National Football League
2022 NFL Mock Draft: Edge rushers, OTs own top 10, QBs fall back
National Football League

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Edge rushers, OTs own top 10, QBs fall back

Updated Apr. 28, 2022 5:28 p.m. ET

By Rob Rang
FOX Sports NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft enthusiasts, our holiday is finally here. 

The first round of every NFL Draft is filled with surprises, but this year will be an especially wild ride. Eight teams own two selections apiece among the top 32, which means eight teams control half of the first round. Never in the modern era of the NFL Draft have so few teams possessed such influence. 

Capping an offseason full of shocking developments, there are only two certainties this weekend. First, the selections (or trades) made by the "big fish" of this year’s draft will dictate the action. 


Just as importantly, the first 32 picks this year will serve as a reminder of where the "real football" is played.

The specific team-player fits might surprise, but the theme of the 2022 NFL Draft has been clear for months: Expect early runs on pass-rushers and offensive tackles, with the so-called "skill positions" taking a back seat. 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The buzz out of Jacksonville has the Jaguars split on this selection, with owner Shad Khan reportedly in favor of the "safer" Aidan Hutchinson and general manager Trent Baalke preferring the longer, more athletic Walker. NFL teams bank on traits over production all the time, and both Baalke and new coach Doug Pedersen have made bold moves throughout their careers. Walker is an exceptional talent, who, paired opposite Josh Allen, should provide the Jaguars with the bookend pass-rushers to transform the defense. 

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Lions have done their due diligence on the quarterbacks in this class, but it is difficult to imagine the club passing up a relatively sure thing such as this local product to gamble on one of this year’s passers. Not only does Hutchinson check off a huge area of need for the Lions, but he also plays with the intensity and physicality that coach Dan Campbell craves. 

3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Houston, the first of the eight teams with two picks in the opening round, has lots of options. While a playmaking defender would certainly be intriguing to defensive-minded head coach Lovie Smith, adding a tackle to pair (or push) incumbent starter Laremy Tunsil would make sense as the club builds around QB Davis Mills. Given Neal’s experience at multiple positions, long-term upside and reliability (the true junior was voted a team captain last year for the Tide), he seems too certain to pass up. 

4. New York Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State

When healthy, left tackle Mekhi Becton is one of the NFL’s better young left tackles. But he has struggled with durability, raising concerns about his long-term future with the club. Protecting the investment made in QB Zach Wilson has to be priority No. 1 in New York, and Ekwonu has the on- and off-field reliability that teams covet. 

5. New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

With first-round picks spent on quarterback (Daniel Jones), running back (Saquon Barkley), wide receiver (Kadarius Toney) and tight end (Evan Engram), the Giants have invested far too much in skill-position players to have scored an NFL-worst 22 touchdowns in 2021. Cross, just 21 years old, is already the cleanest pass-blocker of this class. Nabbing him here could allow the Giants to move Andrew Thomas to right tackle, where his burly frame and game would be better suited. 

6. PROJECTED TRADE: Minnesota Vikings (from Carolina Panthers): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Once he reminded NFL scouts of his pure athleticism with a heavily attended pro day workout, Stingley again became one of the hottest names in the draft. So much so that it is quite possible he is off the board by this pick. The Panthers are not likely to be interested in Stingley — given their talent at cornerback and their bigger needs on offense — especially considering this is their only pick until No. 137 overall. Minnesota has a big need at cornerback, and with Daronte Jones returning to the Vikings as cornerback coach after spending last year at LSU, he might be able to convince new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to make the bold move to acquire the dynamic cover corner. 

7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

While working together with the Buffalo Bills a year ago, Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen attacked the 2021 NFL Draft with early picks on edge rushers Greg Rousseau and Carlos Basham. Expect a similar approach from the Giants' new coach and GM with Johnson, who was the best player on the field at the Senior Bowl. 

8. Atlanta Falcons: Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Falcons finished dead last in the NFL in sacks in 2021, and it wasn’t close, as they took down opposing quarterbacks just 18 times in 17 games, with the Philadelphia Eagles next on the list with 29. With the top-rated edge rushers gone by this point, the Falcons should consider improving the defense by pivoting to the secondary, especially given the receiver talent in the NFC South. But don’t rule out Atlanta selecting a quarterback with this pick if Malik Willis is available. His big arm and value as a runner would seem an ideal match in Arthur Smith’s run-heavy attack.   

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

General manager John Schneider is well known for trading down to acquire more picks, but if a twitchy pass-rusher such as Thibodeaux is still on the board, it's hard to imagine the Seahawks passing up the opportunity to boost their beleaguered pass rush. Thibodeaux’s perceived "attitude" might turn off some coaches, but Pete Carroll has won championships while managing strong personalities at both the NFL and NCAA levels. 

10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

With four picks among the top 38 selections, the Jets don't necessarily have to take a wide receiver here. But it would be awfully tempting to provide their young quarterback with a dynamic talent such as Williams, who, if not for the torn ACL he suffered in the national championship game, would likely be a top-10 selection. The reports that New York offered the No. 4 overall selection to Seattle for DK Metcalf and was thought to be in on the conversations regarding Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams suggest that the club is willing to make a bold move to upgrade the receiving corps.

11. Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton, FS, Notre Dame 

One could make an argument that Washington has bigger needs than safety. But coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are as old-school as they come, and Hamilton has the range and playmaking ability to truly turn around this defense should the pass rush come together. At this point, Hamilton might be too good to pass up. 

12. PROJECTED TRADE: Carolina Panthers (from Minnesota Vikings): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah 

Speaking of too good to pass up and filling an "underrated" position of concern, while quarterback and the offensive line have dominated the talk for Carolina, nabbing a plug-and-play star at linebacker such as Lloyd while acquiring extra picks in a trade down would seemingly be a win-win scenario for the Panthers. 

13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns): Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

The Texans are rumored to be considering Stingley at No. 3 overall. The club could get more value by boosting the dependability of its offensive line first and then waiting to see which of the top cornerbacks and receivers are still available here. With McDuffie and WR Garrett Wilson still on the board in this projection, the gamble would certainly pay off. McDuffie isn’t quite as smooth as Stingley, but he proved far more dependable in his collegiate career and is easily the better open-field tackler — a requirement in Lovie Smith’s scheme. 

14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Longtime Ravens (and Browns) general manager Ozzie Newsome built a Hall of Fame career by landing falling stars on draft day. Amid questions about what kind of impact he can make against the quick passing attacks so popular in the NFL, Davis could land in Baltimore’s lap. GM Eric DeCosta has proven himself quite the talent scout in his own right and might see Davis as the next elite talent who fell in the draft.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

This would mark the third consecutive year in which Philadelphia invested a first-round pick in a receiver, with Wilson joining DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor. Wilson is quite similar to Smith in style — offering exceptional body control, sticky hands and playmaking speed. Given QB Jalen Hurts’ inconsistent accuracy, adding another security-blanket pass-catcher should not be questioned; it should be applauded. 

16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts through Philadelphia): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Saints are better equipped than most teams to handle the loss of a Pro Bowl left tackle in Terron Armstead. But with defensive-minded head coach Dennis Allen calling the shots now, the club is likely to focus on running the ball more. Adding a plug-and-play brawler such as Penning is too good a fit to ignore. 

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

The Chargers hit a home run a year ago with left tackle Rashawn Slater and could be tempted to do the same with a right tackle here, with Washington State’s Abraham Lucas a sleeper candidate for this selection. Given the arms race in the AFC West, however, adding an intimidating presence at free safety in the speedy and hard-hitting Cine certainly makes sense as well.  

18. Philadelphia (through New Orleans): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The Eagles already have one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks in Darius Slay, but finding a confident and composed athlete to star opposite him is difficult. Used to high expectations after playing college ball for a perennial title contender, Booth offers the intangibles for the position. He’s also a smooth athlete who plays the run with the same commitment as the pass and flashes extraordinary ball skills to punish the quarterbacks who will no doubt attempt to pick on him early in his career. 

19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Saints reportedly considered trading for Brandin Cooks, their 2014 first-round pick, but the Texans elected to extend his contract. Possessing a similar brand of elite speed, Olave would seem like an ideal consolation prize.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

With GM Kevin Colbert soon following Ben Roethlisberger into retirement, it seems logical for Pittsburgh to use the final first-round pick of Colbert's stellar career on a potential long-term solution at quarterback — especially if the club doesn’t have to trade up to nab him. Sure, Willis needs some time to develop, but his arm and athleticism would pair nicely with the Steelers’ young talent. And his humble, competitive nature would fit just as well in blue-collar Pittsburgh. 

21. New England Patriots: Dax Hill, FS, Michigan

On paper, linebacker is a greater concern for the Patriots, so no one should be surprised if the club goes in that direction with several talented candidates available. But there's not another defensive back in this class who offers Hill’s versatility as a nickel corner and safety. Bill Belichick has always prioritized smart, speedy defensive backs, and that need might be even more critical, given the dynamic offenses sprouting up throughout the AFC East. 

22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders): Drake London, WR, USC

To be clear, London is not in the same class as Davante Adams when it comes to route-running. However, he is spectacular with the ball in the air, using his size, physicality and body control to dominate in the red zone. Pairing him with a quarterback with Aaron Rodgers’ uncanny accuracy at this point in the draft is almost like stealing. 

23. Arizona Cardinals: Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota 

The Cardinals have consistently gambled on unique traits throughout Steve Keim’s run as general manager, and it is easy to get excited about Mafe’s potential. Long-armed, explosive off the ball and possessing a high-revving motor, Mafe could be the perfect candidate to fill the big shoes of Chandler Jones

24. Dallas Cowboys: Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M

While Green won’t make the kind of immediate impact that LB Micah Parsons did for the Cowboys a year ago, Dallas should be ecstatic if this versatile bulldozer is still on the board. Asked to play all over the line for Texas A&M, Green’s stock took a hit in 2021 — at least in the eyes of the media. Scouts recognize his blend of size, strength and agility, however, and given the growing holes up front in Dallas, the local product would likely step into a starting role. 

25. Buffalo Bills: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

Just imagine how much more potent an already explosive Bills offense might be with a true bell-cow running back such as Hall to support Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. Hall is a rare back well worth a first-round pick, and despite what critics suggest, NFL teams continue to select them. At least one running back has been taken in the first round the past seven years.

26. Tennessee Titans: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College

While it's possible that Tennessee selects a quarterback here to push incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill, addressing an increasingly porous offensive line might be the smarter call — especially if a plug-and-play talent such as Johnson is still on the board. 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

With Tom Brady getting (most of) the band back together again in Tampa, the Bucs remain in win-now mode. They are likely to look at this year’s first round just like they did last spring, when they nabbed gifted young pass-rusher Joe Tyron-Shoyinka to rebuild an aging defensive line. As unblockable as Vita Vea can be, complementing him with a penetrating and high-motor 3-technique such as Wyatt would boost an already strong unit. 

28. Green Bay Packers: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

It's tempting to give the Packers one of the speedy linebackers here, but the depth at the position extends deep into Day 2. That will not likely be the case for pass-rushers. Also, Rashan Gary’s contract is set to double after next season should Green Bay pick up his fifth-year option. Karlaftis isn’t the same caliber of athlete as Gary (or Preston Smith), but he’s smart, tough and simply too good of a player to slip much further. 

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers through Miami): Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Fans in Kansas City are going to be clamoring for a pass-catcher to replace Tyreek Hill. While I love the idea of matching Patrick Mahomes with a vertical threat such as Penn State’s Jahan Dotson, pass-rushers are just more important in today’s game. The Chiefs could opt for Dotson’s former teammate Ebiketie, whose electric first step and bend off the edge might be the perfect complement to veterans Frank Clark and Chris Jones.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

I’m not at all convinced that KC GM Brett Veach will keep this pick. There could be plenty of clubs eager to trade into the latter portion of the first round for a quarterback. If the Chiefs remains here, however, adding a cornerback would make a lot of sense, as the loss of free agent Charvarius Ward to the 49ers was significant. Gordon is as twitched-up as they come and just scratching the surface of his potential.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa 

Much to the delight of Bengals fans (and likely Joe Burrow), Cincinnati has fortified its offensive line this offseason. Still, it is difficult to imagine the club passing on a ready-made talent such as Linderbaum if he falls into their lap. 

32. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Whether it's Detroit or another team moving up, I expect this pick to be spent on a quarterback due to the fifth-year option on contracts for players selected in the first round. One of the biggest concerns with Pickett — namely, his small hands — would be somewhat mitigated by playing inside in Ford Field, and he might very well be an upgrade over Jared Goff immediately.

One of the most recognized names in the industry, Rob Rang has been covering the NFL Draft for more than 20 years, with work at FOX, Sports Illustrated,, USA Today, Yahoo, and, among others.


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