2022 NFL Draft First Round Predictions: Evan Neal Falls To No. 7, Drake London Is First WR, More Mock Picks
Getty Images. Pictured: 2022 NFL Draft prospects Evan Neal, Drake London
In a special collaboration with The Action Network, you’ll find the final version of Scott Smith’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft below.
Smith was the most accurate mock drafter in 2018 and the ninth-most accurate in 2019 according to FantasyPros, which grades the accuracy of mock drafts industry-wide, including longtime draft analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper.
2022 NFL Mock Draft
Click the arrow to preview Scott Smith’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft results
|1||Jaguars||Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia|
|2||Lions||Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan|
|3||Texans||Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU|
|4||Jets||Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State|
|5||Giants||Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati|
|6||Panthers||Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State|
|7||Giants*||Evan Neal, OT, Alabama|
|8||Falcons||Drake London, WR, USC|
|9||Seahawks*||Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon|
|10||Jets*||Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State|
|11||Commanders||Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame|
|12||Vikings||Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington|
|13||Texans*||Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State|
|14||Ravens||Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia|
|15||Eagles*||Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama|
|16||Saints*||Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State|
|17||Chargers||Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa|
|18||Eagles*||Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah|
|19||Saints*||Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa|
|20||Steelers||Malik Willis, QB, Liberty|
|21||Patriots||Daxton Hill, S, Michigan|
|22||Packers*||Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas|
|23||Cardinals||George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue|
|24||Cowboys||Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College|
|25||Bills||Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida|
|26||Titans||Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh|
|27||Bucs||Logan Hall, IDL, Houston|
|28||Packers||Quay Walker, LB, Georgia|
|29||Chiefs*||Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota|
|30||Chiefs||George Pickens, WR, Georgia|
|31||Bengals||Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia|
|32||Lions*||Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State|
|*Indicates pick acquired via trade|
2022 NFL Draft Predictions
1. Jaguars: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia
Aidan Hutchinson was the odds-on favorite for the majority of the pre-draft process. Alas, the momentum for Travon Walker has become too much to ignore.
Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke loves long arms, and Walker fits what Baalke is looking for with this pick. With rumors of team owner Shad Khan preferring Hutchinson, this pick could be the one that makes or breaks Baalke’s career.
2. Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
With Walker to Jacksonville, Hutchinson becomes the immediate favorite to go to Detroit, though it’s worth noting that late rumors and sharp money across sportsbooks have been betting on Kayvon Thibodeaux.
3. Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Many have wondered what general manager Nick Caserio would do with this pick. The über-talented Stingley put many doubts to rest after his pro day. And if any doubts of his talent still linger, just turn to his 2019 film and even watch LSU practices, where Stingley competed with Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.
4. Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The Jets may be done with Mekhi Becton. And if they are to move forward with the development of Zach Wilson, they will need to protect him. Ekwonu offers the flexibility to play across multiple offensive line positions and would stabilize the Jets offensive line.
On the other hand, the Jets have put in a ton of work on edge rusher Jermaine Johnson and could also consider him here.
5. Giants: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Giants seem to be playing a little bit of a game here. They have been linked to offensive tackles Charles Cross and Evan Neal. In this mock, they take Gardner, who scouts and coaches love. Settling for one of the two tackles or being open to a trade down are options with the seventh overall pick.
6. Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The future and stability of this franchise will not come from drafting a quarterback from this class. A trade for a veteran QB makes the most sense for a head coach in Matt Rhule, who is rumored to be on the hot seat despite recent expressions of support from team owner David Tepper.
There are also rumors the Panthers could trade out of this spot, and Cross offers a target for other tackle-needy teams that may want to move up.
7. Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Neal falls a bit due to medical concerns. He could easily be selected by the Giants at No. 5, but I simply believe that Ahmad Gardner is a more valuable prospect at that pick.
Kayvon Thibodeaux could also be in consideration here.
8. Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC
The Falcons may have the NFL’s single least-talented position group at wide receiver. They are also bad at rushing the passer, so this pick has been among the hardest to nail down. Ultimately, I am settling on London rather than the edge rushers available.
9. Seahawks: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
Thibodeaux’s slide stops with Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Thibodeaux’s “character concerns” are overblown, in my opinion. This pick is always a wild card with Carroll and GM John Schneider, but Thibodeaux’s talent seems too hard to pass up.
I could also see Jermaine Johnson here.
10. Jets: Jermaine Johnson, Edge, Florida State
The Jets have done more work on Johnson than any team has done on any other prospect in this draft. There is a real consideration for the Jets selecting him at No. 4, but having him fall to 10th would be a dream scenario for New York.
I could also envision a scenario in which the Jets move up to make this happen.
11. Commanders: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Washington owns only two picks inside the top 50, making the Commanders leading candidates to trade down in the first round. Hamilton is a scheme fit in the “Buffalo Nickel” position the Commanders used Landon Collins in.
If they pass on Hamilton here, WR Chris Olave has been heavily connected to them, too.
12. Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Derek Stingley would be the easy pick here if he were available. The LSU connections in the Vikings’ organization could even force a trade up to draft Stingley. But it’s been noted that the Vikings have a similar grade on McDuffie and thus take him here.
13. Texans: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Wilson is considered to be the top WR in the draft by some. Adding Wilson to a receiving corps featuring Brandin Cooks would be a starting point for Houston to start building an offensive identity around Davis Mills.
14. Ravens: Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia
Davis to the Ravens may be the most agreed upon player match in the mock draft community. Davis would have an instant impact on a Ravens line that needs an influx of youthful talent.
15. Eagles: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Williams is the most electric WR in this draft. If not for a late-season ACL injury, he might have been the top receiver drafted. The Eagles reportedly being open to trading Jalen Reagor signals their potential interest in adding another WR.
16. Saints: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Whispers in New Orleans believe the Saints moved ahead of the Chargers specifically to select a WR. Tackle may be a bigger need, in which case Trevor Penning would be the target here, but the Saints could have another lineman rated similarly while Olave is well ahead of the other WRs left on the board.
17. Chargers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The Chargers have been linked to Penning throughout the draft process. Here they add to an inconsistent offensive line as they look sure-up their protection around Justin Herbert.
18. Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Lloyd has consistently been one of the most difficult projections in this draft. He could land with Philadelphia, where most fans would be hard-pressed to name any of the team’s starting linebackers.
The tough part of this projection is that Howie Roseman hasn’t valued LBs this early in past drafts.
19. Saints: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
The Saints are rumored to have a high grade on Smith. With the Chargers selecting Penning at No. 17, the Saints pivot here to Smith, who has versatility at multiple positions on the line.
20. Steelers: Malik Willis, QB, Pittsburgh
The Steelers have been linked to Willis throughout the draft process. If this is indeed the pick, Pittsburgh needs to do a serious investigation into how this information gets leaked so accurately.
21. Patriots: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Hill projects as a do-it-all secondary defender who Bill Belichick would love. With measurables similar to an aging Devin McCourty, Hill could play the slot in Year 1 before taking over at FS.
22. Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
To put it simply, it’s time for the Packers to get Aaron Rodgers help at WR. The loss of Davante Adams along with the failure to address the position with early picks in recent drafts has left the WR room devoid of a difference-maker.
Burks, often viewed as a bigger version of Debo Samuel, would be a welcome addition.
23: Cardinals: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
The loss of Chandler Jones and the declining J.J. Watt leaves the Cardinals in need of talent to rush the passer. Karlaftis fits their scheme with his ability to rush with a hand in the dirt or from standing.
24. Cowboys: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
The Cowboys have been successful over the past few years at simply taking the best player available. I expect that strategy to continue.
Johnson grades out as one of the more athletic offensive line prospects and had started at every position on the line during his college career.
25. Bills: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Bills have one of the stronger rosters in the NFL, though defensive cack could be a focus here as the secondary has struggled when Tre’Davious White has not been in the lineup. This could also be the only spot in the first round that a RB would be in consideration.
It was a toss up, but I’m going with Elam over RB Breece Hall here.
26. Titans: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
With Ryan Tannehill getting older and failing in the playoffs, GM Jon Robinson addresses that here with the selection of Pickett. The Titans can move on from Tannehill and save $18 million after this year as they transition to Pickett in 2023.
27. Buccaneers: Logan Hall, IDL, Houston
Hall has been a late-riser in the draft process, but offers positional versatility along the defensive line. Playing end on passing downs then kicking inside to shoot the gaps next to Vita Vea will cause havoc for the Bucs’ opponents.
28. Packers: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
NFL evaluators are enamored with Walker. Sportsbooks have had trouble all week keeping up with moving lines on Walker. Sources have him as guarantee to go in the first round, and here, I pair him next to De’Vondre Campbell in Green Bay.
29. Chiefs: Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota
It’s possible for GM Brett Veach and the Chiefs to package both these back-to-back picks to trade up and select a player they have a premium grade on. That said, taking Pickens above and Mafe here would fill two needs with players who they’ve been heavily linked to.
30. Chiefs: George Pickens, WR, Georgia
Pickens is a bit of a wild care due to his reported character concerns. Often described as entitled and immature, Pickens is also described as possibly the best WR in this draft. A dominant performance in the SEC as a freshman was followed by a couple of down years due to injury.
The Chiefs are known for giving players with character concerns a fresh slate and would be a perfect fit for Pickens.
31. Bengals: Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia
Wyatt has fallen on many boards due to off-field concerns. His talent and fit along the defensive line for the Bengals will be too much to pass on here.
32. Lions: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
I really like Lewis Cine to Detroit and could easily see him going here, but I settled on Dotson here due to his positional value. The Lions adding another young WR to pair with emerging second-year player Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson would be a win.