Ready for the 2021 NFL season to begin? Let’s look ahead to next year’s draft! 

We are so ready for the 2021 NFL season to begin across the league. Sunday is going to be a beautiful day around football.

But even without a game being played, there are fans who are already looking ahead to the future. Every team “has a chance” but, if we’re honest, not every team is headed for the postseason and fans of those with limited hopes know it.

So let’s look ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft. How will the first round play out? Let’s do our best to predict Round One of next year’s draft!

1. Houston Texans — Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

Tyrod Taylor gets the start Week One because Deshaun Watson is still in legal limbo. Do you think the Texans are going to move into the future without a quarterback? We didn’t either.

2. Detroit Lions — Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi

Maybe a sleeper pick here at No. 2 overall, but Corrall could be this year’s Zach Wilson. If he has a huge season — which he started with a strong night against Louisville on Monday — it wouldn’t shock us if Detroit used this high pick for their next franchise quarterback.

3. New York Jets — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Safety is going to be a position of need and Hamilton could be the second coming of Ed Reed. He had a huge first week against Florida State and is easily the top safety in this year’s class.

4. Cincinnati Bengals — Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Thibodeaux is a franchise edge rusher who would be incredible value if he falls to four. Cincinnati needs to protect their franchise quarterback, but they can do that later. Grabbing Thibodeaux changes their entire defense.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

If Thibodeaux and Hamilton are off the board, the Jags will opt to protect the face of their franchise here. Neal is a beast and would be a huge upgrade over what they have now.

6. Philadelphia Eagles — Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU

The Eagles have three picks in the first round, so they’ll be able to go best player available and address needs. Stingley is an alpha corner who would improve their secondary immediately.

7. Las Vegas Raiders — Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Howell’s disappointing first game isn’t enough to crush his draft stock, but a rough season with a young group of skill players could hurt his top-10 spot. The Raiders will need a new quarterback at some point and Howell would be a nice add for Jon Gruden.

8. Carolina Panthers — George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

How about a dominant defensive end in Carolina? They haven’t had a player like Karlaftis in a minute, so adding him to their defensive front would be a big addition. They could opt to protect their quarterback… or, fix that position as well.

9. New York Giants — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Giants have the Bears’ pick in the first round as well, so they can grab a luxury with one of the two. Olave is the best receiver in this year’s draft class and would be a nice addition to help Daniel Jones. If Jones has a rough season, this could be a quarterback as well.

10. Atlanta Falcons — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

The Falcons have yet to draft the successor to Matt Ryan, but this might be the time to do that. Ridder is a stud who would bring additional mobility to the position whenever Ryan hangs up his cleats.

11. New York Giants (from CHI) — DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

Here’s where things start to get interesting. Leal is a dominante interior defensive lineman who could bolster the Giants’ defensive front if they have defections in free agency after this season. We’re not sold on an offensive lineman here, so the Giants could trade up/down if that’s their most glaring need.

12. Denver Broncos — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Broncos are going to roll with Teddy Bridgewater to start the season, but the veteran isn’t their long-term answer under center. Willis is a supreme talent who would bring a versatility to the position that reminds some of a young Bridgewater.

13. Pittsburgh Steelers — Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M

The Steelers will need to replace Ben Roethlisberger at some point, but they need to protect him/whomever is the next quarterback as well. Green is a strong interior offensive lineman.

14. Washington Football Team — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

WFT has plenty of needs on the offensive side of the ball. They may look for a quarterback here, but adding another terrific weapon outside (from Ohio State again) would help whomever is their future quarterback.

15. New Orleans Saints — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Saints are another team that needs a quarterback of the future. But if Jameis Winston looks good enough for a couple years in New Orleans, protecting him is a good idea.

16. Minnesota Vikings — Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

Minnesota needs a future quarterback. But we’re not sold on one being the right choice here. Battle would be a leader and signal caller in their secondary, an area they need to help at some point.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA) — Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Here come the Eagles’ second and third picks of the first round. Hutchinson is as good as any defensive end in this draft, so picking him here is a strong play.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND) — Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

If you’ve addressed your defense, why not look at helping the offense at this point? We like Walker’s ability to protect the quarterback and drive the run game, making him a good pick here for the Eagles.

19. Arizona Cardinals — Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

Must. Protect. Kyler. Murray. The Cardinals have invested plenty of money in their skill position players. Now, let’s buy Murray time to make plays with his legs and arm.

20. Los Angeles Chargers — Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

The Chargers appear to have their future quarterback. And their defense is loaded. So how about an every-down back to carry the ball?

21. Dallas Cowboys — Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

Dallas’ once-mighty offensive line is in shambles right now. They built from the line and will need to go back to that mindset. Linderbaum might be the best interior offensive lineman in this class.

22. New England Patriots — John Metchie III, WR, Alabama

The Patriots are rolling with a rookie quarterback who, coincidentally, has played pretty well with Metchie in the past. How about a Bama reunion in Foxboro?

23. New York Jets (from SEA) — Drake Jackson, DE, USC

The Jets’ second pick in the first round could be a force off the edge, protecting them from free agent defections. Jackson is a talented player who could be a force for them immediately.

24. Tennessee Titans — Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia

Georgia’s defense played well enough against Clemson that a few of their players could see their draft stock skyrocketing in the coming weeks. Anderson coming off the edge in Tennessee would be an athletic addition.

25. Cleveland Browns — Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

The Browns need to identify someone to take pressure off the big guy on the other end of their defensive front. Harrison would be a local product from up the road in Columbus who could be that guy for the Browns.

26. Miami Dolphins (from SF) — Zion Nelson, OT, Miami

Maybe they aren’t sold on Tua and go quarterback here. If they’re at least intrigued by Tua by the end of the season, improving in front of him is a need. Nelson would be a nice pick here.

27. Green Bay Packers — Bubba Bolden, S, Miami

Will this draft be the first post-Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay? It looks like it might be. They also might need to replace Davante Adams outside. But the Packers have looked to improve their defense recently and Bolden would be an upgrade at safety.

28. Baltimore Ravens — Nick Bonnito, LB, Oklahoma

The Ravens taking a linebacker who can cover every inch of the field? Sounds familiar. Bonnito is a stud and would be their inside backer for the next decade.

29. Detroit Lions (from LAR) — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Another pick for the Lions could have them helping their secondary, which always seems to be a problem. But who knows what Detroit does at this point?

30. Buffalo Bills — Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

We know the Bills have taken a running back named Spiller in the past and it didn’t work as well as they would have liked. But this Spiller would be a better bet to provide offense on all three downs than a few guys on their roster.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

At some point the Bucs are going to need to replace one of their all-time greats at linebacker. So taking Harris, a leader at Alabama, would provide the next generation in the middle.

32. Kansas City Chiefs — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Chiefs are going to have financial decisions to make in the coming season(s) and that creates opportunities for them to take the best player available at a position of need. Elam would help their secondary.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.