Jon Hart’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft


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Jon Hart’s 2022 NFL Mock Draft

The 2022 NFL draft is four weeks away, and I can’t wait. At the moment, 24 teams will have the chance to add at least one impact player in Round 1.

Eight teams no longer have a first-round selection and while this year’s class might be light on surefire franchise quarterbacks, it certainly has plenty of game-changing prospects.

Throughout the years I have always tried predicting the first round as well as I can but today, I will be listening to my brain and not my gut. We will have some picks that are questionable at the actual draft but this will be what I think should happen and some picks what I want to happen.

Today I will be playing GM with my top-ten picks, something every NFL fan has had dreams of doing.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

The Jaguars already have allocated a lot of resources to their offensive line this offseason. They franchise-tagged left tackle, Cam Robinson, and signed guard, Brandon Scherff, to a three-year, $52.5 million deal. So, while I thought about an addition to their offensive line which they are in desperate need of here and might have gone that way a month ago, it has to be Hutchinson. He had 66 pressures in 2021, and he could be a culture-setter for Jacksonville for years to come.

2. Detroit Lions

Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

If I’m Detroit, I’m crossing my fingers that Jacksonville goes another way, leaving Hutchinson for an easy win here at No. 2. That’s not how things happened, though. And yes, I know the Lions used the No. 3 overall pick on cornerback, Jeff Okudah, just two years ago, but I also know he has ended up on injured reserve in both of his pro seasons and has been limited to 10 total games. The Lions gave up the NFL’s third-best opponent QBR (53.4) last year and still need a corner. Gardner didn’t surrender more than 13 yards in a game or a single TD all season in 2021. I’m hoping the Lions can do what they need to and go with Gardner and not waste their picks.

3. Houston Texans

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Hamilton has rare versatility and traits for a safety, and he’d be an instant-impact player on the back end. Hamiltion didn’t have a great 40-yard dash for a safety, but he has a lot of attributes that make him useful. Houston needs help everywhere, but considering it tied for the second-most yards allowed per play in the NFL last season (5.9), their defense jumps out.

4. New York Jets

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Jets did a nice job in free agency, but they still need a true No. 1 receiver after Tyreek Hill chose Miami over New York in a trade from the Chiefs. Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios are a solid trio, but Wilson is a difference-maker. Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson needs that. On 102 targets, Garrett Wilson had only two drops and caught 89.7% of his catchable balls, as of ESPN Stats & Information tracking.

5. New York Giants

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

An offensive tackle pairing of Neal and Andrew Thomas gives quarterback Daniel Jones the protection he needs. Neal gave up just one sack last season, and he has 40 career starts under his belt. I considered NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu here, too, but I just believe there’s more certainty with Neal considering the level of competition he faced at Alabama.

6. Carolina Panthers

Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Yes, the Panthers still need a left tackle, and Ekwonu is still available. But Carolina missed out on Deshaun Watson and did nothing else to address a glaring weakness at quarterback. The Panthers can’t stand to have the Darnold/Newton express rolling on for another season. It’s a consequential year for coach Matt Rhule, and the Panthers need to start putting wins on the board. Pickett has 49 career starts and is the most NFL-ready signal-caller of the bunch. Maybe it’s a slight reach, but we’re talking about a QB who could start right away for a team that desperately needs a better option.

7. New York Giants (via CHI)

Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

The Giants managed just 34 sacks last season and have been looking for a game-changing pass-rusher for several years. They need a big boy on their D-Line and Thibodeaux can and will get it done. No way they can pass on Thibodeaux’s ceiling, which is extremely high despite some concerns about his motor. He has the size, speed and power, and he posted 19 sacks over three seasons at Oregon. I’m pretty happy with the haul here for New York, landing Neal and Thibodeaux to address holes in a massive way.

8. Atlanta Falcons

Drake London, WR, USC

Atlanta is searching for its next franchise QB after trading Matt Ryan, but Marcus Mariota can hold the fort for a year. The 2023 class promises to have more options under center. In the meantime, the Falcons have a star in Kyle Pitts at tight end, but their wide receiver room is barren, limited to Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge and Frank Darby. London is a phenomenal talent and makes a lot of sense for the Falcons. The Falcons need to bring back the momentum that they lost after their dreadful Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Pass-rusher is going to be a spot to watch, everyone seems to be needing a pass-rusher and the Seahawks also need a quarterback. But they haven’t re-signed tackle Duane Brown who remains a free agent and could get a rebuild going with a young franchise left tackle. That’s Ekwonu, who has size (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) and lots of mobility. For being as big as he is Ekwonu has the speed that the Seahawks are in need of. Seattle has allowed at least 42 sacks and finished in the bottom 10 in that department every season since 2015. Ekwonu allowed only nine pressures and three sacks during the 2021 season.

10. New York Jets (via SEA)

Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State

The way I see it, the Jets still lack edge rushing depth even with Carl Lawson set to return from an Achilles injury. Only six teams had fewer sacks than the Jets last season (33), but Johnson had 12 last year at Florida State. He’s a physical edge setter, too, and I see him as a more consistent prospect than Georgia’s Travon Walker, who might also get some consideration here. I’m pumped if I walk away from Round 1 with Wilson and Johnson.

I have full confidence in these picks. Looking back at last season for these teams and the special seasons all 10 of these players have had. None of these picks are a hard lock though we have seen many disappointing picks or even blockbuster trades during the draft. There is only one way for us to find out.

Tune into the NFL draft on April 28th-29th to see all of the outcomes for all three rounds.