It’s been an absolute grind to get to this point! The final day before the 2022 NFL Draft. For me, it’s Christmas Eve and it’s hard to hold back the excitement.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to get sleep deprived because I would wake up thinking about where some of these prospects would land. That’s totally healthy, right?
In all seriousness, I appreciate the support from everyone! I love breaking down these players, messing around with mock drafts and just having fun talking football. So with that, I give to you my FINAL mock draft for the 2022 NFL Draft! Enjoy!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
I’m still very much in the mindset that this could still be an offensive tackle. Just a few weeks ago, I had gotten word that Evan Neal was near the top of the board for the Jags but the other offensive tackle, Ikem Ekwonu also seems to be in play. That said, we’ll play it safe and go with the odds on favorite in Travon Walker. He fits exactly what GM Trent Baalke wants and likes out of an edge rusher. If Walker reaches his potential, he could be dominant with his power, length and speed. Time will tell.
2. Detroit Lions — Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
It would shock much of Metro Detroit if Aidan Hutchinson wasn’t the pick but I could see Brad Holmes being extremely high on Kayvon. While, there might be some mixed reports on his character, he seems to do just fine with the interviews I’ve seen and Holmes was up close and personal with Kayvon at the Oregon Pro Day. Thibodeaux has an explosive first step with a flexible lower half and plenty of power and speed behind him to generate pressure off the edge. Keep in mind that Holmes is heavily tied to the west coast and in his first draft with the Lions, he took four players from the Pac-12 conference.
3. Houston Texans — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
There’s no secret that the Texans love both cornerbacks (Sauce and Stingley) but it’s just which one do they prefer. It’s wild to think that they would pass on Hutchinson in this spot but I believe the edge rusher they prefer is Walker. With him gone, they’ll pivot (yes, I’m thinking of that episode of Friends) and go with Derek Stingley out of LSU. He took the college football world over as a true freshman but hasn’t been healthy for much of the past two seasons. If healthy, he can certainly develop into a true shutdown corner with his athletic ability and ball skills.
4. New York Jets — Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State
I could the Jets taking a defensive player here but there’s been plenty of smoke surrounding them liking Ekwonu from N.C. State. There’s plenty of concerns from injuries and playing weight with Mekhi Becton so this gives the Jets flexibility to get an immediate starter along their offensive line. Ekwonu is a dominant run blocker and is viewed to be able to play in a variety of spots. I’d look for him to possibly play guard or right tackle before moving to left tackle.
Ikem Ekwonu (OT from NC State) officially declares for the 2022 NFL Draft. Some will say he’s an IOL but I believe he can play tackle. One of the best finishers in the OL group with his best football in front of him.— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 2, 2022
5. New York Giants — Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
While this would be a shocker, anything is possible with these edge rushers. Essentially, one of them should/could fall a little bit. If Hutchinson falls to this spot, I think the Giants would run to the podium in wanting to draft a good football player. This helps get this regime off to the right start with a high character player with a never-ending motor. Hutchinson might knocked for his lack of arm length but he makes up for it with his blend of power and speed off the edge. He can win with a swipe move and it would be a super fun pairing with Azeez Ojulari off the edge.
6. Carolina Panthers — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Panthers will certainly look to move this pick and maybe they’ll find a suitor such as the Seahawks or Steelers. Both teams have done their fair share of research on the quarterbacks such as Malik Willis. That said, the Panthers can’t get the deal done and stay put to select Charles Cross. They could plug and play him at left tackle as he’s got great patience and is one of the best pass protectors in the draft.
7. New York Giants — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
While we all know the Giants want to move one of these first round picks, I think they’ll ultimately stay put when they see a talented offensive tackle such as Evan Neal fall to them. They can play him at right guard or either tackle spot. With Brian Daboll as the head coach, he has to know that they have to get an upgrade at right tackle and Neal makes sense to give the Giants the flexibility to figure that out with Andrew Thomas.
8. Atlanta Falcons — Drake London, WR, USC
We could certainly see a player such as Garrett Wilson or even a defender like Kyle Hamilton in this spot but I believe the Falcons will opt for the larger receiver of the group. London can be a menace on the perimeter with his basketball background. By drafting him, they can utilize his 50-50 ability anywhere on the field, especially down in the red zone.
9. Seattle Seahawks — Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
I can’t believe I’m typing Sauce Gardner as the 9th pick of the draft. There’s a chance he’s off the board as I think the Giants would love him with the 5th or 7th pick. That said, he’s here and he’s one of the few first round players that the Seahawks have met with. They once had a great boundary corner in Richard Sherman and they’ll look to replicate that by getting lost in the Sauce!
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
10. New York Jets — Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
It’s been rumored that Johnson could go much sooner than this but I don’t see that happening. He falls right in the laps of the Jets and I don’t think they’ll let him pass. Johnson has great length for the position, can long-arm his way to the backfield and he displays plenty of power behind his punch.
11. Washington Commanders — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
I could see a situation where the Commanders go with a defender at this spot. Kyle Hamilton or Jordan Davis make a lot of sense for them but ultimately, they’ve done a ton of work on the Ohio State receivers. While some might like Wilson, I prefer Olave. He’s a great route runner and could come in and produce right away for a team that’s looking for someone to play opposite of Terry McLaurin.
12. Minnesota Vikings — Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame
The wait is over for Hamilton. Obviously, he’s a talented player and could be off the board but the thought of him in Minnesota just seems like a lock. Harrison Smith isn’t getting any younger and Hamilton can easily slide into the starting free safety role over Cameron Bynum.
13. Houston Texans — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Could we see Trevor Penning or Jordan Davis at this spot? It’s possible and I’ve heard that George Karlaftis could be in play as well. Regardless, the Texans need to surround Davis Mills or whatever QB of the future with some type of weapon. Wilson makes so much sense and it would be fun to see him aligned in this offense with Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins.
14. Baltimore Ravens — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
There’s been some love for Jordan Davis in this spot but I heard Trent McDuffie a few weeks back and I can’t get it out of my head. The Ravens secondary was extremely banged up last season but they could use another cornerback to be on the field with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. McDuffie has great range and shows the ability to run in the hip pocket of receivers on crossing patterns while making a play on the ball. He plays with an “alpha” mentality that I think the Ravens will love.
Big tackle from Trent McDuffie (Washington CB 22) on 3rd down here. He's also got a 41.5 inch vertical and has ran the 100-meter dash in 10.80 seconds. Fun player! pic.twitter.com/RW3nhU90x1— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 11, 2022
15. Philadelphia Eagles — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Certainly there’s a chance of Williams being the first WR off the board. If he’s not, it’s simply due to medical concerns. That said, I know the Jets were “in” on Williams but that could change. If Williams does fall down the board some, I think the Eagles would be a great landing spot for him and it’s not just all the ties between two former Alabama players. Williams is explosive and has unreal burst. He can help take the top off defenses and would do wonders for Jalen Hurts in Philly.
16. New Orleans Saints — Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
It was evident that the Saints would want an offensive tackle after losing Terron Arsmtead in free agency. Could they package something to move up for one? It’s possible but the Saints will settle for Penning here. I don’t see him getting past the Chargers with the 17th pick and the Saints will take him in hopes that he hits in the NFL the same way he did in college and at the Senior Bowl. Penning is rough around the edges but he’s tenacious and should help immediately in the run game. He reminds me so much of Garrett Bolles but that’s a good thing for a team that has an obvious need at left tackle.
17. Los Angeles Chargers — Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Chargers end up taking a player like Jordan Davis, if he’s there. However, they’ve made it clear that they want to continue to upgrade their offensive line and despite the run on tackles, they’ll get a talented and versatile player here. Johnson can play either guard spot and showed at the Senior Bowl that he can play center. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Chargers try him out at right tackle to start his career.
My goodness what a rep from Zion Johnson pic.twitter.com/nZLAzm5Vg8— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) February 4, 2022
18. Philadelphia Eagles — Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
Despite bringing back Fletcher Cox back on a one-year deal, I do believe the Eagles will target an interior defensive lineman in the first round. Davis falls to them and it’s just too hard to pass on a 6-6 and 341 pound defensive lineman that runs like the wind and is built like a tank. Davis will primarily get labeled as a nose tackle but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets mixed in as 2i for a team at times.
19. New Orleans Saints — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The fall on the quarterbacks could legitimately happen on Thursday. Pickett goes in this spot and will compete right away with Jameis Winston for the starting job. Pickett can make throws at all three levels of the field but he really wins with how well he can move in and out of the pocket. Shades of his game remind me of Derek Carr but ultimately, this gives the Saints an opportunity to build around a franchise quarterback.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
It really wouldn’t surprise me if Malik ended up being the first quarterback off the board. The Steelers could entertain the idea of moving up for him but they patiently wait and still get their guy. They’ve been in on all the quarterbacks for this draft but much of their love for Willis stems from the Senior Bowl. That’s where Mike Tomlin’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and I think they will again if he’s able to land Malik. There are times where Willis doesn’t throw with a lot of touch or anticipation but his mobility fits today’s game and he’s got a big arm. Letting him sit behind Trubisky for a season seems like an ideal plan for the Steelers organization.
21. New England Patriots — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Patriots are always a tough one. I did hear at one point that Zion Johnson could be their guy and that’s why they were comfortable with moving Shaq Mason. That said, Zion is gone so they’ll settle with the talented linebacker from Utah. Lloyd is versatile, can rush the passer and shows good range for the position. I’d look for him to slide right into the Patriots defense and make an impact.
22. Green Bay Packers — Daxton Hill, SAF, Michigan
It’s been 20 years since the Packers drafted a wide receiver in the first round. I don’t see that changing until they actually do it. So with that, Daxton Hill is a versatile defensive back that can play in the slot or over the top as a single high safety or as a dual safety. I’d expect the Packers to value him as the next best safety and as a player that can help contribute right away.
23. Arizona Cardinals — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
We could certainly see an edge rusher such as Arnold Ebiketie or George Karlaftis but Burks would be fun in the Cardinals offense. Burks can play in a bunch of different spots (slot, RB, H-back) and should be productive with Hopkins on the outside and Murray throwing him the ball. I’d expect by Burks running jet and orbit motions out of the backfield, it would free up plenty of space in the middle of the field for Hopkins and Ertz.
24. Dallas Cowboys — Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
While the Cowboys have Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, there’s some question marks around Connor McGovern (LG) and Terrance Steele (RT). By adding Kenyon Green, they get an immediate starter at left tackle with great length and an experienced starter with 35 career starts. Green has been consistent for much of his career as a run and pass blocker and I’d look for that to continue in the NFL.
25. Buffalo Bills — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
I’ll believe the running back stuff until it actually happens. Kaiir Elam has hovered around the back end of the first round for quite some time and I believe the Bills are secretly in love with him. He’s a got great length and athletic ability that should help transition himself into a solid number two corner. He gets a bit grabby at times downfield but he’s patient and physical enough to succeed as a press-man corner in the NFL. Losing Levi Wallace isn’t ideal for the Bills as he played almost 1,000 snaps for them. Keep in mind that Tre White is coming back from a torn ACL so I still believe this is the biggest need for the team.
26. Tennessee Titans — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
In my first mock draft, I had the Titans select Matt Corral and I still believe that’s an option. While Ryan Tannehill is okay, he’s not getting the job done in the big games and I think the Titans will strongly consider a new quarterback. By getting Ridder, the Titans can move Tannehill and free up cap space to re-sign A.J. Brown to a new contract. Ridder has a big arm, runs zone-read concepts really well and he’s a winner. With 44 career wins, he’ll look to bring that to the Titans and get them over the hump. Keep in mind, Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell are linked together from their days together at Ohio State.
Was asked about Desmond Ridder (QB 9 | Cincinnati) a few weeks ago on @971RandI. From some live viewings, I thought he was good but not this good. After last night, I've watched 3 more games today & this dude is just fun. I'll have a write up on him over @Cover1 by Monday morning pic.twitter.com/5fuTCvE9zR— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) November 15, 2020
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia
Sure, there’s a chance that Ndamukong Suh could come back for another season with the Bucs but Devonte Wyatt is a younger and better option for them. Pairing up Wyatt with Vea could lead to plenty of success on the interior. Wyatt has great lateral movement skills and if put in 1-on-1 situations, he should be able to win plenty of them.
28. Atlanta Falcons (Mock Trade with Atlanta) — Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
There’s no way the Packers keep both of their first round picks. I just can’t see them doing it. They’ll move down, get a nice haul from the Falcons and double down at the wide receiver position with Alec Pierce and David Bell in the second round and third round. That said, the Falcons have been heavily linked to the quarterbacks in this class and I think they’re in prime position to trade up and get a quarterback. Getting Corral allows the Falcons to settle with Mariota as a bridge for a season and it allows Corral to learn the playbook, improve the way he works through progressions and add some weight and muscle to his frame.
- Trade Details:
– Green Bay Receives: 2022 2nd Round Pick (43rd Overall) and 2022 3rd Round Pick (82nd Overall)
– Atlanta Receives: 2022 1st Round Pick (28th Overall)
29. Kansas City Chiefs — Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
An explosive edge rusher that wasn’t used properly at Minnesota, Boye Mafe has a chance to flourish with the Chiefs. There were plenty of rumblings around the Chiefs moving on from Frank Clark this off-season but Mafe also provides an upgrade over Mike Danna. Mafe has good bend and flexibility and it could lead to potential double digit sack production if he’s able to put it all together.
30. Kansas City Chiefs — Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
After losing Charvarius Ward in free agency, the biggest hole on the Chiefs roster might be at cornerback. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them package these picks to move up for a cornerback but let’s not overcomplicate this. They’ll take a physical and aggressive corner in Kyler Gordon that can play inside and outside. Some think he’s destined to play in the slot for a defense but I’d take my chances with him on the outside with how feisty he is and with how well he recovers.
31. Cincinnati Bengals — Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Don’t get me wrong, I almost considered having the Bengals draft a tight end such as Trey McBride in this spot but I’ll go with the best player available. Tyler Linderbaum is a plug and play center and gets overlooked due to his size and ability to only play one position. That said, the Bengals can move recently signed IOL Ted Karras to either guard spot and place the athletic Linderbaum at center from day one. They swung and missed on Billy Price a few years back but I don’t think they will regret this one.
32. Detroit Lions — Lewis Cine, SAF, Georgia
Could it actually be a quarterback? Could the Lions actually try to move up so they can draft Malik Willis? Anything is possible but I love the thought of them staying put and drafting a safety. While I have soft spot for Jaquan Brisker, I believe Lewis Cine is the better fit. He would play opposite of Tracy Walker really well with his range and physicality over the middle of the field. He’s met with Detroit and seems like a great culture fit for what the Lions are trying to build.