The 2022 NFL Draft is finally here, so there’s no better time to unveil the final version of my mock draft in the form of NFL Mock Draft 7.0.
And as a special treat, I’ve also included some nuggets on my favorite draft props along with a quick peek back at how Round 1 mock drafts have fared since 2018. Just some food for thought as you put the final touches on your own personal mock draft.
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 2.0
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 3.0
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 4.0
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 5.0
- Andrew Erickson’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 6.0
*Per usual, this mock draft is based on what I think will happen, not necessarily what I would do in each team’s position.
ROUND 1 TRACK RECORD
By leveraging Grindingthemocks.com’s historical mock draft data, I was able to compare how accurate mock drafts were by position, team, etc. leading up to the real-life NFL Draft.
Here were my major findings that you should keep in mind as you finalize your own mock drafts prior to Thursday night.
- Safeties and cornerbacks represent the positions that NFL mock drafters have undervalued the most with the largest negative difference in mocked ADP versus real-life. Scheme disparities across the board mean teams value safeties and cornerbacks much differently than the public. Therefore they can get drafted in a different order versus the pre-draft consensus.
- Derek Stingley over Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is definitely in play, despite the latter being viewed as the CB1 throughout the draft process. Last season Patrick Surtain II was viewed as a consensus CB1 pre-draft but ended up going one spot behind Jaycee Horn.
- Current betting odds have the top three cornerbacks as Ahmad Gardner (-175), Derek Stingley Jr. (+135) and Trent McDuffie (+1600). The second safety selected is between Daxton Hill (-250) and Lewis Cine (+300).
- There are a lot of opportunities to get plus odds on defensive backs on the fringe like Kyler Gordon (+110) and Lewis Cine (+120) landing in the first round. There’s a high probability the public’s ranking of the top safeties and cornerbacks does not match most of the individual team’s draft boards.
- Running back, defensive end (edge) and offensive tackle are the next three positions that differ most from pre-draft mocks.
- The media’s most overvalued position is quarterback. The narrative that teams fall in love with a QB is stronger in public perception than in actual reality. So in a quarterback draft class that is particularly poor, don’t be afraid to let QBs fall.
- Malik Willis is -145 going over pick 12.5. Kenny Pickett is -115 on both sides of pick 16.5. I’m betting the over on both these props.
- Interior linebacker is the second-most overvalued position by the public. They just aren’t as valuable as they have been in years past.
- The positions where there’s the least amount of variance between mock drafts and real selections include defensive tackle, tight end, outside linebacker and guard. The public and NFL are more lock step with these positions.
- From a specific team perspective, the Steelers, Seahawks, Raiders, Giants, Packers, Saints, Raiders and Texans have the largest difference in players going much earlier than mocks predicted pre-draft. If you plan on going “off-the-rails” and get away with chalk in a particular selection, these are the teams to do it with. Keep in mind that some of these teams — Giants and Texans — have GMs in their first or second seasons, so the historical trends don’t hold as much weight.
- Pittsburgh’s numbers are heavily skewed due to their outlandish selection of safety Terrel Edmunds in 2018. Their more recent first-round picks — Devin Bush, Najee Harris — have been easier to predict.
- The NFL teams that have been most aligned with pre-draft projections include Washington, Denver, New York (Jets), Arizona, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Minnesota, Baltimore, Indianapolis and the Los Angeles Chargers. Don’t anticipate many of those teams to go way off the board with their Round 1 pick(s). Anticipate they also don’t pass up on the best player available if the value falls to them
- As for specific college teams, there are a few that stand out in terms of the mock drafts not being high enough on their players. The football factories that lead the way include Ohio State, Georgia, TCU, San Diego State and Houston. Schools like San Diego State and Houston can be linked back to specific wild first-round picks (Rashaad Penny, Payton Turner), but it’s interesting nevertheless that these less polarizing schools produced first-rounders.
- San Diego State edge rusher Cameron Thomas and Houston DT Logan Hall have both had their share of buzz as potential sneak-in as first-rounders during mock draft season. Hall is more so based on his +100 odds to be a first-round pick.
- Ohio State and Georgia have plenty of players that project to go high in this year’s draft, so you want to be higher on prospects that mock drafts have going later and vice-versa.
- WR Garrett Wilson (WR1), WR Chris Olave (WR4), OT Nicholas Petit-Frere (OT7) and TE Jeremy Ruckert (TE5) are the top Ohio State prospects and could all go higher than mock drafters are giving them credit for.
- Wilson’s already the favorite to be the No. 1 receiver (-110) so the value isn’t worth the squeeze with his hype warranted. However, the fact that the Buckeyes are undervalued makes me think Olave could jump from WR4 to WR2 (+900) or WR3 (+400).
- Selecting Petit-Frere in Round 1 is a massive reach, but he’s met with teams like Tampa, Buffalo, and Tennessee who pick towards the end of the first.
- Ruckert offers the entire package as a blocking and receiving tight end, which tends to be valued extremely highly by the NFL. His lack of production was solely based on his role in Ohio State’s offense, not due to his skill set. Ruckert has great hands and is an exemplary route runner.
- As the consensus No. 2 tight end based on EDP for most of the pre-draft process, you need to be all over Ruckert as TE2 off the board at +500.
- As a side note, Jameson Williams (WR3 EDP) also went to Ohio State before transferring to Alabama. He could also be underrated by the consensus due to his torn ACL injury that NFL teams probably know more about than the general public. Some reports say he is destined for the PUP while others are more optimistic.
- There are too many Georgia players to list name by name but expect the order to be different from what most mocks project. Quay Walker (LB3) is viewed as the No. 1 Georgia linebacker by many NFL accounts, so don’t be shocked to see him go Day 1 instead of Nakobe Dean (LB2) or even Devin Lloyd (LB1). Take advantage of that in the betting markets and your mock drafts.
- Because Georgia players are often under-mocked by the consensus, don’t be afraid to fill your mock draft with them to your heart’s desire. By my account, I’d say there are six or seven Bulldogs who easily could be Round 1 players.
- While scraping Grindingthemocks.com I discovered that since 2018, seven players with an EDP of 50 or more were drafted in the first round. My best guess for which player falls into that category in this year’s upcoming draft is Iowa State running back Breece Hall.
- WR Christian Watson, DT Logan Hall, DT Travis Jones, WR Skyy Moore, EDGE Boye Mafe, LB Quay Walker, S Jaquan Brisker and DT Perrion Winfrey are the next closest in consideration as Round 1 picks with EDPs outside the top-32.
THE FINAL MOCK DRAFT
1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Travon Walker (Edge – Georgia)
Jags GM Trent Baalke owns a track record of gravitating toward players with long arms, which creates some doubt that Aidan Hutchinson will be the first overall selection. The former Wolverine has 32⅛-inch arms (seventh percentile).
Travon Walker boasts 35½-inch arms (95th percentile).
2. DETROIT LIONS: Aidan Hutchinson (Edge – Michigan)
Only the Atlanta Falcons had a worse pressure rate on defense than the Lions did a season ago. It seems only fitting that Aidan Hutchinson stays in Michigan to provide a spark to the kneecap-hungry Detroit defense.
Hutch’s pressure rate above expectation (10.9%) ranks second in the class and is nearly double that of Kayvon Thibodeaux’s third-place rate (6.6%), per Sports Info Solutions.
3. HOUSTON TEXANS: Derek Stingley (CB – LSU)
I’ve felt comfortable mocking the Texans with a cornerback at No. 3 due to the drastic fall-off at the position and because general manager Nick Caserio comes from the New England Patriots system — notorious for valuing pass coverage in favor of pass rush.
But instead of going with Sauce Gardner, the Texans opt for LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. The elite traits and freshman year tape of Stingley is too good a proposition for Lovie Smith to pass on. Smith is a big “traits” guy and Stingley proved his solid health status at his pro day.
Houston also has the luxury of taking a risk at No. 3 overall with a bet on Stingley’s ceiling, with another first-round selection at No. 13.
4. NEW YORK JETS: Jermaine Johnson (Edge – Florida State)
It’s no secret that the Jets love Oregon pass-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, but I think they love Jermaine Johnson even more. Robert Saleh got a close-up look at the FSU edge rusher during the Senior Bowl and he fits the mold of a prototypical Joe Douglas draft pick.
Uber athlete from a Power-5 school that has the production — 14 sacks in 2021 — to be worthy of a top-5 overall selection. New York wants to wait till 10 overall to take Johnson, but knows he won’t last that long.
Johnson is +330 to be a top-5 pick.
5. NEW YORK GIANTS: Evan Neal (OT – Alabama)
The Giants have a hole at right tackle — not necessarily left tackle. Andrew Thomas was a top-five pick in 2019 and graded out as PFF’s 12th-best pass blocker in 2021.
Evan Neal is the only one of the consensus top three offensive linemen in this class who has actually played a full season at right tackle (2020).
6. CAROLINA PANTHERS: Ikem Ekwonu (OL – NC State)
Carolina improved the interior in free agency but still doesn’t have any in-house answers at tackle. With the sixth overall pick, Carolina is primed to take a franchise left tackle.
Ikem Ekwonu is that guy. Ekwonu allowed zero quarterback hits in 2021 and offers the 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.
I’m not as convinced that the Panthers go with a quarterback at No. 6 overall because of how lackluster the class is. Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are better veteran options, and the Panthers can take on their salary cap hits.
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to think the Panthers could get similar offensive productivity with an experienced Sam Darnold plus Ekwonu at left tackle versus a liability at the position with a rookie quarterback.
7. NEW YORK GIANTS: Ahmad Gardner (CB – Cincinnati)
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 – a $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: Drake London (WR – USC)
London met with the Falcons at the Combine and is a logical fit for a team that has Auden Tate slated as the top WR on its depth chart. The Falcons are looking toward the future beyond 2023, which allows them the luxury to ease London back into football coming off a mid-season ankle injury that prevented him from fully testing at the NFL combine.
Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot comes from a Saints organization under Mickey Loomis that had zero issues investing high-end draft capital in wide receivers. Also worth mentioning that London measuring at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds aligns with the big-bodied profile that many Falcons coaches/executives prefer on offense.
Fontenot saw first hand a 6-foot-3 Michael Thomas be the best WR in the NFL despite a 4.57 40-yard dash.
Arthur Smith orchestrated an offense in Tennessee that was led by two wide receivers — Corey Davis and A.J. Brown — who both offer size and YAC-ability similar to London.
And as the cherry on top, I did some real digging to find a past quote from Kyle Smith — current VP of player personnel for the Falcons and Terry Fontenot’s new right-hand man.
While in Washington in the same role, Smith mentioned that you want to have a basketball-type lineup at WR. London was on the USC basketball team as a freshman before fully committing to football.
London is +125 to be a top-10 pick and to be the second WR selected. He’s +250 to be WR1 off the board.
9. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Trevor Penning (OT – Northern Iowa)
Seattle has been easy to pick for throughout mock draft season because I’ve always given them a quarterback. But because the Seahawks have shown a lack of overall interest in this year’s quarterback class, I’d presume they wait till Round 2 when they select at 40 and 41 to take their quarterback. Or they trade back into Round 1 using those Round 2 picks to get their guy which I believe is Desmond Ridder. There’s also a strong argument to be made that another team goes up to this spot with John Schneider’s draft track record of trading down. Kayvon Thibodeaux could be an elite asset for a team to trade up for.
But sticking at No. 9 overall, it comes down to pass rusher versus offensive tackle. And because it’s Seattle, thinking outside the box is the way I’ll go with offensive tackle Trevor Penning. Seattle has a glaring need at both tackle spots, and Penning’s aggressive playstyle in the run game will be highly-coveted by head coach Pete Carroll.
10. NEW YORK JETS: Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)
It’s going to be a wide receiver, just a matter of which one the Jets take. And based on Gang Green’s aggressive bidding on Tyreek Hill this offseason, I’d say they desire speed more than anything else.
Jameson Williams can deliver that same type of game-breaking speed to help Zach Wilson grow dramatically in Year 2.
11. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)
The Kyle Hamilton slide stops in the nation’s capital.
Hamilton is a top-end defensive talent 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, which could also benefit from extra help in the secondary.
Ron Rivera’s defense — a scheme that values safety play in a defensive scheme more than most — is a perfect fit for the Notre Dame safety alongside Kamren Curl and Bobby McCain.
12. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge – Oregon)
I’ve mocked Stingley to Minnesota throughout the pre-draft process, so I am entering uncharted waters with an LSU cornerback already off the board. Cornerback is still in play with Trent McDuffie on the board as is Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Both guys check off the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah requisite boxes as 21-year-old prospects that possess RAS scores —relative athletic score — of 9.0 or better.
But I side with Thibodeaux because the Vikings new GM has seen firsthand from his days spent in Cleveland and San Francisco how a fierce pass-rusher can change a defense. It’s also been a long time coming for the Vikings to invest a top pick in an edge rusher considering ex-GM Rick Speilman’s never drafted a defensive end with a first- or second-round pick.
13. HOUSTON TEXANS: Garrett Wilson (WR – Ohio State)
The Texans look to further build around quarterback Davis Mills to see if he can be the long-term answer at the position. Adding my No. 1-ranked rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson will go a long way in answering that question.
Per PFF’s Ian Hartitz, Mills had the third-worst open receiver rate in 2021 (19.3%). Wilson was deemed open on 90 of 107 targets in 2021 – an 84% open target rate.
14. BALTIMORE RAVENS: Jordan Davis (DT – Georgia)
It’s impossible to see the Ravens passing up on Jordan Davis at 14. He’s an alien and the next Avenger based on his freakish 4.78 40-time despite weighing 341 pounds.
Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce are the starters on the Baltimore interior defensive line, but neither player is a long-term answer based on their older age.
15. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Chris Olave (WR – Ohio State)
Howie Roseman is no stranger to selecting wide receivers early on, having selected one in the top two rounds over the last three seasons, two of which have been first-round picks.
Chris Olave draws very close comparisons to Calvin Ridley. Philly was reported to be “in” trading for Ridley before the veteran was suspended for the entire 2022 season.
16. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi St.)
It’s not by coincidence that the Saints traded up to get ahead of the tackle-needy Chargers. They strike gold once with Charles Cross falling into their laps at No. 16 overall.
The Mississippi State Bulldog was elite from Week 4 on as PFF’s second-highest-graded pass-blocker (87.6).
He also showed up against the most substantial competition, allowing just two combined pressures in four SEC matchups against Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn.
Cross is an immediate fill-in option for Terron Armstead who signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
17. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)
The Chargers don’t have many roster holes to fill outside adding additional depth across the offensive line and at wide receiver. Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith is enticing here, but L.A. has been connected to cornerbacks throughout the pre-draft process. Considering the AFC West figures to be just one giant shootout you can’t go wrong with a stud cornerback.
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 – along with 4.4 speed – will translate well into the NFL.
18. 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 significant immediate contributor to an NFL secondary.
He sticks to wide receivers like glue evidenced by his No. 1 rank in fewest yards after the catch allowed per reception (0.9) and third-ranked yards allowed per game (11.8) as provided by Sports Info Solutions.
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.
But don’t be surprised if Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie is the wildcard selection here. Roseman has invested luxury picks in the position before and they have been connected to Ebiketie throughout the process.
19. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)
Long-time general manager Mickey Loomis has spent high-end draft capital on LBs in the past, making Devin Lloyd a strong possibility at No. 19. The Utah product is a do-it-all linebacker with the ability to cover tight ends, generate pressure, and play on all downs.
There’s also a need for a linebacker with Kwon Alexander still unsigned.
I’ll admit that New Orleans could go in a lot of different directions with this pick whether it be a wide receiver — Treylon Burks, Skky Moore — or an immediate impact defensive player — Logan Hall, Andrew Booth — that others might consider a reach.
20. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Malik Willis (QB – Liberty)
The Steelers have not been shy about 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 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 top rookie quarterbacks.
So with the 20th overall pick, the Steelers select Malik Willis as their future franchise quarterback. Pour one out for Mitchell Trubisky.
21. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Quay Walker (LB – Georgia)
Many will harp on the Patriots to take a wide receiver at No. 21, but it’s just not in Bill Belichick’s DNA to pay up at that position. And when he has it’s never panned out: ie. N’Keal Harry, Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson.
Their defense desperately needs speed, especially at the linebacker position. Last year’s unit looked like they were playing underwater at times. Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo spoke on a local Patriots radio station that, “the team is looking to get faster, more explosive and put more playmakers on the field.”
That man is Quay Walker. The Georgia linebacker blazed a 4.52 40-yard dash (91st percentile) at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The dude was also born to tackle. His 4.3% missed tackle rate ranked fourth-best in the FBS and was superior to his teammates Nakobe Dean (12.2%) and Channing Tindall (7.4%).
22. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Treylon Burks (WR – Arkansas)
The Arkansas 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, which caters perfectly to the Green Bay offense.
The Pack finished third in total YAC in 2021.
23. ARIZONA CARDINALS: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)
Zion Johnson should be a solid starting guard from day one and would be an immediate plug-and-play option for the Cardinals. Johnson allowed just two quarterback hits and six total pressures in his final year at BC.
Starting center Rodney Hudson had his worst year to date and is entering his age-33 season. Second-year and former third-rounder Josh Jones spent the majority of his time playing right guard in 2021, but he finished as PFF’s 82nd-graded guard among 88 qualifiers.
Don’t be surprised if you see Arizona select their top interior offensive lineman in Round 1. Especially considering that Max Garcia, who started eight games at guard last season inked a one-year deal with the Giants.
If Zona doesn’t go OL in Round 1; WR Jahan Dotson, CB Kyler Gordon and DT Logan Hall are the names to keep tabs on.
24. DALLAS COWBOYS: Skyy Moore (WR – Western Michigan)
Big D has targeted wide receivers in recent years with draft capital in the first three rounds.
2022 wide receiver prospect and heartthrob Skyy Moore can help mitigate the loss of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson.
His 3.40 yards per route run in 2021 ranked in the 99th percentile among 2022 draft-eligible wide receivers over the past three seasons. The slippery playmaker – tied for first in college football with 26 forced missed tackles – is deserving of a Round 1 selection.
Guard Kenyon Green, wide receiver Jahan Dotson and defensive tackle Logan Hall were in strong consideration here as well.
25. BUFFALO BILLS: Breece Hall (RB – Iowa State)
NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has been one of the most accurate mock drafters in recent seasons due to how plugged in he is in NFL circles. He mocked Breece Hall to Buffalo at No. 25 in his final mock. And I understand the process behind the selection.
The Bills don’t have many holes on their roster, so they can afford a luxury selection by taking a running back in the first round.
And it’s no secret that Buffalo’s front office has been trying to upgrade the position, specifically with a running back capable of excelling in the passing game. The Bills tried to sign J.D. McKissic this offseason and were heavily rumored to be in the market for Travis Etienne in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The fact that they are constantly sniffing around for other running backs despite having Devin Singletary on the roster suggests that Singletary’s late-season surge — he was the fantasy RB3 over the last six weeks — might not be sustainable.
Hall represents an immediate upgrade in all facets.
The Iowa State product measured in at 5-11 and 217 pounds at the NFL Combine, slightly different from his listed playing size in school (6-1, 210 pounds).
But his slightly stockier build did nothing to impede Hall’s Combine performance, because he lit the testing drills ablaze: 4.39 40-yard dash (93rd percentile), 40-inch vertical jump (94th percentile), and 126-inch broad jump (91st percentile).
Hall’s 116.85 size-adjusted speed score was nearly identical to that of former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.
Pairing Hall’s athleticism with an off-the-charts college production profile (over 4,500 yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns) makes him my 1.01 in dynasty rookie drafts.
Hall provides immediate fantasy football appeal, considering his abilities as a slick receiver out of the backfield. He had 82 catches over three seasons and just two drops in his last two seasons. He has the requisite size and tools to be a three-down running back who never leaves the field.
26. TENNESSEE TITANS: Tyler Smith (OT – Tulsa)
Based on how free agency shook out, the Titans could easily select an offensive lineman with their top selection. Right tackle David Quessenberry and guard Rodger Saffold both left for Buffalo in free agency.
They managed to bring back center Ben Jones and sign tackle Jamarco Jones from the Seahawks, but there’s still room for improvement.
Tyler Smith can be a future starting tackle and potential fit at guard depending on how the Titans want to deploy him. The Tulsa product has played more than 1,700 snaps from the left side in his college career and finished 2021 as PFF’s fourth-highest-graded tackle. Smith also finished second in Sports Info Solutions’ expected points added on a per-game basis (3.4), trailing only Charles Cross.
He led the nation in big-time blocks per PFF, which will be highly-coveted by the run-heavy Titans.
27. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Lewis Cine (S– Georgia)
Tampa Bay would be wise to plan ahead with defensive backs Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean, Logan Ryan, Keanu Neal, and Mike Edwards hitting free agency in 2023.
Georgia safety Lewis Cine is such a refined tackler that he could easily carve out a role as box-stuffing safety. And there’s no doubt that Cine’s impressive combine performance – 95th percentile 40-yard dash, 96th percentile broad jump – jackrabbited his draft stock into Round 1.
Selecting a versatile safety also aligns with what Buccaneers GM Jason Licht has prioritized early in past drafts.
28. GREEN BAY PACKERS: Daxton Hill (S – Michigan)
Brian Gutekunst is no stranger to adding secondary pieces with premium picks, considering that three of the team’s six highest draft picks have been spent on defensive backs since 2018.
Green Bay needs somebody inside to replace slot CB Chandon Sullivan, who recently signed with the Vikings. Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos and Jaire Alexander will hit free agency in 2023.
Michigan safety Daxton Hill can line up all over the field. He played slot cornerback in 2021 after spending more time in the box and free safety as a sophomore.
29. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Devonte Wyatt (DT – Georgia)
The Chiefs have to find a way to draft talent in the defensive trenches 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 with 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 and was the central force of the No. 1 defense in the nation. He’s been overshadowed 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-six in both PFF run and pass-rush grades last season. His true pass-rush grade ranked first on the Georgia defense.
With 4.77 40-yard-dash wheels (97th percentile) and an 111-inch broad jump (82nd percentile) to boot, Wyatt will have an immediate impact for Kansas City.
30. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: George Pickens (WR – Georgia)
The Chiefs have a significant 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 to man the slot, but I doubt they are done adding to the position.
And what better way to do that — while also keeping your quarterback happy — than by drafting a stud wide receiver in the second round with George Pickens.
The Georgia Bulldog broke out as a true 18-year-old freshman, finishing 2019 as PFF’s 17th-highest-graded receiver in the nation (88.0) — ahead of future NFL wideouts Jerry Jeudy, Justin Jefferson, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
His 2.64 yards per route run were identical to Jefferson’s. Pickens’ unbelievable first year generated a 27% dominator rating — the No. 1 age-adjusted mark among the WRs in this draft class.
Injuries plagued Pickens’ draft stock during the college season, but he looks to be fully healthy based on his testing at the NFL Combine. I will be drafting a lot of Pickens in my dynasty rookie drafts — even with his ADP on its way to the moon with Patrick Mahomes as his NFL quarterback.
31. CINCINNATI BENGALS: Logan Hall (DT – Houston)
Houston’s Logan Hall can be the cherry on top for the Bengals’ defense upfront. He has graded out as a top-five interior rusher among his draft-eligible classmates the last two seasons, per PFF.
NFL teams looking to generate pass rush up the middle would be wise to invest in the 283-pounder and lengthy 6-foot-6 Houston Cougar. Just don’t line him up over the center and expect him to be a true difference-maker in the run game.
32. DETROIT LIONS: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pitt)
Jared Goff will still be in the plans for the Lions in 2022 with a $15.5 million roster guarantee this season. It seems most likely he will be the opening day starter while the team grooms a rookie franchise quarterback behind him.
Goff has a potential out in his contract before the 2023 season. Detroit also desperately NEEDS a quarterback competition to stir up drama for HBO’s Hard Knocks.
With the fifth-year rookie quarterback option in mind — even though its importance has been massively overblown — the Lions select small-hands Kenny Pickett with the 32nd overall pick.
Pickett finished third in PFF passing grade from a clean pocket (94.3) and first in his class in adjusted completion percentage (79%) during his 2021 breakout season.
TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE
19. David Ojabo (Edge – Michigan)
21. Tyler Linderbaum (C – Iowa)
26. Andrew Booth Jr. (CB – Clemson)
28. Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)
29. George Karlaftis (Edge – Purdue)
31. Bernhard Raimann (OT – Central Michigan)
33. Boye Mafe (Edge – Minnesota)
34. Arnold Ebiketie (Edge – Penn State)
35. Matt Corral (QB – Ole Miss)
36. Sam Howell (QB – UNC)
39. Nakobe Dean (LB – UGA)
40. Jalen Pitre (S – Baylor)
41. Jahan Dotson (WR – Penn State)
42. Christian Watson (WR – North Dakota State)
44. Desmond Ridder (QB – CIN)
47. Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)
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