NFL Mock Draft 2022: Defensive Stars Rise

NFL Mock Draft 2022

The hiatus is officially over, everyone! It is officially football season! While the TDN scouting department has been hard at work these past few months living up to the saying that '"it's always draft season," we've been relatively quiet to make sure that when TDN pushes play on the 2021/2022 cycle, you can enjoy it in all of its glory. Consider this the first step in that direction, as it is time for my first 2022 NFL Draft mock of the season.

The selections feature a few opportunities to bet high on traits and a guaranteed opportunity to piss off 31 fan bases about where they land in the draft order. But remember, the draft order used here is that of the BetOnline Super Bowl odds as of this writing. Please take your quarrels up with the oddsmakers, not me!

1. HOUSTON TEXANS: QB SPENCER RATTLER, OKLAHOMA 

Spencer Rattler Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 200/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 9

The Texans appear destined for a split with QB Deshaun Watson one way or another, but the show must go on in the NFL. Yes, the team drafted Davis Mills in the third round of this year's draft, but the presence of a Day 2 selection should not prevent the Texans from swinging for the fences and trying to replicate the dynamic passing ability the team had (has?) in Watson. Rattler is exactly that; a gifted thrower of the ball who progressed through his first season as the starter and should be considered a candidate to make every throw on the field. If he smooths out the valleys from his 2020 tape, he is in the driver's seat for QB1.

2. NEW YORK JETS: CB DEREK STINGLEY JR., LSU

Derek Stingley Jr. Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 150/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 2

Do me a favor. Yes, you. Stop what you're doing and go get a load of the Jets' cornerback room. Seriously. I'll wait. 

...you see what I mean? The Jets' roster overhaul is well underway under the direction of Joe Douglas and Robert Salah, but it seems as though the team opted to wait on their addition of cornerbacks—for good reason, because this year's group is absolutely loaded with talent. None are better than Stingley Jr., who was every bit as advertised as a star in the making during the LSU Tigers' championship run in 2019. 2020 didn't bring the same returns for Stingley Jr., although those struggles appeared to be at least somewhat tied to the lack of continuity all around on defense. You want to play man? Zone? Press? Off coverage? Stingley Jr. can do it.

3. DETROIT LIONS: EDGE KAYVON THIBODEAUX, OREGON

Kayvon Thibodeaux Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 150/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 3

The nice thing about mocking for the Lions is that you can go in just about any direction that you'd like (other than perhaps the offensive line) and be right. The team invested heavily for three years to bring in players specifically for former head coach Matt Patricia's defense before finding out that players weren't necessarily the problem; it was Patricia. And now the team is effectively looking at wiping the slate clean, which means drafting should follow one, simple rule: select good football players. 

You may not be surprised to learn this, but Thibodeaux is #confirmed #good at football. Best player available meets position of need for Detroit in a perfect scenario for Dan Campbell's squad.

4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: S KYLE HAMILTON, NOTRE DAME

Kyle Hamilton Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 100/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 1

Jacksonville is going to be a unique team to mock for. They certainly have young talent and as a team that is drafting high with some regularity, they're going to have young players that you'd hate to see the team spurn quickly. It feels, to a certain degree, like what they just did with C.J. Henderson, however, so we shouldn't consider it impossible. But when I look at Jacksonville, there appears to be a void present on the back end. The Jaguars have plenty of athleticism at linebacker, but their safety group is underwhelming at best. Hamilton can fix that. 

Hamilton is a long, explosive striker who has plenty of experience serving as a chess piece on defense. His click and close ability and skills as a tackler are excellent. He'd be a strong addition to the Jaguars' back seven and allow the team to cover spread sets and not fret about their ability to fit the run in a run-heavy AFC South. 

5. CINCINNATI BENGALS: OT EVAN NEAL, ALABAMA 

Evan Neal Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 100/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 6

Neal is going to have plenty to prove this season as the Crimson Tide's featured player on the offensive line. A mountain of a prospect, Neal has good athleticism in opportunities to get out in front of plays to the perimeter while also providing excessive length as a pass protector off the edge. With his raw power, Neal would be a welcomed addition to help combat the physical play of teams like the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns in the AFC North, too. 

The Bengals made the controversial decision to pass on Penei Sewell in 2021 and got Jackson Carman for their efforts to help protect Joe Burrow. They'd be wise to not make the same gamble yet again in 2022. There's no need to get cute. Protect Burrow at all costs.

6. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: OT JAXSON KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON

Jaxson Kirkland Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 10

The decision to draft Andre Dillard in the first round hasn't panned out for the Eagles to this point and the team isn't going to be able to continue to call upon Jason Peters to bail them out. The offensive line, in general, appears primed for an overhaul outside of Lane Johnson and 2021 second-round pick Landon Dickerson. This is not the same unit that helped usher the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title a few years back. Not by a long shot. 

And so the team would be well served to continue investing in the trenches and rebuild the infrastructure of their offense. In Kirkland, the Eagles get a great candidate who can follow the same developmental plan as Johnson: slightly undersized, super athletic, good in pass protection, and plenty of room to grow overall. Kirkland and Johnson give the Eagles a pair of athletic pass protectors worth anchoring the outside with and gives the team ample flexibility to press forward with them at the bookends and Dickerson serving as the keystone in the middle.

7. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: IDL DEMARVIN LEAL, TEXAS A&M

DeMarvin Leal Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 4

The Raiders have become something of a punchline for their predictability with their early selections. And while this pick may be something of a continuation of that trend (big, physical players from big programs early in the draft), at least the Raiders get to mix things up here and get a new team into the mix that isn't Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State.

There's one thing the Raiders desperately need and that is some versatility up front. The team has made a number of offseason additions to help stack up their pass rush, but when you play against Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice a year, there's no such thing as too many good pass rushers. 

Leal is an absolute monster athlete who appears to still be growing into his frame—a terrifying thought given how well he moved last year at 290 pounds and how often he moved around the defensive front. Base end, stand-up linebacker, 3-technique, 4i alignment, nose tackle in passing situations? You name it, Leal can play it. And who wouldn't want a talent like that?

8. ATLANTA FALCONS: CB TRENT MCDUFFIE, WASHINGTON 

Trent McDuffie Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 8

Good news! The Falcons might score 30 points a game this season!

Bad news! The Falcons might give up 35 a game this season…

More bad news! The Falcons play in one of the most dynamic skill player divisions in all of football and don't appear to have the horses in the secondary to put up a fight. 

Enter McDuffie. McDuffie is an absolute delight to watch work in the secondary. He's fearless as a tackler and does well to play aggressive when asked to, even if his physical profile doesn't suggest he's going to maul you. And he's got good ball skills and even better foot speed to boot, which makes him a fairly universal prospect unless you're going to expect a 6-foot-2 corner on the outside. Dan Quinn has left the building, so I'm banking on a bit more flexibility with Atlanta's personnel on the back end. And that makes McDuffie, as the BPA at a position of need, the pick for me.

9. CAROLINA PANTHERS: QB MATT CORRAL, OLE MISS 

Matt Corral Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 4

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 16

The Panthers may have taken a calculated risk with their decision to trade for Sam Darnold, but I'm not sure I'd rule them out of the quarterback market just yet. I don't get the sense that owner Dave Tepper is going to be content with "okay" at quarterback, nor do I think Darnold is going to be destined to be anything other than that as an NFL talent after the damaging stretch he endured in New York with the Jets. 

When I look at the Panthers' skill group and consider the kind of offense that offensive coordinator Joe Brady runs (assuming he is still there in 2022), I can't help but think that Corral is the ideal fit. Corral runs Lane Kiffin's wide-open offense and would love to have the threats available to him that Carolina can afford. There's plenty of overlap in the spread/spacing of the field concepts for Corral to tap into and with his creative flair for the position and experience with spreading the field, I'm in on this being Carolina's next big swing of the bat. 

10. NEW YORK GIANTS: EDGE DRAKE JACKSON, USC 

Drake Jackson Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 66/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 12

The New York Giants have done well to add depth in a number of spots, but one area that doesn't have the definitive answers I'd like to see for this team to transition into a contender is in their outside rush group. Their defensive front is filled with heavy hitters on the inside, headlined by Leonard Williams. But off the edge? It's names like Oshane Ximines, Ryan Anderson, and rookie Azeez Ojulari. Hard pass. 

So let's bring in Jackson, a fast, fluid, and flexible pass-rushing threat who would do very well as the yang to Dave Gettleman's yin of power rushers inside. The attention that Williams and Dexter Lawrence will command will put Jackson in a position to succeed, and I think he's got all the goods to be an impact rusher in the NFL regardless. He's more explosive and more flexible than Ojulari, if you're looking for a barometer of how his skills measure up to the rest of their options now. 

11.  NEW YORK GIANTS (VIA CHI): OT DARIAN KINNARD, KENTUCKY 

Darian Kinnard Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 50/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 18

A double-dip! The first career trade back in the first round from Gettleman nets the Giants back-to-back picks, which would probably be cooler if it were either a little earlier or a little later in the round—this admittedly feels like a little bit of a dead zone for value in this class as things currently stand.

I like Kinnard a lot. And, projecting a fit to the Giants, there's no question he fits Joe Judge's brand of football. But Kinnard will need to sharpen his balance in order to land this high in the order. He reminds me of the Dolphins’ Robert Hunt, who was drafted in the top 40 in 2020 and played at right tackle as a rookie before moving inside to play right guard (we think) in 2021. The Giants could make this pick work in either role and if he's destined to play inside, I think his size and power in the run game make a ton of sense to pair with Will Hernandez and play next to Andrew Thomas. 

12. ARIZONA CARDINALS: CB ANDREW BOOTH JR., CLEMSON

Andrew Booth Jr. Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 11

I'm not sure if the Cardinals got the memo, but Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins aren't going to cover all these dynamic receiving threats in the NFC West. Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance with Branson Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Co? Tough. Russell Wilson with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett? Woo buddy. Matthew Stafford with Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and DeSean Jackson?! Somebody ring the damn bell! 

Needless to say, the Cardinals are out-gunned with their current cornerback group. Booth can help. He's got a small sample size as a player but he's also someone who has all the physical tools to match up against opposing teams’ No. 1 receivers and play sticky coverage. That's all you really need to know if you're wondering if this is a fit. 

13. PITTSBURGH STEELERS: OL KENYON GREEN, TEXAS A&M 

Kenyon Green Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 24

The Steelers would have you believe that they've got everything they need for an improved offensive attack up front. The team drafted a running back and a tight end with their first two picks before nailing down a few rookie linemen in the middle rounds in 2021.

I'd bet the conversation about the Steelers' offensive line continues in 2022. Kenyon Green can help to alleviate the concerns and provide stability for the unit. He's a solid prospect who does almost everything at an above-average level. He's physically ready to go, too, which is an important note for an offense that is trying to extend their winning window while simultaneously watching the arm of their long-time franchise quarterback whittle away to dust. 

You want to draft a first-round running back? You damn well better be ready to use him. Green can help unlock the best version of Harris as a ball carrier. 

14. WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM: QB SAM HOWELL, NORTH CAROLINA

Sam Howell Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 40/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 13

Washington is the latest team to subscribe to the Ryan Fitzpatrick experience and expectations for the franchise are running wild thanks to an upstart playoff run, a ferocious defensive front, and Fitzpatrick's fearlessness manning a passing offense that now boasts Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and a number of young skill players. 

Fitzpatrick was effective last season in Miami as the starting quarterback and is aging like fine wine (he's getting better with age). His best career stint as a starter came in New York with the Jets… until he went to Tampa Bay. And then the Buccaneers were his best stint… until he went to Miami. And now he's in a new home with arguably the best supporting cast he's ever had. But at the end of the day, Fitzpatrick is nearly 40 years old and that's just not going to cut it for any team's aspirations for long-term quarterback stability. 

Howell has plenty of talent as a thrower and would likely benefit from the balance the Washington offense can afford with Antonio Gibson and Co. as he acclimates to a more dynamic NFL offense that will require him to make more nuanced, advanced reads after the snap. 

15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: CB KAIIR ELAM, FLORIDA

Kaiir Elam Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 4

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 15

The Saints have the unenviable task of trying to lock in Marshon Lattimore long-term amid all of their other big signings in the past year or so. Lattimore is going to command a handsome deal and even if he and the Saints come to terms on a contract extension, the Saints still need more options opposite him, particularly when you consider their presence in the NFC South with the receiving threats in Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta. 

Elam is a big, physical corner who would give the Saints their second outside corner who can play in the contact window or, alternatively, play effectively in off coverage and trigger on action in front of his face. Those are the areas that Elam shined in 2020 at Florida, so pairing him with Lattimore wouldn't have to pigeonhole the Saints into a specific coverage shell with too much frequency. 

16. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS*: S BRANDON JOSEPH, NORTHWESTERN

Brandon Joseph Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 5

The Colts have plenty of promise in their secondary and there's little reason to doubt the continued development of Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon at the safety spots. But Joseph is D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T. With high impact in both the passing game and in run fits, Joseph is a tremendous candidate to play in the high post but can also roll down closer to the line of scrimmage if needed. Most of the best defenses in football are able to feature three safeties on the field at the same time; snap counts for defensive backs aren't hard to come by in today's NFL. With so much of the game played in subpackages, players like Joseph, Willis, and Blackmon can give the Colts the ability to counter 11-personnel and not compromise their abilities to fit the run. Sprinkle in the presence of Darius Leonard as a coverage option? I'm digging this end result. And, as you can see by my personal ranking of Joseph, this is a heck of a value at this point, too.

17. DENVER BRONCOS: OT ZION NELSON, MIAMI

Zion Nelson Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 4

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 29

The Broncos' effort to fortify their offensive line has been sabotaged by a lack of returns by former tackle Ja'Wuan James—who has since moved on from Denver after an ugly dispute over liability when he was injured this offseason. The team has plenty of contenders to play inside and the presence of Garret Bolles at left tackle certainly helps to keep things stable. But the Broncos are in no man’s land as it pertains to their current quarterback situation unless someone steps up their game, so the best they can do is put the best possible supporting cast around whoever is calling plays. 

Nelson is raw but tremendously gifted as an athlete and would give the Broncos a pair of tackles fully capable of generating push and/or mirroring on the edge. The fact that this team has developed Bolles in the way they have gives me faith in the projection of Nelson to them this early in the draft. 

18. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: TE JAHLEEL BILLINGSLEY, ALABAMA 

Jahleel Billingsley Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 23

The Chargers bid farewell to Hunter Henry this offseason and their tight end room is certainly looking thin after the dust has settled. Quarterback Justin Herbert has plenty to throw to outside but a middle-of-the-field target with top-shelf athleticism would make this team an absolute nightmare to match up against. 

Enter Alabama's Billingsley, who is a mismatch-type weapon who SEC linebackers are going to get gassed by this year. The Tide have lost a number of their top targets over the last two seasons (Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith), so expect to see Billingsley move up the priority list as it pertains to targets—especially with Bill O'Brien now on staff. He's got the traits, now he needs the production. It feels like 2021 is a perfect storm for him to make a jump and give the Chargers yet another layer for Herbert to throw to. 

19. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (VIA MIA): EDGE GEORGE KARLAFTIS, PURDUE 

George Karlaftis Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 33/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 21

The Eagles have plenty of picks to play with thanks to their trade back out of the No. 6 overall spot in the 2021 NFL Draft. Not as much as they ultimately may have (here's looking at you, Carson Wentz), but plenty to play with nonetheless. The team simply needs to get better on both sides of the football and after nailing down Kirkland with a top-six pick in this mock, getting more pass rush feels like a strong move to follow suit. 

Brandon Graham has been in the league for more than a decade, Derek Barnett has failed to live up to the expectations of being a No. 1 pick in 2017, and the team's backups at defensive end are an aging Ryan Kerrigan and a promising rotational player in Josh Sweat. Also, fun fact: three of the four are in contract years! So yes, Purdue's Karlaftis makes a ton of sense. 

Karlaftis’ projection is rooted almost exclusively off of his 2019 freshman season but (don't shoot the messenger) he showed more rush variety than Barnett ever did coming out of Tennessee. He's big and dense, as the Eagles appear to like their guys on the edge, and he plays his ass off. There's a lot to like and if he replicates his 2019 freshman campaign, this might be too low for Karlaftis. 

20. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: S DAXTON HILL, MICHIGAN 

Daxton Hill Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 28/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 20

The Vikings lost Anthony Harris this offseason in free agency and we all know how much head coach Mike Zimmer loves him some good defensive back play. Hill is a legit 4.3 athlete who can run with just about anyone and would be a strong candidate to take over for Harris long-term in the secondary. He's not overly experienced to this point (a trend with a lot of the players in this mock), but the athletic tools are all present and some of his reps carrying routes across the middle of the field and contesting throws showcase his ability to transition and attack the football. 

The safeties in Minnesota after Harrison Smith are Xavier Woods, Josh Metellus, Camryn Bynum, Myles Dorn, and Luther Kirk. Try to tell me this isn't a need; I'll wait.

21. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: WR JOHN METCHIE III, ALABAMA 

John Metchie III Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 28/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 17

Reuniting college wide receivers with their former quarterbacks is all the rage right now. Philadelphia did it with Smith. Miami did it with Waddle. Cincinnati did it with Ja'Marr Chase. And so let's go back to the well again because, well, why not? The Patriots signed Nelson Agholor to a sizable two-year deal to presumably be a field stretcher, but Metchie III can do all of that too and will come with a higher ceiling as a player. Even with Agholor in the picture for 2022, the Patriots have plenty at tight end but need more in the receiver room regardless. 

22. TENNESSEE TITANS: CB AKAYLEB EVANS, MISSOURI 

Akayleb Evans Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 28/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 6

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 30

The Titans made a risky pick with their top choice in the 2021 NFL Draft, securing the super talented Caleb Farley (TDN's CB1) despite the concerns over his back injuries and sitting out the 2020 college season. But even with Farley in play, the Titans need more in the secondary if they're going to be able to match up with the top passing offenses in the AFC. Kristian Fulton is another long, athletic press corner type, but he's still unproven and when you add in the durability concerns for Farley, there's room for more to be added here. 

Enter Evans, who is a transfer from Tulsa. He's big. Very big. He's physical. Very physical. And he'll be playing on the SEC stage this year with a chance to catapult his profile to new heights. I like his game a lot and he'd mesh well with the outside corners Tennessee has bet on thus far. 

23. DALLAS COWBOYS: WR CHRIS OLAVE, OHIO STATE 

Chris Olave Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 25/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 7

Dak Prescott has got a pretty sweet gig. He gets to throw to a trio of wide receivers in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup that can only be matched by just a handful of teams across the league. Little problem, though—Gallup is in a contract year and the Cowboys have given away a few too many hefty contracts (that they probably regret). Wide receiver isn't this team's biggest need but when my personal WR1 is still on the board and you're facing the prospect of Gallup walking out the door, the pairing makes too much sense—much like it did when the team drafted Lamb at No. 17 in 2020. 

Olave wins in some similar ways to Gallup, most notably down the field and with smooth and fluid breaks as a receiver. Plugging Olave into the vertical wide receiver spot in Dallas' offense ensures they're stressing teams with spacing and keeping defensive coordinators up fretting about how to balance the power run game and these receivers.

24. NEW YORK JETS (VIA SEA): OL ZION JOHNSON, BOSTON COLLEGE 

Zion Johnson Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 25/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 25

The Jets made a big splash with the addition of Stingley Jr. at No. 2 in this mock and here get the chance to go back to the well in the trenches; not dissimilar to how they handled this past year's draft with Zach Wilson and then Alijah Vera-Tucker. Johnson, like Vera-Tucker, has spent time at both guard and tackle in college. And, like Vera-Tucker, Johnson projects much more favorably as a guard. His athleticism, quickness, and functional strength combine to give the Jets suddenly a very diverse interior group to go along with their monstrous tackles, Mekhi Becton and Morgan Moses. If you're building around a young quarterback, this ain't a bad way to go about doing it. 

25. BALTIMORE RAVENS: EDGE AIDAN HUTCHINSON, MICHIGAN 

Aidan Hutchinson Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 16/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 6

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 37

Expect plenty of this projection this fall from yours truly provided Hutchinson shows up and returns to form after a quiet 2020 season that included a season-ending injury. He's multiple enough to play as a 5-tech, at 4i, or even play further into the interior in passing situations. Michigan has moved him around in their blitz packages too, and now the team's defensive coordinator is a former Ravens defensive assistant. Plenty of dots to connect here beyond just the obvious stylistic fit, but Hutchinson needs to rebound or else risk tumbling down mocks later in the fall. 

26. CLEVELAND BROWNS: EDGE ADAM ANDERSON, GEORGIA 

Adam Anderson Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 15/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 5

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 32

Cleveland has plenty of talent in just about every phase of the roster right now, including in their pass-rush unit. Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley can hopefully provide some level of juice opposite Myles Garrett, and with Malik Jackson on the interior, Cleveland certainly has "enough" options. But enough isn't good enough when you're in pursuit of a Super Bowl—putting the Browns in unfamiliar territory. And so I look at a versatile rush player like Anderson, who can play in space or rush off the edge alike, and I appreciate what he can bring to a team that doesn't really have a lot of true B-level defenders. The Browns have plenty of defensive backs capable of playing nickel linebacker or stepping forward to help the run game, and an edge player who can drop into some zones and occupy in space instead of simply being a straight-ahead player would be a nice foil and complement to all those sub-package defenders on the back end. 

27. MIAMI DOLPHINS (VIA SF): LB BRANDON SMITH, PENN STATE

Brandon Smith Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 14/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 31

I thought hard about Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum here, but Linderbaum is currently billed at 289 pounds. Miami's projected starting five up front averages 319 pounds—they've got a type of build up front and Linderbaum ain't it. Then I shifted my focus to running backs but appear to only be kidding myself: the Dolphins haven't prioritized that position in the last two seasons despite some unanswered questions there. So with 2021 second-round pick Liam Eichenberg currently projecting at left guard, I considered a tackle. Didn't love my options there with Thayer Munford or Daniel Faalele at this point, either. Could I draft a corner to anticipate the potential friction between Xavien Howard and the Dolphins continuing (and a lack of development from Noah Igbinoghene)? Sure. But where I settled was with an absolutely freakish linebacker prospect who I would trust Brian Flores to get the most out of. 

The team has Benardrick McKinney on a one-year deal, but that really isn't Smith's style of play—consider him more of a hybrid type, a souped-up version of what the team already has in Andrew Van Ginkel. Smith is bigger, faster, stronger, more explosive, and more versatile to play in coverage. I'm not suggesting the Dolphins replace Van Ginkel in their rotation, either, I'm just saying that Smith has an athletic profile to help the Dolphins stay true to their one true identity on defense: they want to be like water. As Bruce Lee once said, water is formless. Shapeless. Water can flow or creep or drip or crash. The Dolphins defense wants to be like water in that they want interchangeable pieces to run their concepts regardless of opposing personnel or week-to-week matchups. Smith gives them more of that as a roster that has plugged a good deal of their holes and doesn't have an ideal fit and value for the holes that do remain at this point in the draft. 

28. DETROIT LIONS (VIA LAR): WR GEORGE PICKENS, GEORGIA

George Pickens Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 14/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 3

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 26

Breshad Perriman. Tyrell Williams. Amon-Ra St. Brown. Quintez Cephus. Kalif Raymond. These are the top names in Detroit's wide receiver room entering the 2021 season. No, I'm not kidding. Simply put, this group needs a complete and total overhaul—although the good news is that this team is starting from square one and there's an understanding of where this team is at from a rebuilding process. 

Pickens is injured after tearing his ACL in spring practice but has the physical profile of a 1A wide receiver in the NFL. The brief stretch of production he posted with JT Daniels at the helm for Georgia last season is sure to spark optimism about unlocking higher levels of Pickens' game and with a landing spot in Detroit, Pickens will have plenty of opportunities to be fed the football. I have a feeling Campbell would appreciate his style of play, too. 

29. GREEN BAY PACKERS: IDL JORDAN DAVIS, GEORGIA

Jordan Davis Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 12/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 2

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 43

Here's the thing: I wanted to drop a wide receiver in here for Green Bay, but I don't trust the team will actually do it. I wanted to draft linebacker Christian Harris here, too, but again, the Packers’ brass seems to have a type and he ain't it (positional value). So I asked myself who the biggest, meanest, nastiest mauler I could find was, because that feels like a "Green Bay" selection. 

I settled on Davis, who has some room to grow with functional athleticism but his ability to play in odd-front systems and get good "knockback" on offensive linemen at the point of attack will help Green Bay further boost its run defense and keep things stout up front. 

30. BUFFALO BILLS: CB AHMAD GARDNER, CINCINNATI

Ahmad Gardner Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 11/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 7

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 33

Speaking of team trends, the Bills entered the 2021 offseason needing a CB2 and effectively spit into the wind at the assertion. So maybe this is too brazen or assuming of me, but I'm going to give them a really good stylistic complement to CB Tre'Davious White here in "Sauce" Gardner. 

Cincinnati has some dudes on defense this upcoming year but none have a higher potential ceiling than Gardner. I love what he and White would bring to the table for Buffalo as they look to close the gap between themselves and the top teams in the league. 

31. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: LB CHRISTIAN HARRIS, ALABAMA

Christian Harris Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 6/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 1

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 19

The reigning Super Bowl champions enter the 2021 season with effectively a copy/paste of their winning roster from last season. Fun for them and "fun" for the rest of the league. So how does one go about drafting for a team that doesn't need much of anything? By drafting for future losses, just as the team chose to do when they added Joe Tryon to the roster in 2021. 

The Buccaneers did well to bring Lavonte David back into the mix and extend his career in the Bay, but he's not getting any younger and his contract is only a two-year agreement for 2021 and 2022. By drafting Harris, Tampa can groom him to learn behind David for a year before reassessing the latter's status as a hallmark feature on the defense. 

Oh, right. And as Tampa Bay showed with drafting Devin White in the top five that they're clearly not afraid of the proposition of this positional value. 

32. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: EDGE MYJAI SANDERS, CINCINNATI  

Myjai Sanders Scouting Report

Super Bowl Odds: 5/1

Crabbs’ Position Rank: 4

Crabbs’ Big Board Rank: 22

The Chiefs made it their mission in 2021 to build up their offensive line after the group fell apart against Tampa Bay's ferocious pass rush in the Super Bowl. This year, the pass rush is a group to watch. The team's top rusher, Frank Clark, has had a number of run-ins with the law this offseason and even with Clark in the picture, the rest of their outside rush group could stand to gather some reinforcements. 

Sanders is a super toolsy rusher with an exciting first step—he's long and lean but has done well to progress as a rusher throughout the course of his career at Cincinnati, making him a logical candidate to be a riser through the process.

Written By:

Kyle Crabbs

Director of Scouting

Kyle Crabbs is the Director of Scouting for The Draft Network. Prior to his time with TDN, Kyle worked for seven years as the founder of his own third-party scouting service, NDT Scouting. Providing media coverage and also consultation services for agencies, Crabbs penned an annual NFL Draft Prospectus featuring 300+ player profiles on an annual basis from 2014-2020. Crabbs is currently the co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast with fellow TDN scout Joe Marino and helps coordinate TDN's national scouting effort.

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