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2022 NFL Mock Draft - Josh Norris, v1

Apr 5th 2022

Josh Norris

You aren't going to create the greatest Mock Draft of All Time by copying someone else's picks. And the key to creating the most accurate score of all time? Nailing the top 10, then finding "random" player and team fits from pick No. 16 on.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Baalke likes to build in trenches. Entering the offseason, this selection was going to be on the edge: either an offensive tackle or pass rusher. Then free agency dictated this pick with the Cam Robinson franchise tag, and second-year Walker Little and contract-year Jawaan Taylor to battle it out at right tackle. We have seen franchise tags be pulled in the past (see Josh Norman) so that’s a very, very minimal possibility here to leave the light on for an OT pick… but Htchinson, or even Travon Walker, is a more natural fit.

2. Detroit Lions - QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Travon Walker is the easy projection here. It might eventually be the correct one. But put yourself in the shoes of a decision maker - how often will you have the opportunity to draft the top QB on your board? No team plans to draft in the Top 2 again, especially a coaching staff full of former players. Can you kick the future QB can down the road again? This is your chance - nail the evaluation.

Very respected people in draft media have basically scoffed at the idea of Willis in the Top 5. Daniel Jeremiah, Dane Brugler and Lance Zierlein. They might be right! Just remember the entire football community (except for a select few) felt it was a foregone conclusion that Mac Jones would be the 49ers’ pick at No. 3 last season. Until April 19.

3. Houston Texans - OL Ikem Ekwonu, NC State

This roster sucks, and it might get even worse if the team deals away Brandin Cooks and eventually Laremy Tunsil. Who does Nick Caserio want to build around? Because with the perceived, yet unfortunate, timeline of Lovie Smith’s future as the Texans’ long term coach, Caserio seems to be the decision maker with lasting power.

Nick Caserio has it in his contract that he has final word on personnel decisions.

Possessing two first-round picks, if the Texans hope to add two pillar pieces at two cornerstone positions, they must ask themselves which type of talent is likelier to get at each point of the draft: pass rusher and offensive line. Safety is a glaring need with few on the roster, but I don’t envision the team balking at the positional value differences.

4. New York Jets - EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

To take a peek into Joe Douglas’ process, you need to track the type of names the Jets were connected to during free agency: Chandler Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and Tyreek Hill. A premiere pass rusher and three receivers who could be considered No. 1s. It makes sense, the rest of their moves were solid yet unspectacular. On paper the Jets need a starting outside corner - but Saleh’s defense has historically pushed that position down the pecking order. With Carl Lawson missing his entire first season on the team due to injury, pairing him with a top end athletic pass rusher could be the continuation of building up the Jets’ defense in a similar fashion to how the 49ers’ was constructed.

5. New York Giants - OL Charles Cross, Miss State

Pass on CB because they know Carolina won’t take one in the following pick. Brain Daboll has joked with media members that they should try out for OL spots on the roster. John Mara has specifically pointed to that front five being an imperative change in order for the team’s success to take the next step. Joe Schoen and Daboll saw a tidal wave of blockers come through Buffalo that helped stabilize not only the quarterback, but the entire offense.

This is not to replace Andrew Thomas, this is a true right tackle play. And the Giants reportedly requested Cross work on the right side during his pro day.

6. Carolina Panthers - OL Evan Neal, Alabama

I don’t totally buy the Panthers being all-in on this QB class. I’d phrase it this way - the Panthers want to be floored by a prospect in the 2022 NFL draft. Can one exceed their evaluations of Mac Jones and Justin Fields from last year, the two names they passed on in the Top 10? Or have they become so desperate that they are totally altering plans they acted on in the previous years and instead saying “rookie quarterback, no matter what.”

If one does not wow them, expect to see another veteran added during draft weekend. Jimmy Garoppolo is still recovering from shoulder surgery. I know it was reported that Baker Mayfield and the Panthers have “mutual disinterest”... I would not fully rule that out yet. Desperate measures, and anyone but Sam.

7. New York Giants (via CHI) - CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati

Wink Martindale’s defense is built on corners that can hold up and win in isolation, then generating pressure with athletes and big bodies up front. Just look at how the Ravens’ defense fell apart last season without Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and others. James Bradberry’s future in New York is questionable due to his contract and the Giants’ cap constraints.

8. Atlanta Falcons - iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia

I simply cannot see a 1 of 1 makeup and athlete making it out of the top 10. The Falcons arguably took one in a similar spot last season in Kyle Pitts. I understand snaps played for Jordan Davis, but I’m of the opinion that Georgia’s defense was loaded with more talent than few we have ever seen, and it was only smart to rotate 5-star recruits for 5-star recruits. The Falcons defense has been Grady Jarett and AJ Terrell for far too long.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - CB Derek Stingley, LSU

When you hear Stingley’s name, the No. 1 statement is how special his first year was. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have not been scared to invest draft picks on injured players who previously showed an incredibly high peak, although none of those were in the Top 10. Regardless, JS/PC love players who have battled through adversity, and at a premium position this connection simply makes sense.

10. New York Jets (via SEA) - WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Jets beat writer Connor Hughes suggested that the team believes they are a piece away on offense. Hence the pursuit of Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and finally Tyreek Hill. The Hill offer was accepted for two second-round picks, Ridley likely would not have cost a first round pick and we know Amari went for much less… so does this mean they do not want to invest a first round pick into the position? Let’s proceed as if they do.

Now, that type of WR stands out to me: separation and downfield acumen. Not specifically the contested catch type that Wilson had his most success with at BYU. Could that be reading into style too much? Possibly, as maybe it was more related to proven NFL talents, and those were the names available.

Treylon Burks certainly fits the YAC component associated with Kyle Shanahan, the man Mike LaFleur coached under. Drake London fits the contested catch style - and more. But separation translates, and I’ll focus on more of the downfield ability with other players being able to win underneath. Wilson can do it all, win downfield or win in isolation.

11. Washington Commanders - WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The people making personnel decisions in Washington have displayed their process for years and years in the NFL: Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney. During their time together in Carolina, Rob Rivera only attended three non-NC Pro Days: 2011 Auburn (Cam Newton), 2011 LSU (Patrick Peterson) and 2017 Stanford (Christian McCaffrey).

Make that four, as Rivera and Hurney were all over the Ohio State WRs on March 23. The head coach only travels if he has real, real interest in the prospect - and both pass catchers would fit where the Commanders want to get to.

12. Minnesota Vikings - EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Friend of the show ClevTA does an outstanding job filtering out prospects that the Browns will be interested in with a first round pick based on athleticism, production and age. Consider them thresholds. In this case, I am assuming Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will transfer those principles after working under Andrew Berry until proven otherwise. The Vikings just brought in Za’Darius Smith, but expect Kwesi to focus first on trading back, then on premium positions: QB, LT, WR, EDGE and CB.

13. Houston Texans (via CLE) - EDGE Jermaine Johnson, FSU

As discussed with pick No. 3, OL and pass rusher appear to be the Texans’ biggest needs (of many) in the top 15. There will be a run at both positions.

14. Baltimore Ravens - EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

The Ravens agreeing to a deal with Za’Darius Smith, before the pass rusher switched to the Vikings, indicates they are hoping to add a heavy investment at the position. It only helps that George Karlaftis’ frame is very similar.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA) - WR Drake London, USC

The Eagles being very close to a deal for Calvin Ridley prior to the WR’s suspension shows they want a top pass catcher to pair with DeVonta Smith. Howie Roseman also has not been afraid to invest in big bodies at the position - see Alshon Jeffery and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. But do not mention JJaw’s name with Drake London… the latter is a far superior prospect.

16. New Orleans Saints (via PHI, IND) - OL Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

The Saints trade is an interesting one. They obviously feel the core of a winning team is there, which is why coaches were simply promoted and a new voice was not brought in after Sean Payton’s retirement. This front office is not afraid to make draft trades, see sending a future first to move up for Marcus Davenport and many other movies.

We have also seen organizations make a small jump and require more picks, before making a much larger jump into the top 10 for a quarterback. The Eagles did this for Carson Wentz. The Bills did this for Josh Allen. So potentially that is in the cards.

17. Los Angeles Chargers - WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Right tackle is an obvious weak point for the Chargers after they plugged holes on the defensive side in free agency. But so is a vertical burner. Mike Williams is the team’s only real downfield threat, and Jameson Williams would add another dimension to this Chargers offense with throws that only Justin Herbert can make from the opposite hash. Make a strength stronger.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO) - S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

I know Devin Lloyd is still on the board, but Howie Roseman has never spent significant draft capital at the position. Although maybe if he did, it would allow the defense to be a bit more multiple. The Eagles could add another pass rusher with an aging Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett returning on a one year deal. I elect to go with Hamilton, who is likely further down this projection than many others. No real reason, it could be very different next time!

19. New Orleans Saints (via PHI) - WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan

As soon as the first wide receiver is selected, a run will happen. You might laugh at Skyy Moore in the first round, or even ahead of Treylon Burks, but just remember the position specific order we think is set in stone in early April rarely results in that way. Moore is young, productive, incredibly athletic, can move inside and out, and has fantastic release to generate immediate separation.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - iDL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Quarterback has been a common link to the Steelers, and when they have a target player, they are aggressive (Devin Bush, top 10 trade). If they stick here, adding an athletic disruptor from a top program who helps settle a need would also make a ton of sense.

21. New England Patriots - iOL Zion Johnson, Boston College

Guard, LB, WR and Corner appear to be the four likeliest positions for the Patriots to target in round one. The shocking trade of Shaq Mason leaves a clear void at one guard spot, even with Michael Onwenu filling the other.

22. Green Bay Packers (via LV) - WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Davante Adams saw the fourth most screen targets last season. We know his importance in the Packers’ RPO concepts as well. I’m not saying Burks will only succeed after the catch in the NFL, but it is the trait that should easily translate from the jump thanks to the short and manufactured touches he saw while at Arkansas. There’s likely plenty to build on down the field as well, but for now split half of what Adams did and put it on Burks’ plate.

23. Arizona Cardinals - CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

For all of the goodwill they generated at the start of last season, the Cardinals currently have plenty of roster needs. And outside receiver opposite DeAndre Hopkins is one. A long term starting right guard is another. An edge rusher to replace Chandler Jones. But if they do not heavily invest in corner again, it would be the second straight offseason of punting the position… while facing the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks six times per season. Elam had a really fun game against Jameson Williams, pressing and staying physical.

24. Dallas Cowboys - OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Another team with a clear wide receiver need, but keeping the offensive line as one of the team’s better units should remain a priority. Green has starts at RG, LG and LT under his belt… just from last season.

25. Buffalo Bills - RB Breece Hall, Iowa State

I buy into the Bills wanting an explosive running back. They wer linked with Travis Etienne prior to last year’s draft. They attempted to sign JD McKissic. I even heard of their interest and love from Alvin Kamara prior to the former Vol entering the NFL. It’s a clear way to continue to help the offense take the next step. Hall’s second level vision and speed create big plays many other running backs cannot achieve.

26. Tennessee Titans - OL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

Rodger Saffold was such a key member of the Titans’ offensive line. For building the offense around play action, the running game, and big plays for AJ Brown… the Titans could do much better with their OL evaluations. Robert Woods theoretically helps as an edge blocker, but people like Brandon Thorn believe Linderbaum could be a true anchor for any front five.

27. Tampa Bay Bucs - DL Travis Jones, UConn

I always fall in love with interior disruptors who might not have the best raw sack totals. That’s Travis Jones, who would be a force lining up next to Vita Vea and help the Bucs create more interior chaos.

28. Green Bay Packers - WR Christian Watson, NDSU

Yes, a wide receiver double dip. If a team trades away the receiver their passing game was built around, adding two pass catchers who can thrive after the catch is an intriguing response, possibly similar to the traits Kyle Shanahan prioritizes in SF. Watson’s evaluation is kind of similar to DJ Moore in that everything is a bit rounded, but the big plays are really intriguing. At the very least he has vertical speed and will threaten defenses there by simply being a superior athlete.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (via MIA) - CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

I wonder if teams will pass on McDuffie in the top 15 or 20 due to arm length checking in below 30-inches despite playing nearly 80% of his snaps on the outside. Feels like a guy Spags will know how to utilize.

30. Kansas City Chiefs - EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

This feels like the last year of Frank Clark in Kansas City, and the team still needs to replace the juice that Melvin Ingram brought in his shortened stint with the team.

31. Cincinnati Bengals - LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

This is uncharted territory for the Bengals, who have revamped their offensive line this offseason. Corner and defensive line look to be priorities, but Devin Lloyd needs to fit in round one somewhere. Logan Wilson is a player the Bengals will continue to build with.

32. Detroit Lions (via LAR) - DB Daxton Hill, Michigan

A do it all defensive back who played closer to the line of scrimmage in college, but might have his best success as a rangy player in the back half.