There was some movement in the 2022 NFL Draft this week, and that leads to some fresh scenarios in first-round projections. While two teams seemingly took themselves out of the quarterback market, two new teams potentially entered the conversation. We explore what Washington may do at No. 11 overall in wake of trading for Carson Wentz and what Seattle could try to accomplish with the No. 9 overall selection after sending Russell Wilson to Denver. Jacksonville makes No. 1 overall selection for first time since franchise tagging Cam Robinson.
Without further ado, let's kick this thing off!
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Round 1 - Pick 1
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Soph • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Despite Jacksonville's decision to franchise tag Cam Robinson, I do not necessarily think it means it is not taking an offensive lineman. The franchise tag gives the Jaguars flexibility to make other moves without exposing Trevor Lawrence. I will be monitoring their actions in free agency very closely.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'7" / 268 lbs
Until I move off an offensive tackle with the No. 1 overall selection, Hutchinson is going to be the choice at No. 2 overall. He is a strong player who fits into the culture Dan Campbell is trying to cultivate in the Motor City. Hutchinson jerseys are going to be flying off the shelves in Detroit.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
If Houston is committed to trading Laremy Tunsil, then it needs to replace that loss of talent if it is to give Davis Mills a fair evaluation. Ekwonu helps bridge the gap from the loss of Tunsil. If the Texans keep Tunsil, then it opens the door for other positions like edge rusher and cornerback.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
The talk of Thibodeaux falling has gotten overblown. He is too talented to fall outside of the top 10 for the reasons being thrown around. New York would be wise to take him knowing it has veterans like Carl Lawson and Quinnen Williams in that locker room.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 200 lbs
When Gardner ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, his time came in unofficially and it was a good time. When it was corrected to 4.41 seconds, it caught your attention. Here is a man coverage cornerback who has length and plays with physicality that now has certified speed vertically. At that speed, he is in the same testing bucket as players like Desean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders and Tyler Lockett.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 311 lbs
What is Carolina going to do at quarterback? If it wants a quarterback who can come in and contribute immediately, then it is probably perusing the veteran market. If the Panthers are looking for more long-term stability at the position, then the draft could be the way to go. In this scenario, they land a veteran quarterback who does not cost more than a Day 2 pick and draft the best among the perceived top group of offensive linemen.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
Georgia • Soph • 6'5" / 272 lbs
Without a doubt one of the biggest risers in Indianapolis, Walker leaps off the board to the Giants. When talking about his athletic testing performance, he is up there with the Myles Garretts of the world. However, he is far less polished as a pass rusher than Garrett was coming out. Georgia simply did not ask him to work vertically often. Walker's trajectory could be more similar to Rashan Gary, who was drafted No. 12 overall in 2019 but has emerged as a key contributor for that Green Bay defense.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Soph • 6'1" / 219 lbs
There is some discussion that Matt Ryan may not be back in the fold, which is difficult to believe considering the financials. We have seen some exorbitant cap charges traded, but Ryan is an entirely different ball game. Whether Ryan is on the roster or not, it makes sense for Atlanta to draft a quarterback. In the event that the veteran is on the roster, there is no better mentor for a young quarterback.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 9
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Soph • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Seattle walked into the Tuesday meeting for Quarterbacks Anonymous and introduced themselves as the new team in the market. With Russell Wilson no longer in the picture, there are two options: 1) start Drew Lock/Geno Smith in 2022 and attempt to get a quarterback next year, or 2) take a quarterback this year and ride out the storm. In this scenario, the Seahawks ride out the storm with Corral.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Notre Dame • Soph • 6'4" / 220 lbs
General manager Joe Douglas is a decision-maker who has made great decisions since arriving in the Big Apple. I understand the franchise traded Jamal Adams, but Hamilton is arguably the best prospect in the class and is still available for the Jets' second first-round pick. Derek Stingley Jr. is very enticing, but Hamilton seems like a safer bet.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Drake London WR
USC • Soph • 6'4" / 213 lbs
Carson Wentz has arrived in the nation's capital, and that means Washington needs to have a strong run game. Unfortunately, I like Antonio Gibson, so the only way to do that would be to upgrade the interior offensive line (who knows if Brandon Scherff is returning), and it is too early for that discussion. Instead, the Commanders add a big body at wide receiver who can go up and win some of those "best of luck in your future endeavors" passes.
Round 1 - Pick 12
LSU • Soph • 6'0" / 190 lbs
It is the question as old as time with Minnesota, which comes first: the cornerback or the edge rusher? Fans could make a case for Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II here, but Stingley is a better overall talent when performing at his peak. The Vikings have had better luck with edge rushers than cornerbacks, so maybe they are gun shy to return to the latter well.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Cleveland is on the border of getting great value and finding zero options on the table. The Browns are one of the teams who could benefit the most from some quarterback action in the top 10. The Browns have done a great job of taking advantage of the board in recent years. If one of those blue-chip talents at wide receiver or edge rusher falls to them, that is the ideal scenario.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Soph • 6'6" / 336 lbs
Davis delivered one of the combine performances to remember in Indianapolis last week. Teams who do not envision him being a three-down player will still have a difficult time justifying the use of a top 15 pick, but Baltimore is one of the teams that still values a heavier interior defensive lineman. The Ravens get younger and cheaper with the addition of the Bulldog.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Jermaine Johnson II EDGE
Florida State • Soph • 6'5" / 262 lbs
I am doubting that Johnson is still on the board at this point in the actual draft, but it worked out today for the Eagles. Philadelphia gets a core piece to its defensive front for the next decade and still has two picks in the first-round to make a big splash. Johnson, a Georgia transfer, is the third former Bulldog defensive lineman taken in the first round. Spoiler: he will not be the last.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 16
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Soph • 6'3" / 235 lbs
Lloyd did not test as well in the 40-yard dash as one would like, but the tape does not show a player with limited range. He may fall a little further than anticipated, but this is a player who teams are going to be comfortable taking in the first round. The Eagles have a need at the position as they continue renovating that front seven.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 304 lbs
Wyatt is a bit older than the average prospect expected to be taken in the first round, and that could lead some teams to shy away. Los Angeles understands the type of talent that he is and is willing to take a chance on his shorter-term potential because of the team's need for interior pass rush and run defense.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Pittsburgh • Soph • 6'3" / 220 lbs
To me, Pickett looks like the quarterback prospect most ready to compete right now. There are going to be teams that take issue with his below-average hand size, but the Saints play in a dome against predominantly southern teams. If there was an ideal situation for him, New Orleans may be that team.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 193 lbs
Philadelphia caps its defensive overhaul with the addition of McDuffie. The Eagles complete the night with Jermaine Johnson II, Devin Lloyd and now McDuffie. Those choices are not going to answer the questions about the offense as a whole, but it will go a long way towards ensuring stability on the defensive side of the ball.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Cincinnati • Soph • 6'3" / 207 lbs
If Pittsburgh was drawn to Malik Willis, who was taken much earlier, then it stands to reason that it could be looking for a quarterback with a more accurate profile. Ridder had some accuracy issues that I was down on, but some believe that is an easy fix by drilling in footwork mechanics. If that is the case, then I can understand why a team would be drawn to the Bearcat.
Mock Trade from New England Patriots
Round 1 - Pick 21
Iowa • Soph • 6'2" / 305 lbs
Cincinnati once took Billy Price in the first round, and that particular gamble did not pay off. However, Linderbaum is a higher quality talent than Price was coming out. He is a monster in space. The Bengals get a bit aggressive to ensure they get one of the top offensive linemen available in the class. I could also understand targeting Trevor Penning in this instance, but the chatter coming out of Cincinnati is a larger focus on the interior offensive line. New England receives No. 31 overall, No. 63 overall and No. 95 overall. Cincinnati gets this choice as well as No. 85 overall.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Alabama • Soph • 6'1" / 180 lbs
Williams would have been in contention to be the first wide receiver taken had it not been for his ACL injury. With speed to burn, the Alabama product adds an explosive element to Las Vegas' offense, allowing Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to work the short to intermediate.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • Soph • 6'1" / 191 lbs
Arizona addresses a need at cornerback with the selection of Elam. Often overlooked when discussing the top options at the position, Elam is a bigger cornerback with good production over the last three years. He has averaged two interceptions per season, with half of those coming against SEC competition.
Round 1 - Pick 24
George Karlaftis EDGE
Purdue • Soph • 6'4" / 263 lbs
I like Karlaftis' game a lot, but his trip to Indianapolis was a mixed bag. He had shorter arms than you'd like and declined to run a 3-cone drill, which measures the agility and change of direction that so many desperately wanted to see from him. There is talk that Randy Gregory or Demarcus Lawrence could be out in Dallas, so Karlaftis is an easy addition.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Soph • 5'11" / 182 lbs
With Emmanuel Sanders gone and Cole Beasley being granted permission to seek a trade, Buffalo has a need for that speed element in the pass game. Penn State's Dotson has good size for the role and has shown versatility to work all three levels of the field. Keep the cupboard stocked for Josh Allen.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Soph • 6'0" / 187 lbs
Whether this year or next, Tennessee is going to move on from Julio Jones sooner rather than later. If that happens this offseason, then the Titans would already have his replacement. If he returns, then the team has insurance at the position and a prospect who can take over once Jones is gone. More and more teams are subscribing to the idea that you need three wide receivers or more in today's NFL.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Zion Johnson OL
Boston College • Soph • 6'3" / 316 lbs
Tampa Bay is in a position where they could lose Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet in the same offseason. Zero teams are able to sustain that amount of loss to the interior offensive line, especially considering the loss of Tom Brady. Brady makes the life of an offensive lineman so much easier because they know where he is going to be in the pocket at all times. Kyle Trask is going to need that security bolstered if they expect him to perform well and play with confidence.
Round 1 - Pick 28
David Ojabo EDGE
Michigan • Soph • 6'4" / 265 lbs
There has already been discussion that Green Bay is moving on from Za'Darius Smith. It could also move on from Preston Smith knowing that it is a deep year for the edge rusher position. The cumulative salary cap savings of both Smiths is close to $28 million while embracing a new era with Rashan Gary and Ojabo.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 29
Northern Iowa • Soph • 6'7" / 325 lbs
I do not expect Penning to be available at this stage of the first round in the actual draft. However, when working through picks, you realize some outcomes are a little more realistic than it seems. It is similar to NFL power rankings: you can argue 15 different teams as being worthy of the top 10, but it does not change the fact that there are only 10 picks.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Arkansas • Soph • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Burks is an interesting case. He did not test well in vertical speed, explosion or change of direction. We can talk about running the gauntlet and other on-field drills, but those raw athletic testing results are going to be a bit concerning for teams. Do I think his talent is any different today than it was two weeks ago? No, but when everyone is talking about the wide receiver group being clustered, teams will rely on testing results to break ties. It could result in Burks going later than what many initially expected, and Kansas City is not asking too many questions.
Mock Trade from Cincinnati Bengals
Round 1 - Pick 31
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Soph • 5'11" / 231 lbs
After trading back with Cincinnati, New England picks up a hard-nose linebacker who plays the game fast, but smart. His size may be below average, but he scored very high on the "intangibles that Bill Belichick likes in a linebacker" test. At 31 years old, Dont'a Hightower is entering free agency coming off a year in which he did not perform the way Foxboro is accustomed to him performing.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
Georgia • Soph • 6'3" / 200 lbs
Prior to his ACL injury, Pickens was in the conversation as being one of the best wide receivers available in the 2022 NFL Draft. When he returned, it was in a limited role, and that meant talk surrounding Pickens has been relatively quiet. There is nothing quiet about a 6-foot-3 wide receiver running a 4.47-second 40-yard dash. He is of slender build but has as much potential to become a No. 1 wide receiver as anyone in this class.