The NFL Draft is the biggest sports event that doesn’t actually involve watching athletes perform in the world. There is no other event that draws the attention from the media and fans over a draft or other off-field activity than the NFL Draft, that see’s countless websites dedicated to covering it extensively.
That being said, the market is also flooded with mock drafts. They are time-consuming to make and most of the time they are way off, and it is for those reasons that I limit myself to three every offseason.
Going into 2022, my final mock draft is my best guess at what will happen on April 28th. We’ll have live coverage for you on Twitter throughout the three days. You can follow me and all of my horrible takes on @DraftVogel.
Picks that are projected trades are in italics. I also didn’t include trade terms because… There’s no way to predict them.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
Travon Walker has been one of the late risers in the NFL Draft process as the media (including myself) has caught up to what the NFL thinks. Played all across the defensive line as a 5-tech, 3-tech, and 1-tech at Georgia. With his incredible versatility and pass rushing prowess, Walker promises to be a good, potentially great, edge rusher at the next level.
The upside that Walker offers is significant. He’s a very athletic prospect who needs to refine some of his other work. If he can refine half of his game, he will be a multi-year starter. At the very worst, Walker looks like a solid rotational defensive lineman. He can clean up his tackling technique and learn to control his body a little bit better.
2. Detroit Lions – EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Most people in the NFL expected a huge 2021 season from Aidan Hutchinson, and he delivered with arguably the most dominant season by a defender in power five football. We project Aidan Hutchinson as a 3-4 RUSH EDGE moving forward because of his versatility while standing upright and his contain ability to hold down a perimeter.
Hutchinson doesn’t really offer much upside outside of learning how to use his hands better. Besides that, he’s mostly a finished product with a high floor and a low ceiling.
3. Houston Texans – OT Evan Neal, Alabama
The only real upside to Evan Neal’s game is to become more consistent as a run blocker, which could come with some time. If he gets to that point, Neal will be a very strong tackle in this class. He already is the best according to his tape.
4. New York Jets – EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux has the ability to play anywhere on the defensive line. His versatility across the line was evident while he was at Oregon, playing an outstanding number of roles and positions across the Oregon defense. However, Thibodeaux still appears to have been stunted in his growth and development as a pass rusher due to his versatility. All things aside, Thibodeaux appears to have the most NFL-ready body from a defensive standpoint. Thibodeaux’s frame is stout and ready for the NFL.
As a pure pass rusher, we still have a lot to see from Kayvon Thibodeaux. He doesn’t often have a plan nor does he show a wide variety of pass rushing moves. We’ve never seen a season-long performance from Thibodeaux. He was a rotational player in 2019, Covid-19 shut down his opportunity to play and produce in 2020, and then the hamstring injury put Thibodeaux into a more rotational role again.
5. New York Giants – OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State
Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Ikem Ekwonu. I know that’s sacrilegious to say nowadays, but Ekwonu, to me, looks more like a guard who would be better suited playing inside at the next level. However, it’s no secret that the New York Giants love him and I doubt he gets past this pick.
6. Carolina Panthers – QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Matt Corral doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but it’s all about everything coming together with him. He has some of the quickest, best feet in the class, his release is compact, he has adequate arm talent, and he’s a very efficient runner. I think the Ole Miss offense is going to help him understand concepts at the next level. He can work on getting the game to slow down and hopefully make better decisions across the field.
7. New York Giants (from Chicago) – CB Derek Stingley Jr, LSU
The biggest question mark concerning Derek Stingley Jr is which cornerback are you drafting in this class? Are you taking the cornerback who was lockdown in 2019? Or, are you selecting the guy who lacked effort and was overall struggling with injuries over the last two years? Stingley had arguably the greatest freshman season ever by a cornerback only to look like a shell of that player over the next two seasons, where he appeared in 10 games. He looks to be the same player after his injuries based on his pro day performance. Regardless, Stingley is a strong man corner who is suitable in zone and can bring value to a team in several ways.
8. Atlanta Falcons – WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson is one of the most talented receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft class, and it’s because of his extraordinary playmaking ability and his knack for making clutch catches in key situations. His electric playmaking ability and wide open style reminds me of a slightly bigger DeVonta Smith, and I think Wilson could fill an X mold if he was asked to at any point in time.
Wilson suffered a concussion in the 2021 season that forced him to miss a game. Outside of that, Wilson has been the picture of clean health. The concussion is a concern because it’s rare that a player will suffer one concussion and not suffer another again, typically it opens the door for several concussions. Garrett Wilson is almost a finished product. There isn’t much upside to his game.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) – QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The upside that Malik Willis presents is very real and threatening to an NFL team. Yes, he has some passing mechanics to work through. I thought that he had improved a lot of it over the draft cycle, especially with his footwork. I’m willing to bet on a guy who can come in with the work ethic that Willis has and improve steadily one day at a time. I think his upside is huge and I’m willing to see it through.
10. Philadelphia Eagles (from NY Jets through Seattle) – EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
A transfer from Georgia by way of the JUCO system, Jermaine Johnson was the number one JUCO prospect coming out of his class in 2019. A dominant alpha-male personality, Johnson needs to be more consistent at the next level but is a very balanced player in terms of what he offers as a pass rusher and as a run defender. His versatility will be intriguing to NFL teams looking to add him to their lineup.
11. Washington Commanders – WR Drake London, USC
Drake London is a big-bodied receiver who offers a lot of schematic versatility to his game. USC used London in a variety of ways – outside/boundary, out of the slot, and as a motion piece much like San Francisco uses Deebo Samuel. While I don’t believe London offers the same versatility at the pro level, AKA he’s not Deebo Samuel, London offers an advanced route tree that he ran at USC and can be utilized all across the formation.
He’s a nuanced route runner, while not always crisp, understands how to win his routes. He creates separation without having to go vertically and while he has some concentration drops issues, London still offers a lot as a volume receiver who can make things happen after the catch. The injury will be a cause for concern, as teams will hope that he will return with his explosion and athletic ability untarnished.
I don’t see a lot of upside to Drake London’s game. I suppose that he could improve his release and sideline work, but overall London is at his ceiling. He’s a good, not great, athlete, there are a lot of unknowns with his injury, he wasn’t that explosive anyways. He has the outstanding catch radius and made some great catches but he struggled through contact a lot too. I’m not seeing what everyone else is with him and I don’t see him being a great receiver at the next level.
12. Minnesota Vikings – CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati
Ahmad Gardner can grow into a solid zone coverage cornerback but might have to transition to safety if he makes it far enough in his career. Gardner is well overrated as an athlete in most NFL Draft circles, and I have major concerns about his height.
13. Houston Texans – S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is arguably the best safety prospect that we’ve seen for quite some time. He’s very versatile, proven by his 2020 to 2021 transformation. In 2020, Hamilton spent more time as more of a ROVER defender, playing closer to the line of scrimmage and was very effective. In 2021, he switched to more deep coverage and traditional free safety.
14. Baltimore Ravens – NT Jordan Davis, Georgia
From a talent standpoint, Jordan Davis is on another level. His athleticism is off the charts, especially at his size. The biggest issue to his game is the lack of snaps that he has played throughout his four years, which averages just around 280 snaps a season. Davis is the complete package and doesn’t really offer any particular upside to his game. He is who he is right now.
15. New York Jets (from Philadelphia through Miami) – CB Andrew Booth Jr, Clemson
Andrew Booth Jr doesn’t offer much upside to his game simply because he’s already just about there. He could improve his zone coverage ability as he plays more and earns more reps – is basically a one year starter. He missed a couple of games in both 2020 and 2021 with minor injuries. Underwent a sports hernia surgery in early April before the draft. Is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for rookie minicamp.
16. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia through Indianapolis) – CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
Trent McDuffie played a lot of zone coverage in 2021 with Washington, as I believe was part of the Jimmy Lake scheme change. Opposing teams just didn’t throw his direction very often in 2021, due to his freshman season which was outstanding. I don’t see a lot of upside from McDuffie. He looks like he’s very much a finished product. Not a lot of remaining upside.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Charles Cross has some upside with his hand usage and overall footwork that could be cleaner. His hand work is still somewhat raw and under developed, and that explains a lot of the penalties that he drew over his career. Once that’s cleaned up, and his footwork follows suit, he could be a very strong starting left tackle.
18. Green Bay Packers (from Philadelphia through New Orleans) – WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Chris Olave has potential through the roof as an NFL receiver. Certain tools pop on tape immediately upon viewing. He’s quick to accelerate. Shows good hands. However, Olave is missing key components to his game that will diminish his value. Was often utilized as a decoy receiver to take attention away from Garrett Wilson.
So I like the upside that Chris Olave presents as a prospect – he can sure up some of his route running, show some better technique and nuance, and he could be special.
19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia) – QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Kenny Pickett was labeled as a potential riser by many analysts who are close to the NFL. Therefore, there was some intrigue surrounding him entering 2021. Pickett responded with the best season of his career, running for the Heisman Trophy until he was overtaken about halfway through the season. Regardless, the improvement in production that he showed was certainly eye-popping, throwing for touchdowns in 2021 (42) than he had the previous four years (39).
20. Pittsburgh Steelers – C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum has excellent speed and athleticism. Best in the position group. Great burst. Has excellent lateral quickness to move all across the line with his assignments. Very quick snap set – can barely tell he’s the center. He’s a very strong pass protector and probably the best run blocker in the entire class.
21. New England Patriots – S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Daxton Hill is an extremely intriguing prospect in terms of where he will best fit at the next level. Hill lined up all over the formation at Michigan in a variety of packages and roles, and played well in almost all of them. He’s a stout run defender, has the ability to play coverages all across the field, and is capable immediately at the next level as a solid slot defender.
I don’t see a lot of upside to Hill’s game, as he is very close to a finished product. His issue at the next level will be figuring out where he is going to play. I suppose his play recognition time could speed up and perhaps build onto his frame to add more strength. He’s going to be an effective player at the next level somewhere and has a very high floor.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (from Green Bay through Las Vegas) – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Treylon Burks is built like a running back and was oftentimes flexed into the backfield last year where he would take handoffs from time to time. The issue with Burks mostly is his lack of maneuverability. He’s a big playmaker but because of his size, he’s somewhat limited with his agility. Regardless, Burks is geared at being one of the top playmakers in the game with a lot of potential to be schemed into an offense to better utilize his versatility.
23. Arizona Cardinals – WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
A transfer from Ohio State, Most people don’t realize that Jameson Williams isn’t built like your typical speed receiver. He has a bigger body type, not quite running back build but a strong frame that makes him even more capable after the catch, He was utilized as a gunner on punt coverage as well, showing that physicality that he brings on a daily basis. Between Williams and John Metchie, it was very difficult to distinguish the two on the field on tape.
24. Dallas Cowboys – OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Trevor Penning has excellent size to be a hulking, strong blind side protector. Penning played extraordinarily well against a tough defensive front in Iowa State and flashed some of his excellent tools and outstanding upside in that game specifically. Penning was dominant in the FCS as well, showing his above average strength and rarely looking challenged. He also lettered in basketball and track and field while in high school. The only question with him going to the next level is his temperament – his scrappy play nearly injured players at the Senior Bowl and he led all college football players in penalties last season (16).
25. Buffalo Bills – EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
George Karlaftis uses his hands very well and in a multitude of ways. Has a nasty swipe. Really good rip move. Overall looks like there is some technique to clean up, sometimes looks lost and is winging the rep. Excellent hand and arm strength. Dangerous as a power rusher. Fairly effective finesse player. Could use better hand placement initially when engaging in the rep. Tends to rely on his overwhelming physical presence to dominate.
26. Tennessee Titans – S Lewis Cine, Georgia
It’s very difficult to not love what you see from Lewis Cine on tape. Not only does Cine have remarkable speed (ran a 4.37 forty-yard dash at the NFL Combine), but he’s among the best tacklers in his position group in this class, and he’s rangy. Cine is built very well too, standing at 6’2″ and 202 lbs. How can you not like what he has to offer?
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Devonte Wyatt, like most of the Georgia defenders, is vert versatile and can play at any tech, although he will be best suited as a three-tech prospect at the next level. He’s a very intriguing prospect with a lot of upside, his biggest issue will be continuing to develop and overcoming the lack of snaps that he played in college.
28. Green Bay Packers – LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Devin Lloyd is a highlight playmaker who is seemingly all over the field at once. Incredibly rangy and efficient, Lloyd offers a ton of playmaking ability as a potential pro bowl player that will help anchor the defense. He isn’t a player that strikes me as having much left on his ceiling. He’s almost there already, with plenty of experience and versatility.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami through San Francisco) – WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Christian Watson has all of the physical tools to be a dominant player at the next level, but he has had his issues over his career with drops. He was a mismatch weapon in college, whether he was working on the boundary, out of the slot, or as a running back out of the backfield, he was incredible. He offers so much versatility at the receiver position but his make it or break it trait will be based entirely on his hands.
Christian Watson is absolutely dependent on his upside, his entire projection is based upon it. His hands needs to see more consistency. The offense that North Dakota State ran was not up to par with your typical NFL scheme. He is probably a year away from being a starter at the next level. His success hinges on his hands, I can’t stress that enough. If he can pull it all together at the next level, he will be an electrifying receiver. If not, he will fall into obscurity.
30. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Nakobe Dean is a strong tackler. Nasty tackler. Very solid wrap up, typically controls the tackle throughout the rep and limits any additional gain. Works very well off the edge and through traffic. Excellent pursuit angles. Will tend to over pursue at times. While he’s not particularly good at man coverage, he can stay with the play. Intercepted a tipped ball and took it for a score against Florida. Has the ability to take away tight ends especially in underneath coverage. You just have to wonder how effectively he can really take away tight ends in the NFL. Plays solid zone coverage. Has a natural feel for passing lanes and playing zones.
31. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
Kaiir Elam is that long, physical cornerback that you want to match up on big wide receivers, and he got his fair share of them playing as a three-year starter in the SEC. He’s not a great tackler, but he’s a sticky man coverage prospect with excellent reactionary athleticism that makes him an extremely intriguing prospect.
32. Detroit Lions (from LA Rams) – QB Sam Howell, North Carolina
Sam Howell will be a very controversial prospect when he enters the NFL Draft. Many media scouts love Howell and project him as an early first round pick. However, sources within the league have told me quite the opposite. “I don’t see a single trait in (Howell) that would merit a first round pick,” a former NFL general manager told me. I tend to agree, as his best trait is his deep ball accuracy and he’s not a consistent player anywhere else.
There are some issues with Howell’s game that does show he could offer some upside. I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to fix his accuracy, I don’t see any indication that he will ever. But, he could get more consistent with some of his footwork and work on compacting his release, and if he does that he can potentially be a good backup in the league. Right now, at best, I think he’s a developmental three.