By William Gregory
The Los Angeles Rams do not need to read this article. They have not had a first round selection since picking Jared Goff 1st Overall in 2016. General Manager Les Snead has made a living off of trading his top picks for top playmakers, and they’ve finally won it all. Who knows if these other GMs have the ability to do that. This is the second mock draft of the offseason, and two more will be written before the Jaguars are actually on the clock. The top-five is still in flux and we should be in for a bunch of surprises. Let’s see who the Jags pick in the second WCBN 2022 NFL Mock Draft.
#1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - OT Evan Neal, Alabama
Previous Pick: EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Through the pre-draft processes so far, the rumor is that the consensus of NFL front offices have soured on Kayvon Thibodeaux’s floor as an everyday player. Alabama’s Evan Neal has frequently been mocked as the first pick since Doug Pederson was hired as Jacksonville’s head coach on February 3rd. Neal will become Trevor Lawrence’s personal bodyguard at left tackle. His massive frame will also allow Travis Etienne to successfully return to form in the outside running game following his season-ending injury last season. Doug Pederson returns to the NFL with a franchise QB and blindside blocker.
#2 - Detroit Lions - EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Previous Pick: EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Brad Holmes is a West Coast guy and has picked up a couple great West Coast players, Aidan Hutchinson is still the pick. It seems Hutchinson’s motor and work ethic has leapfrogged Thibodeaux on many boards. Only time will tell if the two players’ intangibles will have a greater impact on their actual play on the field, but Hutchinson’s fit on the Lions remains unquestioned. The Michigan kid’s versatility inside and outside can be instantly plugged into the Lions defensive front that has lacked superstar talent since Jim Caldwell was head coach.
Previous Pick: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
The Texans will still take a tackle at three, it will just be NC State’s Ikem Okonwu instead of Evan Neal. Another physical freak, Okonwu has the ability to be a day one starter, and the Texans may need him to be. Lance Zierlein tweeted that the Texans may soon be trading star left tackle Laremy Tunsil, among others. If they do trade Tunsil this offseason, Okonwu will be able to play left tackle immediately. Former first rounder Tytus Howard would split reps at the other tackle spot and guard after Charlie Heck’s nice season. The first step to getting right for Houston is to build a nasty offensive line, and they have the opportunity to do that here.
#4 - New York Jets - LB/S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Previous Pick: LB/S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Kayvon Thibodeaux falls past another team with a need for an edge rusher, but with two top ten picks, the New York Jets can afford to take the player who may end up being the best in the class. For the same reasons as before, Hamilton will be a great fit in a Robert Saleh defense that desperately needs a makeover. One of the worst units in the NFL will get a much needed boon in one of the most versatile defense playmakers that many scouts have seen in a long time. You cannot pass up on a unicorn.
#5 - New York Giants - EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Previous Pick: EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Even if George Karlaftis had risen dramatically in the time since Bowl season, this pick could not ever be more straightforward. The Giants have been seeking a game changing edge rusher since their last Super Bowl-winning line was dismantled. Even with the intangible concerns, Thibodeaux’s pure athleticism and upside is unmatched at the position, and the Giants would be extremely fortunate to have him drop to five. Thibodeaux’s havoc-creating energy will pair well with second-year player Azeez Ojulari on the other side to create a fierce pass rushing tandem.
#6 - Carolina Panthers - QB Malik Willis, Liberty
Previous Pick: OT Ikem Ekwonu, NC State
With the big five prospects off the board, this is where the draft might get a little funky. Many draftniks have pointed out that the top of the draft order is not as settled as it usually is around this time. With that in mind, paired with the uncertainty of the quarterbacks in this class, as well as the glowing reviews Liberty quarterback Malik Willis received at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, it would not be surprising for the Panthers to take him as the first QB off the board. A lot of scouts point to his inconsistency from series to series, but the talent is undeniable. Teams may not be looking for a repeat of the blunder that was Lamar Jackson being the last pick of the first round.
#7 - New York Giants (via CHI) - OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
Previous Pick: iOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
With their second pick in the Top 7, the Giants still go O-line, but since the Panthers took Malik Willis, New York will be able to select the best offensive tackle left on the board in Charles Cross. The uncertainty is still there with the G-Men’s line. Cross can immediately step up and fill in for the departing Nate Solder at tackle, or eventually usurp the slightly older Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart. The Giants need a dominant tackle to spring Saquon Barkley and jumpstart a stagnant offense.
#8 - Atlanta Falcons - CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Previous Pick: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
I’ll say the same thing I said in the last article. The Falcons have needs outside the secondary, but you cannot pass up on a chance to pair Stingley with AJ Terrell and form a dominant pass defending tandem for Atlanta’s rebuild. Stingley’s injury concerns are real, but a talent like him can’t be passed on.
#9 - Denver Broncos - EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Previous Pick: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
David Ojabo still needs refinement as a player, but his raw talent is undeniable. Paired with Bradley Chubb in Denver, Ojabo won’t have to worry about being the Broncos’ number one pass rusher as a rookie. Ojabo’s current one-dimensionality can also be offset by Chubb’s run stopping ability. The Broncos may trade this pick for one of the star quarterbacks on the market, but as of now they make a pick to replace Von Miller.
#10 - New York Jets (via SEA) - EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
Previous Pick: EDGE David Ojabo, Michigan
Ojabo was the pick at 9, so New York selects the next edge rusher on the board. Jermaine Johnson fits better into a 4-3 scheme as an everyday down lineman. Johnson flew up draft boards after a great Senior Bowl performance and has emerged as one of the top edge rushers of the class. Like Aidan Hutchinson, Jermaine Johnson is a consistent, unrelenting force with an arsenal of moves. He paid his dues at the JUCO level early in his career, and now the former Seminole can have a featured role in New York as a rookie.
#11 - Washington Commanders - QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Previous Pick: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral is still the pick for the Commanders at 11 for the reasons before. However, he is the second QB off the board in the first round. Kenny Pickett is not the selection here with the ongoing concerns about his measurables.
#12 - Minnesota Vikings - iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia
Previous Pick: iDL Jordan Davis, Georgia
Jordan Davis is still the pick to help fix the Vikings’ lackluster rush defense.
#13 - Cleveland Browns - WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Previous Pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
The third identical pick in a row, Treylon Burks has a complete skillset. He can catch 50/50 balls, he can wreak havoc after the catch, and he pairs well with the speedy route-runners the Browns have in house.
#14 - Baltimore Ravens - iOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
Previous Pick: iDL DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
The selection of Tyler Linderbaum interrupts the monotony. Tyler Linderbaum deserves to be a top five selection, but NFL teams tend to see him as exclusively a center. The center position’s value is relatively low compared to other positions, and it requires a team to have a specific need at the position. The Ravens are the first team that fits that criteria. Ryan Kelly, Frank Ragnow, and Garrett Bradbury are all centers that were recently drafted, but Linderbaum would be the highest selection of them all. He’s been called a generational offensive line talent, and he has the ability to reestablish the Ravens run game as a championship winning unit.
#15 - Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA) - CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati
Previous Pick: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Sauce Gardner falls a bit in this mock draft scenario. He’s been seen going as high as the top ten in recent weeks, and for good reason. He never allowed a touchdown in coverage during his time at Cincinnati. The Eagles need a young corner to pair with an aging Darius Slay. It will take more than his rookie year for Gardner to be able to fully transition to the NFL, but if he’s given time, he should be able to lead a fast and young Eagles team back to winning in the playoffs.
#16 - Philadelphia Eagles (via IND) - LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Previous Pick: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
Similarly to the last mock, Philadelphia continues to build out their defense with their second first round pick. Devin Lloyd is the first true off-ball linebacker off the board. He can captain the Eagles’ defense almost immediately as a fifth-year senior.
#17 - Los Angeles Chargers - OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
Previous Pick: OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State
The Chargers take the best offensive lineman left on the board to protect Justin Herbert. Kenyon Green was a highly rated recruit to Texas A&M, and while he did not necessarily experience great team success, he still proved himself as a versatile athlete that is dominant in the run game. He still holds up great in pass protection, but he can easily start as a guard on day one, springing holes for Austin Ekeler, and providing another dimension to Los Angeles’ offense.
#18 - New Orleans Saints - WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Previous Pick: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The Saints pick the other Ohio State wide receiver in this go around. With Michael Thomas all but being confirmed to return to play this upcoming season, Garrett Wilson would not be the best fit. Thomas and Wilson both play in the slot often, so Chris Olave can pair better with Thomas. Olave is a bit short, but on the outside he is a masterful route runner, and excels at getting off the line of scrimmage efficiently. Whoever ends up starting for New Orleans will not be left without primary pass catchers on the perimeter.
#19 - Philadelphia Eagles - EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue
Previous Pick: S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
The trend continues for Philadelphia. They take a huge, strong pass rusher in George Karlaftis to finish remodeling their defense after three first round picks. Karlaftis can eventually fill the shoes of the aging Brandon Graham. He also injects more youth into the Eagles’ pass rusher with a complete changing of the guard soon to come. The thick 4-3 edge rusher will be able to play every down for Philadelphia and wreak bull rushing havoc in every facet of the game.
#20 - Pittsburgh Steelers - OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Previous Pick: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
With the recent comments by Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, and the trends the Steelers have tended to follow, the Pittsburgh Steelers pass on the homegrown QB to begin to replenish their offensive line. Trevor Penning is a large man who can immediately fill the void that Alejandro Villanueva, along with the other departed Steeler linemen, left a few seasons ago. The 6’7” Penning can be a dominant pass blocker for Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins, Jimmy Garoppolo, or whoever. He can also give electric second year back Najee Harris some help up front to continue his ascent to being one of the best all around running backs in the league.
#21 - New England Patriots - CB Roger McCreary, Auburn
Previous Pick: S Daxton Hill, Michigan
New England keeps with the last mock and picks an immediate starter for their secondary. With Daxton Hill, they would have gotten more of a safety/nickel hybrid, but McCreary has the potential to be a number one cornerback. Question marks abound at the position following the trade of Stephon Gilmore. JC Jackson is a free agent for the upcoming signing period, and the notable remaining corners would be Joejuan Williams and Jalen Mills. Not exactly a playoff-caliber tandem. McCreary can run press man coverage and make tackles at the line of scrimmage, perfect for a Patriot defense that prioritizes those skills.
#22 - Las Vegas Raiders - WR Drake London, USC
Previous Pick: iOL Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
After the arrest of Henry Ruggs, the Las Vegas receivers outside of Hunter Renfrow proved lackluster. Brian Edwards is a year away from being a year away, Zay Jones inspires no confidence, and whoever else they have down the depth chart hasn't shown up. Drake London is Treylon Burks without the surefire alpha traits, so that is why is the second big-bodied receiver off the board. Run-first offenses like the Raiders should prioritize a contested catch specialist to help convert the pressurized 3rd and longs that are bound to happen.
#23 - Arizona Cardinals - DL Travon Walker, Georgia
Previous Pick: CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, Cincinnati
Travon Walker is an in-betweener that can move along the defensive line. The Cardinals already drafted a lesser version of him a couple years ago in Zach Allen, but Walker will surely be able to make a name for himself. He wins with speed off the snap, and his athleticism allows him to get by without stand out technique. He needs developing, but with Chandler Jones in Arizona as a mentor, Walker should be able to inject some juice into a forlorn Cardinal defense.
#24 - Dallas Cowboys - S Daxton Hill, Michigan
Previous Pick: EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia
Native Oklahoman Daxton Hill doesn’t land far from last month’s mock draft position and gets to stay close to home in Dallas. The Cowboys have had a revolving door of stopgap prospects and veterans at the safety position for a few years now. While they may have decent depth with Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee, they lack electric talent. Daxton Hill can provide that. Whether it’s physical run stuffing or ranging pass coverage, Hill has the natural ability to do whatever Dan Quinn would want.
#25 - Buffalo Bills - CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
The Bills top-ranked pass defense last year gets even better. It was a corner group that played better than the sum of their parts, in my opinion, but they are still a quality group. Tre’Davious White is a stud. Those safeties are getting older, though, and it never hurts to have quality cornerbacks ready to step up. McDuffie is a shorter corner, but has become competent in almost every aspect. He can practically redshirt this season for a contending Bills team, then reinforce the secondary for 2023 when pieces inevitably fall apart.
#26 - Tennessee Titans - WR David Bell, Purdue
This pick may be too high for some, but it makes too much sense. David Bell is a physical receiver that profiles very closely to AJ Brown. He’s an excellent route runner and can run people over after the catch. In Tennessee’s play action heavy offense, he would thrive playing off of Brown running short and intermediate routes. With Tennessee ostensibly sticking with Ryan Tannehill, they need to surround him with more weapons to try to finally make a run at the Super Bowl.
#27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CB Kaiir Elam, Florida
The Buccaneers take Elam here because he excels in zone coverage. He won’t have to come and be physical in the run game in Tampa’s scheme, and he should be able to help repair their back end that looked shaky this season.
#28 - Green Bay Packers - OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
Raimann was a fast riser this season after transitioning from tight end a few seasons ago. He is extremely long for a tackle, and would be an excellent complement and protege for future Hall of Famer David Bakhtiari. Tackle is not a gaping hole for Green Bay at the moment, and they like taking projects in early rounds. Raimann should be developed into a good player as a Packer.
#29 - Miami Dolphins (via SF) - iOL Zion Johnson, Boston College
The Dolphins would love to have Zion Johnson fall to them at pick 29 because new head coach Mike McDaniel hired Johnson’s offensive line coach at Boston College. Johnson is not a great athlete relative to other guards who would be picked this high, but his technique drilled into him by Applebaum has allowed him to be consistent as a blocker. He and the Lindstrom brothers are pro-ready NFL guards that have come from BC in the past three seasons. Zion Johnson can fit in the Dolphins wide zone scheme to help Tua out with an above average running game.
#30 - Kansas City Chiefs - CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
Andrew Booth is another player to fall to a lucky team. He is a potential number one corner with five star pedigree that can immediately start on the outside for a Chiefs team that needs secondary help to rebound back to the Super Bowl. Investing first round picks in a great cover corner like Booth is a good strategy to do that.
#31 - Cincinnati Bengals - OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
Daniel Faalele is not only massive, but he plays good enough football to be drafted this high. The 6’8” 380 pound Golden Gopher was once thought to be more of a joke player than a real possible contributor, but he used his gifts at Minnesota to help them be a great running team. He needs extensive seasoning after transitioning from rugby, but he can get time to develop in Cincinnati, where their line is not great. The Bengals take a lottery ticket tackle at 31 with the hope that he can develop into something much better than a safer pick would have gotten them.
#32 - Detroit Lions (via LAR) - LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Lions fans rejoice as Kenny Pickett remains on the board after pick 32. The Lions could still draft a QB at 34, but it’s more important to fill the gaping holes elsewhere, especially with the way Jared Goff played down the stretch. Detroit’s defense was surprisingly competent given the talent level last season, but Nakobe Dean can imbue the talent that unit lacked. He can fly all over the field while remaining disciplined and consistent. Dean is the perfect alpha linebacker to captain Detroit’s new look defense with Aidan Hutchinson.
Notable remaining players: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State, WR Jameson Williams, Alabama, OT Nicholas Petit-Frere, Ohio State, iDL Devonte Wyatt, Georgia