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2022 NFL mock draft and analysis.

Ah, draft season. That wonderful time of year when we analyze the crap out of a bunch of 21-year-olds based on things like hand size and arm length and how fast they run in a straight line in underwear.

But those measurables are important when it comes to deciding who will be handed millions of dollars to be the next star players for the 32 NFL franchises. Athleticism is kind of important in athletics, after all. 

But once the NFL combine is over and the players work out at their respective pro days, we need to find out where these guys will play. And if you’re a draft nerd like me, Christmas Day can take a hike. It’s all about Draft Day.

Unsure of who is going No. 1 tonight? Paulo Antunes has provided us with his NFL draft prediction.

In this mock draft, I am predicting what I think teams will do, not what they should do, and I’ll be tossing in NFL draft props betting tidbits along the way. Check out some of our favorite draft props in our NFL Draft Props article and head over to [ol-sportsbook-bp:48:Bovada:26:Bodog] to place your bets before Thursday night!

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1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

Usually, we know what the team picking first overall will do days if not weeks before the draft. But the Jags could have us on our toes right up until they announce the pick. Reports are that new coach Doug Pederson prefers to go offense, owner Shad Khan likes Aidan Hutchinson and general manager Trent Baalke covets Walker.

We think Baalke is ultimately the shot caller here and we know he prefers edge players with long arms (an area in which Walker has a distinct advantage over Hutchinson).

Hutchinson was the overwhelming favorite to go first overall for much of the pre-draft process, but Walker has become the odds-on favorite in recent days and is up to a -220 favorite at many books.

Everything is trending toward Walker being the pick as of now.

Previous Pick: Same

2. Detroit Lions – Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

That's right, the Lions pass on the local guy and long-time presumed top pick Hutchinson for the athletic and somewhat controversial Thibodeaux.

You could have had Thibodeaux to go second overall at +350 yesterday, but he's down to +135 just hours before the Lions are on the clock. Hutchinson is still the favorite at most sportsbooks to go second.

Whispers about the Lions being higher than people think on Thibs has led us to change our pick here. 

There was a time when it felt pretty likely that a quarterback could be taken here, but Malik Willis (the consensus top QB) is now +2500 to go No. 2 at [ol-sportsbook-bp:48:Bovada:26:Bodog].

Previous Pick: Aidan Hutchinson

3. Houston Texans – Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

The Texans pick is a true wild card as the roster is in need of an influx of talent at many different positions. But the buzz has picked up considerably that Houston covets a corner, with head coach Lovie Smith even explicitly mentioning the position as an area of concern for the team. 

We think Cincinnati corner Sauce Gardner is the best in the class and a virtual lock to go top 10, but there is some late-in-the-game chatter that Stingley could be the preference for the Texans and the top corner off the board. Either way we like betting on a corner being the top pick for Houston in NFL draft props. Stingley to be the first corner drafted is paying at EVEN odds now at [ol-sportsbook-bp:48:Bovada:26:Bodog], down from +135 just yesterday.

If Hutchinson does indeed fall to three, we wouldn't be surprised if Houston pounces.

Previous Pick: Same

4. New York Jets – Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

If there’s one thing we know about Jets coach Robert Saleh, it’s that he makes rushing the passer a priority. During Saleh’s time in San Francisco, the Niners drafted several edge players and defensive linemen in the first round like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. 

Edge just happens to be a big need for the Jets, and in this scenario they can't believe their luck that the supposed top player has fallen to four. The Jets get a building block.

There are rumblings that the Jets could be looking to move on from former top pick OT Mekhi Becton, and if that happens, offensive tackle is definitely in play here.

Previous Pick: Jermaine Johnson

5. New York Giants – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The talent available at the top of the draft and the Giants’ needs match up perfectly, and we would be surprised if they don’t land one of the three consensus top offensive linemen and one of the top corners.

With Carolina having drafted a corner in the top 10 last season, it’s unlikely they take Gardner, so the Giants can take their pick of the top tackles here. Ekwonu was a unanimous all-American who can play tackle or guard. 

Previous Pick: Evan Neal

6. Carolina Panthers – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The sixth spot in the draft is a prime spot for the first trade of the draft as the Panthers look to recoup some draft capital. Panthers GM Scott Fitterer traded down three times in the first three rounds last year and with Thibodeaux and all the quarterbacks still on the board, we think he’d probably love to do it again. 

But with two of the top three offensive tackles still on the board, we have the Panthers taking a great prospect at serious position of need. Neal is an athletic freak who dominated against top competition at Alabama (including vs Jags top pick Walker).

Previous Pick: Ikem Ekwonu

7. New York Giants via Chicago – Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Another big potential trade-down spot here, but in this scenario there’s no way the Giants can pass on who many believe is the top corner in the draft. Landing Neal and Gardner would be a coup for the G-Men.

Previous Pick: Same
    
8. Atlanta Falcons – Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State

The Falcons roster is a mess. They have needs all over the field on both sides of the ball and we could make a case for several players in this scenario.

After trading Julio Jones only to lose Calvin Ridley to an unexpected suspension, there may not be a worse position group in the entire NFL than the Falcons receivers. But it seems like everyone is forcing a receiver here.

And for a team without a franchise quarterback that can't realistically be planning on being competitive this season, does drafting a receiver really make sense? Maybe if that receiver is Alabama's Jameson Williams who is recovering from a torn ACL, but we think it's more likely the Falcons try to build from the trenches out.

Johnson could be the best pure pass rusher in the draft and fits a huge need for Atlanta. The Falcons were last in the league in sacks last season with just 18 in 17 games, 11 fewer than the 31st ranked team.

Previous Pick: Drake London
 
9. Seattle Seahawks via Denver – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Seahawks will have to think long and hard about pulling the trigger on a quarterback here, but we have them going with Cross here at nine instead.

For some, Cross is actually the best pure pass-protecting tackle in the class and we actually wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up as the first of the three selected, with some chatter that teams may view Neal and Ekwonu as better guards than tackles. 

You can get Cross to be the first tackle selected at +300 right now, the same odds as Neal.

Previous Pick: Kayvon Thibodeaux

10. New York Jets via Seattle – Drake London, WR, USC

It's no secret that the Jets want a receiver – they were attached to virtually every big name free agent and potential trade candidate with some beat writers still insisting they are in on Deebo Samuel just hours before the draft.

It seems highly unlikely and unprecedented for the Jets to trade for Samuel this close to draft time, so instead we have them drafting the first receiver here.

London checks several boxes as an early breakout player with great size and production, but there are questions about his style of play and many few him as a boom-or-bust type prospect. 

Still, he pairs nicely with Elijah Moore and Corey Davis in the Jets offense.

You can get London to be the first receiver off the board still at +200.

Previous Pick: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

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11. Washington Commanders – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

We wouldn’t be surprised at all if Williams ended up in the top 10, but Washington ends up with the Alabama speedster here at 11 instead. We’ve been all over Williams as the first receiver taken as his odds were as high as +800 last month.

Now down to +125, it’s not as attractive a bet, but at least tells us that teams at the top covet the dynamic Williams. 

Previous Pick: Same

12. Minnesota Vikings – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

The Vikings and new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah would probably love to trade down in this scenario given Adofo-Mensah’s analytics background with the Browns. But when they do select, we can probably bank on them focusing on premium positions like QB, OT, WR, CB and edge as the Browns have in recent years.

A receiver makes a lot of sense here with OSU’s Wilson in freefall, but the Vikings have a huge need at corner and they get the best one left on the board here. 

Previous Pick: Same

13. Houston Texans via Cleveland – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Texans definitely seem to be in the market for a receiver and we wouldn’t be overly surprised to see them trade this pick. But in this mock, we have them ending the slide for Wilson, who many have mocked as a top-10 pick and first receiver off the board.

A sliding edge rusher could also be in play here.

Previous Pick: Same
    
14. Baltimore – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

This just feels like a Ravens pick, doesn’t it? They always seem to land the sliding potential star that everyone loves yet somehow don’t draft.

Davis is the best pound-for-pound athlete in this draft – a fact confirmed by a 4.78 forty time that he ran at 341 (!!) pounds. Per Pro Football Focus, Davis’ forty time is the best weight-adjusted time for any player at any position in their database of more than 4,600 players. He ran a faster forty than Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Previous Pick: Same

15. Philadelphia Eagles via Miami – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Eagles have a few pretty big needs, but there’s no way they could pass on Hamilton in this scenario. Once seen as a potential top-five pick, Hamilton slipped because of some poor testing numbers. But he’s a good player and the top player at his position. This is a big get for the Eagles.

Previous Pick: Same

16. New Orleans Saints via Philadelphia – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Receiver is in consideration for the Saints here as they have essentially nothing on the roster outside Michael Thomas. But there are several good receiver prospects on the board and the Saints pick again at No. 19. We originally had OT Penning here for that reason, but there's a lot of smoke around the Saints looking to move up for a wideout. 

We have them nabbing one here and passing on OT for now.

Previous Pick: Trevor Penning

17. L.A. Chargers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Chargers have one of the better rosters in the entire league but there are a couple holes on their offensive line.

L.A. has to take advantage of the fact that they’ve got Justin Herbert on a rookie contract and must do everything they can to support him.

We could see Penning go a whole lot higher than this.

Previous Pick: Zion Johnson
    
18. Philadelphia Eagles via New Orleans – George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Could the Eagles really draft a receiver in the first round for the third year in a row? We wouldn't be surprised if they land one, but in this scenario the consensus top guys are off the board and we aren't sure they need one bad enough to reach.

There are rumors of Karlaftis falling out of the first altogether, but we have him here as the Eagles lowkey have a need at this position.

Previous Pick: Chris Olave
      
19. New Orleans via Philadelphia – Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa

After getting their receiver at 16, the Saints get their tackle in Smith. There are reports out there that the Saints like Smith a lot more than some other teams, so it wouldn't be surprising to see what some might perceive as a 'reach' here for a player at a position of need.

Terron Armstead was a huge loss for this team.

Previous Pick: Treylon Burks 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Finally, a quarterback. We know the Steelers like Willis and we know they have a need at the position with Mitch Trubisky signed as the current placeholder. The only question is whether Willis goes higher than this. We would be shocked if he fell this far and they didn’t select him; it just comes down to whether someone trades up.

Previous Pick: Same

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21. New England – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

One of the fastest risers in the draft, Walker is is now -600 to be a top 32 pick at [ol-sportsbook-bp:48:Bovada:26:Bodog]. There are some books that have Walker's over/under draft spot at 20.5

It's hard to find a spot for off-ball linebackers these days, but Bill Belichick loves these types of players and they have a need. Walker's teammate Lloyd could be the pick here too.

Previous Pick: Daxton Hill

22. Green Bay Packers via Las Vegas – Devin Lloyd, LB, Georgia

The Packers must be thinking receiver here, right? Right?? Well, maybe not. The Pack have had plenty of success drafting receivers in the second round and beyond over the years and this is a deep receiver class.

We wouldn’t be surprised at all if they pass on a wideout and pick a player like Lloyd, who sportsbooks are certain will land in the first somewhere. 

Previous Pick: George Karlaftis

23. Arizona Cardinals – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Corner was a glaring need for the Cardinals last season, and they didn’t do much to upgrade in free agency. The starters for Arizona are currently slated to be Marco Wilson, a fourth-round pick last year, and Jeff Gladney, a 2020 first-round pick of the Vikings who was cut after one season due to a domestic assault indictment.

Elam has been climbing draft boards in recent days and comes from a top program.

There's a big need here for edge help as well, but Elam is better than any of the remaining edges.

Previous Pick: Andrew Booth

24. Dallas Cowboys – Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

Jerry Jones has to be very tempted to take a receiver here after trading away Amari Cooper. But this offensive line isn’t the dominant force it once was and they must continue to fortify it if they want to keep Dak Prescott upright.

Johnson fits as a plug-and-play guard from Day 1.

Previous Pick: Kenyon Green

25. Buffalo Bills – Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Florida

The Bills need a corner as their star at the position, Tre’Davious White, returns from an injury and they lost No. 2 corner Levi Wallace in free agency. There are a couple good options here, including Washington’s Kyler Gordon, who will be attending the draft in person (always a sign they’ll go early), but we have them going with Booth here.

Previous Pick: Kaiir Elam    

26. Tennessee Titans – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

A very similar player to current Titans QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee gets their QB of the future here in Pickett. There are plenty of questions about Pickett’s ceiling and the fact that he didn’t really break out in college until his senior year, but the Titans need a long-term plan at the position.    

Previous Pick: Same

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan

The Bucs have needs on both the offensive and defensive lines and we wouldn't be surprised to see Hall, Wyatt, Johnson or Kenyon Green go here.

But there's been a lot of smoke around the Bucs being interested in a safety to replace the departed Jordan Whitehead. New head coach Todd Bowles loves to play with three safeties on the field and covets DBs who have position versatility.

That description fits Hill better than Georgia safety Lewis Cine, who has been linked to the Bucs by several draftnicks and insiders.

Hill played at safety on base downs for Michigan and in the slot in some situations. The Bucs love players like this.

Previous Pick: Devonte Wyatt
    
28. Green Bay Packers – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Packers fans rejoice, they have finally selected a receiver in the first round. There are questions about Burks’ athleticism, but his versatility is something the Packers have coveted in players before. Former Packer Jordy Nelson is one of the best comps we've seen for Burks. 

Previous Pick: George Pickens

29. Kansas City Chiefs via San Francisco – Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

The Chiefs got a ton of snaps from Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes last season and they did not bring in anyone to replace them. Corner is a big need and Gordon is a good player who can step in and play lots of snaps right away.

Teams with high expectations need corners. 

Previous Pick: Same
 
30. Kansas City Chiefs – Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota

The Chiefs need a player opposite Frank Clark to replace what Melvin Ingram did for them last season. There will be receivers commonly mocked to KC and we could see either Jahan Dotson or Skyy Moore get picked here. But we aren’t sure it’s too dire a need for the Chiefs after signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the offseason.

Previous Pick: Same

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

We could see a corner here, but in this scenario the Bengals can't pass up on the talented Wyatt, who probably would have had more pre-draft love if not for his star teammates. 

Previous Pick: Logan Hall

32. Detroit Lions via L.A. Rams – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The Lions need a long-term plan at QB and Jared Goff is not that guy. Though there are some legitimate knocks on Corral such as his size and durability – but we could see head coach Dan Campbell being enamored with Corral's competitiveness and attitude.

Previous Pick: Desmond Ridder