The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is in less than a week, and I'm convinced it will be the most boring first round we've seen in a long time.
Now, when I say it'll be boring, I don't mean that we know what all the picks will be because we don't. I mean there won't be many trades or shocking picks. The moments when a team makes a surprising move up to grab a player are the moments you remember most from NFL drafts, but teams don't often make big moves in the first round unless they're going for a quarterback. With the 2022 QB class being what it is -- I'll be nice and label it "uninspiring" -- it's difficult to imagine a lot of movement.
If there are any trades, they're most likely to come from the teams in "win-now" mode with multiple firsts looking to move up and address an immediate need, and spoiler alert, I have one team doing just that in my final mock before the real thing happens.
Which team is moving up, and why? Keep scrolling and find out.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'6" / 265 lbs
I know there's been some smoke lately that the Jaguars will go a different direction, but I think that's all it is: smoke. Maybe they're trying to see if they can convince somebody to overspend for the pick, but if the Jaguars stay put, I don't think anybody will be all that surprised by the pick.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Kayvon Thibodeaux is my top-rated player in this class, and I don't care how many narratives surface about how much he likes playing football or not; they're meaningless. Of every player in this class, he has more Hall of Fame potential than anybody else. At the very least, he will be an excellent player for years to come.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Soph • 6'7" / 350 lbs
With so many needs it's hard to know what direction the Texans go here, but it's hard to imagine them passing up on one of the top tackles in the class if they're both still available. I have Neal going here, but it could be Ikem Ekwonu or even Charles Cross.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 200 lbs
You don't often see defensive backs going in the top five, but those who do tend to be pretty good! Gardner is a terrific prospect that fits a need for the Jets, and with two picks in the top 10, they go "against the grain" a bit.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
I have Ekwonu rated as the No. 1 tackle in the class, so congratulations to the Giants on finding somebody to play left tackle for the next decade.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
I've had the Panthers going with a QB here in a lot of my previous mocks, but I'm coming around to the idea that they'll find a veteran QB like Baker Mayfield for 2022. Matt Rhule is trying to save his job, so improving his offensive line to help his new QB is a good way to do that.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 272 lbs
Travon Walker is a lot more projection than production, but the lack of production could be more about the scheme he played in at Georgia than the player. I certainly understand why so many personnel types are high on him. I am, too. I just don't buy that he will go any earlier than this.
Mock Trade from Atlanta Falcons
Round 1 - Pick 8
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 192 lbs
The Packers are in win-now mode with an aging great at QB, and they're in serious need of WR help after dealing Davante Adams. So instead of waiting to see what's around late in the first, they trade their two picks to a rebuilding Atlanta team to grab the top WR on their board before somebody else can.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 9
LSU • Soph • 6'0" / 190 lbs
I wouldn't consider corner to be Seattle's most pressing need, but Stingley is a remarkable value for the Seahawks at this spot. There are concerns about his lack of production over the last few years, but a pandemic and LSU being a clown car played a role in that.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Alabama • Soph • 6'2" / 189 lbs
There's a good chance Williams isn't ready for the start of the season, but he's an excellent fit for what the Jets do on offense and with Zach Wilson. He has plenty of experience in an RPO-based offense at Alabama and can stretch any defense vertically.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Notre Dame • Soph • 6'4" / 220 lbs
This is a best-player-available situation for Washington. There are bigger needs on the roster than safety, and some wonder just what Hamilton will be at the next level, but he has a chance to be an excellent player for years to come.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 193 lbs
The only knock I have on McDuffie is his length. It's not an insignificant concern, and it affects his ceiling as an NFL player, but everything else he does is so smooth and effective that I'm willing to take the risk on him becoming a plus value player in your secondary.
From Cleveland Browns
Round 1 - Pick 13
Jermaine Johnson II EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'5" / 262 lbs
The Texans address two high-value positions with their first-round picks, grabbing Evan Neal at No. 3 and now the best pass-rusher left on the board in Johnson. Johnson doesn't have the ceiling as a pure pass-rusher that Aidan Hutchinson does, but Kayvon Thibodeaux is the only other guy in this draft that's as complete as he is against both the run and the pass.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 336 lbs
I've gone on the record a few times that I'm skeptical about how valuable Davis can be for a team because you don't often see interior linemen suddenly develop the ability to rush the passer when they weren't able to do so in college. That said, you also don't see many prospects like Jordan Davis! If anybody can do it, I'd bet on him to be the one.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 15
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 187 lbs
Olave doesn't have the highest ceiling of the receivers in this class, but he's the most NFL-ready. He is a smooth route-runner that uses excellent footwork and change of direction to create separation and catch darn near everything he gets his hands on. Don't be surprised if he has the best rookie season of any of the receivers taken this year.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 16
Sam Howell QB
North Carolina • Soph • 6'1" / 220 lbs
And our first QB to come off the board is North Carolina's Sam Howell. I wouldn't want Howell running the show right away, but he has a big arm and excellent mobility. Still, he needs to do a better job of hanging in the pocket before taking off, but that could be due to playing behind a shaky offensive line the last couple of years.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Drake London WR
USC • Soph • 6'4" / 213 lbs
Keenan Allen will turn 30 next week and the Chargers need to consider replacement plans for a player who has been so valuable to them. Drake London is not the same player Allen is, but he could prove to be a valuable weapon and dangerous pairing with Justin Herbert.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 18
George Karlaftis EDGE
Purdue • Soph • 6'4" / 263 lbs
I think Karlaftis is tapped out on his potential, which would make me extremely hesitant to take him early in the first, but I'd be more than happy getting him at a spot like this. He's one of the strongest players I've seen at the college level the last few years, and it was often comical watching him overpower offensive linemen.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 19
Central Michigan • Soph • 6'6" / 303 lbs
Raimann is the lottery ticket of offensive tackles in this draft class. He's a tremendous athlete that you'd swear should not be as strong as he is when looking at him, and he has terrific hands for somebody who has only been playing the position for two years. That said, he's only been playing the position for two years, and he wasn't facing a lot of NFL players at Central Michigan.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Soph • 6'1" / 219 lbs
Speaking of lottery tickets, in a QB class without a consensus No. 1 choice, Willis is the most enticing prospect of the bunch. There's a lot of ironing out to his game that needs to be done, but if it clicks, he's going to be a superstar. Pittsburgh is a terrific landing spot for him due to its established culture and the fact the Steelers won't need him to play right away.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Soph • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Linebackers are the new running backs in that it doesn't matter how good they are; you just don't see them going early in drafts as much as you used to. Don't let Lloyd falling this far fool you. He's a terrific prospect that could flourish in New England's defense.
Mock Trade from Green Bay Packers
Round 1 - Pick 22
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 304 lbs
The Falcons move down and use the first of the two picks they get from the Packers on one of my favorite prospects in the class. Wyatt flew under the radar on a Georgia defense with mouth-watering talent everywhere you looked, but if you did look, you saw an interior lineman who showed more ability to collapse the pocket than Jordan Davis did.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Soph • 5'11" / 182 lbs
I've had the Cardinals going with a corner in most of my mocks because I see it as a bigger need, but I've gotten the sense that they're more interested in replacing Christian Kirk in the first round. Dotson is one of the more difficult receivers to cover in this class and can be used in different spots and ways. He'll likely be used more in the slot, but I think he's fine on the outside, too.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Soph • 5'11" / 231 lbs
Again, linebackers are the new running backs. You can find great ones later and later, and that's what the Cowboys do here with Dean. He has sideline-to-sideline range and displays a preternatural ability to diagnose plays before they happen. I assume he sleeps in the film room.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Baylor • Soph • 5'11" / 198 lbs
I love Pitre and the closer we get to the draft, the more convinced I become that he'll be snapped up by somebody in the latter third of the first round. Buffalo makes a lot of sense.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Iowa • Soph • 6'2" / 305 lbs
Honestly, if you were to design a center in a lab, they would come out looking very similar to Linderbaum. He'll be a perennial All-Pro barring injury and is an excellent fit for a smashmouth offense like the Titans.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • Soph • 6'1" / 191 lbs
It's not the biggest need in Tampa, but you can never have enough defensive backs in the NFL these days, and I love Elam's playmaking ability. He's not a shutdown corner, but he's strong in coverage and shows a knack for finding the football.
Mock Trade from Green Bay Packers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 200 lbs
There's an argument that, if not for a torn ACL that cost him most of the 2022 season, Pickens could be the top receiver in the class. As good as this WR class is, there aren't many who can match Pickens' combination of size, length and speed. He reminds me a bit of CeeDee Lamb coming out of Oklahoma.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 29
The Chiefs could easily go for a receiver to replace Tyreek Hill, but I don't think Kansas City sees the WR position as a glaring need. At least, not to the extent the rest of us do. Instead, I have them snapping up a ready-made Tyrann Mathieu replacement.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Arnold Ebiketie EDGE
Penn State • Soph • 6'3" / 256 lbs
They then follow up the Hill pick by addressing another need on the defensive side of the ball with Ebiketie. He's not the most impressive athletically, but he does a good job of keeping tackles guessing and off-balance. He's also just as valuable against the run.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Soph • 6'4" / 323 lbs
The Bengals should never stop addressing their offensive line at this point. They have everything they need on offense, so protecting Joe Burrow is of the utmost importance, and even if Green's strength is at guard, he has a real chance to be one of the best guards in the league. That's excellent value at pick 31.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 207 lbs
I considered taking Lewis Cine or Jaquan Brisker here, but there's a good chance Detroit can get either one at No. 34. They're better off taking a shot on a quarterback to get the fifth-year option.