Nyan’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft

Last minute (7:37 PM EST ) … but just in time ! Let’s see how well we read the tea leaves this year !

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker 

The tide has been leaning this way for a while. Took mainstream media a little while but there were some insiders calling this about 3-4 weeks ago. It always made more sense to me considering Trent Baalke’s background, and the type of aggressive, blitzing scheme that Mike Caldwell is bringing over from the Todd Bowles system. I would not rule out Icky Ekwonu with this pick though.

2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchison 

The Lions will sprint to turn this pick in. We have desperately needed an elite rusher for the last 4-5 seasons, and the failure to get one is the main reason Quinntricia failed. Hutch is the best player in the draft, and of all the top edge rushers, has the most bend. That is the most important trait for an outside edge rusher besides 10 yard explosiveness and he has that too (same 10 yard split as Walker). Add that he’s a culture fit for the Lions and a hometown hero. This is a no-brainer.

3. Houston Texans – Icky Eckwonu 

This is one of the harder spots to project. Feels like it’s one of Icky or Derek Stingley here. But let’s read the tea leaves: 

  1. Nick Caserio is a Belicheck/Parcells guy … They almost always go size/traits > 
  2. Caserio’s draft philosophy includes a lot of rigorous intelligence testing .. Icky had Ivy League academic offers out of HS … Reports are that his IQ carried over to his draft interviews 
  3. Lovie Smith allegedly loves Stingley, but there’s no way you can convince me that a GM is going to prioritize a corner in a zone system over a potentially elite offensive tackle. 
  4. Better chance of getting Stingley later than Icky because if he doesn’t go here, Jets are racing to grab him at 4. 

We shall see, though !

4. New York Jets – Jermaine Johnson 

This is going to be the first legit shock of the draft I think. EVERYBODY has them taking Sauce Gardner. Two problems with that though. Saleh comes from the Pete Carrol, 4-3 Under/Cover- 3 tree. They don’t prioritize corners that high because it’s easier to find long, linear outside athletes later in the draft. They aren’t asking their corners to stick and shadow quick agile receivers across the field … rather they are asking them to play explosively and vertically. Now to be fair, Sauce Gardner would be outstanding in such a role and shut down his 1/3 of the field …. But so could potentially a guy like Cam Taylor-Britt in the late 2nd, early 3rd. This is why the admin of the Seahawks and the 49ers, both teams that run this scheme, have never used a 1st round pick on a cornerback. I can’t see them breaking that trend here. The other issue is that their main beat reporters are ADAMANT that they are not drafting a corner here.  So it’s going to be fascinating to see how this goes, because all the national reporters truly believe it will be Sauce. 

Why, Johnson though over Thibodeaux ??  …. Well this is based mostly on reading some tea leaves from KT’s comments, looking at how visits were structured, understanding how GM Joe Douglas works, and also a very prominent Jets beat writer essentially putting his reputation on the line by saying there is no way KT is drafted at this spot. We shall see ! 

For the record … if Icky Ekwonu does fall to #4, the Jets will sprint to the podium as well. There may not be a better fit between system (Shanahan outside zone with gap concepts) and player in this draft.  

5. New York Giants – Sauce Gardner 

Wink Martindale, new Giants DC and former Ravens DC, cannot run his system without press-man corners who can cover on an island. Period. That’s why they are moving on from James Bradberry who is a great player but may be a better fit in a zone scheme. If Sauce is here, they are not letting him DRIP past them (see what I did there ?) 

Allegedly they do love Charles Cross, so he could go here. But the Bills front office (where new GM Joe Schoen comes from) never took offensive linemen this early so I’m wondering if all this interest in him is a smokescreen. 

I also am really tempted to do a YOLO, out of left field crazy pick here for Malik Willis. If there is any team that would believe it could fix his issues, and develop him like the Bills did Josh Allen, it would be the guys who did that for Josh Allen. They also met with him a few times and have kept it off the radar more so than you would expect a team that’s smokescreening.  

6. Carolina Panthers – Charles Cross

They badly need a left tackle. Yes they need a Quarterback. But the QBs in this draft will help them much less than a good left tackle can. I think they are going to really explore the trade-back market, so I would keep an eye on Houston, but I think they will not gamble on not getting a left tackle and will make this pick when it’s all said and done. 

Outside shot they trade down, grab Kenny Pickett, and sign a tackle like Duane Brown though.

7. New York Giants – Garrett Wilson 

This is another surprise pick as most would have them drafting Thibodeaux or Neal if things broke this way.  If I’m being honest, my conviction is the pick is rooted in Daniel Jeremiah and Rich Eisen both having this pick in recent mocks. Those two usually only drop atypical, non routine picks if they know something. If not for that, I would probably be penciling in Neal or Thibodeaux here. But aside from Rich and Daniel, this pick does make a lot of sense. Wilson’s playstyle is reminiscent of Stefon Diggs whom the Bills went and got when Daboll took charge of their offense. Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepherd, for various different reasons, have tenuous futures with the Giants. It’s conceivable that none of them are on the roster in 2023. Even Kenny Golladay’s contract looks cuttable next season, so Wilson could be the Ground Zero building block of the Giants future receiving corps. 

8. Atlanta Falcons – Kayvon Thibodeaux

Most mocks have them going receiver here, either Wilson or Drake London. I think those are plausible. Their receiving corps is awful. However, they do have a #1 guy on the outside in Kyle Pitts. Their edge rushing group is just as grim and without a stellar talent like Pitts. So you could argue both Best Player Available and need would be KT here. He would be an excellent chess piece for DC Dean Pees to use as an edge rusher. Remember, the Falcons had 18 sacks last season as a team. TJ Watt had 22 by himself. They need help getting to the QB badly. 

PROJECTED TRADE – Seahawks trade to Texans (Pick #9 for Picks #13 + #80) 

9. Houston Texans – Derek Stingley 

Projecting the Texans trade up and get their guy as foreshadowed earlier. Stingley will thrive in Lovie’s Tampa 2 which really isn’t a Tampa 2 anymore. It’s more of a Tampa 2/ Quarters/2-Man Scheme, and Stingley’s skills are a perfect fit. A lot of people are connecting the Seahawks to Stingley here, enough for me to say maybe there is something to it. But refer back to pick 4. The Carroll tree doesn’t take corners this early.

PROJECTED TRADE – 49ers trade Deebo Samuel to Jets for Pick #10 

10. San Francisco 49ers – Drake London 

I think this pick works for either team actually, because they run the same offense and are from the Shanahan tree. The Shanahan WR is a guy with either elite speed/agility, to win with separation on in-breaking routes, or guys with elite play power to make contested catches. Drake is more the latter than the former but he does create more separation than people give him credit for. The one thing all Shanahan offense receivers need to be able to do though is get YAC, and Drake London is a YAC monster. TBH, Jets might be better off holding on to London if you ask me. Deebo is a monster, but factoring in the contract he’s about to get and the wear and tear on his body. But hey, who knows ! 

11. Washington Commanders – Chris Olave 

Ron Rivera and the crew have been taking a really hard look at the receivers in this class. I think they have resolved to not leave this draft without one of London, Wilson or Olave. All would be excellent fits next to Terry McLaurin actually and give Carson Wentz another playmaker he can utilize.  They might be tempted on Kyle Hamilton here to play that Buffalo nickel position they have used Landon Collins for in the past, but I think Olave is the better value at this spot. 

PROJECTED TRADE – Vikings trade with Saints (Pick #12 to for Picks #16 and #98)

12. New Orleans Saints – Evan Neal 

The Saints traded a 2023 1st and 2024 2nd in order to get this pick. They are obviously trying to move up in the Draft. I think they are after one of the tackles to replace Terron Armstead. This allows them to go up and get a stud LT in Evan Neal. Neal’s OL coach at Alabama is now the Saints OL coach, and Neal raves about him so this is a nice match. 

PROJECTED TRADE – Seahawks trade to Texans (Pick #9 for Picks #13 + #80) 

13. Seattle Seahawks – Trevor Penning 

This might be a reach to some, but some insiders say Seattle might take Penning as high as 9. Pete Carroll is trying to re-establish the Seahawks offensive identity as a mashing and mauling team that uses the passing game to manufacture bombs, and keep the safeties out of the box. Penning fits that to the tea. He needs a ton of technique refinement, but he’s massive, and has a nasty disposition. Really tries to grind players into dust. I hear the Jets, Giants, and especially Ravens all really like him, in addition to Seattle. He’s a perfect fit for the line and can be their LT of the future. 

14. Baltimore Ravens – Jordan Davis

There are two players who the Ravens have been tied to, who fit their franchise’s identity, and who just make sense. The first is Penning who just went off the board. The second is Davis. Davis would fit perfectly into their interior rotation, and reminds me a lot of Haloti Ngata, a former Ravens pick. He’s a supreme run stuffer and will allow new coordinator Mike MacDonald to be exotic with his blitzes and stunts, and not worry as much about run fits. 

15. Philadelphia Eagles – Jameson Williams 

I actually think the Eagles may try and trade up for Williams but couldn’t find a scenario in my mock where it made sense.  I also think the Cardinals, Chargers and Cowboys may all try and trade up into the top 14 to get Williams ahead of the Eagles too. But Williams brings a dynamic element to Nick Siriani’s offense and will make life exponentially easier for DeVonta Smith. His deep speed will give the offense an element that it’s missing, especially if they play him out of the slot, Devonta at the Z, Goedert at the Y and let Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal apply outside pressure at the X. That should be enough for Jalen Hurts to take the next leap as a QB, and if not .. Well the Eagles have two first round picks in 2023 as well to maybe get the guy who was throwing to Jameson last season.  

PROJECTED TRADE – Vikings trade with Saints (Pick #12 to for Picks #16 and #98)

16. Minnesota Vikings – Trent McDuffie 

The Vikings biggest need is corner, and corner lines up really well value wise for them here. I hear they love McDuffie even though his arm length isn’t great. And they should because McDuffies is a bonafide #1 corner on tape, with excellent feet, instincts and explosiveness. I think he will thrive in Ed Donatell’s scheme, which prioritizes instinctual corners who are rangy and explosive in their zone coverage. Asante Samuel Jr. thrived last year under Brandon Staley for the Chargers who like Donatell is a Vic Fangio disciple. Lots of size questions plagued Samuel as well in the run up to the 2021 Draft and it did not matter. I don’t think it will for McDuffie either.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson

I have seen them connected with Jordan Davis, but they shored up their interior defensive line in free agency. McDuffie as well, but that would be a really small secondary with him, J.C. Jackson, and Asante Samuel (plus he’s gone). Have seen them connected with Jameson Williams and Chris Olave to be vertical options for them out of the slot, but don’t think they will chase those guys up the board just to be their 3rd options. So I think this will come down to the offensive line. If Trevor Penning is here this will be a tough choice. But he isn’t, so they grab Johnson and he secures the interior for Justin Herbert. Remember, Chargers OC Joe Lombardi is from the Sean Payton/Pete Carmichael offense which prioritizes having a clean interior pocket, and is why they have invested premium draft capital heavily on the interior offensive line in New Orleans.

18. Philadelphia Eagles – Kyle Hamilton 

I think the Eagles end Hamilton’s slide here. He slides right into their SS role and Jonathan Gannon will use him really well for them. While I think he is a prospect the draft media overrated because of the novel nature of his size at his position, and his above average range, he still is a really good player. Just not a transcendent one. I actually think he could be a transcendent player as a Will LB in a 4-3 over system or the Mike in Lovie’s Tampa 2, but from all indications he will remain a safety at this level.

19. New Orleans Saints – Kenny Pickett 

I’ll be honest, the next two picks could easily be flip flopped because I believe the Saints and Steelers likely have the same grade on both of them for different reasons. I’ll give the Saints Pickett though, because he’s more accurate, and the Saints system is predicated on accuracy, anticipation and processing more than physical tools. Look at their last 3 QBS (Drew Brees, Teddy Brdigewater and Jameis Winston). None were known for having elite arms or physical tools. Pickett is actually an upgrade in tools on all of those guys as he’s fairly mobile, a very accurate QB in the short and intermediate areas, and has pretty solid arm strength. He will be in a dome as well so less worries about hand size there. He does have to improve his downfield accuracy as well as his deep vision but he has all the tools to be a solid starter for a long time. 

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Willis 

The most telegraphed connection all off-season. Just like Najee Harris last Draft, I think it comes to fruition yet again. Willis will have time to learn Matt Canada’s complex yet simple system behind Trubisky for a year. I think it’s a great fit for Willis as it will move the pocket and create varying launch points, and allow Willis to be an athlete and make plays as opposed to going through your normal progressions. I think Pickett is actually a strong fit for this offense as well so I think either way, the Steelers are leaving Thursday night with their future QB. 

PROJECTED TRADE – Chiefs trade 29, 103 and 121 to Patriots for 21

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Boye Mafe 

The Chiefs have 12 picks and definitely don’t have 12 spots on this roster so they are going to be active in moving up or in getting 2023 draft capital. The Chiefs have 4 real needs on the roster: an edge rusher to complement Frank Clark, an interior pass rusher to complement Chris Jones, a long term piece in their receiving corps, and a long- term starter at corner/insurance for L’Jarious Sneed, who is in the last year of his deal. I think edge and corner are the bigger two needs so they are going to trade up and use this one either on Kaiir Elam or on Boye Mafe. I’m going Mafe as I hear Chiefs GM Brett Veach is very high on him. 

22. Green Bay Packers – Devonte Wyatt 

This one comes down to George Karlaftis or Wyatt, and I’m leaning towards Wyatt due to the lack of depth that have up front. They may double back and grab Karlaftis later or a receiver. But Wyatt will allow them to play the light box, two shell defense that Joe Barry emplyed lat season, without losing any pass rush ability in 3rd down situations. He’s probably the most underrated member of that Georgia defnesive front from last season. I also think Wyatt would go higher if not for some off-field concerns I have seen from insiders.

23. Arizona Cardinals – Kaiir Elam 

So Karlaftis has been mocked to this spot HEAVY. However, I think they have much more of a need at corner and Kaiir Elam is an excellent corner who can play both press man and zone well. This will allow Dc Vance Joseph to continue to utilize those crazy schemes he does. He also gives their rather diminutive secondary a jolt of size. 

24. Dallas Cowboys – Kenyon Green 

I’m sure the Cowboys are trying to trade up to make a splash. I also would not AT ALL be surprised if they grab Treylon Burks here. But they really need to solidify that interior of the offensive line. Green does that in a major way and can help them really become a dominant running team again, which is Dallas at it’s best. 

25. Buffalo Bills – Andrew Booth 

Going against the popular pick yet again. A lot of folks have them going Breece Hall here, and if I had money on this pick I would go there too.  But this is a really deep RB class, and CB is not as deep. It makes a lot more sense to grab a corner, which is the weakest position group on the roster. It’s about filling needs under this short window they have until the crazy Josh Allen money kicks in. 

26. Tennessee Titans – Desmond Ridder 

I think if Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green fall here this will be really tough. Tyler Smith is here and he might be the pick too. All three would really solidify the Titans OL as they replace Roger Saffold and bully teams with Derrick Henry. 

However … Ryan Tannehill staying away from voluntary minicamp to me is significant. I think it’s a reaction to the Titans plans they shared with him (or didn’t share), which I believe is to grab Ridder here and drop Tannehill after this next season. They will have to watch for Seattle though as there are rumors Seattle will trade up in this region for Ridder. 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dax Hill 

The Bucs have greater needs at guard and 5 tech. They could also grab a linebacker as Lavonte David’s contract is up after this year and he’s 32. However, they have 3 members of their starting secondary who will be free agents next season. I doubt they will pay all 3 and will need to start planning for that with a guy who is adept at the Cover 3/Cover 1 scheme they run from his college days. Dax can play corner or safety in this scheme for them. 

28. Green Bay Packers 

I really think this might be a pick the Packers trade. But if not, Burks makes a ton of sense. They run a lot of flash screens and shallow routes with Devante Admas and those targets will need to go somewhere. Burks provides that  in spades as well as a lot of contested catches. I could also see them go with the higher upside Christian Watson here or grab Karlaftis, but I think Burks is the higher rated player on the bord than either of them at this point. 

PROJECTED TRADE – Chiefs trade 29, 103 and 121 to Patriots for 21

29. New England Patriots – Quay Walker  

A bit of a surprise but I have been hearing a lot of momentum for Walker lately to be the first LB off the board. Walker is certainly an athletic specimen, a sure tackler and able to both cover well in zone drops and stack and shed at the point of attack. I could also see the Pats go Nakobe Dean here as well due to his elite football IQ.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – Kyler Gordon

Chiefs get that corner we talked about earlier. Gordon teamed with McDuffie in Washington to play lock down coverage and he brings the traits that Steve Spagnulo and company want on the outside. 

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Tyler Linderbaum

I really think this pick gets traded as I feel they want Gordon or Booth and another corner here would be a reach. If they stay here though it will be either to get a sub package 3 technique like Perrion Winfrey, a TE1 of the future like Trey McBride, or their C of the future in Linderbaum. I’m going with the latter of the three but this is why I could easily see a trade down. 

32. Detroit Lions – Devin Lloyd 

The Lions BADLY need a starting Mike and Lloyd has excellent tape. He’s extremely versatile and can do everything. His cover skills will really help a ton but he is an underrated pass rusher and run stopper as well, able to pursue as well as sift through traffic. He doesn’t have the high end traits of some other LBs in the class but he is really solid and versatile at everything. It’s really going to come down to the medicals though as I hear he has some concerns there, but if he checks out, this would be a FANTASTIC pick to shore up the Lions front 7.  

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