Mock draft: Best-case scenario delivers Eagles two studs originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
We’re just TWO days away from the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s wild.
Who will your favorite team pick? Who knows? I certainly don’t!
But here’s how things might shake out Thursday night when Round 1 begins and general managers begin throwing caution to the wind in search of the perfect selection.
1. Jaguars: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Hutchinson might be the most talented player in this draft between his size, speed, and pass-rush skillset. He will dominate off the edge no matter where he goes; with the O-line taken care of, the Jags add a monster.
2. Lions: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
Jared Goff is not the guy in Detroit – he just can’t be – so the Lions make a very bold move and take a quarterback way higher than anyone expects a QB will go this year. Goff can be the starter to begin the season and Willis can either take over mid-year or start 2023 as QB1.
3. Texans: DL Travon Walker, Georgia
Walker is a beast and is rising on everyone’s draft boards, so if he lasts past first overall the Texans will be thrilled. This best player available mentality: the Georgia product nabbed 6.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery last year, and his Combine testing was 99th percentile stuff.
4. Panthers (via NYJ): QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt
Pickett is a real question mark for a lot of draft experts; he had just one truly great collegiate year, but boy was it great. The Panthers need an actual answer at QB, and they’re going to keep throwing darts at the board until they find one. You’ve almost got to respect it.
5. Giants: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Neal could’ve gone first overall if the Jaguars didn’t address the O-line in free agency. He’s gigantic – 6-foot-7, 337 pounds – and the Giants both need to protect Daniel Jones to keep the ball in his hands and pave more lanes for Saquon Barkley. Problems addressed.
6. Jets (via CAR): CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati
Sauce (!) Gardner will be the best corner in this year’s draft class. He notched 3 INTs in each of his three seasons with the Bearcats, stands 6-foot-2, and is great in man coverage. Also his nickname is Sauce. He’s gonna be a difference-maker for Robert Saleh’s defense immediately.
7. Giants: EDGE Jermaine Johnson II, Miami
A possible Eagles target goes off the board a little too early. Johnson’s had a great pre-draft run among draft heads. He brings big production – 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in a breakout 2021 season – and is an explosive, energetic guy. The ceiling is high.
8. Falcons: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
He’s been rumored as a possible drop candidate, but I think Stingley is too good of a prospect to pass up. He’s 6-foot-1, he had six picks in 25 games with LSU, and he has the combination of instincts and speed to be DBU’s latest star.
9. Steelers (via SEA): QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
The Steelers panic after two quarterbacks go in the Top 4 and vault into the Top 10 to get one of their won. Corral is an interesting dual threat QB (20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs in 12 games this year) who can compete to start Week 1.
10. Jets: OL Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
Ekwonu’s upside has scouts thinking he could wind up being the best O-line prospect in this draft. If the Jets really want to get a good evaluation of Zach Wilson they need to keep him protected and upright, and this is how you do it.
11. Commanders: OL Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Getting Cross at 11 feels like value for Washington. They made the splashy move for Carson Wentz, and if the Commanders want to keep their QB from turning the ball over left and right they need to keep the pocket clean. Cross excels in pass protection and should start Week 1.
12. Vikings: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
The Vikings aren’t hurting for wide receiver talent but they can always use more, especially considering Adam Thielen turns 32 before the 2022 NFL season begins. Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 TDs for the Tide last year and brings serious quickness to the table. Don’t worry about the injury; he’s a stud.
13. Texans: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
McDuffie isn’t huge – just 5-foot-11, 195 pounds – but he makes up for it with serious speed and athleticism. He’s a ball of energy on the field, and while he only notched two INTs in 27 games with the Huskies, his ability to see the entire field should help him find more at the next level.
14. Ravens: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
Some have their concerns about how a guy at Davis’s size – 6-foot-6, 341 pounds – and I understand the trepidation. It’s the era of the ultra-athletic edge rusher, and defense is all about speed, speed, speed. Guess what: Davis has that in bunches. He ran an absolutely absurd 4.78 (!!!) 40-yard dash at that size and seems to be the kind of athletic specimen who simply breaks models.
15. Eagles: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Thibodeaux was once expected to go first overall, but for some reason he keeps popping up as a guy who could drop Thursday night. He’s a complete edge rusher, the kind of guy who will contribute starting in Week 1. The Eagles capitalize on everyone else’s mistake and make the easiest decision of Howie Roseman’s career: nabbing Thibodeaux at 15. He’ll be a fan-favorite in no time.
16. Saints: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Hamilton was a possibility for the Eagles, but he slips one more spot. Like Thibodeaux he should be a no-brainer Top 10 pick, but he too is rumored to be a slider – in large part because his Pro Day numbers were underwhelming. Consider me unconcerned: Hamilton is an all-around elite safety talent.
17. Chargers: OL Tyler Smith, Tulsa
There’s nothing more important than protecting your young superstar quarterback, so the Chargers double up on offensive tackles in back-to-back-years and find a running mate for Rasawn Slater. Smith is huge (6-foot-5, 324 pounds) with crazy explosion out of his stance.
18. Eagles: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Eagles fans seem curiously worried about another first-round wideout pick, but I like it – in fact, I want it. Get more talent in the WR room as soon as possible. Olave is a speedy and slick do-it-all wide receiver who stands 6-foot-1 and put up 35 touchdowns in 38 games with the Buckeyes. He’ll quickly be Jalen Hurts’ favorite deep target.
19. Saints: OL Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
If the Saints have any hope of being not awful next year with Jameis Winston (?) as their guy, they’ll need to give him time to see the field and not rush into interceptions. Plus Penning is a towering human at 6-foot-7, 340 pounds, and has skills to match.
20. Seahawks (via PIT): CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Booth didn’t have crazy INT production in college (just 3 INT in 24 career games), which will probably worry some Seahawks fans. But that can happen at the collegiate level, where each team only has one NFL-quality corner if that. Booth is all about measurables, technique, and potential.
21. Patriots: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Lloyd is an impressive, attacking linebacker who excels in coverage – he had 7.0 sacks and 22.0 tackles for loss this season, but he also had four interceptions and six passes defended – and brings the kind of versatility and athleticism that should make him a starting linebacker immediately.
22. Packers: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Davante Adams gone in the offseason? Enter Garrett Wilson, a monster wideout who racked up crazy production for the Buckeyes this year – 70 catches, 1,058 yards, and 12 TDs – and would provide the Packers with some help if they do in fact manage to keep Aaron Rodgers around. Sammy Watkins can’t carry a passing attack on his own.
23. Cardinals: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Ojabo tore his Achilles during his Pro Day, a huge bummer for a player who could’ve been picked in the Top 10. But his talent and potential are still too good to pass on, and the Cardinals need to future-proof their defensive line .
24. Cowboys: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
The Cowboys’ vaunted offensive line hasn’t exactly been up to snuff in recent seasons, and Dak needs better talent in front of him. Green is gigantic and in some evaluators’ eyes is probably a Top 10 talent, so this could be a steal for Dallas at a sneaky position of need.
25. Bills: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
With Levi Wallace now in Pittsburgh, Sean McDermott would like to keep his defense in tip-top shape. Elam’s size (6-foot-2) and length make him an exciting young option to start opposite Tre’Davious White in the secondary. Elam had 5 INTs with the Gators.
26. Titans: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Linderbaum is slightly undersized but is a blue-chip talent with a penchant for mauling. Iowa breeds offensive linemen like no other, and “the next Jason Kelce” slides right in as a Day 1 starter.
27. Bucs: DL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
Tampa Bay still doesn’t have any huge question marks throughout the roster, but with Ndamukong Suh still a free agent the Bucs could stand to beef up the D-line. Wyatt is a potential Eagles choice in the middle of the first round; his production wasn’t there in 2021 but the talent definitely is.
28. Packers: WR Drake London, USC
The Packers double down on wide receiver? The Packers double down on wide receiver! They brought Aaron Rodgers back for a reason: to win now. So they go out and grab an exciting prospect in London whose ceiling is sky-high. He had wild collegiate production in his final year at USC (88 catches, 1,084 yards, 7 TD in just eight games).
29. Chiefs: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
I really like Burks as an alternate option for the Eagles. He’s an impressive, big-bodied wide receiver who doesn’t sacrifice speed for size – think Chargers wideout Mike Williams. He notched 67 catches for 1,123 yards and 11 TD this year, including 179 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama. He had TD catches of 91, 85, 66, and 52 yards this season, plus a 49-yard rushing TD.
30. Chiefs: EDGE George Karlavtis, Purdue
Karlavtis has real upside as a pass rusher despite his lack of production statistically (just 4.5 sacks in 12 games) with the Boilermakers last year as opposing offenses keyed on him. He makes the Chiefs better immediately.
31. Bengals: OL Zion Johnson, Boston College
The Bengals need to protect Joe Burrow better. Zion Johnson will do that. Duh.
32. Falcons (via DET): QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
The Falcons get wacky! They trade back into the first round to get that fifth-year option and take a flier on Ridder, a solid-not-spectacular prospect out of Cincy who should give you a pretty solid floor of adequate quarterbacking. Not sure I see the ceiling, but it’s worth a shot when your current starter is Marcus Mariota!