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Zwiller: NFL mock 2022 draft 1.0

| Monday, February 14, 2022

With the Super Bowl in the books, it is time to look towards the next big NFL event: the NFL Draft. The 2022 Draft, the 87th draft in the leagues’ history, will occur in Vegas on April 28th and run through the 30th. 

The draft is always exciting (and for some teams more exciting than the season) because it creates hope. The young QB taken early is a franchise savior. The defensive player is the next Aaron Donald. 

So over the next couple of months, I will release a few mock drafts, not only looking at the first round but the second and third.

For all team needs, I will be using thedraftnetwork.com, which is (in my opinion) the best draft resource available.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are back where they were last year: first overall. The only difference is that they will not take a QB; currently, I think they will take an edge rusher. Kayvon Thibodeaux is incredible, but (as a Michigan fan), I may be biased in saying Aidan Hutchinson is the better prospect and will go first.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are picking second this year which is honestly right about where I had them. Detroit has plenty of needs, an edge rusher, a safety, a QB, a WR, and an LB. I think that the Lions will keep Goff; according to overthecap.com, a trade would result in a dead cap hit of 15 million. Instead, they should take edge rusher, Kayvon Thibodeaux, out of Oregon.

Houston Texans

So, the Texans have their QB? And I don’t mean Deshaun Watson, I mean Davis Mills, which feels odd to say. But Mills was better than Trevor Lawrence this season, so it makes sense to go in another direction in a weak QB draft. I honestly can see the Texans taking Kyle Hamilton, a safety, out of a small school in South Bend. The Texans were 23rd in passing yards against despite having the 8th fewest passing attempts against. 

New York Jets

The Jets could go in a lot of different directions, offensive linemen, an edge rusher, a safety or a cornerback. Zach Wilson was underwhelming this year, but that doesn’t mean taking a QB. Wilson had a pocket time of 2.4 seconds and was pressured on 30.6% of dropbacks. For comparison, Joe Burrow had a pocket time of 2.3 seconds but was pressured on 24.5% of dropbacks. (Both of those come courtsey of ProFootballReference). 

So, the Jets need to take an offensive lineman, most likely Evan Neal, out of Alabama (though thedraftnetwork.com has Ikem Ekwonu as the better prospect). 

New York Giants

The Giants have the fifth and seventh picks in the draft (the seventh comes from the Bears).

The Giants need to shore up their o-line and take a defensive weapon. So I am projecting that the Giants take Ikem Ekwonu fifth and then George Karlaftis, an edge rusher out of Purdue. I do not feel great about their seventh pick (trading back and then taking a wide receiver might be better). 

Carolina Panthers

As a Panthers fan, I am of two minds here. The Panthers have a horrible offensive line: defenses pressured Darnold, Newton and Walker on 29.1%, 24.5%, and 30.7% dropbacks, respectively. Yet, this is a year where the Panthers should take a QB where they currently are.

However, because the Panthers have committed to Darnold, I think their best move is to take an offensive lineman. As of right now, I think their best option is Charles Cross, an OT out of Mississippi State. 

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are picking 8th this year, and while they did not follow my advice to take a QB last year, they should this year. Ryans’ cap number is over 48 million and 23.4% of the cap. If Ryan were traded or cut, he would be a post-June one cap hit of about 25 million, so I do not see him going anywhere. Instead, the Falcons can draft a rookie QB, let him sit behind Ryan, and trade Ryan the following year. And while I am not a huge fan of any of the QBs in this draft, I feel that the Falcons will take Kenny Pickett out of Pittsburgh. 

Denver Broncos

The Broncos are a unique team. They have a solid defense; their only problem was their offense which was much too conservative under Teddy B (now a FA). As a result, their only primary need is a QB, which I 100% agree with. Much like with some of the teams above, this is sort of a draft where the Broncos likely will not need to reach to get their QB. So, I have Matt Corral, the junior from Ole Miss, as the second QB to go in the draft.

New York Jets (Courtesy of Seattle)

With the Jets having addressed their offensive line needs earlier, I can see them shoring up their defense next. Seeing that the top three edge rushers are gone, I think they will take a player to shore up their secondary. The highest graded edge rusher remaining is Derek Stingley Jr., a CB from LSU.

Washington Commanders

That is the first time I have written out the word Commanders, and it feels odd. I am going to miss Football Team. 

But, names aside, the Commanders have two primary needs, a QB and a WR. Current QB Taylor Heinicke is under contract through 2022 and is only a three million dollar player (1.4% of the cap). I think it makes sense for the Commanders not to resign Fitzpatrick, keep Heinicke for a season and have a rookie compete for the starting job. The options are still plentiful; Desmond Ridder, the QB from Cincinnati, Sam Howell from UNC and then Malik Willis from Liberty. While thedraftnetwork.com currently has Willis as the lowest on that list, I think that Washington would do well to pick him. I am not in love with Ridder, and while someone will draft Howell, I think he should have stayed in UNC for another year.

Minnesota Vikings

If I were the head coach of the Vikings, I would not worry about drafting an offensive piece in the first round. The Vikings offense is fine (it just needed a new play-caller); the focus this offseason should be on the defense.

Considering that the Vikings gave up the 28th most passing yards, the focus should likely be on a secondary piece. According to the Draft Network, the highest remaining secondary player is Andrew Booth Jr., a junior from Clemson.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Thomas Zwiller

Thomas is a sophomore currently in attendance at Holy Cross College, studying Business and Theology He is from Saint Joseph MI, and went to high school at Saint Joe SB, playing both varsity football and hockey. Feel free to contact him about all things NFL and NBA.

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