HomeFootballDKrom’s Mock Draft 1.0: Pre-Free Agency

DKrom’s Mock Draft 1.0: Pre-Free Agency

After a rare hiatus last year due to COVID-19, NFL teams are flooding Indianapolis this week once again for the Scouting Combine. The Combine is the beginning of the final two-month stretch of the NFL Draft process, and in that spirit, it is time for my first mock draft for 2022! NFL Draft guru Thor Nystrom and I made the first 10 picks on our most recent episode and I did the rest myself. Keep in mind that we are in the middle of “lying season”, so it’s impossible to get an accurate grasp on what teams plan to do in the actual draft. That said, mock drafts are fun exercises in the hypothetical that will help prepare you for as many different scenarios as possible come April 28. So without further ado, here is DKrom’s Mock Draft 1.0… 

1. Jaguars: Evan Neal (OT, Alabama)

    -As I said on the most recent pod, 3-4 names could very well be in play for the Jaguars here. They could add to their pass rush with Aidan Hutchinson, but investing in better protection for Trevor Lawrence may be the wiser move. Choosing between Neal and NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu, I opted to go with Neal because he’s more polished at this time

2. Lions: Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)

    -Thor went with a major curveball here. I would be surprised if the Lions made this pick, but not necessarily shocked. In a talent-poor QB crop, Willis offers the most tantalizing upside by far. The Lions are reportedly high on Willis, and they provide him with an ideal situation where he could spend a whole season sitting behind Jared Goff and ironing out the flaws in his game

3. Texans: Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)

    -The Texans can use help at almost ANY position, thus it would be smart for GM Nick Caserio to go with the best player available. Several notable analysts, including ESPN’s Jordan Reid and NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein have Hamilton, who has an Ed Reed-like skill-set, as the top overall player in the draft

4. Jets: Aidan Hutchinson (EDGE, Michigan)

    -It would be quite surprising if Hutchinson, one of the 2021 Heisman Trophy finalists, lasts this long but if he does, I would expect the Jets to SPRINT to the podium. Hutchinson would team up with Quinnen Williams to give the Jets one of the best 1-2 pass rush punches in the entire league

5. Giants: Ikem Ekwonu (OT, North Carolina State)

    -As I implied earlier, Ekwonu being the first overall pick in this draft is a very real possibility. While not as refined as Evan Neal, “Ickey” offers even more upside and perhaps just as high a floor if he is eventually forced inside to play guard. He fits the mold of those big, beefy offensive tackles Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll loved during their time in Buffalo

6. Panthers: Kayvon Thibodeaux (EDGE, Oregon)

    -Once widely believed to be the best player in this draft class, Thibodeaux has become a wild card. He could still go top-five, but it also very possible he can fall out of the top-10 due to reported character concerns scouts have raised. Nonetheless, the Panthers should think long and hard about passing up an opportunity to pair him with Brian Burns to form what could become the NFL’s scariest edge pass rush duo in 2-3 years

7. Giants [via Bears]: David Ojabo (EDGE, Michigan)

    -Ojabo is expected to post freakish numbers at the Combine this week and could end being selected in the top-10 as a result. Some around the NFL also believe he can end up being a better pro than his Michigan teammate Aidan Hutchinson

 8. Falcons: Treylon Burks (WR, Arkansas)

    -The NFC South is there for the taking given Tom Brady’s retirement and it would thus make sense for the Falcons to make another selection to help them get the most out of Matt Ryan’s final years. With Calvin Ridley expected by many to be traded, Burks, who several consider a bigger version of Deebo Samuel, would make a PERFECT addition to a Falcons offense that already has Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts

9. Broncos: George Karlaftis (EDGE, Purdue)

    -The Broncos need a QB BADLY, but Aaron Rodgers is going nowhere, and it’s highly unlikely Russell Wilson will be made available for trade. However, Denver still has more than enough holes outside of QB remaining on their roster and shouldn’t feel pressure to force a high pick on a signal caller. With the Von Miller era over and Bradley Chubb’s constant inability to shake the injury bug, the Broncos need more talent at EDGE as well and Karlaftis is as dependable as they are when it comes to harassing opposing QB’s

10. Jets [via Seahawks]: Sauce Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)

    -Gardner (6-3, 200) is the long, tall corner Robert Saleh usually prefers for his defensive system. He has drawn comparisons to Richard Sherman, who Saleh coached during his time in both Seattle and San Francisco

11. Commanders: Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)

    -Washington is just too talented of a team on paper to enter 2022 with the QB situation they currently have. While not the most athletically enticing of prospects, Pickett would give the Commanders an immediate upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and give Washigton a “point guard” under center who can get the ball to their talented group of offensive playmakers at the right time

12. Vikings: Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)

    -Minnesota urgently needs to upgrade its secondary, where things have gone relatively stale in recent years. The versatile McDuffie is the ideal “off-man” corner for new DC Ed Donatell’s scheme

13. Browns: Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)

    -In order to determine whether or not Baker Mayfield is worth keeping around for the long-term, the Browns need to get him a go-to guy at WR. Wilson would provide that on Day 1 with his separation skills, unreal body control and abilities at the catch point

14. Ravens: Derek Stingley, Jr. (CB, LSU)

    -A lack of depth at the cornerback position was one of the key factors that derailed Baltimore’s championship hopes last season. The Ravens, known for constantly taking the best player on the board, would potentially be getting excellent value here with the 2019 All-American 

15. Eagles [via Dolphins]: Travon Walker (EDGE, Georgia)

    -With Derek Barnett slated to become a free agent and Brandon Graham getting a little long in the tooth, the Eagles need another DE to beef up their ability to rush the passer. Walker is expected to go far higher than this by several around the NFL because of the freakish athletic traits he displays for a 6-5, 275-lb. man

16. Eagles [via Colts]: Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)

    -With their second of three first-round picks, the Eagles could very well look to upgrade the middle of their defense. Lloyd is the every-down LB most teams covet in today’s NFL

17. Chargers: Jermaine Johnson II (EDGE, Florida State)

    -The Chargers could use upgrades all over their defensive front seven, and getting Joey Bosa a partner to help him rush the passer would be a good place to start. Johnson stole the show down at the Senior Bowl and possesses the length and agility needed to both get after the QB and stop the run

18. Saints: Charles Cross (OT, Mississippi State)

    -With Terron Armstead likely headed elsewhere in free agency, the Saints need to make sure they have a legitimate blindside protector for whoever their QB is next season. Cross has more than his fair share of flaws, but he enters the NFL as polished as they come in pass protection

19. Eagles: Drake London (WR, USC)

    -The Eagles WR room outside of DeVonta Smith is rather underwhelming. The 6-5, 212 London has the play-style that would make the perfect complement to Smith

20. Steelers: Matt Corral (QB, Ole Miss)

    -Pittsburgh is a prime candidate to trade up for a QB. Look for them to sign a veteran in free agency, which would allow someone like Corral or Malik Willis the needed time to develop on the bench this season

21. Patriots: Andrew Booth, Jr. (CB, Clemson)

    -It’s possible that the Patriots lose J.C. Jackson in free agency. Booth brings the requisite ball skills and athleticism to thrive in New England’s man coverage-heavy defense

22. Raiders: Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa)

    -Derek Carr is about to get a major contract extension, and rightfully so. It would make a ton of sense for the Raiders to add some insurance to that investment by improving the tackle spot opposite Kolton Miller. Penning, though raw, plays with a pissed off attitude that will make him appealing to Josh McDaniels

23. Cardinals: Kyler Gordon (CB, Washington)

    -Three years ago, the Cardinals drafted a corner from Washington in Byron Murphy. In this mock, they select another Washington corner in Gordon who is expected to skyrocket up draft boards with a stellar Combine performance this week 

24. Cowboys: Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa)

    -The Cowboys offensive line is no longer the star-studded unit it has been in recent years and Linderbaum was the best player remaining on the board. Linderbaum is a high-floor/high-ceiling prospect who could become the glue for the Cowboys OL of the future

25. Bills: Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)

    -If it weren’t for the ACL injury he suffered in the National Championship game, Williams would be a lock to be selected in the top-15. His track-like speed would make Buffalo’s elite passing attack extra dangerous 

26. Titans: Nakobe Dean (LB, Georgia)

    -The 2021 Butkus Award winner was the heart and soul of Georgia’s National Championship defense. Dean may be undersized, but he brings the smarts, hustle and toughness Mike Vrabel covets in spades

27. Bucs: Kenyon Green (G, Texas A&M)

    -Ali Marpet’s unexpected retirement (and Ryan Jensen’s potential departure in free agency) leaves a glaring hole in the middle of Tampa’s OL. The versatile Green, whose best play in college came at both guard spots, would make a ton of sense for the Bucs here

28. Packers: Boye Mafe (EDGE, Minnesota)

    -With Za’Darius Smith likely getting released as a salary cap casualty, the Packers once again “bet on traits” when it comes to rushing the passer. Rashan Gary has blossomed into a very good player for Green Bay’s defense and Mafe is a similar prospect as Gary was coming out of college. He may be raw, but he has every possible athletic tool to become special

29. Dolphins [via 49ers]: Bernhard Raimann (OT, Central Michigan)

    -A native of Austria, Reimann has one of the most inspiring stories of any prospect in this class. He successfully transitioned from tight end to offensive tackle during the pandemic and the Dolphins will likely be impressed by his athleticism, hands and balance 

30. Chiefs: Daxton Hill (CB/S, Michigan)

    -It wouldn’t be a shock if Tyrann Mathieu departs Kansas City in free agency. Should the Chiefs have to replace him, they’re unlikely to find anybody better to do so than Hill

31. Bengals: Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)

    -Porous pass protection proved to be the Bengals fatal flaw in Super Bowl LVI and they need to address this issue early and often this spring. With his play strength and reaction skills, Johnson could end up being a decade-long staple for Cincinnati on the interior OL

32. Lions [via Rams]: Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)

    -Outside of T.J. Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown, the Lions do not have that key third weapon in the passing game that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Enter Olave, Ohio State’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions, whose smooth routes and deep speed would open up Detroit’s offense in a big way 

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