NFL Mock Draft 2022: QBs Dominate First Round

NFL MOCK DRAFT 2022

Believe it or not, we are just a little more than two weeks away from the college football season kicking off. With summer scouting and the beginning stages of the evaluation process coming to a close, now we enter one of the more important parts of the year where prospects can help or hurt their preliminary resumes. The offensive side of the ball was the catalyst for the 2021 NFL Draft class, as we saw five quarterbacks drafted in the first round and a defensive prospect failed to be selected until the No. 8 overall pick with Jaycee Horn. The 2022 group has a much stronger defensive class that even includes a bunch of blue-chip players.

As a reminder, mock drafts prior to the season are used to introduce names that may have high grades or the potential to exit the fall with one as it’s way too early to accurately project or predict what teams may do.

*The draft order is organized based on the latest Super Bowl odds.*

1. Houston Texans: QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma

Spencer Rattler Scouting Report

The Texans’ roster is in bad shape. From top to bottom, there aren't a lot of building blocks for the team to hang its hat on in the future. With Deshaun Watson likely never taking another snap for the team, Nick Caserio will likely reenter the QB market. In search of someone who can infuse some energy into a fan base that’s in search of hope, Rattler could provide that type of excitement. Expected to make ‘the leap’ this year, Rattler has a prime opportunity to claim his spot at the top of what’s being labeled as an underwhelming crop of signal-callers. 

2. Detroit Lions: QB Sam Howell, North Carolina

Sam Howell Scouting Report

After a promising first offseason, the Lions have what seems to be a foundation in place and a vision that they want to execute in the future. With general manager Brad Holmes having a helping hand in drafting Jared Goff No. 1 overall back with the Rams m, it appears that he will be given every chance to prove that he can be the long-term answer moving forward. But after drafting Penei Sewell, the franchise has an ideal situation to drop a young quarterback into.

3. New York Jets: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report

The pick simply comes down to taking the best edge rusher or corner on the board. Needing help at both spots, Joe Douglas elects to go with the standout Oregon defensive end. With the 2022 class set to be deep at cornerback, there’s an avenue for the Jets to add two immediate starters at premium positions.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Evan Neal Scouting Report

Sticking to their board and taking the best player available in Ja’Marr Chase a year ago, the franchise elected to skip on addressing the offensive line until Day 2. Taking a different approach this year, the Bengals select Neal, who enters the season as the favorite to become the first offensive lineman off of the board. With experience at both guard and tackle, Neal has the positional flexibility necessary to fill in at multiple spots.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars: SAF Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Kyle Hamilton Scouting Report

Fresh off of a draft class that included nine selections, the Jaguars roster is filled with young players across the board. During the earlier portions of the first draft of Trent Baalke and Urban Meyer, an emphasis was placed on highly touted players that were heavily recruited coming into the process. Sticking to the script, selecting Hamilton here makes sense for the franchise. An all-around versatile safety prospect, the former 5-star recruit is capable of satisfying many roles on the back end. 

6. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Derek Stingley Jr. Scouting Report

The Eagles haven’t drafted a cornerback in the first round since 2002 (Lito Sheppard). With the lack of talent overall at the position, the team has no choice but to snap the streak with who some argue is the best defensive prospect in this draft class. Stingley Jr. is a long and aggressive man-to-man corner. His play patience and ball skills are the two traits that currently set him apart from the rest of the crop. 

7. Las Vegas Raiders: DL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M

DeMarvin Leal Scouting Report

Through summer scouting, there isn’t a cleaner prospect that I studied than Leal. Strength, power, positional versatility, and enough explosiveness. He has it all. After signing Gerald McCoy, the team has a stop-gap option for this season along the interior, but the lack of talent and long-term depth is glaring. 

8. Carolina Panthers: OT Jaxson Kirkland, Washington

Jaxson Kirkland Scouting Report

After only playing four career games at offensive tackle, Kirkland is the next in a long line of athletic offensive tackles that have quickly caught the eye of NFL evaluators. Along similar lines as Kolton Miller, Brian O’Neill, and Ezra Cleveland, Kirkland is a linear-built tackle that displays plenty of athleticism, technique, and football smarts. One could argue that with the Panthers drafting this early that the Sam Darnold experiment didn’t go as well as planned, but for now, the team elects to address their issues along the offensive front.

9. New York Giants: EDGE Drake Jackson, USC

Drake Jackson Scouting Report

One of the bright spots from the Giants’ underwhelming 2020 season was the work of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. An attacking 4-3 base style tends to incorporate a heavy rotation of defensive ends that are required to be skilled in both rushing the passer and dropping in coverage. Those are two traits that are under the umbrella of Jackson. He’s a loose and explosive mover and the exact type of edge threat that could develop and eventually thrive in a Graham-led scheme.

10. Atlanta Falcons: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson

Andrew Booth Jr. Scouting Report

With A.J. Terrell showing promise early on, it gives the team a building block in the secondary. It’s no secret that this team needs a significant amount of help in the trenches, but the value isn’t there at this spot. Selecting another cornerback from Clemson, Booth Jr. is one of the more talented prospects overall in this class. Even though he’s yet to be a full-time starter with an entire season of work, the flashes that he’s shown have been phenomenal. With top-of-the-line ball skills and athleticism, if he’s able to replicate his success and turn it into a full body of work, it shouldn’t be surprising to see him challenge Stingley Jr. as the first cornerback off of the board.

11. New York Giants (via CHI): OT/OG Darian Kinnard, Kentucky

Darian Kinnard Scouting Report

The loss of Kevin Zeitler can’t be underestimated. Even though the financial ramifications were too steep for the team's liking, there hasn’t been a viable long-term replacement established. Going to the offensive line here, Kinnard reminds me a lot of Dion Dawkins coming out of Temple. Round frame, long arms, and a punisher in the run game, but with inconsistent feet, the guard or tackle debates will follow him all the way up to draft day. With the jury still out on Andrew Thomas and Matthew Peart, Kinnard could be insurance in case one or neither of the current starting tackles develop properly.

12. Minnesota Vikings: SAF Brandon Joseph, Northwestern

Brandon Joseph Scouting Report

With one of the more top-heavy rosters in the NFL, the Vikings’ starters are intriguing on paper, but the lack of depth at multiple spots is glaring. Most notable at safety, Harrison Smith enters a contract year and will turn 33 years old at the conclusion of the season. After that, the Vikings don’t have many valuable options at the position. Joseph is a versatile safety that isn’t a thumper but is best labeled as consistent in all areas. A loose mover in coverage, he has the smarts and athleticism to be a day-one-impact type of player at the position in multiple areas.

13. Washington Football Team: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Matt Corral Scouting Report

A strong argument can be made that from top to bottom the Washington Football Team has a top-five roster overall. With depth galore on the defense and explosive options on the offensive side, all that’s missing is a long-term solution at quarterback. The experience of Ryan Fitzpatrick gives the team a small window to find that option and Corral could be a player that satisfies the need. An electric athlete with a slightly above-average arm, Corral possesses lots of traits that Scott Turner has sought in the past from his signal-caller. Consistency will be the biggest area of improvement needed from Corral in order to be considered an early-round thrower.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Carson Strong, Nevada

Carson Strong Scouting Report

With Ben Roethlisberger likely entering his last hoorah with the team, the QB of the future likely isn’t on the roster. Nevada’s Strong is an ideal candidate to take over as the team’s long-time stalwart. An accurate and decisive thrower, he has the skill set that translates well in Pittsburgh’s scheme. Still needing to prove that he can take care of the football similar to last season, Strong is a prime candidate to take a massive leap forward during his junior season.

15.  Arizona Cardinals: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Kaiir Elam Scouting Report

The lack of overall size and talent on the outside of the Cardinals’ secondary is glaring. Matched up against the weapons of the Seahawks, 49ers, and Rams twice a season, the team must address the secondary in a major way. Elam is a long and aggressive corner that has the skill set to play in either a man or zone system due to his experience playing both already. His short-area quickness and staying patient off of the line are areas that he will need to clean up, but the size, ball skills, pedigree, and physicality make him an easy candidate to eventually become a first-round pick.

16. Denver Broncos: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

Charles Cross Scouting Report

The talk surrounding the team will be what happens at quarterback. The audition for the QB1 spot between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater continues to be a day-to-day process. With the race still too close to call, the jury remains out on just how George Paton will address the long-term future at the position. If either Lock and/or Bridgewater flop as the starter, it’s likely that the team could turn to acquire a veteran via trade as they have enough on defense to likely keep them out of the strike zone of an early first-round selection. Instead, going to the offensive line here, the team needs an offensive tackle to pair with Garett Bolles. Cross is an athletic and easy-moving offensive tackle that’s only improved every year since stepping on the field. Originally starting as a 3-star recruit, he finished as a consensus 5-star and hasn’t looked back since then.

17. Indianapolis Colts: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

Chris Olave Scouting Report

Olave shocked the scouting world by returning for his senior season, as many had him projected as a late first-round pick. Wanting to improve in certain aspects, he’s aiming to break multiple school records. ‘Speed’ is the first word that will be included in his pre-draft portfolio, but he plays the game under control, with nuance, and has strong hands. With T.Y. Hilton entering the final year of his deal, Olave is an ideal replacement as a prospect that has a similar build, speed, and potential.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Aidan Hutchinson Scouting Report

Already drafting Stingley Jr. with the No. 6 overall pick, the Eagles continue to address their defense. Hutchinson is a towering, but energetic defensive prospect that would fit in well with the young pieces that the team already has in place. Missing most of last season after fracturing his leg, Hutchinson will need to stay healthy, but the hand maturity, effort, and play patience that he plays with helps him stand out in what’s expected to be an edge rusher class that includes depth early on.

19. New England Patriots: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Treylon Burks Scouting Report

One of the more interesting evaluations of the summer was Burks. A true do-it-all player for the Razorbacks, he’s played everything outside of the offensive line. With more than 80% of his snaps coming from the slot a season ago, he will need to prove his consistency playing and winning outside this year. Built like a running back, he forces tackles to be wary of him because he attempts to score every time that he touches the ball.

20. Los Angeles Chargers: TE Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama

Jahleel Billingsley Scouting Report

Possessing easy athleticism, Billingsley is a classic F tight end that handles lots of duties in the passing game and occasionally blocks in the box to keep defenses honest. Billingsley is an inconsistent blocker, but he isn’t afraid to get his face dirty when asked to play in-line. Gerald Everett was the first name that I wrote down after watching Billingsley, as he has a bit of a slinky build, but he understands how to use his length at the catch point. Even though he was the fourth option in a loaded Crimson Tide attack, he has the potential to quickly rise up the totem pole this season.

21. Dallas Cowboys: SAF Daxton Hill, Michigan

Daxton Hill Scouting Report

After having no safeties drafted in the first round a year ago, this year’s crop is already off to a fast start. With the Cowboys seeming to patchwork the position on the depth chart, one-year deals like Malik Hooker shouldn’t alter the team’s plans at the position. After being hesitant with addressing the spot in years past, getting a player of Hill’s caliber has the potential to quickly improve what was one of the worst defenses in the league a season ago.

22. New Orleans Saints: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Malik Willis Scouting Report

A player that’s received a significant amount of buzz throughout the summer, Willis is an intriguing project at the position. Despite needing to improve his understanding of ball speeds and ball placement, it’s impossible to ignore the athleticism and baseline traits that Willis contains. Arguably having the strongest arm of any thrower in this class, the landing spot will be crucial for Willis as he will need to go to a place with a proven talent developer that also can provide immediate weapons around him. The Saints are an ideal partner for that.

23. Tennessee Titans: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Trent McDuffie Scouting Report

After cutting ties with former first-round pick Adoree’ Jackson, the team wasted little time addressing the cornerback spot by taking a flyer on Caleb Farley. Continuing to build up the secondary should be a priority. Selecting McDuffie would give the team two long and active corners on the perimeter. A program that’s become a defensive back factory over the past decade, McDuffie is the next in line of a continued lineage. 

24. New York Jets (via SEA): CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

Ahmad Gardner Scouting Report

After taking the best player available in Thibodeaux at No. 3 overall, the Jets addressed what could be considered arguably their biggest need overall here. Waiting until Day 3 of the draft to select a corner during the last draft cycle surprised many, but Douglas and his regime seemed to have done a good job with forecasting what position groups are strong in 2022. Looking ahead and seeing that the corner class is expected to be historically deep, they take Gardner here. The perfect type of player that fits in Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme, Gardner contains plenty of length, swagger, and ball skills. Gardner is a mixture of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trae Waynes as a prospect.

25. Cleveland Browns: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Garrett Wilson Scouting Report

From top to bottom, if we’re evaluating each projected roster of each team around the NFL, the Browns would have a strong argument as being the best in the league. With minimal glaring holes on either side of the ball, the team elects to continue to build on strength by adding Wilson. A technician as a route-runner combined with having strong hands, Wilson is a prospect that would fit in well in a room that already has plenty of weapons. With possible tough decisions to make in the future, having Wilson could ease the pain of losing some of the options already on the roster. Wilson has a lot of qualities similar to Stefon Diggs when he was coming out of Maryland. Needing to improve his catch consistency and not making the easy catches look hard (but making the hard ones look easy), finding that fine line of consistent play could catapult him to being one of the first receivers drafted.

26. Detroit Lions (via LAR): WR John Metchie III, Alabama

John Metchie III Scouting Report

Still in the premature stages of the rebuild, the Lions must continue to stockpile talent as much as possible. With Howell already serving as the heir apparent to Goff, drafting him a weapon to go alongside T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown is a necessity. The next man up in what has become a feeder system of Alabama wide receivers to the NFL, Metchie III is a well-developed route-runner that contains sudden movements to constantly threaten the technique of defensive backs. Stepping into a role where he’s expected to be the No. 1 option in Tuscaloosa, Metchie III has a prime opportunity to show that he can be the go-to target of an offense.

27. Miami Dolphins (via SF): LB Christian Harris, Alabama

Christian Harris Scouting Report

Back-to-back prospects selected from Alabama, Harris is an aggressive and athletic linebacker. Fitting in a similar mold as Jerome Baker and other second-level defenders that seem to be the modern-day prototype, Harris is an attacking second-level defender that wastes little time attacking straight ahead. With his intensity as a blitzer and comfort in coverage, he’s the ideal type of versatile threat that would be a welcome addition to Brian Flores’ defense. 

28. Baltimore Ravens: DL George Karlaftis, Purdue

George Karlaftis Scouting Report

A stout and strong presence along the defensive front, Karlaftis quickly turned into Purdue’s best defender during the 2019 season. A quick breakout came to a screeching halt after being limited to three games a season ago while dealing with a leg injury and battling COVID. Karlaftis has spent time at each position up front and experienced plenty of success as a pass rusher. With overwhelming strength at the point of attack, he has the ability to create quick wins that include quick bursts to fluster quarterbacks. Still needing to improve his down-to-down consistency as a run defender, the Boilermakers’ defensive lineman is the classic case of a ‘high floor’ prospect.

29. Green Bay Packers: EDGE Myjai Sanders, Cincinnati

Myjai Sanders Scouting Report

With Preston Smith likely gone following the 2021 season, that leaves the team with a severe lack of depth and young talent off of the edge. A chiseled and rocked-up body type, Sanders has the physique and explosiveness to become an early contributor during his pro career. Surprisingly returning to school for his senior season, many are expecting a dominant season from No. 21.

30. Buffalo Bills: CB Nehemiah Pritchett, Auburn

Nehemiah Pritchett Scouting Reports

As stated in the introduction, preseason mock drafts are specifically for introducing players that possibly have first-round talent. One prospect that I wanted to make sure to get included in this mock draft was Pritchett. He has minimal buzz, likely because of his small sample size. As a one-year starter, he showed high-level upside. Possessing the length, easy speed, and play patience, he’s a prospect that could make an astronomical rise with another season similar to last year. Placing him beside Tre’Davious White possibly would give the Bills a formidable duo as they have a need for a No. 2 cornerback.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: IOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Tyler Linderbaum Scouting Report

Bringing back all 22 starters and each coordinator, the Buccaneers have one of the more loaded returning rosters with their coaching staff intact. The 2022 offseason is the cycle where we could start to see some of the roster disband. The offensive line is one of many position groups to keep an eye on. Ryan Jensen and Alex Cappa are both entering contract year, and it’s going to be tough to bring back both. Iowa’s Linderbaum is an ideal replacement as he can play any position along the interior. With the success that the Buccaneers have experienced with Tristan Wirfs, it’s hard for them to be hesitant with going back to the well. 

32. Kansas City Chiefs: IDL Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma

Perrion Winfrey Scouting Report

Another roster that doesn’t possess a bunch of glaring holes or pressing needs, defensive tackle is one positional group that does lack depth. With Jarran Reed on a one-year deal, the team may look to a younger option. Winfrey is a promising prospect that’s simply playing off of natural ability at the moment. The No. 1 ranked JUCO recruit during the 2019 cycle, he’s used to dominating lesser competition. With glimpses of promise a season ago, Winfrey is simply a penetrate-and-go player right now. Experimenting with some moves is seen, but he hasn’t developed a go-to tactic that he was comfortable with. He’s expected to be one of the better defensive linemen for the Sooners.