2022 NFL Mock Draft: Which +400 pick are we projecting to go No. 1?
The 2022 NFL Draft has finally arrived! This is one of the most open-looking drafts we’ve seen in quite some time, with a relatively weak QB class adding to the intrigue. Now that we’re so close, it’s time to focus on how each team will use their first-round picks on the best players coming out of college. Who will go No. 1 overall? Will quarterbacks Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis go in the first round? Who will be the first wide receiver off the board?
It’s time to dive into 2022 NFL Mock Draft! The excitement gets underway on Thursday, April 28 at the Raiders’ home of Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas. This draft can be used to highlight potential betting opportunities, with tons of sportsbooks offering markets and odds. Let’s take a look at every first-round selection, and be sure to check out the rest of Pickswise’s 2022 NFL Draft content.
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1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
Even though Aidan Hutchinson is the presumed favorite to go No. 1 overall, there’s been increasing chatter over the past couple of weeks centered on the Jaguars taking an offensive lineman. FanSided’s Matt Lombardo talked to some scouts and coaches who suggested the offensive-minded Doug Pederson is likely pining for one of the top tackles. That would make sense to help protect Trevor Lawrence in the short and long term – despite Jacksonville franchise-tagging Cam Robinson and signing Brandon Scherff this offseason. Ikem Ekwonu can play guard or tackle with his NFL-ready build and bulldozing blocking ability. The NC State product would help Lawrence develop for years to come.
2) Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If Aidan Hutchinson is still on the board here, Detroit shouldn’t think twice about keeping the Michigan product in-state. Hutchinson is viewed as the most complete edge rusher in this year’s class, though Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux could eventually end up as better pros. One of the Lions’ top team needs is a pass rusher (as explained by Andrew Cooper) and Hutchinson can replace the departed Trey Flowers on the edge. He anchored an elite Wolverines defense last season en route to First-Team AP All-American honors, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award, and the Ted Hendricks Award (given to the best defensive end in college football).
3) Houston Texans – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Texans could go in a number of different directions here with plenty of team needs. Taking a chance on the All-Pro upside of Travon Walker may be tough to pass up for new head coach Lovie Smith, though – especially with two top-15 picks in the first round. Walker is right behind Aidan Hutchinson as one of the best edge rushers in this draft, but he’s a little bit riskier. He was an elite run-stopper along Georgia’s dominant defensive line last season with a thick, muscular build that should translate right over to the NFL.
The slight worry is his lack of proven pass-rushing as he wasn’t asked to do it as often in the Bulldogs’ loaded defense. Still, Walker has the quickness and strength to get to the QB and develop into a complete defensive end – and the experience of playing both inside and on the edge at UGA will provide versatility to Houston’s D-line.
4) New York Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Last summer, Kayvon Thibodeaux was universally viewed as the first player off the board in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. While he’s still arguably the top raw talent in the draft class, Thibodeaux didn’t produce like a No. 1 overall pick this past season at Oregon. The inconsistent play and questionable motor/character has some teams worried off. The Jets, though, would gladly take that chance with two top-10 picks at their disposal. Head coach Robert Salah could strengthen his D-line with a defensive stud like Thibodeaux, who possesses the ideal pass-rushing skills with length and speed on the edge.
5) New York Giants – Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi State
Charles Cross has been one of the most hyped names in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, and the Giants are reportedly high on him. New GM Joe Schoen and the NYG front office seem committed to Daniel Jones at quarterback (at least for now) – so strengthening the offensive line should be a priority. Cross’s pass-blocking skills were on full display last year as a tackle in Mississippi State’s Air Raid offense. Though the run-blocking could use some work, he can start right away for the Giants with valuable experience facing SEC pass-rushers this past season.
6) Carolina Panthers – Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
Evan Neal is one of those names who could go as early as No. 1 overall, or slip down the board a bit. While the Panthers may go QB with this pick, snagging an offensive tackle of the future would be too good to pass up. If Carolina wants to give Sam Darnold one more year under center (or if Baker Mayfield ends up there), then a stronger O-line is never a bad thing. Neal can be a starter right away at either tackle spot and his athleticism and versatility as a big-bodied lineman are rare. The 40-plus starts at Alabama provide proven experience as well.
7) New York Giants (via CHI) – Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
First off, the Giants are a prime candidate to trade back with a team looking to move up. If Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is still available, though, it might be too tempting to let someone else scoop him up. Gardner excelled in press-man coverage at Cincinnati and routinely shut down opposing No. 1 wideouts. He has the long arms and quick feet necessary to lock onto NFL receivers and the tape is evidence enough of his ball-hawking, pass-breakup tendencies. Sauce can start right away in the NYG secondary, especially if James Bradberry gets dealt.
Read our analysis and best bet for who will be the first cornerback drafted
8) Atlanta Falcons – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
No more Matt Ryan in Atlanta? No problem! The Falcons make a splash here by by making Malik Willis the first QB off the board and the eventual successor to Ryan. Even though Marcus Mariota is now in town, Willis would be able to sit and learn for a year. The biggest knock on the Liberty product is how pro-ready he really is after facing subpar collegiate competition. Still, the combination of big arm strength and dual-threat playmaking give Willis a ton of upside in a below-average QB class. Obviously every NFL team does this for a bunch of different prospects, but this tweet from the Falcons’ official account could be a bit of foreshadowing:
9) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) – Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
It’s been a while since the Legion of Boom terrorized opposing QBs in Seattle. You have to think Pete Carroll is looking to build the defense back up, and Derek Stingley Jr. could form a talented secondary duo alongside fellow LSU product Jamal Adams. It’s admittedly tough to mock Stingley Jr. with him being one of the most polarizing NFL Draft prospects. The cornerback has the raw talent to be a top-5 pick when fully healthy and dialed in. Those are the big worries, though. As a true freshman, Stingley was a shutdown corner for LSU’s national champion squad, but he played in just 10 combined games over the last two seasons with multiple injuries and COVID disruptions. The talent, though, rivals anyone in this draft as a ball-hawker with the length and speed to develop into a lock-down corner.
10) TRADE: Philadelphia Eagles (from NYJ) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Eagles have plenty of draft capital this year and next to move up, and they do just that to grab Jameson Williams before anyone else. If Williams didn’t tear his ACL in January’s National Championship game, the Alabama wideout would likely be considered a sure top-10 pick as the best pass-catcher in this draft. The injury, though, forced him to skip the NFL Combine and ‘Bama pro day while presumably causing a delayed start to his rookie season. However, Williams is “ahead of schedule” (as he says below) and is moving back up draft boards recently – though he might not be ready to contribute in Week 1.
Williams has big-play ability at full health and was a TD-waiting-to-happen every time he touched the ball in the Crimson Tide offense. After trading up, the Eagles will make it three straight drafts where they took a first-round wide receiver. It seems Philly is committed to Jalen Hurts at QB (at least for one more season), and Williams would be a nice complement to DeVonta Smith while bringing a different skill set to the offense.
11) Washington Commanders – Drake London, WR, USC
The Commanders could go defense with this pick, but getting Carson Wentz more receiving firepower makes sense if they want to compete this season. Over the years, Wentz has found a nice rapport with bigger-bodied receivers – Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz in Philadelphia and then Michael Pittman in Indianapolis. If Washington wants to get the best out of Wentz, getting him a bigger wideout like Drake London isn’t a bad idea – especially to complement Terry McLaurin’s skillset on the outside. The USC product is a notable mismatch in the redzone with the combination of size to dominate smaller corners and the route-running/athleticism to exploit linebackers.
12) Minnesota Vikings – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is a top-10 talent in this draft, but he could slip down big boards due to a slower 40-time and season-ending knee injury last year. The Vikings would happily grab him, though, as they may be in “best player available” mode with a new head coach and GM in town. The Notre Dame product has a natural nose for the football and could prove to be the best player in this entire draft class. Before his injury last season, Hamilton routinely used his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to stuff ball-carriers in the box and hawk down opposing passes from the safety perch. He could form an elite duo with Harrison Smith at the back of a Minnesota secondary that lost safety Xavier Woods in free agency.
Check out our assessment of offensive tackle Evan Neal ahead of the draft
13) TRADE: Kansas City Chiefs (from HOU) – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With Garrett Wilson still available, the Chiefs pounce at the opportunity to trade up and snag one of the top receivers. Kansas City is tied for the most draft capital this year among all NFL teams, so there’s enough ammunition to move up this far from No. 29. Losing Tyreek Hill is a big loss for the Patrick Mahomes and Co., but Wilson would certainly help replace some of that playmaking in the receiving corps. Though he’s no burner like Hill, the Ohio State wideout is an explosive and polished route-runner who can make defenders miss after the catch or hit the home run over the top. He could easily be the first pass-catcher off the board, so KC would be getting a steal at No. 13 overall.
14) Baltimore Ravens – Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
The Ravens have to replace Justin Houston, Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis on the defensive line this offseason and could be looking to go younger along the front seven. They do it here with Jermaine Johnson slipping down to No. 14 overall. The Florida State product has the physical build and power to both rush the passer and stop the run. The pro-ready size and versatility would fit in well for Baltimore up front. The two worries about Johnson, though, are his lack of burst from the edge and late breakout with just one productive college season.
15) TRADE: New York Jets (from PHI) – Trevor Penning, OL, Northern Iowa
After trading down from No. 10, the Jets go offensive line here to give Zach Wilson more protection for the short and long term. Trevor Penning has an NFL-ready build with the strength, athleticism and physicality to start right away in New York. The big worry is Penning’s lack of competition faced while at Northern Iowa, but the Jets can take the chance with George Fant and Mekhi Becton at the tackle spots for now – though Fant is in the final year of his contract. The popular pick is for NYJ to grab a WR in this draft, but building from the line out is something GM Joe Douglas has prioritized.
16) New Orleans Saints (from PHI) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
With two first-round picks, the Saints will should use one of them to bolster an unproven and inconsistent receiving corps outside of Michael Thomas (who’s coming off an injury). The offseason signings of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton signal a QB pick in the first-round is unlikely, but don’t rule it out completely for New Orleans. As for Chris Olave, he’s arguably the best deep-ball threat in the draft and can step in and produce right away. The field-stretching ability, NFL-caliber speed, and elusive route-running were on full display at Ohio State, where Olave was regularly a big play waiting to happen every time he touched the ball.
17) Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
The Chargers addressed some glaring team needs on the defensive side this offseason, but the right guard and right tackle spots along the O-line need upgrades. Plus, why not add more protection for Justin Herbert in the short and long term? Zion Johnson is a ready-made offensive guard who’s viewed as the best interior lineman in this draft. That distinction may cause the Boston College product to slip down the board with teams valuing tackles more, but the Chargers can plug him in at RG right away and feel good about it.
18) Philadelphia Eagles (from NO) – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
Under GM Howie Roseman, the Eagles have always valued the defensive line more so than other teams and they usually look one or two years ahead. They do exactly that by snagging Jordan Davis, who could easily go much earlier than this. Defensive tackle is a long-term need for Philadelphia with both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave set to be free agents after the next couple seasons. As part of Georgia’s ferocious D-line, Davis showed off his elite run-stopping skills and versatility to line up at multiple spots. Although the pass-rushing is a bit unproven, the speed at his size makes him an intimidating force in the trenches and he would be an ideal eventual replacement for Cox in Philly.
Read our analysis of when the first running back will be drafted
19) New Orleans Saints (from PHI) – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
The Saints went offense with their first pick, so it’s defense at this latter selection. Defensive tackle could be a big position of need next offseason for New Orleans with David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle both entering contract years. Adding Devonte Wyatt would address it a year early and strengthen a defense that’s prioritized stopping the run in recent seasons. The defensive tackle can be a run-stuffer right away at the NFL level after starring along Georgia’s dominant D-line last year.
20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
If Kenny Pickett doesn’t go in the top 10, there’s a decent chance he falls all the way down to Pittsburgh or another team in the 20s. While the Steelers do have Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in the QB room for this season, neither are the long-term answer to run the offense. Pickett can be groomed to be the next franchise guy with Ben Roethlisberger now gone. He’s the most pro-ready quarterback of this draft class after a prolific season at Pitt – and now gets to hang around the city for a bit longer. Pickett boasts the starting experience, throwing technique, arm strength and accuracy to start right away for the Steelers if they want to go that route.
21) New England Patriots – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The Patriots could go in many different directions here, because who knows what Bill Belichick is thinking at any given time?! With Dont’a Hightower unlikely to return at this point, New England could be looking to grab its next-great linebacker to anchor the defense. At Utah, Devin Lloyd showed off his aggressive, flying-to-the-ball playstyle that should translate right over to the NFL level. He possesses the athleticism and instincts to be productive in both pass coverage and run-stopping. Whether it’s Lloyd or Georgia’s Nakobe Dean, a younger (and cheaper) linebacker would help replace Hightower in the middle of New England’s defense.
22) Green Bay Packers (from LV) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
With Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling gone, the Packers have to be thinking receiver with one of their two first-round picks. Even though Green Bay brought in Sammy Watkins this offseason, that doesn’t really move the needle in terms of replacing the combined production of Adams and MVS. So, Aaron Rodgers finally convinces the franchise to draft a first-round wideout here. Treylon Burks could easily go earlier, but he would slot right in as Rodgers’ top target if available here. Burks was a stud at Arkansas and routinely tore up opposing SEC secondaries. Similar to Deebo Samuel, he boasts an explosive combination of size, speed and game-breaking athleticism that’ll translate immediately to the pro level.
23) Arizona Cardinals – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
After losing Christian Kirk this offseason, the Cardinals need another pass-catcher besides DeAndre Hopkins. Having A.J. Green as the No. 2 WR won’t cut it and Arizona needs to provide Kyler Murray with as many weapons as possible. Jahan Dotson is arguably the most explosive receiver in this draft and he has the versatility to play in either the slot or out wide. The Penn State product would be an ideal complement to Hopkins in the Cardinals’ offense that also needs to replace the burst of Chase Edmonds (who’s now in Miami).
24) Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa
The Cowboys need to start retooling their offensive line, if only to add more protection for Dak Prescott in the short and long term. Tyler Linderbaum is universally viewed as the top center prospect in this draft and he could be Dallas’ starting center in Week 1 and for the next decade. He was an elite run-blocker in a rush-heavy Iowa offense and has the strength and physicality to deal with NFL defensive tackles. The only issue is the lack of proven pass-blocking for Linderbaum, but that’s not as important at the center position.
Who will be the first offensive lineman drafted? We’ve got odds and picks
25) Buffalo Bills – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
After bringing back the large majority of a team that could’ve won the Super Bowl a year ago, Buffalo doesn’t have many immediate team needs. You can never have enough secondary depth and talent, though, and the Bills may be prioritzing the defensive backfield at this pick to keep pace with a loaded AFC QB group for years to come. In Washington’s elite-level defense the last couple seasons, Trent McDuffie showed off his lockdown coverage ability and routinely blanketed top opposing Pac-12 receivers. He also has the versatility to not only blitz from the edge, but also do his part in run-stopping with strong tackling skills for a corner.
26) Tennessee Titans – Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
The Titans lost guard Rodger Saffold in free agency, so they replace him with Kenyon Green at this pick. Green played at both guard and tackle positions for Texas A&M last season and that versatility should be valuable to a Tennessee team looking to bolster the O-line. He also has experience in zone-blocking schemes in college, which translates right over into the Titans’ wide zone rushing attack.
27) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
In case you missed it, Tom Brady is back in Tampa Bay – which means the team has to be in win-now mode and looking at draft picks that can help contribute right away. Specifically, the Bucs need help on the defensive front with Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Steve McLendon still unsigned from last year’s squad. When talking about the defensive line recently, GM Jason Licht said the team is always looking to “add depth and add youth.” Enter George Karlaftis, who boasts the ideal combination of power and athleticism from the edge and has the versatility to play multiple spots along the line. The Purdue product could make an impact for Tampa’s defense right from the get-go.
28) Green Bay Packers – Bernhard Raimann, OL, Central Michigan
The Packers’ right tackles last year were Billy Turner (now with Broncos) and Dennis Kelly (free agent), so it’s definitely a position they could address with one of their two first-round picks. While Bernhard Raimann has limited experience playing on the O-line, the converted tight end brings a unique athleticism to the tackle position. He’s admittedly tough prospect to predict at the next level – especially since he played against lesser competition in the MAC – but scouts are raving at his upside and untapped potential as an athletic edge protector. He would help fill the void at RT for Green Bay.
Get our player position best bets for the 2022 NFL Draft
29) TRADE: Houston Texans (from KC) – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Texans would likely go “best available” here after trading down with the Chiefs, and Nakobe Dean presents a bargain as he could/should go earlier. Dean was a regular playmaker for Georgia’s elite defense last year and his combination of instincts, speed, and run/pass recognition can translate right over to the NFL level. New head coach Lovie Smith could have Dean manning the middle of the defense for the long-term as the rebuild gets underway in Houston. His undersized frame is a slight worry, but that didn’t matter much on a championship D a year ago.
30) Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
Kansas City has to replace both Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes from last year’s cornerback room, and it’s looking more and more likely that Tyrann Mathieu won’t return either. So, the Chiefs go corner here to strengthen a pass defense that needs to keep pace with the AFC arms race. Andrew Booth Jr. is an aggressive and polished tackler who routinely flew to the football while at Clemson – and those skills will make him an excellent run-stopper in any defensive backfield. The cover skills are a bit inconsistent, but he has the ideal bigger frame to contest and be physical with opposing wideouts.
31) Cincinnati Bengals – Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan
The Bengals could go offensive line here, but they addressed those issues with a slew of offseason signings. Instead, Cincy goes defense to strengthen the secondary for this year and the future. Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell are at safety right now, but both are set to be free agents next year – and cornerback Eli Apple is on a one-year deal as well. Reloading the secondary should be a priority here if the reigning AFC North champs want to stay atop the division. Daxton Hill is arguably the second-best safety in this draft behind Kyle Hamilton, but he also has the ability and athleticism to play cornerback for the Bengals. At Michigan, he showed the versatility to both man the deep zones or cover slot receivers as a playmaking defensive back.
32) Detroit Lions (via LAR) – Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
More often than not, we see NFL teams take advantage of that potential fifth-year of control by taking a chance at a QB at the back end of the first-round. It happened with Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater and Jordan Love in past seasons. The Lions have the luxury of doing so with Jared Goff serving as the bridge to Desmond Ridder being the possible starter next season. Though Ridder isn’t the most polished QB prospect, he was a proven winner and leader at Cincinnati for multiple years. People may knock the lack of competition in college or his inconsistent arm talent, but Ridder’s dual-threat ability gives him a higher playmaking ceiling than other QBs in this draft. He’s worth a shot for a Detroit team that’s likely not content with Goff for the long-term.
Pickswise 2022 NFL Draft content
Check out some of the great articles our news team has put together on the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft:
- Who will be the first quarterback drafted?
- When will Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett be drafted?
- When will Alabama’s Evan Neal be drafted?
- Who will be the first offensive lineman drafted?
- Who will be the first running back drafted?
- When will Liberty’s Malik Willis be drafted?
Pickswise is the home of free expert NFL Picks and NFL Odds. Be sure to check out all of our season previews and NFL Futures Bets leading up to the 2022 NFL Season.