Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Sean Payton gives Malik Willis a vote of confidence, three edge rushers taken in top 5

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Oregon • Soph • 6’5″ / 258 lbs

Projected Team

Jacksonville

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

1st

Despite the selection of K’Lavon Chaisson a few years ago, Jacksonville should not be spooked by the concept of taking Thibodeaux to pair with Josh Allen. He offers more pass-rush upside. The Jaguars simply need to add talent to the roster and pass rush could become a strength for that franchise.

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Michigan • Sr • 6’6″ / 265 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Dan Campbell has openly created a culture of toughness and physicality. Hutchinson serves that interest. Born, raised and developed in Michigan, Hutchinson would elevate those expectations and form a formidable tandem with Romeo Okwara.

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LSU • Jr • 6’1″ / 195 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

Houston could go in a number of directions with the current state of its roster. Will they give Davis Mills another year? Will David Culley be back? There are so many balls in the air for that franchise this offseason. The decision to take an offensive lineman or a cornerback is peanuts relative to the larger narratives.

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Purdue • Jr • 6’4″ / 275 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

A run on edge rushers forced New York to address the edge rusher position prior to the Giants coming on the clock. Karlaftis is a mature defender that can fit run gaps and win with heavy hands.

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NC State • Soph • 6’4″ / 320 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

1st

Ekwonu has the versatility to play offensive tackle or slide inside to guard. His positioning allows New York to try Matt Peart at right tackle full-time in the absence of Nate Solder. Ideally, Peart sticks there and Ekwonu moves to guard but, in the event it does not, they have options.

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Alabama • Jr • 6’7″ / 350 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

Mekhi Becton and Neal would have to be the largest set of bookend tackles in the NFL. Their sheer size complicates the path in which defenders can take to the quarterback. The Jets want to be a team that can lean on the offensive line in critical situations.

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Pittsburgh • Sr • 6’3″ / 220 lbs

Projected Team

Carolina

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

2nd

There is history between Kenny Pickett and Matt Rhule. Pickett had committed to the coach at Temple. Rhule has shown that he values previous relationships by bringing in Robby Anderson and P.J. Walker so Pickett could be an option in the event that they strike out trying to secure a veteran at the position.

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Notre Dame • Jr • 6’4″ / 219 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Giants

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

With the pick acquired from Chicago, the Giants add Hamilton to replace Jabrill Peppers, who is a free agent this offseason. Xavier McKinney and Hamilton gives Patrick Graham a very talented duo on the back end. It is simply a matter of best-player available.

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Mississippi State • Soph • 6’5″ / 310 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

29th

POSITION RNK

5th

Charles Leno has been a quality addition to Washington but that is not a long-term solution. Cross is a young, ascending player that could be that long-term fit for the franchise. They have some pieces with Sam Cosmi and, potentially, Brandon Scherff.

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Alabama • Jr • 6’2″ / 189 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

24th

POSITION RNK

6th

Atlanta presumably has a few very gifted pass-catchers with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. It could use another alpha wide receiver to round out that unit, which is where Williams comes into the picture.

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Utah • Jr • 6’3″ / 235 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

1st

If Jonathon Cooper continues to his development, then edge rusher will not be a pressing need. Denver can turn its attention to other aspects of the front seven like the defensive line and off-ball linebacker.

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Cincinnati • Jr • 6’2″ / 188 lbs

Projected Team

Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Minnesota has invested heavily in cornerbacks in recent years but that led them to take a flyer on Patrick Peterson this season. Moving forward, the Vikings would be wise to add a long-term player so they are not forced to readdress the situation every offseason.

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Liberty • Jr • 6’1″ / 195 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

30th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Willis’ play style is very different than what Sean Payton had for so many years with Drew Brees. It is evident that Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are not going to work. If they do not land a veteran, then options begin to dwindle.

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Iowa • Jr • 6’3″ / 290 lbs

Projected Team

Cleveland

PROSPECT RNK

5th

POSITION RNK

2nd

J.C. Tretter is still playing very well but with so much invested in the other starting offensive line positions, it would behoove them to explore other cost-cutting measures. The swap would save roughly $5.5 million in 2022.

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Ole Miss • Jr • 6’2″ / 205 lbs

Projected Team

Pittsburgh

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

1st

Pittsburgh needs to upgrade its offensive line but quarterback is also an issue currently and moving forward. If the team is going to bring in a new quarterback and a veteran is not the choice, then a first-round selection is essentially the only alternative. Historically speaking, quarterbacks taken beyond the first round achieving success are outliers.

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Georgia • Soph • 6’6″ / 330 lbs

Los Angeles’ run defense has been porous this season. Davis has more pass-rush juice than which he is given credit but that is not where his bread is buttered. He is a massive interior body that can stuff the run and create opportunities for Joey Bosa.

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Ohio State • Jr • 6’0″ / 192 lbs

Projected Team

Las Vegas

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

1st

Las Vegas has had some unexpected changes at wide receiver this season. Hunter Renfrow has been consistent but few others have outside of Darren Waller. It would be beneficial for the Raiders to bring in another outlet for Derek Carr and Wilson is the best available.

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Kentucky • Sr • 6’5″ / 345 lbs

Projected Team

Baltimore

PROSPECT RNK

41st

POSITION RNK

1st

Baltimore can lean into its identity with the selection of Kinnard. The return of J.K. Dobbins and the selection of the Wildcat will signal that the team’s run game is back with a vengeance.

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Texas A&M • Jr • 6’4″ / 325 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

13th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Philadelphia drafted Andre Dillard in the first round even when it had Jason Peters. It is possible the Eagles select Green even if Jason Kelce returns. The idea would be that Landon Dickerson eventually takes over at center and Green slides over to guard.

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USC • Jr • 6’4″ / 250 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

35th

POSITION RNK

4th

Derek Barnett is a free agent and Ryan Kerrigan, Brandon Graham will be 34 years old next season. Josh Sweat and Jackson are a duo that Philadelphia can be excited about moving forward. The Eagles have always invested in the line of scrimmage and the Jackson selection carries on that selection.

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Northern Iowa • Jr • 6’7″ / 321 lbs

Projected Team

Miami

PROSPECT RNK

38th

POSITION RNK

8th

Miami selected Austin Jackson in the first round a few years ago but that investment has not paid dividends. The Dolphins are not likely to make this move because it financially does not make sense and Jackson will only be 23 years old. However, the quality of play on that side of the line has been lacking and Penning represents a fresh start.

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Ohio State • Sr • 6’1″ / 188 lbs

Projected Team

New England

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

2nd

New England bought lemonades and made lemonade at the wide receiver position. Imagine what the Patriots could accomplish with a trusted pass-catcher like Olave.

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Georgia • Jr • 6’0″ / 225 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

3rd

The Eagles have long neglected the linebacker position and that narrative seems to have reached a boiling point. Philadelphia upgrades the front seven with Jackson and Dean. Those two serve as a bridge to the future of the defense.

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Washington • Soph • 5’11” / 195 lbs

Projected Team

Arizona

PROSPECT RNK

50th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Arizona tags McDuffie as a fixture to its secondary. The Cardinals do not have an alpha cornerback and the presence of one would allow the front seven more time to make plays.

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Florida • Jr • 6’2″ / 196 lbs

Projected Team

Buffalo

PROSPECT RNK

26th

POSITION RNK

4th

Buffalo wants to be deep and versatile in the secondary. Elam gives them that flexibility. He is also great insurance in the event that Tre’Davious White goes down with another injury.

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Georgia • Sr • 6’0″ / 190 lbs

Projected Team

Cincinnati

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

1st

A run on cornerbacks continue as Cincinnati adds to its secondary. The Bengals have notoriously taken cornerbacks in the first round and those results have been a mixed bag. Kendrick is a great talent and former teammate of Tee Higgins. The team could also consider the offensive line.

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Arkansas • Jr • 6’3″ / 225 lbs

Projected Team

Tampa Bay

PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

4th

Chris Godwin is playing on the franchise tag and Antonio Brown will turn 34 years old prior to the start of the 2022 season. Burks has the potential to become an elite receiver with the guidance of Tom Brady.

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Georgia • Jr • 6’5″ / 275 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

40th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Detroit is constructing a strength. Theoretically, it could add Aidan Hutchinson and Walker to go along with Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers. It is certainly reasonable to think that the Lions could move on from Flowers this offseason.

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USC • Jr • 6’5″ / 210 lbs

Projected Team

Tennessee

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

5th

Each week brings more clarity on the subject of Julio Jones’ lack of impact on the Titans’ roster. Tennessee could bring in a more cost-effective option in London while upgrading the position. Coupled with the return of Derrick Henry, the Titans’ offense should take two steps forward.

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Penn State • Sr • 5’11” / 184 lbs

Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Dallas could be faced with a decision between Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper. Both are fantastic players but the cost of retaining both, in addition to CeeDee Lamb, could impact the rest of the roster. Gallup is a free agent while moving on from Cooper could save the team $16 million toward the salary cap. The team can not reasonably get out from under Ezekiel Elliott’s contract this offseason so relief will have to come elsewhere. Dotson steps right in to pick up some of the lost production.

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Michigan • Jr • 6’5″ / 250 lbs

Projected Team

Kansas City

PROSPECT RNK

60th

POSITION RNK

6th

The trade for Melvin Ingram allowed Kansas City to move Chris Jones back inside, which is where he performs best. Ingram will be 33 years old prior to the start of the season. Ojabo has great bend around the corner and will allow the Chiefs to play Jones in his natural role.

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Georgia • Jr • 6’3″ / 200 lbs

Projected Team

Green Bay

PROSPECT RNK

42nd

POSITION RNK

8th

Green Bay does not often take wide receivers in the first round. Everyone that has followed the NFL Draft knows that to be true but if Aaron Rodgers leaves then it becomes more imperative that the Packers add talent at the position to carry the burden. Davante Adams is also scheduled to be a free agent.

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