The 2022 NFL Draft is less than a month away, and it will be a big one in New York.
The Jets and Giants own two picks each in the top-10, and they have a slew of pressing needs. But neither team is expected to be in the market for a quarterback, which makes the possibility of a trade — or trades — extremely likely.
The latest ESNY mock draft is going to be straightforward though.
Here we go …
1. Jaguars — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars must build around second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was running for his life last year behind a putrid offensive line.
Evan Neal is arguably the most NFL-ready tackle — he’s one of the top three on the board and the Alabama pedigree is intriguing. Aidan Hutchinson would be a solid pick here, but the main vacancy for this struggling Jacksonville franchise is on the offensive front.
2. Lions — Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
Some believe the Lions could use this pick on Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, and I believe he could go higher than initially expected.
But Hutchinson is too talented not to utilize this resource on. The Wolverine would greatly bolster a Detroit defense that was second-to-last with a 33% pass-rush win rate in 2021.
3. Texans — Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The Deshaun Watson era is finally over in Houston, and even though they have the resource to draft a new hopeful franchise quarterback, the feeling is the Texans will look to build around 2021 draftee Davis Mills.
Despite the deep receiver class, I don’t think a wideout will go this early. Thus, say hello to Ikem Ekwonu, one of the top tackles in this draft and someone who should provide Mills time to operate.
4. Jets — Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner is skyrocketing the draft boards. It’s reminding me of how current Panthers cornerback and former South Carolina Gamecock Jaycee Horn did the same thing last year.
The Jets don’t need an offensive lineman this early and could address the pass rush and/or receiving corps later on. One thing they do need, however, is a No. 1 corner. Gang Green allowed 259.4 passing yards per game last year (third-worst in the NFL).
5. Giants — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Giants need to address the vacancy at right tackle before doing anything else in this draft. Daniel Jones must stay upright and the Giants could lock down their bookend tackles by taking Charles Cross, the top tackle we have left on our board.
Cross and Andrew Thomas, who notably improved last year, could be a good match for NFC East pass-rushing units that include Washington’s Chase Young and Dallas’ Micah Parsons.
6. Panthers — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Enough with thinking the Panthers will roll the dice with Sam Darnold. Head coach Matt Rhule is on the hot seat following two unsuccessful seasons in Charlotte — he needs to buy himself time with a new quarterback.
Willis’ stock is rising and he’s more dynamic than Kenny Pickett. The Liberty passer impressed at his pro day in late March and could be the type of franchise quarterback the Jets are hoping they got in Zach Wilson.
7. Giants — Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
The Giants addressed the offensive tackle vacancy with the fifth pick and add a dominant pass rusher, which they definitely need, at No. 7.
You can never employ too much firepower in this department, and combining Thibodeaux with Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams could haunt opposing offenses.
Thibodeaux’s size, athleticism, strength, and bend make him a phenomenal prospect and a potential steal at No. 7.
8. Falcons — WR, Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The two Ohio State wide receivers will have their stocks rise — just watch.
I went back-and-forth on the Falcons taking a quarterback here, but I think they can utilize Marcus Mariota as a bridge to next year’s draft. And if they take a quarterback in 2023, that rookie would have a talented weapon in Garrett Wilson by his side.
Wilson’s speed could allow him to be a deep-ball threat for Arthur Smith’s offense.
9. Seahawks — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt
There is a zero percent chance Pete Carroll wants to rebuild in the post-Russell Wilson era with Drew Lock. He wants a new franchise quarterback immediately.
Pickett could be a day-one starter and would have proven wideouts Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf by his side to assist in his development.
10. Jets — Drake London, WR, USC
I would’ve had the Saints trade up to this spot if the Seahawks passed on a quarterback. But since both Willis and Pickett are off the board, the Jets stay put at No. 10.
Zach Wilson needs weapons to develop and just lost one in Jamison Crowder, who dipped for Buffalo in free agency.
Drake London’s size (6-foot-5, 209 pounds) would provide him the ability to be a goal-line target alongside Corey Davis while Elijah Moore performs in the slot.
11. Commanders — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Landon Collins has left the nation’s capital and Washington is coming off a year in which it allowed 254.9 passing yards per game (29th in the league) and 25.5 points per game (25th).
The Commanders need a versatile defensive weapon to build around, and Kyle Hamilton is capable of being that guy. The Fighting Irish standout succeeded against the pass and up in the box during his Notre Dame tenure.
12. Vikings — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Following a 2021 campaign in which the Vikings allowed nearly 253 passing yards per game, it’s clear Minnesota needs great assistance in the deep part of the field.
Stingley was once thought of as a potential top-eight pick; the Vikings could execute a steal in the first round and take one of the draft’s top corners at No. 12.
13. Texans — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Again, the Texans seem as if they want to build around quarterback Davis Mills for 2022. And even if Mills isn’t the long-term answer, at least they could have a solid foundation of offensive players for a rookie they possibly draft next year.
Chris Olave’s speed and elusiveness remind me of Tyreek Hill and Odell Beckham Jr. He would be a beneficial weapon to field alongside Mills, who will need all the assistance he can get.
14. Ravens — Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
The Ravens need pass rushers in a division that includes quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Joe Burrow.
We have Travon Walker slipping to No. 14 in this mock when many believe he could be a top-10 pick later this month. Therefore, this would be a steal for Baltimore, who can add more pass-rushing firepower to a department that already encompasses Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser.
15. Eagles — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
If the Eagles are rolling the dice with Jalen Hurts, the limited quarterback will need assistance in the receiver room, and Jalen Reagor has not worked out up to this point.
Treylon Burks’ spectacular size and athleticism make DK Metcalf his pro-comp. He would be a solid complement to the smaller but more elusive DeVonta Smith.
16. Saints — George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
17. Chargers — Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
18. Eagles — Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
19. Saints — Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
20. Steelers — Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
21. Patriots — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
22. Packers — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
23. Cardinals — Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
24. Cowboys — Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa
25. Bills — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
26. Titans — Kenyon Green, OT, Texas A&M
27. Buccaneers — Zion Johnson, iOL, Boston College
28. Packers — Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
29. Chiefs — Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State
30. Chiefs — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
31. Bengals — Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
32. Lions — Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
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