With the conference championshp round of the 2022 NFL playoffs complete, two more teams, the losing 49ers and Chiefs, know where they would be picking in the 2022 NFL draft. Kansas City will settle for No. 30 without a third consecutive Super Bowl trip, while San Francisco give up No. 29 to Miami.
The draft order is now set from No. 1 through 30 in the first round. There will be some big adjustments ahead for what teams are thinking as this week’s Senior Bowl practices will change perspectives on several prospects, with the Jets and Lions’ coaching staffs and many of the top QBs present.
For now, here’s an updated look at the Sporting News’ Round 1 projections:
NFL Mock Draft 2022
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan (6-6, 265 pounds)
The Jaguars should think about offensive line, especially if left tackle Cam Robinson leaves as a free agent, but with wholesale changes looming minus Urban Meyer and maybde Trent Baalke, it’s hard to pass on a cornerstone defensive disruptor. Hutchinson plays with great energy and power and is still developing his already-strong pass-rush moves. He’s ideal for a 4-3 end, so his availability might push Jacksonville toward that kind of scheme with a new coach.
2. Detroit Lions (3-13-1)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (6-5, 258 pounds)
The Lions might be tempted should Hutchinson be available, given the local angle, but they should also be thrilled to get Thibodeaux at No, 2. On top of the being the more athletic and disruptive pass rusher, Thibodeaux is more versatile. He could thrive in Aaron Glenn’s front seven and GM Brad Holmes should see him as a key cornerstone.
3. Houston Texans (4-13)
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (6-7, 350 pounds)
The Texans should be thinking about Davis Mills as a potential franchise QB to replace Deshaun Watson after he showed steady development down the stretch with his strong arm and accuracy. Mills’ improvement should prompt Houston to try to move a fading and now-injured left tackle Laremy Tunsil to create major salary cap space for their rebuild. Neal would be a young upgrade who could dominate as a pass protector and run blocker for a decade.
4. New York Jets (4-13)
Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU (6-1, 195 pounds)
The Jets got good cornerback play in the first year of Robert Saleh’s defense, but in a zone scheme that connects to Seattle’s “Legion of Boom,” they need more effective playmaking. Stingley is a do-everything impact defensive back who can cover a lot of ground and different types of receivers.
5. New York Giants (4-13)
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (6-3, 290 pounds)
The Giants have their braintrust in place with coach Brian Flores and general manager Joe Schoen, both formerly of the Bills. Like they did early for Josh Allen, they would be smart to consider offensive line upgrade to help out their quarterback of choice and Saquon Barkley. Linderbaum, an intelligent rock of an interior blocker and a perfect long-term line leader, would be a great fit as a major upgrade from Billy Price.
6. Carolina Panthers
Ikem Ekwonu, T/G, N.C. State (6-4, 320 pounds)
The Panthers will think about quarterback but could go in a different veteran direction witih an aggressive trade from Scott Fitterer. Should they not part with this pick as part of the package, it would be make sense to a potential left tackle with the athleticism to hold up well in pass protection. Ekwonu also ia a powerful run blocker with the type of nasty streak that’s needed to dominate.
7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears)
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-1, 215 pounds)
Don’t put it past Schoen and Daboll to replace Daniel Jones with someone who can provide the physical upside of Allen downstate in New York. They should on Willis watch with two top-10 picks. He has a cannon for an arm and great speed. He has the potential to make scouting jaws drop in the predraft process (like Allen did) and make teams less concerned about his small-school status (like Allen had) given his career-ending awesome play.
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6-4, 220 pounds)
When he was the Titans’ offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith got to see Kevin Byard make a big-time impact as a playmaking safety. Smith needs that kind of player in Atlanta to support top-flight young corner A.J. Terrell. The Falcons had some of the worst play at the position in the league in 2021.
9. Denver Broncos (7-10)
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (6-0, 200 pounds)
The Broncos have a quarterback decision to make, and they can’t afford to ignore the position in the first round should they not pursue Aaron Rodgers for their new head coach, former offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Remember former coach Vic Fangio’s final lamentation about not having a reliable passer. Denver’s shrewd GM, George Paton, must target a franchise QB to clean up the Teddy Bridgewater-Drew Lock mess. Corral is a dynamic athlete and confident runner who also shows aggressiveness with a big arm. He quickly refined his raw skills under Lane Kiffin.
10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue (6-4, 275 pounds)
The Jets shouldn’t mind loading up on pass defense for Saleh after getting Stingley to upgrade the back end in a big way. They need to target an ideal 4-3 end who can remind Saleh a little of Nick Bosa (6-4, 266 pounds). Karlaftis possesses elite athleticism for his size and is still tapping into his immense pass-rush potential.
11. Washington Football Team (7-10)
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (6-3, 220 pounds)
Washington saw some flashes from Taylor Heinicke in place of Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose bridge season was a total injury washout, but it cannot expect to tap fully into the promise of its passing game without having a confident franchise QB who’s made for a big market. Pickett has surged into first-round consideration while other big-name QBs have faded, thanks to outstanding play that helped to make the Panthers ACC champions. He has natural deep-ball accuracy and football intelligence. He also has that underrated Joe Burrow-like swagger.
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-9)
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah (6-3, 235 pounds)
The Vikings, for whoever their next head coach is, will need to address the second level with aging, oft-injured, Anthony Barr heading into free agency along with Nick Vigil. Lloyd is a strong, rangy athlete who stands out making plays. He has the smarts and instincts for their zone scheme.
13. Cleveland Browns (8-9)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 189 pounds)
The Browns need to upgrade their receiving corps big time with a true go-to outside threat. Luckily for Cleveland, there’s a good answer in Columbus. Olave has great speed, quickness and burst. He can emerge as their new No. 1 for Baker Mayfield or whoever’s the quarterback in 2022.
14. Baltimore Ravens (8-9)
Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida (6-2, 196 pounds)
The Ravens ended the season with an injury-riddled mess at cornerback. They need to rejuvenate their coverage to boost their blitzing scheme. Elam’s strength and length stand out. He is very efficient in coverage because of his athleticism.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins)
DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M (6-4, 290 pounds)
Leal is a versatile disruptor who can thrive inside or outside in Jonathan Gannon’s four-man front. Tackle Fletcher Cox is fading with age and end Derek Barnett will be a free agent. Leal has shown his interior pass-rushing skills with 8.5 sacks, but he also is a stout run stopper. He will need to answer questions about his recent arrest on marijuana possession charges, but in the end, it shouldn’t affect his stock that much given that weed doesn’t carry the same stigma it once did for a prospect.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis Colts)
David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (6-5, 250 pounds)
The Eagles, beyond Barnett’s pending free agency, also know Josh Sweat was so-so filling in for Brandon Graham, who is entering his Age 34 season and coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. They need reinforcements for the tone-setting strength of their defense. Ojabo would give them a flashy, freakish edge player who can contribute initially in a situational role. His speed, explosiveness and energy fueled a big rise behind end-mate Hutchinson.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)
- Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (6-6, 340 pounds)
The Chargers need to upgrade their run defense big time. Their entire front three struggled in that capacity. Coach Brandon Staley was used to having Aaron Donald as his 3-4 linchpin with the other Los Angeles team. Davis is a massive player who disrupts plays with great quickness for his size.
18. New Orleans Saints (9-8)
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (6-2, 189 pounds)
The Saints need to address wideout with Michael Thomas’ future clouded by injury and discontent. Williams profiles like many of the recent top Crimson Tide picks at the position, and he rose fast up boards after getting more showcase opportunities with John Metchie III on the shelf. Williams proved while playing with Heisman-winning QB Bryce Young that he can be a lot more than a route-running technician; he can flat-out make big plays. The big question now is: How will he recover from the ACL tear he suffered in the College Football Playoff title game in early January?
19. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
- Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson (6-0, 200 pounds)
The Eagles are getting nice late-career play from Darius “Big Play” Slay and Avonte Maddox has been good, too, but they could use a further boost in the secondary from Booth. He is a strong, active corner who has the speed and ball skills to become a worthy successor to Slay as their top cover man.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State (6-5, 310 pounds)
The Steelers should think about how best to address quarterback with Ben Roethlisberger set to retire; picking one here, trading up to land Pickett or swinging a blockbuster deal (Russell Wilson? Aaron Rodgers?). Whoever the QB is, they need to upgrade the pass protection for him, given the poor tackle play this past season. Cross is a strong, powerful edge blocker who can develop the footwork to handle the left side for the long term.
21. New England Patriots (10-7)
- Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia (6-0, 225 pounds)
The Patriots need to replace middle man Dont’a Hightower, who will become a free agent ahead of his Age 32 season. Bill Belichick should love a player who can play anywhere and do anything on the second level and quickly emerge as a leader, which is what he was for a dominant Bulldogs defense. Dean can flat-out fly and can make plays from sideline to sideline wherever he’s lined up.
22. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 188 pounds)
The Raiders need a reliable all-around receiver for Derek Carr instead of additional limited deep threats. That becomes a higher priority for the former Patriots combination of offensive-minded coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Wilson is a natural technician with his smarts, quickness, route-running and hands. He also is dangerous in making big plays after the catch.
23. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
- Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (6-3, 200 pounds)
The Cardinals have gotten flashes at corner with Byron Murphy making plays on the ball and veteran Robert Alford overachieving, but they need more a reliable player. Gardner has great agility with his length and can move around to handle vertical or horizontal coverage.
24. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
- Travon Walker, DE/DT, Georgia (6-5, 275 pounds)
The Cowboys had issues at defensive tackle this season and starter Carlos Watkins is a pending free agent. End Randy Gregory also is unsigned for 2022. Walker joins Davis and Dean in having momentum from the Dawgs’ defense-dominated CFP championship run. He is an explosive, versatile playmaker who can line up at multiple spots up front and can win with athleticism and power.
25. Buffalo Bills (11-6)
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (5-11, 195 pounds)
The Bills have a good No. 2 corner to Tre’Davious White in Levi Wallace, but Wallace will be a free agent and White will be coming off a torn ACL for his Age 27 season. With limited weaknesses as Super Bowl contenders, they should look for a direct replacement for Wallace outside. McDuffie can offer great explosiveness and quickness for Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier.
26. Tennessee Titans (12-5)
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (6-4, 215 pounds)
The Titans need to push for a higher ceiling at QB beyond Ryan Tannehill, who’s 33 and has only one “locked-in” year left on his contract. This may be surprise some, but this concept will gain steam should an option this appealing be available. Ridder was a great leader for the Bearcats, and he showed that he’s natural dual-threat NFL prospect with his strong arm and running skills.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
Antonio Brown quit and Chris Godwin is a pending free agent. Although the Bucs have young depth at receiver, if they’re taking one more shot at a Super Bowl with Tom Brady, they need to upgrade their downfield element to play off Mike Evans outside. Dotson is a speedy vertical threat with the quickness to make big plays after making strong catches in the open field.
28. Green Bay Packers (13-4)
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (6-3, 225 pounds)
The Packers should use this pick to upgrade their wide receiver corps, either to better complement Davante Adams outside and please Aaron Rodgers or to protect themselves in case they can’t re-sign Adams, a pending free agent, to a long-term deal after franchise-tagging him. Burks is a huge target with big hands to match. He can dominate smaller, less physical corners and has deceptive speed.
29. Miami Dolphins (from San Francisco 49ers)
- Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn (6-0, 190 pounds)
The Dolphins, depending on their new coach’s schemes and overall plan, may try to get out of Xavien Howard’s contract given his consistent high demands and given a decline is around the corner ahead of his age 29 season. If McCreary slips, he would be a good choice to replace Howard. He has the size, physicality, fluidity and ability to play well in any downfield coverage scheme.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
Drake London, WR, USC (6-5, 210 pounds)
The Chiefs got some good contributions from their complementary wide receivers to Tyreek Hill in the playoffs, but there was still letdown in key situations. They could use a different type of young targets to help the speedy, quick hill and the reliable Travis Kelce. London matches a nice catch radius with great hands and quickness, which makes him a big-play and red-zone threat in the Mike Evans mold.
31. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
- Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State (6-5, 315 pounds)
The Bengals’ pass protection in front of Joe Burrow needs to be addressed despite getting to the Super Bowl. They need to upgrade the right side opposite left tackle Jonah Williams. They can find a good answer in-state. Petit-Frere is a well-rounded blocker with a nice blend of strength, agility and footwork, He stood out while playing both sides.
32. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams)
- Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (6-1, 220 pounds)
After getting Thibodeaux as the cornerstone for their defense early in the first round, it’s time for the Lions to address franchise QB. They can wait and still get a potential long-term starter here. Howell is a smart, seasoned and accurate pocket passer. Looking for Howell or Ridder late would be a much smarter play than passing on Thibodeaux for Corral, Willis or Pickett.