Are the Falcons targeting Matt Ryan’s replacement? Can the Seahawks replace Russell Wilson?

It was an unfortunate scene that changed the face of the 2022 NFL Mock Draft Tour when Michigan’s David Ojabo suffered an Achilles injury last week. Like he was #1 NFL Draft prospect on my Top 300 Big Board, it drastically changed my board and my draft simulation. As a company, we wish David the speediest of recoveries and look forward to continued success when he returns to the field.

2022 NFL Mock Draft | Choice 1-16

Now, with a clearer picture of each team’s main needs as the first week of free agency is behind us, we can place big needs for each team in the first round of this mock 2022 NFL Draft.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Jacksonville Jaguars franchise tagged Cam Robinson, but excuse me for not seeing the long-term solution to left tackle on the list. With the selection of Ikem Ekwonu at No. 1, the Jaguars now have a franchise quarterback and franchise left tackle to bank on. Ekwonu is a violent mauler who blocks the run, but showed incredible growth in pass protection last season. He’s a rock-solid starter for Day 1 with future All-Pro potential.

2) Detroit Lions: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Detroit Lions are more than a few plays away from a full roster. However, like the Jaguars above them, they can exit the 2022 NFL Draft with a franchise-changing overhaul. In this, Malik Willis is included as the team’s new franchise quarterback. Willis ticks all the boxes and provides valuable benefits at the most important position in team sports.

3) Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

With two first-round picks to work with, the Houston Texans can grab the best player available if given the opportunity now. After trading Deshaun Watson, it looks like they’re sold on Davis Mills at quarterback, at least for 2022. Even though they weren’t sold on Mills, Kayvon Thibodeaux would be the choice here if available. Improving and improving immediately is what they receive with the services of Thibodeaux.

4) New York Jets: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The New York Jets need to build around Zach Wilson to be more successful in 2022. That also includes getting better, much better on defense. Selection Kyle Hamilton gives them the proverbial “moving chess piece” on the back that they can distribute in a multitude of positions. Hamilton closes the gap in the cover and lays the wood in the running game. It’s from day 1 to the next decade and more.

5) New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Sliding to No. 5, Evan Neal doesn’t necessarily have a spot on the New York Giants roster right away. Unless, of course, he changes positions. There are other options to choose from here, but unlike other top tackle picks, Neal comes with potential positional versatility. Neal has played in multiple positions at Alabama and could slip past Andrew Thomas to become one of the best tackle duos in the league.

6) Carolina Panthers: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

The future is now, and the Carolina Panthers can’t rest on their laurels. Willis’ selection at No. 2 will ultimately accelerate the rate at which other quarterbacks are selected: Sam Howell is the choice here. Carolina is eager to see if her first pick for the position is available in Round 2. Howell also has an NFL arm and can develop his skills into an incredibly complete quarterback in the right place.

7) New York Giants (from CHI): Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The slide ends here at the end of the Giants Aidan Hutchinsonfall after the rise of the quarterback. Hutchinson has proven to exceed even the highest of expectations at every turn since returning to Michigan for the 2021 season. The Heisman Trophy finalist wins with power but has plenty of speed and pass-rush moves to bank on. He is dominant and will immediately help New York’s defense.

8) Atlanta Falcons: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, the Atlanta Falcons need weapons to get the ball rolling. Garrett Wilson is the selection here – he is the best receiver who is ready now. Wilson has all the coveted aspects around a WR1 and should immediately be considered the team’s top receiving threat alongside Kyle Pitts. Atlanta’s new QB (currently Marcus Mariota) would be happy to have this duo.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from DEN): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Like the Panthers ahead of them, the Seattle Seahawks can’t rest on their laurels either. After trading Russell Wilson to acquire that pick, the Seahawks can’t be sold on all of the work Drew Lock has done since entering the league. Sure, he might still have something left in the proverbial tank, but the upside is in selecting a new face. This face is Kenny Pickettwho is ready for the nfl now.

10) New York Jets (from SEA): Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The aforementioned building around Zach Wilson continues – on the defensive side of the ball. With Carl Lawson returning from injury, Kyle Hamilton back to safety, and now Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner at cornerback, the Jets essentially leave this draft with three showpieces on a vastly improved defense. Gardner is a locked cornerback in every sense of the word and should slip right into that CB1 role.

11) Washington Commanders: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Another quarterback might not be what you expected, but as I mentioned, Willis’ selection at No. 2 drives the price up on the rest of the quarterback class. Matt Coral comes after an injury suffered earlier in the year sidelined him from all off-season training. Still, his arm platforms are next level, as is his athleticism. Corral has Carson Wentz to help him acclimate as Wentz eventually becomes the bridge quarterback — a dear one though — for Washington’s COs.

12) Minnesota Vikings: Kaiir Elam, BC, Florida

There are plenty of cornerback options available here for the Minnesota Vikings. Kaiir Elam is the selection as the former Florida Gator has a ton of upside with his coverage versatility. He can play multiple patterns and has a knack for finding the ball; he possesses tremendous athleticism, both at the catch point and in the open space.

13) Houston Texans (from CLE): Drake London, WR, USC

Unlike most teams, the Houston Texans may not be in winning mode right now in 2022. Instead, as they continue to overhaul the entire roster and improve to a multitude of positions, the selection of Drake London makes a ton of sense. London may not be 100% on the off-season training circuit, but it looks like he’ll be ready to go to training camp. As such, the Texans also won’t need to rush him if he’s not ready to leave in August. London can jump through the roof and is the hardest catcher to tackle after the catch in this class.

14) Baltimore Ravens: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Here is the big man Georges Karlaftis as the Baltimore Ravens stop his slide here. Karlaftis is, by all means, a potential top-10 pick. But with quarterbacks on the rise, the Ravens are gifted with his serves at the No. 14 pick. Edge might not even be their primary need. But in a draft where these top defenders will be coveted, selecting Karlaftis here — or trading — is on the line. Karlaftis is formidable with his strength and balance, while also offering potential versatility to use along the defensive line.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from MIA): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Philadelphia Eagles need to improve a host of positions in their first round. With the quarterback nearly off the board for the rest of the first round, they start this run with the best sideline linebacker in the class. A beast in the middle, Devin Lloyd excels in all areas, including quarterback blitzing, filling the run and, most importantly, stopping underhand passes in coverage.

16) Philadelphia Eagles (from IND): Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

Their run continues in defense as the Eagles grab Daxton Hill from Michigan. With their second straight pick on defense, Philadelphia grabs another versatile playmaker in space who excels against both the run and the pass. Hill closes like Kyle Hamilton and also consumes a ton of space in the racing game.

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