With the Super Bowl in the books, we now go full steam ahead in the run up to the 2022 NFL Draft. Here goes with my 1.0 Mock Draft, still 3 months out. Lots of storylines to play out which will help crystallise the picture but here are my first thoughts!
The Jaguars are first up for the second year running and the task is simple. Protect Trevor Lawrence, resulting in Evan Neal as first overall pick. This gives the Lions possibly the simplest pick in round 1 as they sweep up edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson. The Texans are a difficult franchise to predict at the moment but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for now as they take possibly the most polished defensive prospect in the draft, Kyle Hamilton. In New York the Jets need a premium edge rusher and the Giants need a mauler in the offensive line, so Thibodeaux and Ekwonu respectively fly off the board.
At six the Carolina Panthers need is on the offensive line and Charles Cross is dominant in pass protection. For now the Giants are back again at seven (although I would not be surprised to see them trade down a touch from this pick). They need a captain to marshall the defense; step forward top linebacker Devin Lloyd. Do the Falcons give Matt Ryan more tools on offense or do they look to repair the defense at eight? Top ten equals edge rusher for me so it is George Karlaftis.
The Broncos take the first QB off the board at nine and it is Sam Howell, reuniting him with Javonte Williams and a great supporting cast on offense. We round out the top 10 with the Jets second pick (again they may seek a trade down) so they lockdown part of their secondary with “Sauce” Gardiner. Washington’s defense looked surprisingly rudderless at times last season. In need of a leader they draft the exceptional Nakobe Dean eleventh overall. The Vikings are at 12 and they have cap space issues and potentially several free agents on defense. Therefore, they take one of the top cornerback prospects, Andrew Booth JR.
Unlucky 13 next, but possibly not for Baker Mayfield as the Browns recruit Garrett Wilson to a thin WR group. At 14 the Ravens invest in their offensive line with the power and aggression of Trevor Penning. The Eagles have the next two picks (in all 3 of the next 5 – I expect to see movement on this around draft day), and they invest in the trenches with Kenyon Green then one of the stars of the Senior Bowl, edge rusher Jermaine Johnson.
We are past halfway and it is time for the LA Chargers to try and sure up that run defense, taking the physically imposing figure of Jordan Davis. It is all change for the New Orleans Saints and time to find a new franchise QB; Matt Corral fits the bill to step in as a starter. The Eagles return at 19 and they cannot resist a first round wide receiver, it’s Treylon Burks this year. The Steelers also need a QB and after the last couple of years of “dink and dunk” from Big Ben they go for the opposite in dynamic dual-threat QB, Malik Willis.
For the Patriots it is either give Mac Jones more options or shore up the secondary. More value in a top corner, and possibly a surprise as it is Trent McDuffie from Washington. The Raiders need another downfield threat, so they pick up wide receiver Chris Olave. At 23 another edge rusher comes off the board and it is Aberdeen’s own David Ojabo. The Cowboys defense was revitalised last season and they invest again on the D-line with Devonte Wyatt.
The Bills often draft early in the trenches and protection of Josh Allen is key as they recruit Zion Johnson. Next up, the Tennessee Titans recognise their lack of receiver options and look to stretch the field with Jameson Williams from Alabama. The Bucs are planning for life after TB12 but they may also need to rebuild on the defensive front as well. Kingsley Enagbare has put himself in that first round conversation after the Senior Bowl. The Packers’ decision depends largely on Aaron Rodgers future. Let’s assume for now he stays and the front office help him out with the contested catch champion, Drake London. Remember several Packers wideouts could leave via free agency.
Almost there now, so at 29 the Dolphins try yet again to shore up their offensive line, this time with Darian Kinnard who can work along Tua’s blindside. The Chiefs take into account teams protecting areas downfield by taking a wide receiver who can reliably dominate short-to-intermediate areas, Jahan Dotson. Penultimate pick and the Bengals have had a great season but Joe Burrow does need more consistent protection and this is a good spot for center Tyler Lindebaum to land. Finally, the Lions are back at 32 (remember they return at 34 as well) and they finish the night with versatile defensive back Daxton Hill from Michigan.
What do you think? Early days, many dominoes yet to fall. I’ll be back with my 2.0 once we get into free agency and these team needs start to solidify. Have a go yourself at our Mock Draft Simulator and show us where we are going wrong. Most important of all – enjoy Mock Draft Season!
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