2022 NFL Mock Draft: Defense dominates top 10; Washington takes first QB in weak class at No. 11


Oregon

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 258 lbs

Thibodeaux has battled an ankle injury this season but did log his second sack of 2021 against Cal on Friday night. His combination of power and twitchiness makes him a favorite to be the first player drafted.

Notre Dame

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 219 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Detroit’s secondary has been suspect, to put it kindly, and while injuries can be blamed in part, Hamilton would immediately upgrade the unit, even one at full health. For us, he’s a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed.

Michigan

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 265 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

The Texans have been a top 10 unit vs. the pass, according to Football Outsiders, but have been among the worst defenses against the run. And while QB makes some sense, this QB class has a lot of questions. Instead, the team beefs up the D-line with Hutchinson, who can be just about unstoppable at times — and he’d be the latest Wolverine edge rusher to be an early-round draft pick.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 350 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

This feels inevitable, even in mid-October. Neal is an athletic marvel who has excelled at several O-line positions for the Crimson Tide. The Jets have to make protecting Zach Wilson a priority because he has looked shell-shocked at times early in his NFL career.

LSU

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 195 lbs

The Giants’ defense hasn’t been nearly as effective as it was a year ago, and the secondary would welcome a playmaker like Stingley, who even though he is sidelined with an injury, remains a CB1.

Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 290 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Originally a defensive end, Leal, at 6-foot-4, 290, has the versatility and athleticism to play up and down the line. He has the potential to be really, really good in the NFL.

Clemson

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 200 lbs

The Eagles are on track for three (!) first-round picks, which means there’s a great opportunity to address their defense. First up: cornerback. Booth has all the athleticism and tools to be special, and despite missing Friday’s game against Syracuse with a hamstring injury, he has balled out early in Clemson’s season.

Alabama

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 232 lbs

Yes, the Eagles don’t typically draft linebackers in Round 1, but they have multiple first-rounders and this is a position lacking a big-time playmaker.

Iowa

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 290 lbs

Projected Team

Cincinnati

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and while ninth overall might seem high for a center, Trey Hopkins has struggled this year for Cincy, and if the plan is to keep Joe Burrow upright, you can’t draft guys tasked with protecting him high enough.

Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 325 lbs

The Giants O-line has suffered through injuries this season and Green, who played left guard last season and has played every offensive position during his career, brings both nastiness and versatility to New York.

Ole Miss

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Ryan Fitzpatrick is hurt and Taylor Heinicke has struggled with consistency. Corral, meanwhile, has been spectacular this season for Ole Miss — he has the tools to be a Lamar Jackson/Trey Lance/Josh Allen-type quarterback but he’s still incredibly raw.

Florida

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 196 lbs

Projected Team

Pittsburgh

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Depth is a concern on both the offensive line and in the secondary for Pittsburgh, but with three offensive linemen already off the board, the target is cornerback. Elam has the size (6-2, 190) and athleticism to be one of the best draft-eligible corners in ’21.

Purdue

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 275 lbs

Karlaftis adds another dimension to the defensive line. Injuries and the pandemic saw him play limited snaps in ’20 but Karlaftis was nearly impossible to stop in ’19 when he recorded 17 TFLs and had 7.5 sacks.

Washington

• Jr

• 6’7″

/ 310 lbs

The Patriots’ O-line has been inconsistent in both run and pass blocking this season, and Kirkland’s athleticism makes him an interesting middle-of-the-first-round option for teams looking to improve up front.

Georgia

• Sr

• 6’0″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Las Vegas

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Casey Hayward, the team’s best corner, will be a free agent in the spring while former first-rounder Damon Arnette hasn’t played up to his draft status. Kendrick was in the conversation as a first-round pick in the 2021 draft before returning to Clemson and then entering the transfer portal. He’s now at Georgia and a strong season will likely make him one of the first defensive backs selected next spring.

Arkansas

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 225 lbs

Projected Team

Carolina

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Quarterback and wide receiver could be contenders here. Instead, the Panthers target big-play wideout Burks, who has the tools to be one of the first wide receivers drafted in the spring.

Washington

• Soph

• 5’11”

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

N.Y. Jets

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, we get Tyrann Mathieu vibes when we watch him. We love him as a slot corner who serves as an enforcer in run support and locks down short and intermediate routes, something he does regularly for the Huskies.

Ohio State

• Sr

• 6’1″

/ 188 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

There are several teams in the market for QBs, but the dearth of talent at the top of the board means other needs could be addressed first. That’s the case here for the Broncos, where Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Daesean Hamilton and Diontae Spencer are all in the final year of their contracts.

Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 255 lbs

Projected Team

Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Wydermyer was one of Kellen Mond’s favorite targets in 2020 for a reason: he’s reliable and almost always open. In Minnesota, only Irv Smith Jr. is under contract after the season (and his rookie deal expires in March 2023).

Cincinnati

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 188 lbs

Projected Team

Miami

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Gardner is a long, press corner who would give the Dolphins some depth behind Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

Nevada

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 215 lbs

Carson Strong is our QB1 but with one pretty big asterisk: His draft status is all going to come down to the medicals on a knee injury he suffered in high school, which is why we have Matt Corral going ahead of him in this mock draft. That said, Strong is the most consistent QB in this draft class and if healthy, he could eventually be the first passer off the board. And it stands to reason that Sean Payton would love to insert Strong into and offense that has been up and down without Drew Brees this season.

Georgia

• Soph

• 6’6″

/ 330 lbs

Projected Team

Tennessee

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Davis is more likely to go on Day 2 (though a lot can change between now and April), but he also beefs up a Titans defense that remains one of the least consistent units in the NFL again this season.

NC State

• Soph

• 6’4″

/ 320 lbs

Ekwonu is a monster, and more importantly, beefs up an improved offensive line tasked with protecting one of the best players in the league, second-year quarterback Justin Herbert.

Ohio State

• Jr

• 6’0″

/ 192 lbs

Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

The defense really has been a pleasant surprise — in part because Dallas stocked up on that side of the ball in the ’21 draft — which is why the team targets wide receiver here (also worth noting: Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson could be free agents in the spring).

USC

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team

Cleveland

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

London, who is one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season, isn’t going to run a 4.3 but he’s a high-point-catch machine who will give Baker Mayfield another downfield weapon.

Texas A&M

• Jr

• 6’1″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Arizona

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Spiller is a threat in both the run and pass game, and he would add yet another element to the Cards’ high-powered offense.

Utah

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 235 lbs

Projected Team

Green Bay

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

The Packers are below replacement level against both the run and pass, and could stand to upgrade the middle of the defense. Lloyd is a twitchy, sideline-to-sideline player who fits the mold of off-ball linebackers we’ve seen coming into the league the last 7-8 years.

Georgia

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 230 lbs

Projected Team

Baltimore

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Anderson’s get-off is impressive, even if he’s undersized by EDGE standards. He racked up 6.5 sacks in 2020, and this season he had four sacks in five games coming into Saturday’s action.

Clemson

• Jr

• 6’4″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Ross missed the 2020 season because of a neck injury but he was on track to be a first-round pick. He’s showed glimpses this season of what makes him special — consistently winning at the top of the route, reliable hands, and his ability to high-point throws over defenders helpless to do much about it.

South Carolina

• Sr

• 6’4″

/ 260 lbs

The Chiefs’ defense has been so bad that not even Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes can consistently overcome it. So, naturally, beefing up the “D” is a priority here. Enagbare is a twitched-up athlete who will only get better with more reps and added muscle.

Northwestern

• Soph

• 6’1″

/ 192 lbs

Projected Team

Tampa Bay

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Joseph covers a lot of ground in the middle of the field and while he may not offer much in run support near the line of scrimmage, he won’t need to in Tampa Bay, where the secondary (in part because of injuries) could use some playmakers.

Kentucky

• Sr

• 6’5″

/ 345 lbs

Projected Team

Buffalo

PROSPECT RNK
POSITION RNK

Darian Kinnard is a mauler who has been inconsistent at times this season but has all the tools to be a first-round talent. The Bills are in the enviable position of not having any glaring holes, so protecting Josh Allen seems like a reasonable fallback plan.





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