2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Eagles Finally Grab A LB
Although the season just ended and I'm sure some NFL fans want to wait until the season is over to start draft talk, it's not often that you own 3 first round picks in one draft and that is where the Eagles stand right now.
This will inevitably change so much even a month from now, but it's still fun to predict how things will play out. Here is my best shot.
Quick Note- Yes, the 13 minute read part is a bit intimidating... however if you want to skip to your favorite team or not read the little blurbs under the pick then go ahead.
Also, this was done before the Packers vs. 49ers game, which is why the draft order is all messed up. To be honest I assumed the game was over after that first drive, which obviously was not even close to true. I re-did the order in my head and I don't think any of the picks would really change, hence why I didn't change the order.
#1: Jaguars- EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Here we are again, with Jacksonville owning the first selection in the draft after another disaster season. It was nice to end the season with a win, but the Urban Meyer saga was unlike anything we've seen. While Trevor Lawrence had his ups and downs in his first season in Jacksonville, I still see the talent there and he deserves a trophy for not crumbling apart under the Jags leadership. I slightly considered Evan Neal here to sure up that offensive line, but with the 1st pick the Jaguars just need to pick the best edge rusher in their eyes. I have Hutchinson ranked as the second edge rusher, but based off what I am seeing it seems like Hutchinson is first in the eyes of NFL GMs.
#2: Lions- EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Thibodeaux entered the 2021 College Football season as the clear favorite for the #1 pick, and I'm not really sure what happened after that. I'm guessing it was because Hutchinson had the strong finish to his season and Kayvon didn't play due to an injury. He has insane upside and Detroit would be getting insane value even at the 2nd pick. The unique thing here is that the Lions can basically sit back and take whoever Jacksonville doesn't take. They don't need another offensive lineman after the pick of Penei Sewell last year and no one else is really worth taking here.
#3: Texans- OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Houston needs pretty much everything on a roster that was filled with mostly first round picks after a clear rebuilding season. Neal is the best player on the board and the Texans obviously need offensive line help. Davis Mills showed enough last season for me to believe he'll be the starter at QB in 2022, so getting him a potential franchise LT makes a lot of sense. Nothing else to really say, this seems like a no brainer to me if the first two picks play out that way.
#4: Jets- S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
I think this pick comes down to Hamilton and LSU corner Derek Stingley, with the Jets needing secondary help more than anywhere else on the roster. Hamilton is a versatile safety who would be a dream for a young team like New York. Marcus Maye is a free agent, and even with him they struggled immensely in coverage. Sure, Zach Wilson didn't have a great rookie season but it's super early and NY still thinks he's the guy for years to come. The Jets also pick at #10 because of the Jamal Adams trade, so it could be interesting to see if they divy up those two picks to defense and offense.
#5: Giants- OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Any team heading into the offseason looking for new management will be tough to predict. Dave Gettleman/Joe Judge are both out and the Giants are in an active search to fill each position. Regardless of who is making the pick, they need offensive lineman bad. Most of the guys they have drafted have not had success early in their careers and this new group has to address that first. Obviously Daniel Jones is still a question mark, but this is definitely too high for a QB and I think the Giants somehow still have faith in him. This is the perfect value for Cross, who would be the first tackle off the board in most drafts.
#6: Panthers- OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
I'd be lying if I said I had heard of Ekwonu before recently, which is maybe my fault, but his stock has been skyrocketing and after watching some film of his I'm definitely convinced. The Panthers have no current plan for the LT position and this has to be the pick here regardless of the QB. Again this seems early to pick a quarterback, but I'm guessing the rumors will be swirling leading up to this pick about what Carolina thinks about the top signal callers in this draft. But it makes the most sense to go tackle here and hope that he is protecting a franchise QB.
#7: Giants- EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
The Giants went offensive line with their first pick, so new GM Joe Schoen will go to the defensive side for his second pick in the top 10. I know the Giants took Azeez Ojulari in the 2nd round last year, but that doesn't mean they need more pure edge rushers and Karlaftis is a special one. Maybe the Giants at least think of a QB here, but with this QB class weaker then most years they should just stick with getting as much talent at their positions of need.
#8: Falcons- EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Photo Credit: Maize N Brew
If you haven't done much research on the upcoming draft I'm sure you are learning quickly that it is stacked with edge rushers. hat is now 4 in the Top 8, which I'm guessing would at least come close to some sort of draft record. Ojabo isn't exactly a power rusher but his speed off the edge is incredible. He's another one of these guys who could be the first edge rusher off the board in other drafts, but unfortunately this one is filled with the top tier. Maybe the Falcons throw need out the window and pick the best player available in Derek Stingley, but after the season A.J Terrell had I'm not sure they should really be focusing on injecting more young talent into the secondary.
#9: Broncos- QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Woah, QB in the Top 10? I thought this class was weaker than most years? It still is, but a team who needs a franchise QB like the Broncos are still very likely to take one with this pick. I know Denver fans have dreams of Aaron Rodgers, Russel Wilson and Deshaun Watson, but I don't even see any of those QBs moving teams(don't think Watson's legal issues improve anymore before training camp). Pickett is pretty clearly QB1 in the draft in my eyes, as he had the most consistent 2021 season with the Pitt Panthers.
#10: Jets- CB Derek Stingley, LSU
AFC East fans, I regret to inform you that the New York Jets have pulled off a draft robbery for the ages. After choosing Kyle Hamilton over Stingley with their first pick, they watch the teams in front of them pass on the LSU corner while he falls right back into their laps at 10. Stingley didn't play a lot last season due to injury, but NFL teams have had their eyes on him for a while now. It just seems like me he is going to be another Jalen Ramsey in the NFL, a guy who always covers the other teams best wideout 1on1 and is usually successful. The Jets have been a disaster recently but if something like this happened it would reshape their defense.
#11: Football Team- QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Man, I cannot wait until I can stop writing the "Football Team". I'm going to say it now and all the way up until the draft starts, but even with all the buzz about this weak QB class I bet they will still go off the board early. Washington has a great roster and great coaching, but no quarterback has been holding them back for multiple years now. They'll also be in the market for any QBs available for trade, but it makes the most sense to grab a guy like Corral who could be your starter very soon. Corral was a very fast riser throughout the 2021 CFB season, but still had his ups and downs. He suffered an ankle injury in his final game of the season but should be ready for the combine.
#12: Vikings- CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
The Vikings are another team that cleaned shop after the season, firing GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer. Who knows what is going to happen to Kirk Cousins, but one thing I do know is that the Vikings need help in the secondary. Patrick Peterson(who is also a Free Agent) and Cam Dantzler are not cutting it. Gardner put up some absurd stats at Cincy, one of which being that he allowed 0 touchdowns in coverage against him last season. The debate on who is better between him and Stingley actually could become intriguing when we get closer to April.
#13: Browns- WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
Everyone will agree with the position that I went here, as the Browns are committed to Baker Mayfield so they need to get him another pass catcher. Jameson Williams was the surefire WR1 before he tore his ACL in the National Championship just a couple weeks ago. Although that will obviously impact his draft stock, I think teams will buy into his potential and take that over the guy who got injured in his last college game. When on the field, almost no one could match the speed of Williams.
#14: Ravens- LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Sure, the Ravens would've liked to make the playoffs this year but I'm not sure anyone blames them for missing after all the injuries they endured in the 2021 season. In fact, it's even more impressive they came as close as they did. I'm fine with the offense for now, and even though Baltimore picked Patrick Queen recently I like them taking another LB this year. I watched Dean's tape only a couple days ago, and although his tackling/run defense needs work, his speed/explosiveness is unlike many linebackers you'll see.
#15: Eagles- LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
You guys will learn very soon that Lloyd is one of my yearly draft players who I hype up all the way to the bank. The Eagles haven't taken a linebacker in the first round was 1979, but that has to change this year. T.J. Edwards is good but still unproven, Davion Taylor has showed flashes but is very injury prone and the rest are glorified special teamers. That's not meant to be disrespect to Alex Singleton, who did a good job after Taylor got injured, but he is not going to prevent you from taking a player like Lloyd. Lloyd had one of the greatest games of film from a college prospect I've ever seen against Stanford this season(I'd recommend any Eagles fan to watch it on youtube), showcasing his athleticism and great decision making. I'll just mention this now so I don't have to in any of the next write ups, but with 3 first rounders very close to each other I definitely wouldn't rule out Howie Rosmean packaging some of these picks to try to get higher up in the draft. I think this draft is very deep so I personally wouldn't do that.
#16: Eagles- C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Back to back picks for the Birds here, which is pretty cool. Even if Jason Kelce does return next year, the Eagles will need to think about their options for his long term replacement. Everyone has assumed that will come in Landon Dickerson, who was the presumed replacement for Kelce when the Eagles drafted him in the second round last year. But Dickerson straight up balled at LG this season next to Jordan Mailata, and it feels like it would be a bad decision to split up the success those two had next to each other. Linderbaum is a really special talent and I think the pick is worth it even if he is just a depth piece next season. I obviously considered a couple players here, edge rusher Travon Walker the most.
#17: Chargers- DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
The way the Chargers season ended was, well, special to say the least. They shouldn't let that defer them from the fact that a defensive tackle is their biggest need right now, and Davis is probably the best one in this draft. He's a 6'6, 340 pound tank who can break up any play with his force. Los Angeles has some big decisions coming up in free agency, so this pick could change by the time we get closer to the draft.
#18: Saints- QB Malik Willis, Liberty
I think Jameis Winston is going to end up leaving in Free Agency, and even if he does come back I'm still not sold. I honestly give a ton of credit to New Orleans for being in it that late in the season with everything that happened to them, which can only be a good sign going forward. Willis is really raw and definitely dropped on my big board as the season went on. I'm not the biggest fan of his but he's the next best QB left and I think Sean Payton will like him enough to believe in himself to develop him.
#19: Eagles- WR Drake London, USC
I'm banking on the Eagles splashing the cash a little on an edge rusher in free agency or taking one in the early second round. So then we look towards the next biggest need, which is wide receiver. DeVonta Smith is a future star and Quez Watkins can be a solid WR3, but there is still that true #2 guy missing on the roster. The Eagles need a "go up and get it guy", someone who can catch jump balls to compliment the speed and shiftiness of Smith and Watkins. You'll find that in London, who's college highlights are downright disrespectful at times. He also suffered a late season injury, but most likely just played it safe in order to be ready for the draft. Maybe Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave are more talented, but London is the type of receiver that the Eagles need. Drafting a wideout in the 1st 3 years in a row sucks, but it's what the Eagles have to do after the Reagor disaster.
#20: Steelers- OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
The Steelers are gonna need a QB sooner rather then later, but all the QBs that should be in consideration in the first round are already off the board. I wouldn't put it past them to trade up to get Pickett(due to the Pittsburgh connection), but it still might not be worth it. Instead, they'll stand pat and take an interior offensive lineman in Green. Big Ben may have been awful last year, but I'm not sure any QB is succeeding under the current offensive line.
#21: Patriots- WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Let's not overreact to the Bills blowout win over New England last week. Sure, it was really bad and they should've put up a much better fight regardless of what year the QB is in. But this roster is still really good and Mac Jones is 23 years old. The one thing I felt was missing from the Patriots this season was an explosive pass catcher on offense. Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne are good but none of them are going to lead you to a playoff win. Ditto that for Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Wilson can be that guy and is the best WR remaining.
#22: Raiders- CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
I give massive credit to the Raiders for making the playoffs AND putting up a fight after their drama-filled season. All the players getting arrested, Jon Gruden and many injuries to key players. Las Vegas also has a GM opening but it's clear that the Raiders biggest need is still in the secondary. Trevon Moehrig had a pretty solid rookie season, and that might be about it for players that aren't free agents. Elam might end up being a high riser in the weeks leading up to the draft but for now his elite coverage skills put him around this range.
#23: Cardinals- CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Here we'll have a little run on corners, mostly because these two teams desperately need help in the secondary. I was shocked to see Marco Wilson out there in that playoff game guarding OBJ... no offense to the guy but it's not fair to him to be put under this much pressure early in his career. It was showcased all night and bringing in a guy like McDuffie would be good at attempting to patch it up. I'm not sure many people have a first round grade on McDuffie, but I like his athleticism and don't think it would be a reach taking him here.
#24: Cowboys- EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
Well, it definitely frustrates me how good of a pick Dallas got here. As I said I considered Walker at the Eagles pick, and it would be pretty shocking if he fell this far even if the teams ahead of them don't necessarily have an edge rusher need. Like his Georgia teammate Nakobe Dean, he struggles to get around blocks sometimes but has special athleticism. Yes, a lot of the prospects in this draft are athletic, I'm not sure I've seen anything like it.
#25: Bengals- T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Congrats to the Bengals, who advanced to the AFC Championship as I was writing this. However if it wasn't apparent with that playoff game, Cincinnati still needs offensive line help. Penning is not a household name because he played for a D2 school, but he has a first round grade by most people including me. Not a standout selection but a necessary one.
#26: Dolphins- WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
The Dolphins lost their own first round pick in a trade with the Eagles, but still own the 49ers pick due to the Trey Lance trade from last year. I'm sure Miami are licking their chops, since they got a great talent in Olave all the way down at 26 without having to move a finger. This was mainly because of how the board played out, but definitely feels like a steal nonetheless. His route running is second-to-none in this draft and will fill a need for the Dolphins even if they have Jaylen Waddle coming off an outstanding rookie season.
#27: Titans- S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Brisker is another guy I got to watch closely at Penn State, and I think it's important to note that he can also play LB. He's listed as a safety on basically every draft site, but I think he might end up being more of a linebacker at the NFL level which is why I have him going to the Titans.
#28: Bills- DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Buffalo drafted an edge rusher last year with their first round pick, so let's now build on the inside of that defensive line. It seems like every year I think of RB for the Bills, but every year it doesn't seem to matter to them.
#29: Lions- CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
This is another guy that people probably didn't expect to fall this far, but it's just the way the draft board panned out. Nothing to the fault of Booth, who had an outstanding 2021 season. Let's just say Detroit has a lot of needs right now, but if Booth is still here this late cornerback has to go to the top of the list. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Andrew Booth is pretty dang good for a team who had 3 wins last season.
#30: Chiefs- WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
You'd think with the explosive offense that the Chiefs have that WR would not be a need, but I still think they need another guy alongside Tyreek Hill. Although some would argue that should be a jump ball guy like London or Treylon Burks, we all know the Chiefs love receivers with quickness. Being a PSU fan, I had a first hand view of Dotson and he definitely fits the Kansas City mold.
#31: Buccaneers- CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
Tampa Bay definitely suffered a lot of injuries to their secondary this season, but they still need help there. Specifically that would be at cornerback, and McCreary would be the next off my board.
#32: Packers- WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
I don't think Rodgers is even going to consider leaving unless something crazy happens, so don't think anything like QB is considered here. The Packers roster is really good, but I still feel like they need some more insurance if Davante Adams decides to leave. Amari Rodgers is one guy who could fill that role, and pairing him with Burks sounds beautiful.