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Matthew Freedman’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft (1 Week Away)

Apr 21, 2022

We are only a week away from the 2022 NFL Draft, so I’m updating my mock.

Here are my previous mocks.

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

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.

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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

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 moving him back to 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.

Previous pick: Aidan Hutchinson (Edge – Michigan)


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.

Previous pick: Travon Walker (Edge – Georgia)


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, 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: Kayvon Thibodeaux (Edge – Oregon)

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.


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, Ekwonu plays with a delightful-to-watch nastiness.


6. Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi State)

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?).

Mock drafts are incredibly 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

Previous pick: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)


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

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


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.

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).


9. Seattle Seahawks: Derek Stingley Jr. (CB – LSU)

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 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

Previous pick: Charles Cross (OT – Mississippi State)


10. New York Jets: Drake London (WR – USC)

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.

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


11. Washington Commanders: Jameson Williams (WR – Alabama)

Now that the Commanders have quarterback Carson Wentz, they could try to get him another pass-catching option to play alongside wide receiver Terry McLaurin. 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.


12. Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)

At one point, it seemed like Hamilton was a lock for the top 10, but those days are long 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 Vikings 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.

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


13. Houston Texans: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE – Florida State)

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

Previous pick: Kyle Hamilton (S – Notre Dame)


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.

Previous pick: Jermaine Johnson (EDGE – Florida State)


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


15. Philadelphia Eagles: 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, and the Eagles need a strong running mate alongside 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith.

Pick via Miami Dolphins


16. New Orleans Saints: Trevor Penning (OT – Northern Iowa)

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

Pick via Indianapolis Colts & Philadelphia Eagles


17. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)

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.

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.

Previous pick: Jordan Davis (DT – Georgia)


18. Philadelphia Eagles: Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)

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

Pick via New Orleans Saints

Previous pick: Devin Lloyd (LB – Utah)


19. New Orleans Saints: Treylon Burks (WR – Arkansas)

With great size (6-2 and 225 pounds) and sufficient athleticism (4.55-second 40-yard dash), Burks, in the short term, could be a playmaking complement to injury-riddled No. 1 receiver Michael Thomas. In the long term, he could be Thomas’ replacement.

As a true junior last year, Burks was 66-1,104-11 receiving and 14-112-1 rushing in 12 games.

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.

Pick via New Orleans Saints

Previous pick: Trent McDuffie (CB – Washington)


22. Green Bay Packers: George Karlaftis (Edge – Purdue)

Za’Darius Smith is now with the Vikings, and Whitney Mercilus is retired. The Packers defense needs more pressure off the edge, and Karlaftis is a first-team All-Big Ten three-year starter with NFL-caliber power.

Pick via Las Vegas Raiders


23. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Booth Jr. (CB – Clemson)

Last year, the Cardinals relied on grit and spit at cornerback, and starter Robert Alford is a free agent. They desperately need to upgrade the position, and Booth is a likely first-rounder with a good recruitment pedigree (4-5 stars) and the versatility to play in press and zone schemes.


24. Dallas Cowboys: Kenyon Green (G – Texas A&M)

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.

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.

Previous pick: Zion Johnson (G – Boston College)


25. Buffalo Bills: Kyler Gordon (CB – Washington)

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

Previous pick: Kaiir Elam (CB – Florida)


26. Tennessee Titans: Kenny Pickett (QB – Pittsburgh)

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 …

… Pickett is likely to go in Round 1, and he might be the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class.

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


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: Jahan Dotson (WR – Penn State)

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.

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.


29. Kansas City Chiefs: Daxton Hill (S – Michigan)

This pick is often reserved for a wide receiver, but late in mock drafts tough decisions are required, and this is a spot where I’m prioritizing a player’s odds to be drafted in Round 1 above a team’s most notable need.

It’s true that wide receivers Tyreek Hill (trade), Byron Pringle (free agency), and Demarcus Robinson (free agency) are all gone, but the Chiefs did add the hyphenated duo of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason, so it’s not as if they’re bereft at the position.

Hill belongs in Round 1 more than the Chiefs need a wide receiver — and it’s not as if they don’t need a safety given the departure of Tyrann Mathieu.

An exceptional athlete, Hill has the versatility to play deep as a true safety and in the slot as a nickel corner.

Hill is one of the few players in this class who might be capable of replacing Honey Badger.

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.


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 Linderbaum, the Bengals will complete their overhaul.

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: Matt Corral (QB – Mississippi)

Three quarterbacks are commonly mocked in Round 1, and No. 32 has officially become the destination spot for a passer.

The Lions almost certainly don’t view Jared Goff as their long-term starter, and in taking Corral at the end of Day 1 they entitle themselves to the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

I almost went with QB Desmond Ridder, but Corral (unlike Ridder) is attending the draft in person, and he has the higher ranking (33 vs. 37) in the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board and the higher expected draft position (27.5 vs. 30.2) at Grinding the Mocks.

Pick via Los Angeles Rams

Previous pick: Nakobe Dean (LB – Georgia)


CTAs

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 Tackle

Edge Defender

Defensive Tackle

Linebacker

  • Nakobe Dean (Georgia)
  • Quay Walker (Georgia)

Cornerback

Safety

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