Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray created a stir this week when he scrapped all mention of the franchise that employs him from his social media. It is likely the result of a difference in value as team and player representatives begin discussing figures of a contract extension. At the end of the day, the most likely outcome is that cooler heads prevail and the two parties move forward together.
However, for the sake of being proactive and considering all scenarios, let's say Murray decides to demand a trade between now and the 2022 NFL Draft. What options could be on the table for them? In today's thought exercise, I broach that very topic.
The 2022 NFL Draft order has been updated through the conference championships, and only two teams remain in contention for Super Bowl LVI. The order of Bengals and Rams was determined by win-loss records.
Without further ado, let's kick this thing off!
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Round 1 - Pick 1
Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE
Oregon • 6'4" / 254 lbs
There is a lot of buzz in the media that Thibodeaux is going to slide a bit in the draft. Jacksonville is bringing in a blitz-minded defensive coordinator and needs the talent to make that possible. Thibodeaux opposite Josh Allen could give the Jaguars a fear-inspiring duo.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • 6'7" / 260 lbs
Verbal Venn diagram: One circle is culture fit and the other is talent at a position of need. Hutchinson is the overlap in the middle. Dan Campbell had the emphasis kneecap-biter remark in his introductory press conference and fans saw that spirit from his team all season. It would make sense to continue leaning into that culture shift when a clear and obvious upgrade does not exist at the quarterback position.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Ekwonu has the versatility to play offensive tackle or guard. It makes the most sense to play him on the edge and hope that he becomes a bookend with Laremy Tunsil. If Houston runs it back with Davis Mills, it needs to surround him with the talent to give him a fighting chance. Through the same act, the Texans should be able to make a determination whether or not Mills is a quarterback that can be the franchise's future.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • 6'7" / 350 lbs
New York moves forward with two mammoth offensive tackles -- Mekhi Becton and Neal -- to protect Zach Wilson. If those are first off the bus players, then the Jets are going to be on the hook for replacing shocks in buses this season. Neal played right tackle in 2020 after Jedrick Wills Jr. was drafted in the first round. He moved over to left tackle this season after Alex Leatherwood was drafted in the first round. Neal is in a position to be taken higher than both.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Mississippi State • 6'5" / 311 lbs
I believe in general managers and head coaches running organized smokescreens but ownership's comments about Daniel Jones leads me to believe there is a mutual belief among leadership that they have failed Daniel Jones. Hiring Brian Daboll was one way to support Jones but I could see them leaning into the idea and drafting more offensive line help. Andrew Thomas was much-improved this season and the selection of Cross allows them to potentially solidify the other side.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Pittsburgh • 6'3" / 220 lbs
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora is hearing that the Panthers are very interested in Pickett. Owner David Tepper is a big booster for the University of Pittsburgh, which is where Pickett played, and head coach Matt Rhule had actually secured a commitment from Pickett when he was serving as the head coach at Temple. Rhule has shown an inclination to bring in players in which he has familiarity and there is no reason to think it ends with Robby Anderson and PJ Walker.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
Notre Dame • 6'4" / 220 lbs
Jabrill Peppers could be moving on this season and Hamilton is arguably the best draft prospect in this class. Hybrid players have entered the NFL in recent years with varying degrees of success but Hamilton is different. He does not sacrifice coverage ability for an enhanced playmaking ability in the box. He does not sacrifice playmaking ability in the box for enhanced coverage. He is a balanced player that can be used to cloud coverages.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Drake London WR
USC • 6'4" / 213 lbs
San Antonio Spurs teammates David Robinson and Tim Duncan carried the nickname of "The Twin Towers" because of their noteworthy height. Atlanta has their own version now with Kyle Pitts and London. If Calvin Ridley returns, then the team really has something on offense.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Denver has Bradley Chubb on the edge and now it uses a top 10 selection on Lloyd, who does a fantastic job using his hands to get off blocks or dropping into coverage. When talking about needing range out of the linebacker position, Lloyd is someone that checks the box. One has to think this selection is earmarked for Green Bay if Aaron Rodgers does become available.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
LSU • 6'1" / 195 lbs
New York bolsters its secondary with the selection of Stingley and it creates a trickle-down effect. Last year's top corner is now a secondary option and the other starter is now playing the field or coming off the bench as depth. The addition of the LSU junior was one way to improve the entire group rather than simply replacing another.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • 6'1" / 219 lbs
Not every quarterback is created equally nor is every situation. Consideration must be given to the style of quarterback and the opportunity that player would be walking into should they be chosen. For teams that feel they already have a roster ready to compete, they are probably more inclined to take a prospect more developed as a passer. In the case of Washington, Ron Rivera had Cam Newton in Carolina and Taylor Heinicke had plus mobility. The offensive line, although aged in certain aspects, is solid.
Round 1 - Pick 12
George Karlaftis EDGE
Purdue • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Minnesota's two biggest needs are probably cornerback and edge rusher. The Browns, which is where Kwesi Adofo-Mensah hails, paid big money to Jadeveon Clowney last offseason and drafted cornerback Greg Newsome II in the first round. Those are cornerstone positions and I could see Minnesota locking one down here.
Mock Trade from Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 13
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 200 lbs
Kyler Murray scrapped all mention of Arizona from his social media and it hasn't exactly been a banner year for Baker Mayfield on the field. It could be in the best interest of each to move on with their careers elsewhere. With that being said, Murray's representatives probably did not like the contract-extension figures that the Cardinals were offering and the social media purge was his way of making a statement. He is probably seeking an extension in the ballpark of Josh Allen and Arizona is not comfortable paying it given his injury history and the way the season ended. At the end of the day, this probably all gets sorted out and the two parties move on together but here is a scenario in which this could play out.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Georgia • 6'3" / 304 lbs
As I have mentioned a few times in recent mock drafts, Baltimore could lose Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams this offseason. The Ravens could conserve some salary cap space, get younger and maintain an aggressive front in the absence of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 15
Jermaine Johnson II EDGE
Florida State • 6'5" / 262 lbs
Philadelphia has a handful of needs to address: cornerback, linebacker, edge rusher and offensive guard. It is possible to address all four positions in the first two rounds. The mission begins with the selection of a Senior Bowl riser.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 16
Clemson • 6'0" / 194 lbs
The mission continues with Booth. Philadelphia played a lot of zone this season and the Clemson product has comfortability with that role. The Eagles have a dynamic pairing with Darius Slay and Booth in the present with the hope that Booth eventually becomes among the best in the league down the road.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Ohio State • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Mike Williams is a free agent. At 27 years young, he is likely hoping to cash in with a long-term deal coming off a season in which he recorded 76 receptions for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. The Chargers have a ton of cap space and could franchise tag him, capitalizing on their wealth or they could sign him to an extension and potentially move on from Keenan Allen, who would turn 31 next offseason, a year from now. It is easy to see a scenario in which Los Angeles moves on from one of those two players next year. How it wants to build its team moving forward will dictate those moves. The Chargers could see what Cincinnati did this year with three very talented wide receivers in 11 personnel, empty sets and want that for themselves.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • 6'2" / 205 lbs
New Orleans finds itself in a position where it has not been since 2006: without Sean Payton and Drew Brees. I could see the Saints trying to reinvigorate the franchise with a first-round quarterback selection. Corral is a prospect that has shown improved decision-making and an ability to get the ball out quickly.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Zion Johnson OL
Boston College • 6'3" / 316 lbs
Philadelphia continues its march to filling needs with the selection of another Senior Bowl riser. During the week in Mobile, the Boston College product was cross-trained at both center and guard. The Eagles already have a similar player on the roster in the form of Landon Dickerson. With Brandon Brooks moving on and Jason Kelce not far from it, the team is proactive in plugging holes. Having two players with the versatility to play either spot is tremendous value for the organization long-term.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Sam Howell QB
North Carolina • 6'1" / 220 lbs
Pittsburgh was said to be tightly linked to the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl last week. Division rival Baltimore executed a similar plan in 2018 when it was announced in February that general manager Ozzie Newsome would be stepping down. Two months later, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson to eventually replace Joe Flacco. The Steelers may need to trade up if they have a particular player in mind and they have shown a willingness to be aggressive in the past. They traded up 10 spots to take Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Alabama • 6'1" / 179 lbs
Although from Alabama, Mac Jones did not play with Williams. The Ohio State transfer arrived after Jones was gone but there should be some common ground having both been coached by Nick Saban. Williams is dynamic after the catch and that is what New England needs in its offense. If not for an injury, Williams likely would not be available at this stage of the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • 6'6" / 336 lbs
Las Vegas gets younger and hopefully more effective up the middle with the selection of Davis. He freed up a lot of opportunities for his Bulldogs teammates and that should also benefit Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Iowa • 6'2" / 305 lbs
After landing Gardner earlier in the round, Arizona nabs Linderbaum in the back half of the first round. The Cardinals fill two needs in an offensive makeover. Linderbaum is an athletic player who finishes with vigor in space.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Arkansas • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Although Burks has primarily operated out of the slot at Arkansas, he has the size and traits to be competitive on the boundary. Dallas will have to make decisions on Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the not-too-distant future and that could lead to the franchise supplementing the position elsewhere. If Cedrick Wilson and Gallup are gone, then it opens the door for Burks to start. If there are two things that I know, it is that Jerry Jones loves to make a splash and the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Washington • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Buffalo was backed against a wall when Tre'Davious White went down with an injury. The Bills already needed another player at the position. Teams are building out defensive backfields and that could lead the Bills to make an early investment.
Round 1 - Pick 26
David Ojabo EDGE
Michigan • 6'4" / 255 lbs
Harold Landry is a free agent and Bud Dupree was injured most of the season. Ojabo is not a perfect prospect by any means but he offers more pass-rushing potential than anyone in the class. Tennessee has been chasing that type of player for years and may have finally secured one in Ojabo.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Chris Godwin is gone this offseason. Even with the injury, I can not envision a scenario in which he wants to take less money and the team does everything in its power to make that happen after Tom Brady's announcement. In his absence, Tampa Bay drafts Olave to keep the train rolling.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Boye Mafe DL
Minnesota • 6'4" / 261 lbs
Based off 2020 film, Mafe was my No. 60 overall prospect. After watching him more, I became comfortable with his ability to maintain gap discipline in the run game even when Minnesota did not mirror that confidence. I was impressed with his ability to follow running backs out of the backfield. He does a great job of using his hands to soften the edge but needs to develop counter moves and create more interior pressure.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 29
Northern Iowa • 6'7" / 332 lbs
With Mike McDaniel walking through the door after having coached Trent Williams, I could see him being motivated to fix the left tackle issues. Penning struggled early in the week at the Senior Bowl but his tenacity bubbled to the surface by week's end.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Central Michigan • 6'6" / 303 lbs
Lucas Niang and Andrew Wylie were solid splitting the right tackle role this season but I have not seen enough to know either is the answer long-term. Raimann could complete the offensive line renovation project that was set in motion a year ago.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 323 lbs
Regardless of what happens Sunday, Cincinnati has to pour its offseason assets into the offensive line. Joe Burrow was sacked more than any other quarterback this season. While he and the team were still able to have success, he needs to be on the field and the only way to avoid what happened during his rookie season is to invest in the offensive line. Green is a more projectable guard prospect than Jackson Carman or anyone else that has tried to fill that spot in 2021.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • 5'11" / 231 lbs
Detroit adds a second hard-nosed player. The additions of Dean and Hutchinson give the Lions' defense two players who are just as satisfied doing the dirty work as they are making a play themselves. For what Campbell is trying to cultivate from a culture standpoint, he could not have done any better with these two players.