2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Who is the Top Prospect?


Here, we present the first mock draft of the year for the Athlete’s Hub. Jacob Roderiques will be responsible for selections in the AFC, while Troy Sorkness represents the selections in the NFC.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

The Jacksonville Jaguars go with what could be considered an unpopular pick here, as Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are on the board. Instead, the front office elects to go with an offensive tackle. Neal should be the top pick, as he becomes responsible for protecting Trevor Lawrence. As we saw this past season, Cam Robinson is not the answer on the offensive line. In 566 pass blocking attempts this season, Neal has only allowed one sack at the college level. The Jaguars are in the 5th percentile for sacks allowed, but rise to the 35th percentile in pressures allowed, according to PFF.

2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

An ideal scenario with Neal going to the Jaguars sees Hutchinson to the Detroit Lions with the second overall pick. Hutchinson, a Michigan native, spent three seasons for the Wolverines. He was first in the NCAA in third down pressures and finished with the most most pressures by a defender since 2018. He totaled two or more pressures in all but two games and is widely considered the best player in this draft class.

3. Houston Texans: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The Houston Texans land Thibodeaux in this scenario, who has shown he be a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball. This past season, Thibodeaux totaled 11 quarterback pressures in the second half across 22 total pass rush attempts. He also logged one sack and five tackles during those attempts. The Texans have been desperate for a pass-rusher, leaving them in a perfect position to fill that void here.

4. New York Jets: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

The New York Jets take a complete stud here in Kyle Hamilton, who has shown himself to be one of the best open field tacklers in the class. The Jets have Marcus Maye as a possible free agent in 2022, but even if they retain him, pairing up Hamilton and Maye in the secondary would be great move. Hamilton logged 34 total tackles, three interceptions, and four passes defended along with an 80.8 coverage grade by PFF last season in seven games played.

5. New York Giants: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

With David Gentleman out as General Manager, the new front office may look to be looking to move on from the Daniel Jones era and build with the quarterback of their choosing, including Matt Corral. He had a stellar career at Ole Miss last year, totaling 18 touchdowns to one interception when throwing in a clean pocket. He also completed 69% of his passes beyond the line of scrimmage, while 52 attempts were for passing of 20+ yards; the most in the NCAA.

6. Carolina Panthers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

The Carolina Panthers experiment with Sam Darnold and bringing in Cam Newton fell flat, so they’ll be looking to update the position through the draft. Pickett rewrote the passing record book for the Pitt Panthers this past season while being the highest-graded deep ball passer and second-highest graded overall passer. Grabbing Pickett improves the Panthers offense drastically.

7. New York Giants: (from CHI): OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

The New York Giants already have an excellent young tackle in Andrew Thomas, but with them taking Corral coming off an injury, protecting their potential franchise quarterback should be the top priority. Ekwonu did not allow a sack this past season, emerging as the perfect suitor to keep Corral on his feet.

8. Atlanta Falcons: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

While the Atlanta Falcons have many needs, their top receiver in Calvin Ridley announced he would like a fresh start. Wilson had one of the highest grades at getting separation this past season and would be an excellent replacement option for Ridley. Wilson finished the fourth-highest grade among wideouts this season and bolsters the Falcons offense.

9. Denver Broncos: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

This feels like the best fit for Denver with them trading Von Miller away and there being a void opposite Bradley Chubb. In 2019 as a freshman, Karlaftis set the record for the most pressures by a true freshman in a single season at 55. He is also tied with Hutchinson at a 24% win rate against screens and RPO’s.

10. New York Jets: (from SEA): CB Derek Stingley Jr, LSU

The Jets get the top two defensive back prospects in the class with their first two selections. Stingley fills in as automatic CB1 alongside Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, and Brandon Echols. Stingley had a fantastic freshman season in 2019, allowing only 18.8% of his targets to be caught when the opposing receiver has a step+ of separation. He has dealt with ankle issues since 2020 that has slowed his progress, but when he is on the field, he is one of the top players in the class.

11. Washington Football Team: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Washington can’t go into the season with the uncertainty they did this season at the quarterback position, resulting in Willis being selected to fill the need. He is a versatile quarterback who was the highest-graded passer in Bowl games this year. His game resembles Cam Newton, who was drafted by Head Coach Ron Rivera, now at Washington.

12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

The Minnesota Vikings had the second-worst defense in the NFL this season, and with the departure of Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman, they could be tempted to start the new chapter off with a potential quarterback of the future. Instead, they will grab the top-graded cornerback in Ahmad Gardner. In 1,008 snaps, he has not allowed a single touchdown.

13. Cleveland Browns: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The Browns need an offensive rejuvenation after the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. this season. Olave is the top route-runner in this respective class and has generated a step or more of separation on 88% of his targets; the most in the NCAA. He is a great fit in Cleveland, complementing the receiving corps that includes Jarvis Landry and Donavan Peoples-Jones.

14. Baltimore Ravens: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The Ravens have a massive hole at right tackle, leaving Cross as the perfect match. He has allowed only five quarterback pressures across 553 pass block attempts this past season playing on the left side of the offensive line. The addition of Cross allows protection for Lamar Jackson, who will likely have Ronnie Stanley returning next season to cover responsibilities at left tackle.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): LB Nkobe Dean, Georgia

Philadelphia is looking for a prospect to revamp their defense, leading them to select Dean. He has been the highest-graded defensive player in the SEC since 2018 and was also the only player to rank first in pass-rushing and coverage.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Continuing to bolster their defense, the Eagles add Kaiir Elam, who has only allowed three touchdowns across his collegiate career. He is also tied for second in the NCAA in career yards allowed per snap at outside corner with 0.7 yards per snap.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: IDL Demarvin Leal, Texas A&M

This is a no-brainer pick for the Los Angeles Chargers, as they struggled to stop the run this past season. Leal is one of the best defensive talents against the run in the class, ending last season with 12.5 tackles for loss while logging 8.5 sacks and 58 tackles.

18. New Orleans Saints: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina

New Orleans needs a quarterback for the future, which is where Sam Howell comes in. Many have Howell as the top quarterback prospect in this class. Since 2019, Howell has compiled 10,040 passing yards and 91 TDs. His rushing grade of 91 is first among quarterback prospects.

19. Philadelphia Eagles: EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

With the Philadelphia Eagles set to lose a pair of edge rushers, they’re grabbing an ACC Defensive Player of the Year in the later stages of the first round. The Eagles need somebody who can pressure opposing quarterbacks. Johnson does just that, leading the ACC in pressures.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

The Pittsburgh Steelers can address their quarterback vacancy via free agency or trade, but for the time being, they should invest in a versatile offensive linemen in Kenyon Green. He has experience playing everywhere on the offensive front with the exception of center. Green made PFF’s All-SEC First Team in 2021 and was a finalist for the 2021 Lombardi award.

21. Las Vegas Raiders: CB Trent McDuffeie, Washington

The Las Vegas Raiders are in need of a cornerback and McDuffie can help fill that void. Casey Hayward is a pending free agent, while Damon Arnett was released. McDuffie is currently ranked as Daniel Jeremiah’s CB3 in the upcoming class. He also leads the draft class in career yards allowed per coverage snap at outside corner with 0.6 yards allowed per snap.

22. Miami Dolphins (from SF): C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

This would be a bargain selection for the Miami Dolphins to get arguably the best interior offensive linemen in the class. Linderbaum is a true center and plug-and-play starter for Miami. He has maintained a 96.3 run-blocking grade from PFF; the highest for a center since 2014. Linderbaum can pass block as well, as he has only allowed 17 pressures across more than 1,000 career pass-blocking snaps.

23. New England Patriots: CB Andrew Booth Jr, Clemson

Booth would be a tremendous pick to go to New England opposite of J.C. Jackson. In 2020, Booth had the lowest passer rating allowed on throws 20+ yards downfield with a rating of 9.0; the next-lowest was 14.6. Booth ended last season with three interceptions, five passes defended, and 26 tackles across 11 games played.

24. Arizona Cardinals: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan

The Arizona Cardinals boast a stout offense and solid defense, so protecting Kyler Murray makes sense here. Raimann has potential, and while he does contain minor inconsistencies in his play, he should find success at the next level.

25. Cincinatti Bengals: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

The Cincinnati Bengals bolster their tackle position talent with Penning, who is listed at 6’7″ and 322 pounds. With one of the longest wingspans in the class, it will make life easier for lockouts on his blocks. Penning is described to have a “nasty demeanor”, which is something the Bengals are looking for on the other side of Jonah Williams.

26. Buffalo Bills: IDL Jordan Davis, Georgia

Buffalo brings in a National Champion defensive tackle who fills run gaps and rushes the passer from the nose tackle position. Davis had a tremendous showing in the National Championship, recording two tackles (one for a loss), one pass defended, and nearly had a strip-sack that was ultimately overturned.

27. Dallas Cowboys: S Daxton Hill, Michigan

Dallas needs to further bolster their secondary by selecting Daxton Hill, who can play both safety and slot corner. Hill finished last season with 42 tackles, two interceptions, and eight pass breakups.

28. Detroit Lions (from LAR): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Burks is a physical specimen who adds much-needed receiver depth for the Detroit Lions. Listed at 6’3″ and 225 pounds, Burks runs a 4.2 40-yard dash and squats over 500 pounds. He was the highest-graded SEC wideout and finished the season with 66 receptions and 11 touchdowns.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Jahan Dotson, Penn State

The Chiefs select a true WR2 and potential Tyreek Hill successor in Jahan Dotson, who has proven to be a fantastic receiver in contested situations. He tied for third in the NCAA in 15+ yard catches in single coverage downfield in each of the last two seasons.

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: IDL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Devonte Wyatt came up big down the stretch for the Georgia Bulldogs, boosting his draft stock. He was the sixth-rated SEC front seven player and fifth-highest player in the National Title game.

31. Tennessee Titans: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan

Ojabo would be a steal at the end of the first round as a project player. He has potential, but is seen to be raw as a pass-rusher. Ojabo passes the eye test now and could develop into a starting talent at the next level.

32. Green Bay Packers: OT Daniel Falale, Minnesota

While this is a bit of a reach, Falale was ranked as one of the top five offensive tackles in the country last year for the Golden Gophers. Against ranked teams, he allowed six hurries and one sack across his collegiate career.

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