With the 2021 NFL Draft now in the books, it’s time to turn our attention to the 2022 draft class.
Literally everyone: BOOOO.
Me: Why are you booing me?! I’m right!
That’s right! I’m back again for what is turning into a yearly tradition of bringing you the names of the next class of players we’ll be studying this summer and watching during the upcoming college football season.
Mock drafts have varying purposes depending on when they are published. With this mock coming out right after the most recent draft is finalized, the purpose of this, of course, is not accuracy. What it is, though, is a fun way to put 32 names on your radar to research and recognize when you have some downtime in the coming months or just when college football kicks off again.
It’s shaping up to be a fun group with some exciting names we’ve already heard of because of their difference-making talent this past season. So, here’s my way-too-early 2022 mock draft with the team order of coming from the most recent odds to win the Super Bowl 2022, per BetOnline.
Houston Texans (No. 1 overall): Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
If the Houston Texans are picking this high, Deshaun Watson won’t be their quarterback anymore. If that’s the case, they’ll be picking at the top of the 2022 draft. Spencer Rattler brings the big arm that gives him first-overall potential.
Detroit Lions (No. 2 overall): Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
The 2021 draft started with a run on quarterbacks, so why not do the same the following year? Kedon Slovis, like many quarterbacks in this class, needs a good amount of polish still but has the size and the arm to be a top selection.
New York Jets (No. 3 overall): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
To bring into context how good Kayvon Thibodeaux is, if the Texans were to have the No. 1 pick and a quarterback they believed in, he would likely be the first-overall selection. He’s a pass rusher with Myles Garrett-like hype going into his junior season.
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 4 overall): Derek Stingley Jr., CB
Many NFL fans—and NFL teams—wished the league could have made an exception to the three-year eligibility rule when Derek Stingley had one of the best freshman seasons we’ve ever seen for a defensive back in 2019. Although last year wasn’t impactful, this is a future top-10 player.
Philadelphia Eagles (No. 5 overall): Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Even if you’re a big Jalen Hurts fan, if the Eagles are picking this high, quarterback will surely be their top target. Sam Howell is one of the most fearless passers in college football.
Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 6 overall): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton brings alluring size to the hybrid safety position at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He earned ranging All-American honors in 2020 and is likely the top safety off the board next year.
New York Giants (No. 7 overall): George Pickens, WR, Georgia
George Pickens has been putting on a show for Georgia's passing offense since his freshman season. It will likely be a stacked wide receiver group yet again in 2022, but Pickens could very well be the first to hear his name called. Unfortunately he will be recovering from an ACL tear this past offseason, but Pickens—the former All-Freshman wide receiver—at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds knows how to be a focal point of a passing attack.
Carolina Panthers (No. 8 overall): Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Evan Neal is massive at 6-foot-7 and 360 pounds. As a former 5-star prospect, Neal will be a player one NFL team is going to be on early. He started his career at Alabama at left guard but recently played at right tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2020. He moves really well for his size, and anytime that’s the case general managers will be heavily interested.
Atlanta Falcons (No. 9 overall): DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
After making seven starts as a true freshman and then 10 starts as a sophomore, DeMarvin Leal will have his eyes on the top 10 entering the 2021 college football season. Leal, who measures at the 6-foot-4 and 290-pounds, had at least two sacks in each of the last two seasons; a big jump in backfield production will lead to a high selection.
Washington Football Team (No. 10 overall): Cade Mays, IOL, Tennessee
Washington had a great draft in 2021, bringing in players that should have a big impact on its team. Washington could go quarterback, as the long-term answer at that position likely isn’t on the roster, but it also needs to keep an eye on offensive line addition. Cade Mays might be the top overall offensive lineman in the draft when it’s all said and done. A former Georgia Bulldog, this 5-star recruit has 25 games as a starter already under his belt.
Las Vegas Raiders (No. 11 overall): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Las Vegas Raiders totally dismantled what was one of the top offensive lines in football. They drafted Alex Leatherwood in the first round of the 2021 draft, but Charles Cross could be a very versatile piece as a tackle or guard. Cross is gaining steam as a first-round selection. The lean, former 5-star recruiting started at left tackle this past season after a redshirt year.
New York Giants (No. 12 overall via Chicago Bears): Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Kaiir Elam, the cousin of former Florida safety Matt Elam, now has two years of starting experience as a Gator and a good amount of production with it, including two interceptions in each of the last two years with 11 passes defended this past season.
Los Angeles Chargers (No. 13 overall): Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
Anytime you have a cornerback who comes in at 6-foot-2, 6-foot-1, and can move like he’s 5-foot-10, that’s a mold any NFL secondary coach will be begging to draft. Such should be the case with Sevyn Banks, who is still growing into what could be a high bar of potential.
Minnesota Vikings (No. 14 overall): Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Unless Patrick Jones II goes off next season, the Minnesota Vikings will likely still be in the market for a premium pass rusher opposite Danielle Hunter. Drake Jackson is a hybrid linebacker/defensive end and a freshman All-American in 2019; he led USC in tackles for loss (11.5) and sacks (5.5).
Arizona Cardinals (No. 15 overall): Kenyon Green, IOL, Texas A&M
Kenyon Green is next in a royal line of talented Texas A&M trench players. He’s started all 23 games he’s been an Aggie, dating back to his true freshman season. The Arizona Cardinals roster is interesting this year and projected to prioritize the interior offensive line in 2022.
Tennessee Titans (No. 16 overall): John Metchie, WR, Alabama
Well, well, well, here’s another Alabama wide receiver poised to make it into the first round. John Metchie III was able to step in right away with Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III in the NFL. When Jaylen Waddle went down with an injury, more was put on Metchie’s plate and he ate. It’s a talented wide receiver class, but Metchie is one of the names at the top with over 900 yards, six touchdowns, and a 16.7 yards-per-catch average in his first year as a contributor.
Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 17 overall): Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
Rasheed Walker is a massive offensive lineman at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds. He has appeared in 26 career games with 22 starts, all of which came at left tackle. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t prioritize offensive tackle in the 2021 draft and will likely need to do so a year from now.
New York Jets (No. 18 overall via Seattle Seahawks): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound George Karlaftis recorded 17 tackles for loss for Purdue as a true freshman. He only started three games in 2020 due to injury and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but there is a lot of hype around him being fully healthy heading into his draft-eligible season in 2021.
New Orleans Saints (No. 19 overall): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Every year there are always a handful of players who are draft eligible but decide to go back to school to the chagrin of many draft analysts who love them as a prospect and believe they are already pro-ready. Chris Olave was one of those players. Olave is a smooth-moving wide receiver who knows how to win vertically. The New Orleans Saints would have loved him at the back end of the first round in 2021. Maybe they’ll get the chance to take him a year later.
Philadelphia Eagles (No. 20 overall via Miami Dolphins): Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
Outside of having a fantastic name for an offensive tackle, Zion Nelson started all 13 games of the 2019 season at left tackle as a true freshman. He started another seven games the following season. At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, he has the size and the experience to make his way into the first round.
New England Patriots (No. 21 overall): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
While Justin Fields was throwing his way into being a first-round quarterback, it was often Garrett Wilson, the talented 5-star, speedy receiver who was on the other end of his biggest plays. Wilson was a three-sport athlete in Texas and was named the 2017-18 Central Texas High School Athlete of the Year.
Dallas Cowboys (No. 22 overall): Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
You’re going to read a lot of tight end intros that start with “even though there’s no Kyle Pitts in this draft,” but there’s only one Kyle Pitts; so don’t let that be discouraging to you. Jalen Wydermyer is 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, and has been producing since his true freshman season. He’ll be in the first-round conversion to start the season.
Indianapolis Colts (No. 23 overall): Derion Kendrick, CB, TBD
Derion Kendrick was a player who many thought could be in the top 50 of the 2021 draft. After deciding to return to college instead of going pro, he was dismissed from Clemson’s football program. He’s a former 5-star prospect who is very talented, and regardless of where he transfers to, he will be on many team’s radars.
Green Bay Packers (No. 24 overall): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Treylon Burks is a name who isn’t talked about enough in this stacked wide receiver group for 2022. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Burks took a big leap last season with over 800 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
Cleveland Browns (No. 25 overall): Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
As of right now, the Cleveland Browns are a team that does not have many needs on their roster. They’re in a winning window, and with that being the case, why not go for more beef in the trenches. Zach Harrison is a former consensus 5-star recruit and was the nation’s No. 1 defensive end by all the major scouting services. So far his production has been good with 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in two seasons, but 2021 could be the year he explodes onto the scene.
Denver Broncos (No. 26 overall): Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
The Denver Broncos are coming off a fantastic first draft under general manager George Paton. Christian Harris has played in all 26 games. As a freshman, he started 12 of 13 games and earned All-American honors. The next season he recorded 79 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one interception. He’s poised to be the leader in the middle of that defense for the 2021 season.
Miami Dolphins (No. 27 overall via San Francisco 49ers): Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Aidan Hutchinson was receiving some top-50 buzz before deciding to go back to school for his senior season. He brings a lot of length to the defensive end spot at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds.
Detroit Lions (No. 28 overall via Los Angeles Rams): Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
After two very productive freshman and sophomore seasons, Justyn Ross was poised to be one of the top wide receivers in the 2021 draft class, but the diagnosis of a congenital fusion in his spine sidelined him for the entire 2020 season. With such an injury, there was a chance he might have been done with football. Reports are Ross might be cleared to play football again, and if that’s the case, he says he’s going to give it everything he can.
Buffalo Bills (No. 29 overall): Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
Isaiah Spiller is an all-around backfield option who will likely be the top running back off the board next season. He doesn’t have an immediate relation to former NFL back C.J. Spiller, as you may assume, but he brings good vision and big play ability. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Baltimore Ravens (No. 30 overall): Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
Jordan Battle is an instinctual safety who can do a variety of things for Alabama. Hamilton is scheduled to be the top safety in the draft, but don’t count Battle out for that title.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 31 overall): Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will likely lose Ndamukong Suh next season, and Jordan Davis could be an option for them to fill that spot at the back end of the first round. Davis is much more of a run-stuffer than an explosive pass rusher. But thinking about Davis and Vita Vea in the middle of a front opens up so many possibilities for edge rushers and linebackers to avoid doubles and stay clean.
Kansas City Chiefs (No. 32 overall): DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
DeMarvion Overshown was the No. 52 player nationally and No. 6 safety in the 2018 recruiting class. The 6-foot-4, 217-pound versatile defensive player has both safety and linebacker backgrounds. He still needs more experience to master these positions, but the size and athleticism could be the motivating factors for him to see his name at the back end of the first round.