Janik Eckardt’s Mock Draft 2.0
Janik Eckhardt’s Mock Draft 1.0 can be found here.
The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft will take place on April 28th. The Jacksonville Jaguars will have the first overall pick. Eight teams in the draft have two selections in the first round, including the NFC North teams, the Packers and Lions. The Minnesota Vikings have the 12th pick. Their most significant needs are cornerback and interior offensive lineman. In the following, I will show a combination of what I envision to happen and what I would do if I were the GM of the selecting team.
Pass Rushers Go Early
- 1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Aiden Hutchinson, Michigan
- 2. Detroit Lions: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
The first two selections in the 2022 NFL Draft are edge rushers. Jacksonville gets a true culture changer and the best player in the draft. Hutchinson will be the leader of their defense for a long time.
Travon Walker is a physical specimen. He had almost a perfect combine performance, and his athleticism shows on tape. He has the tools to become the next dominant pass rusher in the league, despite not racking up huge sack numbers in college. Walker played primarily in a run-stopping role in Georgia. He will be a tough but fun-to-watch matchup for Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw.
- 3. Houston Texans: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State
- 4. New York Jets: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Both the Jets and the Texans have a lot of holes to fill. Nick Caserio, general manager of the Texans, selects offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu. He is a technically sound blocker and will either play opposite of LT Laremy Tunsil or make him expendable and available in trade talks.
The Jets pick Derek Stingley Jr. If he can play at the level of his true freshman season in 2019, he is a future All-Pro. Injuries slowed him down in the last couple of seasons, but the strong showing at his pro showed that he’s healthy and ready to go.
The First QB Selected
- 5. New York Giants: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
- 6. Carolina Panthers: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
The Giants try to finally fix their offensive line after a long time. Evan Neal is a large human being and will protect Daniel Jones in his prove-it year, opposite of tackle Andrew Thomas.
The Panthers have to bring in a quarterback. Matt Corral is the choice. He is the most accurate passer in the class and is great at running RPOs. Building the offense around Corral’s run-pass options is the best chance for the Panthers to have a good offense in 2022.
Vikings Trade Up
- 7. New York Giants: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
- 8. Minnesota Vikings: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
The Giants select another college star in the draft. Thibodeaux was regarded as the top pick in the draft for years. The Giants get a much-needed pass rusher, who could be a star if he improves his pass-rushing moves.
The Vikings trade picks 12, 77, and 184 for the eighth overall pick and draft Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner. He might be the best cornerback in the draft, and the Vikings need help at that position. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had to jump the Seahawks, who would have probably drafted the Cincinnati cornerback. He is a true shutdown corner who will receive tutoring from veteran Patrick Peterson. The Falcons receive more draft capital for their rebuild.
- 9. Seattle Seahawks: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
- 10. New York Jets: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
- 11. Washington Commanders: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The Seahawks LT Duane Brown is a free agent, and the offensive line was already suspect with him. Charles Cross is a gigantic improvement.
The Jets need to surround the 2021 second overall pick, Zach Wilson, with weapons. Receivers Elijah Moore and Corey Davis welcome Jameson Williams to their team. He is a speed demon and was fantastic in his final college season. He is ahead of schedule for his ACL rehabilitation and could even be available for the season opener.
The Commanders have to build for a future without Terry McLaurin, whose contract talks are not going well. Garrett Wilson, like McLaurin, a former Buckeye, can be a second wide receiver if McLaurin stays or be the top guy if he is no longer on the team.
A New Weapon For Davis Mills
- 12. Atlanta Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
- 13. Houston Texans: WR Drake London, USC
- 14. Baltimore Ravens: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
With the Vikings pick, the Falcons select the best player available, safety Kyle Hamilton. A true impact player in the secondary and the new leader of the Falcons’ defense.
The Texans have one year to find out if Davis Mills is good enough to be the future of their franchise. Drake London is a big receiver and will help the team evaluate their passer.
The Ravens always pick the best player available. This time it’s George Karlaftis who will help their defensive front. The powerful Greek is good against the pass and the run and can genuinely destroy offensive play calls.
Saints Find the Brees Successor
- 15. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
- 16. New Orleans Saints: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
- 17. Los Angeles Chargers: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
The Eagles have to find a cornerback to pair with Darius Slay. McDuffie is excellent in coverage, as he just allowed 111 receiving yards last season without a touchdown.
The Saints need a long-term quarterback. They re-signed Jameis Winston and still have Taysom Hill on the roster, which results in perfect circumstances for Malik Willis. He can sit behind the other quarterbacks for one or two years before taking over the starting spot.
The Chargers had huge problems at stopping the run, and Jordan Davis is the perfect player to put an end to those struggles. 360-pound players with his athleticism don’t come around very often.
- 18. Philadelphia Eagles: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
- 19. New Orleans Saints: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
- 20. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
After getting help to their secondary with Trent McDuffie, Howie Roseman, the GM of the Eagles, gets the best linebacker in the draft. In 2021, the Eagles’ linebacker play was among the worst in the NFL.
The strength of the Saints in recent years was the offensive line. Star LT Armstead left in free agency, so they have to get a replacement. Penning played against lower competition and has to get better in pass protection, but his run blocking and athleticism are at a very high level.
The Steelers miss out on Penning and therefore attack the quarterback position. Kenny Pickett stays in Pittsburgh and will compete with Trubisky for the starting job. He is the most pro-ready passer in the draft but lacks a high ceiling and therefore is the third quarterback selected.
No WR for Aaron Rodgers
- 21. New England Patriots: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
- 22. Green Bay Packers: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
- 23. Arizona Cardinals: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia
The Patriots have to give Mac Jones more weapons. Chris Olave is a great route runner and will make a difference in the development of the franchise quarterback.
The Packers don’t address the successor of the traded wide receiver Adams now, instead, they get Raimann to keep their offensive line at a very high level.
The Cardinals select Devonta Wyatt. Their defensive line lacked some talent and physicality in 2021, and the national champion can help in that department.
Packers Trade Up for a WR
- 24. Green Bay Packers: WR George Pickens, Georgia
- 25. Buffalo Bills: WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
- 26. Tennessee Titans: Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The Packers trade with the Cowboys. They give up picks 28, 132, and 258 for the 24th overall selection and choose the replacement for Adams. Pickens had injury problems in college but has a very high ceiling. He has to step up early in his career as one of Rodgers’ top targets.
The Bills try to keep their high-powered offense going and add another receiver to the mix. Josh Allen can throw to, among others, Stefon Diggs, Skyy Moore, and Gabriel Davis now.
The Titans select the best player on the board, who, surprisingly, is still available with pick 26.
- 27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OG Zion Johnson, Boston College
- 28. Dallas Cowboys: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
- 29. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
The Bucs need to find a way to replace Alex Cappa, who left in free agency to sign with the Bengals. Zion Johnson is pro-ready and will start in week 1.
Good Cowboys teams traditionally start with a dominant offensive line. The interior of the line struggled in recent years. For that reason, they draft the best center, Tyler Linderbaum.
The Chiefs lost cornerbacks Hughes and Ward and free agency and select Andrew Booth Jr. He is a top zone cornerback and will improve the secondary immediately.
The Chiefs Replace Tyreke Hill
- 30. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
- 31. Cincinnati Bengals: OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
- 32. Detroit Lions: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
Mahomes lost his top weapon, Tyreke Hill, in the offseason and therefore needs a new receiver. Christian Watson played at a lower level, but his speed, combined with a 6’4″ body, is a remarkable combination.
The Bengals have to protect their star quarterback, Joe Burrow. He is the franchise. Kenyon Green will provide help in the interior, in addition to the new signings — Alex Cappa, Ted Carras, and La’el Collins.
The Lions have the last selection of the first round and get a good cornerback in Elam. He is a long player who is still young with high upside. They pass on a quarterback in the first round twice.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who has a fable for numbers and stats. He chose the Vikings as his favorite team, despite Christian Ponder being the quarterback at the time. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Arguing about the Vikings on Twitter is one of his favorite things to do. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt