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USATSI

The 2022 NFL Draft is just days away and the anticipation is building. On Monday, we had on guests Ryan Wilson (CBS Sports Draft Insider) and Dan Schneier on the Fantasy Football Today podcast to talk about the draft and how it impacts the Fantasy Football landscape. Today, we're going to take things one step further. I'm going to do my own first-round mock draft and break down every pick with a Fantasy spin.

I hope to end up the most accurate mock of the dozens we've got on the site live now, but either way, I had fun doing this. So without further ado, let's jump right into it.

NFL Mock Draft
Round 1
Round 1 - Pick 1
Georgia • 6'5" / 275 lbs
Projected Team
Jacksonville
PROSPECT RNK
13th
POSITION RNK
1st
We love upside in Fantasy Football, and NFL general managers love upside in real life football as well! Travon Walker has a lot of upside, and the Jaguars can't resist it as they make him the top pick of the 2022 draft. Walker joins DT Foley Fatukasi, LB Foye Oluokun and CB Darious Williams as key additions on defense. The Jaguars will have to prove it before I consider them a tough matchup or a DST worth streaming.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Michigan • 6'7" / 260 lbs
Projected Team
Detroit
PROSPECT RNK
1st
POSITION RNK
1st
The Lions get the Michigan guy and the pass rusher who is most likely to contribute in 2022. With two more picks in the Top 34, they could continue to add on defense.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Oregon • 6'4" / 254 lbs
Projected Team
Houston
PROSPECT RNK
6th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Listening to our scouting/football guru Emory Hunt talk about Kayvon Thibodeaux has me convinced that he absolutely deserves to be a Top 5 selection, if not the first overall pick. This could be a steal for the Texans. The Texans have needs everywhere but having Laremy Tunsil at left tackle might make them lean pass rusher here.
Round 1 - Pick 4
NC State • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Jets
PROSPECT RNK
10th
POSITION RNK
4th
Ekwonu could go anywhere in the Top 7, including first overall. This will be the third straight season the Jets drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, but when will it start to pay off? The Jets really need better results from Mekhi Becton and of course Zach Wilson. Ekwonu will hopefully help Wilson and could help Michael Carter. If you just look at run blocking and pass blocking grades from PFF, the best rookie offensive linemen are often grading significantly higher as run blockers. I don't think 2022 is the year for the Jets, but they have drafted so many talented offensive players recently that 2023 could be a huge season for this team.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Alabama • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Giants
PROSPECT RNK
2nd
POSITION RNK
1st
The Giants have Andrew Thomas at left tackle and now Neal can play right tackle. It's possible that by 2023 the Giants could have one of the best starting offensive tackle tandems in the NFL. As mentioned in my analysis of Ikem Ekwonu going to the Jets, the best rookie offensive linemen often grade better in run blocking than pass blocking, so this pick could be a boost for Saquon Barkley. I still see the Giants as having a bad offense with a bad quarterback and this draft pick does nothing to excite me for 2022. It does, however, open the possibility of a bright future under Brian Daboll likely with a new quarterback in 2023.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Mississippi State • 6'5" / 311 lbs
Projected Team
Carolina
PROSPECT RNK
8th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Carolina has no more picks until Round 4, so bypassing a quarterback here likely means they'll be waiting for Baker Mayfield or for the 2023 NFL Draft to upgrade the position. Just like Ekwonu on the Jets and Neal on the Giants, Cross doesn't do much for the Panthers this season but is a building block for the future.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 200 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Giants
PROSPECT RNK
3rd
POSITION RNK
1st
If the Giants don't select an offense lineman at fifth overall, they will do it here. But since I have them taking Evan Neal fifth, they'll now take the top cornerback in the draft. The Giants seem likely to trade starting cornerback James Bradberry, so Gardner makes a lot of sense here.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Alabama • 6'1" / 179 lbs
Projected Team
Atlanta
PROSPECT RNK
11th
POSITION RNK
2nd
I get the sense that more evaluators would have Williams as the top wide receiver in this class if not for the torn ACL suffered in the National Championship game. Well, the Falcons aren't winning the Super Bowl in 2022, so why not take the wide receiver with the most long-term upside? Williams is an explosive playmaker and deep threat and is easy to get excited about from a Fantasy perspective. Unfortunately, Marcus Mariota will limit his 2022 potential. I view him as a Top 30-40 wide receiver this year with the Falcons, but in Dynasty he could be the first receiver selected in rookie drafts. The Falcons could easily move on from Mariota in 2023. Meanwhile, I don't think this changes anything for Kyle Pitts. If he is as good as I think he is, he'll lead the team in targets en route to a breakout season. Draft Pitts as early as Round 4.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Liberty • 6'1" / 219 lbs
Projected Team
Seattle
PROSPECT RNK
23rd
POSITION RNK
1st
Is he the next stud dual-threat quarterback or the next guy drafted way too early by a QB-needy NFL team? Let's hope it's the former as the Seahawks will gamble on the great arm and freakish athleticism of Willis. I don't think he is Fantasy-relevant in 2022, nor do I think he is the Week 1 starter. Expect some growing pains for Willis. What does it mean for Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf? It's not good. Mobile rookie quarterbacks do not put up big passing stats (that's why I faded Allen Robinson last season), but Willis probably isn't much worse than Drew Lock. Don't downgrade the Seahawks receivers too much.
Round 1 - Pick 10
LSU • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Projected Team
N.Y. Jets
PROSPECT RNK
5th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Stingely has too much talent to pass up here. It was tough to pass up on Drake London, but NFL teams often find productive wide receivers on Day Two. Look for the Jets to select a receiver with one of the two picks in round 2.
Round 1 - Pick 11
USC • 6'4" / 213 lbs
Projected Team
Washington
PROSPECT RNK
12th
POSITION RNK
3rd
He is tall and physical and can make contested catches. The Mike Evans comparisons feel accurate, and I think this is a great pick for the Commanders as Terry McLaurin looks for a new contract. Together, they could be a great wide receiver tandem, and of course, we'll be ranking McLaurin ahead of London in 2022. In fact, I don't think this addition hurts McLaurin's Fantasy value at all. McLaurin is a good enough player to overcome an addition at wide receiver. London is likely a WR4 on draft day with big potential. He's an easy Top 6 pick in dynasty rookie drafts. Great pick by Washington!
Round 1 - Pick 12
Notre Dame • 6'4" / 220 lbs
Projected Team
Minnesota
PROSPECT RNK
4th
POSITION RNK
1st
Once talked about as a Top 5 player in this class, Hamilton has been a faller in mock drafts but will not fall past the Vikings.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Ohio State • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Projected Team
Houston
PROSPECT RNK
7th
POSITION RNK
1st
Many mock drafts have Wilson as the first wide receiver selected. In his last three games at Ohio State, Wilson gained 427 scrimmage yards and scored seven total touchdowns. He ran a 4.38 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine and teams up with Brandin Cooks to give Davis Mills another receiving threat. It's not out of the question for Wilson to overtake Cooks as the top option as Cooks enters his age 29 season similar to how Justin Jefferson conquered Adam Thielen in Thielen's age 30 season. Cooks will be drafted ahead of Wilson, but I would consider this a slight downgrade for Cooks as I have plenty of doubts about this passing game and Cooks is no longer the clear-cut target dominator he was in 2021 when Nico Collins ranked second on the team with 60 targets.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Florida State • 6'5" / 262 lbs
Projected Team
Baltimore
PROSPECT RNK
19th
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Ravens were terrible against the pass last season, largely due to injuries in the secondary. Still, they need to upgrade the pass rush. Johnson was a beast at Florida State.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Georgia • 6'6" / 336 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
17th
POSITION RNK
2nd
The Eagles have some key players getting old on the defensive line and will look to replenish with the freaky athlete Jordan Davis. If the Eagles defensive line is right, this is a terrible Fantasy matchup for running backs. That wasn't the case last season but could be the case in 2022.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Purdue • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Projected Team
New Orleans
PROSPECT RNK
26th
POSITION RNK
4th
No longer can the Saints rely on an elite offense to win games and make the playoffs. To continue their success under a new coach, New Orleans needs to pressure the quarterback and they'll ask Karlaftis to help with that task.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Georgia • 6'3" / 304 lbs
Projected Team
L.A. Chargers
PROSPECT RNK
28th
POSITION RNK
4th
Teams ran all over the Chargers, so they need to beef up on the defensive line. Our Ryan Wilson says Wyatt is "not a tremendous run defender." That's not good! Here's hoping he gets better at the next level and gives the Chargers are a more balanced defense.
Round 1 - Pick 18
North Dakota State • 6'5" / 208 lbs
Projected Team
Philadelphia
PROSPECT RNK
48th
POSITION RNK
8th
This may be more wishful thinking on my part as Christian Watson is typically considered a Day Two pick, but I am so enticed by his size and speed. He is 6'4 and ran a 4.38 40! He was a man amongst boys at North Dakota State and I hope the Eagles think outside the box and make a "Watkins" upgrade as they go from Quez to Christian as a primary deep threat for Jalen Hurts. I would also hope a pick like this would make the Eagles a little less run-heavy. They were last in the NFL in pass attempts which makes the Eagles a horrible destination for any rookie wide receiver unless things change dramatically. I actually don't love Watkins in 2022 in this scenario. He's not ready to challenge DeVonta Smith (though he may hurt Dallas Goedert's value by stealing targets), but I love the pick long term. Consider this an upgrade for Hurts, no change for Smith and a downgrade for Goedert.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Northern Iowa • 6'7" / 332 lbs
Projected Team
New Orleans
PROSPECT RNK
35th
POSITION RNK
8th
The Saints need to replace LT Terron Armstead and picking Penning here makes a lot of sense. He started all 12 games in 2021 at left tackle.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Pittsburgh • 6'3" / 220 lbs
Projected Team
Pittsburgh
PROSPECT RNK
30th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Pickett feels like a good-but-not-great quarterback, but the Steelers certainly need to invest in the position and they'll take the gamble on Pickett here. In this scenario, Mitchell Trubisky begins the season as the starter but does not make it past Week 8. Don't be surprised if Pickett struggles when called upon and Diontae Johnson lets your Fantasy team down. I still like Johnson as a WR2 but I probably won't draft much of him as I cannot make a convincing case for his upside. Ideally, you want to draft wide receivers with good quarterbacks, and Pittsburgh's drafting Kenny Pickett doesn't put Diontae (or Chase Claypool) in that category.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Ohio State • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Projected Team
New England
PROSPECT RNK
29th
POSITION RNK
5th
Not the best destination for a wide receiver. I love Olave as a route runner and just a solid overall player. He might not wow you like Garrett Wilson or Jameson Williams, but Olave will produce. Unfortunately, he won't produce enough to matter in 2022 if drafted by the Patriots. This would become a crowded receiving corps that would be a headache for Fantasy. It would, however, make Mac Jones more interesting in 2-QB leagues. Olave would still be a first-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Arkansas • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Projected Team
Green Bay
PROSPECT RNK
15th
POSITION RNK
4th
Some of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the last decade have run a sub-4.5 40. That list includes Davante Adams, Dez Bryant, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and players whose first name does not begin with "d" such as Juju Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp. Basically, don't be turned off by Treylon Burks' 40 time! In fact, be extremely excited about whichever wide receiver the Packers take. It is rare for a wide receiver to be drafted by a team with a truly elite quarterback and an obvious need for a number one wide receiver. If the Packers select a wide receiver in the first round, that player will have immediate Top 10 Fantasy upside at the position. I can't imagine ranking any rookie wide receiver higher than whichever player the Packers select. In this case, it's the elite playmaker and YAC specialist Treylon Burks.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Boston College • 6'3" / 316 lbs
Projected Team
Arizona
PROSPECT RNK
32nd
POSITION RNK
7th
Johnson allowed one sack in 2021 with zero holding or false start penalties! The Cardinals were average in pass blocking and dreadful in run blocking. They need offensive linemen.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Iowa • 6'2" / 305 lbs
Projected Team
Dallas
PROSPECT RNK
9th
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Cowboys have built their recent success behind a punishing offensive line, but they need to replenish, particularly on the inside. Centers don't get drafted early in the NFL Draft, and that's why Linderbaum slips to the Cowboys here and immediately makes them better. This is great news for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Iowa State • 6'1" / 220 lbs
Projected Team
Buffalo
PROSPECT RNK
55th
POSITION RNK
2nd
Much like when I mocked Christian Watson to the Eagles at 18, this pick is probably wishful thinking. It seems like the first round will come and go without a running back selected, but not in my mock! Let's finally give the Bills a potential star at running back. He'll have to beat out Devin Singletary for the job, but first-round running backs typically beat out their competition quickly. At least one rookie running back has finished in the Top 12 in 6 of the last 7 seasons, and if the Bills draft Hall he could easily be next in line. For of those you worried about Josh Allen's rushing touchdowns, don't fret. Singletary scored 8 rushing touchdowns in the last 6 games of the season (including postseason) while Allen threw 17 touchdown passes and ran for 2 more in that stretch.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 323 lbs
Projected Team
Tennessee
PROSPECT RNK
27th
POSITION RNK
6th
A versatile lineman who can play inside or outside, Green will help solidify the Titans line that loses Rodger Saffold from last year's team.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Clemson • 6'0" / 194 lbs
Projected Team
Tampa Bay
PROSPECT RNK
16th
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Bucs have the makings of a great secondary on paper with Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting at cornerback, but the group struggled to stay healthy last season and underachieved. While Booth may not fill an immediate need, he is a good value at 27.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Georgia • 5'11" / 231 lbs
Projected Team
Green Bay
PROSPECT RNK
14th
POSITION RNK
1st
You didn't expect the Packers to take another skill position player in the first round, did you? In my mock, they already drafted a wide receiver in round 1 (Treylon Burks) for the first time since Javon Walker in 2002. They go back to the defensive side of the ball here with Dean.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Penn State • 5'11" / 182 lbs
Projected Team
Kansas City
PROSPECT RNK
42nd
POSITION RNK
7th
Dotson caught 20 touchdowns in 21 games over the final two seasons of his Penn State career. Figure he'll have more touchdown opportunities with the Chiefs! He is on the small side, but he is fast, can get open downfield and returned punts in college. Does that sound like anyone who recently played wide receiver for the Chiefs? I'm not going to call Dotson "the next Tyreek Hill" but you have to love anyone stepping into this passing game. He'll have to be better than Juju Smith-Schuster to make a big impact in 2022, and frankly I'm not sure he will be. I actually think Fantasy managers will overdraft Dotson in 2022 while Dotson makes a big jump in 2023. This helps Patrick Mahomes but not enough to move him past Josh Allen or Justin Herbert.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Washington • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Projected Team
Kansas City
PROSPECT RNK
22nd
POSITION RNK
4th
The Chiefs lost CB Charvarius Ward, CB Mike Hughes and S Daniel Sorensen. They still have some good defensive backs left but clearly need help in the secondary.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Minnesota • 6'4" / 261 lbs
Projected Team
Cincinnati
PROSPECT RNK
24th
POSITION RNK
3rd
The Bengals could certainly go offensive line here, but they go with the best player available and shore up the defensive line.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Ole Miss • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Projected Team
Detroit
PROSPECT RNK
33rd
POSITION RNK
3rd
He is a small quarterback who put up huge numbers in his last two seasons at Ole Miss. Corral led the FBS in total yards from 2020-2021. Though he is not as dynamic as Malik Willis, Corral is a dual-threat. He steps into a favorable situation as Jared Goff is replaceable and the Lions can dip into the deep wide receiver class with the second pick of round 2. If he replaces Goff at some point in 2022, I would expect growing pains for Corral and a downgrade for T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

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