With just over a week until the 2022 NFL Draft, we already know that there are endless possibilities of how the first round will shake out. But with that, we still have no idea who the first overall pick will be for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Taking an offensive tackle such as Evan Neal or Ikem Ekwonu makes sense but passing on an edge rusher seems like a huge risk — especially with Aidan Hutchinson being labeled as the safest pick in the draft.
Only time will tell.
We’ve heard quarterback rumblings with the second overall pick and that the Detroit Lions “don’t like” Kayvon Thibodeaux. Whether that’s true or not, I’m not sure, I’m not in Allen Park talking prospects with Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell. One thing I do know is that the Lions have favored Liberty QB Malik Willis through this entire process.
Whatever happens, happens. I can only continue to speculate what I think is best all 32 teams in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. So let’s start with two teams selecting in the top-10 of the 2022 NFL Draft and go over some draft scenarios for each one of them!
New York Jets Draft Plans
Throughout much of this draft cycle, I’ve gotten lost in the Sauce. There’s a chance that the Jets could do the same thing with the fourth overall pick. From certain people I’ve spoken with and the information I’ve been able to gather, the Jets do like Sauce Gardner quite a bit.
This makes complete sense for a franchise that has been in desperate need of a top cornerback option since the days of Revis Island. When you look into previous defenses of Robert Saleh, primarily with the 49ers, you’ll notice a boundary cornerback by the name of Richard Sherman. There was value in having a veteran like Sherman in their secondary and I think it’s a position that Saleh values within his defense.
At Cincinnati, Sauce Gardner primarily played on the boundary for the Bearcats. He utilized his length, athletic ability, and quick feet to run in the hip pocket of receivers and it helps with never giving up a passing touchdown. While some might consider the fourth overall pick “too soon” for Sauce, it’s the thought process of knowing that they won’t be getting him at the 10th overall pick. One way or another, all signs point to him playing in New York. Whether it’s the Jets or Giants, we’ll have to wait and see.
For the 2022 NFL Draft, Sauce Gardner is CB1 on my board. I jump into the film room to show you why! Here’s my film breakdown on the talented cornerback out of Cincinnati!#Bearcats #CinCityPride https://t.co/fCaXWViNLt
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 12, 2022
Another option with the fourth overall pick for the New York Jets is Kayvon Thibodeaux. Around the Combine, I was able to gather that “New York likes Kayvon.” When I asked which team in New York, the conversation shifted and I was never able to gather if it were the Giants or Jets. Regardless, the Jets seem to have taken a liking to Kayvon after an in-person visit. It certainly helps that he wants to play in New York so the question remains for the Jets on if he falls to them with the fourth overall pick? If he does, do they take him? I think they will with how there’s value for pass-rushers in Saleh’s defense and there’s uncertainty around Carl Lawson returning from a torn achilles.
The other options for the Jets that I’ve heard are the following:
Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Starting with Johnson, he seems less likely to make it to the 10th overall pick and it would be shocking to see the Jets take him with the 4th overall pick. That said, the Jets were rumored to land him and he makes a ton of sense. Flexible lower half with a great first step and he understands how to translate speed to power. He’s been on quite the rise during the pre-draft process and teams such as the New York Giants (7th overall) and Seattle Seahawks (9th overall) could have strong interest in the former Florida State pass-rusher.
Next, there’s obvious interest in an offensive tackle from the Jets but it’s hard to pinpoint which one they truly want. Maybe it’s Neal, Cross, or Ekwonu but I believe it’s Trevor Penning from Northern Iowa. By holding off until the 10th pick for their offensive tackle, the Jets add a potential elite defender with one of the names listed above with the fourth pick and still snag a solid lineman that can develop into something more with the 10th pick. Penning was coached by the Jets staff during the Senior Bowl and has been linked to the team during this draft process. They just have to hope that the Seahawks don’t take him with the 9th overall pick.
It’s becoming common in mock drafts to have 4 OTs selected in the top-10 in the 2022 NFL Draft:
Over the last 5 years, we’ve seen an average of 21 OTs selected in total & 4 selected in RD1.
My column: https://t.co/aUNgGFGLB5
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) March 8, 2022
Lastly, the true wildcard of it all and the one that continues to gain steam is Jameson Williams. The Jets have been the team that “really likes him and his speed.” Regardless of having Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, the thought of Williams being able to take the top off a defense is scary and should only help Zach Wilson. I’ve heard that the fourth overall pick is a possibility but landing him with the 10th pick would be their “dream pick”. Ultimately, Williams going fourth overall is only because Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, and Gardner are all off the board.
Anything is possible but the Jets are in a terrific position to take advantage of a deep draft of edge rushers, receivers, and linebackers. They’ve got five picks in the top-70 and could be active to get back in the first round to select their third player of the opening night in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Atlanta Falcons Draft Plans
Talk about a wild off-season for a franchise that had a quarterback hold it down for them over the past 14 seasons. Matt Ryan was shipped off to the Indianapolis Colts after the team was engaged in trading for quarterback Deshaun Watson. After Watson swerved everyone and signed with the Browns, the Falcons were stuck with a disgruntled veteran quarterback and had to bring in another veteran that is highly familiar with Arthur Smith’s offense.
That quarterback is Marcus Mariota. While he deserves another chance to be a starter, I can’t buy into the fact of him being the long-term solution for the organization. So with that, they’ve brought in three quarterbacks on top-30 visits prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Those three quarterbacks are Malik Willis, Sam Howell, and Matt Corral. While Corral will be in attendance for the first round, the most realistic option for the Falcons within the top-10 is Malik Willis.
Willis is an Atlanta native and if he’s available with the 8th overall pick, I could see them running to the podium to select him. As for Corral or Howell, I could see them being available late in the first round or early in the second round. If that’s the case, could the Falcons have interest in moving both of their second-round picks (43rd overall and 58th overall) to grab one of those players? Regardless of what I think, there’s been steady rumblings of Corral being a player of interest with the eighth overall pick.
Matt Corral (Ole Miss QB 2) finds his WR on the crosser. Seen him do it a bunch last season as well. pic.twitter.com/yQfdRXG2TE
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) September 7, 2021
Aside from quarterbacks, the Falcons are in an interesting position to draft the best defender on the board. There are three that come to mind. Starting with Kayvon Thibodeaux falling to them at this point in the draft and if he does, he might be too good to pass on. He’s been in on a visit for the team and would provide an immediate impact over any edge rusher they have on the roster.
If Kayvon is gone, could they have an interest in Jermaine Johnson? He’s been a common defensive player mocked to the Falcons and for good reason. He has the desired length, power, and speed for the position. One of my top-10 players for the draft, he still has his best football in front of him. He went from being a rotational player at Georgia in 2020 to the 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Lastly, there’s Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame. He’s one of the five best players in the draft and is the top safety but there seems to be a feeling that he falls outside of the top-10. Much of this is due to how he tested at his Pro Day and Combine. Could the Falcons look past the numbers and the knee injury? They should as their best safety on the roster is recently signed free agent Dean Marlowe.
Lastly, we’ll talk about the wide receiver options the Falcons could consider with the eighth overall pick. It’s no secret that this could be the biggest need for this team and they could be the first team to select one. Calvin Ridley is suspended for the entire 2022 season and Russell Gage left for the Buccaneers. For this team, they’re in position to possibly be the first team with a receiver selected.
Garrett Wilson has been the player that’s been most commonly linked to the Falcons in mock drafts but Jameson Williams has been heavily rumored for landing in the top-10 over the last few weeks. Of the consensus top-four receivers, they could use any one of them. I’d think a few of them would be near the top of their list.
When you look at the shape of their roster, it’s somewhat of a mess. They could use any one of these players listed and that’s without looking at any offensive line help — which they also need. They’ve been a quiet team for much of this pre-draft process outside of moving Ryan and being involved with Watson so maybe if we read between the lines, they’re ultimately looking for a quarterback. No matter what I try to figure out, the Falcons seem to be one of the true wildcards in the top-10 of the 2022 NFL Draft.