2022 NFL Mock Draft: Matthew Freedman’s Version 7 (Day Before the Draft)
We’re one day away from the 2022 NFL Draft, so I’m updating my mock.
In fact, in this article I provide TWO mocks. The first mock, for which I provide notes, is almost identical to my most recent version. In fact, the only change occurs at pick No. 31.
The second mock — an alternate version provided without notes — is a blow-it-all-to-hell snapshot of what my final mock might look like if I choose to make radical (though realistic) changes throughout, especially in the top half of Round 1.
Here are my previous mocks.
- Version 1: Post-free agency
- Version 2: Post-Eagles & Saints trade
- Version 3: Mid-April
- Version 4: 10 days away
- Version 5: One week away
- Version 6: Week of 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.
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.
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 mocks are 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.
2022 NFL Mock Draft
I had Walker slotted No. 1 in my post-free agency mock, and the markets continue to move in his direction, so I’m putting 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.
"Everyone's inking Aidan Hutchinson to the @Jaguars. Around the NFL, there's talk about GM Trent Baalke, and his draft history with SF. Year after year, the 49ers took players with incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers. That's Travon Walker." — @PSchrags pic.twitter.com/WbxFkH6W9B
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) April 11, 2022
I wouldn’t be surprised if Hutchinson were the top selection, but Walker is now the No. 1 pick in 48% of the sharp mocks I’ve surveyed, and I expect that number will only increase.
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.
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.
Note: I might change this pick to cornerback Derek Stingley in my final mock. He’s getting some serious steam at No. 3.
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 Jets catch a good break in getting a player of Thibodeaux’s quality outside the top three. If one of the top-three edge rushers falls to the Jets at No. 4, I expect him to be the pick.
Looking at the Giants offensive line hurts my eyes. A unanimous All-American selection with tackle/guard versatility, Ekwonu plays with a delightful-to-watch nastiness.
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.
"Sam is our starting quarterback, yes." – Panthers OC Ben McAdoo
"That wasn't something I should have said." – Panthers OC Ben McAdoo a short while later pic.twitter.com/hpLTFBxuKR
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 19, 2022
Mock drafts are divided on what the Panthers will do at No. 6. It’s popular to slate them with a quarterback, but this is a subpar class at the position, and mocks tend to be too high on quarterbacks anyway.
I’m taking a stand and saying they won’t draft a passer at No. 6.
With that in mind, I’ll give them an offensive tackle to protect their quarterback (whoever he ends up being), and Charles is a first-team All-SEC left tackle.
With his combination of size (6-3 and 190 pounds) and speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash), Gardner has an excellent chance to be the first cornerback selected in the class, and the Giants need help at cornerback given that they are expected to part with veteran James Bradberry.
Pick via Chicago Bears
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.
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).
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.
- All the other quarterback-needy teams with Round 1 picks had strong representation at the pro days.
- 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 cornerback, where they are notably weak.
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.
Pick via Denver Broncos
Even though the Jets have an acceptable-ish trio of starting wide receivers in Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios, they have steadfastly attempted (to no avail) to upgrade the position this offseason. As a result, they could look to add a receiver early in the draft.
Due to the knee injury he suffered in the College Football Championship, the Commanders are able to get Williams on the cheap.
If not his for injury, I’d have Williams 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 Seattle Seahawks
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.
This is true. I was told 4.70 and 4.74 for Kyle Hamilton at the ND pro day. https://t.co/ySB891d99R
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 28, 2022
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.
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.
The Texans need bodies on the defensive line, and 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 Cleveland Browns
The Ravens need to solidify the interior of their front seven, and Davis is unquestionably the premium defensive tackle in the class.
Now we got an official 4.78 forty for Jordan Davis at 341 pounds. Guys with worse times:
Nick Bosa – 4.79 (266 pounds)
Simeon Rice – 4.79 (259 pounds)
Demarcus Lawrence – 4.80 (251 pounds)
J.J. Watt – 4.81 (290 pounds)
Tony Gonzalez – 4.83 (244 pounds)
— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) March 5, 2022
Davis is a hand-in-glove fit for the Ravens.
The Eagles need a strong running mate alongside 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith. 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.
Pick via Seattle Seahawks
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
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.
The Eagles signed linebacker Kyzir White this offseason, but his deal is for just one year, and they are thin at the position behind him. An All-American off-ball thumper with coverage capability, Lloyd was No. 2 in the nation in 2021 with 22 tackles for loss.
Pick via New Orleans Saints
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
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.
Unbelievable throw. Great celebration. @malikwillis is doing it all.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 22, 2022
Johnson has good athleticism (5.18-second 40-yard dash) for his size (6-3 and 312 pounds), and he might have the versatility to play at guard, tackle and center.
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
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.
A three-year SEC starter with five-star recruitment pedigree, Green is a terrific plug-and-play replacement for Williams with the long-term potential to kick to the outside as a tackle.
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. Booth is a likely first-rounder with a good recruitment pedigree (4-5 stars) and the versatility to play in press and zone schemes.
The buzz is building that the Titans are a real candidate to take a quarterback on Day 1, and Pickett could easily fall down the draft board if the Panthers don’t take him at No. 6.
Despite his childlike hands …
Well, in Pittsburgh they say, Kenny Pickett’s hand size grew 1/8 inches that day. (Measured 8-5/8 inches at #Pitt pro day instead of 8-4/8 at NFL Scouting Combine.)
— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) March 21, 2022
… Pickett is likely to go in Round 1, and he might be the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class.
The Buccaneers need a replacement at defensive tackle for free agent Ndamukong Suh, and Wyatt is a worthy candidate.
Za’Darius Smith is now with the Vikings, and Whitney Mercilus is retired. The Packers defense needs more pressure off the edge.
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). Why not pair him with Gary himself?
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: Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)
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.
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.
Previous pick: Tyler Linderbaum (C – Iowa)
This pick is often reserved for a quarterback, but I’m skeptical that we actually see more than two passers selected in Round 1.
Recent-ish history shows that if no QB goes in top 5, the NFL is down on that class.
No top-5 QBs –> total Rd. 1 QBs:
– 2013: 1
– 2000: 1
– 1997: 1
– 1996: 0
– 1992: 2
– 1991: 2
– 1988: 0
– 1985: 0
– 1984: 0
– 1981: 1
– 1980: 2
We probably won't see 3-4 Rd. 1 QBs this year.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) April 24, 2022
An exceptional athlete, Hill has the versatility to play deep as a true safety and in the slot as a nickel corner.
Daxton Hill showed off his change of direction abilities at the 2022 NFL Combine, recording the 2nd-fastest three-cone (6.57 seconds) and short shuttle (4.06 seconds) among all participants.#NextGenScores
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 7, 2022
With his athleticism and skill set, Hill seems increasingly likely to be selected on Day 1.
Pick via Los Angeles Rams
Players on the Borderline of Rounds 1-2
Here are players I considered for inclusion in my mock draft.
2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Blow-It-All-to-Hell Version
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker (EDGE – Georgia)
- Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson (EDGE – Michigan)
- Houston Texans: Derek Stingley (CB – LSU)
- New York Jets: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE – Florida State)
- New York Giants: Evan Neal (OT – Alabama)
- Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu (OT – NC State)
- New York Giants: Ahmad Gardner (CB – Cincinnati)
- Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)
- Seattle Seahawks: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE – Oregon)
- New York Jets: Drake London (WR – USC)
- Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)
- Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)
- Houston Texans: Jordan Davis (DT – Georgia)
- Baltimore Ravens: Trevor Penning (OT – Northern Iowa)
- Philadelphia Eagles: Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)
- New Orleans Saints: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi State)
- Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)
- Philadelphia Eagles: Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)
- New Orleans Saints: Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis (QB – Liberty)
- New England Patriots: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)
- Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks (WR – Arkansas)
- Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis (EDGE – Purdue)
- Dallas Cowboys: Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)
- Buffalo Bills: Andrew Booth (CB – Clemson)
- Tennessee Titans: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt (DT – Georgia)
- Green Bay Packers: Tyler Smith (OT – Tulsa)
- Kansas City Chiefs: Jahan Dotson (WR – Penn State)
- Kansas City Chiefs: Boye Mafe (EDGE – Minnesota)
- Cincinnati Bengals: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)
- Detroit Lions: Daxton Hill (S – Michigan)