Mock Draft

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Charles Davis 2022 NFL mock draft 1.0: Malik Willis to Panthers; Lions finish Round 1 with Matt Corral

After a fourth attempt at putting this together, I realized that I had zero quarterbacks being selected. While there is a case to be made for a first round without a single QB coming off the board, it's also highly unlikely. So I went back to the drawing board and tried to project which teams might take a bite from the signal-caller tree. Here are the results:

Travon Walker
Georgia · DL · Junior

Surprise! Many expect this pick to be Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson, and understandably so. But in this case, the Jags project that this young man's NFL numbers will exceed his college ones. Gifted with great ability and a fine work ethic, Walker will pair well with Josh Allen.

Aidan Hutchinson
Michigan · Edge · Senior

It just makes too much sense. The Michigan native and University of Michigan product stays local, immediately helping the Lions while strengthening the culture that head coach Dan Campbell is implementing.

Kayvon Thibodeaux
Oregon · Edge · Junior

I really considered pegging the most gifted edge rusher in this class at No. 1 overall to Jacksonville. New Texans head coach Lovie Smith has no problem with this former Duck migrating to Houston.

Ickey Ekwonu
N.C. State · OT · Junior

The Jets continue to gather help for talented young QB Zach Wilson. If one of the top three edge rushers remains on the board come draft night, New York could go in that direction.

Evan Neal
Alabama · OT · Junior

The Giants have been trying to improve their offensive line for years, and this versatile performer started at three different positions -- playing well in each of them -- during his Alabama career. Neal will help give QB Daniel Jones the best opportunity to succeed in a make-or-break season.

Malik Willis
Liberty · QB · Senior (RS)

In this exercise, it's Carolina that makes the first move on a QB from the 2022 class. GM Scott Fitterer recently mentioned the Panthers' strong need for a field general who will take hold of the starting job and own it. They opt for this young man's upside.

Pick
7
New York Giants
(from CHI)
Jermaine Johnson II
Florida State · Edge · Senior (RS)

Pass rush is a need for Big Blue, and what a final college season of production -- and postseason of polish -- from the ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Garrett Wilson
Ohio State · WR · Junior

Atlanta's offensive makeover continues. First, Marcus Mariota is brought in to replace Matt Ryan at QB. Now, the Falcons select this Buckeyes speedster to fill the void left by Calvin Ridley's suspension.

Pick
9
Seattle Seahawks
(from DEN)
Sauce Gardner
Cincinnati · CB · Junior

Seattle's roster has need areas all over the place, but defense must be a priority. Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton got consideration here as a hybrid playmaker, but the pick is the guy they call "Sauce," who has paired a tremendous 2021 season with an eye-popping run-up to the draft.

Pick
10
New York Jets
(from SEA)
Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU · CB · Junior

Plenty of questions about his last two seasons -- see: uneven play, injuries -- but it's impossible to forget Stingley's freshman campaign. He was beyond dominant in 2019, both in practice against Ja'Marr Chase and on game day versus the best the SEC had to offer. Jets fans are hoping for a revival of "Revis Island."

Kyle Hamilton
Notre Dame · S · Junior

My favorite player in the draft. I know worries emerged when he posted slower-than-anticipated 40 times at the NFL Scouting Combine and Notre Dame's pro day, but Hamilton's easily fast enough on tape. His range, length, ball skills and tackling would pair nicely with current Commanders safety Kamren Curl. I also expect Washington to strongly consider a QB, even after the acquisition of Carson Wentz.

Trent McDuffie
Washington · CB · Junior

Savvy, smart, fluid -- McDuffie has impressed many an evaluator. The Vikings start with a fresh talent at the cornerback position under new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and first-time head coach Kevin O'Connell.

Pick
13
Houston Texans
(from CLE)
Charles Cross
Mississippi State · OT · Sophomore (RS)

As the best pass-protecting OT in the draft, Cross gives second-year QB Davis Mills more help as the Texans try to work their way back to the top of the AFC South division that they owned for a recent stretch.

Jordan Davis
Georgia · DT · Senior

Not only did Davis put on the show of shows at the combine, but he fits what the Ravens covet from their defensive interior players: speed and playmaking ability, both of which are crucial in an AFC North that loves to run the ball.

Pick
15
Devonte Wyatt
Georgia · DT · Senior

The Eagles re-signed Fletcher Cox to a one-year deal, but adding his eventual replacement now is an excellent idea.

Pick
16
New Orleans Saints
(from IND through PHI)
Chris Olave
Ohio State · WR · Senior

With the re-signing of QB Jameis Winston, I expect the Saints to try to push the ball downfield more often, and Olave has a penchant for creating big plays over the top.

Trevor Penning
Northern Iowa · OT · Senior (RS)

The Chargers selected LT Rashawn Slater in last year's first round, and he was a strong candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year. This draft cycle, the Bolts look to greatly improve the right side, and Penning has the temperament that they are seeking.

Pick
18
Andrew Booth
Clemson · CB · Junior

Plenty of Eagles fans -- including one particularly enthusiastic one we met at the combine -- are eager to see the LB position addressed, but Booth's athleticism and ability to play well in zone coverage fit Philly's style, simultaneously giving Darius Slay a running mate on the opposite side.

Pick
19
George Karlaftis
Purdue · Edge · Junior

Former first-round pick Marcus Davenport just can't stay healthy, while Cameron Jordan turns 33 this July. Karlaftis offers New Orleans another QB hunter with a power-based game. Ideally, the Purdue product would provide Trey Hendrickson-type production.

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh · QB · Senior

The Steelers have been out in force doing their homework on this year's crop of QBs, and they should have plenty of information on Pickett, given that they share a training facility with Pitt. Pickett's ascension during the 2021 season was enthralling, and the Steelers get a chance to bring him along slowly after the addition of Mitch Trubisky. A potential surprise pick here: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder.

Devin Lloyd
Utah · LB · Senior (RS)

The Patriots look to continue their tradition of leadership at the LB position -- think: Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower -- with this rangy playmaker who just led Utah to its first Rose Bowl appearance.

Pick
22
Jahan Dotson
Penn State · WR · Senior

After trading Davante Adams to the Raiders, the Packers use the pick acquired to select his replacement -- and nab a wideout fast enough to take the top off of defenses, as head coach Matt LaFleur desires.

Drake London
USC · WR · Junior

Big frame, big production. Larry Fitzgerald moved to the slot and put up terrific numbers at the end of his career. London moved inside often at USC in 2021 and thrived. He can do the same to help QB Kyler Murray get the Cards back to the playoffs -- and potentially log a postseason win or two.

Zion Johnson
Boston College · IOL · Senior

The Cowboys need to revamp their offensive line and get back to their forceful running days. This powerful and athletic guard will match well with All-Pro stud Zack Martin.

Jameson Williams
Alabama · WR · Junior

Williams is coming off a knee injury, but says he's ahead of schedule in his recovery. When healthy, he'll give the Bills a stellar speed merchant to complement Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis.

Tyler Smith
Tulsa · OT · Sophomore (RS)

A road grader who totally fits the Titans' scheme and attitude on offense. Tennessee continues to seek players who help make Derrick Henry the best RB in the NFL when healthy. Smith could be an immediate starter at guard or tackle.

David Ojabo
Michigan · Edge · Sophomore (RS)

Yes, Ojabo's Achilles injury at Michigan's pro day could cause him to fall into Day 2 of the draft, but the Bucs have the infrastructure to wait for him to get healthy and become a top pass rusher for them down the line.

Kenyon Green
Texas A&M · OG · Junior

Strong and physical at the point of attack, Green gives the Packers another potential all-star on the O-line, joining left tackle David Bakhtiari and hyper-versatile blocker Elgton Jenkins.

Pick
29
Kansas City Chiefs
(from SF through MIA)
Boye Mafe
Minnesota · Edge · Senior (RS)

Kansas City must continue to upgrade its pass rush in a division that is now loaded with top QBs. With a skill set that reminds me of current Chief Frank Clark, Mafe's an enticing option here for K.C.

Christian Watson
North Dakota State · WR · Senior (RS)

One of the stars of the pre-draft process, Watson goes from not seeing enough passes in Fargo to giving QB Patrick Mahomes another new option on the perimeter -- joining JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling -- to try and replace Tyreek Hill.

Tyler Linderbaum
Iowa · C · Junior (RS)

The best pivot in the draft, Linderbaum has the potential to be this year's Creed Humphrey, the rookie who played at an All-Pro level for Kansas City in 2021. Ted Karras, who came over from New England, can slide to guard.

Pick
32
Detroit Lions
(from LAR)
Matt Corral
Mississippi · QB · Junior (RS)

I was leaning toward projecting Georgia LB Nakobe Dean to the Lions here (he would make a dandy addition), but we've seen a QB come off the board 32nd overall twice over the last several years (Lamar Jackson, 2018; Teddy Bridgewater, 2014). With the Lions still making up their minds about incumbent QB Jared Goff's long-term future, this tough, gritty, quick decision-maker is in play. Corral might be my favorite QB in the class because of his overall playmaking ability. 

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