2022 NFL Mock Draft: Malik Willis first QB taken

The 2022 NFL Draft heads to Las Vegas this year where college football’s best prospects will find out who will select them to be the cornerstones of their franchises going forward.

The draft process works with the team with the worst record last year picking first, followed by the second-worst and so on, across three days in Sin City as they hope to build a side that will help them raise the Lombardi Trophy in the future.

Here, GiveMeSport give our predictions for how the first-round of the draft will go.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Travon Walker, Defensive End, Georgia

Whilst the Jaguars already have a pair of decent pass rushers in Josh Allen and Dawuane Smoot, both of whom put up decent numbers last year, this could give them a chance to really become one of the premier defensive fronts in the NFL and bringing them back to the ‘Sacksonville’ days that made them contenders back in 2017.

It really is a toss-up between Walker and the next best contender in Aidan Hutchinson, but given the talk that has gone on in recent days and how far up draft boards he appears to have shot up, it seems like he might just sneak edge out the Wolverine for this one.

2. Detroit Lions

Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End, Michigan

With the 3rd fewest sacks in the league in 2021 with 30, the Lions need help in getting to the passer, something that Hutchinson found with ease last year as he racked up 14, the 3rd most in the nation.

Plus given he played for the Wolverines and was born in nearby Plymouth, having a hometown boy on the team should give the Lions fans a major emotional boost too. 

Michigan Wolverines defensive end. Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

3. Houston Texans

Tyler Linderbaum, Centre, Iowa

With a lot of signs pointing to the idea that Davis Mills will be the quarterback for next season, the focus for the Texans should be on keeping him upright rather than taking a replacement.

Linderbaum comes into the draft highly rated at centre and is a solid anchor in the middle of the line, which will really help out a side that gave up 44 sacks last season. 

4. New York Jets

Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati

Having given up the 3rd most passing yards last season with 4409 and making the fewest interceptions in the league with seven, the Jets need to improve in both stopping the pass and turning the ball over to get possessions back.

Gardner has incredible pace which gives him an ability to match with receivers both through speed, and with his physicality he has the chance to really be a lockdown corner with the ability to snag the ball that could be a game-changer for Gang Green.

5. New York Giants

Ickey Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle, NC State

Having had a few years under his belt, this is really a ‘make or break’ year for the Giants’ Daniel Jones at the quarterback spot. Making sure he has protection both in the pocket and rolling out will help him immensely in making his case.

Whilst they also need a wide receiver, given the depth at that spot this year, they can afford to hold off until later and focus on protecting Jones for now.

6. Carolina Panthers

Evan Neal, Offensive Tackle, Alabama

Much like Daniel Jones with the Giants, Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold could be in the last chance saloon when it comes to his chances of being a starter in the league.

He has all the weapons he needs to be successful with Christian McCaffery, Rashard Higgins and D.J Moore etc. but he needs to be protected, and after giving up 52 sacks last season, keeping him upright will be crucial. 

7. New York Giants

Jameson Williams, Wide receiver, Alabama

Having addressed protecting Daniel Jones earlier in the first round, now it’s time to make sure he has some weapons to work with.

Williams is an all-around athlete, mixing both size and speed that has given him all the tools he needs when it comes to catching, route-running and elusiveness that should make him a welcome addition to the New York Giants

Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jameson Williams. Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

8. Atlanta Falcons

Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Georgia

Part of the Bulldogs side that was arguably one of the best that college football had ever seen, Dean proved his worth both in the run game with 36 tackles as well as in the passing game passing with 4 interceptions on his way to winning the Butkus Award for best collegiate linebacker in the country.

He will serve as a very welcome addition to a Falcons defence that had the 6th fewest tackles and joint-7th most missed tackles last season. 

9. Seattle Seahawks

Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty

Having lost Russell Wilson this offseason to the Broncos, this is arguably the most obvious position of need that needs to be filled by any team in the draft.

When it comes to rolling out and extending plays outside of the pocket, the Wilson 2.0 comparisons are easy to see, so it makes sense to carry on with a style that made the Seahawks so competitive under centre for the past decade or so. 

Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis. Credit: Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports

10. New York Jets

Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame

Having addressed the perimeter of the field with their earlier pick of Ahmad Gardner, the focus should turn to controlling the middle of the field of defence with arguably the best safety in the draft.

Whilst Hamilton is a safety by nature, he can play across the secondary and with three picks last year, taking his total in college to seven across his career, he could really help the defence out.

His numbers did take a little bit of a drop last year, but he is still an impressive tackler and should help to cause a few more problems for opposing offences.

11. Washington Commanders

Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington

To say that the pass defence was an abomination last year might have been an understatement. The Commanders allowed the most touchdowns with 34 and the 4th most passing yards with 4333.

And in McDuffie, who allowed just 44.4% of passes thrown his way to be completed in 2021, Washington would have a day-one starter that could really help them turn their fortunes around. 

12. Minnesota Vikings

Derek Stingley, Cornerback, LSU

Another team that gave up a lot in the air last year with 4300 yards and 29 touchdowns, the Vikings need to make sure that they don’t continue to give up big numbers.

With his ability to go toe-to-toe with the fastest wide receivers that college football has to offer, he may well be the answer that they are looking for to help solidify their pass defence. 

LSU Tigers cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

13. Houston Texans

Charles Cross, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State

Another move designed to help the Texans make sure that Davis Mills has enough protection for himself, this time focusing on the outside of the offensive line.

Cross has impressive speed which will also help in the run game getting out to the second level, giving Houston a perfect all-round tackle to help try and offer a base for the worst offence in the league last year in terms of total yards. 

14. Baltimore Ravens

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge Rusher, Oregon

Even with Calais Campbell returning, the Ravens need to get some more production from the exterior of the defensive line with the view to replacing him in the long run.

With 7 sacks, 49 total tackles and 2 forced fumbles last season, Thibodeaux possesses the talent that they need to not only offer the long-term replacement but can also offer an instant upgrade to a defence that averaged just two sacks a game last year.

 15. Philadelphia Eagles

Andrew Booth Jr, Cornerback, Clemson

Whilst the Eagles weren’t terrible last year in pass defence, they could do with a body to take them to the next level which is where Booth, who made 37 total tackles and had 3 picks last season, comes in.

An impressive combination of physicality and speed, working opposite Darius Slay on the other side of the field the Eagles could be set up for a pretty neat duo when it comes to patrolling the exterior of the field. 

16. New Orleans Saints

Kenny Pickett, Quarterback, Pittsburgh

Whilst this year is a bad year for instant starting QBs, Pickett does hold the honour of being last season’s most-accompished college QB that decided to come out, finishing 3rd in Heisman voting and winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award.

He will however be perfect for a team like the Saints to look to groom for a year before flourishing in the future, which Pickett can do behind veteran Jameis Winston. 

Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett. Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Trevor Penning, Offensive Tackle, Northern Iowa

Edge rusher would have been the prime position for the Chargers to attack this draft, but with the addition of Khalil Mack, focus should turn to protecting arguably one of the best young QBs in the league in Justin Herbert.

Herbert already has plenty of weapons on offence and a pretty solid defence that was pretty banged up last year, and if lightning doesn’t strike twice, then this could be a special year for the Bolts.

18. Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia

The latest member of the Bulldogs’ defence to come off the board. The Eagles were pretty effective in stopping the run last year, with just 1834 rushing yards given up.

But with Hassan Ridgeway having departed for San Francisco, they will need to plug that gap once again, and with a frame of 6’6 and 340lbs, Davis will be able to do just that. 

19. New Orleans Saints

Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Having addressed their new QB of the future in Kenny Pickett a few selections earlier, now it’s time for the Saints to bring in a weapon. Wilson has impressive skills both before, during and after the catch and can offer up a perfect #2 option across from star receiver Michael Thomas. 

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Florida

This pick comes down to an issue of uncertainty with the Steelers. With Joe Haden’s future in doubt, focus needs to go on securing their next long-term cornerback to polish off a defense that led the league in sacks last year.

So they take the best corner available at the time in Elam who, as a former wide receiver possesses the hands needed to create turnovers, an area the Steelers struggled with last year with just 13 interceptions.

21. New England Patriots

Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

After a very impressive first year for quarterback Mac Jones, it’s important that they offer him the weapons to be successful in the future.

Last year wasn’t great for Patriots wideouts, with no player breaking the 900-yard mark, so now would be a good time to reset at that position and take the best receiver available in Olave, whose impressive football intelligence will help him blend right in with the Patriot way under Bill Belichick. 

22. Green Bay Packers

Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC

The one thing that the Packers have always struggled to do in Aaron Rodgers’ time in Green Bay is bringing in weapons.

Now at something of a  breaking point when it comes to their relationship, the one thing that can help smooth things over would be to draft someone who can help them make a difference on offence. And having someone of London’s talent to replace the recently departed Davante Adams could go a long way in helping. 

23. Arizona Cardinals

Jermaine Johnson II, Defensive End, Florida State

Johnson, who bagged a total of 12 sacks last year on top of 34 tackles, is also someone that can offer the talent that the Cardinals need to both book-end J.J Watt on the outside as well as replace Chandler Jones as he departed for the Las Vegas Raiders.

With excellent size as well as speed, he could really offer a significant boost to this Cardinals side who will be looking to make a big jump this season. 

Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

24. Dallas Cowboys

Bernhard Raimann, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan

Having lost La’el Collins to the Bengals this offseason, the Cowboys need to refocus on rebuilding the offensive line that allowed the likes of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to flourish in their earlier years in Texas.

So taking on Raimann, who has the ideal size and mobility needed for his position would be a great way to try and get things back to where they were a few years ago. 

25. Buffalo Bills

Treylon Burks, Wide receiver, Arkansas

The Bills are arguably one of the more well-rounded teams in the league and don’t have many positions of ‘need’, especially with the addition of Von Miller to add to a defence that allowed league-low 4637 yards last season.

So the focus should be adding to their already impressive offence and giving Josh Allen another target to throw to and offering another option across from the recently paid Stefon Diggs. 

Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks. Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

26. Tennessee Titans

Kenyon Green, Guard, Texas A&M

A team that weren’t exactly the best when it came to protecting the quarterback last season, allowing 47 sacks, the Titans will need someone to not only protect Ryan Tannehill, but will also be able to act as another body for Derrick Henry to run behind for the foreseeable future as they look to build around ‘King Henry’ moving forward. 

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Trey McBride, Tight End, Colorado State

With Rob Gronkowski’s future up in the air and O.J Howard being lost to the Bills, the Bucs will need to bring in someone who can offer a safety blanket for Tom Brady that he has relied on for large parts of his career.

Standing at 6’4 and 260lbs, McBride offers both stability for blocking the ageing QB and having racked up 1,121 yards last season off 90 receptions, he can clearly handle himself in the passing game as well.

28. Green Bay Packers

George Karlaftis, Edge Rusher, Purdue

Having addressed the offensive side of the ball earlier in the first round, the Packers need to add to their defence, where they were in the middle of the pack last season with just 39 sacks.

And having been without Za’Darius Smith for the majority of the season, who has now gone to Minnesota, Karlaftis can fill that spot on the outside.

29. Kansas City Chiefs

Boye Mafe, Edge Rusher, Minnesota

The Chiefs really had trouble getting to the opposing quarterback last year, managing just 31 sacks – 4th lowest in the league – so getting pressure from outside will be paramount in order to avoid forcing Patrick Mahomes to win via a shootout every single week.

Mafe at 6’4 and 260lbs offers great size, but after running a 4.57 40-yard dash, also possesses the speed that you need to get through and to the opposition on a consistent basis.

Minnesota linebacker Boye Mafe. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

30. Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Jones, Defensive Tackle, Connecticut

Not only did the Chiefs struggle to get to the opposing quarterback, but they also failed to get the running back a lot of the time too, averaging 4.8 yards per carry given up – 2nd worst in the league.

With 48 total tackles, Jones will help plug the middle of the line and with 4.5 sacks can also help when it comes to bagging the quarterback as well. 

31. Cincinnati Bengals

Christian Harris, Linebacker, Alabama

Despite having allowed the 3rd most sacks in the league last season, the Bengals have addressed that with the addition of La’el Collins, Alex Cappa and Ted Karris.

With the offence pretty much settled with Joe Burrow at QB, impressive wide receiver and running back groups and now the offensive line settled, they go with the best defensive player available to try and deal with a lot of the vast array of talented quarterbacks in the AFC.

32. Detroit Lions

Roger McCreary, Cornerback, Auburn

Having made the addition on the defensive line earlier in the draft, now the Lions’ attention goes to the defensive backs where they also struggled to impress last year, allowing 4160 yards and 31 touchdowns through the air, where his quickness should offer help from day one to help a struggling Lions side. 

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