Analysis

Seven-round NFL mock draft, Round 1: Building a win-now team from active players for 2022 season

Each April, I build a complete seven-round NFL mock draft that attempts to find homes for former college players in the pros based on their value, as well as the roster needs and schemes of their new teams.

But what if we instead used the mock draft concept to re-imagine the NFL landscape, allowing each team to build the foundation of a roster designed to win now. Which veterans would be the most coveted? Where might the top incoming rookies land?

This sort of mass redistribution of talent would obviously never happen. But with training camps still a few weeks away, let's have a little fun. This mock draft is simply one version of countless possible projections given players' expected value in 2022 -- and only 2022 -- and each team's current coaching staffs and front offices.

Before we get started, a few important notes:

  1. Teams are listed based on the first-round order from the 2022 NFL Draft, restoring traded away picks to the original holders.
  2. The subsequent rounds are "snaked" to distribute talent more evenly among the 32 franchises.
  3. No trades or compensatory selections were included.
  4. Because of the uncertainty surrounding his playing status for the upcoming season, Browns QB Deshaun Watson wasn't included.

The Jaguars pick the four-time MVP to start things off; he's still able to perform at the highest level, creating productive plays inside and outside the pocket.

This is a 2022-only deal, so any concerns about age are alleviated. The Lions could grab Brady for his leadership and ability to run an offense.

The Texans weren't able to land Mahomes in the 2017 draft, but now they select the incredibly talented and productive passer.

New York makes up for the mistake of drafting the more "pro-ready" Sam Darnold over the "toolsy" Allen in the 2018 draft.

Burrow is already a top-five quarterback. He would be drafted higher if this was not a 2022-only draft.

Herbert, who was selected one spot ahead of Carolina's top pick in the 2020 draft, has used his size and arm to make the top tier of NFL passers in just two years.

Eleven years after starring at Wisconsin, Wilson returns to the Midwest to give the Bears their long-awaited star QB.

Jackson is ultra-productive as a runner and his arm is dangerous when given time and strong targets.

Dak will be a steady influence at quarterback for the Broncos, much as the team expects offseason acquisition Russell Wilson to be in 2022.

Seattle becomes the first team to get off the quarterback train, picking the best defensive player in the league to wreak havoc as a pass rusher and run defender.

Murray's quickness outside the pocket and ability to stretch the field with his arm would endear him to Commanders fans.

The addition of Davante Adams for the real 2022 Raiders squad could push Carr up passer rankings this year, making this pick seem like a bargain.

Cleveland gets a solid veteran in Stafford, who proved he still has plenty left in the tank on his way to a Super Bowl win with the Rams. 

With the quarterback run over, the Ravens select the top skill-position player on the board in Adams.

Given the price the Dolphins just paid for Hill in real life, it's hard not to see them grabbing his speed and play-making ability at this point in the draft.

Garrett's power and speed make him the top edge rusher available for 2022.

The Chargers "steal" Ramsey from their SoFi Stadium partners in the first round, hoping he can lock down one side of the field like their real 2022 free-agent acquisition, J.C. Jackson.

Kupp can do it all, and the Saints have missed a true playmaker at the receiver position with Michael Thomas sidelined for all but seven games in the past two seasons.

Watt's generally known as a stand-up rusher but he's become quite adept at winning from a three-point stance. The Eagles should not pass on his value.

Williams will be 34 years old this season but will again be the top tackle in the league because of his excellent pass protection skills and dominating run blocking.

Bill Belichick can line up Parsons anywhere on the field: inside, outside, over the slot, off the ball. His supreme versatility and explosiveness are highly coveted.

The Raiders have a tough choice between all of the elite pass-catchers still on the board, but they take a downfield playmaker who is still on the rise.

I wouldn't argue with anyone who says Kelce is the top weapon at tight end in league history.

Bosa can be flat-out dominant when healthy, so the Cowboys start their defensive squad by bringing him to The Star.

Kittle is the league's top all-around tight end but his recent injury history drops him behind Kelce in this mock.

I mean, how can I put Henry on any other team? He's just too powerful for Mike Vrabel and Co. to pass on here, even after last season's foot injury.

Samuel might ask the Bucs not to use him as a runner too often as he tries to lengthen his career. They should be totally fine with that given his ability to make plays as a receiver.

Heyward is an older player at 33, but he will still be a strong defensive leader who makes his presence known no matter where the Packers slot him on the line.

The Niners switch Bosa brothers, losing out on Nick but grabbing Joey to chase after quarterbacks from a two- or three-point stance (as he did at Ohio State).

The Chiefs like speed, and Waddle has plenty. I can imagine general manager Brett Veach asking the Dolphins for Waddle in the Tyreek Hill trade, only to be turned down before the two sides eventually made the deal.

Taylor is a yardage-eating machine who sets the foundation for the Bengals' offense.

I love the idea of the Rams playing Jones at five-technique to utilize his rare combination of power and quickness.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter.

Related Content