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Mock Draft

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Charles Davis 2022 NFL mock draft 2.0: Steelers surprise with fast-rising QB

With the 2022 NFL Draft just around the corner, here's my second crack at how Round 1 will unfold. The draft always delivers surprises, but this year feels even more unpredictable than usual, and I've tried to reflect that in this mock, with my final first-round projection coming out next week.

Travon Walker
Georgia · DL · Junior

The debate in Duval continues: Which pass rusher to select with the No. 1 overall pick? In this mock, the expectation that this Georgia Bulldog will continue to ascend keeps him in the pole position.

Aidan Hutchinson
Michigan · Edge · Senior

Hutchinson is the top-rated player in the draft on many prognosticators' boards. The Lions and their fans will be more than happy to welcome him to the Motor City with their signature greeting of "What up, doe?!"

Evan Neal
Alabama · OT · Junior

The Texans opt to give their second-year QB Davis Mills some additional protection by picking this extremely athletic -- and still growing -- Crimson Tide star, who's also the most versatile OT in the draft. Keep in mind that Texans GM Nick Caserio previously worked under the Patriots' Bill Belichick, and the New England-Alabama connection is a strong one.

Sauce Gardner
Cincinnati · CB · Junior

It's a good time to be the guy they call "Sauce!" He had a terrific college career, approached the draft process like a true professional and has aced every test along the way. The Jets have their next lockdown CB1.

Ickey Ekwonu
N.C. State · OT · Junior

Powerful, plays with excellent leverage (wrestling background paying off) and extremely competitive. He's a starter as soon as the Giants turn in the card bearing his name. Daniel Jones approves this message.

Malik Willis
Liberty · QB · Senior (RS)

I continue to agonize over what Carolina will do here. A more than strong case can be made to select OT Charles Cross from Mississippi State, but it still feels like a QB will be the Panthers' pick at No. 6 ... and it could easily be Pitt QB Kenny Pickett who gets welcomed to Charlotte.

New York Giants
(from CHI)
Kayvon Thibodeaux
Oregon · Edge · Junior

He's exactly what the Giants need on defense, another edge rusher to aid Azeez Ojulari. Plus, this young man LOVES the bright lights, and none shine brighter than the ones on Broadway.

Jermaine Johnson II
Florida State · Edge · Senior (RS)

I've been convinced that WR is the right call here. Then I remembered that the Falcons have struggled -- and then some -- to accumulate sacks in a division that has Tom Brady and the Bucs' passing game setting the pace.

Seattle Seahawks
(from DEN)
Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU · CB · Junior

The Seahawks have not been shy about declaring their intention to make their defense more intricate, and the most talented CB in the draft would certainly help with that goal. We all know that coach Pete Carroll will not lack for confidence in his ability to get this young man back to his 2019 CB1 form.

New York Jets
(from SEA)
Jameson Williams
Alabama · WR · Junior

The momentum continues to build that Williams will be back to full speed sooner than projected from the injury he suffered in the College Football Playoff National Championship, and that means he's back in the competition to be the first WR off the board.

Garrett Wilson
Ohio State · WR · Junior

When you have one Buckeye WR already producing at a Pro Bowl level, why not add another who has the same potential? After trading for QB Carson Wentz, the Commanders seek to give him every chance for success. Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton is a popular name to also consider in this spot.

Trent McDuffie
Washington · CB · Junior

With Patrick Peterson re-signing, this is a great opportunity to bring in a talented youngster who will benefit from being around a future Hall of Famer.

Houston Texans
(from CLE)
Kyle Hamilton
Notre Dame · S · Junior

My favorite player in the draft will be a tad disappointed that he did not get his name called in the top 10, but he lands in a good spot. Lovie Smith is a defensive whiz. He will utilize Hamilton's talents at each level of his scheme.

Tyler Linderbaum
Iowa · C · Junior (RS)

The Ravens need stability at the pivot on offense, and this latest Hawkeye OL prodigy is the 2022 version of Creed Humphrey (who was fantastic for K.C. in 2021). I know, I know -- DT is also in heavy consideration here.

Philadelphia Eagles
(from MIA)
Jordan Davis
Georgia · DT · Senior

Wait, what? The Ravens didn't take a DT?! Well, the Eagles do, helping to fortify their front after bringing back six-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox.

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

The Saints are excited to get their two-time All-Pro WR Michael Thomas back at full speed. Add this flyer from Columbus to the mix, and their joy is full.

Charles Cross
Mississippi State · OT · Sophomore (RS)

The Chargers can't believe their luck when the best pass-protecting OT in the draft is still available at No. 17 overall. Cross will help keep prized QB Justin Herbert upright and slingin' it.

Drake London
USC · WR · Junior

Big frame, big catch radius, breaks tackles and tacks on additional yardage after the catch. QB Jalen Hurts gets another versatile wideout who will help him continue to expand his game. I thought hard about LB here, but past precedent suggests that's not a position the Eagles will target in Round 1.

New Orleans Saints
(from PHI)
Devonte Wyatt
Georgia · DT · Senior

I love this guy's competitiveness, strength, speed and bounce. He will provide consistent inside pass pressure for New Orleans.

Desmond Ridder
Cincinnati · QB · Senior (RS)

Surprise! The Steelers have done their homework on this year's class, and opt for the high ceiling on this rising signal-caller. Yes, Kenny Pickett makes a ton of sense, but Ridder's overall athleticism really meshes with what OC Matt Canada wants to do on offense.

Andrew Booth
Clemson · CB · Junior

The more you watch him on tape, the more you like what you see. The Pats have lost Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson over the last two years, so this Clemson Tiger will be drafted to play right now.

Green Bay Packers
(from LV)
Jahan Dotson
Penn State · WR · Senior

Fast, fast, fast. Dotson improved his play each year at State College, capping his collegiate career with 91 catches last season. A huge added bonus is Dotson's beyond-his-years maturity, which will help him acclimate quicker with the Packers and all-world QB Aaron Rodgers.

Treylon Burks
Arkansas · WR · Junior

STRONG! Plays the game with force and can move around within any offensive scheme, creating splashy plays as a receiver and as a runner. Coach Kliff Kingsbury will start drawing up a package for him on draft night.

Kenyon Green
Texas A&M · IOL · Junior

The Cowboys' offensive identity has been dependent on their offensive line, and it's time for some reinforcements. Is Green the best pure guard prospect in this year's class? A case can definitely be made.

Kyler Gordon
Washington · CB · Junior (RS)

I've been a proponent of adding a WR here, but the secondary could use some assistance, too. Tre'Davious White is returning from a knee injury, and their is no clear-cut starter opposite him. Gordon's ability to make plays on the ball catches your eye on tape.

George Karlaftis
Purdue · Edge · Junior

The Titans really rebounded on defense in 2021 by getting their pass rush, led by Harold Landry, pumped up. They keep it going with Karlaftis, whose edge-pressure numbers in college were tremendous. I project him to improve his sack numbers along the way, similar to the way Landry has progressed.

Zion Johnson
Boston College · IOL · Senior

Tom Brady did not return to the Bucs to spend his time being harassed by inside pass rushers. Tampa lost two quality guards this offseason in Alex Cappa (free agency) and Pro Bowler Ali Marpet (retirement), so this BC Eagle (via Davidson) steps right in to protect TB12.

Trevor Penning
Northern Iowa · OT · Senior (RS)

The Packers, eager to improve their offensive line, are beyond fortunate this aggressive lineman is still available. In my estimation, Penning competes right away to start at right tackle, allowing Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins to slide back inside to guard and contend for All-Pro honors.

Kansas City Chiefs
(from SF through MIA)
Christian Watson
North Dakota State · WR · Senior (RS)

A willowy receiver with sub-4.4 speed, Watson helps replenish "Track Club KC" with WR Tyreek Hill now in Miami.

Boye Mafe
Minnesota · Edge · Senior (RS)

I am struck by his speed and athleticism. He reminds me a lot of Frank Clark. Mafe has untapped potential as an inside rusher in sub or nickel packages. I have to believe Kansas City is considering Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie here, too.

Kaiir Elam
Florida · CB · Junior

The Bengals rolled up their sleeves and went to work on improving their offensive line in the offseason. Their CBs played above expectations in 2021, so it's a good idea to add in a fast, physical CB with really good NFL bloodlines (both his father and uncle played in the league).

Detroit Lions
(from LAR)
Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh · QB · Senior (RS)

I just returned from a quick trip to Motown, and the vibe of the city was broken into two areas for me: Media types advocating for a QB, even at No. 2 overall; and the voice of the fans, who want a defender. I was lobbied hard to prepare a Post-it with the words "Malik Willis ... no matter what," but how about taking this record-breaking ACC champion? Pickett is the top-rated quarterback for many evaluators, and the Lions select him at No. 32, which has been a landing spot for QBs in recent years thanks to the fifth-year option.

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