John Daigle's Final 2022 NFL Mock Draft
There is a time and place for individual player analysis throughout the offseason but I genuinely believe it should take a backseat in mock drafting since a majority of the league's decision-makers typically forego any studious methods for hand-shaking, hearsay, and archaic jargon—"We're not selling jeans here," Billy Beane once reminded a room full of MLB scouts. The following is my best (and first) attempt at connecting the dots in the first round and my reasoning behind it, with player analysis sprinkled in whenever deemed fit.
2022 Draft NFL Draft Date & Time
Date: Thursday, April 28 (Round 1), Friday, April 29th ( Rounds 2 & 3) & Saturday, April 30th (Rounds 4-7)
Time: 8:00 PM EST (Round 1), 7:00 PM EST (Rounds and 3), &12:00 PM EST (Rounds 4-7)
Channels: NFL Network, ESPN & ABC, also FuboTV Livestream
More 2022 NFL Draft Resources: Anthony Staggs' Mock Draft | Ryan Noonan's Mock Draft | Big Board | Dalton Kates' Prop Bets | Draft Podcast Notes | Move the Line Props Betting Tracker | Draft Betting Odds & Tracker
2022 NFL Mock Draft
*Last Updated: April 27, 2022
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The in-house tug of war between Jacksonville's front office (Aidan Hutchinson), coach Doug Pederson (Ikem Ekwonu), and GM Trent Baalke (Travon Walker) not only summarizes how an organization loses in 13 of its last 14 seasons but offers the perfect analogy of the 2022 draft: It has to happen and no one wants to pick. I still believe Baalke gets his wish in the end and Walker (-225) hears his name called first. As for the team's future, Bill Parcells put it best: “Nothing ever changes because nothing ever changes.”
2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
There is enough smoke coming from Ford Field to believe Kayvon Thibodeaux started the fire. Assuming Aidan Hutchinson is sitting here, though, I will only believe the Lions pass on the hometown kid when I see it. Infamously labeled a "crazy worker" who has blown coaches away with his "effort in the run game," Hutchinson would additionally upgrade Detroit's pass rush, which tallied the third-fewest pressures (124) and sacks (30) last year.
3. Houston Texans - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Evan Neal's recent (and conflicting) medical flags leave the Texans no choice but to pivot to the top corner on their board and, more importantly, a player they believe has tremendous character. Battling through adversity, as Derek Stingley Jr. did in bouncing back from September's Lisfranc injury, qualifies as just that, especially if coach Lovie Smith has as much pull in the room as is being rumored.
4. New York Jets - Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
All roads lead to the Jets drafting Ikem Ekwonu no matter which way you slice it since the team's reported fallback options in Jermaine Johnson II and Kayvon Thibodeaux (in that precise order) do not take precedence over replacing Mekhi Becton and George Fant (expiring contract) long term. Adding Ekwonu also aligns with New York's blueprint in putting Zach Wilson in the best situation possible through his rookie deal.
5. New York Giants - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Coach Brian Daboll and GM Joe Schoen accomplish what Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman consistently failed to do in rebuilding New York's trenches in just one offseason. Neal's experience at both LG (723 snaps in 2019) and RT (765 snaps in 2020) cement him as an immediate starter no matter where the Giants choose to play him.
6. Carolina Panthers - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
David Tepper's worst nightmare is looking up from his newspaper and seeing Ekwonu, Neal, and Cross have all already been drafted; whoever is leftover will inevitably land in Carolina by default (barring a trade for 50 cents on the dollar). Cross lined up exclusively at LT in the SEC, cementing him as a replacement for OT Brady Christensen from day one.
7. New York Giants - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Joe Schoen would love nothing more than to gift DC Wink Martindale a true shutdown corner in place of James Bradberry (trade/release pending) to begin their tenure together. New York is also live to draft a wide receiver with this pick.
8. Atlanta Falcons - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
I believe the Falcons are equally unimpressed with this year's QB class considering it initially restructured 36-year-old Matt Ryan's contract to allow him to play for one more year before shipping him to Indy. That then begs the question: Who does a team with every need draft? Wide receiver is the consensus but only because most of Atlanta's beat writers do not expect Kayvon Thibodeaux to be here. Drake London is the next man up if Thibodeaux is (surprisingly) selected early.
9. Seattle Seahawks - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
You cannot #EstablishIt without toughness and Trevor Penning brings just that to the table in not missing a game due to injury over the last three years. He also offers much-needed flexibility across Seattle's O-Line as a plug-and-play starter at three separate positions (LT, RT, RG). Note that Thibodeaux's slide would, without a shadow of a doubt, stop here if the Falcons choose a different direction.
10. New York Jets - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson was initially regarded as the top receiver on New York's board before Jameson Williams and Drake London were medically cleared (and promptly pushed ahead of Wilson for being the flavors of the week). Having been successful both from the slot (16.8 yards per catch in 2020) and boundary (96.1 yards and one touchdown per game last year) the past two seasons, Wilson transitions seamlessly with the Jets whether he's asked to replace Jamison Crowder or, eventually, Corey Davis in two-wide sets. I lean wideout over any EDGE rusher in this spot since New York can avoid doling out a massive extension to the Deebo Samuel's of the world by simply having an ace of their own under contract for the next four years.
11. Washington Commanders - Drake London, WR, USC
12. Minnesota Vikings - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Trent McDuffie makes the most sense here... until you step back and remember it's GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O'Connell, who sharpened their knives under Andrew Berry and Sean McVay, now calling the shots. Having recently restructured Adam Thielen's contract to lend a team-friendly out ahead of his age-33 season, the Vikings are firmly in the mix for his replacement with this pick.
13. Houston Texans - Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
A potential top-10 selection falls to coach Lovie Smith in the hopes Jermaine Johnson's athleticism, which helped the 23-year-old achieve ACC-highs in sacks (12) and forced fumbles (2) last year, allows him to dominate at the next level.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Ravens run to the podium for an enormous (6-foot-6/314 pounds) roadblock with vast experience (four-year starter in the SEC) and a sterling resume (2021 Chuck Bednarik Award winner for the best defensive player in the nation). Jordan Davis also comes with a recommendation from Nick Saban, stating he is, “about as good a player as I’ve seen for a long time as an inside player on any team."
15. Philadelphia Eagles - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
A safety duo of Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps calls for an immediate makeover.
16. New Orleans Saints - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
With Charles Cross unavailable to trade up for at No. 6, the Saints 'settle' for their next priority across from Michael Thomas. Chris Olave brings much-needed production to the table after leading Ohio State in receiving touchdowns for three consecutive seasons around fellow classmates Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams (2019), and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Los Angeles' answer to "Who starts across from J.C. Jackson?" falls into their laps. An offensive lineman is also in play here if the right fit falls.
18. Philadelphia Eagles - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
McDuffie, who allowed just 111 yards all season as Washington's outside corner, could immediately start over any of Zech McPhearson, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent and Mac McCain.
19. New Orleans Saints - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Saints undoubtedly want to leave this draft with LT Terron Armstead's immediate replacement but can't help themselves from pulling the trigger on the consensus "best player available". New Orleans can save $4.4 million by parting with Jameis Winston in 2023.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Malik Willis, QB, Steelers
Death, taxes, and Pittsburgh telling the world who it's drafting weeks before night one.
21. New England Patriots - Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
With Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy still on the market, New England moves on a four-down chess piece who also logged 542 career snaps on special teams.
22. Green Bay Packers - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Packers obviously need to reload at receiver after losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Burks, who the team has constantly been linked to, helps them do just that. He showcased big-play ability in 2021 by turning short opportunities — 68% of his catches came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage — upfield for an SEC-high 22 20-plus yard plays, averaging an absurd 3.57 yards per route run and 9.3 yards after contact per catch.
23. Arizona Cardinals - George Karlaftis III, EDGE, Purdue
Replacing Chandler Jones' 11.9 sacks per year is the priority at 23.
24. Dallas Cowboys - Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
Dallas' main goal is to fill the huge hole left behind by LG Connor Williams, a decision made for them the moment Kenyon Green's medicals showed red flags.
25. Buffalo Bills - Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Given GM Brandon Beane's insistence on having the long term in mind, this choice boiled down to who I believe Buffalo eventually extends between S Jordan Poyer (with Lewis Cine as his potential replacement) or RB Devin Singletary. Coach Sean McDermott consistently hammered the idea of having the “threat to run” and "protecting Josh Allen" by avoiding so many quarterback runs last year that making an investment in Hall, who additionally averaged 27 catches per season and just one fumble for every 200 collegiate touches, is a logical (albeit ill-advised) response. Hall also turns 21 in May, which matches Buffalo's usual tendency with their first-round pick.
26. Tennessee Titans - Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
The Titans are no strangers to taking injured players, most recently adding CB Caleb Farley with the No. 22 overall pick despite multiple back surgeries to close his college career.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
A position of need following Jordan Whitehead’s departure.
28. Green Bay Packers - Logan Hall, EDGE, Houston
As the organization did in drafting Rashan Gary No. 12 overall mere weeks after guaranteeing a combined $50.5 million to Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, Green Bay again adds a rookie contributor to pad their shaky depth. Logan Hall also fits Brian Gutekunst's athletic thresholds in recording a 4.44 shuttle-time and 7.25 (95th-percentile) three-cone. It's possible the Packers make this pick at No. 22 overall (+5000 on PointsBet) if Burks is not around.
29. Kansas City Chiefs - Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Chiefs offset the losses of CB Charvarius Ward and S Tyrann Mathieu in one fell swoop with Kyler Gordon, who filled multiple roles for the Huskies' defense.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Labeled a 22-year-old breakout, Dotson had no choice but to wait his turn behind NFL standouts Pat Freiermuth, KJ Hamler, and Juwan Johnson, eventually soaking up a 28.3% target share with the Nittany Lions in his last two seasons.
31. Cincinnati Bengals - Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa
The Rimington Award winner for the nation’s top center, Tyler Linderbaum allows Cincinnati to kick Ted Karras to LG in a complete and immaculate revamp of the team's trenches in only one offseason.
32. Detroit Lions - Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
With another pick just around the corner at No. 34 on Day 2, the Lions forego adding a linebacker or receiver with this selection to ensure they have a(ny) fifth-year option in their back pockets. Jared Goff's dead-cap hit plummets to $10 million (compared to this year's hit of $41 million) in 2023, making him easy to part with.
Missed the Cut: Utah LB Devin Lloyd, Tulsa OT Tyler Smith, Minnesota EDGE Boye Mafe, Penn State EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt, Clemson CB Andrew Booth, Georgia LB Nakobe Dean, Michigan EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan S Daxton Hill