2022 NFL Mock Draft: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Denver double up in Round 1

We’re officially past Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, and the Mock Draft Simulator wants to weigh in on the action. Here’s our latest MDS 2022 NFL Mock Draft. What does this simulation entail, and how do we view these NFL Draft picks after the year’s first in-game action?

Editor’s note: This draft order is based on Vegas season-long win totals.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

Who goes off the board across picks 1-16 in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft?

1) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Maybe Houston doesn’t need a quarterback. Maybe Tyrod Taylor is the future. Jokes aside, the Texans have enough needs to go straight best player available here, and Kayvon Thibodeaux is near the top of that list. He’s long, explosive, powerful, and a game-breaker in waiting on the defensive line.

2) Detroit Lions: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The MDS has a need for speed in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, taking Chris Olave with the Lions at second overall. The Lions probably shouldn’t put the cart before the horse and put off selecting a new quarterback. That said, any QB is going to have a tough time without weapons. Olave gives Detroit a great technician who doubles as a dangerous speed threat.

3) Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

It seems as though the Jaguars have settled down at cornerback, but the C.J. Henderson trade rumors were too prevalent to ignore. The Jaguars could follow through with trading Henderson if they drafted Derek Stingley Jr. Stingley immediately fills the boundary void opposite Shaquill Griffin.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Aside from interior defensive linemen, the New York Jets don’t have much established talent on their defensive roster. Thus, picking the best defensive player makes a lot of sense in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Kyle Hamilton qualifies. He has the range, playmaking ability, and versatility to be Robert Saleh’s X-factor.

5) Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Bengals are 1-0 for the time being, and Ja’Marr Chase was a big part of that. So they don’t have to listen to people say they should have picked a tackle anymore. Still, improving the position should be near the top of their list next year. If they can pick Evan Neal — a burly, athletic tackle with dominant potential — they should. Simple as that.

6) Carolina Panthers: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

This is an interesting pick from the MDS, but honestly, I love the fit. Draft order aside, let’s assume Sam Darnold keeps playing well. Continuing to build up the defense is one of the next items on Carolina’s list. DeMarvin Leal carries on the theme of adding athleticism at every level. He can play on the interior or the edge opposite Brian Burns.

7) Philadelphia Eagles: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

As good as his Week 1 was, it appears as though the MDS still isn’t sold on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. The first quarterback goes off the board here at the seventh overall pick. Spencer Rattler isn’t a perfect prospect; he has to be consistent with his mechanics and decision-making. But he has the high-level arm talent that Hurts lacks.

8) Washington Football Team (from Las Vegas): Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

And just like that, we have our second quarterback off the board. This time, it’s Washington trading up with the Raiders to take North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. Howell doesn’t quite have elite physical traits. Nevertheless, he has a strong arm, a gritty disposition, and a drive to keep fighting that would win over a coach like Ron Rivera.

9) New York Giants: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

The Giants got a good one in Azeez Ojulari, who already has a sack and a tackle for loss in his first NFL action. Here, they get a great complement for him in Drake Jackson. Jackson’s motor runs hot and cold from time to time, but the USC edge rusher has undeniable talent. He’s explosive, flexible, and a high-energy catalyst when he’s on his game.

10) Minnesota Vikings (from Atlanta): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Given Rick Spielman’s draft tendencies, Minnesota should be trading up for a cornerback here on approximately 84% of our simulations. But in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the trade up is for an edge rusher instead. George Karlaftis has top-10 pick potential. He’s a great athlete at 6’4″, 275 pounds, with imposing power and impact potential.

11) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The MDS is a program of culture — or maybe just common sense. Everyone except the Giants knows the Giants need offensive line help. If they’re going to roll with Daniel Jones long-term, they need to protect him, and this pick does a great job of achieving that. Kenyon Green can play tackle, but he projects better on the interior.

12) Las Vegas Raiders (from Washington): Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Raiders managed to get a few picks in a trade down and then bolster their defense by selecting Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The MDS likes Sauce, and so do we. Gardner is a long, fluid cornerback who has genuine playmaking ability and alertness in coverage. Opposite Trayvon Mullen, he can be a steady player with high upside.

13) Arizona Cardinals: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Byron Murphy brand, all of a sudden, is strong again after Murphy put the clamps on Julio Jones in Week 1, putting up 3 pass deflections. Arizona still needs more cornerback help outside of Murphy, though, and Kaiir Elam falls into that category. Elam is another long cornerback, but he offers high-end explosiveness, fluidity, and ball skills.

14) Pittsburgh Steelers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The MDS probably just saw Chase Claypool on Pittsburgh’s roster and wanted to pair him with a similarly freaky athletic specimen in Treylon Burks. I can’t really say I’m against that, to be honest. Burks has great speed for his 6’3″, 225-pound frame, but he also has the length and body control to be great in contested situations.

15) Denver Broncos: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

The Broncos have few holes, and one could argue that linebacker is set for the short-term. Nevertheless, the MDS favors constant improvement, and this 2022 NFL Mock Draft selection is made with that in mind. Christian Harris is a twitchy, explosive athlete. He’s shown growth reading his keys this year, and he could be LB1 next April.

16) Atlanta Falcons (from Minnesota): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The Falcons traded back from the 10th overall pick, only to get an arguable top-10 prospect at 16th. Andrew Booth Jr. has insane athleticism, which shows up in both the lateral and vertical phase. In coverage, he’s sticky and twitchy. And when passes come his way, he’s incredibly instinctive making plays on the football.

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