Ahmad Gardner in, Kayvon Thibodeaux out of top 5

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If you’ve been following the NFL lately, there’s a lot going on in the league. Trades have been reshaped with each mock 2022 NFL Draft, primarily because the team needs to change with each new trade. The last? Deshaun Watson at the Browns, Davante Adams in Las Vegas, and more. Let’s dive into how these trades affect 2022 NFL Draft and how their former teams are drifting away from them.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Choice 1-16

The first round has changed quite a bit since my last fictional draft. Let’s change things up a bit with the top 10 picks. All picks were made using PFN’s free draft simulator.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

It’s hard to see the Jags taking anyone other than Evan Neal there. There has been talk of Aidan Hutchinson as the first player selected, but it looks like Neal would be better for them at this stage. Protecting Trevor Lawrence is a huge priority, and letting Hutchinson manhandle current tackles wouldn’t solve much.

2) Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

If Jacksonville doesn’t buy the hype, Aidan Hutchinson shouldn’t be on the board for long anyway. The Lions need an impact player on the edge, and the Wolverines star brings incredible tenacity to their defense. Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is apparently high on their roster and could be their pick. Still, passing Hutchinson would be extremely difficult to do.

3) Houston Texans: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Now that the Texans have two first-round picks, they can continue to build for the future. Kyle Hamilton’s draft seems like a perfect way to kick off this mock 2022 NFL Draft for them. Hamilton is an all-around safety who can play anywhere on the court. Houston’s secondary needs work, so that would help elevate that group’s game.

4) New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, BC, Cincinnati

New York went to the secondary in free agency, and they need to add a good EDGE player. However, that position remains incredibly deep, and the Jets have another first-round pick. Adding a 6’3″ corner to Ahmad Gardner, who is compared to Richard Sherman, is not something that will be available at 10th.

5) New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

No matter what fans think of Daniel Jones, the Giants need to do a better job of protecting him. They started this process in free agency, but they will arguably add the baddest player in the draft in Ikem Ekwonu. The Wolfpack tackle raised his draft stock with a strong Combine performance and now finds itself among the top five picks.

6) Carolina Panthers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

With Watson not waiving his no-trade clause to join the Panthers, Carolina is looking to add their quarterback of the future. Sure, they could wait until next year, but they just signed a new contract with star receiver DJ Moore. Given how Adams’ situation unfolded, you don’t want to upset your boss. Adding Malik Willis would bring excitement to the position and still give him time to learn from Sam Darnold if he’s not ready right away.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

After finding a player to protect Jones, the Giants are looking to add someone who can catch his passes. If New York adds both Ekwonu and Wilson, there aren’t many excuses left for Jones. Either he’s the quarterback of the future or the Giants will look to next year’s class. Garret Wilson’s athleticism, at a minimum, will help Jones’ accuracy.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Kayvon Thibodeaux to fall this far would be one of the biggest surprises of the draft, but it’s not completely unfathomable. Some analysts say it needs to be in the right system, but it could also be that teams have other needs besides EDGE. Atlanta would be happy to see Thibodeaux go down, and they would have a player who has one of the highest caps in this draft class.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Let’s be honest, Seahawks fans aren’t exactly pumping Drew Lock’s stock. Even though he’s their quarterback at the moment, they’re always going to look to the future. Matt Corral’s performance on pro day could determine how much his draft stock changes, but seeing him selected in the top 10 wouldn’t be surprising.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

As I said, the EDGE position is extremely deep in this project. In this mock 2022 NFL Draft, only one player has been removed from this pool since the Jets’ first pick. Travon Walker is a physical nightmare for anyone who faces him. New York adds great versatility to the Bulldogs star, who has played all over Kirby Smart’s defense.

11) Washington Commanders: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Now that the drama around the size of Kenny Pickett’s hand has died down, we can get back to the idea that he’s going to be taken in the first round. Even though the Commanders traded for Carson Wentz, they need a quarterback. At best, it’s hard to see Wentz leading Washington far. However, it also feels like its ground is not very low. So waiting to take a quarterback next year seems unlikely, and they need to pounce in 2022.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

It’s hard to pick a position other than a corner for the Vikings in the draft, but the addition of Jordan Davis also helps their defense. Shoot, he might be athletic enough to jump back, so it’s almost like they’re indirectly helping the secondary. Davis’ athleticism and tall stature make him a threat in the middle. So the Vikings don’t lose much by adding him to their roster.

13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Maybe the Texans are happy that Davis Mills is playing quarterback. With the state of the organization, it wouldn’t be surprising if they were thinking long term with this project. Taking a first-round quarterback seems pointless to many, and maybe Houston thinks that way. With the talent coming next year, we might as well wait. Adding the speed of Jameson Williams would make Mills much better this year.

14) Baltimore Ravens: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Charles Cross is one of the biggest lifters lately which says a lot about his game. Some analysts put him in the top 10 which is crazy considering Ekwonu and Neal are both in this draft . Baltimore needs to better protect Lamar Jackson and add the cross addresses that need it.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The optimist in me likes that the Eagles have multiple first-round picks. Ditto for the other teams that are in the same boat. The pessimist says they will trade them to move. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad choice. I just like to see the teams keep their picks.

The Eagles begin their defensive rebuild by adding Andrew Booth Jr. The Clemson corner was a game-changer for them, and he can do the same for the NFL Eagles.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Yes, it’s hard to see the Eagles passing on a linebacker they desperately need. However, they also need help at the wide receiver. Jalen Reagor’s experiment seems to be coming to an end and Chris Olave would give the Eagles another fast receiver who can stretch the field. Jalen Hurts’ stock would also increase, given he would have Smith, Olave and Dallas Goedert in 2022.

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