It’s never too early for a mock draft, and as the season begins to take shape, we get a feel for who’s going to be at the top, and who might be drafting nearer the bottom, as they approach the playoffs. Teams like Philadelphia are in a premium position right now, with a top 10 pick of their own, and the first rounder formerly of the Miami Dolphins, who with a 1-3 record, also sit in the top 10. Further to that, if Carson Wentz plays 75% of the offensive snaps for the Colts, which currently he has, the Eagles will have a THIRD first rounder. With plenty to unpack, and an opportunity to introduce 32 college football talents to our readers, let’s dive into my first 2022 mock draft.
I’ve linked each pick to a highlight video for that particular player, so that fans of every team can get to know the kinds of talent they might have coming their way in the off season… enjoy!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Neal OT Alabama
The Jags need a lot of things, and you could make a case for pass rush with the number one pick, but we’ve learnt that there’s nothing more important than protecting your young franchise quarterback. Joe Burrow got hurt badly as a rookie behind a poor offensive line, Tua got hurt in Miami, all while Justin Herbert reaps the benefits of a franchise left tackle covering his blindside in Rashawn Slater. Neal has played both guard and right tackle, but moved over to left tackle this season, and what better way to protect Trevor Lawrence than with a 5 star, extremely talented, blocking machine.
Neal already has two great years under his belt for the Crimson Tide, and with a wealth of experience, he brings exactly what the Jags need on the blindside. Neal has great footwork, distributes his weight well, and is a force with his hands. Can create a great seal to the pocket, and has not been easy to get round. Neal is absurdly athletic for a 350lb lineman. He’d be the first offensive lineman taken first overall since Eric Fisher in 2013.
2. Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE Oregon
Three words. Best player available. The Lions are going to be rebuilding for multiple years, and while they might need a quarterback, Thibodeaux is a Nick Bosa, Chase Young, type difference maker. Jared Goff’s contract isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and he’s played pretty well considering the circumstances he’s under. QB is by no means an urgent necessity right now.
Thibodeaux is a game wrecker. Extremely dangerous in the passing game, with the ability to create pressure off the edge on just about every play. Gets hands on the football, generates sacks, and his speed and athleticism are not to be understated. Thibodeaux is a blue chip stock and a guy that Detroit can hang their hat on defensively for years to come. Absolutely the smart pick here.
3. New York Jets – Aidan Hutchinson EDGE Michigan
The Jets need help in the secondary, but I am a firm believer that you shouldn’t draft a corner in the top 5. As good as Derek Stingley is, or Kaiir Elam, top 5 picks are for quarterbacks, tackles, and edge rushers, and Robert Saleh gets a guy he can rely on here.
Aidan Hutchinson might be the best player in college football right now. He’s been getting better and better week on week since the beginning of last season, and is now a premium talent for the Wolverines. Great in 2019, and even better in 2020, Hutchinson has turned himself into a top 5 pick. Robert Saleh needs guys on the defensive line to effect a game in order to run his scheme. We’re seeing him implement that scheme already, and get to the QB with guys like Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers, imagine what he could do with a guy like Aidan Hutchinson.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) – Kyle Hamilton S Notre Dame
I am so intrigued by Kyle Hamilton. It’s not very often at all that you get a safety standing 6 foot 4, with his speed and ability to get to the football, all rolled into one. He is truly a sideline to sideline safety. Can play single high, or contribute down in the box, and lines up in a two deep safety set regularly too. The Eagles get a guy who changes everything about their defence in a heartbeat. Hamilton will need to be accounted for. I’ve seen him go from the opposite hash to the near sideline to intercept a football against FSU, and that’s just one example of how great he could be in an NFL secondary.
5. Atlanta Falcons – Derek Stingley Jr CB LSU
I don’t see how the Falcons can pass on Stingley here. Matt Ryan still has plenty left in the tank, and there’ll be stronger QB classes in the next couple of seasons. Atlanta needs to rebuild some sort of secondary, and Stingley is a fantastic corner who can be left on an island. Of course, how well that transitions to the pro’s is always a question, but Stingley has been great at LSU since the day he arrived. Bursting onto the scene as a freshman, he’s an elite level corner with premium man coverage skills. Can play press effectively, using elite footwork and hands to go up against just about anybody.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Booth Jr CB Clemson
The Colts have a strong defence, but they’re missing a few key components. Namely, they need cornerbacks. The secondary needs some work, and Andrew Booth could come in and compete at an elite level from the word go. Booth plays extremely tight coverage, and his ability to play both zone and man coverage will work strongly in his favour when the draft comes around. Andrew Booth is one of those football guys, who just looks like he wants to be out there making plays on every rep.
7. Houston Texans – Matt Corral QB Ole Miss
The Texans need a big character, with confidence and a certain level of alpha to be able to walk in there and reignite the franchise. It doesn’t get much harder with a rebuild than what the Texans are facing. They have a few pieces, Laremy Tunsil, Brandin Cooks, Justin Reid, but overall, it’s going to take work.
Matt Corral has what it takes not only to be an NFL quarterback, but to be the alpha male that fans can latch onto in Houston. Those fans are hurting, and they need somebody exciting. A Daniel Jones type isn’t going to get that done. Corral has done it all in the last couple of seasons, and together with head coach Lane Kiffin, they’ve put together an air raid type offence that displays his arm strength and talent extremely well. Corral can launch a football 60+ yards with ease, and this season has proven that he can also read the field well, make good decisions, decide to take off and run, and run a successful play action. With all the tools, the issue with Corral was a tendency to let games get out of hand if things weren’t going well. He threw 10 picks in two games against Arkansas and LSU last season. So far this season, he hasn’t turned the ball over once. Maturity. I love the upwards trend on Matt Corral right now.
8. New England Patriots – Chris Olave WR Ohio State
The Patriots are rebuilding an identity with Mac Jones at the helm. What better way to do that than with the top receiver in the draft. New England has a good defence, and has done well in free agency with some key additions like Matt Judon. Offensively, they need a couple more difference makers, and top of that list should be an elite wide receiver.
Olave has proven that he is exactly that for multiple years now, and while Ohio States offence might not be what it was with Justin Fields last season, Olave is still putting up serious numbers. An incredibly smooth route runner and intelligent football player, Olave knows how to get open or find a soft spot in coverage, and would work really well in New Englands offence, focused on short to medium routes and possession football.
9. Philadelphia Eagles – Kaiir Elam CB Florida
Elam is a strong, physical corner, who has proven time and time again that he can be effective when left on an island. Grades extremely well in coverage, and allows very little by way of completions against him. Elam has a keen eye for making a play on the football, showing his ball skills with 6 picks in his two and a bit seasons so far. Has plenty of success in both press and off man coverage.
For the Eagles to be able to add both Elam and Kyle Hamilton in the top 10, courtesy of the struggling Miami Dolphins, thats’ a pretty good haul, and you’ve practically turned your secondary around in a couple of hours.
10. New York Giants – Drake Jackson EDGE USC
Drake Jackson is another guy who’s stock is rising as the season goes on. Came in and made a serious impact for USC as a freshman, and while they might be struggling as a team this season, he’s the bright spark. Had 2 sacks and likely his best game so far against Colarado this year, and is projecting as a top 20 pick, still on the rise.
He offers an ability to chase down the football in the run game, fighting his way through traffic to make plays. Possesses a great ability to get round the edge, lining up outside the tackles. Fights through blocks well and bends his way round the outside to get to the quarterback. Appears to have all the tools to be a great player at the next level and gives the Giants that key pass rusher that they are so desperately missing off the edge.