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At long last, it is draft week! The months of speculation are finally going to come to an end on Thursday, but until then, let’s keep speculating.
For the first time this year, I am allowing trades in my mock draft. The following trades were executed in this mock.
Minnesota trades 1.12, 2.44 to Carolina for 1.6, 5.144
Los Angeles trades 1.17, 3.79 and 6.195 to Baltimore for 1.17, 4.119
San Francisco trades Deebo Samuel, 6.221 to Green Bay for 1.22, 2.59
New York trades 2.35, 3.69 and 4.117 to Tennessee for 1.26, 3.90
Baltimore trades 2.45 and 4.141 to Indianapolis for 2.42
Carolina trades 2023 3rd-round pick, 6.199 to Cleveland for Baker Mayfield
As a reminder, these mocks are what I would do as a general manager, not necessarily what I think will happen on draft day. I will be releasing a predictive mock later this week.
With all of that in mind, let’s dive into my final non-predictive mock of the 2022 draft cycle.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
I have been saying this for a while and I stand by it: Neal is the best player in the draft and Jacksonville should invest in protecting Trevor Lawrence. Neal has the experience to kick inside for a year with Cam Robinson on the franchise tag. He will be the team’s long-term answer at left tackle.
2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
This is exactly what Detroit is hoping for on draft night. They want Hutchinson badly. I think finding a high-motor, polished edge rusher will give this defense a major boost. You can count on him being an impact starter from Day 1.
3. Houston Texans – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There are a number of ways that this could go. I’m going with the highest-rated player left on my board in Gardner. He is a true shutdown corner with the size, speed and physicality you expect to see from top prospects. He would transform the Texans defense. In a deep edge class, count on them finding some help in the later rounds.
4. New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
With Gardner off the board, I think this one is pretty clear cut. New York has lacked a pass rush for about 15 years. Carl Lawson is on the mend after tearing his Achilles last August, but he will need some help. Thibodeaux is the type of athletic pass rusher Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas love. Pairing him with Lawson would be an ideal scenario.
5. New York Giants – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
New York will be hoping one of the top two tackles is on the board when they pick at No. 5. Ekwonu is a mauler with plus athleticism. He has some room to clean up some technical aspects to his game, but I think he will translate well. Putting him on the right side across from Andrew Thomas would give the Giants talented bookends on their offensive line.
6. Minnesota Vikings via Carolina Panthers – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
With the board falling this way and Carolina acquiring Baker Mayfield from Cleveland, a trade down makes sense. Minnesota is more than happy to move up for the top corner on the board. The Vikings are willing to bet on Stingley returning to his 2019 form after showing out at his pro day. He could wind up being the best player in this draft class.
7. New York Giants via Chicago Bears – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
There is definitely a bit of projection involved with Walker, but I don’t think the Giants would mind gambling on his upside here. He has physical traits defensive coaches dream about. On top of that, he is incredibly scheme versatile and has the flexibility to line up in a few spots. I think New York will be able to find a good fit for him within their defense.
8. Atlanta Falcons – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This is a perfect situation for Willis. For one, it would be a return home after he started his high school career at Westlake High School in Atlanta. Additionally, Atlanta is in a rebuild and has a stop-gap solution at the position in Marcus Mariota. Willis has some enticing potential, but will need some time to get up to speed in the NFL. This would allow to sit on the bench for a year while the Falcons rebuild the roster around him.
9. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
With Willis off the board, I think Seattle should address its defensive line. Johnson is an elite run stopper with room to grow as a pass rusher. He has three-down potential and some impressive tape. I really like his physicality. After moving on from Carlos Dunlap, this feels like a smart move to bolster the front seven.
10. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks – Drake London, WR, USC
I considered Kyle Hamilton here, but I think the Jets need to focus on finding more weapons for Zach Wilson. London is my top receiver thanks to a great catch radius and an exciting blend of size and playmaking ability. He would be a nice complement to Elijah Moore and would give New York a true No. 1 receiver.
11. Washington Football Team – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Washington could absolutely go receiver here, but I think Hamilton should be the pick. He has incredible size for the position and would likely be gone even earlier if not for a poor 40-time at the combine. His instincts and versatility make him the top safety in the draft by a wide margin. Expect him to be a high-level starter for a long time in the league.
12. Carolina Panthers via Minnesota Vikings – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Carolina picks up some extra draft capital and still addresses its biggest need at offensive tackle. Cross is a well-tested pass blocker from his days at Mississippi State. He anchors well, but needs to improve on his technique and hand placement. The limited run blocking snaps is also a concern. In time, I think he could be a quality starter, which the Panthers desperately need.
13. Houston Texans via Cleveland Browns – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With the top edge rushers off the board, I think Houston should target a receiver to give Davis Mills a chance to show that he is truly a franchise quarterback. Wilson and Brandin Cooks would give the Texans an exciting tandem. His speed and run-after-catch ability should provide a major boost.
14. Los Angeles Chargers via Baltimore Ravens – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Los Angeles can’t risk Penning not being there at No. 17 with a major need at right tackle. Upgrading along the offensive line has to be a huge priority in order to protect Justin Herbert. Penning definitely has some refining to do once he reaches the NFL, but the intangibles and physicality make me believe he has a lot of untapped potential.
15. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami Dolphins – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Why not grab another Alabama receiver. Williams actually never shared the field with DeVonta Smith because he spent his first two seasons at Ohio State. Unfortunately, Williams likely will miss the beginning of the season as he continues to rehab the torn ACL he suffered in the National Championship Game. Once he is healthy though, he could be a game-changer in this offense.
16. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
New Orleans does not want to miss out on the top receivers in this draft. Adding another Buckeye to this offense would do wonders for its potential. I think Olave, who has great straight-line speed and solid separation skills, would excel playing with a strong-armed quarterback like Jameis Winston. If Michael Thomas can finally get back on the field, the Saints would have a very talented tandem to rely on.
17. Baltimore Ravens via Los Angeles Chargers – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Picking up another mid-round pick is something the Ravens love doing. Adding a long, athletic corner also seems to fit their MO. Booth is recovering from offseason surgery, so we did not get a chance to see him test, but I believe he is the best of this second tier of corners after Gardner and Stingley. After injuries ravaged their secondary a year ago, Baltimore will be all in on finding more depth.
18. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans Saints – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Philly will be disappointed to see Booth go off the board just before their pick, but McDuffie is a heck of a consolation prize. He lacks elite size, but he plays bigger than he is listed. He would be a great pairing with Darius Slay to help reshape the secondary. Adding talent on the boundaries is never a bad idea.
19. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia Eagles – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
Ideally, there would be an offensive tackle here, but alas, the top four prospects are all off the board. Instead, New Orleans turns to the other side of the trenches to find someone to pair with David Onyemata, who is entering a contract year. The Saints could also trade down from here or go quarterback, but I think they are planning to ride with Winston for this year, especially after signing Andy Dalton as a backup.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Another example of a team drafting a local kid. No, this doesn’t make up for them passing on Dan Marino, but it should give them a bit of stability at the quarterback position. Pickett is pro ready and has above average mobility, something the Steelers offense has desperately lacked in Ben Roethlisberger’s final years. He should be a solid NFL starter, even if he seems to lack the upside to become a star.
21. New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
There are a couple directions I think the Patriots could head, but I think Lloyd makes the most sense. He is a top-10 player on my board. He drops this far because of positional value, but I could see him being a perennial Pro Bowler under Bill Belichick. His versatility and athleticism makes him a really solid value in this spot.
22. San Francisco 49ers via Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
San Francisco looks to address some glaring needs with the picks acquired in the Deebo Samuel trade. Green is the top offensive player available at this point and helps soften the blow of losing Laken Tomlinson and Tom Compton this offseason. Regardless of who is starting at quarterback this season, they need to be upright.
23. Arizona Cardinals – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
This is great value for Davis, who I have as a top-15 player. That being said, he projects best as a two-down run stuffer, with the potential to improve as a pass rusher. There are some concerns with his weight, but his speed is off the charts for a man his size. Putting him between J.J. Watt and Zach Allen sounds very appealing.
24. Dallas Cowboys – Zion Nelson, OL, Boston College
I considered an edge rusher here, but instead, I’m opting for Nelson. Dallas’ offensive line took some major hits this offseason. Nelson has the versatility to line up at either guard spot or center. Keeping Dak Prescott healthy should be a huge priority after the string of injuries he has dealt with over the past two seasons.
25. Buffalo Bills – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
For a team that has Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis, this might feel like an odd pick, but I think Buffalo wants to do whatever it can to push this offense over the top. Burks is a tough evaluation, but the film shows a player capable of taking over a game. If he can consistently perform in the NFL, he will be an absolute steal in this spot.
26. New York Jets via Tennessee Titans – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
New York gets aggressive with a ton of draft picks to utilize. With Hill still on the board, they jump at the opportunity to add a dynamic defensive back. Hill can line up at slot corner or either safety spot. He is a sure tackler in the open field and has impressive speed. After losing Marcus Maye, the Jets need to shore up the backend of the defense.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
There is no question that Karlaftis is a bit of a project, but the Buccaneers have a good track record of developing front seven players. Todd Bowles will love adding another pass rusher to his defense. Karlaftis needs to drastically improve as a run defender to get on the field on every down, but should be a situational pass rushing option from Day 1.
28. Green Bay Packers – Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
If you have been reading my content regularly, you know I am a big fan of McBride. I think Aaron Rodgers could be too if Green Bay selects him. McBride posted a ridiculous 90-catch, 1,100-yard season en route to the Mackey Award. He is pro ready and fairly well-rounded. Adding him and Deebo Samuel to the offense would transform the outlook for 2022 and beyond.
29. Kansas City Chiefs via Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Kansas City has put off meaningfully addressing the cornerback position for a few years now. In a defense that loves to get after the passer, Elam is a perfect fit. He is long and fast, excelling in press-man coverage. There is a bit to be desired when it comes to his understanding of zone concepts and open-field tackling, but those are skills that can be improved with coaching. He would allow Steve Spagnuolo to dial up pressure, especially once their next pick gets on the field.
30. Kansas City Chiefs – David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
Prior to tearing his Achilles at his pro day, Ojabo was on the trajectory to go in the Top-10 of this draft. The Chiefs will gladly grab a player capable of having that type of impact on the defense when he is healthy. His long-term upside and immediate pass-rushing ability make him a great value at this spot.
31. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Sometimes, the best thing to do is continue to address the offensive line. Linderbaum slid during the pre draft process after measuring in much smaller than teams had hoped for. There are definitely some limitations to his game, but he looked like a baller at Iowa. His athleticism and ability to finish blocks should keep him in the first round.
32. Detroit Lions via Los Angeles – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Another one of my favorite prospects in this draft class, Walker is a big, rangy linebacker who can do just about anything you ask of him. He is a capable blitzer, solid in coverage and a decent tackler. The biggest test for him will likely be playing in a defense where not everyone is a superstar. He is the fourth Georgia defender I have coming off the board in the first round.
33. Jacksonville Jaguars – Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
After addressing the offensive line at No. 1, Jacksonville finds an edge rusher to pair with Josh Allen. Ebiketie put together a great season with Penn State after transferring from Temple.
34. Detroit Lions – Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Another Penn State defender as Detroit continues to revamp that side of the ball. Brisker would compete for the starting job right away.
35. Tennessee Titans via New York Jets – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Tennessee adds some more draft capital after initially entering the draft without a second-round pick. Raimann is a developing tackle who could compete for the starting spot on the right side immediately.
36. New York Giants – Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
New York needs to rebuild its cornerback room with rumors that James Bradberry could be traded. McCreary lacks elite length, but put together some impressive tape against SEC competition.
37. Houston Texans – Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
One of the most toolsy edge rushers in this class, Mafe is a popular prospect with teams that love “height, weight, speed” players. His physicality and speed makes up below average length off the edge.
38. New York Jets via Carolina Panthers – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Jets grab another defensive playmaker to plug into Robert Saleh’s defense. Dean is undersized, which I think will drop him out of the first-round, but excels when allowed to play downhill.
39. Chicago Bears – George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Make that six Georgia players and counting. Chicago grabs a high-upside receiver to pair with Darnell Mooney. Pickens barely played this season after tearing his ACL in spring ball, but he has the physical traits to develop into a No. 1 option.
40. Seattle Seahawks via Denver Broncos – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Seattle finds a mobile quarterback with great leadership skills. No, he won’t replace Russell Wilson, but he gives them someone else to compete for the starting job with more upside than Drew Lock or Geno Smith.
41. Seattle Seahawks – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Seahawks lost D.J. Reed this offseason and don’t have much in the way of proven talent at corner right now. Gordon checks all the physical boxes you want in a starting corner and would give Seattle some much-needed size at the position.
42. Baltimore Ravens via Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders – Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
Baltimore has a ton of mid-round picks to use, so moving up to address a big need makes sense. Thomas is a strong edge defender with really good production. I think he would fit well across from Odafe Oweh.
43. Atlanta Falcons – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Another receiver off the board, Watson is an exciting blend of speed and size. At just over 6’4″, he ran a 4.36 40 at the combine. He needs to improve his hands, but I think he can be an instant impact player.
44. Cleveland Browns – Travis Jones, DL, UConn
The Browns first pick of the draft will likely be on defense after trading for Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper this offseason. Jones is rising up draft boards after a good pre draft process. Cleveland’s interior defensive line is very unproven as well, so this fills a need.
45. Indianapolis Colts via Baltimore Ravens – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Indy has a lot of needs and not a ton of draft capital after trading a number of picks to acquire Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan in successive offseasons. Sliding down and finding a playmaker to boost this offense accomplishes two goals. Dotson has great hands and has a good understanding of how to beat zone coverage.
46. Carolina Panthers via Minnesota Vikings – Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
Harris brings plenty of speed to the table and plays akin to a box safety. He is good in coverage as well. Carolina could use an injection of youth at linebacker.
47. Washington Commanders via Indianapolis Colts – Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
After going defense with its first pick, Washington goes offense here. I’m staying away from quarterback to give Carson Wentz some confidence. Instead, I think grabbing a receiver for him to work will go a long way. Pierce put up elite testing numbers and some solid tape at Cincinnati. He would pair nicely with Terry McLaurin.
48. Chicago Bears via Los Angeles Chargers – Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
Chicago needs to protect Justin Fields in the worst way. Rhyan is a college tackle that seems destined to kick inside. Still, that experience at tackle makes him even more valuable.
49. New Orleans Saints – Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
With Terron Armstead now in Miami, the Saints are searching for a new left tackle. Smith is a bit of a tweener, with scouts split on where he fits best at the next level. Worst-case scenario, he competes with Cesar Ruiz, who had a rough 2021 season.
50. Kansas City Chiefs via Miami Dolphins – John Metchie III, Alabama
After going defense in the first round, Kansas City opts for an offensive weapon in the second. Metchie likely would be off the board by now if it was not for the fact that he is coming off a major injury. Assuming he returns to full health, he would be a solid addition to the Chiefs receiver room.
51. Philadelphia Eagles – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
The Eagles need more playmakers in the secondary. Safety is definitely a weak spot. Cine put on a show in the National Championship Game, showcasing his speed and instincts.
52. Pittsburgh Steelers – Tariq Woolen, CB, UTSA
Another “draft crush” for me, Woolen is a bit raw, but has outstanding intangibles. Finding corners who are 6’4″ and run a sub 4.3 40 is nearly impossible. On top of that, he has a 42-inch vertical. Bet on the upside and hope Mike Tomlin and company can develop him.
53. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas Raiders – Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
Green Bay’s offensive line has been a weak point of late with injuries really taking a toll on the unit. Lucas has a ton of starts under his belt and looked solid at the Senior Bowl. He could probably start at either tackle spot in the NFL.
54. New England Patriots – Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
New England traded away Shaq Mason this offseason, creating a hole at guard. Kinnard played tackle in college and has long arms to contend on the outside. However, his play style is best suited to be on the interior. He could bring some nastiness to the Patriots run game.
55. Arizona Cardinals – Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
With the loss of Chandler Jones this offseason, Arizona needs to find some pass rushing help. Bonitto is a good athlete with 16 sacks in his final two seasons at Oklahoma.
56. Dallas Cowboys – Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech
Another team in need of an edge rusher following a free-agent departure, Dallas hopes Barno can provide a boost. He tested out of his mind at the combine, which points to a lot of untapped potential.
57. Buffalo Bills – Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
At long last, the first running back comes off the board. Hall is an all-around back with solid hands and impressive speed. I might be sleeping on these backs a bit, but this would be a great fit for him in Buffalo.
58. Atlanta Falcons via Tennessee Titans – Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
The best way to take the pressure off a young quarterback is to give him a running game. Walker is a downhill runner with good speed. He hits the hole with authority and should give the Falcons offense a reliable back.
59. San Francisco 49ers via Green Bay Packers – Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
With Samuel gone in this mock, San Francisco goes after a potential replacement. Moore is not the same type of player as Deebo, but he can still be a fun chess piece for Kyle Shanahan to move around.
60. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Cole Strange, OL, Chattanooga
Tampa Bay lost both its starting guards from a year ago. They already filled one spot by trading for Shaq Mason. The other is still up for grabs. Strange has the skills to compete for the job and the versatility to play any spot on the interior of the offensive line. I considered quarterback here, but I think going all in with Brady makes more sense.
61. San Francisco 49ers – Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
George Odum is a special teams ace who is better off playing in a rotational role on defense, so safety is definitely a need. Pitre had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl and looks like a future starter.
62. Kansas City Chiefs – DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Leal did not have the same kind of season many were expecting of him, but he has position versatility at edge or defensive tackle. Building in the trenches, especially on defense, feels like a smart move for Kansas City.
63. Cincinnati Bengals – Cade Otton, TE, Washington
Here is a player that I think is being slept on big time. Otton is a fantastic blocker with upside as a pass catcher. After losing C.J. Uzomah, I think the Bengals need to address the tight end position beyond signing Hayden Hurst.
64. Denver Broncos via Los Angeles Rams – Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
Denver does not have a ton of clear needs, the Broncos can go with the best player available here. Muma has the makings of a sideline-to-sideline off-ball linebacker. He tested well at the combine and looks the part on tape.
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