With the 2021 NFL season now in the books, all eyes turn towards the offseason. Teams seek to fill the holes on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Some have more needs than others. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we will do our best to meet those needs.
Jacksonville Jaguars-Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars need to keep Trevor Lawrence on his feet, plain and simple. Neal is the safest tackle prospect in this class. Surprisingly nimble for a man of his size, Neal can protect the blindside of Lawrence, or slide to the right side and form a bookend with Cam Robinson
Detroit Lions-Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
The most refined edge rusher of this class, Hamilton can come in and make an immediate impact on a Lions team that was feisty in 2021.
Houston Texans-Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Texans have a lot of needs, so giving them the best player in this draft makes the most sense. Hamilton is the ultimate chess piece, who can be a single high safety, down in the box, slot corner coverage, or even rushing the passer. He will instantly upgrade a subpar Houston defense which could be losing Justin Reid to free agency.
New York Jets-Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The Jets opt to fortify the trenches with their first pick of this round. With Mekhi Becton facing some uncertainty, Ekwonu can step in and be a mean protector for Zach Wilson on his left side. Ekwonu is a road grader, with nastiness in his game. His pass protection could use a little work, but his upside is enormous, and he already is an elite run blocker.
New York Giants-Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
The Giants get an elite pass rusher to fall into their laps at pick 5. Thibodeaux would be the first player off the board in most drafts, but concerns about his work ethic and character cause him to fall a few spots. The Giants have been missing an alpha pass rusher since Jason Pierre-Paul, and Thibodeaux makes an elite pairing with promising youngster Azeez Ojulari.
Carolina Panthers-Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
Sam Darnold was not the answer, and neither was a past his prime Cam Newton. The Panthers have the weapons on offense to be a decent team. Kenny Pickett can be the QB to lead them to the playoffs and beyond for the future. Pickett has a strong frame at 6’3 and 220lbs, and has the mobility to run when he needs to and avoid oncoming rushers.
New York Giants (Via Chicago Bears)-Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi
The Giants have committed to building around Daniel Jones for 2022, and the best way to see what he has is to keep him on his feet with good pass protection. Charles Cross is the best pure pass protector in this draft class. He has some concerns in the run game, but Brian Daboll will be running a scheme that is pass heavy. Cross will pair nicely with stud left tackle Andrew Thomas, and form an an excellent duo at the tackle spots.
Atlanta Falcons-Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
It seems more and more likely by the day that Calvin Ridley and the Falcons will seek to part ways. If this is the case, Atlanta will need to add reinforcements to the receiver room, or else Kyle Pitts will be double or triple teamed every game. Wilson is one of the better receivers out of college who can do amazing things when he has the ball in his hands. With an aging QB in Matt Ryan, it is key to give him a WR who can take short passes and turn them into big plays.
Denver Broncos-Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
It would not surprise me if this pick was traded to the Packers as part of an Aaron Rodgers trade, but in this mock Denver stays put and takes a three level playmaker in Devin Lloyd. He can line up as an edge to rush the passer, drop back into coverage on tight ends and running backs, and even
New York Jets (Via Seattle Seahawks)-Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Robert Saleh likes to build his teams around an elite defense, and this selection goes a long way towards doing that. Gardner is the best man coverage corner in the draft, with fluid hips and good reaction time to keep pace with faster and more athletic receivers. He and Bryce Hall make an excellent tandem on the back end.
Washington Commanders-Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Commanders finally solve their long standing quarterback problem. Willis has the most upside out of any QB in this draft class. He put on a clinic at the Senior Bowl, showcasing his cannon arm and elite speed. He will immediately make Washington a better team, and with an already elite level defense, could be enough to push them into playoff contention.
Minnesota Vikings-David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan
The Vikings have a few needs on their defense, but finding an edge rusher to take the heat off of star pass rusher Daniele Hunter should be their top priority. Ojabo is explosive off the edge, and displays excellent speed to get around offensive tackles. He could use some work in run defense, but he can come in right away and be a force on passing downs.
Cleveland Browns-Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Cleveland is in desperate need of another offensive playmaker, with Jarvis Landry getting older and David Njoku a free agent. Burks can come in and be a big body wide receiver for a sometimes inaccurate Baker Mayfield. Burks is a physical freak at 6’5 and 225lbs, with an enormous catch radius, making him a perfect red zone target.
Baltimore Ravens-Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Following the trade of Orlando Brown to the Chiefs, the Ravens attempted to fill his shoes by signing Alejandro Villanueva. The move was not too successful, as Villaneuva allowed 9 sacks and 11 penalties in his age 34 season. A bookend to Ronnie Stanley is a must have this offseason to protect Lamar Jackson. At 6’7 and 330lbs, Penning is a freak of nature who plays with a nasty streak, especially in the run game. This will serve him well in a run first Baltimore offense
Philadelphia Eagles (Via Miami Dolphins)-Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
The first of 3 picks in the first round for the Eagles, and they land a guy who could easily end up being the best corner in this draft. Stingley displays elite playmaking, and a penchant for clutch stops. He can come up and stop the run, and is an excellent ballhawk, nabbing 6 interceptions in his one healthy season in 2019. The injuries are a concern, which is why he slips to pick 15. Philly is delighted to get a running mate for Darius Slay.
Philadelphia Eagles (Via Indianapolis Colts)-Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Another pick to boost the Eagle defense. Dean has ridiculous speed for a linebacker, and can keep up with running backs and tight ends in coverage, while also being used as a blitzer. The Eagles needed a captain on their defense, and Dean can be that man,
Los Angeles Chargers-Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Linval Joseph and Justin Jones are entering free agency, leaving a hole in the middle of the defensive line. Who better to fill it than the 340lb Davis? His extreme length and size will force teams to commit two linemen to blocking him, and he can push the pocket in the passing game with strong bull rush moves. This allows more opportunities for Joey Bosa on the outside as well.
New Orleans Saints-Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
The Saints may finally be facing a rebuild. Even if they are choosing to compete with the roster they currently have, they need an upgrade at QB. Matt Corral can be their franchise quarterback, and lead them into the future. Corral is an athletic type of QB, who moves well in the pocket, and can extend plays to make something happen. Saints fans will be happy to see this after watching an aging Drew Brees and Jameis Winston struggle.
Philadelphia Eagles-Tyler Lindsrbaum, C, Iowa
The Eagles get a replacement for the aging Jason Kelce, who is contemplating retirement, by plucking the best center prospect in ages. Linderbaum is amazingly fast for a guy who is 289 pounds. If you watch his game tape, he routinely gets to the second level and demolishes his blocks. Jalen Hurts will appreciate this selection as well, as Linderbaum is strong in pass protection and has an incredible football IQ, picking up stunts and blitzes before they happen.
Pittsburgh Steelers-Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Following the retirement of longtime QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are left searching for the next franchise centerpiece. Sam Howell can step in and be the QB of the future, Howell is quick to read the field, and get the ball out fast before any pressure comes. He has power behind his throws as well, and is strong in the intermediate passing game. He is a physical runner as well, not afraid to run through defenders to pick up yards.
New England Patriots-Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
J.C Jackson is a free agent, and will command an extremely large contract, something Bill Belichek and Co. have been reluctant to hand out in the past (See Trey Flowers, Nate Solder, Kyle Van Noy). The Pats snap up his replacement with the selection of McDuffie, a versatile player who can play in multiple schemes. McDuffie is a former track star who has the speed to match with burners downfield, and the anticipation to read the play before it happens. New England values intelligence on the field, and McDuffie brings strong play and a high football IQ.
Las Vegas Raiders-Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Josh McDaniels wants to build his offense to help Derek Carr as much as possible, and he gives him another weapon in Chris Olave. One of the best route runners in this draft class, Olave can find the holes in zone coverage, and has the quickness and cutting ability to beat man coverage.
Arizona Cardinals-Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
I was tempted to mock a WR at this pic, with A.J Green and Christian Kirk entering free agency. I am of the belief Arizona will address that position in free agency. Thus, they can take the best player possible, who in this case is Florida CB Kaiir Elam. A great man coverage corner, he has the speed to keep up with faster wideouts, and the physicality to press up at the line of scrimmage. He can shadow the number one WR on the opposing team, and would make life miserable for Cooper Kupp, D.K Metcalf, and the other top WRs of the NFC West.
Dallas Cowboys-George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
The Cowboys hit a home run with their selection of Micah Parsons last year, and hope to repeat the process with this pick. Karlaftis is a monster at 6’4 and 275lbs, who uses his power to simply run through offensive linemen to get to the QB. He has the ability to line up inside as well, and can command double teams. His power, combined with the speed of Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, makes the Cowboys pass rush very scary.
Buffalo Bills-Travon Walker, IDL, Georgia
Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are free agents this offseason, and are frankly towards the end of their careers, as they would both be 34 next season. Travon Walker would make another excellent addition to the front 7 the Bills have been building. Walker has the ability to line up as an edge rusher, or get his hands in the ground and push the pocket as a defensive lineman. His versatility makes him a fun piece to use, along with youngsters Gregory Rousseau and Ed Oliver.
Tennessee Titans-Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
The Titans simply need to find more playmakers for Ryan Tannehill. Julio Jones and A.J Brown suffer from the injury bug, and tight end Anthony Firkser is a free agent. Tennessee gets arguably the best TE in the draft to come in and be a red zone force. McBride is a solid route runner can go up and highpoint 50/50 balls, and use his size and catch radius to get in proper position. He still needs work as a run blocker, but the Titans need his receiving chops more than anything else.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Buccanneers are a mess on offense. Tom Brady has retired. Rob Gronkowski will likely follow him. Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, and Ronald Jones are all heading into free agency. If Tampa Bay wants to try and stay competitive for whatever QB they bring in, they need to have weapons besides Mike Evans. Jameson Williams is coming off of a bad injury in the college national championship, but has elite separation skills and speed to get open.
Green Bay Packers-Drake London, WR, USC
Aaron Rodgers finally gets a first round receiver! London is a tall drink of water at 6’5 and 210lbs. He uses his size to make catches in tight windows, and is able to run any route asked of him. Rodgers can turn him into an elite WR in no time.
Miami Dolphins (Via San Francisco 49ers)-Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
The Dolphins’ one and only goal this offseason is to improve the offensive line, which was simply a disaster in 2021. Here, they get a mauler of a player in Darian Kinnard. A right tackle in college, Kinnard will likely shift over to guard, where he can do his best work as a powerful run blocker. His pass protection would be superior on the interior, as his size puts him at a disadvantage against speed rushers when at tackle.
Kansas City Chiefs-Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Chiefs fans know all too well how often Daniel Sorensen was getting beat in coverage, and they can finally breathe easy as Kansas City grabs his replacement. Hill has blazing speed, running a 4.30 40-yard dash as a high school prospect, and has the ability to play nickel corner as well as a traditional safety.
Cincinnati Bengals-Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
Much like the Dolphins, the Bengals main goal of the offseason is to protect their quarterback. Joe Burrow was on his back more times than Cincinnati would have liked. Jonah Williams is a good left tackle, but every other spot is in need of an upgrade. Here, Johnson comes in to boost the interior offensive line. A powerful road grader, Johnson can play both guard spots or center.
Detroit Lions (Via Los Angeles Rams)-Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Lions choose to wait one more year for a QB, as they will not be close to competing soon anyway. Here, they pick up a weapon to pair with rookie sensation Amon-Ra St. Brown. Dotson is a burner, who can take the top off the defense, and has the big play ability to take short passes to the house.