NFL Mock Draft 2022; JD’s “No Trades” First Round
Written by Jeff Demers on 04/15/2022
We are just two weeks away from the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas! This is the official/unofficial kickoff to the 2022 NFL season. It’s the time of the year where every single team, from the Rams down to the Jaguars feel like their savior has arrived in the form of their first round selection. The first round pick is the most criticized pick by every single fan who is critical of their team. This is my NFL Mock Draft 2022!
I have run multiple polls on Twitter (@Smaahtside) over the last few weeks and in just about every one, regardless of the team in question, the fans always pick a wide receiver for their teams first pick. Every fan wants the flash, the entertainment, the headliners to be on their team. But they don’t think about those in the trenches that every winning organization needs. You need a solid Offensive Tackle to watch your quarterback’s….well….back! You need good interior lineman so you can have a solid running game. On the other side of the ball, you need a big Defensive Tackle to take up as many blockers as possible to allow the linebackers to find the holes and make the tackles. And you need a dominant edge rusher to put Josh Allen on the ground!
Make no mistake about it, the “Big Men” are the engines that run the machines on both sides of the ball. But, like I said before, it’s not the “flashy” or the “sexy” pick. Every fan this year is going to be watching to see if their team picks up the next Jamar Chase, who basically just had the greatest rookie season in NFL history.
Before I do get into my NFL Mock Draft 2022, let me give you a quick heads up; I’ve spent a lot of time on this draft. I’ve spent more time than I should have on this draft. What kept me up at night is the fact that there are EIGHT teams with multiple picks in the first round! This one fact has turned my “big board” into a big board with a “big hole” in it. Just trying to make an educated guess on who is going to move up and who is going to stay put with their multiple picks has driven me to the point of exhaustion. So for my NFL Mock Draft 2022, there will be NO TRADES! Yeah, I know there will be trades in the draft, but trying to figure out where they are coming from is like trying to figure out what Bill Belichick is going to do in the 4th round. I mine as well just throw a dart and see what happens.
So because of this, my NFL Mock Draft 2022 will be based solely on team needs, where they are currently lined up to draft. Trust me, it’s better for all of our sanities if I do it this way. I’ve read about a dozen of these mock drafts that include trades and I’d be willing to say that I don’t think any of them will be 100% accurate. Honestly, I’m hoping to get the position drafted correct about 30% of the time, with a bonus point for getting the actual player correct. So without further delay, here with go with my NFL Mock Draft 2022!
- Jacksonville Jaguars: How can I possibly get this one wrong? It’s real simple, actually. The Jaguars needs are OL, Edge, and WR. The best players at the top of the board are both edge rushers, in my opinion: Aidan Hutchinson, and Travon Walker. I’m giving the edge (pun intended) to the big guy from Michigan since the Jaguars were next to last in sacks last season. He’s got the spot over Walker because he’s a more polished pass rusher. So with the first pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Jacksonville Jaguars take Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan.
- Detroit Lions: Detroit has multiple picks in this round (currently 2nd, 32nd). But this is a No-Trades draft. To me, this pick is very simple. Once the Jaguars take Hutchinson off the board, the Lions choice becomes very simple. With the 2nd pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Detroit Lions will select Travon Walker, DE, Georgia. This covers a big need for the Lions (Edge, QB, CB), and Walker is a perfect fit for Dan Campbell’s vision of what a Detroit Lions player should be, give or take a knee cap or two.
- Houston Texans: Having passed off their Deshaun Watson problem to the Cleveland Browns, the Texans can feel good about calling Davis Mills their starting quarterback. So instead of looking for a QB here, the Texans can look toward more dire needs. New head coach, Lovie Smith is a defensive minded coach. And the Texans have needs at Edge and Cornerback. But they also have big holes to fill on the offensive line to give Mills a comfortable pocket to throw from. With the 3rd pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Houston Texans will select Charlie Cross, OT, Mississippi State.
- New York Jets: Let’s be honest here, the New York Jets are playing for last place at the current moment in the AFC East, given what the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins have done in the offseason. And no, they will not have a better record than the Patriots. So they will draft for the future with their multiple picks inside the top 10. They need Edge, WR, and CB. I want to say that the first Wide Receiver of the draft is coming off the board here, but with the talent at that position in the AFC East, the Jets need to go with a Cornerback here. With the 4th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New York Jets select Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati. Gardner never allowed a touchdown in college (that I know of), despite starting as a freshman. He is the best Corner in the draft.
- New York Giants: Make no mistake about it, the Giants are running with Daniel Jones as their starter at Quarterback again this year. On the other side of that, if he doesn’t perform much better this season, the experiment is over. With that being said, the Giants will use this pick to both give him some help, and fill a glaring need (Edge, OT, TE). With the 5th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New York Giants select Evan Neal, OT, Alabama. This guy is impressive. At 6-foot-7, and 350 pounds, he moves with quick feet and can play both sides of the ball without missing a beat.
- Carolina Panthers: Do you believe in life after….the Jets? Sam Darnold does. Even after posting a season with just 9 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. But he still claims he can be a good quarterback in this league. And that’s what you’re supposed to say if you want to keep your job. The facts are that he’s been on two bad teams so far, hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season yet in his four-year career, and he just had back-to-back seasons with only nine touchdowns in consecutive seasons playing only 12 games. I personally believe that they will run with him again this season since most General Managers usually aren’t that quick to admit a mistake at quarterback after only one season. So the needs of the Panthers are QB, OL, and Edge. They could pick a quarterback here, but I don’t see one that is worthy of the #6 pick. So we’re going to go with another big guy, and one that could help both Darnold and Chuba Hubbard in the running game. With the 6th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Carolina Panthers select Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State. Ekwonu is probably the best run-blocking tackle in the draft and is a solid pass-blocker. It’s time for the Panthers to get back to their running game leading the way for the offense.
- New York Giants: I don’t see the Giants keeping both of their picks in this round. But again, to keep this draft simple, they will stick with it and pick up another need after selecting Neal at the 5th pick. The Giants still need to pick up an edge rusher and tight end. And with no tight end carrying a first-round grade on my board, there is only one spot in mind for this pick. With the 7th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New York Giants select Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon.
- Atlanta Falcons: Marcus Marriota’s signing says to me that the Falcons are not going to use a first-round pick on a quarterback. They could, but with glaring needs at Wide Receiver and on the Edge, the Falcons probably won’t go for their future QB in this round. Kyle Pitts was a solid pick last year for the Falcons. But he didn’t have the year he was projected to have since Atlanta didn’t have any weapons worth worrying about on the outside. This is where Pitts gets some of that defensive secondary looking elsewhere. With the 8th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Atlanta Falcons select Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State. I like Wilson’s versatility here, having produced at both the slot position and outside the numbers at Ohio State. This should allow Pitts to do more from the line and keep the defense guessing run vs. pass, creating mismatches.
- Seattle Seahawks: To be honest, I saw Aaron Rodgers going to Denver since I knew the Packers were not going to keep Adams. But once the Packers paid Rodgers a ton of money to (hopefully) retire in green, the Broncos sent an offer that couldn’t be refused to Seattle for (arguably) the best deep-ball passer in the NFL in Russell Wilson. With Wilson gone, the Seahawks look to build behind Drew Lock (and I guess Geno Smith). Also, there are rumors that the Seahawks are shopping DK Metcalf since they know they’ll need to pay him soon. So look for Seattle to be proactive on this and select a Wide Receiver with this selection. With the 9th pick in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Seattle Seahawks with take the second consecutive Ohio State Wide Receiver off the board and select Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State.
- New York Jets: It used to be that the Jets would draft with hopes to take down one Tom Brady in New England. Now, they have to worry about stopping Josh Allen in Buffalo and Tua in Miami. Both of whom are excellent outside of the pocket. And it just so happens that there is a glaring need for an edge rusher on new DC’s Jeff Ulbrich’s defense. So with the 10th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New York Jets select George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue. Karlaftis is a versatile edge rusher who can drop back into coverage if needed, and yes, he was one of the best pass rushers in college football last season.
- Washington Commanders: “Commanders.” That’s going to take a minute to get used to. I was just starting to like the “Football Team.” In any case, the COMMANDERS have big needs to fill here as most teams do. Their most glaring needs are Safety, Cornerback, and a Wide Receiver to compliment Terry McLaurin and give new quarterback Carson Wentz as many weapons as possible in his first year. With one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL last year, the priority has to go to defensive needs with this pick. With the 11th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Washington Commanders select Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU.
- Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have needs at Wide Receiver, Cornerback, and on the Defensive Line. Re-signing Patrick Peterson definitely helps, but with his age, the Vikings will definitely be looking for his successor in this draft or the next at Cornerback. They should also only have one mission this year…..get to Aaron Rodgers! Plus, stopping that Packers rushing attack is easier said than done. So I would look to one school who has two very good defensive lineman, worthy of a mid-first selection. That’s Georgia, with Jordan Davis and Devontae Wyatt. While both are solid selections here for run-stoppers, Wyatt stands out in the pass-rushing game and should be a menace in the middle of that line, forcing Rodgers out of the pocket. So with the 12th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Minnesota Vikings select Devontae Wyatt, DL, Georgia.
- Houston Texans: Having drafted some protection for Davis Mills with the 3rd overall selection, look for the Texans to make new head coach Lovie Smith happy with a defensive selection here. The team still has needs at both Cornerback and on the Edge. But I’m going a different direction here on the defensive side. If you could create a hybrid player who could do both, rush the passer and drop back in coverage, that is what you want here if you’re the Texans. So with the 13th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Houston Texans select Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Utah. Lloyd is a smart pick here for the Texans because he can rush the quarterback, set the edge, and cover the opposing team’s tight end.
- Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens went into the offseason with three glaring needs: Edge, CB, and OL. They took a run at filling the edge position when they came to a verbal agreement with Za’Darius Smith. But Smith backed out at the last second, leaving the position open as a need once again. The issue is that most of the top edge positions are already off the board, leaving the Ravens with two options; stretch the pick for someone who is slated for later in the round, or fill one of the other needs. So instead of reaching for an edge rusher like Boye Mafe (Minnesota), I can see the Ravens filling their need for a Cornerback here, especially with the Eagles drafting next with the same need. With the 14th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Baltimore Ravens select Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington.
- Philadelphia Eagles: With Trent McDuffie off the board one selection earlier, the Eagles have two other glaring needs to address; Defensive Line, and Wide Receiver. This is a great spot for that “sexy pick” I was talking about earlier. However, the Eagles have two defensive lineman hitting free agency next year (Hargrave, and Cox). But that is next year, and they still have the ability to re-sign both of them. So let’s look at finding a solid #1.5 Wide Receiver to go with Smith on the outside. With the 15th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles select Drake London, WR, USC. Coming off of a broken ankle last season, the upside of this 6-foot-5, 210 Wide Receiver is just too good to ignore should he come back at 100%.
- New Orleans Saints: The Saints have needs on the Defensive Line, at Offensive Tackle, and at Wide Receiver. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they address the quarterback position here as well. But this is a great selection to look at that defensive line. With the 16th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New Orleans Saints select Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia. There are sexier selections here with the need at Wide Receiver. But there is no denying that at 6-foot 6, around 360 pounds, he’s ready to completely destroy apposing teams rushing games as an almost immovable force.
- Los Angeles Chargers: The Chargers have spent a lot of money this offseason, with no bigger name at Cornerback than J.C. Jackson joining the team. While the Chargers could pick up another Cornerback here, they do have needs at Wide Receiver, Offensive Line, and Defensive Line positions. And if Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama) didn’t tear his ACL last season, this would be his spot. And it would be if there wasn’t another option to use a 1st-round pick on. With the 17th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Los Angeles Chargers select Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas. Burks is a smart move for the Chargers here because he has an excellent combination of both size and speed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds. Adding Burks gives the Chargers a Wide Receiver group that can rival any other in football.
- Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles missed out on the opportunity to draft McDuffie with their 15th overall selection. So, having a few extra picks to look over their big board, the Eagles will pick up their Cornerback here. With the 18th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles select Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida. Elam loves to play physical, which did get him in penalty trouble often last season. But, he welcomed the challenge to shut down some of the SEC’s best receivers with his long build. He’ll fit in well with the Eagles aggressive defense.
- New Orleans Saints: With needs still to be addressed on the offensive line, and at receiver, the Saints will look up at their big board and see a name that is hard to resist. The best deep threat is still on the board, as long as you can look past the torn ACL last season. I think the Saints will do just that with this pick. With the 19th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New Orleans Saints select Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Is Mitch Trubisky the answer at quarterback for the Steelers? I think they will run this season with him. With that being said, they could still look at Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett here. But I’m not sure I’ve seen enough to risk a first round pick on any of them since their success in college basically boils down to last year. The Steelers also have glaring needs at Cornerback, Safety, and Wide Receiver. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the top safety in the draft is still on the board. With the 20th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame. This guy is going to be a bruiser and can play multiple roles for the Steelers defense with his 6-foot-4, 220 pound frame.
- New England Patriots: As a Patriots fan, I so badly want that “sexy pick” right here! But the Patriots went out and picked up Jabari Parker to help the receiving corps and a young Mac Jones at quarterback. I have to go one of two ways with this pick with needs on the offensive line and at linebacker. This is a toss-up with the sexier pick being at linebacker. But if I (think I) know Bill Belichick, I’m protecting my quarterback, and enhancing what could be a top-5 rushing attack with a pick on the offensive line. With the 21st selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the New England Patriots select Zion Johnson, G, Boston College. I like this pick, not just because I’m a Pats and BC Eagles fan, but because it just makes sense. Johnson only allowed six pressures last season at Boston College, and keeping Mac Jones off the ground is high priority in New England.
- Green Bay Packers: I can tell you what the Packers need here (OL, Edge, WR), but let’s be honest. Rodgers lost the best receiver in football to free agency (Adams), and a reliable target in Valdes-Scantling. So I don’t see the Packers going anywhere else but Wide Receiver with this pick. But I also don’t see a Wide Receiver on the board that warrants this pick. So with the 22nd selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Green Bay Packers select Boye Maye, Edge, Minnesota. This guy had one of the highest grades at the Senior Bowl practices for edge rushers. He has one of the fastest “get offs” in his class. This isn’t the “sexy pick” but Maye will fill a need for the Packers with huge upside.
- Arizona Cardinals: The departures of Christian Kirk and Chandler Jones in free agency left two big holes to be filled on each side of the ball. Edge and Wide Receiver are just two needs that the Cardinals have. They also need a Cornerback to compliment Byron Murphy. And they need help in the middle of that defensive line, along with another running back. And I think that’s the direction I’m going on this one. With the 23rd selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Arizona Cardinals select Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State. This is not a Wide Receiver “sexy pick” but sexy nonetheless. The Cardinals re-signed James Conners in free agency. They also signed Zach Ertz and with Maxx Williams returning to the Cardinals, the opportunity to have a solid 12-personnel package would only be enhanced by adding the top running back in the draft. Walker had over 1600 rushing yards last season for the Spartans, while also leading college football in broken tackles (89). He’s a solid compliment to Conners and should be RB1 in the near future.
- Dallas Cowboys: The offensive line has to be top priority for the Cowboys in this draft with Collins and Williams departing. I’m not going to consider Edge or Wide Receiver here. This pick is specifically for that line. With the 24th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Dallas Cowboys select Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa. This guy is a beast at 6-foot-7, 321 pounds. He’s got a quick first step and can build holes for Zeke with ease. No-brainer selection here for the Cowboys.
- Buffalo Bills: Can I just give the Bills like a towel boy here or something? The Buffalo Bills are easily a top-5 team and have planted (for the moment) their flag on top of the AFC East. For this draft, they have needs at Cornerback, Running Back, and it wouldn’t hurt Josh Allen to get another Wide Receiver. If there was a question mark in the Bills offense last season it was in the rushing game. Josh Allen can’t run the ball every time on the goal line. Not if he wants to play out his contract. With the 25th selection in my NFL Draft 2022, the Buffalo Bills select Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State. I like this pick for the Bills. Hall has good size (6-foot-1, 220), and he excels in the passing game out of the backfield. The biggest upside? He broke over 60+ tackles last season, meaning he should be fed a lot inside the red zone.
- Tennessee Titans: The Titans have needs at OL, RB, and WR. They are said to have all of their starters on the offensive line locked in for this coming season. But depth at that position is never a bad thing. They also have Derek Henry, but the Titans could use some depth behind him too. However, I think a running back that’s still on the board might be a stretch this early. So let’s look at the Wide Receiver position. There are a couple that I like but I think the Titans are missing that slot guy with separation against man coverage. That man is in this draft. With the 26th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Tennessee Titans select Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan. More is great in space and can compliment AJ Brown in the slot.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: So Tom’s back, the Bucs have that going on for them. In other news, they have holes to fill at OG, OL, and TE. The priority as always? Protect Tom Brady. Brady is coming into his age-45 season, and protecting him is top priority for the Bucs. With the 27th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M. Perhaps the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft, Green played all positions on the line except center. He’ll fill in well in “Tompa Bay.”
- Green Bay Packers: This is the second pick for the Packers in the first round. Personally, I think they’ll trade out of it. But with needs on the offensive line and obviously at wide receiver, we’ll stretch for a pick in this “NO TRADES” draft. So with the 28th selection in my NFL Draft 2022, the Green Bay Packers select Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama. I watched film on Tolbert, and he looks very impressive. The reason why he’s not getting a ton of pre-draft hype is because he played at South Alabama and not Alabama. But he was one of the best deep threats in all of college football last year and Rodgers needs that weapon.
- Kansas City Chiefs: You’re not going to find a wide receiver in this draft to replace Tyreek Hill. But you can still find a wide receiver. Other needs in this draft are on the defensive side with holes at Edge, and Cornerback. You may not find the speed in a receiver like Hill in this draft, but you might find better hands. With the 29th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs select Johan Dotson, WR, Penn State. Dotson is one of the most reliable receivers in this draft. Last season, he only dropped two of 93 catchable passes.
- Kansas City Chiefs: With Wide Receiver taken care of with the previous selection, the Chiefs are going to use this selection on the defensive side of the ball. With the 30th selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs will go back to the Penn State pool and select Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State. One of the top pass-rushers in college football last season, Ebiketie had 52 pressures for Penn State last season after transferring from Temple.
- Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals definitely have a return trip to the “Big Game” in mind this upcoming season. They could use depth at almost all positions but have needs at CB, DL, and TE. This pick however, is one of those “best on the board” selections. With the 31st selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Cincinnati Bengals select Leo Chenel, LB, Wisconsin. This guy is one of the best downfield players and excels in blitz-heavy defenses, well-known for blowing up offensive lineman. He has the ability to add that “fear factor” to the Bengals defensive back seven.
- Detroit Lions: The Lions showed some promise toward the end of the season. But let’s not make any mistakes about it, they have a ton of room for improvement. With needs at Cornerback and Quarterback (after addressing Edge with #2 pick), is this the time to find a replacement for Jared Goff? With the 32nd selection in my NFL Mock Draft 2022, the Detroit Lions select Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh. Over 4,300 yards, 42 touchdowns, and only 7 interceptions, it seems like Pickett came from out of nowhere compared to his 2020 season. This selection should be where Detroit finally finds their quarterback of the future.
By Jeff Demers, host of The S3 Sports Podcast, April 14th, 2022.