The NFL Draft is the most exciting and unpredictable time in the sports world. With that being said, they should be no surprise the number of mock drafts you see online each year during draft season. The first round has been locked up for a while now but what about rounds 2-7? Here are some predictions on who will go where come this April’s draft day.
The “nfl mock draft 2022 simulator” is a free tool that predicts the NFL draft for future years. It is a simulation, so it does not have any of the information about the players selected in real drafts. The tool also includes player and team depth charts for every team.
With the first wave of NFL free agency behind us, as well as a few game-changing quarterback deals, club needs are becoming clearer ahead of the 2022 NFL draft. We’ve seen which clubs have been proactive in bringing in veterans and which have waited out free agency (and preserved salary-cap room) in order to focus on a draft class rich in wide receivers and edge rushers.
Let’s get started on a fresh first-round mock draft after the free agency period. With the Seahawks (No. 9) entering the first round and the Texans (No. 13) and Packers (No. 22) acquiring a second Round 1 pick, this mock has some noteworthy differences from the one I produced just before the combine earlier this month. What will happen to the first quarterback? Could the Lions make a difference at No. 2? And what is the Falcons’ current strategy?
As a reminder, I’ll estimate the top 32 choices based on my rankings, club needs, and what I’m hearing from league executives, scouts, and coaches. Round 1 starts on April 28, so there’s still plenty of time for additional adjustments.
The order for all 262 choices has been decided, and don’t miss our one-hour SportsCenter Special on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET. Let’s get started:
DE, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson
Before the combine, when I prepared my prior mock draft, I began my write-up for this choice with the following: “Is this an offensive lineman or an edge rusher situation? I don’t believe the Jaguars are locked in either direction.” In the NFL, things change rapidly. Jacksonville elected to franchise tag left tackle Cam Robinson for the second year in a row, eliminating the need for a top-tier blindside protector for quarterback Trevor Lawrence (at least for the time being). Unless a desperate club trades up, Hutchinson is now the overwhelming favorite to join the Jaguars.
In new coordinator Mike Caldwell’s defense, Hutchinson, my top-ranked talent in this class, could rack up double-digit sacks on the opposite side of Josh Allen. The Jaguars made a few high-profile free-agent signings, but they still have a large void at defensive end.
Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton (S)
The Lions will use pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, but the best offensive tackles aren’t available; Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell are the only options. Thibodeaux carries more risk than I’d want for a No. 2 choice, since there’s no assurance he’ll develop into his enormous potential. I’d rather go with a safer option here, and I’ve come around to the idea of Hamilton in Detroit, which my friend Todd McShay has been pushing for.
Hamilton, a 6-foot-4 playmaking safety, would instantly increase the ceiling of a defense that has struggled for years. He has the ability to play in the box, out of the slot, and in center field. Normally, I’d think this is too expensive for a safety, but Hamilton is a one-of-a-kind player. Tracy Walker, the Detroit Lions’ safety, was re-signed, but he might play alongside Hamilton.
NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu
The Texans are expected to continue ahead with Davis Mills as their quarterback now that Deshaun Watson has left the team. This club just needs to concentrate on bolstering the skill pool around Mills, and then assess where it stands in 2023. Houston will not contend in the AFC South this season, but they might return to the top five next season. It should grab the best talent available with five selections in the top 80 in 2017 draft, including the No. 13 pick from the Watson trade.
That’s Ekwonu, an outstanding offensive tackle in my opinion. Yes, Laremy Tunsil will return on the left side, but with Ekwonu at right tackle, the Texans will have one of the best bookend duos in the league. This is a team with a lot of gaps, so this pick is another important step in a long process of rebuilding.
Drake London (USC) is a wide receiver for the Trojans.
The Jets have filled holes at tight end (C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin), safety (Jordan Whitehead), cornerback (D.J. Reed), and guard (Jordan Whitehead) (Laken Tomlinson). They haven’t acquired an outside wide receiver to complement Zach Wilson yet, but any of their top-10 choices might be used to do so. They might choose from among the greatest receivers in the class, and there’s no need to wait if they want to pick one.
London, my top-ranked wideout, with 88 receptions for 1,084 yards in eight games in 2021 before his season was cut short due to a fractured right ankle. He has the potential to be a weapon in the red zone. New York would boast a youthful and strong receiving corps for Wilson’s second season, with London and Corey Davis on the outside and Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios in the slot.
Alabama OT Evan Neal
The Giants haven’t been as aggressive in free agency as the other team with two top-10 choices, as new general manager Joe Schoen works to bring the club back into solid salary-cap condition. That isn’t to say they don’t have holes to fill, especially at edge rusher and offensive tackle. They can acquire Day 1 starters at both positions with the way the board has dropped in my forecast.
Neal is a colossal tackle who can outrun opponents in the run game and protect the quarterback with his feet. Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 selection in the 2020 draft, showed significantly improved in his second season and might replace Neal at left tackle. Neal also played some guard at Alabama, and he has the potential to be a star there as well. The Giants must keep quarterback Daniel Jones upright in this crucial season.
DE Travon Walker (Georgia)
The Panthers have yet to make a quarterback deal, despite the fact that Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are still on the market, but they are definitely looking to replace Sam Darnold. Could Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett be brought in? It’s conceivable. Coach Matt Rhule is under fire, and this might be his last chance to make a major statement in 2022. Still, if he wants to win right now, he’d be better off dealing for a veteran and avoiding a rookie quarterback. Instead, Carolina might go with a 6-foot-5 edge rusher who is still developing into his body.
Walker’s stock continues to rise in the draft process, as he shone at the Senior Bowl and performed well at the combine. He didn’t have “wow” stats in college (he had six sacks for the national champions last season), but it was due to the dominance of the whole Georgia defense. In the NFL, he could put up bigger statistics, and he’s also good versus the run.
DE, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux
This selection makes sense for both the team and the prospect. The Giants’ best pass-rusher last season was rookie Azeez Ojulari, who led the club with eight sacks, and they need to improve on that side of the ball. This is their greatest opportunity to bring in a young, quality defensive end. They can afford to choose Thibodeaux, who has a high upside but was inconsistent in 2021, with this choice.
If Thibodeaux combines all of his skills, he’ll be an All-Pro player. However, if he does not develop secondary techniques and enhance his overall game, he may suffer. He has the physical characteristics that NFL clubs need, but selecting him in the top ten is a hazardous move. Keep an eye on cornerback or linebacker with this choice if New York passes on Thibodeaux.
Garrett Wilson (Ohio State) is a wide receiver.
Goodbye, Matt Ryan. Isn’t that implying the Falcons will go with a quarterback? Certainly not. They have one of the poorest rosters in the league and may attempt to get by with Marcus Mariota for a season before investing heavily on a quarterback in the 2023 draft. There’s no guarantee they’ll draft Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett with a top-10 choice. I wouldn’t, either, based on where they are in my rankings — Nos. 19 and 20. This is a squad that is still a long way from being competitive, therefore it shouldn’t be forced.
Wilson, a field-stretcher who has 113 receptions and 18 touchdowns for the Buckeyes over the previous two seasons, might be the top prospect available and fill a need position for Atlanta. At the combine, he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. The Falcons don’t have any starting-caliber receivers on their roster to catch Mariota’s throws now that Calvin Ridley is out for the season.
Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross
What’s the Seahawks’ plan for 2022? Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and D.J. Reed are gone. Quandre Diggs, Al Woods, Rashaad Penny and Will Dissly are back. They added Drew Lock, Noah Fant and Uchenna Nwosu, among a few others. So even after parting ways with two of the best players in franchise history, I don’t think coach Pete Carroll & Co. want to rebuild. It seems they want to give it a go with Lock at quarterback and try to win. That’s why I don’t see quarterback being an option here; Carroll and general manager John Schneider can instead use this pick on an early starter.
At left tackle, Cross may fill in for veteran Duane Brown. He’s an outstanding pass-blocker who dominated the SEC. Seattle has back-to-back Round 2 selections (Nos. 40 and 41) to add potential starters after giving up its initial first-round pick in the Jamal Adams deal.
CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner of the Cincinnati Bengals
I believe the Jets would be ecstatic to receive a lockdown corner with their second first-round selection, bolstering a secondary that allowed passers to average 53.5 QBR last season, ranking 31st in the league. The addition of D.J. Reed will help, but I still believe there is a need at cornerback. They also need a safety, but beyond Kyle Hamilton, I don’t have another one with a first-round rating.
Gardner is a shutdown corner with a lot of potential. He proved against Alabama in the College Football Playoff that he can compete with the best. I’m a tremendous supporter.
LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. is a cornerback.
Make a note of April 6 on your calendar. Scouts will be able to witness Stingley on the field for the first time since his foot injury in September at that time. He didn’t work out at the combine because he underwent surgery on his Lisfranc injury. It’s a big day for a cornerback who was once considered a top choice. He was one of LSU’s finest players as a true freshman in 2019, helping the Tigers win the national championship. Stingley has only appeared in 10 games in the last two seasons and his tape is mixed. I’m still optimistic about his potential, but if he doesn’t test well, he might fall.
Last season, Washington experienced a lot of injuries at cornerback, and Stingley might help them improve. For new quarterback Carson Wentz, I also considered a receiver to pair with Terry McLaurin.
Trent McDuffie is a cornerback for the Washington Redskins.
Since 2013, the Vikings have spent four first-round choices on cornerbacks. Are you able to name all of them? (OK, fine: Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mike Hughes, and Jeff Gladney are their names.) None of them are now on the roster, and the men who picked them, coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, are also no longer with the team. For new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell, this is still a need position.
McDuffie is the genuine thing; his most famous stat is that he hasn’t allowed a single touchdown in coverage in the last two seasons, and he gives it his best on every play. He’ll almost certainly start on the first day.
Georgia’s Jordan Davis is a defensive tackle.
The Texans aren’t in a position to prioritize necessities above quality, as I indicated in my analysis of the No. 3 choice. Because this isn’t going to be a rapid rebuild, they need to recruit the best players they can and work out the rest afterwards. So, although I was considering edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II and a handful of wide receivers, I chose to acquire Houston a big defensive lineman who could help everyone around him.
Davis, who weighs 341 pounds, can help Lovie Smith’s defense in the middle. He shined at the combine earlier this month, and he’ll dominate interior centers and guards on early downs even if he doesn’t have great pass-rush potential. He’s a one-of-a-kind guy who, when deployed correctly, can help off-ball linebackers find space and get in the face of quarterbacks.
Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) Tyler Linderbaum (
This situation would almost certainly excite the Ravens. They recently released Bradley Bozeman, who started at center in 2021 and left guard in 2019 and 2020, and they don’t have a replacement on the roster. Linderbaum would be a step forward, not just a replacement. He’s one of the top center prospects of the last decade, as I’ve noted a few times.
Another position to keep an eye on is defensive end. Offensive tackle would have been a possibility as well, but Baltimore signed free agent right tackle Morgan Moses.
Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II is a defensive end.
The Eagles haven’t been very active in free agency, but they did bring back defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and acquire impact edge rusher Haason Reddick. Since my previous mock draft, I don’t believe any of their requirements have changed. To fill out their three first-round selections, I’m looking at wide receiver, cornerback, safety, off-ball linebacker, and defensive end (yes, they still need one).
Johnson, a one-year starter who transferred from Georgia to FSU and had a fantastic 2021 season, comes to mind. He performed well in the Senior Bowl, and he is now projected to be drafted in the top 20. NFL clubs are constantly looking for pass rushers, and he might contribute right away.
Ohio State’s Chris Olave is a wide receiver.
Olave is a versatile player who can contribute early and frequently for a Philadelphia club that has to improve its passing game with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Olave is a speedster who scored 13 touchdowns last season (4.39 40-yard sprint at the combine). This would be the Eagles’ third consecutive draft in which they choose a wide receiver in the first round, but it should be a top priority if they want to return to the playoffs.
Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning is an offensive tackle.
You’ve probably heard how poor the Chargers’ run defense was in 2021, and they’ve already made efforts to fix it by signing two defensive tackles in free agency, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson, both of whom coach Brandon Staley knows from his time with the Rams. That likely eliminates defensive tackle off the draft’s list of needs.
So let’s shift our focus to right tackle, where Bryan Bulaga was just dismissed. Storm Norton isn’t the solution there, but Penning could be. He’s a great run blocker, and offensive line coaches like him because he’s tough and plays through the whistle. The Chargers would have first-round tackles in back-to-back drafts, and left tackle Rashawn Slater looked like a standout as a rookie.
Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett
The Saints sought to sign Deshaun Watson but were unable to do so, so are they now fully committed to Jameis Winston? No, I don’t believe so. Why shouldn’t they take Pickett if the board shakes out this way, with all of the passers available? He’s the most NFL-ready of the three, having thrown 42 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions last season. He is really precise. He knows how to lead a squad and operate an attack. He has the potential to be a key player for the Saints in the future.
This is an odd quarterback class, and everyone I speak with in the league has a different opinion on when Pickett and Malik Willis will be available. No one can be certain. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ended up in New Orleans.
ILB Devin Lloyd (Utah)
Here’s where Philadelphia’s off-ball linebacker deficiency may be filled. Lloyd has 111 total tackles, eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss, four interceptions, and a forced fumble last season, making him one of the top all-around defenders in college football. In the passing game, he can cover tight ends and running backs and has some juice as a blitzer. Lloyd’s 4.66 40-yard sprint at the combine indicates that he lacks the straight-line speed of previous top-five choice Devin White (a linebacker I’ve likened him to), but I don’t believe he should be passed over by the Eagles.
With Lloyd, Chris Olave, and Jermaine Johnson II, the Eagles have three early starters.
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis
Mitch Trubisky’s new deal with Pittsburgh is structured in such a way that this franchise could certainly pick a quarterback here, with just $5.25 million guaranteed over two years. Trubisky might serve as a stepping stone for Willis, who is raw but very gifted. He is the most gifted quarterback in this class, as I predicted when I projected him to the Steelers in my prior mock. Willis might compete in training camp alongside Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Dwayne Haskins, but he won’t be under pressure to start in Week 1. That would be really important for him.
The Steelers still have needs to fill along the offensive line and in the secondary if they go in a different way.
Alabama WR Jameson Williams
Unlike last year, the Patriots have been somewhat quiet in free agency, releasing standout cornerback J.C. Jackson to a lucrative contract while failing to acquire any sure-fire starters. Right tackle, off-ball linebacker, defensive end, cornerback, and wide receiver all have flaws in my opinion. This summer, they’ve also lost key coaches, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Despite this, Bill Belichick’s Patriots won 10 games last season and still have a number of talented players on the roster.
Williams was predicted here in my first mock draft in mid-January, and it’s a good match. Williams had a fantastic season for the Crimson Tide, rushing for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns before tearing his ACL in the national championship game. He said during the combine that he is ahead of plan in his recuperation, but it is probable that he may miss a significant portion of the season while recovering. New England could afford to wait for a legitimate No. 1 receiver with the potential to be a long-term great. We also know that Belichick has a habit of enlisting Alabama players.
Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
OK, so this isn’t the sexiest choice that Packers fans will enjoy after obtaining it in the Davante Adams trade, but before you holler at me, check out Green Bay’s other pick at No. 28. Green might fill the right guard post left vacant by Lucas Patrick’s free agency signing with the Bears. Josh Myers, a second-round selection last year, looked well at center, but the team needs to acquire another offensive lineman. Green has played both guard and tackle for the Aggies, demonstrating his flexibility.
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Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt is a defensive tackle.
Arizona hasn’t signed many external free agents thus yet, having allowed edge rusher Chandler Jones and wide receiver Christian Kirk walk for huge contracts in free agency. This choice may go in a number of directions, including wide receiver (which seems to be depleted) and offensive line.
Jordan Davis, if he makes it here, may be a good match for the Cardinals, but his old Georgia colleague Wyatt could also be a good fit. At the combine, the 305-pound tackle put forth a strong performance, and at the Senior Bowl, he pleased NFL scouts. In four seasons, he only has five sacks, but I believe he could put up higher statistics in the correct pro system. He’ll relieve some of the load on J.J. Watt.
Tulsa’s Tyler Smith (OT/G)
Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, Connor Williams, Cedrick Wilson, and La’el Collins are among the significant departures from the Cowboys in 2022. That doesn’t necessary imply that they’ll be worse, but they do need to close a few gaps. If this is the way the board shakes out, I’m not sure an edge rusher makes sense — might Dallas take a chance on David Ojabo, who tore his Achilles during his pro day last week? — but there are a few offensive linemen who could go in right away. The Cowboys should reprioritize the line now that Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are both over 30.
Smith could play guard or tackle, and he’d fill Williams’ left guard place in this scenario. The other option is Zion Johnson, who could possibly play some center.
Penn State WR Jahan Dotson
Buffalo cut Cole Beasley and signed Jamison Crowder as a slot receiver, but Crowder is unlikely to be a long-term solution for the Bills. Dotson would be the one. Where would he be most useful? Lowest season, the Bills were last in the league in average yards after the catch (4.3). Dotson is a dynamic playmaker who has the ability to score with every touch. In 2021, he threw for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns.
This is a luxury choice since the Bills have had a tremendous offseason so far. Dotson, on the other hand, may be useful as a rookie.
Boston College G/C Zion Johnson
Tennessee will need a strong offensive line if it hopes to continue pounding the ball in the run game with Derrick Henry. Johnson, who played a variety of positions in college, might help the Titans at guard. While playing guard in 2021, he didn’t allow any QB pressures and is a strong run blocker.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Titans choose a wideout here, even after getting Robert Woods. Treylon Burks and Jahan Dotson are two players that might be considered.
Iowa State’s Breece Hall is a running back.
I made my decision before the Bucs re-signed Leonard Fournette on Tuesday morning, and I’m not changing it. Their depth chart at running back remains bare, and Hall might be a huge help. I’m not a fan of choosing backs in the first round, but Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians may be able to choose from the complete running back class here.
Over the last two seasons, Hall has rushed for 3,044 yards and 41 touchdowns while also catching 59 passes. At the combine, his 4.39 40-yard dash addressed a lot of doubts about his straight-line speed. In this class, he is without a doubt the best running back. Because the Bucs have a need at left guard, Zion Johnson, if he is available, might be the choice.
Arkansas’ Treylon Burks is a wide receiver.
Fans of the Green Bay Packers, do you think this is a better option? Burks will almost definitely have to take a lot of early snaps to help fill the vacuum created by Davante Adams’ shocking departure. Burks is a 6-foot-2 receiver with modest run-after-the-catch talent who can break tackles and sprint past defensive backs despite his lack of speed. Last season, he threw for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Green Bay will have to hope that Burks develops more quickly than Adams, who had two up-and-down seasons before breaking out in Year 3. Aaron Rodgers is in desperate need of assistance right now. And I believe the Packers will be able to choose many receivers with their first-round choices in 2017 draft.
ILB Nakobe Dean (Georgia)
This was a difficult decision for me. It’s an area to keep an eye on for an offensive tackle, but Miami doesn’t have to pick one if it signs free agent Terron Armstead (who visited the club on Monday). I also considered wide receiver Skyy Moore, who is on the rise after his impressive performance at the combine and might slip into the first round. Finally, I see a weakness in the center of the Dolphins’ defense that a competent every-down linebacker could fill.
Dean led the national champions’ defense with 72 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions. He can cover tight ends and can blow up running backs in the run game. He’s a rough guy. Dean may be a bargain for a defense that is already strong.
Purdue’s George Karlaftis, DE
The Chiefs must recruit quality edge rushers if they want to maintain Chris Jones at defensive tackle, where he can ruin game plans from the inside. Last season, they were 29th in total sacks (31) and 31st in running yards allowed per carry (4.8), although improving late in the season. Karlaftis is a versatile defensive end with pass-rushing skills and the ability to anchor down in the run game. Last season, he only recorded 4.5 sacks, but the talents are there.
You may have noticed that David Ojabo, who tore his Achilles tendon at the Michigan pro day last week, isn’t predicted in Round 1. I believe he’ll go in the second round now, despite my enthusiasm for him as a potential. That’s a serious injury, and he might miss the whole 2022 season as a result. The Chiefs need immediate assistance.
Connecticut’s Travis Jones is a defensive tackle.
This summer, the Bengals drastically retooled their offensive line, signing four new starters in free agency. Joe Burrow, who was pummeled in his first two seasons, will be relieved of some of the strain in Year 3. With this choice, the Super Bowl runner-up can now satisfy a different need, and I envision Jones as a successor for Larry Ogunjobi, who had a fantastic 2021 season.
Jones is a 325-pound nose tackle with unusually long arms who uses his power to dominate gaps. He had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl in January, propelling him into the top 50 choices. For a Bengals squad that is primed to challenge for another AFC North crown, he may make sense.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral
I’m sticking with Corral to the Lions, but I’ve heard it’s not impossible that he’ll be the first QB off the board. Teams haven’t seen him since his ankle injury in early January since he didn’t work out at the combine. He’ll throw for scouts at his pro day on Wednesday, which may generate some attention. Though he doesn’t have a large build, he throws a ball with a lot of zip and is incredibly difficult (6-foot-2, 212 pounds). The most pressing matter concerns the offense he ran in college; his coaches did not need him to make many reads. In the NFL, there will be a change.
I simply don’t see Jared Goff as the Lions’ quarterback of the future. This permits them to sign a team-friendly five-year deal with a prospective future quarterback.
The “NFL mock draft 2022” is a mock draft that predicts the NFL Draft for the year 2022. The Packers are predicted to have the first pick in this draft. Reference: nfl mock draft 2022 packers.
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