Jacksonville won a game! So Detroit is now on the clock…
The NFL season has started to sort out which teams are awful and which ones are legit championship contenders. However, there are a lot of teams in the middle of the pack battling for their present; others are mindful of their future as well.
We’re getting closer to the mid-point of the 2021 NFL season. So let’s crank up another two-round look ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft.
1. Detroit Lions — Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
The Lions have ascended to the top pick in the draft by virtue of being the last winless team in the NFL. Which, of course, means they have plenty of needs. While you can’t draft scheme, you can draft talent. And Thibodeaux is the most disruptive defensive player in the coming draft class.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA) — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Here’s the problem for the New York Giants. The Eagles have three picks in the first round; they own Miami’s pick and Indianapolis’ picks in the first and second rounds. And the Dolphins and Colts are bad. So the Eagles are going to have the opportunity to make a huge impact on their roster in the draft.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
They must protect Trevor Lawrence. Neal is the best tackle in this draft class and would be an upgrade to their offensive line immediately.
4. New York Giants — Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The Giants could go a number of directions here, but we’re leaning on them taking a potentially elite edge rusher. Big Ten fans might watch Hutchinson and think of the Watt brothers, or the Bosa brothers. He’s an absolute force who would be an impact player for the Giants.
5. New York Jets — Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
The Jets are in a tough spot here. Maybe too early for another offensive lineman, maybe early for a linebacker, way too early for a tight end. Green is a terrific lineman who would help improve the inside of the Jets’ line protecting their franchise quarterback.
6. Houston Texans — Derek Stingley, Jr., CB, LSU
Houston’s got more issues than Sports Illustrated. But if they’re sitting outside the top five picks, the best player available may be Stingley. He’s an incredibly talented corner who would help their defense in an AFC with plenty of elite passers.
7. Washington Football Team — Matt Corral, QB, Mississippi
Our first quarterback comes off the board at seven, with Washington looking to their future. WFT and Atlanta are the two teams likely to be around this neighborhood in the draft that could use a new signal caller. Corral is a good player to build around.
8. Atlanta Falcons — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Falcons need to find the eventual replacement for Matt Ryan and do that here. Why take Willis, from Liberty, in the first round? First, his talent warrants it. Second, the extra year of control helps them keep Ryan around to teach Willis for a year (or two).
9. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND) — DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
Philly’s first two picks address their defensive struggles in our mock draft. If they add Hamilton and Leal to their defense, it vastly improves the front and back ends of that side of the ball. Leal is a beast.
10. Philadelphia Eagles — Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
And, with their third pick in the top ten, the Eagles look to help their offensive line. They need a tackle and Kinnard is the next one on our list. He’s a solid player who would likely start from Game One next season.
11. New York Jets (from SEA) — Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
The Jets’ second pick, like their first, could go a few directions. We like Harris, the best inside linebacker in the coming draft, to help lead their defense into the next generation. He’s a star in a strong defensive unit at Alabama.
12. New England Patriots — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
The Patriots need a corner or a receiver. We’re betting, based on how this mock is playing out, that the Patriots opt to take one of the top route runners in the coming draft. Olave is a polished receiver who would be a solid target for Mac Jones.
13. Miami Dolphins (from SF) — Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Miami takes receivers almost every year, but they have a few coming off the books after this season and will need to replace them. Dotson is a stud; the bigger question is who is throwing the ball to the receivers in Miami next year. This is too early for a third quarterback in 2022, however.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers — Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa
The Steelers need an heir to Ben Roethlisberger at some point, but protecting their quarterback is also critical. Linderbaum might be the best overall offensive lineman in this draft and would be tremendous value for the Steelers here.
15. Minnesota Vikings — George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Minnesota will need a pass rusher and get a good one here. Karlaftis absolutely dominated Iowa in Purdue’s upset last weekend and is as disruptive as any edge rusher in this class.
16. Denver Broncos — Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia
Anderson would provide an athletic compliment to Von Miller — or, potentially replace him — in Denver. He’s got a great motor and plays well from sideline to sideline.
17. Carolina Panthers — Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis is an anchor in the middle of the best defense in the country at Georgia. If Carolina wants to shut down opposing offenses, he’s the kind of guy to build a defense around.
18. New York Giants (from CHI) — Jaxson Kirkland, OL, Washington
Here the Giants look to address the interior of their offensive line. Kirkland could move in at either guard position for the Giants next year, keeping Daniel Jones (or, maybe, someone else) on their feet longer.
19. Cleveland Browns — Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
Jackson opposite Myles Garrett is a problem for opposing offenses. The Browns are going to be stuck in the same division as Lamar Jackson for a while, so having athletic rushers is a huge need.
20. New Orleans Saints — Drake London, WR, USC
Michael Thomas is probably gone next year, which means the Saints need a new No. 1 receiver. London might be that guy. USC receivers have historically done well in the NFL and he would uphold that tradition in New Orleans.
21. Tennessee Titans — Zion Nelson, OT, Miami
Injuries are pilling up on the Titans’ offensive front and starting to re-stock their line could become a priority. Nelson is an athletic tackle who would be able to get out in front of their aggressive run game.
22. Las Vegas Raiders — Kingsley Enagbare, EDGE, South Carolina
Vegas is going to need a new head coach, and that might not be the only significant departure. So we’re going with the most impactful talent in an area they could use some improvement. Enagbare would be the best EDGE they’ve drafted since Khalil Mack left Oakland (yup, he left Oakland).
23. Kansas City Chiefs — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
The Chiefs defense needs everything. Pass rushers, run stoppers and pass defenders. Elam could easily be gone a dozen picks before the Chiefs are on the clock, but he’s still available in this mock. So we’re sending the best corner available to Kansas City to help them stop the pass.
24. Cincinnati Bengals — Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The Bengals’ defense could use some help on the back end. Gardner wouldn’t need to change zip codes, but he’d certainly improve his living situation with a first-round paycheck in his pocket. He’s an outstanding cover corner.
25. Los Angeles Chargers — Nick Bonnito, EDGE, Oklahoma
Putting Bonnito opposite Bosa would give the Chargers’ a defensive front that would continue to put pressure on the other quarterbacks in their division — and we’re speaking specifically about Patrick Mahomes.
26. Buffalo Bills — Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
Buffalo needs a workhorse running back, and Spiller is the best in the coming draft class for our money. He would give them another weapon in an already-potent offensive unit that has no problem putting up points.
27. Detroit Lions (from LAR) — Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
With Detroit’s second pick in the first round we’re going quarterback. It’s clear Jared Goff isn’t getting it done, but we aren’t saying Strong is QB1 in Detroit Week One next year. Picking him in the first round buys the Lions an extra year of control.
28. Green Bay Packers — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams could both be gone. Selecting a top-tier receiver to replace Adams will be easier than replacing Rodgers under center; Wilson is an excellent choice for the Packers.
29. Dallas Cowboys — Ikem Ekwonu, OL, North Carolina State
The Cowboys have invested so heavily in their defense that it’s time to look back at the offense and where they’ll need to eventually replace aging players. The inside of their offensive line could be the first place to look, and Okwonu could be a solid addition.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
We’ve had Lloyd to Tampa in almost every mock. He’s their kind of linebacker, and comes at the right time; they’ll need the next generation leader on their defense at some point. This is a strong fit.
31. Baltimore Ravens — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
If the Ravens are picking at 31, Jackson might have an MVP trophy at home and their fans are thrilled. But there will be areas they’ll need to improve. We’re going corner at this spot because of the pass-happy AFC requiring depth at the position.
32. Arizona Cardinals — Brandon Joseph, S, Northwestern
Arizona is the final undefeated team in the NFL for a reason. They’re good everywhere. But we’re going to look at Joseph to be a leader in the secondary for the next decade. He’s a rising star on a terrible Northwestern team who would be a great addition for Arizona.
33. Detroit Lions — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
34. Miami Dolphins — Andrew Booth, Jr, CB, Clemson
35. Jacksonville Jaguars — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
36. New York Giants — Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
37. New York Jets — Jalen Wynermyer, TE, Texas A&M
38. Houston Texans — Myjai Sanders, DE, Cincinnati
39. Washington Football Team — Dontay Demus, Jr, WR, Maryland
40. Atlanta Falcons — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
41. Philadelphia Eagles (from IND) — Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
42. Philadelphia Eagles — John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
43. Seattle Seahawks — Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
44. New England Patriots — Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State
45. San Francisco 49ers — Brian Robinson, RB, Alabama
46. Pittsburgh Steelers — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
47. Minnesota Vikings — Jahleel Billingsley, TE, Alabama
48. Denver Broncos — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
49. New York Jets (from CAR) — Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
50. Chicago Bears — Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
51. Cleveland Browns — Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State
52. New Orleans Saints — Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
53. Atlanta Falcons (from TEN) — Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama
54. Las Vegas Raiders — Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
55. Kansas City Chiefs — Andrew Stueber, OT, Michigan
56. Cincinnati Bengals — Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
57. Los Angeles Chargers — Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
58. Buffalo Bills — Brian Asamoah, S, Alabama
59. Los Angeles Rams — Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
60. Green Bay Packers — Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
61. Dallas Cowboys — DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
62. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kyren Williams, RB, Notre Dame
63. Baltimore Ravens — Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
64. Arizona Cardinals — Logan Hall, DL, Houston