The Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine are now in the rearview mirror, and free agency is right around the corner. With that in mind, it is time to take a look at where things stand as I release to you my second mock draft of the 2022 draft season.
With the combine and Senior Bowl behind us, we now have a better idea of how high these prospects could go. Pro days could shake things up, and free agency will definitely change the positions of need for each team, but doing one right after the combine is a good way to see whose stock was most affected by their athletic testing. There were several players in Indianapolis who were banking on strong athletic testing, as their tape was not so impressive in 2021. The biggest risers, however, are always the players who have strong tape already but surprise scouts with unforeseen athleticism at the combine.
Ahmad Gardner is a perfect example of this. His tape was nearly flawless in 2021, but there were concerns about speed. Gardner put those concerns to bed by running a 4.41 in the 40, and it did not even look like the cleanest run. If not for tightening up midway through the run, he may have run a sub-4.4 time. He has now firmly cemented his status as the top cornerback in this class in the eyes of NFL scouts, according to several NFL insiders.
Let me remind everyone: a mock draft is a projection of what I think will happen, not a projection of what I want to happen. It is about combining what I have heard from various sources with what makes sense based on the tape I watched of these prospects.
In the early portions of draft season, I am going more off what I saw on tape, as there are not many rumors of what teams might do until later in the draft process. As reports of teams’ interest in certain players come in, the more I rely on those to formulate my opinion than I do what makes sense on tape, because not every pick is going to make sense on draft night anyway. There will always be a few picks that make people scratch their heads, and those picks would never be predicted by someone going solely off their own rankings and what they think makes sense. At this point in the process, it is about an even split as to what I am basing my predictions off of.
If you have any thoughts on my predictions for the Steelers or any other team, be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Let’s get to the mock!
1. Jaguars- Aidan Hutchinson | EDGE | Michigan
The Jaguars surprisingly put the franchise tag on Cam Robinson for the second straight year, indicating that the team will go in a different direction than offensive line. Hutchinson is the best player in this draft, and he has one of the highest floors of any prospect in this class.
2. Lions- Kyle Hamilton | S | Notre Dame
I am not a huge fan of this fit, but if Hutchinson is off the board, Hamilton may be the next best thing for what the Lions need. Tracy Walker is about to hit free agency, and Will Harris has not lived up to expectations. Hamilton did not run as well as expected, but he is still an explosive athlete who brings needed versatility to the Lions secondary.
3. Texans- Evan Neal | OT | Alabama
What do you give a team that needs everything? How about a 337-pound offensive tackle who can play on either side of the line? It looks as if the Texans will role with Davis Mills in 2022, and if they are going to get a fair read on whether Mills is the future or not, they need to give him some protection.
4. Jets- Ahmad Gardner | CB | Cincinnati
This is a little high for Gardner, but the Jets seriously need help in the secondary, and I am not sure if Travon Walker, the other player I considered here, would be the greatest fit in the Jets’ current scheme. Gardner was a true lockdown corner in college, allowing no more than 21 receiving yards to opposing receivers in any one game during the regular season.
5. Giants- Travon Walker | EDGE | Georgia
Walker is a freak. At over 270 pounds, Walker ran a 4.51 in the 40 and a 6.89 in the 3-cone drill at last week’s combine. He also recorded a 35.5 inch vertical jump and a 123 inch broad jump, making him one of the best athletes in the 2022 draft class. Azeez Ojulari showed promise in year one, but depth is lacking at that position. Adding Walker would be a major plus.
6. Panthers- Ikem Ekwonu | OT | North Carolina State
Ekwonu could easily go higher than this, but with the Jaguars potentially looking at a different position after tagging Cam Robinson, it is possible he falls this far and remains in the state of North Carolina. The Panthers offensive line was widely considered the worst offensive line in the league after the Steelers, making any offensive tackle a reasonable selection with the sixth pick.
7. Giants- Charles Cross | OT | Mississippi State
Andrew Thomas has finally developed into a reliable NFL tackle, but Nate Solder never found his niche in New York, and he is about to hit free agency. Cross has a lot of work to do as a run-blocker, but he was nearly flawless in pass protection in 2021 for Mike Leach’s pass-heavy, air-raid offense. A duo of Thomas and Cross should keep Daniel Jones clean inside the pocket.
8. Falcons- Drake London | WR | USC
With the mess that is Calvin Ridley, wide receiver now becomes a major need for this offense. The defense has been terrible for years now, but while a corner or edge rusher would certainly make sense here, London is just too talented to pass up. He has the potential of a Mike Evans if he can add a little weight to his 6’5” frame.
9. Seahawks- Malik Willis | QB | Liberty
Reports have surfaced that Seattle is entertaining a Deshaun Watson trade, but with too many unknowns surrounding that situation, I am considering the Seahawks as a team heading into the draft with a need at quarterback. Willis has many of the same traits as Russell Wilson when it comes to escapability inside and outside the pocket. If given time to develop, he has the chance to become one of the league’s brightest young stars.
10. Jets- Kayvon Thibodeaux | EDGE | Oregon
We have begun to see Thibodeaux’s stock drop due to inconsistency on tape as well as concerns about his dedication to the game of football. However, he is an athletic freak who would immediately become the best pass rusher on the Jets’ roster.
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Commanders receive Saints 1st, 2nd, and 5th round picks)
11. Saints- Kenny Pickett | QB | Pittsburgh
A higher-upside option would have made sense if Sean Payton was still in New Orleans to develop a high-end talent, but with Dennis Allen running the ship, getting a guy who is ready to start from day one makes more sense. Pickett does not have elite upside, but he will rack up wins for whichever team drafts him. His game is very reminiscent of Kirk Cousins.
12. Vikings- Jermaine Johnson | EDGE | Florida State
Johnson did not play against great competition in 2021, but that does not take away from his breakout season that included 11.5 recorded sacks. The combination of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen is no longer dominant, as neither player brings the explosiveness they once did. Getting younger on the edge makes sense for Minnesota.
13. Browns- Garrett Wilson | WR | Ohio State
Donovan Peoples-Jones is emerging into a playmaking wide receiver, but Jarvis Landry is heading into the final year of his deal, and there is even a chance he could get cut due to the large sum of money the Browns could save by doing so. Wilson is a deep play threat who would provide the Browns with reliability and explosiveness after the catch.
14. Ravens- Trevor Penning | OT | Northern Iowa
The Ravens need to replace Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, and although Penning is not ready to play left tackle in the NFL, he has the upside to play there in the future. His best fit would be at right tackle, where his nasty-demeanor straight-line power would have a better effect. He is raw and not the most technically sound lineman, but there are tools to work with here.
15. Eagles- Derek Stingley | CB | LSU
Stingley was once a projected top-five pick, but after playing very little over the past two seasons for various reasons, his love for the game has been questioned. Nonetheless, he is an immensely talented corner who has elite potential. The Eagles could ease him in as the number two cornerback opposite Darius Slay in year one.
16. Eagles- David Ojabo | EDGE | Michigan
I prefer Ojabo in a 3-4 scheme, but Philadelphia is in need of another edge rusher, and Ojabo is clearly the best one available. I could see him going inside the top ten, but because of the outstanding depth at his position, he could drop to middle of round one. His blend of speed and bend makes him one of the highest-upside prospects in the draft.
17. Chargers- Jordan Davis | DT | Georgia
A 4.78 40 at 341 pounds is... unfathomable. Davis is a freak of an athlete who was a consistent run defender for the Bulldogs. He has also shown flashes as a pass rusher, which is why I believe he can be a true three-down threat from the defensive tackle position.
18. Commanders- Zion Johnson | G | Boston College
After trading for Carson Wentz, the Commanders do not appear to be in the quarterback market. Pick 18 is way too high for Johnson, but if Washington loses Brandon Scherff in free agency, they will need to find a replacement, and Johnson is the best guard in the class.
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Eagles receive Buccaneers 1st, 3rd, and 5th round picks)
19. Buccaneers- Matt Corral | QB | Ole Miss
Corral is not the big-bodied pocket passer that Bruce Arians is accustomed to, but he displays a strong arm as well as a toughness that I believe Arians will be attracted to. With Kyle Trask as the only viable option at quarterback, Tampa Bay almost has to make a move for their guy.
20. Steelers- Jameson Williams | WR | Alabama
By now, you all should know that I am not afraid to think outside the box with these mock drafts. The other player I considered here was Andrew Booth, Jr. from Clemson, as I could make an argument for him as the best cornerback in this class. However, if I had to bet on a position the Steelers will spend legitimate money at on the defense, it would be cornerback. So for this mock draft, I wanted to look at a position other than corner.
Linebacker is another team need, but Devin Lloyd is simply a slower version of Devin Bush at MACK linebacker, and Nakobe Dean would be too undersized to play in a BUCK role next to Bush. There are also multiple intriguing names at this position on day two, which is why I do not see the Steelers taking a linebacker in round one.
Offensive line is a huge concern heading into 2022, but there are no tackles worth taking, and after seeing Tyler Linderbaum’s measurements at the combine, the Steelers may decide to avoid drafting an undersized center for the second consecutive season. Zion Johnson has received hype in recent days, but he was already off the board in this mock. Even if he was available, pick 20 is a little too high for a guard who is good but not elite. My hope is that the Steelers feel the same way. He could potentially be in play if the Steelers opted to trade down a few spots, but Colbert has never been a major player when it comes to trading down. Because of these reasons, I did not feel confident enough to mock a lineman here.
Things have been quiet surrounding JuJu Smith-Schuster, but at this point, it would be wiser financially to part ways. We will see whether or not the Steelers try to extend Diontae Johnson, but in either scenario, the Steelers would still lack a true burner at the receiver position. If both Kenny Pickett and Malik Willis are off the board, perhaps the Steelers will look to add another weapon before grabbing their quarterback. Thus, Jameson Williams is who I decided to go with.
Williams burst on the scene for Alabama in 2021, averaging over 20 yards per reception. The Ohio State transfer possesses elite speed, reliable hands, and impressive change-of-direction skills. Williams did suffer a torn ACL in the National Championship Game in January, but according to Adam Schefter, NFL teams believe he will re-gain his 4.3 speed once he fully recovers. This may be a unique projection for the Steelers, but it is a fresh idea that could make sense depending on how free agency plays out. If the board falls the way it did in this mock, I could see the Steelers giving a long, hard look at the explosive receiver from Alabama.
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Patriots receive Titans 1st and 3rd round picks; Titans receive Patriots 1st and 6th round picks)
21. Titans- Tyler Linderbaum | C | Iowa
Linderbaum’s stock has begun to fall due to his combine measurements. His arm length and weight were both a little lower than expected, but that does not take away from his greatness as an NFL prospect. For someone with as short of arms as Linderbaum possesses, he does an incredible job getting leverage in the run game while also displaying an ability to anchor in pass protection. This would be a nice grab for the Titans, who may need to replace Ben Jones.
22. Raiders- Devonte Wyatt | DL | Geogia
After the unfortunate Henry Ruggs story, the Raiders could very well go receiver here. However, they have a dire need along the interior of the defensive line as well. Wyatt struggled at times in run support when Jordan Davis went off the field, but he is an athletic specimen who brings three-down value to a 4-3 defense.
23. Cardinals- Arnold Ebiketie | EDGE | Penn State
Ebiketie displayed impressive hand usage and bend when I watched him on tape, and his impressive athleticism was on full display at the combine. If Arizona is unable to retain Chandler Jones, Ebiketie would be solid value in the back half of round one as a replacement.
24. Cowboys- Devin Lloyd | ILB | Utah
There are already rumors suggesting that Dan Quinn will recruit Bobby Wagner to Dallas, but until that happens, linebacker should be considered a major need for the Cowboys. Lloyd is a a tackling machine who brought consistent production to the Utah defense in 2021. He would be a great fit next to Micah Parsons.
25. Bills- Andrew Booth, Jr. | CB | Clemson
Buffalo is expecting a healthy Tre’Davious White in 2022, but with Levi Wallace hitting free agency, the Bills may look to find someone to play opposite White on the boundary. One could make an argument for Booth as the best cornerback in this class, as his man coverage skills are nothing short of elite.
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Patriots receive Lions’ 1st round pick and 3rd round compensatory pick)
26. Lions- Desmond Ridder | QB | Cincinnati
The second overall pick is just a little too rich for a quarterback this year, but depending on who is still available, the Lions may be able to find their guy with their second first-round pick. Ridder struggled in the College Football Playoff Semifinals, but he has bounced back nicely with solid Senior Bowl and combine performances. He could still sneak his way into the late first round.
27. Eagles- Nakobe Dean | ILB | Georgia
The Eagles have put off linebacker for too long, and it has now become a position that must be addressed, whether it be in free agency or in the draft. Dean is undersized, but he flies from sideline to sideline and has a nose for the football. Getting three blue-chip defenders, as suggested in this mock, would do wonders for the Eagles heading into 2022.
28. Packers- Chris Olave | WR | Ohio State
Is this finally the year the Packers get Aaron Rodgers receiving help in the first round? Only time will tell, but if you put just about any wide receiver here, it makes sense. Jahan Dotson, Skyy Moore, Treylon Burks, and Alec Pierce could all be in play here as well, but I will go with a higher-floor/lower-ceiling receiver in Olave. He is one of the safest plays at wide receiver, and he would immediately step in as the number two receiver opposite Davante Adams.
29. Dolphins- George Karlaftis | EDGE | Purdue
Every year we see a few players who drop further than they should, whether it be due to team needs or potential injury concerns. Karlaftis is an intriguing pass rusher who offers a decent bit of upside, but an unfortunate history with injuries could cause him to go a little lower than previously projected. However, Miami is in need of pass-rush help, and at this point, the reward outweighs the risk.
30. Chiefs- Daxton Hill | S | Michigan
I was a little surprised to see Hill do so poorly in both the vertical jump as well as the broad jump, but the rest of his testing was fantastic, and he looked extremely fluid in the on-field drills. If the Chiefs are unable to retain Tyrann Mathieu, Hill makes too much sense here.
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Bengals receive Seahawks 2nd round pick (40) and 4th round pick)
31. Seahawks- Kaiir Elam | CB | Florida
After making the trade for Russell Wilson, Seattle has the ammunition to trade up whenever and wherever they want. Offensive tackle and linebacker are both pressing needs, but there are none available that match the value of the pick. This leads us to cornerback, as the Seahawks could use a true number one corner. Elam is a big, fast cornerback who is experienced and polished in zone coverage.
32. Patriots (projected from Lions)- Troy Andersen | ILB | Montana State
Is this a classic Patriots move, or is this a classic Patriots move? Trade back twice and get a small-school linebacker who is tough and physical. Andersen is one of the most athletic linebackers in this draft, and his stock could not be rising any higher after an impressive week at the combine.
33. Jaguars- Kenyon Green | G | Texas A&M
34. Lions- Christian Watson | WR | North Dakota State
35. Jets- Treylon Burks | WR | Arkansas
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Giants receive Steelers 2022 2nd round pick and 2023 3rd round pick)
36. Steelers- Sam Howell | QB | North Carolina
I would not be a fan of this move, but before the rumors of the Steelers’ love for Malik Willis came out at the Senior Bowl, Sam Howell was the player many people thought the Steelers had their eye on. I do not know how strong the Steelers’ interest for Malik Willis actually is, but if Willis’ stock continues to rise and the Steelers’ interest is not strong enough to trade up into the top ten to secure him, Kevin Colbert may decide to move up in the second round for Howell instead.
Howell was once a projected top-five pick, but after losing his top two receivers and running backs to the NFL, he struggled to consistently create plays. This leads one to question whether he is capable of being a dependable quarterback without great talent around him. Nonetheless, he is an accurate deep-ball passer who possesses a solid arm and decent athleticism. This is not an outcome I would like, but it is definitely possible if the Steelers fail to land Willis in round one.
37. Texans- Trent McDuffie | CB | Washington
38. Jets- Jalen Pitre | S | Baylor
39. Bears- Alec Pierce | WR | Cincinnati
40. Bengals (projected from Seahawks)- Bernard Raimann | OT | Central Michigan
41. Seahawks- Leo Chenal | ILB | Wisconsin
42. Colts- Carson Strong | QB | Nevada
43. Falcons- Boye Mafe | EDGE | Minnesota
**PROJECTED TRADE** (Browns receive Eagles 2nd, 5th (153), and 6th (205) round picks)
44. Eagles- Skyy Moore | WR | Western Michigan
45. Ravens- Tariq Woolen | CB | UTSA
46. Vikings- Roger McCreary | CB | Auburn
47. Commanders- Jaquan Brisker | S | Penn State
48. Chargers- Greg Dulcich | TE | UCLA
49. Commanders (projected from Saints)- Cole Strange | G/C | Chattanooga
50. Dolphins- Breece Hall | RB | Iowa State
51. Browns (projected from Eagles)- DeMarvin Leal | DT | Texas A&M
52. Giants (projected from Steelers)- Lewis Cine | S | Georgia
53. Raiders- Jahan Dotson | WR | Penn State
54. Patriots- Derion Kendrick | CB | Georgia
55. Cardinals- Trey McBride | TE | Colorado State
56. Cowboys- Travis Jones | DT | Connecticut
57. Bills- Sean Rhyan | OT/G | UCLA
58. Falcons- Kenneth Walker III | RB | Michigan State
59. Packers- Abraham Lucas | OT | Washington State
60. Buccaneers- Tyler Smith | OT/G | Tulsa
61. 49ers- Dylan Parham | G/C | Memphis
62. Chiefs- David Bell | WR | Purdue
63. Bengals- Perrion Winfrey | DL | Oklahoma
64. Broncos- Amare Barno | EDGE | Virginia Tech
65. Jaguars- Calvin Austin III | WR | Memphis
66. Lions- Christian Harris | ILB | Alabama
67. Giants- George Pickens | WR | Georgia
68. Texans- Cameron Thomas | EDGE | San Diego State
69. Jets- Isaiah Likely | TE | Coastal Carolina
70. Jaguars- Logan Hall | DL | Houston
71. Bears- Kingsley Enagbare | EDGE | South Carolina
72. Seahawks- Chad Muma | LB | Wyoming
73. Colts- Nicholas Petit-Frere | OT | Ohio State
74. Falcons- Kyler Gordon | CB | Washington
75. Broncos- Daniel Faalele | OT | Minnesota
76. Ravens- Phidarian Mathis | DT | Alabama
77. Vikings- Channing Tindall | ILB | Georgia
78. Browns- Jamaree Salyer | G | Georgia
79. Chargers- Alontae Taylor | CB | Tennessee
80. Texans- John Metchie III | WR | Alabama
81. Giants- Matthew Butler | DT | Tennessee
82. Colts- Nik Bonnito | EDGE | Oklahoma
83. Eagles- Jalen Wydermyer | TE | Texas A&M
84. Steelers- Quay Walker | ILB | Georgia
I am a firm believer that Devin Bush had not fully recovered from his ACL injury while participating in the 2021 season. This theory is further suggested by Bush’s improved play toward the end of the season, as his movement skills seemed to improve the longer time went on and the longer he had been removed from the occurrence of his injury. However, the Steelers have no viable options next to Bush, as Joe Schobert proved in 2021 that he is not a BUCK linebacker. Robert Spillane is serviceable in an emergency situation, but he is not starter material. Thus, inside linebacker needs to be addressed.
I am a big fan of Walker’s game. He is a phenomenal athlete who blossomed late in the 2021 season, helping lead Georgia’s defense to a national-championship level. He still needs a little work when it comes to fluidity in coverage, but he is a sound tackler, has fantastic range, and displays good instincts against the run. At 6’3”, 240 pounds, Walker also brings ideal length, which is something the Steelers currently lack at that position. Whether it be Walker, Darrian Beavers, or someone else, the Steelers should be able to take advantage of a deep linebacker class in the middle rounds.
85. Patriots- Jalen Tolbert | WR | South Alabama
86. Raiders- Jalyn Armour-Davis | CB | Alabama
87. Cardinals- Coby Bryant | CB | Cincinnati
88. Cowboys- Rasheed Walker | OT | Penn State
89. Bills- Brian Robinson, Jr. | RB | Alabama
90. Patriots (projected from Titans)- James Cook | RB | Georgia
91. Eagles (projected from Buccaneers)- Darian Kinnard | OT/G | Kentucky
92. Packers- Damone Clark | ILB | LSU
93. 49ers- Martin Emerson | CB | Mississippi State
94. Chiefs- Sam Williams | EDGE | Ole Miss
95. Bengals- Jeremy Ruckert | TE | Ohio State
96. Broncos- Darrian Beavers | ILB | Cincinnati
97. Patriots (projected from Lions)- Kerby Joseph | S | Illinois
98. Browns- Tyreke Smith | EDGE | Ohio State
99. Ravens- Khalil Shakir | WR | Boise State
100. Saints- Kyle Phillips | WR | UCLA
101. Dolphins- Spencer Burford | OT | UTSA
102. Chiefs- Cameron Taylor-Britt | CB | Nebraska
103. Rams- Drake Jackson | EDGE | USC
What are your thoughts on my latest mock draft? Which picks did you think were the most realistic? What is the most likely scenario for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!
Do you think the Steelers will draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft?
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