Cam Marino’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

by Cam Marino · NFL Draft

A mock draft seems to be the best way to get underway as an NFL draft analyst here at PlayerProfiler. Although I’m new to this fantastic team of talented writers, I’ve been studying and researching the draft for a decade. I come from USA Today’s affiliate Falcons Wire as a team analyst, but I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than expanding my wheelhouse for a group that I envy. It feels like a college five-star recruit’s commitment, but needless to say, I’m 110-percent committed to producing masterclass articles for PlayerProfiler. So without further ado, let’s get my 1.0 mock draft started.

No. 1 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Oregon EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux

Kayvon Thibodeaux is similar to Trevor Lawrence in terms of career-long hype. While Jacksonville is projected to select Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal here by some, I can’t help but note that this entire situation reminds me of when Justin Fields outplayed Trevor Lawrence on national television and media turned that into a debacle at pick one. The two instances aren’t directly similar, but it goes to show how easily media can fall to recency bias. The Jacksonville Jaguars opt to select the number one player in the class.

Typically, prior to selecting their franchise quarterback, teams have some sort of foundation built – whether it be a loaded group of playmakers, a strong offensive line, or a strong defense. In this case, the Jaguars had not built a formidable foundation prior to selecting Lawrence at No. 1 last year – bringing them right back to the top of the draft in 2022. By reading league trends, it seems like teams build their foundation defensively at first. The Buffalo Bills, for example, built their foundation defensively. From 2015 to 2018, the Bills spent each of their first picks on a blue-chip defensive prospect. Similarly, in the years prior to selecting Justin Herbert, the Los Angeles Chargers selected Derwin James and Jerry Tillery, both first-round picks in sequential order. The history goes deeper. You can refer to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins as two teams who followed similar blueprints.

No. 2 – Detroit Lions – Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson

This pick is a no-brainer if Kayvon Thibodeaux is off the board. Detroit is led by the mean streak himself on Dan Campbell. He will be enamored by Hutchinson’s hot motor and nose for the backfield. This is a perfect match.

No. 3 – Houston Texans – Alabama OT Evan Neal

Scouts will have towering grades for Evan Neal. He is 6-7, nearly 350-pounds, and moves defensive lineman for fun. It seems like the Texans are confident in Davis Mills, who impressed the league with his seasonal aptitude. League general managers are growing closer to a consensus “Best Player Available” approach, and although Houston is more than comfortable with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard as their outside tackles, this is a perfect spot to bolster their offensive line amid a possible schematic shake-up. I can’t see their brass passing up a franchise offensive lineman with a 23-year-old quarterback in Davis Mills leading the offense.

No. 4 – New York Jets – North Carolina State OT Ikem Ekwonu

Jets general manager Joe Douglas has shown that he puts a large emphasis on premium position players. In the Joe Douglas era, in two years, Douglas selected Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims in 2020, and Zach Wilson and Alijah Vera-Tucker in 2021 as his first two picks. I thought long and hard about putting Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton here, but he doesn’t fit their free safety prototype and Douglas is likely to make an effort to retain Marcus Maye. Oddly enough, Ekwonu is exactly the type of player the Eagles found interest in when Douglas was the VP of player personnel in Philadelphia. Ekwonu draws a lot of comparisons to Mekhi Becton league-wide, too. Ikem is a key-to-door fit in Mike LaFleur’s wide zone run blocking scheme.

No. 5 – New York Giants – Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

This might be early for Corral. But after the New York Giants decided to clear house by firing their head coach and general manager, I think it’s safe to say that quarterback Daniel Jones‘ seat is scorching hot. Typically in these situations, when a new front office regime steps in, the first place they look at is their quarterback. For New York, I can see ownership imploring the new front office to reach back into the Ole Miss pipeline, thanks to Eli Manning‘s notable career as a Rebel. Taking a top five quarterback is also a win for PR – which is important for a team that ranked No. 28 league-wide in total average attendance. Matt Corral is a big name who fits their personnel.

No. 6 – Carolina Panthers – Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett

This one was pretty easy for me. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule actually recruited Kenny Pickett to Temple in 2016 and even received a commitment from him. History shows that coach Rhule tends to add from familiarity, and by a quick glance, you can look at his current coaching staff (offensive and defensive coordinator) and Robby Anderson as a few examples. Additionally, Panthers owner Dave Tepper is a Pitt alum.

Beyond the connections, the Panthers have major issues at the quarterback spot. Sam Darnold‘s reclamation project seemingly failed and Cam Newton evidently was just a win for PR. They add one of the draft’s potential top risers here in Kenny Pickett.

No. 7 – New York Giants – Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton

The fall stops here for a player that will likely have votes as the number one consensus overall player from teams. In the draft, it’s common for quarterbacks to rise and take the spots of defensive playmakers. At pick No. 7, the Giants capitalize on the clear best player available and add an extra chess piece to the well-coached defense in New York.

No. 8 – Atlanta Falcons – LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr

For some, this could be considered a massive fall. Stingley was once viewed as the nation’s best player. And while arguably not much has changed, while Stingley was sidelined with injuries, other players had value-skyrocketing seasons. This pick makes a ton of sense for Atlanta. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees recently told media that the Falcons need to improve their man coverage. Pees once praised Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey for their physicality at the line of scrimmage; a staple of Stingley’s game. Outside of potential All-Pro cornerback A.J. Terrell, the Falcons struggle in the secondary. General manager Terry Fontenot has now told media for two years that the Falcons plan on being strict to the best player available approach. Without a doubt – at pick No. 8 – that’s LSU star cornerback Derek Stingley.

No. 9 – Denver Broncos – Liberty QB Malik Willis

The Broncos are currently in the process of finding a new head coach, but I guarantee that the interviews will bring up question marks about their franchise quarterback. The truth is that the Broncos do not have a current solution. In this mock, they add a player similar to Teddy Bridgewater in Malik Willis, who is athletically dynamic and flashes strong plays with his arm. Denver has sent scouts to watch Willis.

No. 10 – New York Jets – Arkansas WR Treylon Burks

Following Joe Douglas’ trends, I’d imagine the Jets would add a playmaker here. The Arkansas star makes sense. I know… You probably haven’t seen this name so high yet. Jets team sources have silently been mocking Treylon Burks to the Jets here at pick No. 10 for a while. He is a superb fit for Zach Wilson as he offers middle of the field Insurance. Burks additionally draws vast comparisons to Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who plays in the exact same scheme as the Jets given the LaFleur connection. Burks has potential to light up the combine given his physical advantages and it would not surprise me to see him get selected this high come April.

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No. 11 – Washington Football Team – Mississippi State OT Charles Cross

No. 12 – Minnesota Vikings – Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardner

No. 13 – Cleveland Browns – Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson

No. 14 – Baltimore Ravens – Iowa IOL Tyler Linderbaum

No. 15 – Philadelphia Eagles – Michigan EDGE David Ojabo

No. 16 – Philadelphia Eagles – Georgia LB Nakobe Dean

No. 17 – Los Angeles Chargers – Alabama WR Jameson Williams

No. 18 – New Orleans Saints – North Carolina QB Sam Howell

No. 19 – Philadelphia Eagles – Purdue EDGE George Karlaftis

No. 20 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Nevada QB Carson Strong

No. 21 – New England Patriots – Clemson CB Andrew Booth

No. 22 – Miami Dolphins – Texas A&M OL Kenyon Green

No. 23 – Las Vegas Raiders – Utah LB Devin Lloyd

No. 24 – Arizona Cardinals – Ohio State WR Chris Olave

No. 25 – Cincinnati Bengals – Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning

No. 26 – Buffalo Bills – Georgia DT Jordan Davis

No. 27 – Detroit Lions- Texas A&M DT DeMarvin Leal

No. 28 – Dallas Cowboys – Georgia DL Travon Walker

No. 29 – Kansas City Chiefs – Michigan S Dax Hill

No. 30 – Green Bay Packers – Cincinnati EDGE Myjai Sanders

No. 31 – Tennessee Titans – Colorado State TE Trey McBride

No. 32 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson