Hey everyone, we’re a day away from the 2022 NFL Draft. This year is interesting because so many teams have multiple first round picks, but in turn, not as many fan bases are involved on the first night of it and its certainly not as appealing as last year where Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Ja’Marr Chase, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and many more were exciting established players in the college football world. Chase and Waddle had awesome rookie years to really excite the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins fanbases, respectively, and the Bengals surprised everyone making the Super Bowl early on in Joe Burrow’s career. This will probably be a shorter preview than the last couple years, but wanted to give my predictions.
#1 Jacksonville Jaguars-Travon Walker-The Jaguars once again have the number one pick. The Jaguars finished 3-14 last year but Trevor Lawrence did have some good moments. They continue to be a thorn in the Indianapolis Colts side and knocked them out of the playoffs in the final week of the season. They also had a stunning upset of the Buffalo Bills during the season 9-6 which goes to show you any team can beat another team any given Sunday. Georgia had one of the best defenses in modern college football history letting up 153 points all season, most of those in blowout wins, besides Alabama who they let up about half those points against. Travon is 6’5, 290 and moves well for a guy his size. Teams seem to have fallen in love with him and I believe he will be this year’s first pick.
#2 Detroit Lions-Aidan Hutchinson-Aidan has been thought to be close to the #1 pick for a long time and nothing has changed that status. I really like him on a team coached by Dan Campbell with Dan being as emotional a leader as he is and getting his guys to run through walls for him and get every bit out of their talent week by week and I think Aidan is the type of player that can and will do that for Dan. He could very well be the type of player to help finally turn the fortunes around for the Detroit Lions and if he fell past here, I would be very surprised and would be a great pick for any other team.
Here’s where the wheels could start falling off for my (and many’s) mock drafts lol #3 Houston Texans-Derek Stingley-To me, this pick might be considered a bit of a reach to some, but I have always thought Stingley is enormously talented and if he plays to his potential, could certainly be among the best of this draft class. He had a great start to his career in 2019 and hasn’t been able to match that since and dealt with a foot injury last year that ended his season. Texans clearly have many issues so if they don’t take Derek, I would think Iken Ekwonu or another offensive lineman.
#4 New York Jets-Sauce Gardner-The Jets cornerback position has been an issue for a while now and only became more glaring with the Miami Dolphins acquiring Tyreek Hill. Between him, Jaylen Waddle, Stefon Diggs, and the Patriots receiving core, they desperately need someone to defend the long pass. Gardner would be a good pick here to do so.
#5 New York Giants-Charles Cross-I definitely think the Giants are going with an offensive lineman with this pick so I think it will be either Evan Neal or Charles Cross. Neal has far more experience playing tackles on both left and right side but word has it that Charles Cross was tested by the Giants to see if he would be good to play right tackle and they were content with what they saw. Go with him here but Neal playing over 40 games on one of the better teams in the SEC will be hard to turn down.
#6 Carolina Panthers-Evan Neal-This is one of the million dollar questions of the night. Will they take a quarterback like Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett, trade the pick or draft someone else? I am getting the vibe from NFL scouts, former players, etc. that the fervor that you need to draft a quarterback has cooled significantly unlike recent years where last year I the top 3 were all quarterbacks which I thought was ridiculous at the time and their talent didn’t match them all going in that order. If I had to choose, I think Pickett will be better between him and Willis. I think Sam Howell in the right situation could be a good quarterback and I like Matt Corral as well, but expect those 2 in the second round or Corral perhaps end of the first. The bottom line is there is no slam dunk at the quarterback position this year. There’s not a Trevor Lawrence and they all have glaring flaws and Willis really didn’t play many great teams besides Ole Miss playing at Liberty and Liberty had some bad results this year. Neal might scare some teams because of injury issues but he is still an offensive lineman at one of the best football schools in the country. It’s a good pick.
#7 New York Giants-Kayvon Thibodeaux-This will be a pretty substantial drop from where Thibodeaux was originally expected to go and some places have him falling even further into the double digits. Another player with injury concerns, but in terms of if he can live up to his talent, he should be a top 5-7 player in the draft. I think Giants will go him or Jermaine Johnson here and take a solid defensive end who can help them for years to come. I think a team would be sorry letting up Thibodeaux escape to double digits and he will prove to be better than that.
#8 Atlanta Falcons-I argued last year why wouldn’t the Falcons take a chance on Justin Fields since Matt Ryan’s career was coming to a close. Now that they traded him, I really don’t understand that move, although Calvin Ridley going through his mental health issues might’ve changed things, to be fair. Kyle Pitts should be a very good player, but Atlanta needing a quarterback was imminent. Atlanta could very easily draft a receiver here, but I have Ikem Okwonu still available here, a solid offensive lineman for a team I don’t believe is ready to win quite yet. They could try to get a quarterback here too. I would think Malik Willis would be their guy, but it still feels like a bit of a reach. They also brought in Marcus Mariota so they can roll the dice with him.
#9 Seattle Seahawks-Jermaine Johnson-With Russell Wilson gone, I am expecting the Seahawks to fortify their defense which was a trademark of their early-mid 2010’s teams. This is another team simply not built to win now. Losing a tremendous likely hall-of-famer in Wilson has to be a shock to the system for Seattle and Drew Lock is a significant downgrade in my opinion. The Los Angeles Rams just won the Super Bowl. They have to deal with the versatile Kyler Murray. This is a good pick here for the Seahawks.
#10 New York Jets-Jameson Williams-Like the last couple years, here comes the mid 1st round run on receivers. You will likely have 4 go between here and 20. Jets were willing to trade for D.K. Metcalf, so it seems like it would make sense to get one here. Jameson Williams was the best receiver prior to getting injured and could easily be taken here. They could go Garrett Wilson or Drake London too but I think they will look past his injury and take him. Devonta Smith got hurt in the Championship game last year too and he was fine with the Philadelphia Eagles this season.
#11 Washington Commanders-Drake London-Good weapon for newcomer Carson Wentz to go alongside Terry McLaurin to give Washington two legitimate receiving threats. Washington in recent years whether it is Covid issues or injury related seem to be snake-bitten. I like Ron Rivera as a coach and the pieces are in place for Rivera to position the Commanders for future success. Philadelphia and the Giants I don’t think are as close as Washington is to being continual contenders. They finished 7-10 this season, but remember last year they were very close to shocking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a backup quarterback. I like the Wentz addition as well and think him playing the Eagles two times a year will help him and I think with the Washington investigation currently going on about them fudging the books and courts getting involved, Wentz could fly under the radar and have lower expectations than in Philadelphia or Indianapolis and he could have a surprising year.
#12 Minnesota Vikings-I’ve seen mock drafts with the Vikings taking a receiver which I really don’t understand. They already have Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. That makes no sense to me whatsoever and there’s other positions they can work on. I think ultimately, they will go after a cornerback or safety, I think Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame goes here. Since I have the top two corners going already, they could always trade down, but I think they like Hamilton enough to take him here.
#13 Houston Texans-Garrett Wilson-I think most would consider this a steal at this point which is strange considering the first receiver should only come off the board around 9 or 10, but it would just be circumstance for Garrett Wilson to fall here, whom many consider the best receiver of this year’s class. It just goes to show you how well thought of all 3 receivers are and they can go in any order. They take the Ohio State receiver here which would be a no-doubter if he is still around.
#14 Baltimore Ravens-Trevor Penning-Ravens take a offensive tackle here to help protect Lamar. Ravens seem like they are always in the mix but the question until he finally does it is Can Lamar’s style of play win 3-4 playoff games? Personally, I feel the answer to that is no. The defenses get to be too good. The Ravens lack the offensive firepower to get them over the edge and the weather near the end of the year is frigid and hamstrings Lamar’s game.
#15 Philadelphia Eagles-Jordan Davis-WIP where I am down near Philadelphia has been all aboard the Jordan Davis train for months and I agree with them. He had a dominating year as part of that tremendous Georgia defense and only bettered his resume posting a 4.78 40. He will be an important anchor of a Philadelphia defense for years to come. They get their guy here.
#16 New Orlenas Saints–Chris Olave-Saints are another team that can clearly do any number of things here, but the bottom line is this is another team that I don’t think has a realistic chance to contend this year. They lost a likely hall of fame coach in Sean Payton and just have too many pieces that needs fixing. Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton are good stop gaps for a year. They could look to take a quarterback, but don’t believe they will first round. They take the other Ohio State receiver this year in Olave, who will be a good building block and very useful in the future.