2022 NFL Mock Draft: Final projections before Round 1

Photo illustration by Nick Roy/theScore

Draft day is here.

Before we get to the real thing, let's take one last look at how things could shake out. And with so many teams having traded out of the opening round this year, we've also included projections for each of those clubs' first pick.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

The buzz around Walker going to the Jaguars with the No. 1 pick can't be ignored. This could prove to be a reach - needing to project pass-rush value due to a lack of college production isn't ideal - but it's also easy to see why Jacksonville would be willing to take this swing for a potential home run. Walker is a phenomenal athlete with all the tools to make good on this draft position. It may take some time, but the payoff could be worth the wait.

2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

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The front office in Detroit will certainly be thrilled to grab local product Hutchinson at No. 2. The Michigan star was projected as the top pick for the majority of the draft cycle and boasts the best college production of any top edge prospect. Hutchinson should thrive in Dan Campbell's system and give the Lions some serious pop on defense.

3. Houston Texans - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Despite hearing throughout the draft cycle that teams have concerns about the two years that followed his incredible freshman season at LSU, Stingley now seems like a great beat to go in this spot. Might this just be the media catching up to the way NFL teams saw him all along? Stingley is a foundational talent for a Texans defense that needs help everywhere.

4. New York Jets - Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Jets were a middle-of-the-pack rushing team in 2022, something immediately addressed with the addition of the physical Ekwonu at No. 4. The NC State product is arguably the best run-blocker in the draft and should also beef up the pass protection for second-year quarterback Zach Wilson.

5. New York Giants - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Giants would have to be thrilled that Neal, a rock-solid offensive tackle prospect with a clear case as the best overall player in this draft, falls to them at No. 5. Whether they play him at right tackle or move Andrew Thomas to that spot so Neal can play on the left, the Alabama standout would be a Day 1 impact starter.

6. Carolina Panthers - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

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The Panthers need a quarterback, but with nobody in this draft worth a top-10 pick, Carolina opts to shore up the offensive line with Cross. The Mississippi State standout shines in pass protection and should represent a significant upgrade at tackle, regardless of who's standing behind him at quarterback.

7. Giants (via CHI) - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Having two picks in the top seven gives New York a real chance to come away with two blue-chip players. After landing a marquee offensive tackle at No. 5, Gardner provides the Giants a similar level of upside at a similarly valuable position.

8. Atlanta Falcons - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

It's likely we look back in a few years in utter disbelief that Thibodeaux fell to No. 8 in the draft. The Oregon star began last season as a projected top-three selection but has dropped slightly during the cycle this year. Thibodeaux is as talented as any player on the board and immediately gives the Falcons an edge rusher the rest of the division will fear.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via DEN) - Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

Johnson would fit in a Seahawks defense that needs playmakers in the worst way. A pro-ready rusher who can thrive in an every-down role from the jump, the Florida State product is flying under the radar as part of a talented edge rusher class.

10. Jets (via SEA) - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

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Watch Williams' tape, and it's clear he possesses the elite speed to be a dominant weapon in the NFL. The Alabama star spent all season pulling away from would-be tacklers to help the Crimson Tide reach the national title game. Unfortunately, a torn ACL will likely keep Williams out to start the season, but once he's healthy, he should immediately give the Jets a big-play threat.

11. Washington Commanders - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Hamilton shouldn't fall too far despite an underwhelming 40 time, but a mini slide gives Washington plenty of value here at No. 11. The Notre Dame star is a foundational player who would fit in nicely alongside Kamren Curl on the back end.

12. Minnesota Vikings - Drake London, WR, USC

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound London is a quarterback's dream thanks to his absurd catch radius. He absolutely dominates 50-50 balls and uses his elite size brilliantly to overpower undersized cornerbacks. The Vikings have a potential out in Adam Thielen's contract after this season. London emerging as a great complement to Justin Jefferson should make that decision quite easy after 2022.

13. Texans (via CLE) - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

If the Texans are going to build around Davis Mills, giving him the weapons he needs to succeed will be a major priority. Wilson is a dynamic target who has the ball skills to dominate at the catch point and the run-after-catch ability to turn short gains into explosive plays.

14. Baltimore Ravens - George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

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While he lacks elite length, Karlaftis uses power as well as any pass-rusher in this year's class. The Purdue star is fundamentally sound and should be an exceptional complement to Odafe Oweh.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA) - Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

The interior defensive line isn't necessarily an immediate need for the Eagles, but solidifying the future of that position with Davis is too good of an opportunity to pass up. Prospects with this combination of size and athleticism don't come around very often, if ever. Davis can single-handedly ruin an opponent's running game, and there's potential for him to make an impact as a pass-rusher, too.

16. New Orleans Saints (via PHI, IND) - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

While he won't blow you away with his size, Olave is an exceptional route-runner who can burn almost any defensive back with his speed. He immediately brings a solid one-two Ohio State punch to New Orleans alongside Michael Thomas and should be able to produce solid numbers in his rookie campaign.

17. Los Angeles Chargers - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Penning isn't nearly as refined as the tackles drafted ahead of him - and perhaps even some of those selected after - but his rare athletic profile gives him an outstanding ceiling. With rare movement skills and a nasty on-field demeanor, he could be a phenomenal bookend to 2021 first-round left tackle Rashawn Slater.

18. Eagles (via NO) - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

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At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Burks is a solid complement to the wiry DeVonta Smith in Philadelphia. Arkansas used the standout junior all over the field and in a variety of ways, including some time as a wildcat QB. While he'll need time to develop as a pure receiver, Burks can be a weapon from Day 1 in the right system.

19. Saints (via PHI) - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

It seems possible, if not likely, that the Saints will use their pair of first-rounders on a receiver and an offensive lineman. With Jameis Winston back on a two-year deal, selecting a quarterback isn't necessarily a lock. But with the top tackles off the board, why not take a swing on Willis here? He'll need some time to make the most of his incredible physical gifts, and the Saints can afford to be patient in hopes of finding a new long-term starter under center.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers - Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Ridder finished his career at Cincinnati with the third-most wins by a quarterback in college football history. That pedigree embodies exactly what the Steelers look for in a quarterback. While he doesn't pop with the physical attributes of someone like Willis, Ridder's complete package should translate to a solid starting quarterback for years in Pittsburgh.

21. New England Patriots - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Patriots are tough to predict. A trade down is always possible - and probably New England's preference - but would anyone really need to trade up to this particular spot? Linebacker stands out as a glaring need with the team seemingly having moved on from Dont'a Hightower, and Lloyd is a logical fit as a new long-term leader in the middle.

22. Green Bay Packers (via LV) - Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

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After watching Dotson play for Penn State, it's almost impossible to believe he's only 5-foot-11. The Nittany Lions star high points the ball as well as anybody in the draft and has several incredible contested catches on his game film. He immediately will step in and become a favorite target for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

23. Arizona Cardinals - Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

The Cardinals desperately need to make upgrades on the interior defensive front, both in terms of run defense and pass rush. Wyatt, yet another standout from a stacked Georgia defense, can be an every-down player right away.

24. Dallas Cowboys - Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

While he played both tackle and guard in college, Johnson should immediately step in as a Day 1 starter on the interior of the Cowboys' line. Johnson's size and length are ideal, and his ability to read the game from the guard position should make him a solid starter in the NFC East for years.

25. Buffalo Bills - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

McDuffie falling to this spot would be a surprise, but it's certainly possible that a lack of length gives teams pause. The Bills would be happy to see the board fall this way, though, as he would be an outstanding fit as a starter opposite Tre'Davious White. It's one of the few remaining needs on a loaded roster.

26. Tennessee Titans - Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

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Green played all across the line for Texas A&M, seeing time at four of the five offensive line positions during the 2021 season. The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder shines in pass protection and is a willing run-blocker that should help open up holes for Derrick Henry in Tennessee.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Travis Jones, DT, Connecticut

Tom Brady came back, some free agents followed, and all of a sudden, the Bucs just don't have many needs. At this point, it seems like a lock that they'll go defensive line or offensive line. Jones would give Tampa Bay another great run defender next to Vita Vea. Don't sleep on his ability to get after the quarterback, either.

28. Packers - Logan Hall, DL, Houston

Hall has been a late riser on draft boards thanks to his potential, but he'll need to add size to play at the defensive tackle spot in the NFL. Hall's quickness and explosiveness are his calling card in disrupting the opposition's game plan, and with a little seasoning, he could be a difference-maker in Green Bay.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (via MIA, SF) - Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Allowing Tyrann Mathieu to walk in free agency leaves the Chiefs without one of the NFL's most versatile defenders on the back end. Though he'd likely play more cornerback than safety, Gordon has a similar do-it-all element to his game.

30. Chiefs - Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

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Ebiketie will bring endless energy to Kansas City at the No. 30 slot. The Penn State star is an elite athlete with excellent speed who thrives in pass-rushing downs. That's a great fit for a Chiefs team that spends a lot of time in the lead with the opposition playing catch-up.

31. Cincinnati Bengals - Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Bengals made a point of upgrading the offensive line in free agency, signing three veterans to fill starting spots. That won't necessarily keep them from adding another in this spot, but the pick would be better utilized by filling a glaring need at corner. With Elam joining Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton, the position group could become another strength of an increasingly strong roster.

32. Lions (via LAR) - Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Yes, he's undersized, but there's no player with more impressive game tape in the draft than Dean. The star of Georgia's dominant defense is one of the smartest players we've seen in recent memory, with his ability to read the game keeping him one or two steps ahead of everyone else. His ability and leadership are exactly what Campbell is looking for in Detroit.

Teams without 1st-round pick

39. Chicago Bears - George Pickens, WR, Georgia

The Bears have to make a point of surrounding Justin Fields with weapons. When your first pick isn't until early in the second round, what better way to do so than by taking a chance on a big-bodied playmaker who could return first-round value.

42. Indianapolis Colts - Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

Moore is a perfect complement to Michael Pittman in Indianapolis and should immediately provide Matt Ryan with a solid playmaker on offense. The 5-foot-10 receiver is stronger than his 195-pound frame suggests and will be a problem for AFC South defensive backs from the start.

44. Cleveland Browns - David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan

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Ojabo likely would have been a first-round pick if not for a torn Achilles suffered during his pro day workout. The injury likely means that he'll miss most, if not all, of his rookie season, but this could be a good way for the Browns to find a long-term running mate for Myles Garrett.

61. San Francisco 49ers - Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska

The 49ers need versatility on the back end, something Taylor-Britt brings out of Nebraska. The three-year starter is one of the more aggressive defensive backs in the draft and would be a strong fit for San Francisco at No. 61.

64. Denver Broncos - Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

After parting with their first- and second-round selections as part of the Russell Wilson trade, the Broncos aren't scheduled to pick until the end of the second round. The front seven should be the focus when they finally are on the clock, and Tindall would be an immediate starter at inside linebacker.

86. Las Vegas Raiders - Matthew Butler, DL, Tennessee

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The Raiders bring in Butler to fill a need after significant turnover on the interior of the defensive line. The Tennessee standout is a steady player who fills gaps when needed and flashes potential to play full time going forward.

102. Miami Dolphins - Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati

The Dolphins' roster is in great shape now after a busy offseason, highlighted by the Tyreek Hill trade that left them without a pick until this spot late in the third round. Sanders would need to add some size to be a full-time player on the edge, but he could still provide plenty of value as a sub-package pass-rusher in the meantime.

104. Los Angeles Rams - Amare Barno, EDGE, Virginia Tech

The Rams find themselves without a pick in the top 100, but the Super Bowl ring on their fingers more than makes up for that. The biggest need in Los Angeles is depth to help replace Von Miller, something that Barno provides. The Virginia Tech standout ran a blistering 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine and could be a brilliant pick if he delivers on his athletic potential.

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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Final projections before Round 1
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