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NFL Mock Draft: Compete first round after the NFL combine

A lineman-heavy draft full of promise.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books, we’re now hurtling towards the 2022 NFL Draft in earnest. There will be dozens of pro days and one-on-one meetings between now and April 28 when the first round begins, but the end of the combine provides a pretty good sense of where things currently stand.

The big movement in this mock isn’t really movement at all. I still have Malik Willis being selected by the Washington Commanders at No. 11, but now he’s the first quarterback off the board. This really feels too low, and honestly, I could see several teams in the Top 10 like Carolina, Atlanta or Denver all selecting him — or a dark horse trading up when the dust settles. Let me put it this way: I think the absolute floor for Willis is that No. 11 pick. The Commanders are in dire need of a QB, and Ron Rivera made a career for himself in Carolina with Cam Newton at the helm, so he’s accustomed to rolling the dice on mammoth upside at the position, rather than waiting for a perfectly polished product.

Another thing to notice is just how astoundingly deep this class is on both the offensive and defensive line. I have a total of 14 offensive and defensive linemen being selected in the first round, and that could be pushed even higher. If you’re a team that hasn’t invested well in the trenches, this is a year to cash in — because the depth is absolutely ridiculous. We’re going to see guys go in the 20s and even early second round who would be Top 20 picks, or even higher in other years.

Post Combine Mock Draft

Pick Team Player Position School Top Needs
Pick Team Player Position School Top Needs
1 Jacksonville Jaguars Evan Neal OT Alabama OL, WR
2 Detroit Lions Aidan Hutchinson DE Michigan WR, EDGE
3 Houston Texans Kyle Hamilton S Notre Dame DB, DL
4 New York Jets Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner CB Cincinnati WR, CB
5 New York Giants Ikem Ekwonu OT NC State OL, EDGE
6 Carolina Panthers Charles Cross OT Miss. State OL, QB
7 New York Giants Kayvon Thibodeaux DE Oregon OL, EDGE
8 Atlanta Falcons Derek Stingley Jr. CB LSU EDGE, OL
9 Denver Broncos Jordan Davis DT Georgia QB, LB
10 New York Jets Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State WR, DB
11 Washington Commanders Malik Willis QB Liberty QB, OL
12 Minnesota Vikings Travon Walker DL Georgia CB, EDGE
13 Cleveland Browns Drake London WR USC DT, WR
14 Baltimore Ravens Tyler Linderbaum C Iowa OL, DT
15 Philadelphia Eagles George Karlaftis DE Purdue EDGE, S
16 Philadelphia Eagles Devin Lloyd LB Utah EDGE, S
17 Los Angeles Chargers Jameson Williams WR Alabama DT, WR
18 New Orleans Saints Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh QB, WR
19 Philadelphia Eagles David Ojabo DL Michigan EDGE, S
20 Pittsburgh Steelers Trevor Penning OT Northern Iowa QB, OL
21 New England Patriots Trent McDuffie CB Washington DB, WR
22 Las Vegas Raiders Nakobe Dean LB Georgia WR, DT
23 Arizona Cardinals Kaiir Elam CB Florida DB, DL
24 Dallas Cowboys DeMarvin Leal DL Texas A&M DB, DL
25 Buffalo Bills Kenyon Green OL Texas A&M OL, DL
26 Tennessee Titans Bernhard Raimann OL Central Michigan OL, TE
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Daxton Hill CB Michigan OL, CB
28 Green Bay Packers Chris Olave WR Ohio State WR, EDGE
29 Miami Dolphins Breece Hall RB Iowa State OL, RB
30 Kansas City Chiefs Treylon Burks WR Arkansas DB, OL
31 Cincinnati Bengals Roger McCreary CB Auburn DB, OL
32 Detroit Lions Jahan Dotson WR Penn State WR, EDGE

When entering these mocks I like to wipe the slate clean, and really try to get in the head of each team making the pick. There are times where I’m looking at filling a need with a top talent, others where taking a need would be a reach — so I grab a player that fits the ethos of the selecting team, and a guy who I think can make an impact.

A lot of times this results in a final mock where I’m surprised how I worked out, so I’m going to share a few of my observations and someone looking at the finishing product.

  • I LOVE what the Giants and Jets do here: Any time you have two top 10 picks the trick is going to be not screwing it up, rather than hitting it out of the park. In this case I think both New York teams absolutely kill it. The Jets might catch some hell for taking Sauce Gardner over Derek Stingley Jr., but Gardner is a rare athlete for a corner that size. Then they grab the best receiver in the draft to round out their picks. Meanwhile the Giants stick to the trenches to give themselves a foundation, and get the safest top OT in the draft in Ikem Ekwonu, then go for pure upside with pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. If this plays out for either team, fans should be thrilled.
  • You can’t teach what Georgia’s DL brings to the table: The combine performances of the DL duo, Jordan Davis and Travon Walker were on an entire other level. Both players were inhuman in Indianapolis, redefining how men of their size move and carry themselves. When we look at production in the NFL, plus what teams crave, so much of it hinges on versatility. I don’t want to get too hyperbolic comparing anyone to Aaron Donald, but I will say that both Davis and Walker have similar traits that will allow them to move around the defensive line and work almost any position.
  • The Saints take Pickett? I really, really struggled to isolate what New Orleans does in this draft. It’s especially difficult considering the swirling rumors around their QB position. The Saints could re-sign Jameis Winston, they could trade for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo, or they could make the decision I have here, and take Kenny Pickett. Honestly, I think Pickett is a steal at No. 19. I think a lot is being made of his hand size, and the entire process has cast too much unfair doubt his way. Now you have New Orleans, who excelled for years with Drew Brees, who didn’t fit the ideal measurables — then they played Teddy Bridgewater, who was also knocked for hand size, of course there’s also Taysom Hill. The Saints aren’t afraid to defy conventional wisdom at the position, and I think building for the future is the smartest play for the team at this point.
  • The elephant in the room ... is of course, Aaron Rodgers. It’s the one thing that could completely blow up the entire board. There are rumors we’ll get a decision from Rodgers on Tuesday, and if that entails demanding a trade, well, brace yourselves. If the MVP gets dealt to the Denver Broncos it would certainly entail giving up the No. 9 pick as part of a package. Than would then lead to the WRs or edge rushers getting shaken up, and have a domino effect through the end of the first round.