I won't lie. Just getting this version of a mock draft published has been an ordeal. I had to pull this together pretty quickly with a lot of logistical hurdles that have finally been cleared. And that doesn't even touch on how hard it's been to mock this first round. It's one of the toughest to call in recent years. You'll probably see a few different picks here than are being reported by insiders. I tend to think teams hold info closer to the vest. My general approach is to rank the players by position and evaluate team needs. Player fit also enters the equation, but overall talent and upside tends to win out for me. This mock won't have trades as that can get pretty complicated. If I match a player with team, I'll give myself credit for getting it right. With that, here's what I think will happen in the 2022 NFL draft.
1. Jaguars, Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
He'll be effective right away and he happens to play a position the Jags need to fill desperately.
2. Lions, Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia
This isn't the draft to take a quarterback this high, though the Lions need one badly. Detroit also needs help on the edge and taking Walker is a safe start.
3. Texans, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
The Texans need a lot of everything and they'll start with a pass rusher. Thibodeaux looks like the best of the lot despite mindset concerns.
4. Jets, Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Taking a receiver here would be a reach so the Jets are more likely to take a CB or edge rusher. Gardner is the best corner in the draft.
5. Giants, Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
His best play in college was in 2019, but the Giants will have faith that he can replicate that type of performance as a pro.
6. Panthers, Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
If no quarterback has been selected by the time Carolina picks, the Panthers could wait until the next round to take a signal caller and spend this pick on a starter from day one.
7. Giants (from Bears), Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
They could go with Charles Cross here, but the Giants will take an OT after securing their cornerback.
8. Falcons, Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio St.
Atlanta has a lot of needs and could go after a quarterback, but the Falcons are starved for a wide receiver and Wilson is possibly the best of the rookie bunch.
9. Seahawks (from Broncos), Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
With no QB taken in the first eight picks, the Seahawks could take a stab at replacing Russell Wilson with their first pick and chase the upside.
10. Jets (from Seahawks), Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida St.
They continue their run on defense, taking a solid pass rusher who will be complementary to a hopefully improved secondary.
11. Commanders, Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
They could go for a WR like Treylon Burks, but they'll be happy to land Hamilton to help lead a secondary in need of a lot of help.
12. Vikings, Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
He's the best of the remaining defensive linemen and should produce as a run defender and has potential in the pass rush.
13. Texans (from Browns), Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi St.
Cross could be the best pass protector in the draft and the Texans would do well to improve their line if Cross falls to them.
14. Ravens, Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Baltimore needs an edge rusher after getting left at the altar by Za'Darius Smith in free agency. The Ravens won't be able to pass up McDuffie, though, who also fills a need.
15. Eagles (from Dolphins), Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Don't worry about his poor 40 time, his speed shows up in games. Just ask the Alabama defenders he ran away from, and analysts who recently compared him to Deebo Samuel.
16. Saints (from Colts through Eagles), Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Saints get a shot at bookending their line with a rookie who has all the traits you want in a starting tackle.
17. Chargers, Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
He tore his ACL in the national title game, but the Chargers could be highly rewarded if they can wait on the rookie to get healthy.
18. Eagles (from Saints), Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Wyatt might be the best interior defensive lineman in the draft and Philly would be grateful to take him here.
19. Saints (from Eagles), Chris Olave, WR, Ohio St.
He may not be a sure-fire No. 1 wideout, but he should be reliable. That could be especially true if Michael Thomas continues to be a headache. 20. Steelers, Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
There's no way Pittsburgh heads into the season with just Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in the QBs room without a young gun to push them. 21. Patriots, Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
After likely nailing last year's first round pick by taking Mac Jones, the Pats would do well to land the best linebacker in the draft at this spot. 22. Packers (from Raiders), Drake London, WR, USC
I'm not seeing what everyone who loves him is. He could be a boom or bust type player that isn't a vertical threat. Green Bay won't want to pass him up after he falls, though. 23. Cardinals, George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
Speaking of falling, Karlaftis entered the 2021 season as the best edge player on some boards. Arizona would love to grab him this late. 24. Cowboys, Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
I think some would prefer to see Kenyon Green go to Dallas, but the Aggie is just behind Johnson in my book as far as interior offensive linemen go. 25. Bills, Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
I've seen plenty of mocks with Breece Hall in this slot, but I'm not sure that's the best move. The Bills can shore up coverage defense rather than go for a luxury addition. 26. Titans, Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann could sneak into the first round here as the Titans add an asset to their strong running game. 27. Buccaneers, Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
One of the best interior offensive linemen gets taken to help protect the GOAT. 28. Packers, Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn St.
After addressing the need at wideout, would it be crazy for the Packers to take another pass catcher? Maybe not, but they likely add defensive help.
29. Chiefs (from 49ers through Dolphins), Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota
If they want to hold teams like Buffalo and Cincinnati at bay, they’ll want to get more defensive. 30. Chiefs, Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Kansas City adding two first round defenders could get the Chiefs back to the promised land. 31. Bengals, Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
Like KC, the Bengals are trying to hold off AFC threats. They'll do so by adding an ultra-athletic corner who draws comparisons to Byron Jones.
32. Lions (from Rams), Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The speedy backer is too talented to pass up, even though adding a QB might be a good idea at this spot.