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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kenny Pickett lands with Saints as new era begins in New Orleans
Kenny Pickett is the new era in New Orleans. Eagles focus heavy on defense. Will the Steelers land their QB of the future?
It’s NFL combine week! So, let’s get the week kicked off with a new 2022 NFL Mock Draft. As always, please share your passionate warm regards for how much you agree or disagree with each selection.
Here’s my updated projection for how Round 1 will look:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
I’ll be rolling with the protect your franchise quarterback narrative until I hear otherwise. Or until another prospect deems that superior to taking an offensive tackle at No. 1 overall. Evan Neal would be a day one starter in Jacksonville.
2. Detroit Lions
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson just feels like a Dan Campbell type of player. Detroit won’t reach for a quarterback here. Instead, the Lions can continue building a roster filled with young talent and hope they find the quarterback of the future in next year’s gushing QB class.
3. Houston Texans
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Unless Houston trades left tackle Laremy Tunsil prior to draft night, this selection could go multiple ways. They have many needs and if they don’t value the top of the board the way other teams reportedly do, a trade down is possible. If they stand pat, taking the best player on their board could be in play. Kyle Hamilton is widely considered one of the top-5 best prospects in this year’s class.
4. New York Jets
Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The Jets have several priorities this offseason but none more important than surrounding Zach Wilson with better players. No one would be shocked if Ikem Ekwonu ends up being first tackle drafted come April. He looks like an NFL All-Pro tackle or guard.
5. New York Giants
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Thibodeaux could go as high as No. 1 or slip into the teens. Falling to the Giants here at 5 would be a nice spot for both sides.
6. Carolina Panthers
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Last year the Panthers surprised a few around the league when they drafted cornerback Jaycee Horn over Patrick Surtain II. Matt Rhule and Carolina’s staff placed a high value in Horn’s physical attributes and high ceiling. If they’re focused on targeting the offensive line at No. 6, few prospects have the athleticism and ceiling of Charles Cross.
7. New York Giants (via Chicago)
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Giants are reportedly committed to helping Daniel Jones succeed this season. So, let’s give him a mauler on the offensive line. If Jones could spend less time running for his life in the pocket, he may just have a shot in New York.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Stingley may end up being one of the best players to come out of this draft class. But he’s a difficult evaluation. He hasn’t caught an interception in almost two years. High ceiling player with a floor that’s tough to confidently project.
9. Denver Broncos
David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
I’m really high on David Ojabo. I’m a believer that his ascension at Michigan last season played a big role in Aidan Hutchinson’s big year. Could it be the other way around? Sure. Either or, both prospects have a ton of upside and Denver would be thrilled to select one of the two Wolverines here at 9.
10. New York Jets (via Seattle)
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
This pick would be a grand slam for the Jets, particularly after landing Ekwonu at No. 4 earlier. Sauce Gardner would be an immediate difference maker in the Jets secondary. Two day one starters in the top-10.
11. Washington Commanders
Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
Offseason rumors around the league suggest that Washington could be aggressive in pursuing a quarterback prior to the draft. So, securing a potential replacement to Brandon Scherff in round one would be a wise move.
12. Minnesota Vikings
Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Vikings could go in a number of directions with this pick. Walker’s size and versatility could prove him to be a safe round one pick. And he could be long gone by this spot depending on how teams view the top edge rushers.
13. Cleveland Browns
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
If the Browns truthfully want to give Baker Mayfield one more year to prove he’s the guy, they’ll need to give him more offensive weapons via free agency of the draft. Burks would immediately be a dangerous threat in Cleveland’s ground and pound offense behind Nick Chubb.
14. Baltimore Ravens
Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa
Linderbaum is an athlete at the center position and a physically angry blocker in the run game. He would complement Lamar Jackson and this Ravens offense tremendously.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami)
Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
Wyatt is one of my favorite defensive players in this class. His athleticism alone warrants a first-round selection. As he did in Mobile, he could surprise a few people at the combine this week.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis)
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Back-to-back defensive players for Philly? Why not. Karlaftis didn’t wow anyone total stats but he’s consistent and projects favorably at the next level. The Eagles have plenty to build on with Jalen Hurts on offense and can easily grab a receiver to compliment DeVonta Smith three picks from now.
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17. Los Angeles Chargers
Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
If the Chargers lose Mike Williams in free agency, this pick could ultimately come down to how they view the wide receivers left on the board. Right now, building a competent run defense is a big need.
18. New Orleans Saints
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
First Drew Brees, now Sean Payton. It may not be a complete rebuild but the Saints need to secure consistency at the quarterback position. Pickett should be ready to start day one, which helps his stock landing in a spot like New Orleans.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Roll tide in Philly? Williams and Smith would give Jalen Hurts two dynamic offensive playmakers for years to come.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
It’s no secret that the Steelers are looking at quarterbacks, regardless of how much they try to sell us on Mason Rudolph. Willis is a guy I believe Mike Tomlin likes a lot and he wouldn’t necessarily need to start week one.
21. New England Patriots
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Lloyd has the size and attributes Bill Belichick values at the linebacker position. Worth noting that if the Patriots allow JC Jackson to leave in free agency, there would be an pressing need at cornerback too.
22. Las Vegas Raiders
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Raiders could use an upgrade or two in the secondary. As much as new head coach Josh McDaniels would love to take a receiver like Wilson or Olave here, McDuffie would improve this Vegas defense immediately.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Johnson amazed many at the Senior Bowl last month. If Arizona loses Chandler Jones in free agency, adding an edge rusher is a big priority for the Cardinals.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Pairing Dean alongside Micah Parsons would give the Cowboys defense a whole new element of versatility.
25. Buffalo Bills
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
As we all saw a short time ago, Josh Allen can go toe-to-toe with the best in the league today. The Bills should prioritize not relying on Allen putting up 35 per game. Taking a cornerback like Booth here would be great value, too.
26. Tennessee Titans
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Titans believe they’re in a win now window with Ryan Tannehill and Derick Henry running the offense in Tennessee. Adding Julio Jones last offseason didn’t pan out as hoped. So solidifying the offensive firepower with a playmaker like Dotson should be in play.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Gordon is a big explosive corner who is a candidate to move up draft boards after this week’s NFL combine. Tampa Bay could use some improvement on defense, especially considering their offense took a big hit after a certain someone ‘retired’ earlier in the offseason.
28. Green Bay Packers
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
If Aaron Rodgers stays, Green Bay could finally elect to take a wide receiver in Round 1. If Rodgers leaves, they could take the same approach to surround Jordan Love with the most talent possible. Wilson’s ability to get open would be a big help for whoever’s lining up being center next season in Green Bay.
29. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco)
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
If the Dolphins stay true to their word on building around Tua, at least for this season, then protecting him should probably be a top priority this offseason. Rainmann is newer to the position but his upside would be well worth the investment.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave would give Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes a lot of different looks. He’s NFL ready in terms of his route running ability and would open up the field a bit more for Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
31. Cincinnati Bengals
Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College
Joe Burrow was sacked more times this season than Tom Brady was his entire career. I’m kidding, of course. But it wasn’t pretty. Johnson could slide in and contribute immediately for a Bengals team clearly ready to win now.
32. Detroit Lions (via LA Rams)
Drake London, WR, USC
Amon-Ra St. Brown had a fantastic rookie season in Detroit. So why not reunite him with his former USC teammate? London, St. Brown, and TJ Hockenson would give Jared Goff or any quarterback multiple options next season.