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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Final Version 8 (Day of Draft)

Apr 28, 2022

 

It’s Day 1 of the 2022 NFL draft, so I’m publishing the final version of my mock draft.

Here are my previous mocks.

Over the past three years, I’m the No. 3 mocker in the FantasyPros Accuracy Contest.

Andrew Erickson Mock Draft

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.

To see all the bets I’ve made to date, check out my NFL Draft prop card.

You can see the current odds for all the draft props in the market on our BettingPros odds page.

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 our Discord.

CTAs

Mock Draft Methodology

Mock drafts are equal parts science and art with a splash of luck. For me, this is the general order of operations and/or priorities.

  • Identify likely first-rounders and try to put as many of them as possible in the mock.
  • Slot players within their probable draft ranges.
  • Order players accurately by position.
  • Match players with teams relatively likely to draft them.

All of that might sound obvious, but based on the majority of mocks in the industry it’s not apparent to most mockers — and if it is then it’s not easy to do.

The typical mocker (in my opinion) goes through the exercise with perfection in mind, trying to match each player precisely with his team and draft position.

That’s not what I do. I know I can’t be perfect. I’m trying to be good enough.

Framed differently: I try to maximize my odds of being right about the generalities, not the particulars.

With that in mind, I don’t have any trades in the mock, as trades are almost impossible to predict. They’re randomness on top of chaos. My sense is that if I try to be “realistic” by including trades my mock will be more inaccurate — so no trades.

One note: The closer we get to the draft, the likelier my mock is to focus less on team needs and more on the overall odds of players going in Round 1. Remember, the first priority is to mock as many first-rounders as possible into Round 1. Everything is secondary to that.

Final NFL Mock Draft Updates

Here are some notes related to how various versions of my mock will be by graded by the industry.

  • I am participating in three different mock draft contests, all of which measure accuracy differently. The same mock could do well in one contest and just OK in another one, so I don’t focus much on the details of each scoring system.
  • The version published and broken down here is the one officially graded by Huddle Report and probably (?) NFL Mock Draft Database. It has already been submitted to Huddle Report, the deadline for which was this morning at 12:59 am ET. I don’t know when NFL Mock Draft Database’s deadline is. Presumably, it’s at pm ET today, whenever the draft starts.
  • Today, I will likely post an updated (though pseudo-unofficial) version of my mock on Twitter and link to that tweet in this section. This updated mock is the one that I will enter in the FantasyPros contest, which has an 8 p.m. ET deadline today.
  • Why an unofficial mock after my final mock? I want the people who look at all our mock drafts on draft day and who use the FantasyPros consensus mock draft tool to have the best and most recent information available to them all the way until the No. 1 pick is announced.

UPDATE: I’ve posted an updated mock on Twitter. I was highly tempted to move Kayvon Thibodeaux, but I didn’t because I lack the fortitude of Josh Norris.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker (EDGE – Georgia)

I had Walker slotted No. 1 in my post-free agency mock, and the markets continue to move in his direction, so I’m keeping him in the top spot.

Aidan 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 think it makes more sense for the Jags to go with an offensive lineman at No. 1, but general manager Trent Baalke seems to be infatuated with Walker.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hutchinson were the top selection, but Walker is now the No. 1 pick in 88% of the sharp mocks I’ve surveyed, and I expect that number will only increase.


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.

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.

Of course, word is getting around that the Lions might prefer Kayvon Thibodeaux to Hutchinson, and I created a version of this mock with an otherwise identical top 10 in which Thibodeaux goes No. 2, Hutchinson falls to No. 3 and Derek Stingley as a result drops all the way to No. 9.

But right now I still believe that Hutchinson is likeliest to go to the Lions.


3. Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr. (CB – LSU)

Entering the 2021 college season, Stingley was widely ranked as the No. 1 corner in the 2022 draft, and he revitalized his draft stock with a strong pro day.

Texans head coach Lovie Smith has notably highlighted the team’s need to improve at cornerback.

Previous pick: Evan Neal (OT – Alabama)


4. New York Jets: Ikem Ekwonu (OT – North Carolina State)

Left tackle Mekhi Becton struggled with his conditioning last year, at one point weighing 400 pounds, and general manager Joe Douglas is “smitten” with Ekwonu (per ESPN’s Rich Cimini), a unanimous All-American selection with tackle/guard versatility and a delightful-to-watch nastiness.

Ekwonu could play on the interior before eventually kicking to the outside to replace Becton or right tackle George Fant, who turns 30 years old in July and is on the final year of his contract.

With Ekwonu, the Jets improve the protection for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.

Previous pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE – Oregon)


5. New York Giants: Ahmad Gardner (CB – Cincinnati)

I expect the Giants to take an offensive tackle and cornerback at Nos. 5 & 7 — but in what order?

Even if the Giants prefer Evan Neal to Charles Cross, in this situation (with Derek Stingley already off the board) the Giants would be wise to take Gardner here and then add the remaining top-tier tackle at No. 7 (assuming the Panthers take a tackle at No. 6). Otherwise, the Giants open themselves up to the possibility of another team trading up to No. 6 to steal the lone remaining top-tier corner.

With his combination of size (6-3 and 190 pounds) and speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash), Gardner might be the top cornerback in the class, and the Giants need help at the position given that they are expected to part with veteran James Bradberry.

Previous pick: Ikem Ekwonu (OT – North Carolina State)


6. Carolina Panthers: Evan Neal (OT – Alabama)

The Panthers are stuck with Sam Darnold‘s fifth-year option, and — against all reason — it looks like they might go with him as their starter for 2022.

Additionally, they could still add a veteran via trade (maybe Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield?).

With that in mind, I’ll give them an offensive tackle to protect their quarterback (whoever he ends up being). A three-year SEC starter with five-star recruitment pedigree, 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.

Previous pick: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi State)


7. New York Giants: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi State)

Looking at the Giants offensive line hurts my eyes, and Charles is a first-team All-SEC left tackle. After Cross, the position drops off significantly.

Pick via Chicago Bears

Previous pick: Ahmad Gardner (CB – Cincinnati)


8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London (WR – USC)

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.

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

Previous pick: Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)


9. Seattle Seahawks: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE – Oregon)

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 an episode of First Draft to note that Seahawks general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll weren’t at any of the 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 don’t go quarterback at No. 9, they could go with the best player available, and that’s almost certainly Thibodeaux, who has a shot to go No. 2 overall. Entering the 2021 college football season, 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 underwhelm last year with seven sacks in 10 games.

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

Pick via Denver Broncos

Previous pick: Derek Stingley Jr. (CB – LSU)


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

Jets beat writer Connor Hughes mocked Johnson to the Jets at No. 4 this week, and buzz has been growing across the industry about how much GM Joe Douglas likes Johnson’s rare 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.

I’m tempted to mock a receiver here, but the value Johnson provides at No. 10 to an organization that might take him in the top five is too great to ignore.

Pick via Seattle Seahawks

Previous pick: Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)


11. Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)

At one point, it seemed like Hamilton was a lock for the top 10, but those days are gone after he exhibited subpar speed with his pro day 40-yard dash.

Still, Hamilton has a good chance to go in the middle of Round 1, and the Commanders have a need at the 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.


12. Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)

The Vikings let starting cornerback Mackensie Alexander walk in free agency, so they need to address the position in the draft. McDuffie is a consensus first-rounder and true junior with three years of starting experience in the Pac-12.


13. Houston Texans: Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)

After wide receiver Brandin Cooks, the Texans have only Nico Collins and Chris Conley, who are living embodiments of the Spider-Man meme: They’re the same guy, and that guy’s bad at football.

In Wilson, the Texans get perhaps the best all-around receiver in the draft.

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 NFL Combine with his speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash).

Pick via Cleveland Browns

Previous pick: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE – Florida State)


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

The Ravens need to solidify the interior of their front seven, and 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: Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)

The Eagles need a strong running mate alongside 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith and are able to get Williams on the cheap due to the knee injury he suffered in the College Football Championship.

If not his for injury, I’d have Williams as the 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 Seattle Seahawks

Previous pick: Drake London (WR – USC)


16. New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)

Over the past three years, 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.

Pick via Philadelphia Eagles


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

The Chargers cut tackle Bryan Bulaga and let guard Michael Schofield leave in free agency, so they need help on the right side of the offensive line.

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.

Pick via San Francisco 49ers & Miami Dolphins


18. Philadelphia Eagles: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)

No obvious options exist for this pick.

The Eagles need a cornerback: Last year, they allowed a league-high 69.4% completion rate. But Trent McDuffie is off the board. Devin Lloyd perfectly fits the draft range, but the Eagles don’t prioritize off-ball linebackers. George Karlaftis roughly fits the draft range, but edge isn’t a large need for the team. Defensive tackle might work, but No. 18 feels too early for Devonte Wyatt or Logan Hall.

So I’ve settled on Elam — and I kind of like the pick, which strikes me as under the radar yet realistic. Just yesterday Elam was highlighted as a Day 1 riser and likely to be no worse than the No. 4 corner selected.

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.

Pick via New Orleans Saints

Previous pick: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)


19. New Orleans Saints: Tyler Smith (OT – Tulsa)

The Saints lost longtime left tackle Terron Armstead in free agency and could look to draft his replacement with their new first-rounder. Smith 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).

Pick via Philadelphia Eagles


20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis (QB – Liberty)

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.

The Steelers probably won’t enter the 2022 season with Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph competing for the starting job, and their interest in Willis is an open secret.


21. New England Patriots: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)

The Patriots cut Kyle Van Noy and let Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins leave in free agency. They need a linebacker. An All-American off-ball thumper with coverage capability, Lloyd was No. 2 in the nation in 2021 with 22 tackles for loss.

Previous pick: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)


22. Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks (WR – Arkansas)

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.

With great size (6-2 and 225 pounds) and sufficient athleticism (4.55-second 40-yard dash), Burks could be Adams’ replacement. As a true junior last year, Burks was 66-1,104-11 receiving and 14-112-1 rushing in 12 games.

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 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 has the versatility to play guard, tackle and maybe even center.

Previous pick: Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)


25. Buffalo Bills: Daxton Hill (S – Michigan)

In every version of my mock, I’ve given the Bills a cornerback, given that No. 1 corner Tre’Davious White (knee) is coming off a serious injury and No. 2 corner Levi Wallace (free agency) is now gone. And I still think that corner is the likeliest outcome at No. 25, regardless of whatever the Breece Hall beehive thinks.

But I expect only five corners to go in Round 1, and we’re reaching the point in the draft where it’s hard to find the perfect spot for all the players likely to go on Day 1. Additionally, cornerback Andrew Booth (whom I had earmarked for the Bills) has markedly slid down draft boards over the past couple weeks, and removing him from Round 1 felt like the right move.

So here we are with Hill, who still makes some sense for the Bills. Starting safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are both 31 years old and could be elsewhere after the 2022 season, and Hill — an exceptional athlete — has the versatility to play deep as a true safety and in the slot as a nickel corner.

With his skill set, Hill is likely to be selected on Day 1.

Previous pick: Andrew Booth Jr. (CB – Clemson)


26. Tennessee Titans: Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)

The Titans could go in a lot of directions with this pick, but guard is an immediate need, as left guard Rodger Saffold left in free agency and right guard Nate Davis is subpar and in the final year of his contract.

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

One note, however: If I could do this mock over, I might (but might not) reshuffle the following players.

  • No. 19 – Saints: Tyler Smith –> Kenny Pickett
  • No. 26 – Titans: Kenyon Green –> Tyler Smith
  • No. 27 – Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt –> Kenyon Green
  • No. 28 – Packers: Quay Walker –> Devonte Wyatt
  • No. 32 – Lions: Kenny Pickett –> Quay Walker

In the unofficial mock I might release later, these changes could manifest.

Previous pick: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)


27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt (DT – Georgia)

If not for defensive line teammates Travon Walker and Jordan Davis, more draftniks would be hyping up Wyatt, who tore up the combine (4.77-second 40-yard dash at 304 pounds).

The Buccaneers need a replacement at defensive tackle for free agent Ndamukong Suh, and Wyatt is a worthy candidate.


28. Green Bay Packers: Quay Walker (LB – Georgia)

The Packers could do almost anything with the second first-rounder, but defense is the prevailing sentiment, and yesterday Walker forced himself into the supermajority of sharp mocks and saw his odds to go in Round 1 skyrocket.

Walker — not Nakobe Dean — is the Georgia off-ball linebacker the NFL evidently likes best.

Previous pick: Boye Mafe (EDGE – Minnesota)


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, 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 & Miami Dolphins


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 need someone to pair with edge rusher Frank Clark.

I expect six edge rushers to go in Round 1, and between Mafe and Arnold Ebiketie, the sharp mocks prefer Mafe by an almost 2:1 ratio.

Previous pick: Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)


31. Cincinnati Bengals: Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)

The Bengals are a couple Eli Apple plays away from winning Super Bowl 56.

They rebuilt the offensive line this offseason with the additions of center/guard Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa, and right tackle La’el Collins in free agency. Although center Tyler Linderbaum is an intriguing option, cornerback is more of a pressing need.

Gordon is one of 21 prospects who will attend the draft in person, so he has a real chance to go on Day 1.

One note: No. 31 has recently become a popular spot for Logan Hall, who would offer the Bengals intriguing inside/outside versatility on the defensive line. But on a recent episode of NFL Stock Exchange, Joe Goodberry explicitly stated that he expects the Bengals to go with a cornerback if either Kaiir Elam or Gordon is available at No. 31.

I like Hall, but I view him as a guy on the borderline of Rounds 1-2 and can’t find a good Day 1 spot for him.

Previous pick: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)


32. Detroit Lions: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)

I was incredibly tempted to have just one quarterback in Round 1: This is a subpar class at the position, and mocks tend to be too high on quarterbacks anyway. I can see Pickett falling past the Saints, Steelers and Titans at Nos. 16, 19, 20 & 26.

And I am skeptical that we see more than two quarterbacks on Day 1.

But No. 32 has become a destination spot for a passer in recent mocks, and Pickett is present in 80% of sharp mocks. I simply had no option but to include him.

Despite his childlike hands …

… Pickett might be the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class.

Pick via Los Angeles Rams

Previous pick: Daxton Hill (S – Michigan)

Players on the Borderline of Rounds 1-2

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

Quarterback

Running Back

Wide Receiver

Offensive Lineman

Edge Defender

Defensive Tackle

Linebacker

Cornerback

Safety

CTAs


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