The 2022 NFL Draft is officially one week away and projections become reality.
It has become increasingly difficult to project where the quarterbacks are going to go in this class and that has been the lynchpin for other decisions. If Carolina's leadership feels that they have to win now, it would stand to reason that their interest in Baker Mayfield -- rather than a rookie -- is genuine. Would Atlanta take a quarterback after bypassing on a stronger group last year? Is Seattle willing to begin a rebuild with 70-year old Pete Carroll as head coach? All of those questions and more are explored in today's thought exercise.
Without further ado, let's kick this thing off!
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Round 1 - Pick 1
Georgia • 6'5" / 275 lbs
Smoke is billowing out of Jacksonville that the Jaguars are still torn at No. 1 overall with Walker being one of the players under consideration. It could be a smokescreen in the end but there is little reason to create one unless they are trying to entice another team to trade up.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Aidan Hutchinson EDGE
Michigan • 6'7" / 260 lbs
If Jacksonville ultimately reverses course and takes Walker No. 1 overall, no one would be happier than Detroit. The Lions would keep a Wolverine home at a position of need. Hutchinson also checks the box of being a cultural fit.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OL
NC State • 6'4" / 320 lbs
Despite the extension for Laremy Tunsil, it does not necessarily solidify his stance with the organization long-term. It is not only conceivable, but likely that they would move on from him next off-season. Tunsil is slated to carry a cap hit of $35.2 million whereas cutting him would save $19 million towards the salary cap. Ekwonu raises the floor of the starting five this season while also allowing them some flexibility into the future.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE
Oregon • 6'4" / 254 lbs
Teams that want an edge rusher need to act quick and I believe the Jets want an edge rusher. Although there is no Myles Garrett-type prospect in this class, Thibodeaux is the closest to reaching a similar threshold right now. With the return of a healthy Carl Lawson, New York has created a front capable of taking some of the pressure off of that secondary.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • 6'7" / 350 lbs
With both of the top cornerback options still on the board, the Giants can afford to wait until their next pick. Meanwhile, Carolina poses a threat of taking Neal at No. 6 overall. New York sticks and picks the Alabama lineman with experience playing guard as well as both tackle positions. He will slot in at right tackle opposite Andrew Thomas.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Mississippi State • 6'5" / 311 lbs
It could be a smokescreen but I am starting to believe that Carolina is not going to take a quarterback. Team leadership understands that their jobs could be on the hot seat this season, which puts an emphasis on winning now as opposed to waiting to see whether or not a rookie is going to reach his potential. Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold competing is not an ideal situation but that could ultimately be the outcome. A trade would probably entail some conditions attached to a 2023 NFL Draft pick.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 200 lbs
New York trusted their plan and were rewarded with Gardner still being on the board at No. 7 overall. It still sounds as though James Bradberry is going to be traded before the draft so that makes a player of Gardner's caliber much more necessary.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Alabama • 6'1" / 179 lbs
The top wide receiver comes down to two players: Garrett Wilson and Williams. Wilson could be the option for a team that is in need of a player ready to hit the ground running in training camp. Williams may require a little more time as he recovers from an injury but he offers more upside. Atlanta can afford to wait and bring him into the fold.
From Denver Broncos
Round 1 - Pick 9
Jermaine Johnson II EDGE
Florida State • 6'5" / 262 lbs
Seattle has a lot of needs, including quarterback, yet it is difficult to see them starting a rebuild right now with a 70-year old head coach. Johnson gives them the quality edge rusher that they have been chasing for a long time. I maintain that they are a potential suitor for Baker Mayfield as well.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 10
Drake London WR
USC • 6'4" / 213 lbs
My argument for the Jets picking London is the same as it has been: when Zach Wilson was in college, he earned his reputation by moving the pocket, extending plays and making off-platform jump ball throws downfield to bigger receivers. London allows Wilson some of that creativity.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Notre Dame • 6'4" / 220 lbs
Washington is a team that does not have an extensive list of needs so taking a safety is less of a sacrifice for them. Hamilton is a smart, versatile player that should take some of the responsibility off of Kamren Curl's plate. He can erase tight ends while playing downhill and making plays in space.
Round 1 - Pick 12
LSU • 6'1" / 195 lbs
The odds of Stingley lasting until No. 12 overall diminished after his Pro Day and yet there are scenarios where he is still available. It is an easy selection for first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as Stingley is a potentially elite player at a premier position that also happens to be a position of need. The fact that former LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson is there to advise him is an added bonus.
Mock Trade from Houston Texans
Round 1 - Pick 13
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • 6'1" / 219 lbs
If Pittsburgh sees Malik Willis fall out of the top ten, they are not going to risk any of those teams in the mid to late teens taking him. They traded up a few years ago for Devin Bush so it makes more sense when a quarterback is on the line. Houston acquires a future 2nd round pick as more ammunition in a possible trade next year.
Round 1 - Pick 14
George Karlaftis EDGE
Purdue • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Karlaftis is a great fit for Baltimore. He is going to set the edge in the ground game while applying power to condense the pocket. Meanwhile, they have a more athletic Odafe Oweh operating on the opposite side. They are great complements to each other.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Washington • 5'11" / 195 lbs
I think Philadelphia is going to be able to wait and get a good linebacker on Day 2 so an emphasis is placed more on cornerback, defensive front seven and wide receiver. They close one of those rings with the selection of McDuffie, who is a zone cornerback out of Washington.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 16
Northern Iowa • 6'7" / 332 lbs
Left tackle and wide receiver are the two positions most commonly associated with New Orleans. With the first of two Round 1 selections, they fill one of those roles with the tenacious blocker from Northern Iowa.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Ohio State • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Wide receiver is a position of luxury for Los Angeles but they have essentially answered all other questions on their roster. Linebacker may be one of the most pressing needs and that is a position that is less valued as an early commodity. Wilson gives them three wide receivers that warrant attention and that will stretch defenses thin.
From New Orleans Saints
Round 1 - Pick 18
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • 6'6" / 336 lbs
Although wide receiver is a need and a few are on the board, it is impossible (literally) to ignore the mammoth defender from Georgia. Davis is known as a run-stuffing interior defender but if he is able to keep his weight down and be a three down player, then he may be able to show some of that NFL Combine explosion during pass down situations.
From Philadelphia Eagles
Round 1 - Pick 19
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • 6'1" / 188 lbs
New Orleans played the odds game and won this hand. They picked up a second first-round selection with the intent of filling two positions of need. They were able to find difference makers at left tackle and wide receiver without sacrificing any more assets.
Mock Trade from Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Clemson • 6'0" / 194 lbs
After trading back with Pittsburgh, Houston picks up future draft compensation while adding a quality player in the form of Booth. He has played a lot of zone coverage at Clemson but has the size and speed to handle more man coverage responsibilities.
Round 1 - Pick 21
Michigan • 6'0" / 192 lbs
New England values versatility in the secondary. After losing a lot at the position over the past two years, they invest an early round choice in a player that can play either safety or slot cornerback.
From Las Vegas Raiders
Round 1 - Pick 22
Arkansas • 6'2" / 225 lbs
Green Bay had to have been sweating bullets waiting to see whether or not a wide receiver was going to fall to them at No. 22 overall. Burks is a versatile player that can line up in the slot or on the boundary. He can be a big slot blocker as the team deploys its wide zone blocking scheme.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Boye Mafe DL
Minnesota • 6'4" / 261 lbs
Arizona gets some pass rush assistance after losing out on Haason Reddick and Chandler Jones in consecutive off-seasons. Mafe is a well-rounded player with bend around the edge. In a small sample size, he has shown an ability to play the run and drop into coverage.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Iowa • 6'2" / 305 lbs
The interior offensive line has been a game of musical chairs for Dallas in recent years. Linderbaum should be the solution for more than a decade. Having some level of consistency should be welcomed while the rest of that unit is in flux.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Kyler Gordon DB
Washington • 6'0" / 200 lbs
Buffalo adds a cornerback with heavy zone exposure that I believe can also handle more man coverage responsibilities. His athleticism testing did not exactly match what was expected at the NFL Combine but it shows up on the field. The Bills strengthen the secondary opposite Tre White.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 323 lbs
Green is a lineman with the versatility to play multiple positions in a pinch. He has excelled when allowed to stay home at guard. Tennessee needs to start adding some younger pieces to that front and the Texas A&M product is a good start.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Zion Johnson OL
Boston College • 6'3" / 316 lbs
Offensive guards go back to back as Tampa Bay fills out the remaining vacancy on its offensive line. It has been a rollercoaster ride of an off-season but the Buccaneers add some stability as they fortify the offensive line. Tom Brady will have one of the league's best once again in 2022.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Georgia • 6'3" / 304 lbs
Green Bay gets great value with Wyatt falling this far in the first round. He would have been a dream scenario for Cincinnati but the Packers add another big body to that front allowing those talented edge rushers to work clean behind them.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 29
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • 5'11" / 182 lbs
Bettors holding Over 5.5 wide receivers picked in the first round tickets rejoice as Kansas City plucks the sixth off the board. If the run on the position happens early, then odds of a sixth or even a seventh leaping into the first round increase.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Round 1 - Pick 31
Logan Hall DL
Houston • 6'6" / 283 lbs
There is growing buzz that Hall is going to go in the first round. He is a long interior rusher that could also play on the edge in certain situations. Cincinnati burned through its depth at defensive tackle last off-season and may need to count on that again this season.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 32
Cincinnati • 6'3" / 207 lbs
Detroit takes advantage of the fifth year option at quarterback by selecting Ridder. I think the Lions are trending towards a position where they are not going to be picking as highly next season so it is difficult to project whether or not they would be able to get a quarterback with any level of certainty.
No. 33 overall: Jaguars - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
No. 34 overall: Lions - Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
No. 35 overall: Jets - Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
No. 36 overall: Giants - Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
No. 37 overall: Texans - Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
No. 38 overall: Jets - Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
No. 39 overall: Bears - Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
No. 40 overall: Seahawks - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
No. 41 overall: Seahawks - Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
No. 42 overall: Colts - Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
No. 43 overall: Falcons - Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
No. 44 overall: Browns - Travis Jones, DT, UCONN
No. 45 overall: Ravens - Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
No. 46 overall: Vikings - Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
No. 47 overall: Commanders - George Pickens, WR, Georgia
No. 48 overall: Bears - Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky
No. 49 overall: Saints - Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
No. 50 overall: Chiefs - Demarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
No. 51 overall: Eagles - Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
No. 52 overall: Steelers - Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
No. 53 overall: Packers - David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
No. 54 overall: Patriots - Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
No. 55 overall: Cardinals - Ken Walker III, RB, Michigan State
No. 56 overall: Cowboys - Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
No. 57 overall: Bills - Cole Strange, iOL, Chattanooga
No. 58 overall: Falcons - Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
No. 59 overall: Packers - Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
No. 60 overall: Buccaneers - Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
No. 61 overall: 49ers - Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
No. 62 overall: Chiefs - Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
No. 63 overall: Bengals - Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
No. 64 overall: Broncos - Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State
No. 65 overall: Jaguars - Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
No. 66 overall: Lions - Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
No. 67 overall: Giants - Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
No. 68 overall: Texans - Nick Cross, S, Maryland
No. 69 overall: Jets - Cam Jurgens, C, Nebraska
No. 70 overall: Jaguars - Jamaree Salyer, OG, Georgia
No. 71 overall: Bears - Dylan Parham, OG, Memphis
No. 72 overall: Seahawks - Tariq Woolen, CB, Texas-San Antonio
No. 73 overall: Colts - Khalil Shakir, WR, Boise State
No. 74 overall: Falcons - Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State
No. 75 overall: Broncos - Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State
No. 76 overall: Ravens - Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia
No. 77 overall: Vikings - Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati
No. 78 overall: Browns - Joshua Paschal, EDGE, Kentucky
No. 79 overall: Chargers - Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma
No. 80 overall: Texans - Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
No. 81 overall: Giants - Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
No. 82 overall: Falcons - Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
No. 83 overall: Eagles - John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
No. 84 overall: Steelers - Martin Emerson, CB, Mississippi State
No. 85 overall: Patriots - Joshua Ezeudu, OG, North Carolina
No. 86 overall: Raiders - Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
No. 87 overall: Cardinals - Luke Fortner, C, Kentucky
No. 88 overall: Cowboys - Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee
No. 89 overall: Bills - David Bell, WR, Purdue
No. 90 overall: Titans - Alec Pierce, WR, Cincinnati
No. 91 overall: Buccaneers - Cade Otton, TE, Washington
No. 92 overall: Packers - Kerby Joseph, S, Illinois
No. 93 overall: 49ers - Zach Tom, iOL, Wake Forest
No. 94 overall: Chiefs - Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
No. 95 overall: Bengals - Daniel Bellinger, TE, San Diego State
No. 96 overall: Broncos - Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
No. 97 overall: Lions - Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
No. 98 overall: Saints - Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
No. 99 overall: Browns - Wan'Dale Robinson, WR, Kentucky
No. 100 overall: Ravens - Dominique Robinson, EDGE, Miami (Ohio)
No. 101 overall: Eagles - Luke Goedeke, OL, Central Michigan
No. 102 overall: Dolphins - Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
No. 103 overall: Chiefs - DeAngelo Malone, EDGE, Western Kentucky
No. 104 overall: Rams - Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA
No. 105 overall: 49ers - Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State