2022 NFL Mock Draft: Way-Too-Early Round 1 Predictions Feat. 6 QBs

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Way-Too-Early Round 1 Predictions Feat. 6 QBs article feature image
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Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Rattler.

The 2021 NFL Draft is now comfortably in the distance, and I’ve written my massive post-draft top 50 rookie dynasty rankings breakdown, but I’m still feeling the itch — the mock draft itch.

In case you didn’t realize it, I am obsessed with the NFL Draft. I have a real problem.

Over the past three years, I'm No. 3 in FantasyPros mock draft accuracy, and I've done well betting on the NFL draft.

– 2019: +17.7 units
– 2020: +26.2 units
– 2021: +32.0 units

Here's what I learned from placing 298 bets on the NFL draft this year.https://t.co/uGvDcqayAH

— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) May 6, 2021

So for the first time ever, I’m doing a way-in-advance, way-too-early mock draft for the coming season.

It’s still 2021: We’ve yet to see next year’s class of prospects play a final season of college football, and we have no idea what next year’s draft order will be — but here is the first version of my 2022 NFL mock draft.

In creating this mock, I’ve tried to match prospect strength with team need per usual, but since we don’t have anything close to full information at this time, I’ve decided not to provide pick-by-pick commentary. Instead, I have provided general notes below.

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I determined the draft order by consulting team futures at DraftKings. The Texans have the longest odds to win the Super Bowl at +17500, so they get pick No. 1. The Chiefs have the shortest odds at +525, so they have pick No. 32. I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated way to set the draft order, but this method suffices.

I don’t see any props in the market for the 2022 draft, so this mock isn’t immediately actionable. And by the time props are posted, this way-too-early mock will likely be irrelevant. I would not use this piece as a guideline for any significant 2022 draft prop investments.

As sportsbooks post props and the 2022 draft approaches, I’ll release updated mocks highlighting the bets I think offer value.

In case you’re curious, here’s my way-too-early 2022 top-50 big board.

Here’s how I see Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft unfolding.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

Pick Team Player
1 HOU Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
2 DET Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
3 NYJ Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
4 CIN Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
5 JAX Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
6 PHI Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
7 NYG Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
8 LV DeMarvin Leal, EDGE, Texas A&M
9 CAR Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
10 WAS Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
11 NYG Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
12 ATL Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
13 TEN Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
14 PIT J.T. Daniels, QB, Georgia
15 ARI Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
16 MIN George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
17 LAC Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
18 NO George Pickens, WR, Georgia
19 NE Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
20 PHI Zion Nelson, OT, Miami (FL)
21 PHI Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
22 NYJ Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
23 DAL Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
24 DEN Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
25 GB John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
26 CLE Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
27 BAL Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
28 MIA Bubba Bolden, S, Miami (FL)
29 BUF Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
30 DET Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
31 TB Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
32 KC Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

2022 NFL Draft: 10 Takeaways

Here are 10 random thoughts I have on the 2022 NFL Draft.

1. There Are Lots of Trades in Round 1

A lot of trades are already on the books for next year’s draft. Here are the traded picks just for Round 1.

  • Pick No. 11: The Bears traded their 2022 first-rounder to the Giants to move up from No. 20 to No. 11 this year to draft quarterback Justin Fields.
  • Pick No. 21: The Dolphins traded their 2022 first-rounder to the Eagles to move up from No. 12 to No. 6 before the 2021 draft.
  • Pick No. 22: The Colts traded a conditional 2022 second-rounder to the Eagles for quarterback Carson Wentz. If Wentz plays 75% of the offensive snaps for the Colts — or if he plays 70% of the offensive snaps and the Colts make the playoffs — that second-rounder will convert to a first-rounder. I think the odds of that conversion happening are high.
  • Pick No. 23: The Seahawks traded their 2022 first-rounder to the Jets in 2020 for safety Jamal Adams.
  • Pick No. 28: The 49ers traded their 2022 first-rounder to the Dolphins to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 before the 2021 draft.
  • Pick No. 30: The Rams traded their 2022 first-rounder to the Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

As everything stands now, the Lions, Jets and Giants each have two 2022 first-rounders. The Eagles have three (again, assuming the second-rounder converts to a first-rounder).

2. The Eagles Could Own the 2022 NFL Draft

With three picks on Day 1, the Eagles could own the 2022 draft. What will they do with all those picks?

With +6600 odds to win the Super Bowl, the Eagles have been assigned pick No. 6 — and if they play poorly enough to earn the No. 6 pick, that will likely mean quarterback Jalen Hurts will have underwhelmed. So, I have the Eagles taking quarterback Kedon Slovis (USC) with their first pick.

With their second and third picks (Nos. 21-22, from the Dolphins and Colts), I have the Eagles selecting players who can protect their new quarterback and solidify their offensive line: Offensive tackle Zion Nelson (Miami) and offensive guard Kenyon Green (Texas A&M).

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3. QBs Abound Again In 2022 Draft Class

In 2021, for just the fourth time in NFL history, we saw five quarterbacks go in Round 1 — and we could see the same feat again in 2022.

In fact, I have six quarterbacks in this mock, tying the NFL record set in 1983.

Benjamin Robinson of Grinding the Mocks did a great study on Football Outsiders in 2020 showing that quarterbacks tend to go later in the draft than they do in mocks. Not surprisingly, mockers have historically been too enthusiastic when projecting how high quarterbacks will be selected.

Even so, mocks generally do a good job of collectively predicting the number of players at each position to be drafted in Round 1, and right now, most 2022 mocks have 5-6 quarterbacks going in the top 32.

Indeed, entering the 2022 college season there are six quarterback prospects who stand out above the rest, and I have included all of them in this way-too-early mock.

  • Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma): Pick No. 1, Texans
  • Sam Howell (North Carolina): Pick No. 2, Lions
  • Kedon Slovis (USC): Pick No. 6, Eagles
  • Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati): Pick No. 9, Panthers
  • Malik Willis (Liberty): Pick No. 10, Football Team
  • J.T. Daniels (Georgia): Pick No. 14, Steelers

By the time the 2022 draft actually gets here, I strongly doubt I will have six quarterbacks going in the top half of Round 1, but for now, that’s how I have them slotted.

4. Who Is the No. 1 QB?

For years before the 2021 draft, evaluators generally assumed that quarterback Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) would be the No. 1 overall pick and the top player at his position.

Right now, the 2022 class lacks a clear frontrunner for No. 1 quarterback, but I lean toward Rattler in this mock. Oklahoma has a strong recent history of sending quarterbacks to the NFL at the top of the draft board. And with his “Rattler” surname, how can the Texans not draft him?

college football-betting-odds-picks-projected spreads-week 6-wilson
Brett Deering/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Rattler.

5. Offensive Tackles, Where Art Thou?

The past two draft classes have been relatively strong at offensive tackle. In 2020, six players were taken at the position in Round 1. This year, four tackles went in Round 1 (five if we count Alijah Vera-Tucker, who might get a shot to play tackle), but six more went in Round 2.

The 2022 class does not look as strong at the position. I have four tackles in Round 1 right now.

  • Evan Neal (Alabama): Pick No. 7, Giants
  • Zion Nelson (Miami): Pick No. 20, Eagles
  • Rasheed Walker (Penn State): Pick No. 27, Ravens
  • Charles Cross (Mississippi State): Pick No. 30, Lions

But most of them are in the second half of Round 1, some of them might need to kick inside to guard, and after them I see few tackle candidates for Round 2.

Maybe the 2021 college football season will change the way we think about the upcoming tackle class, but I’m currently underwhelmed.

6. Off-Ball Linebackers Don’t Matter

Just this year, the Cowboys selected off-ball linebacker Micah Parsons (Penn State) at pick No. 12. Haha, oh Jerry. Never change.

Off-ball linebackers are basically the running backs of the defense: They are the least important players on their side of the ball. But people always seem to take an interest in linebackers, and the 2021 class was strong at the position with three players going in Round 1 and three more in Round 2.

But the 2022 class looks somewhat bereft at the position: I have just one linebacker in Round 1, and he goes off the board fairly late.

  • Christian Harris (Alabama): Pick No. 24, Broncos

And after Harris, there aren’t many strong candidates for Round 2.

For people who care about off-ball linebackers, the 2022 class might not be to their liking.

7. Does the 2022 Class Have Another Kyle Pitts at TE?

Kyle Pitts was a surefire 2021 first-rounder throughout the entirety of the evaluation process, and with his selection at No. 4 overall, he became the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history.

It would be nearly impossible for any tight end in 2022 to come even close to Pitts as a prospect.

But the class already has a locked-in frontrunner to be the No. 1 tight end selected.

  • Jalen Wydermyer (Texas A&M): Pick No. 23, Cowboys

Wydermyer is in the vast majority of 2022 mocks, and last year as a sophomore, he was the No. 1 pass-catcher for the Aggies with 46-506-6 receiving in 10 games.

If he progresses as a junior this year, he could solidify his first-round status and maybe move into the top half of Round 1.

8. How Many Alabama Players Will Go in Round 1?

Every year, it feels like Round 1 is inundated with players from Alabama. And it feels that way because it’s true.

I mean, seriously.

This is hilarious. pic.twitter.com/BM9Ajdx2TZ

— Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) April 30, 2021

In this past draft, six players from Alabama went in the top 32. It must be something in that sweet-and-swampy Tuscaloosa water.

Since 2011…

36 — Alabama first round picks
33 — Big 12 first round picks

Over 5.5 Alabama players drafted in Round 1 cashed last night. 💰 🐘 pic.twitter.com/OSnng0qrdf

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 30, 2021

I have five Alabama players in Round 1 of the 2022 draft.

  • Evan Neal (Alabama): Pick No. 7, Giants
  • Christian Harris (Alabama): Pick No. 24, Broncos
  • John Metchie III (Alabama): Pick No. 25, Packers
  • Jordan Battle (Alabama): Pick No. 31, Buccaneers
  • Josh Jobe (Alabama): Pick No. 32, Chiefs

Given that most of these players are mocked near the bottom of Round 1, I doubt that all of them will actually go in the top 32, but once again, the Crimson Tide could be represented en masse on Day 1.

9. Another Alabama Wide Receiver Goes in Round 1

At this point, everyone knows that the 2019 Alabama football team had four first-round wide receivers.

  • Jerry Jeudy (2020): Pick No. 15, Broncos
  • Henry Ruggs III (2020): Pick No. 12, Raiders
  • DeVonta Smith (2021): Pick No. 10, Eagles
  • Jaylen Waddle (2021): Pick No. 6, Dolphins

In 2022, I think a fifth receiver will be added to that legendary cohort.

  • John Metchie III (Alabama): Pick No. 25, Packers

Metchie was a benchwarmer in 2019 as a freshman with just 4-23-0 receiving, but in 2020, he was the No. 2 pass catcher for Alabama after Smith with 55-916-6 receiving in 13 games.

With a strong junior season, Metchie could become the most recent in a long string of Alabama receivers to go in the top 32.

ncaa-college football-betting-odds-pick-alabama crimson tide-tennessee volunteers-week 8-october 24 2020
UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images. Pictured: John Metchie.

10. Over/Under for Ohio State WRs in Round 1?

With Michael Thomas and Terry McLaurin, Ohio State has had great recent success in advancing wide receivers to the NFL.

For 2022, I expect two more Buckeye receivers to enter the league, both of them in Round 1.

  • Chris Olave (Ohio State): Pick No. 13, Titans
  • Garrett Wilson (Ohio State): Pick No. 17, Chargers

Both of them go off the board on Day 1 in the supermajority of 2022 mocks I’ve seen.

If I had to set an over/under for the number of Buckeyes wide receivers to be drafted in Round 1, right now I’d set the number at 1.5 with heavy, heavy juice to the over.

Matthew Freedman is 1,051-849-37 (55%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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