Hutchinson Goes First in Latest GTM Mock Draft
NFL Draft - Free agency has come and gone and changed the landscape of the NFL as teams head into 100% draft mode over the coming month. Never in the recent history of the league has there been such a disdain for first-round draft picks as the Denver Broncos (Russell Wilson), Cleveland Browns (Deshaun Watson), Las Vegas Raiders (Davante Adams), and Miami Dolphins (Tyreek Hill) joined the Chicago Bears (Justin Fields), San Francisco 49ers (Trey Lance), Indianapolis Colts (Carson Wentz), and Los Angeles Rams (Matthew Stafford) as teams without high-profile draft selections in 2022.
What does this mean for the NFL draft next month? Let's dig into that. Before I start this mock draft, let's set some ground rules about what this no trade mock draft will be based on:
- the player's Grinding the Mocks Expected Draft Position (EDP).
- the drafting team's most mocked players and positions.
- the drafting regime's history of selecting players earlier or later than EDP.
- the approximate breakdown of players by Expected Draft Round for actual first-round draft selections at this point in the draft process.
According to this chart, this mock draft should approximately include:
- 24 players with a first-round Expected Draft Round.
- six players with a second-round Expected Draft Round.
- two players with a third-round Expected Draft Round.
And here goes nothing!
As always, Football Outsiders' 2022 NFL draft coverage is presented by Underdog Fantasy!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, ER, Michigan
Like a boomerang, Aidan Hutchinson is back atop the mock draft mountaintop. The Jaguars addressed the offensive line with the franchise tagging of Cam Robinson and the free-agent signing of Brandon Scherff. Pair that with the rise of Evan Neal and Ike Ekwonu not quite having the staying power that many mock drafters were predicting and Hutchinson seems poised to be the favorite to be the No. 1 pick come draft night.
2. Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, ER, Georgia
Travon Walker was the biggest riser from this year's scouting combine according to Grinding the Mocks data. Walker not only played on a stacked National Championship-winning Georgia defense but tested as a 99th-percentile athlete. There are lots of questions about Walker's tape, but he's the definition of a high-risk and high-reward player that a team like the Lions who are hungry for pass-rush help would gladly take a chance on.
3. Houston Texans: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
If you had told me before the season that Evan Neal would be overtaken as the OT1 in the 2022 class, I don't think I would have believed you. But that's the draft process for you. Ekwonu even had a little moment where he was thought of as potentially in line for the No. 1 overall pick, but he falls right into the Texans' lap. Houston needs help along both trenches as they jump headfirst into a post-Deshaun Watson world.
4. New York Jets: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The talented Alabama offensive lineman and Grinding the Mocks' preseason OT1 doesn't have to wait too long for his name to be called after Ikem Ekwonu's name comes off the board. Drafting Evan Neal would mean that the Jets have used first-round selections on offensive linemen for three straight years: tackle Mekhi Becton out of Louisville at pick 11 in 2020, guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in a surprise trade out of USC at pick 14 in 2021, and now Neal. Pair that with the signing of Laken Tomlinson, and Zach Wilson should be well protected in 2022.
5. New York Giants: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Ahmad Gardner, also known as "Sauce," being the New York Giants' first overall selection under new general manager Joe Schoen would signal a change from the more traditional philosophy of former general manager and hog molly aficionado David Gettleman. Gardner played himself into this position in 2022 and would be the highest-drafted cornerback since Jeffrey Okudah went at pick 3 to the Detroit Lions in 2020. The Giants hope that Gardner hits the ground running immediately as they move to acquire players at premium positions and James Bradberry's status on the roster is in flux.
6. Carolina Panthers: Kayvon Thibodeaux, ER, Oregon
The Panthers ignored positional needs at quarterback and offensive tackle with their draft selections in 2021, when Ohio State's Justin Fields and Northwestern's Rashawn Slater were both available but they selected South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. They continue that trend in 2022 by drafting the Grinding the Mocks' preseason ER1 Kayvon Thibodeaux, who will immediately offer a pass-rushing option across from 2019 selection Brian Burns, whose talent can't be ignored. Thibodeaux has had a vexing draft process after a solid true junior season at Oregon and has been rumored to potentially fall out of the top 10.
7. New York Giants (*): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
The second big surprise of this mock is the Giants returning to the trenches to draft a lineman, but not necessarily the one people are thinking of. Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning's stock is rising quickly, and he could potentially leapfrog Mississippi State's Charles Cross for the OT3 crown. While he's not one of the top two tackles in this draft class, Penning will offer Daniel Jones' newly revamped offensive line the best pass protection he has had in his time with the Giants as his career hangs in the balance.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
This was already a likely selection, but when Calvin Ridley was suspended for the 2022 NFL season, it became a necessity. Garrett Wilson provides a contrasting style of play to the big-bodied TE/WR hybrid Kyle Pitts that the Falcons drafted with the fourth overall pick in last year's draft while also offering Marcus Mariota (or whatever other quarterback the Falcons' front office decides to bring in, whether it's in the 2022 class or the 2023 class) a better option than Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe, or Auden Tate. Talk about killing two stones with one bird, and especially when that bird has been the consensus Grinding the Mocks' WR1 through pretty much the entire draft process.
9. Seattle Seahawks (*): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The first quarterback domino falls and it's Malik Willis. Teams will tantalize over Willis' tools as both a passer and as an athlete, but should be patient with him as Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson either sat behind backups or took multiple seasons to grow into the players they are today. The upside with Malik Willis is undeniable, but the lack of consistent play during his time at Liberty is important to consider in the evaluation and projection of how he might translate to the NFL.
10. New York Jets (*): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
The player that many draftniks believe might be the best in the draft falls to No. 10? What gives? It's all about positional value, and while safety play is crucial to combatting modern passing attacks, even great prospects such as current Los Angeles Charger Derwin James have fallen in the draft previously, and Kyle Hamilton didn't perform well enough at the combine or his pro day to allay all concerns. Still, top 10!
11. Washington Commanders: Drake London, WR, USC
With Carson Wentz newly in the fold, attention will turn in Washington to adding weapons around him to help him making the most out of this trade to bring him to D.C. An injury that cost Drake London five games was the only thing stopping him from being a Biletnikoff Award finalist, but it didn't stop him from being named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Commanders fans and Wentz as well will love having a big-bodied target like London running routes, and Terry McLaurin will finally have a legitimate threat alongside him.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
The biggest question for me when trying to predict new Vikings' general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's draft strategy is whether he'll be more of a John Lynch drafter or more of an Andrew Berry drafter? Here, I go with a mixed strategy: Andrew Berry for the love of cornerbacks and John Lynch by doing a little bit of a reach for the particular player. The Vikings need coverage help after relying on the Ghost of Coverage Past in Patrick Peterson and missing big on TCU's Jeff Gladney in 2020. McDuffie provides just that.
13. Houston Texans (*): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
When I mocked NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu to the Texans, I said that the Texans need help on both lines, and I don't aim to disappoint. I left Jordan Davis out of my last mock and boy did he make me look stupid by putting on a show at the combine, especially given his weight and speed! Like his Georgia teammate Travon Walker, Davis has the potential to be more than the sum of his college production, and the Texans are counting on that as they move forward into an uncertain yet hopeful future.
14. Baltimore Ravens: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Injuries ravaged the Ravens' in 2021, especially their secondary. Don't believe me? The Ravens were No. 1 in Football Outsiders' adjusted games lost metric in 2021. And what do the Ravens like to do in the draft? Let great players fall to them. Derek Stingley has immense Jalen Ramsey-esque potential but has suffered from injuries and a lack of consistent play when on the field. The Ravens will bet on that any day.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (*): Jermaine Johnson, ER, Florida State
Pick 15 is the first of a slew of draft selections by the Eagles. I would be willing to bet that one of these picks will get traded on draft night, but if they aren't, I think drafting a lineman of some sort is definitely in play, and Jermaine Johnson fits the bill as the top pass-rusher available. Johnson started his college career on a Georgia defense that was so talented that he had to transfer to a new school to get playing time, and now he's a first-round draft pick. What a world!
16. Philadelphia Eagles (*): Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
In my last mock draft, I referred to the Eagles' selection of TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor in 2020 as a sunk cost, and I stand by that statement. Jameson Williams would probably not be available at this point if it weren't for an ACL injury that he sustained in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, but the Eagles can afford to be a little patient. With a quarterback on a rookie deal that has a lot to prove in Jalen Hurts, this is a move with high upside that could take the Eagles' offense to even greater heights.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Chargers used free agency to add proven talent in ER Khalil Mack and cornerback J.C. Jackson, giving them maximum flexibility to select the best player available. In this case, it's Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, whom many draftniks consider to be the best pure pass blocker in the draft class. With Rashawn Slater on the left side and Cross on the right, Justin Herbert should have plenty of pass protection to put up the number of points the Chargers will need to compete in the AFC West, now the NFL's premier division.
18. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
QB2 finally comes off the board? How many more quarterbacks will get selected in this mock draft? Read ahead to find out! The re-signing of Jameis Winston should not be viewed as a long-term option at quarterback, and the Saints could use the salary cap relief and franchise-changing upside that a good quarterback on a rookie deal can bring. Pickett fits that bill and would provide better replacement value than Taysom Hill, although that's not too hard to do.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes this was written before the Saints signed Andy Dalton.)
19. Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
I debated between leaving Tyler Linderbaum off this mock draft completely or using this pick to have the Eagles finally draft a linebacker in the first round, and decided to do the most likely occurrence in this mock draft. The Eagles were lucky to get one more year of Jason Kelce, but who knows if he or how long he can sustain his high level of play at his age. The Eagles have never shied away from drafting a player a year ahead of schedule and could easily keep 2021 second-rounder Landon Dickerson at guard while Linderbaum fits seamlessly into the center role. Or this pick could be traded and this is entirely moot.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
The Steelers either telegraph their moves ahead of time, like their interest in 2021 RB1 Najee Harris; trade up for a player right at their EDP, a la 2019 Devin Bush; or completely surprise, like in 2018 with their selection of Virginia Tech safety Terrell Edmunds. With the top quarterbacks off the board and Mitchell Trubisky and a handful of tried-and-true backups in hand, the Steelers go with an offensive lineman with upside in Tulsa's Tyler Smith, another of Grinding the Mocks' biggest risers from the NFL combine. Smith is viewed as a player that, with more refinement in his technique and better coaching, could really take his game to the next level as an NFL player, which the Steelers love to bet on.
21. New England Patriots: Zion Johnson, G, Boston College
If I wrote an article about the biggest risers coming out of the Senior Bowl, it likely would have contained Zion Johnson, the versatile lineman from Boston College who started his college football career at Davidson, a school known more for its basketball program than its football program. With the trade of Shaq Mason to the Buccaneers and the loss of Ted Karras to the Bengals in free agency, there's a big hole to fill on the interior offensive line. The Patriots could also address wide receiver or even cornerback here, but they usually like to do that later in the draft and use their first-round pick on a lineman instead.
22. Green Bay Packers (*): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Packers drafting a wide receiver in the first round? Did hell freeze over, or just Lambeau Field? With the loss of Davante Adams, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Marquez Valdez-Scantling in trade and free agency, the wide receiver cupboard in Green Bay is bare. Despite not wowing at the NFL combine, Treylon Burks can do some of the same things that Adams did as the Packers try to provide Aaron Rodgers with cheap offensive weapons that Matt LaFleur can utilize in their offensive system. The Packers' 2022 hopes and beyond depend on it.
23. Arizona Cardinals: Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Draftniks are sleeping on Andrew Booth. Maybe it's because of an injury that stopped him from performing at the NFL combine or his pro day, but the onetime contender for CB1 is still a formidable player that many a quarterback largely stayed away from during a dominant 2021 season for the Clemson defense. The Cardinals have been skating by on bargain-bin cornerbacks of late and could use an infusion of talent, especially after using their last two first-round picks on hybrid safety/linebackers that haven't made enough of an impact.
24. Dallas Cowboys: George Karlaftis, ER, Purdue
George Karlaftis, the American football version of the "Greek Freak," largely disappointed at the NFL combine, but luckily his great tape is his saving grace. The Cowboys could use help on both lines and at wide receiver too, with Amari Cooper being traded to the Browns for draft compensation. Ultimately, they pick the best player available, and in this case, it's Karlaftis by a mile. Like I said in my last mock draft, prepare for the Ryan Kerrigan comparisons given their shared alma mater.
25. Buffalo Bills: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Bills learned the hard way the value of a good secondary in 2021 when they lost top cornerback Tre'Davious White to injury. Despite fielding the top defense by DVOA, the Buffalo Bills were gashed in the playoffs by the Chiefs' passing attack. They need to reload in the secondary in the 2022 draft like they reloaded their defensive line depth in 2021, and they can do that by drafting the second of two highly regarded Washington cornerbacks: Kyler Gordon. Gordon might have tested a little bit slower than expected, but the Bills have no problem with that when he has the feisty and physical style of play they're looking for.
26. Tennessee Titans: Dylan Parham, G, Memphis
Surprise! There are always a couple of players whose draft selection comes out of left field. In this case, the Senior Bowl standout from Memphis stays in-state to suit up for the Titans. Parham has the trajectory of a player who has a good chance of having a Round 2 Expected Draft Position by draft day, and the Titans need interior offensive line reinforcements at both center and guard, so it's a match. Wide receiver could also be on the docket given their failed Julio Jones experiment.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma
With the impending loss of Ndamukong Suh in free agency, another Senior Bowl standout makes the first round in Oklahoma's Perrion Winfrey. With Tom Brady back onboard the Buccaneers express, and the re-signing of key players at wide receiver, guard, and cornerback, defensive line seemed like the best natural fit. With the emergence of 2021 first-round selection Joe Tryon-Shoyinka at edge rusher, the Buccaneers feel comfortable slating someone in the middle of the defensive line to help bring back the level of defense that won Super Bowl LV.
28. Green Bay Packers: Arnold Ebiketie, ER, Penn State
Another wide receiver is too much to ask, but a pass-rusher? That I can do! Having filled their interior defensive line needs in free agency, adding an edge rusher to fill the void of losing Za'Darius Smith in free agency to the Minnesota Vikings is a possibility for the Packers. Joe Barry's defense could use a player with the physical and football skills of Ebiketie, who shone at Penn State this year after transferring from in-state Temple and wowed at the Senior Bowl.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (*): Jahan Dotson, WR, Ohio State
You're going to hear plenty of comparisons of Jahan Dotson to Tyreek Hill based on his size and speed, so it makes sense that he could be in play for the Chiefs given their lack of depth at the position. Despite signing Marquez Valdez-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Chiefs lack a player who, like Hill, could play all over the field of play, and Dotson is NFL-ready.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: David Ojabo, ER, Michigan
I view this selection similar to that of Jameson Williams: "How often is a prospect this good available at a pick this late?" A long-term view of Ojabo's potential makes him the pick here for me. There are other edge rushers like Boye Mafe from Minnesota or maybe a defensive back like Daxton Hill, but taking a swing on a player like Ojabo when another former Wolverine in Frank Clark is likely playing his last season for the team would be a smart decision.
31. Cincinnati Bengals: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
Did I say Daxton Hill? Fielding an average to above-average offensive line after the free agency period saw Cincinnati bring in Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and La'el Collins, the Bengals can turn their attention to their defense after spending three straight first-round draft picks on offensive players (offensive tackle Jonah Williams in 2019, quarterback Joe Burrow in 2020, and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase in 2021). Hill offers flexibility to both make plays in the slot as a cornerback and in the deeper part of the field as a safety too. I don't necessarily view him as a replacement for Jessie Bates but it can't hurt.
32. Detroit Lions (*): Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
Why fit a quarterback in here with the very last pick? If the player turns out to be a success, then the team has access to his fifth-year option. Have a player like Nakobe Dean or Devin Lloyd that you covet? No worries, one if not both of them would probably be available when the Lions pick next at pick 34 in Round 2. So why not take a shot on a quarterback like Desmond Ridder, who offers a lot more upside than Jared Goff at this point in the franchise's rebuild? This pick could also be a prime trade-out point for the same previous reasons.
|Mock Draft Results (Expected Draft Position Data as of 3/28/2022)|
|3||HOU||Ikem Ekwonu||OT||NC State||5|
|7||NYG*||Trevor Penning||OT||Northern Iowa||17|
|8||ATL||Garrett Wilson||WR||Ohio State||8|
|10||NYJ*||Kyle Hamilton||S||Notre Dame||6|
|15||PHI*||Jermaine Johnson||ER||Florida State||13|
|17||LAC||Charles Cross||OT||Mississippi State||9|
|21||NE||Zion Johnson||G||Boston College||23|
|28||GB||Arnold Ebiketie||ER||Penn State||38|
|29||KC*||Jahan Dotson||WR||Penn State||32|
Benjamin Robinson is a data scientist living in Washington D.C., and the creator of Grinding the Mocks, a project that tracks how NFL prospects fare in mock drafts. You can follow him on Twitter @benj_robinson and find the Grinding the Mocks project at grindingthemocks.com.
16 comments, Last at 30 Mar 2022, 12:05pm
#1 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 29, 2022 - 3:15pm
- the drafting team's most mocked players and positions.
One of those places where English is a weird language.
The other football place where this crops up badly is when a player's contract is up. Without a hyphen or hearing it spoken aloud,
"X resigns" is really hard to parse.
#6 by ddoubleday // Mar 29, 2022 - 5:07pm
Kevin Colbert has never done that, in 20 years. I don't believe he'll break that streak. He likes to find tackles in later rounds. All signs point to QB for them, though; trade up is a distinct possibility.
I believe they could go WR or DL if they don't trade up and someone they view as special drops to 20.
#7 by Joey-Harringto… // Mar 29, 2022 - 5:25pm
I have several friends who are 49ers fans, and they claim from their experience with Trent Baalke as GM, that he has an obsession with measurables. Specifically that he has a fetish for long arms, and that they would be shocked if Baalke is in on Hutchinson and his T-Rex arms. Not that this is a rigorous poll or a window into Baalke's mind, but just food for thought.
#9 by BigRichie // Mar 29, 2022 - 6:10pm
They couldn't get any of their regular writers to write a 'each and every draft pick is gonna be SO!!! good!' article.
As Honest Abe noted some 150+ years back, 'some people you can fool all the time'. Who knew Abe was playing in a Dynasty roto league?
#12 by Mike B. In Va // Mar 29, 2022 - 7:49pm
Yeah, I can't see that, either. I find it more likely they trade up in the 2nd to get the corner they want, if the draft falls this way. Beane is very much "draft for need only if BPA on your chart isn't there".
#16 by mehllageman56 // Mar 30, 2022 - 12:05pm
Given that Tannenbaum drafted Revis, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Kerry Rhodes, he had his share of hits as a GM as well as misses. The problem is that Tannenbaum isn't a personnel guy; he's a cap/trade guy, so he was only part of a team. Terry Bradway and Joey Clinkscales were the ones scouting and advocating for players while Tannenbaum was in NY.