It’s the first Saturday of October. The golden orange and brown leaves gently float through the air outside. The sweet aroma of pumpkin candles and a fresh pot of coffee tickle your nose. Then, it hits you. The 2022 NFL Draft is only six months away. You grab your device, coffee, and a warm blanket and rush to the chair/couch in your house — you know the one. You open your device, search ProFootballNetwork.com, and your screen is graced with our newest 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Well, I won’t keep you any longer. Let’s jump in our DeLoreans and Mc-Fly straight into it!
2022 NFL Mock Draft | 1-16
The way I see it — if you’re going to write a way-too-early 2022 NFL Mock Draft, why not do it with some style?
1) Detriot Lions: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Jared Goff has flashed some of the tools that made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, but we all know he isn’t the future. Malik Willis can be the engine that makes Motor City run. From electric rushing ability to a cannon for a right arm, he has it all. Willis has even cut down on the head-scratching decisions that plagued his 2020 tape.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars have young talent littered throughout their roster, but the offensive line needs attention. Jacksonville will want to protect the face of the franchise in Trevor Lawrence as he continues progressing. There is no better way to accomplish that than by sticking an immovable object at his blindside. Evan Neal is a physical anomaly, but he isn’t the only one in this draft.
3) New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux was unblockable against Fresno State in Week 1 before leaving with an injury. In all honesty, he doesn’t have to see the field again in 2021 to be the pick here. New York’s biggest need is along the offensive line, but you don’t pass up a player of Thibodeaux’s caliber.
4) Houston Texans: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
Yes, Spencer Rattler hasn’t looked all that great this season. Nevertheless, the talent is still there. And if anyone is going to survive the toxic wasteland that is the Houston Texans, it is Rattler. He exudes arm talent, and his ability off-script is unrivaled. The tools are there, and while I don’t trust the Texans to get the most out of him right away, Rattler would instantly make them entertaining.
5) Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Although Thibodeaux plays the more valuable position, Kyle Hamilton is the best pure prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Falcons fill a need while also selecting the best player available (BPA) — win-win. Hamilton’s ability to impact the game at every level and in every phase is what makes him the No. 1 player on PFN’s Big Board.
6) New York Giants: Kenyon Green, OT, Texas A&M
I’m not sure the Giants will stick with Daniel Jones as their signal-caller for much longer, but let’s say they give him one more year. The Giants’ OL play has been tough to watch, especially with injuries testing their depth. Insert Kenyon Green, who has experience at guard and tackle. His athleticism and play in space translate to the bookends, but he can excel at guard if/when needed.
7) Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
This may be seen as a bit of a slide to some and a reach to others. To me, it is just right. Derek Stingley Jr. has been the surefire cornerback prospect since his true freshman season in 2019. Injuries and the pandemic marred his true sophomore campaign, and he opened 2021 with an ugly missed tackle against UCLA. Yet, he’s shut down opponents since, and his length, click-and-close prowess, and agility have not left him.
8) New York Giants (via CHI): Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
After flashing early in his collegiate career, Aidan Hutchinson has finally pieced it all together. And it is a marvelous sight to behold. The Ann Arbor Annihilator has demolished his competition this season and single-handedly dropped Washington’s Jaxson Kirkland down draft boards.
9) Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
November 6 — mark your calendars. Malik Willis and Liberty travel to Mississippi to take on Matt Corral and Co. While Willis is my current QB1, the discussion is fluid, and Corral has played himself into it. He’s completed 68.8% of his passes for 997 yards and 9 touchdowns in three games. Oh, and he has 158 yards and 5 more scores on the ground. Hotty Toddy!
Following a horrendous season opener against Virginia Tech, Sam Howell has lit up opposing defenses. We knew his production would take a massive hit after he lost his top two receivers — Dazz Newsome and Dyami Brown — and top two running backs (Javonte Williams and Michael Carter). Yet, he is still putting up numbers. Whoever selects Howell will need to tap into his deep ball as that is his best attribute.
11) Indianapolis Colts: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Indianapolis’ offensive line has been tragic this season. Carson Wentz hasn’t helped matters, and missing Braden Smith and Quenton Nelson is a huge blow. Still, Eric Fisher and Julién Davenport have been turnstiles at left tackle. As a result, the Colts select Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The 6’7″, 340-pound mauler would instantly help form one of the best LT-LG combos in the NFL — though, to be fair, anyone paired with Nelson would earn consideration.
12) Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The CB1 conversation is far from over. Stingley owns the throne, but Kaiir Elam is not far behind. He proved his mettle against Alabama in Week 3 and is a lock for the first round. The only question is, how high will Elam go?
13) Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Clemson has struggled mightily this year, and Andrew Booth Jr. has not been immune. After putting on a show against Georgia in Week 1, he is coming off a rough outing against NC State. Yet, Booth has all the physical tools to be a top cornerback prospect. If he continues to allow yardage, expect Booth to fall down 2022 NFL mock drafts just a bit.
14) Pittsburgh Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
Ben Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer, but it is time to hang it up. He is throwing the ball at the quickest rate once again, and he isn’t pressuring defenses downfield. Do you know who will? Carson Strong. The young man from Reno, Nevada, has an intercontinental ballistic missile for a right arm, but he needs to prove that he can work through his reads and under pressure.
15) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers are currently 3-0. What a time to be alive. While that undefeated record will not last — their first loss could come against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4 — the Panthers have a good roster. So, where do they need the most help? The offensive line. Only Taylor Moton, and to a lesser degree Matt Paradis, has looked solid in 2021. The NFL will want to pigeonhole Ikem Ekwonu … sorry … “The Pancake King” as a guard, but he deserves a shot at tackle. If he fails, you still get an elite interior lineman.
16) Las Vegas Raiders: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Speaking of surprises, say hello to the 2021 Las Vegas Raiders. Derek Carr and the offense have carried this team on their back. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock quit getting cute and simply go BPA in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. In DeMarvin Leal, they bring in a player who can dominate from any alignment along the D-line.