2022 NFL Mock Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux, defense overwhelms the top 10 selections

We have all heard the phrase, “it’s never too early for an NFL Mock Draft.” To be honest, it very much is. However, that does not mean we can’t glean information on 2022 NFL Draft prospects that will be playing on Saturdays. Using the PFN Mock Draft Simulator, we took Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft for a ride.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16

The draft order was determined by the current Las Vegas odds on the 2021 NFL standings.

1. Houston Texans: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Like the Jaguars and Jets in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Texans and Lions seem destined to select QBs at No. 1 and 2 this year. However, unlike the 2021 class, there is no clear-cut QB1 in 2022. Still, without the meteoric rise of an unknown prospect similar to Joe Burrow and Zach Wilson, the first two picks will consist of Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the PFN Mock Draft Simulator has the Texans favoring the North Carolina product.

2. Detroit Lions: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Even if you are the biggest Jared Goff supporter, things did not go well with him under center if the Lions earn the second-overall pick. Detriot’s offseason seems geared towards building the roster around their quarterback of the future. Spencer Rattler is exceptional outside of the pocket and demonstrated immense progression late last season. He will need to continue to improve in 2021, but he will push Howell for the QB1 throne if he does.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The Jaguars already have first-round picks Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson on the edge, but they are in a unique position. With Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer at the helm, Jacksonville needs to turn their attention to the defense. With every defensive player at their disposal, why not select the best of the bunch? Kayvon Thibodeaux is not mechanically refined like Chase Young or the Bosa brothers, but his physical skill set will cause nightmares for opposing QBs.

4. New York Jets: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

This 2022 NFL Mock Draft selection may surprise some, but Kaiir Elam should be considered in the CB1 conversation. Yes, Derek Stingley put on a show as a true freshman, but he faltered last year. While Elam does not receive the same recognition that comes with being on a national championship-winning squad, he can shut down receivers as frequently as anyone else in the class.

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Bengals passed on Penei Sewell in 2021 in favor of adding Burrow’s favorite collegiate weapon, Ja’Marr Chase. In 2022, they finally address the elephant in the room and provide Burrow with much-needed protection upfront. Evan Neal can start at right tackle in Year 1 and anchor the bookends with left tackle Jonah Williams for years to come. Burrow having time to throw to Tyler Boyd, Chase, and Tee Higgins is a scary proposition for the rest of the league.

6. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Derek Stingley‘s “fall” ends here as the Eagles finally draft an elite cornerback. Assuming Darius Slay maintains his ability on the outside, he and Stingley instantly create one of the best CB duos in the NFL. The SS (Slay and Stingley) Philadelphia would leave the port and sink any ship, or in this case receiver, that enter their vicinity.

7. New York Giants: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

If the Giants are picking seventh overall, the Daniel Jones experiment failed for likely the last time. However, with the sure-fire QBs off the board, PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator has the G-Men acquiring a top-tier edge defender. Drake Jackson can play the edge, kick inside, stop the run, and rush the passer. What more could you ask for from a top-10 pick?

8. Atlanta Falcons: George Karlaftis III, EDGE, Purdue

The Falcons have been searching for a dominant edge rusher since…John Abraham? Regardless, they find their man in Purdue’s George Karlaftis. The Greece-born defensive end stands at 6’4″ and 275 pounds. After missing time due to injury and COVID-19 in 2020, expect GK3 to terrorize the ACC this year.

9. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

A safety in the top 10? Normally, the value would be questionable, but Kyle Hamilton is no ordinary safety. His instincts alone make him worthy of a top-10 pick. At 6’4″ and 219 pounds, Hamilton is a physical specimen with the height/weight/speed combination that makes defensive coordinators salivate. Furthermore, Hamilton causes offenses to gameplan for him. Former Alabama QB Mac Jones had this to say about the Notre Dame safety before their playoff bout last year:

“It’s almost like an Ed Reed-type person where you have to find him every play. You’ve got to know where he is because he can really, like, ruin a play for you if you’re not finding that player.”

10. New York Giants (via Chicago): Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

With two selections in the first 10 picks of this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Giants double-dip in the defensive player pool. This time, they draft Alabama linebacker Christian Harris. Outside of Blake Martinez, New York’s linebacking corps is suspect. Adding Harris brings a physical presence in the heart of the defense that has been missing for some time.

11. Denver Broncos: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

The Broncos should consider a quarterback here. Yet, if Lock flashed just enough for the organization to give him another year, DeMarvin Leal is quite the second option. The Broncos strengthen a strength by adding to their already vaunted defense. With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on the outside, Leal can press the pocket from the middle, giving his outside counterparts plenty of opportunities to rack up sacks.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It has only been one year, but Henry Ruggs III showed little to nothing as a rookie. Even if he explodes in Year 2, the Raiders need more receiving weapons outside of tight end Darren Waller. As a result, the PFN Mock Draft Simulator has Las Vegas selecting Garrett Wilson, hailing from the tutelage of Brian Hartline at Ohio State. Although some may prefer fellow Buckeye receiver Chris Olave, Wilson has superior athletic traits that could propel him to WR1 status.

13. Tennessee Titans (via Arizona): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Arizona trades back with Tennessee to gain draft capital in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. A.J. Brown is an elite receiver, and Julio Jones still has gas left in the tank. However, Jones won’t play to an elite level forever, and outside of those two WRs, the Titans have little depth. Thus, Tennessee spends big to draft Brown’s co-star for years to come in the big-bodied Treylon Burks.

14. Washington Football Team: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

The Washington offensive line is average at best. The entire left side could use a changing of the guard entering the 2022 NFL season. They already selected left tackle Samuel Cosmi in 2021, so why not pair him with possibly the best guard in the nation in Kenyon Green? Green is the definition of a mauler and would provide Antonio Gibson all the rushing lanes he could wish for.

15. Minnesota Vikings: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Charles Cross is a very lean-framed offensive tackle. With Christian Darrisaw slotted as the starting left tackle and Brian O’Neill entering his fourth year at right tackle, Cross may need to begin his career at guard. However, the Vikings may opt to let O’Neill hit free agency if they are unhappy with his play during the year. If that happens, Cross would presumably stay at tackle and hopefully provide stability on the edges with Darrisaw.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (via Los Angeles Chargers): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Four picks later, Chris Olave follows teammate Garrett Wilson to the NFL. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, the Chiefs knew they needed to address the receiving corps. Rather than waiting for the board to fall to pick 32, they decide to jump up and trade with the divisional rival Chargers. Not only does Patrick Mahomes get an elite route runner to throw to, but Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will have less pressure on them as they advance in age.

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