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6 surprises from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay’s combined 2022 NFL Mock Draft

We have some wild decisions in the latest mock.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft just over a week away we’re drawing closer to finally getting the picks in and erasing the pre-draft anxiety most football fans are living in. The time leading up to the draft is stressful if you’re a fan of a bad team, because we’re all just hoping our team doesn’t screw it up. If your team made the playoffs, congrats — you’re hoping a bad team screws up and lets a talented player fall.

Thus far we’ve had several mock drafts from ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, but Tuesday marked their first combined mock of the year, with the two draft experts alternating picks all the way down through the the end of the third round. Today we’re looking at the biggest things that jumped out at me in seeing this mock.

No. 1: The love for Travon Walker continues

I really like Georgia defensive end Travon Walker, but even then I think we’ve hit silly season with him. Walker was a mid-to-late first round pick at best prior to the combine, and then he wowed everyone with athletic potential and now his stock is off the charts.

Kiper has Walker going No. 2 overall to the Lions, with the justification that they stick with pass rush, despite Aidan Hutchinson being off the board (he’s taken No. 1). On some level I get it. Walker has ideal size to be a 4-3 end, with athleticism normally reserved for a 3-4 edge rusher. The issue I’m trying to reconcile is taking this big of a risk with a top five pick on a guy who had 9.5 sacks in college ... total.

Don’t get me wrong, raw stats aren’t the be all, end all for college pass rushers, but here’s what scares me: In the top 10 sacks leaders in the NFL last year, only one player didn’t have at least a 10.0 sack season in college. That was Micah Parsons. It really scares me to imagine taking a player this high without proven success.

No. 2: The fall of Charles Cross

Cross is the best pass blocking offensive tackle in this draft, period. So to see him falling to the No. 13 pick just defies belief to me. I get how this happened with they way their mock was shaping up, but I still can’t believe it.

It wasn’t long ago that I had Cross penciled in to the Panthers at No. 6, and still felt he might not be available. There are upside concerns with Cross that are causing people (including myself) to go with Evan Neal above him as the second-best offensive tackle in the draft, but I would still be stunned to see the Falcons and Seahawks passing on him.

That said, if the Texans manage to come away with Kayvon Thibodeaux AND Charles Cross as this mock has lined up, man would it be party time in Houston.

No. 3: The CB evaluation in this is so weird

Everyone and their brother has Sauce Gardner going as the top cornerback this year, and I get it. From there the obvious second best CB is Derek Stingley Jr, and I get that too. After that the Kiper/McShay mock goes off the rails to me.

Daxton Hill at No. 18, Andrew Booth Jr. at No. 25, then we gotta wait until pick 48 for Kaiir Elam? What is this madness?

Elam is better than both Hill and Booth Jr. to me, and he’s plummeting. Mel more or less confirms that he picked Hill early because he personally really likes him, which, no offense, scares me a lot. Taking a guy who almost exclusively played slot corner in college with the 18th overall pick is really worrying to me.

I had Hill going in the late 20s to a playoff team, but more importantly after Elam was off the board.

No. 4: Christian Watson being the fourth WR off the board

This is another Mel pick, and he acknowledges that Watson is a little raw — but still, I can’t believe he’s going No. 22 to the Packers with some of the other talent left on the board.

Traylon Burks and Jahan Dotson both go later, and I have higher grades on both of the players. It amazes me to see Watson going this high based on upside when Green Bay is in dire need of a proven, NFL-ready receiver who can immediately make an impact.

Part of me can’t deny that Watson’s physical tools could make him a first rounder, I just don’t love putting him with Aaron Rodgers.

No. 5: Tyler Linderbaum making it to the second round

Linderbaum is as safe a pick as there’s been in the last five years. Seriously. Sure, he’s a center, and that’s an undervalued position, but Linderbaum is a plug-and-play decade-plus starter who will probably rack up several Pro Bowls along the way.

This mock has him going to the Jaguars with the first pick of the second round. The issue I have is that I can’t imagine a smart, well managed playoff team wouldn’t jump on the chance to solidify the middle of their line — even if it’s not an immediate need.

Linderbaum is just too good to have this happen.

No. 6: Matt Corral to the Seahawks

Yes, it’s a second round pick — but I think this would be a mess.

To me, Seattle seems intimately aware of the future and accepting that they’re going to be a bad team in 2022. In fact, I envy that about them. This is a team playing to round out their depth and made a splash in the QB-rich environment of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Corral feels like a needless waste in a draft this deep. It also muddies the water when we get to next year. Unless you plan to start him immediately so you can evaluate, then you’re basically throwing away a pick now, and making it really tough to justify a QB next year.

I don’t see Seattle falling into this trap, especially with the talent left on the board. Kaiir Elam is still on the board here, Skyy Moore is still available. Why in the world would you skip on two future building blocks to take a QB who might not even be in the conversation in a year?

I hate it.