Mock Draft – Round 1
For the fan bases & front offices of teams that do not make the postseason in January, all eyes turn towards the NFL Draft in late April. 32 players will have their dreams come true when their names are called by NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell at the podium on draft night in front full crowd set in Las Vegas.
Over the past four months, MILLIONS of mock drafts have been cooked up and they have changed as we have gotten closer to April 28th. In the spirt of Draft day, which is just a day away, here is the Morning Blitz 2022 Mock Draft.
Just to clarify, no trades were allowed due to the unknown of what can happen on draft night. Tweet us @Morning_Blitz and tell us who you WANT your team to take or who you THINK your team will draft with your first pick Thursday night.
Jacksonville, you are on the clock…
1.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, DE (Georgia); needs EDGE, OL, WR
The Jaguars have been in the bottom half of the NFL in all defensive categories since their run to the AFC Championship in 2017. In recent years they have started to build it back up and they continue that trend by selecting Travon Walker. When looking back at the tape, Walker did not stand out like others did in the class with only 37 total tackles and six sacks on the National Title winning Bulldogs, but he has the physical attributes that teams LOVE. With his blend of explosiveness and aggression along with his combine grades, Walker has made a massive jump up teams’ drafts boards. So much so that Vegas has listed him as the betting favorite to be selected #1 overall.
2.) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, DE (Michigan); needs QB, EDGE, CB
With their first of two picks in the first round, the Lions are expected to go with an edge rusher, and that player will most likely be Aidan Hutchinson out of Michigan. Hutchinson, a 2021 Heisman finalist as a defensive player, is the #1 rated player in the draft on many people’s boards. The Michigan-born and bred defensive end is the most complete Edge rusher in the draft who can both sack the QB and stop the run with ease.
3.) Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr, CB (LSU); needs EDGE, CB, OL
The Texans have an interesting pick on their hand which can go three ways, draft an Edge, OT, or CB; all three positions they desperately need. But, with the rumors that GM Nick Caserio LOVES a certain prospect out of LSU, the Texans take Derek Stingley Jr at #3. It would be a surprise to most, as Stingley has fallen off a cliff since his ridiculous freshman year when he won a National Title. But Stingley is a uniquely gifted cornerback with the rare combination of size, speed, and explosiveness who happens to have a career completion percentage against of just 41.1%. Stingley has potentially the best upside at the cornerback position in the draft but does come with injury risk.
4.) New York Jets: Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB (Cincinnati); needs EDGE, WR, CB
The Jets had the third-worst pass defense in the NFL last season, but at #4 they find their cornerstone cornerback that they have not had since Darrelle Revis. One of the best CB prospects in recent memory, Ahmad Gardner is being compared to the great Richard Sherman and has the potential to be the best CB for years to come. Gardner NEVER gave up a TD at Cincinnati and with his 6’3 200lb frame and 4.41 40-time, Sauce has the physical attributes and press ability to be the best CB in the game DAY 1.
5.) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT (Alabama); needs OT, EDGE, TE
The Giants have had one of the WORST offensive lines over the past decade and new GM Joe Schoen will look to bulk up in the trenches. With Andrew Thomas, their 4th overall pick in 2020, being the only bright spot on the O-line, the Giants will solidify their RT by selecting the #1 tackle in the draft in Evan Neal out of Alabama. Neal who is the 6’7 & 350lb, has only allowed 24 pressures the past two seasons combined between right & left tackle, so he will easily slide in at RT for Big Blue in 2022.
6.) Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT (NC St); needs QB, OL, EDGE
The Panthers bypass a quarterback at #6 and get their franchise LT in Ikem Ekwonu. Ekwonu is the best and most dominant run-blocking tackle in the draft. He is a physical specimen who will maul you with his athleticism and brute strength. He is not as good in the passing game as Neal or Charles Cross, but if he can fine-tune his technique and footwork, Ekwonu could be one the best tackles in the game in a couple of years.
7.) New York Giants (via CHI): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE (Oregon); needs OT, EDGE, TE
After going OT at #5, the Giants, who were bottom third in sacks last season with 34, select an Edge rusher with their second first. If you asked who would go first overall at the beginning of the season in 2021, your answer probably would have been Kayvon Thibodeaux out of Oregon. But throughout this draft process, Thibodeaux’s character and drive have been heavily questioned, subsequently dropping him to #7 overall. Thibodeaux while being the best player available and filling a need is just too good to pass up for the Giants. If Thibodeaux can handle the NY market and is ready & willing to be coached by Brian Daboll, the Giants get a steal of a football player, even a #7.
8.) Atlanta Falcons: Malik Willis, QB (Liberty); needs QB, EDGE, WR
With the Falcons trading away former franchise QB Matt Ryan to the Colts this offseason and having brought in Marcus Mariota on a two-year deal, the Falcons are still seeking their future under center. They get their guy in Malik Willis, the highest potential QB in the class. Willis, a two-year starter at Liberty is a dual-threat QB that can throw the ball wherever he wants on the field. Willis also has the legs to tuck the ball and run but only when it is the last option. Willis will need to work on his progressions at the next level, but If he cleans that up, Willis could wind up being a top-end starter in the ATL.
9.) Seattle Seahawks (via DEN): Charles Cross, OT (Mississippi St); needs QB, OT, CB
Over the last four seasons with Russell Wilson under center, the Seahawks allowed the superstar QB to be sacked 193 times. With Wilson now in Denver after being traded for this pick, Seattle needs a LT to keep whoever is under center going forward upright. The Seahawks happily select Charles Cross out of Mississippi St to be their cornerstone on the O-line. Cross, who excels at pass blocking, fits perfectly with the Seahawks and for a guy that is 6’5 307lb, he runs a 4.95 40, pretty impressive for a guy that size.
10.) New York Jets (via SEA): Drake London, WR (USC); needs EDGE, WR, CB
With the Jets locking up their CB at pick #4, they will look towards WR at #10. To complement a room with the likes of Elijah Moore, Corey Davis & Braxton Berrios in NY, the Jets take Drake London out of USC. Limited to only 8 games before a broken ankle that ended his season, London was on pace with 143 REC (2nd), 1761 YDS (2nd), 11 TD (16th) for the Trojans in 2021. London at 6’5 is a monster on the outside, leading all of college football with 19 contested catches, but can also play on the inside and get yards after the catch. London could be the future #1 the fan base has been looking for.
11.) Washington Commanders: Kyle Hamilton, S (Notre Dame); needs WR, S, CB
With the Commanders making their first pick, they could go the WR route, but when there is a player being compared to Kam Chancellor on the board you take that guy. At #11, Washington gets Kyle Hamilton who is a 6’4 safety that can anywhere on the field and excel. Another player who had his season ended early with a minor knee injury, Hamilton finished 2021 with three INTS, four breakups, and 34 total tackles. Hamilton’s value will be too strong to pass up for the Commanders to replace Landon Collins, even with Hamilton running a 4.59 40 at the combine.
12.) Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB (Washington); needs DL, CB, TE
The Vikings in 2021 gave up 252.9 YDS through the air per game, 5th most in the NFL last season. Patrick Peterson cannot do everything himself, so the Vikings draft Trent McDuffie out of Washington to be Peterson’s Robin. McDuffie, despite being only 5’11, plays like a 6’2 corner with 4.44 speed. In 2021 for the Huskies, receivers only made 16 catches on 36 targets on McDuffie for a minimal 111 yards and ZERO TD (like Sauce Gardner). It looks to be the perfect fit with Patrick Peterson in Minnesota
13.) Houston Texans (via CLE): Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE (Florida St); needs EDGE, CB, OL
With the Texans skipping over Edge at #3 to select Derek Stingley Jr, Houston is still able to land a top-10 talent at #13. The Texans select out of FSU, Jermaine Johnson II. Johnson had a massive breakout year for the Seminoles jumping from four sacks in 2020 to 12 in 2021. Johnson was possibly the biggest winner from the Senior Bowl as he was consistently performed during the whole week, turning scouts’ heads every single time, he stepped on the field and Texans will gladly walk away from day one with Stingley Jr & Johnson to sure up their defense.
14.) Baltimore Ravens: George Karlaftis, EDGE (Purdue); needs EDGE, CB, OL
With the top three OT off the board inside the top-10, the Ravens add their complimentary piece to Odafe Oweh on the opposite side. George Karlaftis is the pick at 14 out of Purdue and what a get for Baltimore. Karlaftis was looking like a projected top-10 pick but with Travon Walker & Jermaine Johnson II, both jumping him, Baltimore Ravens should hand in the draft card with Karlaftis’ name on it A$AP. Karlaftis has great power and a relentless motor off the edge to be a force every single down. Even though it did not lead to production, the intangibles and physical attributes will translate to the NFL and the Ravens will be set up with Karlaftis & Oweh for years to come.
15.) Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA): Jameson Williams, WR (Alabama); needs DL, WR, DB
After the Eagles hit on WR in DeVonta Smith from Alabama, they double dip and go back to the same well to draft Jameson Williams. Yes, he tore his ACL in the National Title game, but in 2021, Williams averaged an unheard of 20 yards per catch. In his one year in Crimson Red, Williams hauled in 79 REC, 1572 YDS, and 15 TDS. Williams will not be ready for week one, but he is the best WR in the class and the Eagles will get a steal once they get Smith & Williams on the field at the same time.
16.) New Orleans Saints (via PHI from IND): Garrett Wilson, WR (Ohio St); needs WR, OT, DL
The Saints have struggled at the WR position the last couple of seasons, leaning on Alvin Kamara in the passing game way too often. So, at #16 they get another high-level player at the position with the best available WR on the board being Garrett Wilson from Ohio State. Wilson, while being only 6’0, can go and get any ball in the air and has the best “separation” out of any WR in the class. Wilson’s statement game against Purdue showed the world he had all the skills as he posted a line of 10 REC – 126 YDS – 3 TDS. A+ pick for the Saints with their first of two first-round picks.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers: Trevor Penning, OT (Northern Iowa); needs OL, DL, WR
After drafting Rashawn Slater in 2021, the Chargers with Justin Herbert under center finished with the 5th ranked scoring offense while having 390.2 YDS/G, good for 4th best in the NFL. With room to improve on the right side of the O-Line, the Chargers draft Trevor Penning out of FCS Northern Iowa who can start week one for the powdered blues. In 2021, Penning posted a 99.9 run-blocking grade, the highest EVER according to PFF. Penning is another monster OT at 6’7 321lb who will just put anyone across from him into the ground. Slater & Penning at each end of the line will be needed in a stacked AFC West.
18.) Philadelphia Eagles (via NO): Jordan Davis, DL (Georgia); needs DL, WR, DB
With their veterans like Brandon Graham & Fletcher Cox getting older on the defensive line, the Eagles will look to get a spark upfront, and a BIG one at that. Jordan Davis out of Georgia, who is 6’6 340lb, and runs 4.78 40 is a match made in heaven for the Eagles. It was already hard to run the ball on the Eagles, but with Davis clogging the middle, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, and Antonio Gibson are all going to have nightmares when they come down to Philly.
19.) New Orleans Saints (via PHI): Bernhard Raimann, OT (Central Michigan); needs WR, OT, DL
With Ryan Ramczyk holding it down at RT, the Saints with their second pick solidify the other side and they get a LT that just two years ago played TE. Bernhard Raimann out of Central Michigan as really turned heads since his position switch. In 2021 Raimann allowed just 10 pressures and is a super athlete. Raimann is just starting to hit his floor as a tackle and has much to improve as he has only played tackle for two seasons but has a crazy ceiling. He is just starting to hit his stride in football and should become a big part of what the Saints do in the future.
20.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB (Pittsburgh); needs QB, DB, WR
Even though the Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky to replace the legendary Ben Roethlisberger, he is not the future. But the future will at QB played in their backyard and was a Heisman finalist as the Steelers select Kenny Pickett out of Pitt. Pickett in his fourth year starting games for Pitt took a HUGE step forward throwing 42 TD and 7 INT from only 13 in 2020. Pickett is the “readiest” QB to start games week one, but his biggest concern will be, will his 8.5-inch hands and thumb issue affect his ceiling in the NFL? Only time will tell.
21.) New England Patriots: Devin Lloyd, ILB (Utah); needs CB, OL, LB
22.) Green Bay Packers (via LV): Chris Olave, WR (Ohio St); needs WR, EDGE, OL
23.) Arizona Cardinals: Treylon Burks, WR (Arkansas); needs EDGE, WR, CB
24.) Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Smith, OT (Tulsa); needs OL, EDGE, WR
25.) Buffalo Bills: Andrew Booth Jr, CB (Clemson); needs CB, WR, RB
26.) Tennessee Titans: Zion Johnson, OG/C (Boston College); needs OL, WR, RB
27.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt, DL (Georgia); needs OG, DL, TE
28.) Green Bay Packers: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE (Penn St); needs WR, EDGE, OL
29.) Kansas City Chiefs (via MIA from SF): Christian Watson, WR (North Dakota St); needs WR, EDGE, CB
30.) Kansas City Chiefs: David Ojabo, EDGE (Michigan); needs WR, EDGE, CB
31.) Cincinnati Bengals: Daxton Hill, S/CB (Michigan); needs CB, DL, TE
32.) Detroit Lions (via LA Rams): Nakobe Dean, ILB (Georgia); needs QB, EDGE, CB