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2022 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Steelers trade back, grab stud corner in Round 1

The Steelers trade back and add pieces on both sides of the ball in my latest three-round NFL mock draft.

Clemson v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

We are less than one month away from the 2022 NFL Draft, and free agency has shaken things up drastically. Thus, it is time for an updated mock draft!

By now, you should know the two ground rules of my mock drafts, but as a refresher, here they are:

  1. My mock drafts are about what I think will or could realistically happen, not about what I think should happen. I am not playing GM for each team; rather, this is a projection of what I think teams could do if the board falls as such.
  2. Trades can be projected.

If you can get on board with those two rules, you will easily understand the direction this mock draft is headed. I also feel as if it is important to do a full NFL mock draft, as other teams’ selections will have a major impact on who the Steelers could realistically take. Knowing how the board could potentially fall is important for fans who want an idea of who could be available when the Steelers are on the clock.

Before we dive into the mock draft, let me remind you that many of the players mentioned in this mock are discussed by Jeremy Betz and myself on The Steelers Draft Fix. You can check out our latest episode in the player below. In this episode, we discuss Steelers team needs while also breaking down the EDGE rushers in this draft.

Since my last mock, we have seen plenty of new additions to the Steelers roster, none of which are more important than Mitch Trubisky. While I am thrilled about the signing of Trubisky, I still expect the Steelers to look closely at the quarterbacks in this draft. However, the signing of Trubisky keeps the Steelers from being forced to reach for a guy who the team may not be completely sold on.

There are still many changes that will take place between now and mock draft 5.0 on draft day, but we finally have a grasp on potential team needs, which makes the mock drafts much more realistic. In this mock draft, I have four trades and three quarterbacks in round one, and I have the Steelers showing unusual movement in both round one as well as round two.

Let’s dive into all of it as I release to you my mock draft 3.0!

Round 1

1. Jaguars- Travon Walker | EDGE | Georgia

On the Draft Insiders Podcast, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline stated that the chances of the Jaguars taking Walker are better than 50/50, pointing out that Walker is exactly the type of edge rusher that Trent Baalke has always liked. There will be plenty of intrigue leading up to draft day when it comes to the first pick in the draft.

2. Lions- Aidan Hutchinson | EDGE | Michigan

This would be the best case scenario for the Lions, as the next best option would either be reaching for Kyle Hamilton or reaching for Malik Willis. The Lions would not have to look very far for Hutchinson, who is coming off a dominant season with Michigan.

3. Texans- Kyle Hamilton | S | Notre Dame

Do not put too much stock into Hamilton’s 40 time, as every other aspect of his game is well above average. I do not see him as a generational talent like some do, but his versatility and playmaking ability will make him a useful tool in the modern-day NFL.

4. Jets- Ahmad Gardner | CB | Cincinnati

Gardner has separated himself from the rest of the cornerbacks in this draft after a phenomenal 2021 campaign for the Bearcats. Bryce Hall has developed into a solid cornerback, but there is not much else to write home about at that position for the Jets. Gardner gives them a true lockdown corner for years to come.

5. Giants- Evan Neal | OT | Alabama

I contemplated giving the Giants Ikem Ekwonu here, but Neal may be a slightly better fit for what the Giants need. He is a better complement to what Andrew Thomas already brings on the left side of the line. He would be a day one starter at right tackle, and if the Giants choose to let Thomas walk when his contract expires, he could become their long-term answer at left tackle.

6. Panthers- Ikem Ekwonu | OT | North Carolina State

This would be the perfect situation for Carolina. I am still not of the belief that Carolina takes a quarterback this high, primarily for two reasons. First of all, Sam Darnold went 3-0 when Christian McCaffrey was healthy last season. He may not be the long-term answer, but he allows Carolina to look other places with their first pick. Secondly, Carolina needs a quarterback who is ready to start day one. Willis is the only quarterback I would consider taking this high, but he is not ready to start Week 1. In this scenario, they stay in-state and take arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, filling their biggest team need.

7. Giants- Kayvon Thibodeaux | EDGE | Oregon

Walker has surpassed Thibodeaux on most boards, but that does not take away from the tremendous upside Thibodeaux brings. However, he needs to prove to teams his love for the game of football, as said concern is the only thing that may keep him from going inside the top ten.

8. Falcons- Jermaine Johnson | EDGE | Florida State

I toyed with the idea of quarterback here, but I did not feel comfortable with it based on the rumors I am hearing. Arthur Smith is familiar with Marcus Mariota from his time in Tennessee, and their needs at EDGE rusher and wide receiver cannot be ignored. Jermaine Johnson is an athletic freak who provides the requisite length and bend to be an explosive edge rusher in a 3-4 system.

9. Seahawks- Charles Cross | OT | Mississippi State

Whether it is Drew Lock under center or somebody else, the Seahawks need to do something they never did for Russell Wilson: build a decent offensive line. Cross’ profile does not match Pete Carrol’s traditional ground-n’-pound philosophy, but he is a fantastic pass protector who will help keep the quarterback clean.

10. Jets- Drake London | WR | USC

After losing out on Tyreek Hill, the Jets will likely be in the market for a playmaking wide receiver in the draft. London missed part of the 2021 season due to injury, but he was easily the best receiver in college football when healthy. He is a slimmer version of Mike Evans.

11. Commanders- Garrett Wilson | WR | Ohio State

With no clear direction for the Commanders to go here, why not grab an explosive playmaker to play opposite Terry McLaurin? Wilson is not the best complement to McLaurin’s skill set, but he displays tough hands in contested-catch situations. He would give Carson Wentz another talented pass-catcher with field-stretching capabilities.

12. Vikings- Trent McDuffie | CB | Washington

I still have Derek Stingley and Andrew Booth rated higher than McDuffie, but McDuffie’s schematic versatility allows him to fit in almost any scheme. Ideally, he should play in the slot year one, but his lack of elite size has not affected him thus far into his football-playing career.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Texans receive Saints 1st round pick and 2023 2nd & 6th round picks)
13. Saints- Malik Willis | QB | Liberty

Before the additions of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, I thought New Orleans’ top option at quarterback in the draft would be the more polished guy in Kenny Pickett. However, the Saints now have temporary placeholders at the position, allowing them to grab the more talented player in Willis and let him sit for a year.

14. Ravens- Jordan Davis | DT | Georgia

It would hurt to see a player of Davis’ caliber go to the Steelers’ archrival, but this would not be an easy choice for the Ravens. They also have needs at corner and offensive line, and in this mock, all three of Derek Stingley, Tyler Linderbaum, and Trevor Penning are on the board. However, the Ravens could use another man in the middle of their defensive line to aid in run defense. Davis is a high-floor prospect who also brings three-down potential.

15. Eagles- Devin Lloyd | ILB | Utah

Lloyd is not the fastest linebacker, but he is a sufficient athlete who displays excellent instincts as a run defender. He is also a sound tackler who rarely misses in the open field. Linebacker is arguably Philly’s biggest need, and Lloyd fits the mold they are looking for.

16. Eagles- Derek Stingley, Jr. | CB | LSU

There are many questions surrounding the football character of Stingley, but based on talent alone, he is hands down a top-ten player in this draft. This would be a good situation for Stingley, as he would be able to man CB2 duties while learning from Darius Slay, a player who has several similarities to him from an athletic standpoint.

17. Chargers- Trevor Penning | OT | Northern Iowa

The Chargers found a stud tackle in Rashawn Slater last year, but they are still in need of a right tackle, as Storm Norton has been far from impressive. Penning is a raw athlete who will likely begin his career on the right side of the line. He plays with a streak of nasty, which is something the Chargers could use more of in the trenches.

18. Texans (projected from Saints)- George Karlaftis | EDGE | Purdue

Injuries have been the theme of Karlaftis’ career, but his athletic upside is extraordinary. Karlaftis recorded an insane 6.78 in the 3-cone drill at his pro day, proving his nimbleness and bend as an EDGE rusher despite his thick build. Houston has needs just about everywhere, so grabbing a player of this caliber at a major position is a realistic way to go.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Eagles receive Panthers’ 2023 1st and 4th round picks)
19. Panthers- Kenny Pickett | QB | Pittsburgh

Taking Pickett with the sixth pick would be a serious reach, but if they like him as much as some reports say, I could see them mortgaging future picks to move back into the first round, especially with Matt Rhule potentially on the hot seat and in need of a good 2022 season. If the Jalen Hurts experiment does not work out in Philly, the Eagles will want extra draft capital in 2023 to move up for their guy. Combine that with the fact that the Steelers are picking next, and all of a sudden, pick 19 seems like a spot where we could see a trade on draft night.

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Steelers receive Chiefs’ 1st (29), 3rd (94) and 4th (135) round picks)
20. Chiefs- Jameson Williams | WR | Alabama

We have yet another deep receiver class this year, but none possess the explosiveness of a healthy Jameson Williams. The Chiefs lost their speed demon, Tyreek Hill, to the Dolphins, making receiver a major need once again. Williams may not make eye-popping contributions in his rookie season, but his elite speed and elusiveness make him the most ideal replacement for Hill. With the Patriots and Packers picking at 21 and 22, Kansas City may need to move up to secure him. Fortunately, they have the draft capital to do so.

21. Patriots- Chris Olave | WR | Ohio State

Corner is certainly a need for New England, but I would not rule out a reunion with Stephon Gilmore if he does not sign elsewhere in the coming days. There are also several developmental corners that fit Belichick’s mold on day two of the draft. Olave does not play as fast as the 40 time he recorded at the combine, but he is a precise route runner who is incredibly quick in and out of cuts.

22. Packers- Treylon Burks | WR | Arkansas

There are rumors of Burks potentially dropping out of round 1, but he seems exactly like the receiver Matt LaFleur likes. He is a versatile weapon who has a knack for making the big play downfield. Burks is often compared to a slightly bigger Deebo Samuel, but there are serious concerns about his route-running ability. If he gets past Green Bay, do not be surprised if he falls completely out of round one.

23. Cardinals- Boye Mafe | EDGE | Minnesota

This is a little high for Mafe, but Arizona needs a talented EDGE rusher who can help replace the void left by Chandler Jones. Mafe is a phenomenal athlete who can fit in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. He is still raw and in need of technique refinement, but if Arizona can unlock his full potential, they will be getting a pro-bowl caliber pass rusher for years to come.

24. Cowboys- Tyler Smith | OL | Tulsa

The Cowboys have needs at both tackle and guard, and Smith is capable of playing either of those spots. He aligned primarily as a tackle in college but did not perform great against quicker edge rushers. I see him as an all-pro caliber guard at the next level who may have issues if asked to play tackle.

25. Bills- Devonte Wyatt | DT | Georgia

This would be quite the fall for Wyatt, who has been trending upward ever since his incredible combine performance. Nonetheless, we see several players who surprisingly fall every year, whether it be due to team needs or potential red flags with the prospect. In this case, it would simply be due to the fact that defensive tackle is not the top need on very many teams’ list of needs. He is a talented lineman who fits best in a 4-3 system as a 3-technique.

26. Titans- Nakobe Dean | LB | Georgia

The Titans have a couple pieces at linebacker in Zach Cunningham and Davis Long, but they lack a true difference-maker. Dean was always around the ball making big plays for Georgia, displaying his excellent closing speed and instincts. He is definitely undersized, but if he can get better at shedding blocks, he will be a difference-maker in this league for years to come.

27. Buccaneers- Zion Johnson | G | Boston College

The retirement of Ali Marpet combined with the loss of Alex Cappa in free agency has made guard a major need for Tampa Bay. Johnson may not have the highest ceiling, but his tape is some of the most consistent tape you will find. Once he latches onto a defender, he can turn on bulldozer mode and take over the rep.

28. Packers- Leo Chenal | ILB | Wisconsin

Nakobe Dean would have been an absolutely wonderful fit, but if the board falls like it does in this mock, I could see the Packers reaching slightly for a local guy who is on the upward trend. Chenal put up monster combine and pro day numbers for someone his size, making him an intriguing option for the linebacker-needy Packers.

29. Steelers (projected from Chiefs)- Andrew Booth, Jr. | CB | Clemson

Before yinz head to the comment section to inform me that the Steelers rarely trade back, do not forget that, when nobody saw wide receiver as a possibility in the first round, I gave the Steelers a receiver in round one. That was in my most recent mock draft. Now, after losing three receivers in free agency and only replacing one, that outcome is definitely in play. However, if the Steelers have opportunities to move up or down, I could see Kevin Colbert taking an aggressive approach in his final draft as the Steelers general manager.

The Steelers have never been the type of team to trade back under Kevin Colbert, but if they cannot secure their quarterback in round one, perhaps they accumulate more capital by sliding back in round one and use their additional ammo to move up in the second round for one of the second-tier quarterbacks.

Tony Pauline seemed rather concerned about Booth’s speed, saying that some people inside the NFL believe he is a 4.6 guy. I generally trust Tony Pauline’s information, as it is usually on point, but I do not see how this is true. Booth plays much faster than that, and his athleticism has been the most evident part of his game, going all the way back to his high school days. He was a five-star recruit who was widely considered one of the most athletic cornerbacks in his class.

Even Pro Football Network’s Oliver Hodgkinson seems to disagree with their resident draft insider’s report. He had this to say about Booth in his scouting report on the Clemson standout.

Despite impressing in all of the above areas, Booth’s best attribute as an NFL Draft prospect will be his athleticism. In my notes taken during his film study, the word athletic is in block capitals, underlined, and with a box drawn around to set it aside from everything else. The Clemson cornerback is fast, fluid, and full of energy.

Booth flies around the field, flashing impressive long speed to go toe to toe with receivers downfield. He also owns the exceptional short-area speed to click and close with ease. The cornerback has quick feet, loose hips, and as a result, a tremendous change-of-direction ability.

It is worth noting that Booth just underwent sports hernia surgery, but according to Adam Schefter, he is expected to be ready for training camp.

A quarterback could be in play here as well, but even though the Steelers would not get the fifth-year option by taking a quarterback in the second round, Colbert may choose to trade up in round two anyway, as the price of trading up is noticeably cheaper at that point. With new concepts hopefully being added to the defensive philosophy under new leadership, Booth will have the opportunity to develop into the first lockdown corner the Steelers have had since Ike Taylor.

30. Chiefs- David Ojabo | EDGE | Michigan

Ojabo was well on his way to becoming a top-ten or top-fifteen pick before suffering a torn achilles at his pro day. I see him as someone best suited for a 3-4 system, but the value may be too good for Kansas City to pass up here. They would not reap much fruit in year one, much like with Jameson Williams, but if they are thinking long-term, they may not concern themselves with getting immediate production from their first-round picks.

31. Bengals- Tyler Linderbaum | C | Iowa

Linderbaum has quickly plummeted on boards, as the concerns about play strength and arm length are only getting louder. Cincinnati has invested a good amount of money into their offensive line this offseason, but they are still in need of a center, as there is a high probability the newly-acquired Ted Karras will play guard. If they can land Linderbaum without trading up, there will be partying in the streets of Cincinnati.

(Lions receive Seahawks’ 2022 2nd (41) and 4th (109) round picks & 2023 3rd round pick; Seahawks receive Lions’ 2022 1st (32) and 6th (181) round picks)
32. Seahawks- Matt Corral | QB | Ole Miss

There have been rumors swirling about Seattle’s interest in Corral for several weeks now, but if they are unable to trade down from the ninth pick, they may consider moving back up into the late first round. I have concerns about Corral’s durability and style of play, but there is plenty of talent here. If Seattle can afford to be patient with him, this could be an ideal landing spot.

Round 2

33. Jaguars- Daxton Hill | S | Michigan
34. Lions- Jahan Dotson | WR | Penn State
35. Jets- Arnold Ebiketie | EDGE | Penn State
36. Giants- Kaiir Elam | CB | Florida
37. Texans- Skyy Moore | WR | Western Michigan

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Jets receive Ravens’ 2nd and 4th (110) round picks)

38. Ravens- Roger McCreary | CB | Auburn
39. Bears- Kenyon Green | G | Texas A&M

**PROJECTED TRADE** (Seahawks receive Steelers’ 2nd and 3rd (94) round picks)
40. Steelers- Desmond Ridder | QB | Cincinnati

It is no secret that the Steelers love Malik Willis, but do they like him enough to trade up for him if need be? That is the million dollar question. If they do not land Willis, it is possible that they opt for Ridder, who possesses the same character and toughness that I am sure Mike Tomlin has seen in Willis. The Steelers were well represented at Ridder’s pro day, reportedly sending eight team representatives to see Cincinnati’s draft prospects display their talents.

Here is Ridder’s scouting report from the BTSC NFL Draft Big Board:

Wilbar: Ridder’s best attributes are his arm strength and athleticism. He puts good velocity on all his passes, whether they be short, intermediate, or deep. His accuracy can be really good at times and really bad at other times. He has a tendency to overthrow wide-open receivers, although that issue was not as bad in 2021 as it was in years previous. He did not turn the ball over as much in 2020, and ball placement was a big reason why. Much like we talked about with Zach Wilson this past season, Ridder can effectively deliver the ball from many different arm angles, which allows him to make the most difficult throws with ease. There is a lot of upside with Ridder as a passer, but he is also lethal as a runner, as evidenced by his 2,000 plus rushing yards during his collegiate career. The other primary concern with Ridder, accuracy being the first one, is patience. Too often you will see Ridder tuck it and run if he does not like his first read, and it has cost Cincinnati some big plays that could have been had downfield. You can check out my summer breakdown of Ridder here.

41. Lions (projected from Seahawks)- Quay Walker | ILB | Georgia
42. Colts- Bernard Raimann | OT | Central Michigan
43. Falcons- Sam Howell | QB | North Carolina
44. Browns- DeMarvin Leal | DT | Texas A&M
45. Jets (projected from Ravens)- Troy Andersen | ILB | Montana State
46. Vikings- Nik Bonnitto | EDGE | Oklahoma
47. Commanders- Jalen Pitre | S | Baylor
48. Bears- George Pickens | WR | Georgia
49. Saints- Nicholas Petit-Frere | OT | Ohio State
50. Chiefs- Kyler Gordon | CB | Washington
51. Eagles- Jaquan Brisker | S | Penn State
52. Seahawks (projected from Steelers)- Cameron Thomas | EDGE | San Diego State
53. Packers- Christian Watson | WR | North Dakota State
54. Patriots- Tariq Woolen | CB | UTSA
55. Cardinals- Travis Jones | DT | Connecticut
56. Cowboys- Logan Hall | DL | Houston
57. Bills- Breece Hall | RB | Iowa State
58. Falcons- Kenneth Walker, Jr. | RB | Michigan State
59. Packers- Daniel Faalele | OT | Minnesota
60. Buccaneers- Trey McBride | TE | Colorado State
61. 49ers- Martin Emerson | CB | Mississippi State
62. Chiefs- Phidarian Mathis | DT | Alabama
63. Bengals- Perrion Winfrey | DL | Oklahoma
64. Broncos- Alontae Taylor | CB | Tennessee

Round 3

65. Jaguars- Christian Harris | LB | Alabama
66. Lions- Bailey Zappe | QB | Western Kentucky
67. Giants- Chad Muma | LB | Wyoming
68. Texans- Dylan Parham | G/C | Memphis
69. Jets- Channing Tindall | LB | Georgia
70. Jaguars- Sean Rhyan | OL | UCLA
71. Bears- Drake Jackson | EDGE | USC
72. Seahawks- Coby Bryant | CB | Cincinnati
73. Colts- Jalen Tolbert | WR | South Alabama
74. Falcons- Alec Pierce | WR | Cincinnati
75. Broncos- Brian Asamoah II | ILB | Oklahoma
76. Ravens- Lewis Cine | S | Georgia
77. Vikings- Cole Strange | G/C | Chattanooga
78. Browns- Sam Williams | EDGE | Ole Miss
79. Chargers- Mario Goodrich | CB | Clemson
80. Texans- Amare Barno | EDGE | Virginia Tech
81. Giants- Jamaree Salyer | OL | Georgia
82. Falcons- Zyon McCollum | CB | Sam Houston State
83. Eagles- David Bell | WR | Purdue

84. Steelers- John Metchie III | WR | Alabama

If Metchie lasts this long, he could be one of the biggest steals of the draft. His drop on draft boards is largely due to concerns about the ACL injury he suffered at the end of last season. However, he came on strong in the second half of 2021, developing a strong rapport with quarterback Bryce Young.

The Steelers have Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, but there is a lack of depth at the position. Metchie is an explosive playmaker who can stretch the field with his speed and make defenders miss in the open field with his quickness. He would give Mitch Trubisky another weapon who can create yards after the catch.

85. Patriots- Darrian Beavers | ILB | Cincinnati
86. Raiders- Abraham Lucas | OT | Washington State
87. Cardinals- James Cook | RB | Georgia
88. Cowboys- Khalil Shakir | WR | Boise State
89. Bills- Calvin Austin III | WR | Memphis
90. Titans- Cameron Jurgens | C | Nebraska
91. Buccaneers- Isaiah Likely | TE | Coastal Carolina
92. Packers- Bryan Cook | S | Cincinnati
93. 49ers- Ed Ingram | G | LSU
94. Seahawks (projected from Steelers via Chiefs)- Brandon Smith | ILB | Penn State
95. Bengals- Greg Dulcich | TE | UCLA
96. Broncos- Darian Kinnard | OL | Kentucky
97. Lions- Nick Cross | S | Maryland
98. Saints- Wan’Dale Robinson | WR | Kentucky
99. Browns- Kyle Phillips | WR | UCLA
100. Ravens- DeAngelo Malone | EDGE | Western Kentucky
101. Saints- Marcus Jones | CB | Houston
102. Dolphins- Malcolm Rodriquez | ILB | Oklahoma State
103. Chiefs- Kellen Diesch | OT | Arizona State
104. Rams- Cameron Taylor-Britt | CB | Nebraska
105. 49ers- Markquese Bell | S | Florida A&M

Steelers Selections

1:29- Andrew Booth, Jr. | CB | Clemson
2:40- Desmond Ridder | QB | Cincinnati
3:84- John Metchie III | WR | Alabama
4:135- Chris Paul | OT/G | Tulsa
4:139- Damone Clark | LB | LSU
6:209- Isaiah Weston | WR | Northern Iowa
7:226- Isaiah Pola-Mao | S | USC
7:242- James Mitchell | TE | Virginia Tech

For full analysis on each of these selections, be sure to check out the next episode of The Steelers Draft Fix Podcast, which will be released on Monday. On this week’s show, Jeremy and I will compare and contrast our mock drafts and debate who makes the most sense for the Steelers. You will not want to miss it!

What do you think of this mock draft as a whole? Which teams’ picks are the most realistic? Which picks would have made the most sense for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!