2022 NFL mock draft is here

How will the 2022 NFL draft play out?

By: Tim Rodriguez

We are one week into the 2021 NFL season and hope is still in the air for all 32 franchises. However, it is necessary to be realistic in these times. It was wildly entertaining to see the Detroit Lions, a team that is obviously in rebuilding mode, battle back against a talented 49ers squad and make it a hotly contested game towards the end, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the Lions are ready to punch their ticket to the postseason. Fanbases like the Lions’ should be turning their attention to the 2022 NFL draft, chock full of questions at quarterback and intriguing defensive talent. 

{Pick 1} Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma 

There is no safe option at quarterback in the 2022 class. They all have their question marks. The one with the highest upside, however, may be Oklahoma’s, Spencer Rattler. Rattler certainly has issues with consistency and decision-making but has all of the necessary traits to justify taking him at number one overall. If Detroit is uncomfortable with the questions surrounding this quarterback crop, they have the draft capital to push this decision to 2023. 

{Pick 2} Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Jacksonville Jaguars made the ultimate investment in Trevor Lawrence this April. It’s high time to start protecting that investment. With offensive tackle Cam Robinson and A.J. Caan entering free agency and veterans Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell continuing to age, right tackle Jawaan Taylor may be the only player on their current offensive line starting in a year. A 6’7”, 350 pound-force, Alabama’s Evan Neal is a battering ram who plays with exceptional power and would be a great option to protect Trevor Lawrence’s blindside for the next decade. 

{Pick 3} Houston Texans: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada 

It is time to give up on the Deshaun Watson dream. Aside from the incredibly disturbing accusations levied against him recently, Watson has made it clear he will not be playing in Houston. The Texans should be looking to move forward without their disgruntled star. Should they be moving forward with Nevada’s Carson Strong; they would be getting a strong-armed pocket passer with the ability to do everything asked of him, including escaping the pocket to make a play off-script. If Houston is able to acquire picks and/or players for Watson, they could use that capital to build an offensive line for Strong. 

{Pick 4} Atlanta Falcons: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

No quarterback? Whoever new general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith select to replace future Hall of Famer will define their tenure in Atlanta. There is no need to rush that decision and reach for a player with question marks they are uncomfortable with. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt  Corral may end up being talented players, but with the rebuild kicking off, the Falcons should push this decision to next year and select an elite prospect at a premier position. Thibodeaux, a freak athlete coming off the edge, has the burst and explosiveness to be an elite speed rusher and be the cornerstone of a defense that is getting a makeover with new coordinator Dean Pees.

{Pick 5} New York Jets: Kaair Elam, CB, Florida 

The cornerback room in New York may be the worst in the NFL by a mile. With some promising talent at safety, the Jets should be looking to complement those players with a shutdown corner. With an excellent length and ball skills, Elam feels like a cornerback that head coach Robert Saleh would be pounding the table for. After going with an offensive heavy approach in 2021, it is time for the Jets to bolster their defense. 

{Pick 6} Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Eagles are another team that has the draft capital to be creative with how they handle the quarterback position. With Jalen Hurts trying to prove that he’s a franchise quarterback and multiple other picks, the Eagles, at least in September, can opt to take the player who may be the best player in the class. Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton is a player that makes you throw away positional value. A 6’4” safety with the range to boot, Hamilton is going to be a force in the NFL on the back end. 

{Pick 7} New York Giants: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty 

Should the Giants actually be picking in the top ten, there will be plenty of changes coming for “Big Blue”. General manager Dave Gettleman will likely be gone, along with his former first round pick quarterback Daniel Jones. Head coach Joe Judge would likely get a “hot seat” year in 2022, meaning he would also change at least one coordinator, most likely offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. The Giants would have explosive athletes in tow with Kadarius Toney, Darius Slayton and Saquan Barkley, with some other nice offensive pieces. With that being said, why not add an explosive athlete at quarterback? Liberty’s Malik Willis brings next-level athletics and improving mechanics. 

{Pick 8} Las Vegas Raiders: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M 

Regardless of the Raiders record, Jon Gruden will still be the head coach. However, if they are picking in the top ten, he may be working with a new general manager. With the offensive line getting ripped to shreds last off-season and the inevitable retirement of Richie Incognito, this feels like a no-brainer here. In 2021, the Raiders selected Alex Leatherwood, who can play guard or tackle. Kenyon Green has played guard and has recently been kicked out to right tackle. Las Vegas would be able to have them compete at tackle and then play the “loser” at guard. 

{Pick 9} Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson

The Bengals are still looking for some long-term answers at the cornerback position. Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton are great short term options, but the room could certainly use an influx of young talent. Clemson’s Andrew Booth has all of the potential to be a top-tier boundary corner for the Bengals. In the second round of 2020, when they needed an offensive lineman, the Bengals selected a receiver. They did the same thing in 2021 with the fifth overall pick. The Bengals have shown that they prioritize the outside. 

{Pick 10} Chicago Bears: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Justin Fields will be the man in Chicago eventually. When that happens, it will be on the Bears front office to surround him with talent. They also may be afforded a high draft pick as some rookie growing pains may cause the Bears to lose some winnable games. With star receiver Allen Robinson making it evident he wants out, the Bears will likely need to add a receiver to the room. The Bengals, Dolphins, and Eagles all gave their young quarterbacks their former teammates with first-round receivers. The Bears can elect to do the same with Ohio State’s Chris Olave, one of the smoothest receivers to come out in recent years.

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