We'll continue to repeat it over and over. We've been saying it every week: Eventually we're going to get to the point in the proceedings where it's clear a team (or, more likely, teams) will overdraft a quarterback because, well, that's what happens every single draft. But as we sit here, Matt Corral and Carson Strong are legit first-round talents though with the former, there are questions about his size and his college offense. As for the latter, it's all about the health of his knee.
That said, we have three quarterbacks going in this week's mock draft, all off the board by the 13th pick. The Texans pull the trigger at No. 2, followed by the Falcons at No. 12, and then the Saints. As we go through this process, and approach late April, it will be interesting to see what sort of pre-draft maneuvering we could see from QB-needy teams. Of course, any such maneuvering will be contingent on free agency, and where the Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilsons and Deshaun Watsons of the NFL world end up.
For now, keep reading to see how the entire first round unfolds (this is our 13th mock draft of the fall, if you're keeping score).
One other thing, and this is important: now that we're past the midway point of the season, we're using the 2022 NFL Draft order (via tankathon, with results prior to Monday's game) to determine selections 1-32 below.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Michigan • Sr • 6'6" / 265 lbs
Hutchinson is a great example of a player who got better each and every season, and instead of coming out early he stayed in school, balled out as a senior, and made himself into arguably the best player -- on either side of the ball -- in the country during the '21 college football season. The exclamation point came in Saturday's three-sack performance against Ohio State.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Jr • 6'2" / 205 lbs
We had the Texans take Corral fourth overall in last week's mock and now we've ratcheted up the desperation after the Texans lost to the Jets on Sunday. Is this too high for any QB in this class? Yes! But how often have teams overdrafted a position of need, especially when it's the most important position on the field? Plus, if the Texans are convinced that one of the quarterbacks in this class can serve as a big red reset button then it's probably worth rolling the dice. Corral is the best QB in this class and he was much-improved in '21 after a solid '20 campaign.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OT
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
The Jags have used first-rounders on edge rushers two of the last three drafts, and while Keyvon Thibodeaux is certainly worth a top-three selection, Jacksonville has to beef up its O-line. Ekwonu is one of our favorite players in this draft class. There's talk that he may have to move inside to guard but when you watch him play, he's perfectly suited to be a dominant tackle, which is exactly what the Jags need.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Addressing the offensive line could be an option here but the Jets have four of the first 75 picks in this draft, so instead of overthinking it, they'll take Thibodeaux. He battled an ankle injury early in the season but has since proven that he's just about unstoppable when he's on the field -- to the point that it's almost unfair.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 5
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Jr • 6'7" / 350 lbs
This is why the Jets take Thibodeaux with their first first-rounder -- because they also have the Seahawks' first-rounder as part of the Jamal Adams trade. And with it, they improve the offensive line. The Jets have to protect Zach Wilson (once he gets healthy) -- this should be the mantra to begin every draft meeting the team has. Neal is an athletic marvel who has excelled at several O-line positions for the Crimson Tide.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 220 lbs
The Giants have young safeties Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, but that doesn't mean there isn't room in the secondary for Kyle Hamilton, too. He's a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed -- a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk -- and that makes him a Day 1 impact player.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 7
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham had the Eagles' number on Sunday, and yes, there's a lot of depth at cornerback on the roster, but it would be hard to pass on Stingley here. Imagine a secondary that adds both Hamilton and Stingley in the draft.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 325 lbs
Brandon Scherff, Charles Leno and Cornelius Lucas are all in the final year of their contracts, and even if, say, Scherff is re-signed, you can never have enough dudes on your offensive line. Quarterback would be a consideration here, for sure, but with Matt Corral already off the board, this is too rich for whichever player you have penciled in as your No. 2 QB in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Jr • 6'0" / 225 lbs
Dean plays with the type of urgency and physicality that has been lacking at times in the middle of this Eagles defense. And while Dean's playing on the best defense in the country, don't be fooled -- he's not riding on the coattails of a dominant defensive line -- he's been a huge reason for their success.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 10
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
The Eagles are on track for three first-round picks, which means there's a great opportunity to address their defense. Booth has all the athleticism and tools to be special, and he has balled out for Clemson this season.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
Quarterback makes all the sense in the world here, but it's important to remember these two words: Fit matters. Put Mac Jones on the the Jets and he probably looks a lot more like Zach Wilson than a legit Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. So knowing that, the Panthers bolster the offensive line. Cross is a high-upside athletic offensive tackle who is having a strong season for Mississippi State.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Pittsburgh • Sr • 6'3" / 220 lbs
We love what Pickett's accomplished this season but we also didn't give him a first-round grade. That doesn't mean he hasn't had a fantastic season, or that he won't end up being among the first 32 selections. And as becomes evident every draft, teams will overdaft quarterbacks and 2022 will be no different. Maybe Matt Ryan returns for another season but we wouldn't be surprised if coach Arthur Smith opts to move on and draft his QB of the future. Pickett, meanwhile, will continue to make his case over the final few games of the season and then, of course, the pre-draft process that will likely include a Senior Bowl appearance.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Nevada • Jr • 6'4" / 215 lbs
How healthy is Strong's knee? With a clean bill of health he'd be in the running for our QB1, but that will be the lingering question as we go through the draft process, and if the news isn't good, he could fall out of the first round altogether. He's had a fantastic career at Nevada and has an NFL arm and consistently makes good decisions with the ball.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 14
Ohio State • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
This likely won't be a popular pick because the Eagles have used first-rounders on wide receivers the last two years, but they'll only have four wideouts under contract after the season, and that includes JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Wilson is one of the the most dynamic players in college football and he'll give Jalen Hurts another downfield weapon as the QB continues to grow into the offense.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Alabama • Jr • 6'2" / 189 lbs
Williams had to transfer from Ohio State to Alabama to get playing time (think about that) and he's taken full advantage of his opportunities. In Cleveland, the Browns don't have much depth at wide receiver and Williams, who has been unstoppable against SEC defenders, has put his name into the first-round conversation.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Iowa • Jr • 6'3" / 290 lbs
Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in the country and the Steelers need to continue to improve a unit that has four new starters this season. Kendrick Green, a 2021 third-round pick, is the starting center but he played also played guard at Illinois.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Auburn • Sr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Only cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia are under contract after the season and while McCreary may not be the athletic specimen of '21 first-rounder Surtain, he's one of the best corners in college football and plays with the type of week-to-week consistency that NFL teams covet from their defensive backs.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • Jr • 6'6" / 330 lbs
Davis has consistently been a one-man wrecking crew for Georgia this season; he may not offer much as a true pass-rusher but he's a pocket-collapser which, on some level, transcends the play call.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Cincinnati • Jr • 6'2" / 188 lbs
The team has already parted ways with 2020 first-rounder Jeff Gladney, and Patrick Peterson is on a one-year deal. Wide receiver could also be an option here but stockpiling defensive backs is never a bad strategy. Gardner, meanwhile, is a long, press corner who feels like a good fit in a Mike Zimmer defense.
Round 1 - Pick 20
David Ojabo LB
Michigan • Jr • 6'5" / 250 lbs
David Ojabo has been a lot of fun to watch this season where he's taken advantage of every opportunity playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. But don't get it twisted -- he's a twitchy edge rusher who will only get better with experience, and if he excels opposite Hutchinson, imagine what he'll do opposite Joey Bosa in L.A.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 21
Kentucky • Sr • 6'5" / 345 lbs
Kinnard is a mauler who plays with an edge and he can wreak havoc as both a run and pass-blocker. He may have to kick inside at the next level but his ability to open holes in the running game makes him an immediate asset for the Dolphins offense, which has tried to address the O-line in recent drafts but not with the success they were hoping for.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Washington • Jr • 6'7" / 310 lbs
Josh Allen and the offense hasn't been nearly as consistent as it was a season ago and part of that is due to issues with the O-line. Kirkland has been the cornerstone of the Huskies' offensive line and has a chance to be a first-round talent.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 23
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Sr • 6'1" / 188 lbs
By the time we get to the actual draft, we'll have much more clarity on what the Lions' QB plans might look like. For now, there's not a quarterback worth taking first overall, and there likely won't be one on the board at this point, either. So instead, Detroit adds top-flight wideout Olave, who is having a spectacular season for the Buckeyes.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Logan Hall DL
Houston • Jr • 6'6" / 275 lbs
Last spring, some people were surprised Payton Turner made his way into Round 1. Don't be shocked if his Houston teammate, Hall, follows a similar path. He's been unblockable at times this season and at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, he can line up just about anywhere. In Cincy, he'll be yet another young, physical freak on a defense that has been the backbone of this team for much of the year.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Purdue • Jr • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Karlaftis adds another dimension to the defensive line. Injuries and the pandemic saw him play limited snaps in '20 but Karlaftis was nearly impossible to stop in '19 when he recorded 17 TFLs and had 7.5 sacks.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Sr • 5'11" / 184 lbs
The Chiefs' offense certainly appears to much closer to the group we're used to seeing, and with only Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman under contract after the season, why not give them another athletic marvel. Dotson has been electric this season for the Nittany Lions, and he threatens the defense at all three levels. He's not going to break a lot of tackles but that assumes defenders are able to get their hands on him; he's as fast as he is elusive, and a legit home run threat every time he touches the ball.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Jr • 6'3" / 235 lbs
The Titans' defense has been better in '21 but there's still room for improvement, especially in the middle of the D. Lloyd is a twitchy, sideline-to-sideline player who fits the mold of off-ball linebackers we've seen coming into the league over the last decade.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, we get Tyrann Mathieu vibes when we watch him. We love him as a slot corner who serves as an enforcer in run support and locks down short and intermediate routes, something he does regularly for the Huskies.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Drake London WR
USC • Jr • 6'5" / 210 lbs
London, was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season, is sidelined with a fractured ankle. And while he won't run a 4.3 when healthy, London is a high-point-catch machine who can take over games; he'd be a welcome addition in New England where the Pats appear to have found their next franchise QB.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Texas A&M • Jr • 6'4" / 290 lbs
Leal hasn't been as dominant in '21 as he was in '20 but not only does he easily pass the eye test, he's proven he can take over games against some of the best players in the country. Originally a defensive end, Leal, at 6-foot-4, 290, has the versatility and athleticism to play up and down the line, he just needs to play with more consistency from one play to the next.
Round 1 - Pick 31
South Carolina • Sr • 6'4" / 260 lbs
The Ravens took Odafe Oweh in the first round last fall, and he's had a really good rookie campaign, but this defense has struggled to consistently get after the passer and Engabare addresses that need. He's a twitched-up athlete who flashes every week, and will only get better with more reps and added muscle.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Arkansas • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Burks is a Grown Man. He has all the tools to eventually be WR1, as has been evidenced just about every week this fall. afternoon when Alabama had no answers for him. The Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore but Christian Kirk is in the final year of his deal and Arizona can move on from AJ Green after the season, if they so choose.