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  • Matt Santoleri

MATT SANTOLERI'S FINAL MOCK DRAFT FOR 2022


Footballstories contributor Matt Santoleri

Every year like clockwork the offseason comes around and many are upset that the NFL season has ended.


I on the other hand, love this time of the year almost as much as the season itself as we get to scout, rank, discuss, and argue about the value of the prospects available in the upcoming NFL Draft.


Free Agency steals a lot of the shine of the offseason, and rightfully so, as known commodities are finding new homes across the league but while some teams have advantages when it comes to negotiating with the league’s top talent the NFL Draft is as fair as they come.


Every team has the same amount of chips at the table, besides the compensation picks that are given out to teams who lost key free agents the year prior, and from there they can decide how either trade or spend those selections as they plan out their franchise for years to come.


Here is where franchise-altering moves like New England drafting Tom Brady in the 6th round or the 49ers taking Joe Montana in the 3rd round happen and the franchises who passed up on taking them are left kicking themselves.


Every year I take deep dives into scouting reports, game tape, athletic testing numbers, injury buzz and keep an ear to the ground trying to soak up all prospect news within the media I can get my hands on.


While it may be a slow time for most NFL fans as they get ready for the start of the MLB season and the NBA and NHL’S playoffs, this is one of the busiest times on my calendar. To celebrate all the work and hours I have put into this year’s class I decided to do a full three round mock draft before the real thing kicks off April 28th in Las Vegas.


While the draft is always full of teams moving up or down the boards, I decided to do a no trade mock for these 105 selections so while the real thing will surely look a bit different, I stand by my fits and picks as a combination of what I think might happen and maybe a little of what I would do in these spots.


Even though your teams draft might not look exactly like this, these are all players your favorite teams should have tabs on so don’t be surprised if a few of these picks hit as is. At the end of the mock draft, I also added an extra 25 prospects at different positions to look out for as rounds 4-7 get going on day 3.


So, with a total of 130 prospects this is my “big board” of sorts for players which I have graded so without further ado, let’s get to the mock!


FIRST ROUND

No. 1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - Aidan Hutchinson - EDGE, Michigan


The Jaguars are back here at the number 1 spot for the second year in a row and after getting their QB of the future in Trevor Lawrence in 2021, they are poised to take the 6'6 280 lb. Wolverine in Hutchinson to add a blue-chip talent to the defensive side of the ball. The two-time captain dominated his Senior season with 14 sacks, 16.5 TFL, and 2 FF and finished 2nd in Heisman Trophy voting showing just how rare of a defensive talent he truly is.


No. 2 - Detroit Lions - Malik Willis - QB, Liberty


All off-season we have heard repeatedly how weak this QB class is compared to past seasons and while I agree, and this isn't necessarily what I would do, the upside of Willis is going to be hard for Detroit to ignore. His cannon like arm combined with exceptional athleticism makes him the one QB with superstar traits in this draft and Detroit has the ability with Jared Goff to slow play him seeing field action right away as there is still some cleaning up to do for him to reach his ceiling.


No. 3 - Houston Texans - Travon Walker - EDGE, Georgia


Every draft cycle has a few guys who shoot up or down draft boards following the NFL Combine and Pro Day cycles that pair testing numbers to the tape and there was no bigger winner this year than Walker who seems like a top 5 lock after being considered a mid-late 1st rounder all off-season. The freak athleticism lands him here with Houston who just need to swing for the fences with their roster situation in flux and are betting high on the thumping run stopper he was at Georgia to put the traits and tools he clearly has to develop into a more consistent pass rusher.


No. 4 - New York Jets - Ikem Ekwonu - OT, NC State


The Jets are attempting to figure out if 2nd overall pick in 2021 QB Zach Wilson is the real deal and in order to do so, continuing to surround him with a strong offensive line after taking OT Mekhi Becton in 2020 and trading picks to move up for OG Alijah Vera-Tucker last season is the type of strategy I expect GM Joe Douglas to deploy. Ekwonu is a devastating physical presence who will immediately give the Jets a boost on that line and bring a level of toughness in both the run and pass game that NY fans will be chomping at the bit to see.


No. 5 - New York Giants - Evan Neal - OT, Alabama


Like their NY counterparts the Giants and their new coaching staff led by HC Brian Daboll are wondering if the guy they have in house, QB Daniel Jones, is the guy going forward and uneven line play over his three seasons in the league just simply hasn't helped the evaluation process. Here at pick 5, they get who some consider the best tackle prospect in the draft who has RT and LT versatility for NY to pair with 2020 top 5 pick, LT Andrew Thomas, giving the G-Men two bookends for Jones, or his successor to count on for the foreseeable future.


No. 6 - Carolina Panthers - Kenny Pickett - QB, Pittsburgh


After passing on QB in last year's loaded draft of signal caller talent for CB Jaycee Horn and striking out on the top options available for trade the Panthers have found themselves in purgatory with QB Sam Darnold as an uninspiring top option. While I believe Pickett to be a bit uninspiring this high in the draft, he put together a phenomenal senior season at Pitt, showcasing a solid level of athletic and precision passing ability that may be enough to convince a failing regime in Carolina to bet on him having a Joe Burrow level late college career ascension that carries over to the NFL.


No. 7 - New York Giants - Kayvon Thibodeaux - EDGE, Oregon



After selecting Neal to sure up their offensive line, the Giants can't pass up on the opportunity to sure up their defensive line with the guy who most thought going into the 2021 season, and for even a portion of the off-season, would be the No.1 overall pick. Questions about his love for the game and some inconsistent testing numbers that didn't reflect his tape have helped slide the high motor and explosive EDGE down the boards but here at 7, this too good of value for a position of need to pass up.


No. 8 - Atlanta Falcons - Jermaine Johnson - EDGE, Florida State


After trading two of the best players in franchise history in back-to-back years, WR Julio Jones and QB Matt Ryan, the Falcons have entered a full rebuild and their roster needs help all over. Nabbing Johnson here gives Atlanta a defensive presence who possess both elite run stuffing abilities and a scheme versatile array of pass rush moves that can benefit their current structure, and whatever they may be running when they see themselves as contenders once more in the future.


No. 9 - Seattle Seahawks - Charles Cross - OT, Mississippi State


Trading QB Russell Wilson is a move that surely hit the reset button on a franchise that seemed to be in the contender conversation every year since he took over in 2012 and now stand at a crossroads without a legitimate answer on the roster and behind several QB needy teams. Barring a trade up for one of those guys or back to appropriately draft another, they can take a bookend LT in Cross who enters the league at only 21 after dominating SEC competition giving up only two sacks on over 700 snaps.


No. 10 - New York Jets - Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner - CB, Cincinnati


Similarly, to their NY counterparts they addressed the offensive line for their young QB with their first top 10 pick and now turn to the defense to give it some extra juice with their second. While the defensive line is arguably a bigger need the return of DE Carl Lawson from his season ending injury last year makes it easier to take Gardner who has all of the ability to be a shutdown corner in both zone and press man after giving up zero touchdowns throughout his three-year Bearcat career, with over 1,000 snaps played.


No. 11 - Washington Commanders - Kyle Hamilton - S, Notre Dame


The Commanders entered this draft with the ability to surround new QB Carson Wentz who they traded significant draft capital for in the off-season but the board falling this way may be too much for Riverboat Ron and company to pass up. Hamilton is a 6'4 220 lb. chess piece that can play anywhere from deep safety to box linebacker and despite poor athletic testing numbers, can be the dynamic difference maker they need on the back end to pair with their dominant young defensive line core.


No. 12 - Minnesota Vikings - Derick Stingley Jr - CB, LSU


Even with the Vikings finding out a way to bring CB Patrick Peterson back on a one-year deal, the position remains an immediate and long-term need that they can address with a player who remains one of the most physically gifted defenders in the whole draft. Stingley Jr has suffered some injuries and regression in play since his otherworldly 2019 season that helped secure a National Championship but his pro day numbers indicate that elite level athlete is still in there waiting for the right environment to tap into.


No. 13 - Houston Texans - Garrett Wilson - WR, Ohio State


The Texans took a big swing with Travon Walker at No. 3 in this mock and here at No. 13 they give themselves the ability to inject some more playmakers into the lineup around QB Davis Mills who showed enough in his rookie season to be given a shot in 2022. Taking Wilson here to pair him with the newly extended, WR Brandin Cooks, gives Houston a dynamic RAC presence able to be used all over the formation to give an offense that ranked 29th in passing DVOA the boost it deserves.


No. 14 - Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Davis - IDL, Georgia


The second of many National Champion Georgia Bulldogs who will have their names called this weekend Davis has shot up draft boards after a otherworldly combine performance for someone of his massive size. Exceptional run defender that has room to grow as a pass rusher but is extremely explosive at the point of attack and who's physical playing style pairs well with 2021 1st Rd pick DE Odafe Oweh coming off the edge.


No. 15 - Philadelphia Eagles - Jameson Williams - WR, Alabama


I get that this makes it three years in a row the Eagles are putting 1st Rd premium capital into the wide receiver position but if that prevented the Detroit Lions from attacking the position in a similar way in the mid 00's, they never would have landed Calvin Johnson in the end. Williams is the best WR in this draft and his ACL injury causes him to slide into Philly's lap pairing a legit home run threat with crisp route running ability with QB Jalen Hurts.


No. 16 - New Orleans Saints - Trevor Penning - OT, Northern Iowa


The Saints are attempting to continue a "Re-tool" approach after losing longtime franchise QB Drew Brees and HC Sean Payton in back-to-back seasons and so plugging the also recent loss of 3-time Pro Bowl LT Terron Armstead is paramount for whoever is under center. Penning is a mean mug who plays the game with his hair on fire and will be welcomed with open arms by both the New Orleans fan base and the Saints rushing attack with RB Alvin Kamara.


No. 17 - Los Angeles Chargers - Chris Olave - WR, Ohio State


Olave becomes the 2nd Buckeye WR to hear his name called in the first round and finds himself in one of the best situations a rookie can with a rising star in QB Justin Herbert and extremely talented weapons like WR's Mike Williams and Keenan Allen to take attention from the defense away. Olave is probably the smoothest route runner in the draft and his versatility playing inside or outside while staying a big play threat is perfect for the Chargers.


No. 18 - Philadelphia Eagles - Andrew Booth Jr - CB, Clemson


The Eagles couldn't help but pull the trigger with a high upside guy like Williams still on the board at 15 but here they need to start turning the attention to the defensive side of the ball for most of these picks and Booth Jr gives them another extremely high upside pick. Booth Jr has been a controversial player this cycle being anywhere from fringe 10 to not in the top 32 but this type of athleticism, ball skills, and scheme versatility doesn't grow on trees so he's the perfect pick to compliment, and eventually replace, CB Darius Slay as CB 1.


No. 19 - New Orleans Saints - Matt Corral - QB, Ole Miss


After securing the blindside of whoever is going to be under center with their first pick in the round, they can turn the attention over to figuring out the heir apparent is going to be and Matt Corral offers them the kind of quick trigger Drew Brees made popular for so long in the bayou. The question marks about his ability to thrive without the heavy RPO offense he ran with Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss surely exist but there's enough athletic ability and toughness to sell him being a potential answer for the Saints.


No. 20 - Pittsburgh Steelers - Desmond Ridder - QB, Cincinnati


Right after the Saints look to plug their long term answer the Steelers attempt to fill the massive, vacated cleats of QB Ben Roethlisberger by drafting someone who is the polar opposite in terms of athletic profile with Ridder. Ridder has as high of a ceiling as any of the rookie QBs and his ability to use his legs to get out of trouble will help him contribute early as Pittsburgh and OC Matt Canada attempt to hone in on some of the accuracy concerns.


No. 21 - New England Patriots - Devin Lloyd - LB, Utah


The Patriots will be highly tempted to address the losses of OG Shaq Mason, CB J.C. Jackson, and get QB Mac Jones some real help in the playmaker department but Lloyd screams Belichick and New England. New England has shown an ability to at least target offensive line and secondary players later in the draft and so nabbing a player who is stout in run support, can rush the quarterback and has at least shown traits that can be developed in the coverage game at a very important position in New England's defensive is too good to pass up.


No. 22 - Green Bay Packers - Drake London, USC


While finding a way to keep WR Davante Adams with QB Aaron Rodgers would have been in the best interest for the Packers offense having a 6'4 220 mismatch nightmare who can lineup on the outside or inside fall in your lap is a pretty good consolation prize. The Packers have notoriously passed on first round receivers 32 of the last 34 years but the need is too glaring, and London is the perfect fit to keep this Super Bowl window open.


No. 23 - Arizona Cardinals - George Karlaftis - EDGE, Purdue


The Arizona Cardinals have an aging DL J.J. Watt as their best pass rusher with the departure of sack machine EDGE Chandler Jones and Karlaftis is someone who I can envision Arizona plugging in right away. 90.6 pass rush grade according to PFF in his Junior season he has raw physical power and is quite the refined technician with ability to win with or without his hand in the dirt.


No. 24 - Dallas Cowboys - Kenyon Green - OG/OT, Texas A&M


Arguments can definitely be made that OG out of Boston College; Zion Johnson is the best guard still on the board I think Dallas is going to love nabbing Green who not only played in state of Texas last season but has versatility to play 4 of the 5 spots across the line. Green is as steady if presence on your line as you are going to see this late in the draft and has the temperament to not only provide immediate starting value but grow into a star on a line that seen some real turn over the past few years.


No. 25 - Buffalo Bills - Trent McDuffie - CB, Washington


Without a whole lot of roster holes for Buffalo to fill to remain in true contending positions I think adding a real number two CB opposite of the great CB Tre'Davious White makes perfect sense. McDuffie may be a little small for your prototypical CB build but he's instinctual and physical in both the run game and at the catch point, while showing inside-out versatility for any defensive scheme.


No. 26 - Tennessee Titans - Treylon Burks - WR, Arkansas


Burks stole an insane amount of draft buzz with the news that he hunts wild boars with nothing more than a knife for protection and the way he plays the game reflects this crazy anecdote with his use of physicality and his 6'2 225 lb. frame. While route running can stand to get better, he's an immediate plug and play WR who's contested catch radius and RAC ability make him the perfect complement to WR AJ Brown and this offense.


No. 27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Zion Johnson - OG, Boston College


While the addition of OG Shaq Mason in a trade with the Patriots will soften the blow of losing Ali Marpet to retirement and Alex Cappa to free agency, the need to plug that other hole in hopes of making a last gasp Super Bowl run with a returning Tom Brady is still high. Johnson is an above average run blocker and an excellent pass protector which will bode well for earning Brady's trust and allow the Bucs to keep the offensive line a big strength as they chase a second ring in three years.


No. 28 - Green Bay Packers - Boye Mafe - EDGE, Minnesota


After having London fall into their laps as a solid replacement for the loss of Davante Adams the Packers now move to replace EDGE Za’Darius Smith with a player right in their backyard with Mafe, who is a legitimate athletic freak. While not as refined as the guys ahead, or even behind him, he's got high ceiling athletic tools that if developed properly could produce double digit sacks yearly at the next level.


No. 29 - Kansas City Chiefs - Jahan Dotson - WR, Penn State


After paying QB Patrick Mahomes that massive deal the Chiefs were forced I to dealing his primary big play weapon in WR Tyreek Hill to Miami so finding a way to replace that value in the offense is paramount. Dotson steps in as a crafty route runner with positional versatility that has a track background and could replace that home run threat ability that was vacated by the loss of Hill.


No. 30 - Kansas City Chiefs - Kaiir Elam - CB, Florida


If goal number one is score points in this drunk with talent AFC West, then finding ways to take those opportunities away from your division rivals is a close second on the priority scale. Elam's 6'2 190 lb. frame gave him the ability to use his length and physicality in coverage while thriving in both zone and press man in the SEC and that competitive toughness is something that will play just fine in KC.


No. 31 - Cincinnati Bengals - Tyler Linderbaum - C, Iowa


The Bengals showed last season they are here to stay with their offensive core four of QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, and WR's Jamar Chase and Tee Higgins all 25 or younger. They also got exposed on the offensive line time and time again so getting the best center prospect in the draft who is a plug and play addition to pair with the rest of the youth movement is an absolute steal at pick 31.


No. 32 - Detroit Lions - Devonte Wyatt - DL, Georgia


After passing on elite pass rush help at the top of the draft to go with QB Malik Willis they end up with one of the most versatile defensive line prospects in the whole draft as Wyatt can line up anywhere from O-tech to 7-tech rushing on the outside. The ability is clearly worth a higher pick than 32 but some off the field and character concerns that have sprouted up suggest a fall is quite probable, so Detroit takes the gamble to close out the first round.


SECOND ROUND

No. 33 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Daxton Hill – S, Michigan

No. 34 – Detroit Lions – Lewis Cine – S, Georgia

No. 35 – New York Jets – David Ojabo – EDGE, Michigan

No. 36 – New York Giants – Nakobe Dean – LB, Georgia

No. 37 – Houston Texans – Kyler Gordon – CB, Washington

No. 38 – New York Jets – Christian Watson – WR, North Dakota State

No. 39 – Chicago Bears – Tyler Smith – OT/OG, Tulsa

No. 40 – Seattle Seahawks – Arnold Ebiketie – EDGE, Penn State

No. 41 – Seattle Seahawks – Skyy Moore – WR, Western Michigan

No. 42 – Indianapolis Colts - Bernhard Raimann – OT, Central Michigan

No. 43 – Atlanta Falcons – Sam Howell – QB, North Carolina

No. 44 – Cleveland Browns – Perrion Winfrey – DL, Oklahoma

No. 45 – Baltimore Ravens – Tariq Woolen – CB, UTSA

No. 46 – Minnesota Vikings – Jaquan Brisker – S, Penn State

No. 47 – Washington Commanders – Roger McCreary – CB, Auburn

No. 48 – Chicago Bears – George Pickens – WR, Georgia

No. 49 – New Orleans Saints – John Metchie III – WR, Alabama

No. 50 - Kansas City Chiefs – Jalen Pitre – S, Baylor

No. 51 – Philadelphia Eagles – Logan Hall – EDGE, Houston

No. 52 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Sean Rhyan – OG/OT, UCLA

No. 53 – Green Bay Packers – DeMarvin Leal – DL, Texas A&M

No. 54 – New England Patriots - Dylan Parham – OG, Memphis

No. 55 – Arizona Cardinals – David Bell – WR, Purdue

No. 56 – Dallas Cowboys – Cameron Thomas – EDGE, San Diego State

No. 57 – Buffalo Bills – Breece Hall – RB, Iowa State

No. 58 – Atlanta Falcons – Quay Walker – LB, Georgia

No. 59 – Green Bay Packers – Christian Harris – LB, Alabama

No. 60 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Travis Jones – DL, UConn

No. 61 – San Francisco 49ers – Jamaree Salyer – OG/OT, Georgia

No. 62 – Kansas City Chiefs - Daniel Faalele – OT, Minnesota


THIRD ROUND

No. 63 – Cincinnati Bengals – Trey McBride – TE, Colorado State

No. 64 – Denver Broncos – Chad Muma – LB, Wyoming

No. 65 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Isaiah Likely – TE, Coastal Carolina

No. 66 – Detroit Lions – Calvin Austin III – WR, Memphis

No. 67 – New York Giants – Ed Ingram – OG/OT, LSU

No. 68 – Houston Texans – Kenneth Walker III – RB, Michigan State

No. 69 – New York Jets – Brian Asamoah – LB, Oklahoma

No. 70 – Jacksonville Jaguars - Phidarian Mathis – DL, Alabama

No. 71 – Chicago Bears - Nicholas Petit-Frere – OT, Ohio State

No. 72 – Seattle Seahawks – Darian Kinnard – OG/OT, Kentucky

No. 73 – Indianapolis Colts - Josh Paschal – EDGE, Kentucky

No. 74 – Atlanta Falcons – Jalen Tolbert – WR, South Alabama

No. 75 – Denver Broncos – Nik Bonitto – EDGE, Oklahoma

No. 76 – Baltimore Ravens – Drake Jackson – EDGE, USC

No. 77 – Minnesota Vikings – Leo Chenal – LB, Wisconsin

No. 78 – Cleveland Browns – Sam Williams – EDGE, Ole Miss

No. 79 – Los Angeles Chargers - Kingsley Enagbare – EDGE, South Carolina

No. 80 – Houston Texans – Channing Tindall – LB, Georgia

No. 81 – New York Giants – Nick Cross – S, Maryland

No. 82 – Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Spiller – RB, Texas A&M

No. 83 – Philadelphia Eagles – Kerby Joseph – S, Illinois

No. 84 – Pittsburgh Steelers – Cam Taylor-Britt – CB, Nebraska

No. 85 – New England Patriots - Khalil Shakir – WR, Boise State

No. 86 – Las Vegas Raiders – Cole Strange – OG/OT, Chattanooga

No. 87 – Arizona Cardinals - Alontae Taylor – CB, Tennessee

No. 88 – Dallas Cowboys – Bryan Cook – S, Cincinnati

No. 89 – Buffalo Bills – Abraham Lucas – OT, Washington State

No. 90 – Tennessee Titans – Darrian Beavers – LB, Cincinnati

No. 91 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Damarri Mathis – S, Pittsburgh

No. 92 – Green Bay Packers – Jeremey Ruckert – TE, Ohio State

No. 93 – San Francisco 49ers – Josh Williams – CB, Fayetteville State

No. 94 – Kansas City Chiefs – James Cook – RB, Georgia

No. 95 – Cincinnati Bengals – Marcus Jones – CB, Houston

No. 96 – Denver Broncos – Cade Otton – TE, Washington

No. 97 – Detroit Lions – JoJo Domann – LB, Nebraska

No. 98 – New Orleans Saints – Zachary Carter – EDGE/DL, Florida

No. 99 – Cleveland Browns – Kyle Phillips – WR, UCLA

No. 100 – Baltimore Ravens – Rasheed Walker – OT, Penn State

No. 101 – Philadelphia Eagles – Troy Anderson – LB, Montana State

No. 102 – Miami Dolphins - Myjai Sanders – EDGE, Cincinnati

No. 103 – Kansas City Chiefs- Tyreke Smith – EDGE, Ohio State

No. 104 – Los Angeles Rams – Cam Jurgens – C, Nebraska

No. 105 – San Francisco 49ers – Wan’Dale Robinson – WR, Kentucky


BEST OF THE REST AVAILABLE BY POSTION

QB – Carson Strong – Nevada /

Bailey Zappe – Western Kentucky

RB - Dameon Pierce – Florida / Rachaad White – Arizona State

WR - Alec Pierce – Cincinnati / Justyn Ross – Clemson

TE – Greg Dulcich – UCLA / Jelani Woods – Virginia

OT - Luke Goedeke – Central Michigan / Zach Tom – Wake Forest

OG – Tyreese Robinson - Oklahoma / Lecitus Smith – Virginia Tech

C – Alec Lindstrom – Boston College / Luke Fortner – Kentucy

EDGE - DeAngelo Malone – Western Kentucky /

Esezi Otomewo – Minnesota

DL - Matt Henningsen – Wisconsin / Matthew Butler – Tennessee

LB - Damone Clark – LSU / Jesse Luketa – Penn State

CB - Coby Bryant – Cincinnati /

Zyon McCollum – Sam Houston State

S - Tycen Anderson – Toledo / Dane Belton – Iowa

P - Matt Araiza – San Diego State

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