The 2022 NFL draft is less than a month away, and we just saw yet another massive trade involving first-round picks. So it seems like a pretty good time to take another run at predicting how the draft’s early picks might play out. But this time, I’m taking my mock draft two rounds deep, projecting which top prospects make sense at each of the opening 64 selections.
Monday’s trade means yet another team will have multiple first-round selections on April 28, with the Saints moving up to No. 16 overall and adding an additional Day 1 pick in their deal with the Eagles — who still hold two first-round picks themselves. How will that move shake up the middle parts of Round 1? What does it mean for teams jockeying for position as they New York Giants Jersey try to land a new franchise quarterback, playmaking receiver or disruptive pass-rusher? And what other trades could happen? I predicted two more deals that carry implications for Rounds 1 and 2.
There’s still a lot of time for things to change, and the board is far from final. But for now, here is my current prediction of how the first and second rounds of the 2022 draft will play out. And for more on all 64 picks, check out our SportsCenter Special.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Best player available. Big need. Perfect match. Jacksonville tied for the fifth-fewest sacks in 2021 (32), and its 27.8% pressure rate ranked No. 20 in the NFL. Hutchinson would instantly provide the Jaguars with a relentless, explosive disrupter on the edge opposite Josh Allen. There’s still a chance that the Jags favor one of the top offensive tackles in the class — NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu or Alabama’s Evan Neal — even after they franchise-tagged left tackle Cam Robinson and signed guard Brandon Scherff. But I just don’t see them passing on Hutchinson’s ability to be a tone-setter on defense.
Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
Detroit struggled with its pass rush even more than Jacksonville last season, recording just 30 sacks and getting pressure on 25.9% of opponent dropbacks. Both numbers ranked in the bottom four. Walker might not have the career sack production (9.5 across 36 career games), but he has the versatility and explosion to anchor the Lions’ defensive line. Detroit re-signed Charles Harris, who led the team with 7.5 sacks in 2021, and Romeo Okwara — who had 10 in 2020 — is returning from a torn Achilles tendon that kept him off the field for most of last year. A trio of Harris, Okwara and Walker could cause some problems for opposing quarterbacks.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
One of the top offensive tackles — Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal — would be tempting, considering Houston allowed 44 sacks last season (ninth most). But Houston has holes all over the roster and three picks in the first two rounds to address as many of them as possible. Thibodeaux has outstanding closing burst and elite pass-rushing traits, and Lovie Smith’s defenses are built on generating pressure. If Thibodeaux can find a more consistent motor, he can be a replacement for J.J. Watt.
Defenders haven’t gone 1-2-3 in a draft since 1992, and we’ve never before seen three defensive ends lead Round 1.
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
The Jets have to find a true No. 1 receiver for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, and a Wilson-Wilson connection could be fun to watch for a long time in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Garrett Wilson has elite body control and can regularly make contested plays downfield. New York’s offensive skill position group — which already includes wide receivers Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios, running back Michael Carter and tight end C.J. Uzomah — could be sneaky good if its key players stay healthy and keep developing. And yes, it’s yet another spot Las Vegas Raiders Jerseys where an offensive tackle would make some sense, so don’t be surprised if the Jets delay adding to the receiver room to lock in a potential upgrade on the line.
Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
New general manager Joe Schoen would be off to a really, really good start to his tenure if he gets this lucky. A run on pass-rushers to begin the draft leaves Ekwonu for the Giants at No. 5 overall. He brings versatility, power, length and quickness, and he’d be opposite Andrew Thomas to form a solid duo to keep NFC pass-rushers in check.
Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
Simply put, coach Matt Rhule needs to win now and has one of the worst quarterback situations in the entire league. Sam Darnold will be a free agent next March, and he hasn’t been much more effective for Carolina than he was for the Jets, if at all. Make no mistake, this is early for a QB in this year’s weaker class, but the Panthers know they are running out of options and don’t have another draft pick until Round 4.
Rhule recruited Pickett while he was Temple’s coach, and Rhule has been locked into the signal-caller pro days this spring. Of the bunch, Pickett is the most NFL-ready quarterback available, and his fast processing ability, smooth pocket presence and excellent accuracy would elevate Carolina’s offense. If the Panthers opt to explore other QB avenues, Evan Neal would be the obvious pick for one of the NFL’s worst pass-blocking teams.
7. New York Giants (via CHI)
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The Giants already checked the offensive line box with Ekwonu, but Southern California wide receiver Drake London could help boost the offense. However, with some uncertainty around James Bradberry‘s future in the Big Apple, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner would make sense. And while the top three pass-rushers are off the board, Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II fits. But the Giants’ depth chart at safety is light, and adding someone with Hamilton’s size, range and ball skills to the back end could change the way offenses game-plan for New York. Logan Ryan was released, and pairing Hamilton with Xavier McKinney (five interceptions and 10 passes defensed last season) would be an excellent last line of defense.
Drake London, WR, USC
The Falcons didn’t do a whole lot to clean up a lackluster receiver room in free agency. They are currently relying on Olamide Zaccheaus and Damiere Byrd as their top two targets for new quarterback Marcus Mariota. We’ve only seen teams use top-10 picks on pass-catchers in back-to-back drafts three times since 1967 (Atlanta took tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 last April), but London is a perfect pick here. He is a former basketball player who can box out defensive backs and make tough, contested catches. London is returning from a right ankle fracture but should be ready to go for training camp.
As for the quarterback conundrum, Atlanta could address the future there with one of four picks on Day 2, wait until a more exciting signal-caller class in 2023 or execute some combination of both paths.
The highlights that make Drake London worthy of being 1st WR drafted
Watch the best plays from former USC wide receiver Drake London ahead of the upcoming NFL draft.
9. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The rebuild is on in the Pacific Northwest, and the list of needs is long. The Seahawks seem ready to lean on Drew Lock at quarterback for a year, but that wouldn’t necessarily take them out of the mix for Liberty’s Malik Willis — though I think they will wait until 2023 to bring in the long-term fix. And the edge rush remains problematic following free agency, meaning Jermaine Johnson II would certainly be on GM John Schneider’s radar. But let’s not forget that Seattle has a void at left tackle (Duane Brown is still unsigned), and successful rebuilds often start there. Neal is tough to get around, dominant in the run game and able to play multiple positions.
10. New York Jets (via SEA)
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
There are probably three realistic options here in this scenario: Gardner, Jermaine Johnson II or Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross. But the chance to get Gardner — my No. 5 overall prospect in the class — is too good to ignore. The Jets signed D.J. Reed in free agency, and both Brandin Echols and Bryce Hall are capable starters. But Gardner is the definition of shutdown corner. Consider this: The Jets allowed 116 passing plays for at least 15 yards last season, the second most in the NFL; Gardner didn’t allow that many yards in a single game all year.
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Let’s get new Washington quarterback Carson Wentz a second high-end target beyond Terry McLaurin (who is potentially headed toward free agency next March). Olave is a smooth route runner with soft hands and excellent speed. Pairing him with McLaurin — his former Ohio State teammate — would immediately challenge NFC East defensive backs and open things up for Curtis Samuel out of the slot.
Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Stingley is a tough evaluation. If Minnesota gets the 2019 version of his game, this is a steal at No. 12. But the injury-plagued uneven play we’ve seen over the past two years makes this pick risky. The Vikings still have a need at cornerback despite signing Patrick Peterson (who will turn 32 this summer), and there is no denying what Stingley is capable of doing on the field if he puts it all together. Stingley can wear a lot of different hats on defense, shows great instincts and has the ball skills and speed to lock down receivers. And the Vikings can let Peterson — a fellow LSU alum — help Stingley adjust to the pro game.
13. Houston Texans (via CLE)
Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
Houston got its pass-rusher at No. 3 (Kayvon Thibodeaux), and now it can bring in an experienced pass-blocker to take the starting role opposite Laremy Tunsil. The Texans’ 53.8% pass block win rate was No. 27 in the NFL last season, and they will need to improve if they want to get the most out of second-year quarterback Davis Mills. His 9.0 QBR under pressure in 2021 ranked 27th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks. Cross, meanwhile, is the best pass protector in the class. No player in college football has seen as many pass-block snaps over the past two years as Cross, and he only surrendered one sack in 2021. If Houston feels comfortable sliding him over to the right side, this would make a ton of sense.
14. Baltimore Ravens
Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum would be a good pick after the Ravens lost Bradley Bozeman to free agency. But could the Ravens afford to ignore Johnson’s fall out of the top 10 right into their lap at No. 14? They were in the bottom 10 last year in sacks (34), and only Tyus Bowser (seven sacks) and Odafe Oweh (five) made much of a dent there. Johnson had 12 sacks and 46 pressures at FSU in 2021, frequently using his quick feet, powerful hands and arsenal of pass-rush moves to overwhelm blockers. If Linderbaum does end up with the Ravens, I’d bet it comes after a trade down the Round 1 board.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA)
Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The Eagles still have two picks in the first round following their Monday afternoon trade, and the first is an instinctive, hard-hitting corner. There isn’t a better tackling cornerback in the entire class than McDuffie, and he has the speed to stay with receivers and limit big plays. With Darius Slay on the other side, Philadelphia could have one of the top CB duos in the league.
16. New Orleans Saints (via PHI/IND)
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
Could the Saints be moving up for a quarterback? Maybe GM Mickey Loomis thinks Malik Willis or one of the other signal-callers can be a long-term answer, and a move like this suggests the possibility. But I get the sense that New Orleans believes it can challenge Boston Red Sox Jerseys Tampa Bay for the NFC South right now, and this pick allows the Saints to attack some issues in the trenches.
Left tackle Terron Armstead signed with Miami in free agency, leaving James Hurst in a starting role. Penning is the last of the top-tier tackles on the board, and he makes a lot of sense as Armstead’s replacement in protecting Jameis Winston. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder is also an outstanding run-blocker, which would help spring ball carrier Alvin Kamara.
TRADE: Chiefs move up for a pass-catcher
The Chargers pulled out the checkbook in free agency, improving just about every area of the defense. That spending included defensive tackles Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, which obviously alleviates some of the run-blocking worries. That’s not to say Jordan Davis — a mock favorite at No. 17 over the past two months — won’t be the move, but the Chargers could be looking to pivot to the offensive line after those signings. And with Trevor Penning off the board, they might try to move down and pick up extra draft capital.
The Chiefs, flush with picks, could be looking to get ahead of some receiver-seeking franchises, like the Eagles, Saints, Packers, Patriots and Titans. In this mock deal, the Chargers get two additional selections in the first three rounds: Nos. 29, 62 and 94. The Chiefs, meanwhile, get the wideout they want to replace Tyreek Hill at No. 17 and still have Nos. 30, 50 and 103 over the first two days.
17. Kansas City Chiefs (via mock trade with LAC)
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game, and his impact on the Chiefs’ offense wouldn’t come in Week 1. But there isn’t a more explosive wide receiver in the class. He can take the top off the defense and run under any deep ball. Does that sound like a fit for a certain NFL team? Kansas City could feast on a Patrick Mahomes-Williams connection for a long time and keep pace with the AFC West’s other rapidly improving teams.
The highlights that make WR Jameson Williams a top NFL prospect
Check out the best moments from Jameson Williams at Alabama as he gets ready for the NFL draft.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (via NO)
Devin Lloyd, ILB, Utah
Yes, the Eagles typically pass on off-ball linebackers in Round 1, but they need one, and Lloyd — a potential immediate high-impact starter — is sitting there on the board. A former safety, Lloyd flies all over the field and does a little bit of everything. He had 99 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and four interceptions last season.
Philly might be down one of its three first-rounders for this year after the deal with the Saints, but it picked up another Day 1 pick in 2023. If GM Howie Roseman decides that Jalen Hurts isn’t the Eagles’ guy after this season, he will have some early picks to go after Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud or another passer.
19. New Orleans Saints (via PHI)
Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Saints have a strong run defense, but defensive tackles David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle are only under contract for one more year, and Davis could really be a game-changer in the middle of the field. He is a space eater who wowed scouts at the combine with a 4.78-second 40-yard dash, 32-inch vertical jump and 10-foot-3 broad jump at 6-foot-6 and 341 pounds. If he can stay at that weight in the NFL, look out.
New Orleans also might be looking at wide receivers in this range. Penn State’s Jahan Dotson fits, and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks would provide a big target outside. I think it’s probably a few picks too early for both, and the second round promises to have plenty of pass-catching options. I don’t think the Saints let Davis get past them here.
Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
All signs are pointing toward Pittsburgh drafting a quarterback, and in this scenario, it doesn’t even have to move up to get one of the top two passers in the class. Willis is creative outside the pocket and has a rocket arm, and I actually have him ranked one spot ahead of Kenny Pickett at No. 21 on my board. With Mitch Trubisky on a team-friendly two-year deal, there’s no rush for Willis to play right away, and coach Mike Tomlin could develop Willis before turning over the keys. The AFC North is stacked at QB, but Willis has the upside to get the Steelers right back in the mix.
Nakobe Dean, ILB, Georgia
New England could use a spark in the middle of the defense. Dean might not have the measurables that NFL teams seek — he is 5-foot-11 with shorter arms — but his tape might be my favorite in the entire class because of his incredible effort on every play and the way he can impact the run defense, pass defense and pass rush on any given set of downs. I think he’d be a star in coach Bill Belichick’s system.
22. Green Bay Packers (via LV)
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
The Packers have this pick because of the Davante Adams trade, so why not use it to start replacing all those catches? One draft pick isn’t going to replace arguably the best wideout in football, but Dotson is a lightning-fast possession receiver (91 receptions last season) who could be an instant favorite of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Dotson is versatile and has elite ball skills. We’ve talked and talked about how Green Bay doesn’t draft first-round wide receivers, but it doesn’t have much of a choice this year, considering it has two Day 1 selections and Allen Lazard topping the current depth chart. Treylon Burks is another option if the Packers want to go with a bigger outside threat.
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
DeAndre Hopkins missed time last season, and A.J. Green is no longer on the roster. Rondale Moore flashed during his rookie year, but quarterback Kyler Murray would benefit from one more reliable target. Burks is a big target with good hands and the physicality to tack on extra yards after the catch. Arizona might also think about a cornerback (Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr.), edge rusher (Purdue’s George Karlaftis) or defensive tackle (Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt).
24. Dallas Cowboys
George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
Randy Gregory signed with Denver, and Dante Fowler Jr. isn’t going to solve the Cowboys’ lack of pass-rush depth. Dallas can, of course, slide Micah Parsons back into the edge-rushing role he had last season when he totaled 13 sacks; and while I personally think Parsons can do even more for the Cowboys in his more traditional role at inside linebacker, the team needs more pass rushing no matter what. Karlaftis has an explosive first step and the power to bull rush linemen.
25. Buffalo Bills
Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
If Buffalo wants to come out on top of a loaded AFC, it should focus in on its cornerback group. Tre’Davious White is coming off an ACL tear, and Levi Wallace signed with Pittsburgh. I really like Booth’s game and think he could be a No. 2 corner as a rookie, before developing into a No. 1. He is scheme-versatile, explodes out of his back pedal and shows above-average ball skills.
26. Tennessee Titans
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
A seventh first-round wide receiver to match the 2004 record! It’s a deep pass-catching class, and there are plenty of teams searching for playmakers on the outside. Yes, this is a bit of a reach, but Tennessee probably wasn’t planning on six wideouts being off the board already. The Titans’ deal for Robert Woods was one step toward getting quarterback Ryan Tannehill more pass-catchers beyond A.J. Brown; but they shouldn’t stop there, especially since Woods is returning from a torn ACL and the team cut Julio Jones. Watson is a big target who brings a vertical element to the table.
Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
Remember when the Buccaneers returned all of their starters from a Super Bowl roster last offseason? This is a much different situation in 2022. The trade for Shaq Mason lessens the losses of Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa at guard, but Boston College’s Zion Johnson or Texas A&M’s Kenyon Green would still be in the draft picture. Tampa Bay used a first-rounder on Joe Tryon-Shoyinka last year, but it could go back to that edge-rush well to build up a lacking unit — perhaps in the form of Minnesota’s Boye Mafe or Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie. But I’m ultimately matching the Bucs with Wyatt, who has an incredible ability to locate the football, close on it and make a play. Ndamukong Suh is still a free agent and could return, but Wyatt and Vita Vea up the middle would wreak havoc on opponents.
Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M
The Packers like versatile pass-blockers, and having Green and Elgton Jenkins (returning from a torn ACL) in the same unit gives them a lot of alignment choices. Green has multiple starts at both tackle spots and both guard spots. We already added a wide receiver for Rodgers, but drafting another lineman will help keep the 38-year-old quarterback upright.
29. Los Angeles Chargers (via mock trade with KC/MIA/SF)
Zion Johnson, G/C, Boston College
The Chargers want to keep quarterback Justin Herbert clean, and while they could really use another offensive tackle, the value still isn’t here at No. 29. Using their newly acquired second-rounder from the mock trade might be the best route. Instead, how about a versatile interior lineman who can play guard or center? Johnson amazingly didn’t allow a single pressure or sack in 12 games last season, and he has just one penalty over 2,271 career snaps.
Boye Mafe, OLB, Minnesota
The Chiefs have to slow down Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr in six of their 17 games, but their pass rush generated just 31 sacks last season (No. 29). Mafe is still developing, but his takeoff is lightning fast, and he has the tools to go from rookie pass-rush specialist to high-level starter off the edge. Mafe had seven sacks last season, and he has a lot of upside.
Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
By now, the Bengals’ protection woes of 2021 are well-documented. Quarterback Joe Burrow took way, way too many hits last season, and the offensive line was a glaring problem coming into the offseason. Cincinnati wasn’t messing around in free agency, though, signing offensive tackle La’el Collins and interior linemen Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. That’s a big improvement. But is it enough? I’m not sure Karras is a long-term answer, and Linderbaum should quickly emerge as one of the best centers in the NFL. Linderbaum anchors well and fights to the whistle, and his zone-blocking ability will open lanes for running back Joe Mixon. And as an added bonus, this is terrific value: Linderbaum is my No. 18 prospect.
32. Detroit Lions (via LAR)
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Detroit will be back on the clock with the second selection of Round 2, but it can first get the valuable fifth-year option on a quarterback here with the final pick of Round 1. Jared Goff is under contract through 2024, but his contract structure allows the Lions to move on after this season, if they wish. Ridder isn’t a sure thing, and he has too many ball-location misses, but his strong arm, good mobility and high-end ability to read the field make him an intriguing pick to cap off Day 1.
Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
No team allowed a higher opponent QBR than the Jaguars last season (55.7), and their seven interceptions tied for the second fewest. Jacksonville was active in free agency and signed Darious Williams, but that shouldn’t exclude the team from adding more to the cornerback room at the draft. Gordon didn’t run quite as well as expected at the combine, but he can play inside or outside and is a sudden defender with the ability to stick on receivers like Velcro.
34. Detroit Lions
Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Hill probably belongs in the first round, but the Lions get lucky with the smooth, speedy safety on Day 2. He reminds me a bit of Budda Baker and would be an upgrade on the back end of the Lions’ defense. Detroit allowed 70 plays for 20-plus yards last season (sixth most), but Hill has the range to limit those big plays.
35. New York Jets
Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
The Jets opted for Garrett Wilson and Ahmad Gardner to address receiver and cornerback on Day 1, so the edge rush issue got pushed here. Not a problem. Ebiketie always has a pass-rush plan and is one of the more technical edge rushers in the class. He had 9.5 sacks and 46 pressures last season.
36. New York Giants
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Moore’s combine performance was impressive, and there might not be a more elusive pass-catcher in the class once the ball is in his hands. No Giants receiver had more than 521 receiving yards or three touchdowns last season. As an aside, Arnold Ebiketie would be a good pick here, too, if he were still available.
37. Houston Texans
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
Justin Reid left in free agency, and Pitre is versatile, instinctive and sudden. He’d be a great fit alongside Eric Murray and Terrence Brooks. In 2021, Pitre intercepted a pair of passes, broke up four more, forced three fumbles, made 75 tackles and dropped ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage 18 times.
38. New York Jets (via CAR)
Quay Walker, ILB, Georgia
The Jets are back on the clock and can get some linebacker depth behind C.J. Mosley. Walker is a patient run defender and brings value as a coverage linebacker and/or occasional pass-rusher.
39. Chicago Bears
Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
Chicago dealt its first-round pick to the Giants last April to land Justin Fields in the draft, so this is currently the team’s first selection for 2022. Protecting Fields should be high on the priority list, and Smith is the top tackle still on the board. He has franchise-tackle upside but will require time to get there.
40. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN)
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Corral has a quick release and mobility, and he excels in the quick-passing game. Drafting a quarterback here doesn’t mean the Seahawks are out of the picture for a 2023 passer, but it gives them one more option as they navigate life after Russell Wilson.
41. Seattle Seahawks
Logan Hall, DE, Houston
Hall might be a better fit in a 3-4 scheme, but he has versatility and the ability to drive blockers back into the quarterback. Seattle opted for an offensive tackle in Round 1, so it can’t go without an edge rusher in Round 2. The Seahawks had 34 sacks last season and lack options at defensive end.
42. Indianapolis Colts (via WSH)
George Pickens, WR, Georgia
The Colts don’t have a first-rounder, but Pickens has first-round traits. A torn ACL last March pushed him into the Day 2 conversation, which means this could be a steal for Indy. He is really good at getting off press coverage, and his ability to track the deep ball might be his best skill.
43. Atlanta Falcons
Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
Cine’s instincts and ability to read receivers’ routes from a single-high alignment stand out on tape. Atlanta allowed 6.7 yards per dropback last season (26th), and it lost Duron Harmon in free agency, opening up a spot in the secondary.
44. Cleveland Browns
Travis Jones, DT, UConn
Cleveland sacrificed significant draft capital to land quarterback Deshaun Watson, but it still has three Day 2 selections. Edge rush, wide receiver and defensive tackle will likely be top targets. Jones can occupy double-teams against the run up the middle, and while he has some consistency issues, the talent is there.
45. Baltimore Ravens
Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama
Signing Michael Pierce doesn’t mean Baltimore should completely check the defensive tackle box just yet. Mathis would provide depth, and his improving interior pass-rush skills are an added bonus. He plays hard and projects as a future starter.
Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
I mentioned that the interior defensive line was something to consider when I gave Minnesota a cornerback in Round 1, but Winfrey would be an excellent pick at this point in Round 2 to satisfy that hole. The Vikings allowed 4.7 yards per carry last season, tied for third worst in the NFL. And Winfrey has the first-step quickness and active hands to shoot gaps and blow up plays in the backfield.
47. Washington Commanders (via IND)
Roger McCreary, CB, Auburn
Depth at cornerback behind William Jackson III and Kendall Fuller remains a concern for the Commanders, and McCreary excels in press-man coverage and has the ball skills to make big plays. He broke up 15 passes last season. But he will have to improve against the run, and some questions remain about his speed.
TRADE: Atlanta eyes a QB
The Bears have only six 2022 picks and lack a first-rounder. So if Atlanta calls and offers a third-rounder (No. 82) to move up from No. 58 to No. 48, new GM Ryan Poles will be intrigued. Chicago needs a receiver, but the Day 2 pool of pass-catchers is deep. And the Falcons, with nine picks this year, have some room to operate if they want to move up to get someone. That’s especially true if that someone is a quarterback.
48. Atlanta Falcons (via mock trade with CHI/LAC)
Sam Howell, QB, UNC
Marcus Mariota isn’t a long-term answer — he might not even be the short-term one — and Howell is the last of five quarterbacks in this class with any real shot of developing into an NFL starter. Like Seattle with Matt Corral, this doesn’t mean the Falcons found their guy. Howell offers them another option as they reset the roster after the Matt Ryan trade. He needs to keep working on his footwork and anticipatory throwing, but he is very accurate on deep shots, has a quick release on shorter throws and brings a bit of mobility.
John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
Michael Thomas hasn’t spent much time on the field over the past two seasons, and the Saints’ other pass-catching options don’t excite much. Quarterback Jameis Winston would really benefit from a reliable target on the outside, and Metchie is a polished route runner with soft hands. He quietly had 1,142 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches last season but suffered a knee injury in December.
John Metchie III’s NFL draft profile
Check out the best highlights that contributed to a stellar college career for Alabama’s John Metchie III.
50. Kansas City Chiefs (via MIA)
Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Running back might not be the Chiefs’ biggest need — the Clyde Edwards-Helaire first-round pick was just two years ago — but Hall would give the Kansas City offense another element. Edwards-Helaire has fumbling issues and has struggled to stay healthy, and new signee Ronald Jones II is still trying to break out heading into Year 5. Meanwhile, Hall has speed, breaks tackles, can make plays in the pass game and is an effective pass-blocker. And at No. 50 overall, this pick has value even if it’s not a true need.
David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
The Eagles traded one of their three first-rounders, but they ended up with a first-round talent in Round 2 anyway. Of course, Ojabo tore an Achilles at Michigan’s pro day, and Philadelphia can’t expect to see him much, if at all, this season. But he has a lot of upside, and his speed and suddenness cause offensive tackles a lot of issues. If the Eagles can wait out his recovery, this could end up a huge win.
Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
Terrell Edmunds could still re-sign in Pittsburgh, but even if he does, Minkah Fitzpatrick is entering the final year of his deal. The Steelers could use a talented safety on a cheap contract to protect against losing either or both of them. Brisker is at his best working near the line of scrimmage thanks to above-average tackling skills and great instincts.
53. Green Bay Packers (via LV)
Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State
More help for Aaron Rodgers! The Packers already landed Jahan Dotson and Kenyon Green, and now McBride gives them another target with great hands. He is outstanding on contested catches and can make vertical plays down the seam. Plus, McBride is a capable blocker.
Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers, and the Pats have Jalen Mills and Malcolm Butler penciled in as their starters at cornerback. Adding another playmaker there in the draft — especially one with Elam’s speed, instincts and physicality — gives New England options.
Nik Bonitto, OLB, Oklahoma
March saw Chandler Jones sign in Las Vegas and J.J. Watt turn 33 years old, so April should see Arizona draft an edge rusher. Bonitto has great bend and burst, and he compiled 15 sacks over the past two seasons at Oklahoma.
56. Dallas Cowboys
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
There’s an opening at right tackle after the Cowboys cut La’el Collins, and while Raimann will require patience as he develops, there’s no denying his power and quickness. He has allowed only four sacks on 752 career pass-block snaps.
57. Buffalo Bills
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State
Devin Singletary had a few solid games at the end of the 2021 season, but Buffalo hasn’t had a pure runner like Walker in a while. He has good speed, suddenness and contact balance. Buffalo’s 2,209 rushing yards were No. 6 in the NFL last season, but only 1,343 of those came from running backs (25th). Walker piled up 1,636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground last year on his own.
58. Chicago Bears (via mock trade with ATL/TEN)
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
This is a little bit of a reach, but the Bears can’t leave Round 2 without a receiver, and Tolbert is smooth with the speed to make vertical plays and produce after the catch. His NFL route tree will take some time to develop, but he would be a high-upside pick. Remember, Allen Robinson II signed with the Rams, leaving Darnell Mooney atop the Bears’ depth chart.
Drake Jackson, OLB, USC
Three Green Bay picks have gone toward the offense, so how about addressing the loss of Za’Darius Smith on the edge? Jackson is explosive and flexible, but he has development time ahead before he can be a true every-down defender. He generated pressure on 15% of his pass-rush snaps last season and recorded 5.5 sacks, so the Packers would likely be happy to use him as a specialist early to get after the quarterback.
Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA
Rob Gronkowski‘s future is uncertain — and he wouldn’t be a long-term option even if he decides to return — and O.J. Howard signed with the Bills. Tom Brady likes having two tight ends on the field, so bringing in Dulcich to pair with Cameron Brate would be a savvy move at this point in the draft. He’s a reliable target with big hands, suddenness and route-running savviness. Dulcich averaged 17.6 yards per catch over four seasons at UCLA.
Nick Cross, S, Maryland
Welcome to the draft, San Francisco! With Jimmie Ward entering the final year of his deal, the Niners might look to the secondary here. At 6-foot and 212 pounds, Cross has great size, center fielder speed and plenty of versatility.
62. Los Angeles Chargers (via mock trade with KC)
Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State
The Chargers already drafted Zion Johnson to man an interior spot, and Lucas could be the answer at right tackle opposite Rashawn Slater. Over his four-year career, he has 42 starts and 2,106 pass-block snaps. That’s valuable experience.
Leo Chenal, ILB, Wisconsin
Germaine Pratt is a free agent next year, and Chenal offers Cincinnati a plug-and-play candidate. He made 108 tackles last season and added eight sacks.
64. Denver Broncos (via LAR)
Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota