LANDIS: 2022 NFL first round mock draft

LANDIS: 2022 NFL first round mock draft

Carter Landis, Sports reporter

In what has been the most unpredictable draft season in recent memory, the 2022 NFL Draft is nearly here. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock and there is no consensus on who the number one pick will be.

Whether they go with a pass rusher to anchor their defense and team him up with Josh Allen, or an offensive lineman to protect Trevor Lawrence, the pick is all but decided. There is smoke that Georgia’s Travon Walker is now the favorite to go No. 1, which would allow the Lions to take Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2. 

The top of the draft – or, really, any pick in the draft – is not set, so let’s do our best to try and project how the picks will shake out come Thursday. 

 1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

What may come as a surprise to many, the Jaguars could decide to add Walker over Aidan Hutchinson. It would not be a mistake, however, as Walker’s measurables and tape are can’t-miss levels. Walker would add a dominant pass rushing force next to Josh Allen.

2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

The Lions get lucky here, as Hutchinson was projected as the No. 1 pick for a while. He slips one spot, and Lions land a player at a position of desperate need. Hutchinson is a relentless pass rusher who can become a defensive cornerstone in Detroit. 

3. Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Stingley wasn’t going to be picked in the top ten due to injury concerns at one time. Those concerns seem to have gone away and the Texans are banking on Stingley’s talent. One of the best cornerback prospects since Jalen Ramsey, Stingley becomes the top defender in Houston. 

4. New York Jets – Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State

Another surprise pick, as the Jets are reportedly enamored with Johnson. For good reason, too, as there’s a lot to like about his pass rushing profile. He gets off the ball quick, is quick with his hands and is strong. Johnson would become a premier pass rusher in the AFC East. 

5. New York Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Evan Neal might be the best player in the draft. The Giants strike gold with him at No. 5 here, and pair him with Andrew Thomas to create an elite tackle duo to protect Daniel Jones. 

6. Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

The Panthers could stand to take a quarterback here, but they decide to go with a player who can be their franchise left tackle. Ekwonu is an elite run blocker, and his pass protection isn’t too bad either. Adding offensive line help is a great way to improve the offense for Matt Rhule. 

7. New York Giants (from Bears) – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Giants double back in the top ten and take an elite cornerback prospect. Sauce Gardner did not allow a touchdown in coverage during his entire college career, and with James Bradberry not looking long for New York, he can become their No. 1 corner. 

8. Atlanta Falcons – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

For a team that needs to upgrade at every position, adding a pass rusher with arguably the highest upside in the draft would be huge for Atlanta. Thibodeaux is a quick, strong pass rusher and would be a defensive game-changer for the Falcons. 

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos) – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Seahawks, like the Panthers, could add a quarterback, but instead decide to get the best pass protector in the draft class. Cross has the potential to be a multiple time Pro Bowler, and Seattle can afford to add a signal caller later on. 

10. New York Jets (from Seahawks) – Drake London, WR, USC

After getting Jermaine Johnson, the Jets add a big body receiver for Zach Wilson. Standing at 6-foot-5, London is a smart, decisive route runner with great speed after the catch. He can become the favorite target for Wilson. 

11. Washington Commanders – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton is one of the best defensive prospects in the last couple of years, and the Commanders get lucky he falls to them at 11 here. Hamilton can be the leader of this already great defense, with elite instincts and sideline-to-sideline speed. 

12. Minnesota Vikings – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

One of the most massive human beings in this draft, Jordan Davis stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 341 pounds. He is an absolute disruptor at nose tackle, and would create an elite run stopper that the Vikings need in a division with great running backs. 

13. Houston Texans (from Browns) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The Texans need to build around Davis Mills, and that starts with adding a receiver with blazing speed. Jameson Williams is expected to fully recover from the torn ACL he suffered in the National Championship game, and if that’s the case, he’ll quickly become a favorite target for Mills. 

14. Baltimore Ravens – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

Shortly after Jordan Davis gets drafted, his teammate on the legendary Bulldogs defense gets drafted as well. Wyatt is just as much of a disruptor in the run game as Davis, with even higher pass rushing upside. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Eagles were a playoff team last season, and will look to build around Jalen Hurts. Adding a big time playmaker at receiver like Wilson to pair with DeVonta Smith is certainly a good way to maintain that status. 

16. New Orleans Saints – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Saints have Jameis Winston, but he is not the long-term solution at quarterback. Malik Willis could be. He has a tremendously high upside, with elite athleticism and a ridiculously strong arm. He could end up as their franchise quarterback. 

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Chargers need to add another offensive tackle to protect Justin Herbert, and Penning is the man for the job. With elite pass protecting skills and a nasty edge to his game, no pass rushers will be getting to Herbert with Penning and Rashawn Slater at the tackle spots. 

18. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints) – Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College

The Eagles could go with a linebacker here, but Howie Roseman has never done that in his many years in Philadelphia. Philadelphia should go with some insurance on the interior of their offensive line, as Johnson is one of the best blockers in the entire class. 

19. New Orleans Saints (from Eagles) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Saints need to desperately add to its WR room, and getting one of the best route runners in the class is a perfect addition. Olave is precise with his route running and has excellent hands. He is one of the safest picks in the draft. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Kenny Pickett won’t have to move far with this pick. The Steelers are looking to replace Ben Roethlisberger. Pickett was a Heisman Trophy finalist who threw for 42 touchdowns last season. 

21. New England Patriots – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

The fourth Bulldog to be selected in this first round, Walker is an instinctive linebacker who can eventually become the lead man for the Patriots’ defense. Walker recorded 39 tackles last season. 

22. Green Bay Packers (from Raiders) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The Packers taking a wide receiver in the first round? Seems almost impossible. But it is  absolutely a need and Burks is just the type of player Matt LaFleur will enjoy having in his offense. Burks is a gadget receiver, and he can play anywhere on the field. 

23. Arizona Cardinals – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Gordon might not go this high in the actual draft, but his talent level is worthy of him being selected in this range. Gordon, a 5-foot-11 defensive back, has elite measurables and possesses versatility in the defensive backfield. 

24. Dallas Cowboys – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

After losing out on Randy Gregory, the Cowboys will need to add another pass rusher opposite from Micah Parsons. Karlaftis realistically should go higher than this, but the Cowboys get lucky that he’s still here. Karlaftis has a relentless motor and a bevy of pass rush moves. 

25. Buffalo Bills – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

The second of two Washington corners to go off the board in the first round, McDuffie lands with a Super Bowl contender, and the Bills get a position of need. McDuffie is a physical corner with great speed and would bolster Buffalo’s secondary. 

26. Tennessee Titans – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Titans could go with a contingency plan for Ryan Tannehill here, but  instead Tennessee lands one of the best talents in the entire draft. Lloyd is a versatile defender who can play any linebacker position, and even rush the passer some. 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The Buccaneers lost a couple of interior linemen in free agency, but Tampa can immediately replace them with Green here. Green can play any position on the offensive line, and plays with a nonstop motor all the way through the whistle. 

28. Green Bay Packers – Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota

The Packers double back with a pass rusher after taking a receiver with its pick acquired from Vegas for Davante Adams. Mafe will be on the older side when the season starts, but he is an elite athlete off the edge.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from 49ers, through Dolphins) – Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

After Kansas City traded away Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs will need to somehow replicate his production at the wide receiver position. Watson won’t do that right away, but he has the potential to be a star, especially playing with Patrick Mahomes. He has elite size and athletic traits, and there’s no better place for him to develop. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The Chiefs add a sparring partner for Watson, as this matchup would make for some fun in practice. Booth adds secondary help for the Chiefs, as he has some of the best athleticism at the cornerback position. He has some medical concerns, but the Chiefs take a chance on the talent. 

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

The Bengals have done a nice job of adding to the offensive line to protect Joe Burrow, and they continue to do so here. Linderbaum won the Rimington Award, given to the best center in college football. 

32. Detroit Lions (from Rams) – Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

The first round begins and ends with a Bulldog, as the Lions take the rangy safety with the final pick. Cine has a great competitive edge to his game. He had 43 tackles and one interception last season.