2022 NFL Mock Draft: Cowboys land another elite defensive talent, Texans get saucy in first round


Michigan

• Sr

• 6’7″

/ 260 lbs

Projected Team

Jacksonville

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

As the Jaguars attempt to hit reset [again] in 2022, they’ll do so this time with Doug Pedersen calling the shots, and seeing as Pedersen has his QB of the future in Trevor Lawrence, it’s time to find the cornerstone defensive player to complement him — Hutchinson presumably being just that.

Oregon

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 254 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Dan Campbell turned the Lions into a fiery, overachieving bunch in Year 1 and adding an edge rusher like Thibodeaux should help level up the team’s defense — something that would pay off well in those instances when Jared Goff runs into one of his rough patches.

Cincinnati

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

In the first draft of the post-Deshaun Watson era, it’s not about finding a quarterback to replace him — newly-installed head coach Lovie Smith and Co. loving what they have in Davis Mills — but it’s instead about finally fixing the team’s defense. Add some Sauce to the recipe and they’d be off to a great start.

Georgia

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 272 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

13th

POSITION RNK

1st

As the NFL draft nears, Walker is seeing his stock skyrocket to the point some believe he could overtake Hutchinson as the No. 1-overall pick, but while it didn’t happen in this mock, don’t anticipate a talent like Walker making it out of the top 5 and past a pass-rush-thirsty Jets team.

NC State

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 310 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

4th

Is Daniel Jones the future at QB for the Giants? It’s time to find out in 2022, but the Giants haven’t done him any favors as far as protection goes over the course of his young career. With new leadership in the building, Brian Daboll should immediately turn that tide and start protecting his QB — be it Jones now and/or someone else later.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 337 lbs

Projected Team

Carolina

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

1st

It’s no secret that the Panthers are desperate to land a QB, but this year’s crop isn’t as impressive as usual and that means the Panthers will continue to try and land a more established NFL presence (Baker Mayfield?), which matters little if they can’t protect him/whomever. Neal is basically a bouncer at the club, and not many get past his velvet rope.

Florida State

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 254 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

PROSPECT RNK

19th

POSITION RNK

3rd

It’s a quick turnaround for the Giants to get back on the clock in the first round, and they use their second pick to add potency to the team’s needy-defense — one that hasn’t had a dominant pass rush since the era Strahan-Tuck-JPP days. Johnson’s abilities could shine well in tandem with Leonard Williams.

Notre Dame

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

No, Marcus Mariota is not the future of QB in Atlanta after trading away Matt Ryan but, as noted above, the crop of QBs isn’t groundbreaking and the Falcons have so many needs to fill that it stands to reason they’d grab Hamilton, a player who could flex well on the defense — masking more than one deficiency.

Mississippi State

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 307 lbs

Projected Team

Seattle

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Seattle has been mostly quiet after the blockbuster trade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos for a package that included former second-round pick Drew Lock, and while Baker Mayfield keeps mentioning them, they’ve not mentioned him. So maybe they truly believe Lock has potential and, if so, it’ll be paramount to consider a player like Cross — who could keep Lock upright more often than not.

Iowa

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 296 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

9th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Three words: Greg Van Roten. That’s not who you want standing between Zach Wilson and would-be pass rushers, so plop Linderbaum onto that offensive line and let Wilson live long enough to make some plays.

LSU

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

5th

POSITION RNK

2nd

With Carson Wentz now in uniform, the Commanders don’t feel they need to address the QB position in this year’s draft, but the same can’t be said for a porous secondary that hasn’t boasted a shutdown corner in years. There are pre-draft concerns regarding Stingley, but if he plays to his potential, he could be a star for Washington (a team that isn’t afraid to roll the dice on a player).

Georgia

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 341 lbs

Projected Team

Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Having already acquired former and longtime pass rush rival Za’Darius Smith to tandem with Danielle Hunter, adding a goliath like Davis could make the Vikings defensive line one of the most fearsome in the entire NFL. Davis is as athletic as he is powerful, and the Vikings should race to make this call.

USC

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 219 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Flipping one of the Watson picks into another weapon for Mills seems the right move here. With Brandin Cooks now secured on a multi-year deal, it’d be wise to consider playing him in complement with another dynamic talent — such as London.

Georgia

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 307 lbs

Projected Team

Baltimore

PROSPECT RNK

28th

POSITION RNK

4th

Having likely eyed Jordan Davis as the hope here, the Ravens can take solace in the fact Wyatt is still available, and use him and his versatility to help level up a Baltimore defense that is also becoming whole after a rash of season-ending injuries to star players in 2021.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 179 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

11th

POSITION RNK

2nd

It appears more and more that the Eagles are all-in on Jalen Hurts, at least through the 2022 season. That said, the more weapons he has, the better, and you can bet Hurts would drool into his shirt knowing Williams — expected to return to top form following his knee injury — could be suiting up opposite DeVonta Smith.

Ohio State

• Sr

• 6’0″

/ 187 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

29th

POSITION RNK

5th

Olave and the Saints have mutual interest in joining forces, and the latter knows they can grab this potent talent while readying to jump back on the clock in three picks from now to solve another top need (as you’ll see in a moment). The jury is out on if Michael Thomas will ever be the same and, if he is, this duo (with Alvin Kamara in the backfield) is lethal. If he isn’t, then Olave becomes the successor to the throne at WR1.

Central Michigan

• Jr

• 6’6″

/ 303 lbs

With Olave off of the board and Mike Williams still leading the charge at WR, the Chargers can redirect to asking Raimann to help keep Justin Herbert pressure-free — something still needed in L.A. as the young QB continues to thrive despite often being under duress. So imagine what he could do if he wasn’t.

Boston College

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 312 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

32nd

POSITION RNK

7th

From the Eagles to the … Eagles. Johnson is not-so-arguably one of the best interior offensive linemen in this year’s class and, having just added another impact receiver for Hurts with the previous pick, adding protection on the offensive front to help Hurts have more time to find said receivers is a must.

Liberty

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 219 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

1st

Boom. The first QB off of the board goes to the Saints who, despite having signed Jameis Winston to a two-year deal, are eyes-forward on the position. There’s a lot of intrigue regarding Willis in New Orleans, and he’ll have 1-2 years to get ready behind Winston.

Pittsburgh

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 217 lbs

Projected Team

Pittsburgh

PROSPECT RNK

30th

POSITION RNK

2nd

This all worked out well for the Steelers. It ultimately boiled down to whomever the Saints did not pick at 19th-overall, between Willis and Pickett. And considering the Steelers do so love Pickett, who made a name for himself at Pitt, they’ll take this pick and run.

Utah

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 237 lbs

Projected Team

New England

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Mac Jones answers the question of who’ll be the QB of the future, but who’s the QB of the defense? Lloyd would answer that question in a big way for Bill Belichick — who can’t afford to enter the 2022 season with the existing void at this position.

Purdue

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 266 lbs

Projected Team

Green Bay

PROSPECT RNK

26th

POSITION RNK

4th

Talk about a blessing for the Packers, who are no longer employing Za’Darius Smith but need someone to dominate opposite Preston Smith going forward. Karlaftis is easily a top-5 ranked edge prospect in this year’s draft and could hit the ground running quickly for the Green Bay defense.

Clemson

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 194 lbs

Projected Team

Arizona

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Patrick Peterson isn’t walking back through the door in Arizona. They could find another shutdown corner in Booth, however, and while no one is saying he’ll have the career Peterson has had, there’s also no one is saying he can’t.

Georgia

• Jr

• 5’11”

/ 229 lbs

Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

1st

The Cowboys see the run on offensive linemen (granted, they need one as well) force Dean down to them at No. 24, and they simply can’t make the mistake of leaning toward need here. Grab arguably the best LB in the draft to play in tandem with the phenom that is Micah Parsons and continue to allow Dan Quinn to build the framework for what might be the next Legion of Boom.

Arkansas

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 225 lbs

Projected Team

Buffalo

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

4th

Stop thinking of Burks as simply a WR (although he does that very well) and consider him in the mold of Deebo Samuel, and you’ll quickly understand this fit for the Bills — who also need help at RB. Burks can be a game-changer in the right hands, and those hands might as well be the ones in Buffalo, as Josh Allen continues to take leaps forward.

Penn State

• Sr

• 5’11”

/ 178 lbs

Projected Team

Tennessee

PROSPECT RNK

42nd

POSITION RNK

7th

The Julio Jones experiment was an abstract failure and, assuming the Titans aren’t unwise enough to trade away A.J. Brown, they’ll need a definitive WR2 if they want the passing game to do anything well, and consistently, in 2022. Ryan Tannehill has his own issues to clean up, but you have to love what Dotson would bring to the table for Tennessee.

Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 323 lbs

Projected Team

Tampa Bay

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

6th

Father Ti-… er… um… Tom Brady is unretired [swiftly] and that’s fantastic news for the Bucs, but he’s not getting any younger, so the name of the game is again to make sure he has time in the backfield to do what he continues to do very well: make plays downfield. Introducing Green, who is more than capable of getting the job done.

Northern Iowa

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 321 lbs

Projected Team

Green Bay

PROSPECT RNK

35th

POSITION RNK

8th

Speaking of future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks who aren’t getting any younger, Aaron Rodgers would like a word. Now secured by the Packers, you can bet Rodgers would love to avoid being planted like a tent spike when the playoffs roll around. And with Green off of the board one pick earlier, Penning steps up for Green Bay here.

Ohio State

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 183 lbs

Projected Team

Kansas City

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

1st

Yea yea… WR by committee, blah blah blah. The reality is the Chiefs, having traded away Tyreek Hill, are now in need of another star receiver to avoid letting teams key in solely on Mecole Hardman. Wilson has both the talent and versatility to do it, and Patrick Mahomes will enjoy seeing him make plays in multiple WR roles.

Michigan

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 250 lbs

Projected Team

Kansas City

PROSPECT RNK

44th

POSITION RNK

6th

If not for the torn Achilles, Ojabo isn’t still available here for the Chiefs. But since he is, it makes complete sense they’d take a chance on him with what is — for all intents and purposes — a high second-round pick at this point. Raw but dominant, if the Chiefs can polish his skill set, they could turn Ojabo into the steal of the entire draft by Year 2.

Michigan

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 191 lbs

Projected Team

Cincinnati

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

2nd

If the Bengals can’t come to terms with Jessie Bates on a contract extension, they’ll need another dominant safety. If they can come to terms with Bates, they’ll still need another dominant safety — to play alongside him — making it too enticing to forego drafting Hill here, in my opinion, especially given his versatility.

Ole Miss

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 212 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

33rd

POSITION RNK

3rd

As it turns out, the Lions didn’t have to get frisky and move up to get a QB, because one is still worthy and available to be their added first-round pick. That guy is Matt Corral, who has all the tools necessary to supplant Goff, be it later or sooner.



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