Look at the calendar for a second. It’s already late November. Winter is coming. And no, I’m not talking about the Night King. I’m talking about bowl games, the Senior Bowl, the Shrine Bowl, and the NFL Combine. NFL Draft season is right around the corner. And ever so slowly, this class is coming into focus. This 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft provides the latest snapshot of where players might land.
2022 NFL Mock Draft | Picks 1-16
Here are the first 16 selections in our November 7-Round 2022 NFL Mock Draft. Four edge rushers from this stacked class break the top 16, while two linebackers also ascend into the top half. On offense, a lone wide receiver cracks the top five.
Editor’s Note: Draft order is current as of the completion of Thursday Night Football on November 18.
1) Detroit Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Positional value will always drive quarterbacks up the board a certain extent. However, a weak 2022 quarterback class presents a good opportunity for teams like the Lions to stock up on blue-chip talent — even if they have a glaring need at QB. Detroit needs to replace Jared Goff sooner rather than later, but they should use their early first-round pick on someone who’s worth it.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is worth it. The Oregon edge rusher has long been regarded as the premier defensive prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft — and when he’s been healthy this year, he hasn’t disappointed. In seven games, Thibodeaux has 6 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 2 forced fumbles. The 6’5″, 250-pound edge rusher wins with a rare combination of explosiveness, power, and range. That’s just what the Lions need on defense.
2) Houston Texans: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Thibodeaux is widely considered the top edge rusher in the draft, but there’s a bit of a debate about who comes in behind him. Aidan Hutchinson and George Karlaftis are the next guys up, and the crowd seems split on them almost 50-50. Personally, Hutchinson is my preference as the second edge defender off the board. I’m a fan of both players, but Hutchinson seems more explosive, more twitchy, and more violent with his hands.
Hutchinson is often lauded as an extremely refined and high-motor prospect — and he is. But lost in that discussion is that Hutchinson will test as a near-elite athlete. According to Bruce Feldman, Hutchinson can run a 4.64 40-yard dash at 6’6″, 265 pounds, while also sporting a 36-inch vertical and an otherworldly three-cone time. With his testing and tape, Hutchinson can be a top-three pick, hands down.
3) New York Jets: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
That’s right. The first cornerback off the board in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft isn’t Derek Stingley Jr., Andrew Booth Jr., or Kaiir Elam — it’s Washington’s Kyler Gordon. Gordon doesn’t have as much hype as the top players at his position — but in my opinion, he should be lumped in that group.
At 6’0″, 200 pounds, Gordon has great size. He’s long enough as a cover man, and he also has good frame density. Beyond that, he’s an extremely explosive, fluid, and twitchy athlete. He can stick to any brand of receiver in man coverage, and he has the processing speed and closing speed to be dangerous in zone. Factor in his ball skills, and Gordon is a potential lockdown cornerback at the next level.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Garrett Wilson was the very first player I scouted in the 2022 NFL Draft. Right away, it was clear that Wilson had WR1 potential. He’s always been close to his teammate Chris Olave. But what sets Wilson apart is his three-level ability. While Olave is exciting in his own right, Wilson has an assuredness at every stage of the receiving process that Olave doesn’t match.
Before the catch, Wilson is an incredibly twitchy and explosive athlete with crisp releases and deceptive routes in his arsenal. At the catch point, he brings unmatched body control and ball-tracking ability. And after the catch, he’s supremely elusive and slippery as a ball carrier. Wilson could be the WR1 the Jaguars need to help support Trevor Lawrence.
5) Philadelphia Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
The Eagles have appeared competitive at times this year, but this team is still several steps away from truly competing in the NFC playoff race. Quarterback is a separate issue entirely, but beyond that, Philadelphia still needs more blue-chip talent — mainly on the defensive side of the ball. Darius Slay has remained productive this year, but his prime is near its end. The Eagles need someone to accompany him and carry the torch.
Andrew Booth Jr. can be that guy for Nick Sirianni’s squad. The Clemson cornerback pops off the screen in all phases. Last year, it was his gravity-defying plays on the ball that garnered respect. This year, however, his sticky coverage and heat-seeking style in run defense have taken center stage. Booth is long, twitchy, competitive, and holds immense upside as a playmaker on the back end.
6) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
There’s a discussion to be had — especially if the Giants clean house — about Daniel Jones’ stint at quarterback ending after three seasons. But in an uninspiring quarterback class, it’s just as prudent to use two early first-round picks on blue-chip talent to improve the supporting cast around Jones. We won’t cut any corners or mince any words here. New York needs offensive linemen, and that’s exactly what they get in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
Several offensive tackles have risen up the board since the offseason, but Evan Neal remains at the pinnacle of his position group. The 6’7″, 360-pound behemoth hasn’t disappointed this year. He’s an unreal athlete for his size with great natural power, and he’s inflicted his will on opponents week in and week out. He still struggles with balance occasionally but has improved there. And his ability to play left or right tackle makes him even more appealing.
7) New York Jets: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Upgrading that cornerback room outside of Bryce Hall is a start. But it’s not even close to enough for Robert Saleh if he wants his team to take a leap in Year 2. The Jets also need more EDGE talent to supplement their strong interior line. Carl Lawson will come back from injury next year, and Bryce Huff has been a nice find. But still, it’s better to be overstocked at one of your most important positions.
Paired with Lawson, George Karlaftis immediately gives the Jets one of the most powerful EDGE duos in the league. Karlaftis, however, is noticeably bigger at 6’4″, 275 pounds. Power is a central part of Karlaftis’ game, and he channels it well. However, the Purdue star also has surprising closing speed and change-of-direction ability. He has a lethal bull rush, but his arsenal is strong beyond that, and he’s dangerous on stunts.
8) New York Giants: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
If the Giants are going to roll with Jones for one more year at quarterback, then it makes sense to double-dip on the offensive line in the top 10 — especially when the front five has been one of the deflating factors for the Giants over Jones’ career. Neal was the first off the board, but Tyler Linderbaum is right there with him in the blue-chip tier.
Although he measures in at 6’3″, 290 pounds, Linderbaum does not play small. In fact, he may be one of the most physical center prospects in recent memory. Linderbaum packs an immense amount of power and core strength into his 290-pound frame. On top of that, he’s a great athlete with a finisher mentality. With Linderbaum and Neal, the Giants might give themselves a better chance to step forward on offense.
If there’s any team that needs to do its homework on the 2022 quarterback class, it’s Washington. The Football Team exited the 2021 offseason with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. The latter has essentially started the entire season, with uninspiring consistency. Washington has been in QB purgatory longer than the Panthers have existed. It’s time to change that and stop living on the bridge.
Granted, it may be difficult to change that in 2022. But one quarterback who seems like the best bet is Matt Corral. Corral has the arm talent that Heinicke lacks, and he brings the same athletic ability needed to create off-script. Moreover, Corral is a steely competitor, and he’s become a more efficient passer this year. There’s enough upside here to take the risk. And of all teams, Washington needs to take it.
10) Atlanta Falcons: David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
If Thursday’s game against New England was any indication, the Falcons need help. On both sides of the ball, Atlanta’s roster is depleted. The rebuild still has a few more years — and one more quarterback — to go before head coach Arthur Smith and Co. are truly competitive. Thus, it makes sense to target a premium position here (and a premium player with rare upside).
David Ojabo was a virtual unknown before the season, but he’s worked his way up and shown promising growth each week. He has 10 sacks and 5 forced fumbles thus far in 2021. That’s a first-round production profile, and Ojabo brings the goods as well. He’s 6’5″, 250 pounds, with an outrageous combination of explosiveness, torso flexibility, length, and lateral agility. The Falcons need to go high-upside, and it doesn’t get much higher than this.
11) Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
It was recently announced that Kyle Hamilton would miss the remainder of the 2021 regular season with a knee injury. It’s only a six-week injury, but it could be enough to put the lid on Hamilton’s collegiate career. He’s been penciled in as a top-10 pick for over a year. And in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, he nearly delivers on that promise.
The top 10 can be a rare place for safeties. For better or worse, positional value (or positional ambiguity) can drive players back. That might happen to Hamilton, but it shouldn’t. The Notre Dame defender has everything in his arsenal. He’s big, he’s insanely athletic, he’s versatile, and he’s shown he can process quickly to make plays. He helps add more blue-chip talent to an Eagles defense that’s starting to look a lot better already.
12) Miami Dolphins: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
The 2022 NFL Draft’s inside linebacker class appears a bit underwhelming on the surface. However, two defenders have emerged as the favorites for the top positional spot: Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean. Lloyd is a bit older, but he’ll have a chance to win over NFL scouts at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. If he distinguishes himself there and shines in interviews, being the first LB off the board is very much on the table.
Don’t worry about Miami’s offensive line; we’ll get to that shortly. For now, Lloyd’s athleticism, high football IQ, and rare versatility as a playmaker seal the deal in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft. The 6’3″, 235-pound Lloyd can be the glue guy for the Dolphins with his pre-snap recognition and quick processing ability. Beyond that, he’s great in coverage, and he’s an effective pass rusher as well.
13) Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Weeks ago, Derek Stingley Jr. had season-ending surgery on a lingering foot ailment. The injury deprived us of seeing a strong career finish from Stingley. However, at this point, the LSU cornerback is a known quantity. If he’s not your top cornerback, he’s one of your top cornerbacks. It’s that simple. And if he falls to Minnesota on account of his injury, the Vikings face a similarly simple decision.
Minnesota isn’t light on needs, but cornerback is near the top of the list once again. This feels like the perfect class to finally force the issue and revamp the cornerback room. Stingley, with his rare physical traits, can help with that. The 6’1″ cornerback has an elite combination of length and explosiveness. On top of that, he’s a bona fide playmaker at the catch point.
14) Denver Broncos: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
As expected, Denver’s decision to choose the best of Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock backfired this year. To be fair, making a decisive move at quarterback is easier said than done. But few teams needed that kind of move more than Denver. Now, they’re on track to waste a potentially competitive season. The roster is depreciating, and the coaching staff is in limbo.
It seems like a reset is coming for Denver, and with a reset comes a new quarterback entirely. Sam Howell isn’t a consensus favorite in the 2022 NFL Draft, but he does have enough upside to warrant taking in Round 1. Howell is a great athlete and a tough competitor. Beyond that, he has a good arm with a degree of natural accuracy in structure. His decision-making can improve at times, but a better supporting cast might be just what he needs.
15) Philadelphia Eagles: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Georgia has about 472 NFL Draft prospects on defense, so I’d understand if Nakobe Dean was a first-round name you’re not familiar with. That said, it doesn’t take much Georgia tape to know just how impactful Dean is. To be cliché, he’s the heart and soul of the Bulldogs’ defense. He flies around and makes defining plays each week, and his talent shows through that process.
Few players have the mix of high-level athleticism and high-level processing that Dean has. It’s a critical combination for the LB position, and it sets Dean apart. Although he’s a bit smaller and stouter, he’s extremely explosive and rangy. Additionally, he has the quick play recognition and aggressiveness to use his traits effectively. He would be a drastic upgrade in the Eagles’ LB room.
16) Cleveland Browns: Drake London, WR, USC
It’s been a rough few weeks if you’re a Browns fan. The season began with a hot 3-1 streak that convinced many the Browns were back. Since then, Cleveland has fallen to .500. First, Odell was the problem. But now, it looks like he wasn’t the problem. Either way, the Browns have problems. Let’s work toward fixing them in this 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
One thing is for certain — the wide receiver room lacks talent. There are nice role players, but there’s no one to shoulder the load and draw attention away from other receiving options. If you’re trying to draw attention, Drake London is your guy. At 6’5″, 210 pounds, he’s a constant mismatch for defensive backs. He’s a literal menace at the catch point, but he also has great run-after-catch ability, and he can separate with smooth athleticism as well.