40-yard dash at 6’5″ and 324 pounds).

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Jahan Dotson (WR, Penn State)

Wide receivers Tyreek Hill (trade), Byron Pringle (free agency), and Demarcus Robinson (free agency) are all gone. Even with the hyphenate-friendly signings of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the Chiefs could use another receiver.

In his two final seasons at Penn State, Jahan Dotson was 143-2,066-20 receiving, 6-18-1 rushing, and 22-301-1 punt returning in 21 games. He’s the kind of versatile offensive playmaker who appeals to head coach Andy Reid.

Pick via San Francisco 49ers

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Boye Mafe (EDGE, Minnesota)

Mafe is a raw prospect whose draft stock has skyrocketed ever since his Rashan Gary-esque combine performance (4.53-second 40-yard dash at 6’4″ and 261 pounds). The Chiefs needs someone to pair with edge rusher Frank Clark.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)

This offseason, the Bengals have rebuilt their offensive line by adding left guard Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappas, and right tackle La’el Collins in free agency. In drafting Tyler Linderbaum, the overhaul will be complete.

Linderbaum is a unanimous All-American and Rimington Trophy winner as the best center in college football. In getting him at No. 31, the Bengals acquire a strong asset for quarterback Joe Burrow.

32. Detroit Lions: Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia)

The Lions lost starter Jalen Reeves-Maybin and gave Alex Anzalone only a one-year deal to return. The team needs an upgrade at linebacker, and Nakobi Dean is certainly that.

A unanimous All-American, Dean was a multi-year SEC starter, and he won the Butkus Award in high school and then college as the nation’s best linebacker.

Pick via Los Angeles Rams

Players on the Borderline of Rounds 1-2

Here are players I considered for inclusion in my mock draft.

Quarterback

Wide Receivers

Offensive Tackles

Edge Defenders

Defensive Tackles

Cornerbacks

Safeties

Mock in minutes (free) with our fantasy football draft software >>


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