NFL mock draft 2022 with trades: Saints, Steelers go up for QBs; Lions, Giants stay busy with deals
The goal of an NFL first-round mock draft is to consider all the scenarios for where all teams are picking, connecting them to players based on overall talent or positional need. Projecting trades as part of the possible permutations takes the exercise to a whole new level.
There already has been plenty of pick movement in 2022, from deals made in last year’s draft to recent blockbusters involving marquee quarterbacks and wide receivers plus future considerations. But you can bet some teams are waiting to maneuver up and down the board to adjust to the events of draft night.
Sporting News mock drafts are written trade-free with the exception of this one to avoid an additional level of educational conjecture. But taking into account which teams want to move up or down and the classic Jimmy Johnson draft trade value chart, here’s an edition that involves seven additional deals and how that shakes up the entire first round this year:
NFL Mock Draft 2022
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan (6-6, 260 pounds)
The Jaguars have been locked into taking the best defensive player available for a while and that won’t change as they go after the cornerstone for their new-look scheme. They’ve been setting up the relentless, explosive and sometimes dominant Hutchinson being the anchor. There’s no reason to move down because they already have 12 picks in the draft and other teams won’t be banging the table for Hutchinson or any other player as a surefire No. 1.
***TRADE*** 2. New York Giants (from Detroit Lions)
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (6-7, 337 pounds)
The Giants really like Neal as their preferred offensive line choice because he’s guaranteed to be a rock of a tackle for them and form a sturdy bookend with Andrew Thomas. They might not want to take a chance on the Texans grabbing Neal and the crosstown Jets following up with tackle/guard Ickey Ekwonu at Nos. 3 and 4. They can move up three spots rather easily by giving up No. 5 and No. 36 in the second round to help the Lions continue to stockpile for GM Brad Holmes.
3. Houston Texans (4-13)
Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (6-4, 254 pounds)
The Texans have been tied to Neal and also will consider Ickey Ekwonu for an offensive line solution opposite Laremy Tunsil should Neal be gone to a non-Lions team at No. 2, but they can pivot to the high all-around ceiling of Thibodeaux, going for a big pass rush upgrade to complement Jonathan Greenard as opposed to a pass protection chip.
4. New York Jets (4-13)
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6-4, 220 pounds)
The Jets have been dancing between offensive tackle, edge rusher and Hamilton with their two first-rounders. Defensive-minded Robert Saleh is interested in putting Hamilton next to newcomer Jordan Whitehead to continue the secondary overhaul with safety as the centerpiece, much easier if not tempted by Thibodeaux being available. Hamilton will continue to make a ton of plays on the back end vs. the pass and also clean up like an extra linebacker vs. the run.
***TRADE*** 5. New Orleans Saints (from Giants through Lions)
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-0, 219 pounds)
There’s some sentiment that the Saints getting an extra first-rounder in a non-player trade with the Eagles was helping their chances of landing Willis, with his high arm and athletic upside, as their next franchise QB. They know they need to jump ahead of the division rival Panthers one pick later and the Seahawks at No. 9 to guarantee they will have a clear shot at him. Holmes and the Lions won’t mind getting more of a haul, as the Saints give them No. 16 along with No. 49 in return.
6. Carolina Panthers (5-12)
Ickey Ekwonu, OT/G, NC State (6-4, 310 pounds)
The Panthers may lose out on a chance to land Willis with the Saints’ big move, but they also can gain a little with in-state product Ekonwu falling to them so they don’t need to reach a little for offensive tackle need with Charles Cross. Ekwonu should slot in to replace Cameron Erving on the left side opposite Taylor Moton.
7. New York Giants (from Bears)
Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU (6-1, 195 pounds)
The Giants need a young alpha playmaker on the back end of their defense and Schoen has given serious consideration to move the hefty contract of James Bradberry before or during the draft. Stingley makes a lot of sense in that regard, edging out a pass rusher early given the depth at that later position.
***TRADE*** 8. Pittsburgh Steelers (from Falcons)
- Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh (6-3, 217 pounds)
The Steelers, in a rare move up for soon to be stepping down GM Kevin Colbert, may get aggressive to get their quarterback of choice to succeed Ben Roethlisberger while the multiple-need Falcons will welcome the opportunity to trade down. Pickett has the confidence, moxie, mobility and accurate arm to fit well in Matt Canada’s system as a pocket passer. Atlanta drops down to No. 20 while Pittsburgh also ships the Falcons Nos. 52 and No. 84 in the second and third rounds.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
- Travon Walker, DE/DT, Georgia (6-5, 272 pounds)
The Seahawks should be prepared for teams taking their quarterback scenarios off the table in the top 10, and with their defensive rebuilding mindset with GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll, Walker is a versatile explosive disruptor in the Michael Bennett mold for their 4-3 scheme.
10. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
- Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati (6-2, 190 pounds)
After landing Hamilton to complement Whitehead, Saleh and GM Joe Douglas should have an eye on rounding out their secondary strength with this big cover man and active playmaker to pair with free-agent addition D.J. Reed as they try to re-create their own “Legion of Boom” in their Seahawks/49ers-styled defense.
11. Washington Commanders (7-10)
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 187 pounds)
The Commanders need to give Carson Wentz and Terry McLaurin some help at wideout and getting a true speedy No. 1 outside would be a great decision for Scott Turner’s offense. Olave has a little more all-around appeal for his explosiveness than former teammates Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams.
***TRADE*** 12. New Orleans Saints (from Vikings)
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State (6-5, 307 pounds)
The Saints aren’t messing around here with GM Mickey Loomis to start their post-Sean Payton era under Dennis Allen. After getting their true successor to Drew Brees in Willis, they need to shore up the pass protection for their rookie QB to replace free-agent departure Terron Armstead. They can plug and play Cross opposite Ryan Ramczyk. Minnesota can be happy with getting No. 19 overall and New Orleans’ 2023 second-rounder in exchange.
13. Houston Texans (from Browns)
The Texans can still stick with taking the best player available and not force the offensive line here as they need to complement the added pass-rushing pop of Thibodeaux with someone who can take advantage of that extra pressure on the back end. Booth is aggressive in coverage and should maintain the big playmaking in the NFL.
14. Baltimore Ravens (8-9)
- Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa (6-2, 296 pounds)
The Ravens are looking for an interior stud and should focus on center with Kevin Zeitler serving well as right guard and Bradley Bozeman gone in free agency. Linderbaum, who has been working with former Iowa star turned Ravens legend Marshal Yanda, would be ideal inside.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (5-11, 183 pounds)
The Eagles hit on 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith at the position but already have realized that 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor is a bust. They need to get Smith a complementary playmaker who can profile as a co.-No. 1 with his size, speed, route-running hands and smarts.
16. Detroit Lions (from Colts through Eagles and Saints)
Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State (6-5, 254 pounds)
The Lions shouldn’t mind if the trades down with the Giants and Saints get them into this spot to still get Johnson, who has some freakish qualities as a pass rusher. Holmes can still be positioned to get a quarterback later in the round with the added draft capital to boost No. 32.
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)
- Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia (6-6, 340 pounds)
The Chargers need to upgrade their run defense big time. Their entire front three struggled in that capacity. Coach Brandon Staley was used to having Aaron Donald as his 3-4 linchpin with the other Los Angeles team. Davis is a massive player who disrupts plays with great quickness for his size.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (5-11, 229 pounds)
The Eagles also need to reinforce their defense as part of their three first-rounder, Dean would be more of an immediate-impact choice than going for depth at either end or tackle. Dean was the active playmaking leader of the Bulldogs’ national championship defense and can fit anywhere with T.J. Edwards given free-agent splurge Haason Reddick is more of an edge rusher and Kyzir White is just a place-holder.
***TRADE*** 19. Minnesota Vikings (from Eagles through Saints)
Devonte Wyatt, DT/DE, Georgia (6-3, 304 pounds)
The Vikings are switching up their longtime 4-3 defense under former coach Mike Zimmer with a three-man front for new coordinator Ed Donatell. They should happy with this result in their rebuild vs. settling for a different position with best player available with their original pick at No. 12. Wyatt’s versatile explosiveness would be ideal to disrupt as a 3-4 end, with a ceiling as high as J.J. Watt for the position.
***TRADE*** 20. Atlanta Falcons (from Steelers)
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (6-1, 179 pounds)
The Falcons will have defense somewhat on their mind to help coordinator Dean Pees, including tackle and linebacker. But after moving down thanks to the Steelers, they can address their big offensive need with Calvin Ridley suspended, Russell Gage leaving in free agency and Julio Jones long gone. Williams would give them a No. 1 for offensive-minded coach Arthur Brown in the big playmaking style of A.J. Brown for new QB Marcus Mariota.
21. New England Patriots (10-7)
- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington (5-10, 193 pounds)
The Patriots traded Stephon Gilmore to the Panthers in the middle of last season and also didn’t re-sign J.C. Jackson, who cashed in with the Chargers. They can’t settle for retread Malcolm Butler and Jalen Mills as their outside starters in 2022. Bill Belichick should see many Jackson-like qualities in the cerebral, nice-sized and ballhawking McDuffie.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Raiders)
Drake London, WR, USC (6-4, 219 pounds)
The Packers should feel confident they can land a strong wide receiver of choice to replace Davante Adams with the pick acquired from trading him. London may not last this long, but his recent rise ensures that Green Bay will get great value here, and should get either Wilson or Williams if not him. London has the size, speed, hands and quickness to be Aaron Rodgers’ trusty new outside No. 1.
23. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan (6-4, 250 pounds)
The Cardinals couldn’t re-sign Chandler Jones and have started a youth movement on their defense. They brought back Dennis Gardeck opposite Markus Golden but need some more explosiveness and relentlessness with a dose of freaky athleticism for Vance Joseph’s front seven. Should Wyatt be off the board to bring along behind Watt, being patient for Ojabo in his return from a torn Achilles’ makes sense.
24. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M (6-4, 323 pounds)
The Cowboys are always a candidate to trade up or down with Jerry Jones, but the player they need lines up well with the value of this pick. They needed to let Connor Williams leave in free agency and Green would be the ideal strong and athleticism replacement for their scheme to support Tyler Biadasz and Zack Martin inside.
***TRADE*** 25. Detroit Lions (from Bills)
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (6-3, 211 pounds)
Should the draft play out with these kinds of trades, the Lions can recognize that Ridder is slipping based on the early aggressiveness for QBs by the Saints and Steelers and make an easy move up from No. 32 to land him by also giving the Bills No. 97 overall in the third round. Detroit has been more intrigued by Ridder’s passing, running and leadership of late. Buffalo would love to get McDuffie, but if rival New England lands him, there would be great reason to drop out of this spot.
26. Tennessee Titans (12-5)
- Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa (6-7, 325 pounds)
The Titans will be on the lookout for the best player available with limited pressing concerns under GM Jon Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel. Penning is a solid target given he can be groomed to replace aging Taylor Lewan on the left side in a few years and become a huge right-side upgrade over Dillon Radunz, better suited for the inside.
***TRADE*** 27. Indianapolis Colts (from Buccaneers)
Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota (6-3, 261 pounds)
The Colts move back into the first round here by giving the Buccaneers picks Nos. 48 and No. 73 overall in the second and third round to get their freakish pass rush of choice to address a big youthful need at defensive end so they can either slide Kwity Paye inside or drop fading newcomer Yannick Ngakoue into a situational role. Mafe’s athleticism also stands out in his all-around game.
28. Green Bay Packers (13-4)
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State (5-10, 178 pounds)
The Packers should think about doubling up on wide receiver in the first round. London looks the part of an outside No. 1, while Dotson can be the speedy vertical threat for Rodgers to replace free-agent departure Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from 49ers through Dolphins)
- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (6-2, 225 pounds)
The Chiefs added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling after trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins but they also lost Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson in free agency and the jury’s out on Mecole Hardman beyond return duties. They might as well replenish the cupboard with someone who profiles better as the outside No. 1 given his size and speed with Smith-Schuster working as the big slot and MVS providing the complementary deep threat.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah (6-3, 237 pounds)
The Chiefs need to shore up the middle of their second-level defense between promising youngsters Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. for Steve Spagnuolo’s 3-4 after getting limited return from the position for a while. Lloyd is a good run defender but his impact calling card comes in the passing game as both a blitzer and cover man.
***TRADE*** 31. New York Giants (from Bengals)
George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue (6-4, 256 pounds)
The Giants will work the draft board well with new GM Joe Schoen. After addressing pass protection deftly for new offensive-minded coach Brian Daboll with Neal on a trade up at No. 2, they can go after another “Greek freak” with some dazzling pass-rush upside to balance out taking Stingley to upgrade their playmaking in coverage. The Bengals will like getting No. 36 and No. 147 in the second and fifth rounds in exchange with no pressing needs.
***TRADE*** 32. Buffalo Bills (from Rams through Lions)
- Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington (5-11, 194 pounds)
The Bills can rebound nicely after missing out on McDuffie to the Patriots by still landing a cornerback they like to replace and upgrade from Levi Wallace opposite Tre’Davious White. He has the size, physicality and aggressiveness to please Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as a playmaking No. 2.