The Russell Wilson trade between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos has sent the former into full rebuild mode, and ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, Seattle is expected to make a move to find a replacement quarterback.
Malik Willis has emerged as the standout candidate to fit the scheme Pete Carroll prefers to run, and his skillset is remarkably similar to a young Wilson, perhaps with an even greater amount of physical excellence.
As such, when taking this into account in Sportskeeda’s first Mock Draft of the pre-Draft process, we have the Seahawks trading up to pick no.6 to take Willis ahead of the Atlanta Falcons.
We’ve also looked at combine performances and team needs when producing this Mock Draft, with the results of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft illustrated below:
Chris Winterburn's Sportskeeda Mock NFL Draft 2022
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Without a standout quarterback, this is, perhaps, the hardest pick to gauge. I’ve gone with Jacksonville addressing a huge defensive area of concern with the premier edge rusher in this draft class. Hutchinson has the ceiling to be a franchise player on defense and showed an exciting level of athleticism at the combine.
2. Carolina Panthers (via trade with Detroit): Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
I believe Carolina will look to avoid the mistakes the New York Jets made with Sam Darnold and provide him the protection he needs. Whilst a hefty price to move up, the Panthers will resist the urge to turn Malik Willis into Cam Newton 2.0 and take Ikem Ekwonu, the best offensive lineman in this class, to give Darnold the chance to show his USC potential.
3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Houston Texans had one of the worst offensive lines in football in 2021 and will seek to rectify that in the draft. With Ekwonu off the board, Evan Neal is the obvious pick here to try and improve upon the 44 sacks allowed last season.
4. New York Jets: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Robert Salah is a defensive specialist and will have been embarrassed at the fact his Jets were ranked as the 32nd defense in the NFL in 2021. Secondary will be the place to go here with Ahmad Gardner having the personality and physical skills to re-open Revis Island for business in East Rutherford. His arrival would also allow the switch of either Bryce Hall or Brandin Echols to safety.
5. New York Giants: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
Travon Walker is, perhaps, the biggest beneficiary of the combine in 2022, with his athletic performances seeing him shoot up draft boards. He is the obvious answer for a Giants defense that registered just 34 sacks last term.
6. Seattle Seahawks (via trade with Detroit): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
With Pete Carroll making the decision to trade up to number 6, Malik Willis is the pick here. His athletic skills make him a very positive quarterback for the Seahawks to try and develop, and they had success with Russell Wilson in the past. The key here is moving up above the Atlanta Falcons, who are clearly looking to a future beyond Matt Ryan.
7. New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
This pick is designed, not only to protect Daniel Jones, but also to create running lanes for Saquon Barkley. Cross allowed just one sack and six pressures in the 2021 season with Mississippi State and will vastly improve the Giants O-Line.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Whilst some have Hamilton being selected much higher up in the 2022 NFL Draft, I think the Notre Dame safety will slide right into the grateful arms of the Falcons at pick no.8. He may have been slow at the combine, which is a concern, but his play suggests much quicker football-speed. Hamilton is an excellent ball-playing defender in the secondary and will be a huge improvement for Atlanta, who would be picking the best available player here.
9. Detroit Lions (via multiple trades): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Detroit needs to address their long-term quarterback issue, but they decided to trade back in order to do so. Kenny Pickett has worked through concerns over his hand size throughout the off-season, but there is a really talented passer in there. Perhaps the most refined in the draft, he would arrive in a difficult situation in Detroit, who may need to build around him for a few years before this draft pick shows a true value.
10. New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Thibodeaux is an enigma in this draft class. From a football perspective, he can appear to be a truly exceptional pass rusher, yet he has talked himself out of a spot in the top-5. This, coupled with the assessment that he takes too many plays off, will see the Jets draft him at no.10, in the hope Salah can turn him into a dominating playmaker for a franchise in dire need of them.
11. Washington Commanders: Drake London, WR, USC
The first receiver to come off the draft board will be Drake London out of USC. While not the biggest need for the Commanders, they may look to offer Carson Wentz an additional option. London will also protect the franchise against losing Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel to free-agency in 2023/2024 respectively.
12. Minnesota Vikings: David Ojabo, DE, Michigan
The Minnesota Vikings need to try and slow down Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North, and will turn to David Ojabo out of Michigan to combine with D.J. Wonnum if Danielle Hunter is traded. While an unassuming draft selection, Ojabo can be a force coming off the edge with an exceptional level of speed after his first step. He was excellent at the combine and would produce sacks at the NFL level.
13. Cleveland Browns: Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
After trading for Amari Cooper, Cleveland will look to improve their defense at pick no.13, pairing Myles Garrett with Jermaine Johnson II. His 12 sacks in 2021 were impressive and showed a level of dominance that puts him this high in the draft.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Jordan Davis won the combine. There is no other way to describe his performance. His 4.78 40-yard dash time whilst weighing in at 340lbs is borderline ridiculous. He has serious fundamental weaknesses at the position which need to be ironed out, but the Ravens love taking risks on physical outliers.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU
Sitting out the combine to recover from a foot injury did Stingley’s draft stock no good whatsoever; however, his tape prior to 2021 shows a cornerback who can shut down one side of the field. Likely to be used as CB2, along with Darius Slay, Stingley can develop over the course of 2022.
16. Philadelphia Eagles: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
With three draft picks inside the first round, the Eagles have a lot of scope for choice in the 2022 NFL Draft. They will go offense at pick 16 with Garrett Wilson coming in to work alongside DeVonta Smith and John Hightower.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
The Chargers came so close to reaching the AFC Championship game in 2021, and with the offense led well by Justin Herbert, they will add Devonte Wyatt to further bolster their defense. Stopping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense is key to the Chargers’ strategy this off-season. Having already traded for Khalil Mack, Wyatt will be another disruptive presence to get to Mahomes.
18. New Orleans Saints: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Provided Jameis Winston re-signs with the Saints, they will add another offensive weapon to their arsenal in Jameson Williams this draft. The Alabama receiver is speed personified and would have gone even higher had his 2021 season not been disrupted by injury. He will be an electric addition to New Orleans’ offense.
19. Philadelphia Eagles: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Eagles add to their pass rush here with George Karlaftis out of Purdue. Karlaftis has an excellent first step before a dominating bull rush and could help turn the Philadelphia defense into a dominating force.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
After missing out on Malik Willis and signing Mitchell Trubisky, the Steelers are going to make a defensive selection to tide their franchise over for the 2022 season without Ben Roethlisberger. Lloyd has an excellent range of mobility and can be an impact player alternating with Devin Bush.
21. New England Patriots: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
Bill Belichick received a pleasant surprise in 2021 with the performances of Mac Jones at quarterback. While he may have slumped at the business end of the season, the Pats will look to the draft to give him a serious receiving option in Treylon Burks. Burks is a r\eliable catcher on the outside and can use his size to block at tight end, which Belichick loves.
22. Las Vegas Raiders: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
Andre James hasn’t been the success at center the Raiders had hoped when electing to replace Rodney Hudson. Protecting Derek Carr in a year where he has to have his best season will be of vital importance. Linderbaum is an excellent blocker and offers promising pass protection, buying Carr more time in the pocket.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
The trade to bring Rodney Hudson into Arizona was excellent in 2021; however, he isn’t a long-term option. This is where Kenyon Green becomes the smart pick. Being able to play as a guard before being switched to center when Hudson departs shores up the offensive line ahead of Kyler Murray for a year, at least.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Dallas’ collapse in the playoffs was not the ending to the season that the franchise expected. The Cowboys need to start protecting Dak Prescott and thinking about the future of their offense. Bernhard Raimann is a late riser in the draft process, excelling at the combine, after having been switched from tight end in 2020. He has a huge upside and has impressed with how quickly he has taken to the tackle position.
25. Buffalo Bills: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Bills will go defense at pick no.25 and add Trent McDuffie at cornerback. The Washington prospect can make plays chasing the ball and is excellent value at this back-end of the first round.
26. Tennessee Titans: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
After struggling to offer any real pass protection in 2021, the Titans need to improve their offensive line. Step forward… Trevor Penning. The Northern Iowa tackle will help a team that allowed 48 sacks. Having allowed just one sack in 2021, he is the outstanding choice here in the draft.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Booth Jr, CB, Clemson
Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr is a player that will be very attractive to Todd Bowles. For his position, his 6-foot, 200lbs frame is impressive, and he excels in a run defense, which is what Tampa Bay has made their own in the last two seasons. In addition, the fact that Jordan Whitehead and Carlton Davis III both need new deals in 2023 is a concern.
28. Green Bay Packers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Re-signing Aaron Rodgers has been the perfect move for the Green Bay Packers this off-season, and they won’t make the mistake of not providing him help again. With Jordan Love likely to be traded, the Packers will go with Chris Olave at receiver here. The Ohio State prospect is a fantastic speed runner and is a reliable scorer. Rodgers would welcome his arrival.
29. Miami Dolphins: Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky
Kinnard is a physical monster who looks to dominate and embarrass pass rushers. He can add a nasty edge to a Dolphins O-line that has been accused of being soft in the past. He opens holes in the running game, which will make the acquisition of Chase Edmonds at running back even more exciting.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
The off-season priority for the Chiefs is to find a way to improve upon on the 30th ranked defense for passing yards allowed per play, as well as replace the free-agent Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is the leader of their defense, but Lewis Cine makes sense at safety here. Cine has been rising throughout the draft process after an outstanding combine which showed off his arm-reach. He’s a smart guy who could take on a leadership role down the line in Kansas City.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Improving on defense will be key to the Bengals’ draft plan, and Kaiir Elam at cornerback is a player that will be impossible to resist at this position. Elam has six interceptions in his collegiate career, although in 2021 alone, he had 11 deflections which showed his sense for the ball.
32. Detroit Lions: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
The Lions will complete their opening night of the draft by taking Nakobe Dean out of Georgia. As part of an exceptional Bulldogs defense, Dean is a tackling machine and can aid the Lions’ run defense. His 7.5 sacks will impress a franchise that ranked 30th in that category in 2021.