Matt Miller's 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1
Who comes off the board first, and where do the quarterbacks land?
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—mock draft season!
At The Draft Scout, we promise at least one mock draft a month with more coming any time there is a major trade throughout the season. We’ll kick off Mock Draft Season with a look at the first round and without predicting trades—but don’t worry, that’s coming soon!
How does this crazy quarterback class play out? Is this draft class really that bad? We look at all that and fix your favorite team in our first mock draft of the 2022 season.
Draft order courtesy of Tankathon.com and based on current W-L standings and strength of schedule
1. New York Jets — DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
One year after drafting their quarterback in Zach Wilson and bolstering the offensive line with fellow first-rounder Alijah Vera-Tucker, the New York Jets are back in the running for the worst record in the NFL. To turn the roster and record around, new head coach Robert Saleh needs his beast pass-rusher to set the tone defensively. The Jets thought they had that in free agent Carl Lawson, but an injury has kept him off the field. With the No. 1 pick, the decision is quite simple: Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux to line up opposite Lawson and give Saleh the one-two punch off the edge he had in San Francisco when his defense was one of the NFL’s best. Thibodeaux has missed time so far this season, but when healthy is one of the best pass-rushing prospects of the last decade. He’s a slam dunk, no-brainer for the Jets at No. 1 overall.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars — OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Jacksonville, like the New York Jets, have their quarterback of the future in Trevor Lawrence. Now the regime led by Urban Meyer must build a team around him. That starts with upgrading a bad offensive line. Even after selecting Walker Little in the 2021 second-round, the Jaguars need a retooling of both tackle spots for the immediate future and long-term plans of the roster. Evan Neal also makes this an easy decision, as he’s a super clean offensive tackle prospect who can play either left or right tackle from Day 1. Given the lack of true top-end talent in this class—it’s really Thibodeaux and Neal right now—this decision is a lock if the board falls this way.
3. Philadelphia Eagles (from Colts) — CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Do the Philadelphia Eagles need a new quarterback, or is Jalen Hurts the answer? That’s a question that I don’t believe has an answer at this point in the season. Hurts’ play has been uneven, but he’s also working without much of an offensive line and with a wide receiver corps that is still developing. You might think that the pick here would be on offense then, but as mentioned above this simply isn’t a very good offensive draft class. There is time for evaluation here—a college-eligible prospect may rise up the board or Hurts may play his way out of the job, but right now there isn’t a quarterback prospect I’d jump on the table for over Hurts. The Eagles, with three first-rounders thanks to trades, are in position to take the best player available. That’s Derek Stingley, Jr. The superstar cornerback hasn’t played much in 2022 due to injury but has the traits to be a lockdown starter in the pros. Teams must debate tape vs. traits with Stingley, but from a potential standpoint he’s one of the two or three best players in the class.
4. Detroit Lions — QB Malik Willis, Liberty
While the Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback they can potentially build around in Jalen Hurts, the Detroit Lions are highly unlikely to hang onto Jared Goff as the quarterback of the future given his price tag and play. Instead, look for general manager Brad Holmes to look for his own quarterback. Liberty’s Malik Willis has been one of the big winners from the early portion of the season with improved ball placement and decision-making. He’s not a flawless prospect, to be sure, but he has arguably the most all-around upside of any ‘22 passer. If the Lions are looking for a player who can beat defenses with arm strength, running ability and a big play mindset, Willis is their guy with an upside similar to Kyler Murray.
5. New York Giants — DE Drake Jackson, USC
The problems in New York this season haven’t been related to quarterback Daniel Jones, so despite not being a huge believer in his long-term, we’re waiting before booting him out of town via a replacement in the first round of the draft. It also helps Jones that there really aren’t great quarterback prospects this season. What the Giants can do is address the defense and add an outside pass-rusher to pair with Azeez Ojulari. This is a huge need for the roster and USC’s Drake Jackson has proven this year that he’s capable of taking games over and punishing offensive linemen. With two picks in Round 1, the Giants can come back around at pick No. 12 overall and address an offensive line that needs big-time help, too.