2022 NFL Mock Draft: The Saints Shake Up The Draft

As we approach the 2022 NFL draft, the first round still has many lingering questions. While Liberty’s Malik Willis appears to be separating himself at quarterback, there are many who don’t even think he should be a first-rounder. Once again, the Jacksonville Jaguars will hold the number one overall pick after selecting Trevor Lawrence last year. They will not be taking a quarterback in that spot but the intrigue around the pick is still there. Of course, no one actually reads the initial paragraph of a mock draft so, without further adieu, the 2022 first-round mock draft.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE (Michigan)

While Georgia’s Travon Walker appears to be gaining traction in Jacksonville, they should not overthink this one.  One of the best players in the draft, Hutchinson plays a premium position that Jacksonville certainly needs help at. A fit in any alignment and on any defense, Hutchinson will become the face of the defense as he and Lawrence look to usher in a new era of Jaguars football.

2. Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB (Liberty)

Currently, Jared Goff is set to return as the Lions starting quarterback. A pedestrian option for the position, it is time to look towards the future. While it’s no secret that the 2022 NFL Draft lacks high-end quarterback prospects. The best available this year is Liberty’s, Malik Willis. The anti-thesis of Goff in nearly every way, Willis is the definition of shooting for bigger things. Not a finished product by any means, the Lions will hope to tap into his immense physical gifts.

3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE (Oregon)

For a team in flux like the Texans, they are in a fantastic spot to add a true difference-maker to their team with this selection. With needs all over their defense, they snag Thibodeaux who many believe may be the best player in the draft. Instantly boosting the Houston pass rush, he becomes the core piece that they will build their team around going forward.

4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB (Cincinnatti)

While LSU’s Derek Stingley was the presumed favorite to be the first cornerback selected, Garnder has been picking up steam in recent weeks. Gardner has the potential to become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in a short amount of time. With good length, patience and athleticism, he is ready-made for the pros. The Jets get to beef up their defense with the presence of Gardner while they look to add offense with their next selection. 

5. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT (Alabama)

So many NFL teams are going to fall in love with Evan Neal. A massive man from an NFL factory-like Alabama, he has the first-round tape to back it up. An elite pass protector, his run blocking may be a work in progress but he is not far away by any means. Instantly becoming a cornerstone piece for Brian Daboll’s offense, he should lock down a tackle spot for years to come.

6. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Pickett, QB (Pitt)

Another quarterback comes off the board. This time, the Panthers add Kenny Pickett from the University of Pittsburgh. After a dominant senior season, Pickett is a hot name right now. However, like all quarterbacks in this class, he is in no way a finished product. The talent is there however and Carolina has some pieces on offense that can make him feel comfortable as a rookie. This also prevents the rival Saints from acquiring him as well. 

7. New York Giants: Travon Walker, EDGE (Georgia)

Perhaps the biggest riser of all this draft season, Walker feels like a lock to go in the top ten. A member of Georgia’s dominant defense last season, he is a special athlete. He gives the Giants a real threat off of the edge that they have been lacking for many years. His stock has risen so much that he may not even fall this far in April.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S (Notre Dame)

The Falcons are in the midst of a remarkable low point for the franchise. After the trades of Julio Jones and Matt Ryan in back-to-back offseasons, Atlanta has lost two players who are icons of their franchise. Thrust into a massive rebuild, the Falcons just go with the best player available here in Kyle Hamilton. While the athletic testing hasn’t been great, the tape shows an elite sideline to sideline player who can become the face of their defense.

9. Seattle Seahawks: Ikem Ekwonu, OT (NC State)

This just feels like such a Seattle pick. Gifted the ninth overall pick courtesy of the Russell Wilson trade, the Seahawks get a chance to grab a high-end talent in this spot. One of my favorite players in the class, Ekwonu is a monster who plays with all of the physicality you would expect. A true tone-setter, he gives the Seahawks the offensive tackle they have been looking for in the last several years. Even better, if he fails at tackle, he has all the makings of an All-Pro guard.

10. New York Jets: Charles Cross, OT (Mississippi State)

For my money, Charles Cross is the best player in this draft class. However, in the NFL’s eyes, the worries about his ability as a run blocker may cause him to fall. Here, the Jets reap the rewards as they get the best pass protector in the class to help keep Zach Wilson clean. He and Mekhi Becton form a fantastic young tackle duo.

11. Washington Commanders: Sauce Gardner, CB (Cinncinatti)

A value selection here, Stingley has the potential to become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL in a short amount of time. One of the most highly touted cornerback prospects in recent memory, we have been watching Stingley dominate in the SEC since he was a freshman. Possessing ideal size and length while also being a fluid athlete, he gives the Commanders another young piece to build around on defense.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Davis, DT (Georgia)

One of the more polarizing players in the class, Davis is a monster on the inside. At 6’6″ and 340 pounds, his role in many defenses initially will be that of a run stuffer. However, with an absurd athletic profile that sticks out as one of the best ever for the position, Davis has potential as an every-down player. For Minnesota, he fits into their defense well after the loss of Michael Pierce.

13. Houston Texans: Treylon Burks, WR (Arkansas)

The first wide receiver comes off the board here courtesy of the Texans. With a massive frame and good speed for his size, Burks looks the part of a stat receiver in the NFL. While Houston has Brandin Cooks at one spot, Burks’s physicality would compliment him well. These two weapons would give the Texans an identity on offense and allow them to see what second-year quarterback Davis Mills is really made of.

14. Baltimore Ravens: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE (Florida State)

In typical Baltimore fashion, they draft a toolsy edge rusher in the first round and develop him. Regardless, Johnson is a talented player who may never become an elite pass rusher but will always be a valuable member of a defense. The Ravens love to have guys like this and develop them as well as anyone. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB (Clemson)

In a draft class that is loaded at cornerback, Booth offers everything you could want as a prospect at the position. His blend of size, athletic ability, and instincts make him an impressive player in man coverage. While zone coverage may be a bit of a work in progress at the next level, it is certainly not a major weak point in his game. Philadelphia has been looking for an impact player in the secondary for years and they get it here.

16. New Orleans Saints: Desmond Ridder, QB (Cincinnati)

After a massive trade with the Eagles that gave the Saints two first-round picks, it is likely that they would use those picks to move up and select a quarterback. Since we are not including trades in this mock, they select Ridder here. A quarterback who possesses all the mental intangibles of a franchise quarterback, he will fit right in as the Saints’ developmental quarterback.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning, OT (Northern Iowa)

While this is typically the spot where most have Jordan Davis coming off the board, he is long gone by this point. Instead, they opt to give franchise quarterback Justin Herbert some more protection in the form of Trevor Penning. Playing at Northern Iowa, Penning displayed a real mean streak that allowed him to dominate the lesser competition. He will have to elevate his game in the NFL but his potential is that of a Pro Bowler.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Drake London, WR (USC)

The second wideout off the board, London goes to an Eagles team that continues to attack the position. With last year’s first-round pick Devonta Smith on one side, Philadelphia gets a player who is the opposite of him in almost every way. A skyscraper, London consistently wins above the rim as a contested-catch player. Certainly not a finished product, he will have to develop his game a bit more as a route runner. Regardless, he gives Philadelphia a really talented, young wide receiver duo.

19. New Orleans Saints: Jameson Williams, WR (Alabama)

A likely top-ten pick if not for his injury in the National Championship game, Williams will become the Saints’ newest deep threat when he returns from injury. Capable of winning from any alignment, he makes his mark down the field as he consistently takes the top off of the defense. My WR1 in this class, he has Desean Jackson’s potential. The Saints will hope for a mid-season debut.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Linderbaum, IOL (Iowa)

One of the best value picks in this year’s draft, Linderbaum is easily one of the best players in this class. However, as interior offensive line positions become less valuable, his stock has dropped as well. For Pittsburgh however, they secure a high-end talent at a position of need. Linderbaum should be a fixture of their offensive line for many years going forward as he opens holes for Najee Harris. 

21. New England Patriots: Garrett Wilson, WR (Ohio State)

In New England, everything must revolve around getting second-year quarterback Mac Jones all the help he can get. This starts in the wide receiver room as they add Garrett Wilson. An incredibly nuanced route runner who can win at any level of the field, Wilson instantly becomes the number one wide receiver for Mac Jones.

22. Green Bay Packers: Jahan Dotson, WR (Penn State)

After trading Davante Adams to the Raiders and losing Marquez Valdez-Scantling, the Packers are in dire need of receiver help. With many of them already gone, the Packers are lucky to grab Dotson here. Known for his ability to threaten teams downfield with his speed, he also has some of the best hands in the draft and is a quality route runner. He gives Aaron Rodgers a reliable target to all levels of the field.

23. Arizona Cardinals: Trent McDuffie, CB (Washington)

It feels like we say it every year but, the Cardinals could use some help on defense. This time, they add another one of the class’s talented cornerback prospects. Likely to be a starter from day one due to his athletic ability, coaches will also love the fact that he is not scared to tackle. Look for him and Byron Murphy to form an exciting young duo at the position.

24. Dallas Cowboys: George Karlaftis, EDGE (Purdue)

A powerful player at the edge spot, Karlaftis will be available on all three downs from the moment his name is called. For the Cowboys, he will give them a solid young pass rusher that they can develop over time. A good player, he does not have the same pass-rushing juice that Randy Gregory provided but he is more well-rounded. 

25. Buffalo Bills: Devontae Wyatt, IDL (Georgia)

The fourth member of Georgia’s defense selected in this first round, Wyatt has the potential to be as good as any of them. With exciting potential as a pass rusher, he adds to an exciting group that features Ed Oliver, Gregory Rousseau, and Von Miller. Wyatt does not fill a huge need with the Bills but they are also a team who can afford a luxury pick.

26. Tennessee Titans: Devin Lloyd, LB (Utah)

Perhaps the best linebacker in the class, the Titans add a massive upgrade after the loss of Jayon Brown. A true three-down linebacker, Lloyd is able to contribute in the passing game, get home as a pass rusher, and is a brick wall in the run game. A chess piece type player for Utah last season, he can have a similar effect in Tennessee.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenyon Green, IOL (Texas A&M)

While the Buccaneers were able to keep much of last year’s team together, they will undoubtedly feel the loss of guard Ali Marpet. One of the league’s best at the position, he leaves a big hole along the offensive line. Fortunately, the Bucs’ are able to secure one of the draft’s best in Green. Capable of playing either guard or tackle, he will be a starter right away.

28. Green Bay Packers: Chris Olave, WR (Ohio State)

With their first selection, the Packers went with wide receiver Jahan Dotson. They return to address the position again here with Ohio State’s Chris Olave. Looking to rejuvenate a receiver room that needs all the help it can get. Olave, known for his speed, creates quite the duo with fellow speedster Jahan Dotson. 

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Kaiir Elam, CB (Florida)

The fifth cornerback selected in the first round, Elam is a talented player in his own right. For a team with very few holes, Elam projects as a high upside selection at a valuable position where the Chiefs need help. He will look to replace what they had in Charvarius Ward. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Watson, WR (North Dakota State)

With their first selection, the Chiefs went with a cornerback to replace Ward. Here, they look to replace Tyreek Hill with NDSU’s Christian Watson. While Watson will likely not be asked to fill the role of Tyreek Hill as a game-breaking, do it all receiver, Watson has potential as a height-weight-speed deep threat. His ceiling is through the roof but it may take time to access.

31. Cinncinatti Bengals: Zion Johnson, IOL (Boston College)

Everyone knows the Bengals weakness in 2021 was their inability to protect superstar quarterback Joe Burrow. They recognize this as well as they have added numerous players in free agency to help beef up their offensive line. here, they do so once again with Zion Johnson. A talented option on the inside of their line, they can find a spot for him to play easily.

32. Detroit Lions: Daxton Hill, S (Michigan)

In search of a playmaker on the back end, they find it here in the form of Michigan’s Daxton Hill. With the ability to play all over the field including in the slot and as a single high safety, he fits well in any defense. From the nearby University of Michigan, he should become a leader of Detroit’s defense quickly. 


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