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Pre-NFL Combine 2022 NFL Mock Draft

Tammy Anthony Baker from Louisiana, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Latest NFL Mock draft

By: TD Hunter

The 2022 NFL Combine is officially upon us and that means the 2022 NFL Draft is close at hand. The Combine is a highly important event that allows NFL teams to get a close and personal look at many of these highly touted draft prospects. The Combine can make or break a prospect in terms of draft position, depending on how they test, which is why many draft hopefuls spend months training for the event.

A player that was seen as a fringe 2nd round choice could test well and be put in the 1st round while a 1st round hopeful could bomb the Combine and find himself out of the 1st round all together. Either way, the Combine is guaranteed to shake up draft boards once it is all said and done. With the Combine commencing today, here is one more mock draft before everyone’s big board gets blown up and reshuffled.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Jaguars took quarterback Trevor Lawrence first overall in last year’s draft and now they must do all they can to surround him with talent and help him succeed. Investing in Lawrence’s protection is a good start. Neal is a monstrous prospect who can lock down Lawrence’s blindside for the next decade. With tackle Cam Robinson set to hit free agency, a franchise left tackle is needed in the worst way.

Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

This is a perfect fit. Hutchinson is a relentless pass-rusher who brings a high level of competitiveness and ferocity that head coach Dan Campbell has been preaching since last year when he took over the Lions. Hutchinson is a local kid, growing up in Michigan and playing college ball at the University of Michigan, already making him a fan-favorite among the Detroit faithful. The Lions have a big hole at EDGE rusher and Hutchinson can come in right away and make his mark.

Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

While many will say this is too high for safety, the Texans can’t afford to be picky. Houston is in dire need of difference-makers, no matter the position. An argument can be made that Kyle Hamilton is the best player in this entire draft. A true playmaker while at Notre Dame, Hamilton flew all over the field and displayed elite athleticism and instincts. A unicorn of a player, Hamilton is someone the Texans can certainly build their defense around.

New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

I’m not entirely convinced the Jets are 100% going offensive line with their first 1st round pick. If Mekhi Becton comes back healthy and Alijah Vera-Tucker keeps progressing and George Fant plays like he did in 2021, the Jets offensive line won’t be as big of a weakness as most think. Sure, the line will need attention but there are already sound building blocks there and that allows the Jets to use resources elsewhere. Only a few months ago, Thibodeaux was being looked at as a lock to go first overall. While he is sliding down draft boards a bit, the Jets shouldn’t overthink this. Head coach Robert Saleh helped take the 49ers to the Super Bowl on the back of an elite pass rush. Pairing Thibodeaux with Carl Lawson (who did not appear last season due to a ruptured Achilles’ tendon) should give Gang Green an elite pass rushing duo.

New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

Don’t be surprised if Ekwonu goes first overall by the time the draft rolls around in April. He is a violent run blocker who is only getting better in pass protection. He has all the tools you want in an offensive lineman and can play both tackle and guard if need be. New Giants GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have already thrown their full weight behind quarterback Daniel Jones and building the offense around Jones will be their top priority. Jones has been behind some of the worst offensive lines in the entire league since he was drafted and it is time to shore up that major weakness.

Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Panthers have taken several swings at quarterback and have missed and that is arguably their biggest need. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the first quarterback go off the board to Carolina. However, the Panthers have a massive hole at left tackle that they have tried to fill several times only to fail. Charles Cross is arguably the best pass protector in the entire draft and he can come in right away to lock down Carolina’s blind side. As of right now, the Panthers don’t pick again until the 4th round so getting an immediate contributor from this class would be huge.

New York Giants: Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

Johnson was the Senior Bowl darling, consistently dominating in his drills and showcasing elite athleticism. As a result, his draft stock has soared up in recent weeks and there’s no sign of it slowing down. He may be fully cemented in as a Top-10 pick. The Giants are in desperate need of a difference maker on defense. Azeez Ojulari was a great start last year but they need someone to pair with him to generate more of a pass rush. Johnson is a relentless quarterback hunter that adds a scary element to the Giants stop unit.

Atlanta Falcons: Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

Atlanta is in dire need of help along its front seven but luckily they can look close to home for that help. Travon Walker is an explosive defensive lineman who boasts a rare blend of physicality, athleticism and versatility. A big frame combined with scary speed and burst has made Walker an enticing prospect. The Falcons need another difference maker next to Grady Jarrett and Walker can be that man. He would instantly improve a weak unit of the Atlanta defense.

Denver Broncos: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

When it is all said and done, I believe the Broncos will upgrade their quarterback position via trade and bring in a proven vet. But there are no trades in this mock and so the Broncos bring in the most enticing passer in this year’s class. Willis is physically gifted and can make all the throws necessary and create big plays with his legs but still has a long way to go. The Broncos will need patience in Willis’s development but that patience can pay off in a big way down the line.

New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Jets need some major help in the secondary. With his pass rusher secured with their first 1st round pick, Coach Saleh looks to upgrade the backend of his defense. Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is one of the favorites of this draft, and for good reason. He’s 6’2, close to 200 pound frame helps him be physical with the biggest NFL receivers while having the speed to stay with anyone. And then there is his swagger, which is something Gardner oozes with. He doesn’t get beat often and he lets his opponents know it. In a division filled with playmakers on offense, having a weapon like Sauce Gardner can only help.

Washington Commanders: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The Commanders need a quarterback in the worst way but this year’s crop just does not pop off the screen. With Willis off the board, the Commanders instead beef up their offense in another big way by drafting Burks. The Arkansas receiver is big at 6’3, 225 lbs but is a smooth route runner and can run like the wind. Terry McLaurin is a phenomenal young receiver but only has one year left on his rookie contract while last year’s big free agent addition, Curtis Samuel, failed to make much of an impact due to injury.

Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Another year, another corner slotted to the Vikings in the first round. Minnesota has tried and tried again to fill the voids at the corner but have mainly come up empty-handed. With Patrick Peterson and Harrison Smith, both set to hit free agency, adding to the secondary is a must. Stingley had some of the cleanest tape of any player during his freshman year in 2019 and looked like a lock to go in the Top-5. However, injuries and inconsistent play the following two years have left some wondering where exactly he is as a player. Either way, Stingley possesses an immeasurable talent that the Vikings simply cannot pass up.

Cleveland Browns: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

To say the Browns need help at receiver would be an understatement. The issues with Odell Beckham Jr. led to his high profile release and now it appears the team may move on from Jarvis Landry as well. The Browns may be wise to start fresh at the position and a good way to do that is to bring in Jameson Williams. Most see him as the top receiver in this draft. The top receiver for the Crimson Tide showed off sticky hands and big play capability every time he was on the field. He can quickly come in and establish himself as a threat on this team.

Baltimore Ravens: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

The offensive line in Baltimore is in dire need of help but Ojabo is just too good to pass up. Former Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is now the defensive coordinator for the Ravens and bringing in Ojabo to help implement his defense is enticing. Some see Ojabo as a project who hasn’t been playing football for very long but what he lacks in experience, he makes up for in high end athleticism and overall feel for the game. He is a monster of a quarterback hunter and pairing him with last year’s first round pick, Odafe Oweh, gives the Ravens potentially one of the best young pass rushing tandems in the league.

Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The first of three first round picks for the Eagles goes towards amping up a bad secondary. Booth is seen as one of the top defenders in this class and it’s not hard to see why. He has a great frame for the position and meshes speed with physicality well. Getting a young, dynamic corner opposite veteran Darius Slay will only help this Philly secondary.

Philadelphia Eagles: Drake London, WR, USC

Is it really a draft unless the Eagles take a receiver in the first round? While 2020 pick Jalen Reagor can already be chalked up as a bust, the Eagles did good the following year with DeVonta Smith. However, Smith lacks ideal size and so the Eagles add that with London. At 6’5, 215 lbs, London offers a much different skillset than Smith. Able to go up and snag the ball, London could use his enormous catch radius to be a reliable weapon for quarterback Jalen Smith.

Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Chargers have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert and they need to protect him at all costs. Last year, the team took Rashawn Slater in what proved to be a homerun of a pick. Now they take a second bookend tackle to give Herbert even more time. With Bryan Bulaga coming off an injury and carrying a hefty contract and backup Storm Norton struggling, a stable presence on the right side of the line is needed. Penning is big at 6’7 and has showing a nasty attitude while blocking.

New Orleans Saints: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It is difficult to say which direction the Saints will go this offseason, but one thing is for sure and that’s another playmaking wide receiver is needed. If Michael Thomas comes back healthy, the team still needs a compliment. If Thomas isn’t back, and the team was made painfully aware of this last year, the Saints don’t have anyone that can come close to replacing him. Wilson is a dynamic threat who runs pristine routes that can help elevate New Orleans’ offense no matter who is throwing to him.

Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

“BUT THE EAGLES NEVER SELECT AN OFF BALL LINEBACKER EARLY!” Well, maybe 2022 is different because the Eagles are in need of such a linebacker. Lloyd may have Eagles fans forgetting about their trepidations early on as his instincts and athleticism would wow the Philly faithful. Lloyd has good size and can do it all for the Eagles’ defense. After seeing Micah Parsons dominate in every facet for the division rival Cowboys, the Eagles may just want to change it up and add a dynamo defender like Lloyd.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

The Steelers may be a few years too late when it comes to rebuilding at quarterback but better late than never. With the retirement of Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers begin completely anew at the position for the first time since 2004. Taking a local stud like Pickett is an endearing way to go in terms of replacing him. Pickett is a relative late riser in the draft process but there is enough to like about his game to warrant a first-round selection. A mobile quarterback with solid accuracy, Pickett can lead the Steelers into the new decade.

New England Patriots: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

It sounds like things are getting ugly between the Pats and the camp of JC Jackson. The stellar corner is due a big extension but looks destined to hit free agency. Even if he were to come back, another talent opposite him is needed. McDuffie doesn’t have dominant size but he plays bigger than he’s listed and has the type of tenacity that Bill Belichick likes on his defense. If the Patriots are going to compete with the Bills for the division, more talent in the defensive backfield is needed.

Las Vegas Raiders: Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia

This might not be a popular pick initially but it does make sense. The top four interior defensive linemen for Las Vegas are all free agents and while some certainly may be back, the Raiders would be wise to shore up the position through the draft. Davis is an absolute monster at 6’6, 340 lbs who is impossible to run on and can’t be moved. He can swallow up blockers, allowing the elite pass-rushing duo of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue to wreak even more havoc. Though there are some concerns about his snap limitations, there is no denying that dominating presence. He may be an intriguing late first-round prospect come April.

Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Karlaftis is a guy that people may be overthinking. He may not be that smooth, elite athlete that leaves teams drooling over but he is a strong power rusher who deploys a plethora of pass-rushing moves to get to the opposing quarterback. The Cardinals have a definite need at EDGE with Chandler Jones and Markus Golden both set to become free agents, with Jones, in particular, most likely pricing himself out of Arizona’s range. Karlaftis would be a welcome addition to Arizona’s front seven.

Dallas Cowboys: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The Cowboys feed into their strength to keep it a strength by drafting a local Texas offensive lineman. Kenyon Green is legitimately one of the best offensive linemen in this entire draft. Green has an elite skillset and his versatility allows him to play any position. Combining great upper body strength with athletic quickness and tremendous technique, Green is one of the most complete prospects in 2022. The strength of the Dallas Cowboys over the last few years has been their offensive line but that strength has been waning as of late. With starter Connor Williams set to be a free agent, Green can come in and start at left guard right away and would prove to be a massive upgrade.

Buffalo Bills: Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn

As seen in the playoffs, the Bills could use a bit more talent in their secondary. Even with Tre’Davious White coming back from injury, upgrading the spot opposite him is a must. McCreary can be that upgrade. Quick enough to play in the slot and big enough to play on the perimeter, McCreary can be moved around wherever he is needed and can still play at a high level. Fast and strong and a willing tackler, McCreary can hardly be called a “liability” in any one aspect of his game. If the Bills are truly pushing for a Super Bowl, McCreary would be a much needed reinforcement.

Tennessee Titans: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Good players inevitably fall further than what most expect and that is the case with Chris Olave. A bona fide star from Ohio State, Olave possesses tremendous deep speed and clean route running. While he is far from the biggest receiver in this draft, he more than makes up for that lack in size with playmaking ability. It is that playmaking ability that the Tennessee Titans are sorely lacking. Tennessee has nothing behind AJ Brown and Julio Jones at receiver and both of those players missed extended time due to injury. More depth is needed at the skill positions and Olave would be a scary option to add to a Tennessee offense that lacked explosion most of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

One of two things will happen with Linderbaum: either teams recognize his talent and take him close to the Top-10 (as they should) or he will be a victim of positional value and will fall to late in the first round. Linderbaum is one of the best overall players in the draft but centers just do not go that high in the draft. The other teams’ loss is Tampa Bay’s gain. Tom Brady has retired and this will be a new team but the offensive line will have a new look as well. Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet recently announced his retirement while Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen is set to hit free agency. Linderbaum can step in right away and be the team’s starter for the next ten to fifteen years and he could establish himself as one of the top interior linemen in the league sooner rather than later.

Green Bay Packers: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

The Packers have never been shy about drafting players they think will help their team, no matter where they are on most big boards. The offensive line for Green Bay last season was an absolute wreck and it’s clear more depth is needed there. Raimann doesn’t have a lot of experience playing football but he is a big dude who plays with a nasty streak. Exceptionally strong, he drives defenders back with an initial pop and can develop into a fantastic player in time. With questions abounding at right tackle and left tackle David Bakhtiari coming off a major injury, it would be wise to invest in a tackle come April.

Miami Dolphins: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

The Dolphins defense is transitioning and having a smart, athletic, high-intensity man in the middle to lead it would be highly beneficial. The 2021 Butkus Award winner is a ready-made three-down linebacker who brings speed, great tackling, and fantastic football IQ to the defense. While he is far from a finished product, Dean could develop into a heat-seeking missile used to help keep the mobile Josh Allen in check.

Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State

As usual, the Chiefs need help on defense. Though the stop unit stiffened up during the second half of the season, the defensive line could use some reinforcements. At 6’5, 270 lbs, Cam Thomas is a big piece to add. Though he is listed as an EDGE, he is versatile enough to the lineup at several different positions, a quality Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo covets. Thomas would be an immediate terror playing next to Chris Jones.

Cincinnati Bengals: Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College

Cincinnati’s magical season came up short thanks largely to the horrendous play of its offensive line. Upgrading Joe Burrow’s protection will most certainly be the top priority of the Bengals this offseason and adding Zion Johnson would go a long way to improving that line. Johnson can play center and both guard positions but absolutely excels at right guard, which may be the weakest part of Cincy’s offensive line. The Bengals have the talent to get back to the Super Bowl and Johnson would be a major boost to the interior of that line that held Cincy back last year.

Detroit Lions: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

It would be a travesty if Dotson weren’t a first-round pick come April and here, he makes it in with the last pick. Dotson is an electrifying playmaker that is a threat to score any time he has the ball. Though he lacks Calvin Johnson-like size, he makes up for big-play potential. Due to his sticky hands and savvy route running ability, Dotson can be moved all over the field and still be used to his maximum potential. The Lions are in need of such a threat. Their plodding offense struggled to get anything going for most of the season last year. Dotson would strike fear in opposing defenses while opening things up for TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift. Most will advocate for a quarterback in this spot but with the Lions selecting at 34 overall and the Jaguars also having a massive need at receiver, the Lions safely go this route.

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