Final Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon Round 1 mock draft: 7 pass rushers, 6 WRs, 5 CBs and 4 QBs, plus some surprise misses

2022 NFL draft

This was a difficult mock draft to put together.

It’s possible that no quarterback is drafted in the top 10.

In fact, there’s not even a consensus QB-1A.

Start with everything we believe to be true:

  • You can find quality offensive tackles, cornerbacks and receivers, but you won’t find a running back or tight end until Day 2.
  • Need an interior offensive lineman? There are three to choose from who are ranked in the first-round.
  • This year compares to last year in terms of the number of quality pass rushers.

Now consider the factors that muddy the draft waters:

  • Six of the top 10 prospects come with question marks that could drop any of them.
  • Of the top nine receivers – any of whom could go Round 1 – three come with medical concerns.
  • The presumed top OT also allegedly has medical concerns.
  • Anywhere from one to five QBs could be taken on Day 1.
  • It’s possible that no one who touches the ball is drafted in the top 10, which would be a first in draft history.

In other words, try not to laugh too hard at this mock draft.

Pick 1: Jacksonville

Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan: Hutchinson is allegedly neck-and-neck with Georgia’s Travon Walker for the top spot. Hutchinson gets the nod simply because of the crazy numbers he put up last season, while Walker is still more of a work in progress.

Pick 2: Detroit

Edge Travon Walker, Georgia: The Lions may be in the toughest position of any team, as they need a QB but are unlikely to take one at this spot. And without a generational type of talent in this draft, Detroit may have a tough time trading down. For now, Walker is a nice consolation prize who has rocketed up draft boards in recent weeks.

Pick 3: Houston

OT Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State: Unless you’re a scout or live in North Carolina, then you can thank The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman for putting Ekwonu on your draft radar, as he was called “the most feared offensive lineman in the ACC” back in March 2021. The Texans don’t know if Davis Mills can be their QB for the next decade, but adding another piece to its offensive line should make the evaluation process a little easier. Besides, if Mills bombs in 2022, then Houston can always take a QB next year – and the Year 2 duo of Laremy Tunsil and Ekwonu should be even better.

Pick 4: New York Jets

Edge Jermaine Johnson, Florida State: Yes, reports came out this week about Johnson’s character, and, yes, the team had a good official visit with Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux. But when there’s smoke, there’s often fire – and in this case, Johnson appears to be the likely pick for New York over Thibodeaux.

Pick 5: New York Giants

OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State: It’s hard to place too much blame on QB Daniel Jones and RB Saquon Barkley with such a leaky offensive line. So the pick here goes to Cross, who reportedly worked out at right tackle during his pro day. Plus, the same logic for Houston applies to the Giants: You might or might not already have your QB of the future on the roster, but adding a potential Pro Bowl tackle sure couldn’t hurt.

Pick 6: Carolina

QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh: Sometimes, something makes so much sense for so long that you almost talk yourself out of it. That’s the case here. For starters, the Panthers desperately need a quarterback. Pickett gets the nod over Liberty’s Malik Willis simply because of experience and level of competition, but you also can’t rule out how important his ties are to head coach Matt Rhule. A QB has gone No. 1 overall every year since 2017 – until now. In fact, the last time a QB wasn’t among the first 15 picks was 2013, when Florida State’s EJ Manuel went to Buffalo at pick No. 16 overall.

Pick 7: New York Giants

CB Derek Stingley, LSU: Stingley started the season as CB-1 and will wind up as the first CB taken with the Giants’ second first-round pick. With veteran James Bradberry unlikely to return, New York needs a starting CB, so the pick here comes down to Stingley versus Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner. The Giants Country’s Gene Clemons explains why Stingley would be the better pick: “Based on the amount of man coverage you can predict in a Wink Martindale system, Stingley provides a better return on investment.”

Pick 8: Atlanta 

Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon: Falcons fans pining for a pass rusher can stop hyperventilating – I’m looking at you Ev Glaze. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay says he’s heard Atlanta is the likely “parachute pick” for Thibodeaux, who has taken a beating in the lead-up to the draft due to a variety of alleged concerns. Wide receiver is an option here, but pass rusher is just as great of a need after the team finished with 18 sacks last season, the lowest total in the league.

Pick 9: Seattle

OT Evan Neal, Alabama: The Crimson Tide lineman’s fall finally ends with the Seahawks, who need an OT as badly as they need a QB. ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper raised some eyebrows when they had Neal falling to Seattle, but reports about his health could explain why. One thing to keep in mind: Seattle is among a handful of teams infamous for the “they took who?!” picks in the first round, so I wouldn’t rule out Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder here.

Pick 10: New York Jets

WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State: Let the Kyle Hamilton slide begin! New York fans might be upset over passing on players here like Hamilton and Ahmad Gardner, but the Jets went with defense at pick 4 and now try to provide second-year QB Zach Wilson some help. Wilson is arguably the top receiver in the draft and has been compared to Dallas Cowboys and former Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb, who made the Pro Bowl in his second season.

Pick 11: Washington

CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati: Would the Commanders consider taking Willis here? It would be tempting – unless Gardner is still available. It’s hard to believe Gardner falls this far, but Washington would sprint to the podium if he is. Here’s what NBC Sports’ Peter Hailey said about this possibility: “The Commanders are desperate for wide receiver help and would also likely be tempted by Kyle Hamilton, but Gardner falling to them would represent outlandish value at a position that’s hugely important in the sport today.”

Pick 12: Minnesota

Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue: It seems like most mock drafts have the Vikings taking a CB here, but with Stingley and Gardner off the board, look for Minnesota to take a pass rusher instead. Karlaftis provides some insurance in case Danielle Hunter can’t regain peak form. He would likely start at right defensive end right away in the Vikings 3-4 front.

Pick 13: Houston

WR Drake London, USC: It was hard passing up on players like Hamilton and CB Trent McDuffie, but Houston has needs at almost every position but left tackle and maybe – maybe – quarterback. First the team took the top OT; now it takes one of the most dynamic receivers in the draft. London isn’t a speed-burner like Jameson Williams or as smooth as Chris Olave. Instead, he’s a Mike Evans clone who can help make up for a lot of mistakes with his elite size and length.

* Pick 14: Los Angeles Chargers (trades picks 17 and 79 to Baltimore)

OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa: The first trade of the draft sees the last of the top-tier offensive linemen going off the board. The Chargers don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but RT likely tops the list. The tackle tandem of Rashawn Slater and Penning should keep franchise QB Justin Herbert protected for the next decade.

Pick 15: Philadelphia

WR Jameson Williams, Alabama: The pick here probably comes down to Hamilton at safety or the speedster Williams at receiver. Yes, this would make it three years in a row that Philadelphia has drafted a receiver in the first round, but Jalen Reagor has been a disappointment, and, outside of last year’s rookie DeVonta Smith, the proverbial cupboard is relatively bare at receiver for young QB Jalen Hurts.

Pick 16: New Orleans

QB Malik Willis, Liberty: All that talk about the Saints packaging picks 16 and 19 to move up for either Pickett or Willis turned out to be unnecessary, as Willis falls right into their lap. It’s entirely plausible, too. Of the teams drafting ahead of New Orleans, only Carolina, Seattle and Washington might take a QB. The wildcard, though, is Pittsburgh trading ahead of New Orleans, as they have been tied to Willis for several months.

Pick 17: Baltimore (trade with L.A. Chargers)

DL Jordan Davis, Georgia: Hamilton would be tempting this late in the first round, but the Ravens just signed Marcus Williams to a five-year, $70 million contract, while Chuck Clark is signed through 2024. Davis, though, would be too tempting to pass up, regardless of whether he cracks the 400-snap threshold as a rookie. Plus, his presence should help young OLBs Odafe Oweh and Jaylon Ferguson in addition to veterans Tyus Bowser at OLB and DE Calais Campbell.

Pick 18: Philadelphia

CB Trent McDuffie, Washington: Again, Hamilton would be incredibly tempting here, but McDuffie is too great of a talent at a position of need to pass up. The biggest knock on the 5-foot-11, 193-pound junior is his size, but some draft analysts like him more than Stingley, including NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, who used words like fearless, aggressive and elite to describe his competitiveness.

Pick 19: Seattle (trades picks 40, 41 to New Orleans for a first and fourth-round pick)

QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati: You have to figure Seattle will at least try to trade back into the first round after passing on the position at pick No. 9. New Orleans, meanwhile, picks up two second-rounders, giving them four of the first 50 picks. Ridder becomes the third QB to go off the board.

Pick 20: Pittsburgh

C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa: The Steelers likely won’t be in position to land one of the top three QBs unless it trades up in the draft. That would be costly, as it would take Pittsburgh’s first three picks to move up to No. 8 overall. Does the team really want to do that in what’s considered a weak QB class? Another option: Package this pick as part of a trade for Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield or San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo. Baring all that, Linderbaum would be the perfect fit for Pittsburgh as the Steelers continue a bit of a youth movement along the offensive line.

Pick 21: New England

WR Chris Olave, Ohio State: It’s been feast or famine lately for the Patriots in the first round: New England either strikes out (N’Keal Harry, Malcolm Brown, Dominique Easley) or hits a home run (Mac Jones, Chandler Jones, Isaiah Wynn). Receiver probably isn’t the team’s biggest need after the team traded for DeVante Parker, but a receiver like Olave would certainly speed up the development process of Jones. Plus, Olave is about as “clean” of a prospect as you’ll find.

Pick 22: Green Bay

WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas: Even though the Packers picked up an extra first-rounder in the Davante Adams trade, it’s still a risky move as there’s no guarantee one of the top remaining receivers lasts this long. Consider the team lucky. Burks has been compared to San Francisco’s Deebo Samuels for his potential as a “gadget” player on offense, but the better comparison might be former Arizona WR David Boston or even former Green Bay WR Shannon Sharpe. Burks might not be the fastest receiver on the field, but he’s hard to stop or bring down.

Pick 23: Arizona

Edge Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State: The Cardinals could use a pass rusher to pair with Markus Golden, and the fast-rising Ebiketie seems like the most obvious fit. With that said, Logan Hall of Houston is another possibility here. Hall would share time at DE with J.J. Watt in Arizona’s 3-4, with Watt shifting to OLB in obvious passing downs.

Pick 24: Dallas

G Zion Johnson, Boston College: Green Bay broke Arkansas alumnus Jerry Jones’ heart by taking Burks two picks ahead of the Cowboys. Without another top-rated pass rusher on the board, Dallas turns its attention to the interior of its offensive line, where LG has been a weak spot in recent years. Dallas might also consider Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green, but Norm Hitzges of The Ticket reported on Tuesday that the team might have some medical concerns with the former Aggie.

Pick 25: Buffalo

CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson: What do you give the team that had the NFL’s best defense last season? Another defender, of course. Levi Wallace left in free agency, leaving a big hole in the Bills’ secondary. Booth is one of the top remaining cornerbacks.

Pick 26: Tennessee

QB Sam Howell, North Carolina: The most recent mock draft by PFF’s Ari Meirov has the Titans taking a different QB, Cincinnati’s Ridder. If not Ridder, then Howell would be the most logical choice, as Meirov says Tennessee “could be a sneaky quarterback team in this draft.” From Meirov: “Ryan Tannehill will turn 34 years old in July and the last memory of him is a not-so-great performance against the Bengals in the playoffs. He has no guaranteed salary left after this season.”

Pick 27: Tampa Bay

S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame: The Hamilton slide finally ends! There are several reasons why the player who once ranked No. 1 overall in the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon big board slid so far. For starters, Hamilton missed time last season with a knee injury, then ran a 4.59-second 40 at the Combine. Surely he’d put up better numbers during Notre Dame’s pro day, right? Not exactly, as Hamilton was clocked at times of 4.7 and 4.74. That puts Hamilton into rarified company, as only 38 safeties between 2000 to 2021 ran a 4.7 or worse, according to JetsXFactor’s Michael Nania. Of those 38 safeties, eight were drafted but none were taken before the fifth round. And only two became long-time starters. Yikes. But, Tampa Bay lost safety Jordan Whitehead in free agency, and, as PFF’s Meirov said, “new head coach Todd Bowles loves his safeties.”

Pick 28: Green Bay

LB Devin Lloyd, Utah: The Packers don’t have many weaknesses, but they could use an upgrade at inside linebacker over Krys Barnes, a 2020 undrafted free agent. Lloyd would pair with De’Vondre Campbell to give Green Bay one of the most fearsome inside linebacker duos in the league.

Pick 29: Kansas City

WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State: This was an easy one. Kansas City badly needs a receiver to replace the recently traded Tyreek Hill, and the dynamic Dotson is the last remaining tier-1 receiver left on the board. Christian Watson of North Dakota State, Skyy Moore of Western Michigan and Georgia’s George Pickens are other potential options if Dotson is gone.

Pick 30: Kansas City

CB Kyler Gordon, Washington: This was also an easy pick. After losing Charvarius Ward in free agency, the Chiefs’ depth chart at cornerback includes Rashad Fenton, Deandre Baker and L’Jarius Sneed, a who’s-who of who. Some scouts and analysts think Gordon is a better prospect than his Washington teammate McDuffie, who went 12 picks earlier to Philadelphia.

Pick 31: Cincinnati

Edge Logan Hall, Houston: Thanks to upgrades made to its offensive line through free agency, the Bengals can focus on other needs, including defensive line. The 6-foot-6, 283-pound Hall can play inside at the 3-tech or outside as a strong-side defensive end – perfect for Cincinnati. As The Bengals Wire’s Chris Roling said, the team still needs an interior lineman and a pass rusher. Logan gives them both.

Pick 32: Detroit

LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia: Any hopes of landing one of the top remaining QBs is gone, unless the team takes a flyer on Ole Miss’ Matt Corral or Nevada’s Carson Strong for the fifth-year option that comes with first-round picks. A trade is another possibility here: Remember, Atlanta and Washington bypassed QB in the early part of the first round in this mock. Of the two, Atlanta has more trade assets. The Falcons could package one of their two second-round picks and one of their two third-round picks to move back into the first. Or the Lions could simply use the pick. Dean is a culture-changer who NFL.com’s Zierlein says is explosive, fearless, athletic and good at timing his blitzes. The only knock on Dean is his size at 5-foot-11, 229-pounds.


Notes:

  • Two of the most notable players who fell out of the first round are Michigan safety Dax Hill and Texas A&M offensive linemen Kenyon Green. Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt, who I think is a candidate to go to Green Bay at 28, also fell out of the first round.
  • Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann is a candidate for Cincinnati at 31 or Jacksonville at the top of the second round as a guard.
  • I rated 17 players with first-round grades. That’s not unusual for analysts or teams.

Click here to see the Fanspeak-Jake Rigdon top 100, and click here to see the entire Rigdon big board.

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