The 2022 NFL Draft is very nearly here, and there are still countless questions to be answered about this year’s draft class.
Who are the Jaguars going to take at No. 1 overall? It’s looking like an edge rusher, but it’s far from a sure thing. When will the first-round quarterbacks go and how many? It’s looking like Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett could slide a bit if the Panthers take an offensive tackle early.
And what about trades? Most of the rumors are about teams wanting to move down in this weak draft class. But eventually, some partners that want to move up will likely emerge.
There is still so much to sort out and so little time to figure it all out. How will this year’s unpredictable draft shake out? Here’s a look at one of The Sporting News’ final mock drafts, which will be updated throughout the day with all the latest rumors and draft buzz.
Stay tuned for all the latest news and pick changes, which will be finalized before the draft begins at 8 p.m. ET, below.
NFL Mock Draft 2022
Final update posted at 7:30 p.m. ET.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
It seems likely that Walker is going to be the pick at No. 1 overall. There were reports that there could be a “surprise” with the Jaguars’ top selection during draft week. The selection of Walker would be surprising enough. After all, he was once considered a fringe first-round pick, and even in recent weeks, Aidan Hutchinson was widely considered to be ahead of him in the race for the No. 1 spot. Ultimately, Walker’s athletic testing at the combine gave him the nod over Hutchinson’s production from last season.
2. Detroit Lions
- Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
The Lions are going to take whichever of the edge defenders that the Jaguars don’t take at No. 1, in all likelihood. They would be happy to landing Hutchinson, who played locally at Michigan and had 14 sacks last season. He would be a nice replacement for Trey Flowers, who never lived up to the free-agent contract that Detroit gave him.
3. Houston Texans
- Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
The Texans are the biggest wild card in this year’s draft and will make or break many mock drafts. They need to upgrade pretty much every position on the field, so they could go in any direction. Right now, however, offensive tackle and cornerback are where they are expected to look, so Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, Stingley and Sauce Gardner are all options here.
I’ve waffled between Stingley and Ekwonu here, but after flip-flopping my picks a couple of times, I’m going back to Stingley. The betting odds on Stingley being the No. 3 overall pick have moved significantly, and he is now the favorite for the selection. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be, but typically, this type of late action is indicative of some sharp bettor knowing something.
Stingley is a worthwhile choice for the Texans. He was excellent as a freshman, but he regressed in each of the next two seasons because of injuries. Still, he’s one of the most talented defenders in this year’s class and he has the makings of a great starting cornerback. The Texans have many holes, but they have two top-13 picks to fill two of them. So, why not take a potential-packed player with their first selection?
4. New York Jets
- Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Jets are another team with numerous options at No. 4, but Gardner is probably the safest pick. The Jets added DJ Reed to their cornerback room in free agency, but they still need to find a starter across from him. Gardner never allowed a touchdown during his three years at Cincinnati and has a well-built 6-3, 190-pound frame. He seems like the type of player that Robert Saleh would love to have in the secondary.
5. New York Giants
- Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
It’s no secret that the Giants are looking for offensive line help. It’s just a matter of whether they are going to take a tackle with the fifth overall selection or the seventh.
The Giants aren’t guaranteed to take a tackle with the fifth overall pick. However, if Stingley is off the board, they will likely choose their preferred tackle while planning to add a pass rusher with the seventh pick.
Evan Neal and Cross are the top tackles on the board. The Giants seem to like Cross a lot, so they may surprise and take him ahead of Neal. Cross played only left tackle at Mississippi State, but the Giants will move him to right tackle at the next level to play him across from Andrew Thomas.
6. Carolina Panthers
I had the Texans trading up for Derek Stingley here in my last update, so they could do something similar if they want Ikem Ekwonu or Neal at tackle. However, the Panthers could certainly stay put and take the top tackle on their board.
Will that be Neal or Ekwonu? It’s a coin flip, but Neal has a bigger frame at 6-7, 337 pounds. He also played three positions at Alabama — left guard, right tackle and left guard — so that versatility could give him an edge over Ekwonu.
Panthers GM Scott Fitterer cut his teeth in the Seattle organization. They have tended to draft long, strong, athletic players along the offensive line over the years. As such, Neal has a slight edge on Ekwonu at this time.
7. New York Giants (from Bears)
- Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Giants upgraded the edge of their offense with a tackle at five and now can get a premier defensive player at seven. Thibodeaux comes with some work ethic concerns, but there’s no denying that he’s talented. The Oregon product generated 19 sacks in 30 collegiate games and could be the best defensive player in this year’s draft.
The Giants have long needed a quality edge rusher, and new GM Joe Schoen comes from the Bills, who have spent a lot of recent draft capital on the defensive front. Expect him to do the same.
8. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons could go with the top edge rusher here or they could address their glaring need at receiver. I’ve had them going with Jermaine Johnson in recent updates, but I’m starting to think that they may go with one of the top three receivers instead.
Atlanta’s starting receivers are currently Oladmide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd and Auden Tate. They need at least two starting-caliber players, and coach Arthur Smith is an offensive-minded play-caller. London is a massive 6-4, 219-pound receiver who generated 88 catches, 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns last season in just eight games. If not for an ankle injury late in the season, he would have gotten more buzz. He could surprise and be the first receiver off the board Thursday night.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
- Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
The Seahawks are a team to watch in a potential trade down. They have a lot of needs and if a team wants to move up to get a top quarterback or receiver, this could be a sweet spot for them to do it. If not, however, the Seahawks will probably take the best offensive tackle or defensive end on the board.
Johnson could go as high as No. 4 overall to the Jets. He had 11 sacks last season at Florida State and is a dynamic athlete. He would be a star on the edge for the Seahawks, and that’s something they have lacked long-term.
Ikem Ekwonu could be the pick for Seattle here, but I’m not sure he fits the prototype Pete Carroll and John Schneider have looked for in recent years. So, maybe they will trade down if they can find a partner that wants to move up for Ekwonu, like the Texans.
10. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
- Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Reports indicate that the Jets love Ekwonu, and they could take him with the fourth overall pick. They don’t have to in this mock, as he slips all the way to No. 10 overall. It’s not because of lacking talent; it’s just based on the needs of other teams as well as Ekwonu’s upside compared to the other tackles.
Ekwonu put together great tape at NC State and the 6-4, 310-pound tackle looks like a quality NFL starter. He has a bit less length than both Neal and Cross, and that’s the only reason he drops to the end of the top 10. The Jets won’t waste much time passing in their card if he’s on the board here. They could even trade up to get him if he’s on the board in the 6-9 range. Watch the Panthers as a potential trade partner given their lack of a Day 2 pick.
11. Washington Commanders
- Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
The Commanders have Terry McLaurin at receiver, but aside from him, there are questions. Curtis Samuel signed a solid free-agent deal in Washington but couldn’t stay healthy last season. Even if he can stay on the field, the team doesn’t have many proven options beyond him.
Washington seems to like Drake London, but he’s off the board here, as the Falcons have taken him. That leaves Williams, Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave as the top players at the position. Williams could intrigue the Commanders, who didn’t get as much out of speed threat Dyami Brown as they hoped last season.
Williams not only has great deep speed, but he also has excellent route-running skills. If not for a torn ACL that he suffered during the College Football Playoff, he would almost certainly be a top-10 pick. He racked up 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns on 79 catches for Alabama last season and while he may not be fully ready to start his rookie year, Washington could envision him as a good long-term partner for McLaurin.
12. Minnesota Vikings
- Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Vikings are primed to trade down, as few of the players available here line up with their biggest needs. That said, if they are stuck picking at 12, Hamilton is arguably the best player on the board. He clocked a slow 40 time (4.59) during the 2022 NFL Combine and at his Pro Day, but he plays fast on tape. He’s a playmaking safety/hybrid linebacker, and Minnesota will find a way to use him.
The Vikings once drafted a Notre Dame safety who ran similarly slowly at the 2012 NFL Combine. That would be Harrison Smith, who ran a 4.57. Smith has turned into a decade-long NFL starter and six-time Pro Bowler. Perhaps he can mentor Hamilton and add another versatile weapon to the Vikings’ defense.
13. Houston Texans (from Browns)
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Texans couldn’t trade up in this mock scenario, but they still get a player who should help Davis Mills immensely. Wilson had 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns last season at Ohio State. He has good size at 6-0, 183 pounds and plays both strong and fast. He’s good with the ball in his hands and should be a multi-faceted weapon at the NFL level.
14. Baltimore Ravens
- Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Ravens have a need at tackle, so they could consider Trevor Penning here. However, it seems more likely that they will go with the best player available, and that could be Davis.
Davis has drawn comparisons to former Ravens great Haloti Ngata. He was one of the catalysts on Georgia’s historically good defense last season and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds despite measuring at 6-6, 341 pounds. He never generated many sacks in college, but he will have more opportunities to do so in the NFL. The 14th pick is closer to his floor (17th to the Chargers) than his ceiling (ninth to the Seahawks).
NFL DRAFT ORDER: All 262 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in order
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)
- Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Eagles would probably love to get Jordan Davis here, but with him off the board, they will look to add a first-round receiver for the third consecutive draft. Jalen Reagor hasn’t panned out to date, and Olave would give the Eagles a well-rounded option to pair with Devonte Smith.
Olave is a safe pick at this juncture. He is arguably the best route runner in this class but also has good speed, having ran a 4.39 40 at the combine. He was productive at Ohio State, too, catching 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
16. New Orleans Saints (from Colts via Eagles)
- Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Nope, still no quarterback here. The Saints could hypothetically take Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett, but they may wait until Day 2 to take a look at the position, as they still have to fill needs at receiver and offensive tackle.
Trevor Penning isn’t as polished as the other top tackles in this class. The 6-7, 325-pound tackle is raw after playing at Northern Iowa, but he is packed with potential and plays with an edge. He’s long, athletic and isn’t afraid to get in the face of opposing defenders.
The Saints had success developing Terron Armstead out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. They may be able to do the same with Penning. Either way, they clearly value the offensive line significantly. They have spent three of their last seven first- and second-round picks on offensive linemen.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are in a difficult spot here. Their top needs don’t fit the board particularly well, as they need offensive line help but they may not want to take a guard this early. As such, they could continue to build up their defense by taking the best player available on that side of the ball.
A case could be made for Devin Lloyd here, but teams tend not to select off-the-ball linebackers that early. So, the Chargers could instead consider a defensive tackle like Devonte Wyatt or a cornerback like Elam or Trent McDuffie.
Wyatt has some character concerns, so one of the corners will probably get the nod here. The consensus has McDuffie as the higher-rated prospect, but he measures at just 5-11. The Chargers already have J.C. Jackson (5-10) and Asante Samuel Jr. (5-9) so they may not want three sub-6-0 corners among their top four.
Elam has better size at 6-1 and ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. He needs to work on his tackling, but he would have time to do that in Los Angeles. The Chargers still have 6-1 Michael Davis under contract, so Elam can learn behind him.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)
- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Eagles could take McDuffie at 15, so getting him here is a nice value. Philadelphia has long been looking for cornerback help and McDuffie was sticky in coverage at Washington. He only had two interceptions in his career, so he might not be a big-time playmaker, but he should still develop into a solid starter for the Eagles.
19. New Orleans Saints (from Eagles)
- Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
This is where many will have Kenny Pickett’s fall ending, but I’m not sold that the Saints will take him. They still need a receiver and while going Dotson over Burks may raise some eyebrows, the Saints may prefer the Penn State wide-out.
Dotson is a smaller pass-catcher at 5-11, 178 pounds, but he was a big-time deep threat at Penn State. He caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and six touchdowns as a senior while showing off good route-running skills. The Saints need a bit more speed in their offense as Michael Thomas isn’t exactly a burner, so Dotson could be just what the team needs.
If Olave is available at 16, the Saints may take him there and go with an offensive tackle like Tyler Smith here. They could also trade down if a quarterback-needy team wants to move up.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
And finally, a quarterback comes off the board in this mock draft. Willis could certainly go earlier than this. It’s hard to find him a definitive landing spot if the Panthers pass on him at No. 6. Maybe the Falcons would take him eighth overall, or maybe the Saints would consider him, but it’s more likely that teams will pass on quarterbacks in what is considered to be a weak class.
That works to the Steelers’ advantage. They need a young quarterback of the future to pair with Mitch Trubisky. Willis has dynamic scrambling ability and an excellent arm; he just needs time to develop against higher-level competition and also needs to improve his accuracy and ability to read the field against tighter coverage.
Willis may not make it to the 20th pick, but the Steelers could still draft him. If Willis slips out of the top 10, the Steelers could trade up with the Vikings or Texans to get him. They were willing to trade up to 10 from 20 in the 2019 draft to get Devin Bush. They may do the same for Willis, who fits the mobile mold that Mike Tomlin is looking for at quarterback.
21. New England Patriots
It’s nearly impossible to correctly predict what the Patriots will do year-to-year because they run such a tight ship. That said, they seem likely to target a defensive player here considering the losses they have had on the side of the ball, particularly at linebacker. So, Walker or Devin Lloyd will probably be the pick here.
Walker has been a fast riser during the late stages of the pre-draft process. He was a rock-solid playmaker at Georgia and showed off strong athletic ability at the 2022 NFL Combine. Walker has the size (6-3) that Bill Belichick covets and the veteran coach could develop him into a scary three-down playmaker at the NFL level.
Another name to watch here is Daxton Hill. The Michigan defensive back is versatile and can play at safety and in the slot. Belichick loves versatility, so perhaps he’ll pull the trigger on Hill here. More likely though, the Patriots will trade down, as they typically do. The Cowboys could be a trading partner here if they want to move up to get their preferred interior offensive lineman.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Raiders)
- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Packers have to take a receiver here, right? Aaron Rodgers returned to the team only to see them trade away Davante Adams and lose Marquez Valdes-Scantling to free agency. The team is very thin at the position, so getting ar receiver early in a deep and talented wide-out class would be a good move.
Burks is a thick receiver at 6-2, 225 pounds. That fits the mold of the bigger-bodied players that the Packers have tended to target at the position. He’s not the fastest player in terms of pure speed, but he performs well with the ball in his hands and has a little Deebo Samuel in his game. He would go a long way toward helping the Packers replace Davante Adams.
23. Arizona Cardinals
- Zion Johnson, G/C, Boston College
The Cardinals have long had issues on the offensive line. They got a bit better at center last year, but when Rodney Hudson missed time, the interior blocking was awful.
Johnson would help remedy that. The Boston College product looks like one of the safest players in this year’s draft, as he can play all three interior positions and blocks with great technique. He could challenge Justin Pugh and Will Hernandez for a starting guard job before eventually sliding to center to replace Hudson, 32. Arizona could also consider a receiver here if Dotson falls to them.
24. Dallas Cowboys
- Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
The Cowboys would probably love to get Zion Johnson here, but he comes off the board one pick ahead of them. Perhaps they could trade up with the Patriots to land Johnson, but if not, Green wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.
Green is a thick, strong 6-4, 324-pound guard who should be a plug-and-play starter at the NFL level. He can help replace Connor Williams at left guard after he left the Cowboys during free agency. That would keep Connor McGovern in his interior backup role and shore up Dallas’ offensive line depth.
Treylon Burks and Jahan Dotson will also both be options for Dallas, but they are off the board here. As such, Green is the most sensible selection.
25. Buffalo Bills
- Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
There aren’t many weaknesses on the Bills’ roster, but they could stand to add talent at cornerback and running back. There aren’t any running backs worthy of a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, so the Bills will more likely look for a corner to help replace Levi Wallace.
Booth was a productive two-year starter at Clemson and totaled five interceptions over his final 21 games with the team. He could develop into a solid No. 2 corner across from Tre’Davious White and would continue to add depth to Buffalo’s secondary.
26. Tennessee Titans
The Titans are almost certainly going to take an offensive lineman here if they don’t trade down. The only question is whether any linemen on the board will fit the range. Lucky for them, Smith is still available, as the Tulsa product has been a late riser during the lead up to the 2022 NFL Draft.
will certainly be happy if Green is the top offensive lineman on the board as opposed to Tyler Linderbaum. While Linderbaum may be a better prospect, the Titans don’t need a pure center. They need help at tackle and guard, as they lost two starters at left guard (Rodger Saffold) and right tackle (David Quessenberry) during free agency.
Smith (6-5, 324 pounds) is a raw tackle who plays a very physical game. He is inconsistent and needs to fix up his technique a bit, but the potential is there. He would battle for a starting job at left guard or right tackle with second-year player Dillon Radunz, who was a second-round pick last season. That would give the Titans options as they look to replace Rodger Saffold and David Quessenberry.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Wyatt comes with character concerns, but the Buccaneers have taken a chance on players with those in years past. Most notably, they did so with Antonio Brown, and while that didn’t pan out long-term, it did help the team win Super Bowl 55.
The Bucs need to add talent to their defensive front to help replace Ndamukong Suh, and Wyatt would fit perfectly in Todd Bowles’ defense. He ran the fastest 40 among defensive tackles at the 2022 NFL Combine (4.77) and showed quick get-off at Georgia. He should be a well-rounded pro, so Tampa Bay may decide he is worth the risk here.
28. Green Bay Packers
The Packers could take a second receiver here, but it’s more likely that they will look to replenish their depth at other positions. One spot to watch is linebacker because though they re-signed De’Vondre Campbell, they need another three-down starter next to him. Krys Barnes has been decent but upgrading him before he becomes a restricted free agent next year wouldn’t be a bad move.
Lloyd was a do-it-all linebacker at Utah who projects to be a solid three-down player at the NFL level. He didn’t run as fast as teams hoped in pre-draft testing but he has solid instincts and is a good tackler. He just needs to work on his angling at the next level.
If the Packers want to take more of a risk here, they could take Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo. He was set to be a top-10 pick before he tore his Achilles during his Pro Day. He may not be ready to play this year, but he could be a long-term complement for another former Michigan player Rashan Gary.
The Packers have made future-focused picks before, so don’t rule out Ojabo here.
29. Kansas City Chiefs
- Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
The Chiefs have made quite a few moves at receiver during the 2022 NFL offseason. Most notably, they traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, but they also lost Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson in free agency. They have since added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the roster, but they still need a potential starter and more depth at receiver.
Watson would qualify as both. The North Dakota State product is very raw, but he averaged 20.5 yards per catch during his collegiate career. Granted, he played at the FCS level, but he is an NFL-caliber athlete, as he blazed a 4.36 40-yard dash despite measuring at 6-4, 206 pounds.
Watson will need time to improve as a route runner, but he could eventually form a deadly combination with Patrick Mahomes. He may not have a hyphenated last name like Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling, but his fit in Kansas City is a good one.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (from Dolphins via 49ers)
Here’s an outside-the-box option for the Chiefs. They have a bigger need at corner than safety, but the team used three safeties a lot last season. Justin Reid is set to replace Tyrann Mathieu in the lineup, but the team has yet to replace Daniel Sorensen. Cine would provide a physical, playmaking presence in Kansas City’s defense and should be better in coverage than Sorensen was last season. Don’t be surprised if he’s the pick here, or if he goes earlier.
31. Cincinnati Bengals
- George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
The Bengals grab a falling player at 31 in what could become a great value pick. Karlaftis got some top-10 buzz at one point during the college football season, but his stock has slipped to the latter half of the first round at this point. He’s still a solid pass rusher with great power who compares favorably to another Purdue alumn, Ryan Kerrigan.
The Bengals have Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard at defensive end, but they could use an impactful third man for the rotation. That role should more than suit Karlaftis, who could eventually develop into an NFL starter.
32. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
Kenny Pickett at 32. Yup, it’s possible. The 2022 NFL Draft is weak at the quarterback position and only a handful of teams picking in the first round have a need at the position. And when you start to parse things out, it’s hard to find a landing spot for Pickett.
Sure, maybe the Panthers, Falcons, Saints or Steelers fall in love with Pickett. However, the Panthers seem to be focusing on the offensive tackle position while the Steelers may prefer Malik Willis. The Falcons seem poised to land one of the top defenders in this year’s class while the Saints aren’t guaranteed to take a quarterback early at all.
All it takes is one team to fall for a quarterback, but if Willis and Pickett both slide, Pickett’s fall could last a while. He may not make it all the way to 32, as a team could trade up from the second round to grab him. But a fall like this remains possible.
We see this happen all the time. From Aaron Rodgers to Brady Quinn to Lamar Jackson, some quarterbacks simply fall, regardless of their talent level.
If Pickett falls, his drop will be more reminiscent of Drew Lock’s in 2019. Lock was frequently mocked as a potential top-15 or top-20 pick, but he lasted until the second round, as teams simply weren’t as high on him as fans and draft analysts were. Pickett could suffer the same fate, though it’s unlikely that he will fall out of the first round in a weaker draft class.