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2022 NFL Draft: Nathaniel Gonzo’s First Round Mock

1). JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Aidan Hutchinson (DE, Michigan)

One year ago, I asked how Urban Meyer’s transition into the NFL would go for Jacksonville. My question was answered and once again the Jags are the worst team in the league. They found their quarterback and now they turn their attention to finding a playmate for Josh Allen.

2). DETROIT LIONS – Kyle Hamilton (S, Notre Dame)

Detroit can go anywhere with this pick. That being said, this is a situation where they should go for the best player available. Hamilton was a stud at Notre Dame, and while his 4.5 40-yard dash was underwhelming, he can more than make up for it on the field in Dan Campbell’s 3-4 defense.

3). HOUSTON TEXANS – Keyvon Thibodeaux (DE, Oregon)

Houston has many areas that need to be addressed, but they can start with their pass rush, which should fit into Lovie Smith’s defensive background. Thibodeaux has a proven body of work at Oregon that earned him a unanimous All-American selection this past season.

4). NEW YORK JETS – Ahmad Gardner (CB, Cincinnati)

Among the laundry list of needs the Jets have, drafting a future CB1 should be on the top of that list for Robert Saleh. Gardner has undoubtedly been the best corner in college football this past season and should be a welcome fit in the Big Apple.

5). NEW YORK GIANTS – Ikem Ekwonu (OT, North Carolina State)

The Giants are always in need of better offensive linemen and Ekwonu has the potential to be a week 1 starter. Plainly speaking this man is a bully who can flatten opposing edge rusher. If his unanimous All-American selection means anything then the Giants would be wise to secure him as their franchise left tackle.

6). CAROLINA PANTHERS – Malik Willis (QB, Liberty)

I feel for Sam Darnold, I really do, but its apparent to everyone and their mother that he is not destined to be the Panthers long-term solution at quarterback. In what is supposedly a weak class of quarterbacks, Willis has garnered rave reviews for his mobility and arm strength, but will need work on the more intangible aspects of his game.

7). NEW YORK GIANTS (CHI) – Travon Walker (DE, Georgia)

Walker has been shooting up draft boards these past few weeks, but I’m always wary of combine warriors. I’m willing to put him as the third best edge rusher in this draft, and a great fit for the Giants.

8). ATLANTA FALCONS – Garrett Wilson (WR, Ohio State)

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are gone, and Calvin Ridley may be on his way out as well. The Falcons seem committed to Marcus Mariota in the short term and should at least try to add some offensive weapons, either for him or the next guy coming later.

9). SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (DEN) – Evan Neal (OT, Alabama)

Seattle is now officially in a rebuild and has a plethora of needs, but the Seahawks need to address their awful o-line that drove Russell Wilson out of town. Regardless of who is behind center, the blind side of the line needs to be reinforced.

10). NEW YORK JETS (SEA) – Drake London (WR, Southern California)

A former basketball player, London possesses a desirable frame and build that could make him a future WR1 wherever he goes. If he is available here, the Jets must pounce on him and give Zach Wilson a go-to target to aid in his development.

11). WASHINGTON COMMANDERS – Chris Olave (WR, Ohio State)

“The madman often tells the truth.” Ancient proverbs aside, there have been rumblings about Washington’s interest in Chris Olave. It would make sense for the Commanders to take some pressure off Scary Terry and give Commander Carson a new target to throw to.

12). MINNESOTA VIKINGS – Derek Stingley Jr. (CB, Louisiana State)

Stingley has been a starter at LSU since he was a freshmen, and despite his injury history and uneven body of work, demonstrated himself to be a shutdown corner. Perhaps even more impressive are reports that he could hold his own in practice against the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. If healthy, Stingley is a future CB1.

13). HOUSTON TEXANS (CLE) – Trent McDuffie (CB, Washington)

Despite missing out on Gardner and Stingley, Trent McDuffie is a versatile corner who made a name for himself as being quick and hard hitting, being rated the best tackling corner by PFF. He’s also mature and smart to boot, good fit for a Texans team starting from scratch.

14). BALTIMORE RAVENS – Charles Cross (OT, Mississippi State)

With the loss of Orlando Brown Jr. last year and questions about Ronnie Stanley’s durability, the Ravens need to refocus their efforts on protecting Lamar Jackson. Addressing his blind side would be a good first step, and Cross has proven to possess the athleticism and awareness to excel in that role.

15). PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (IND) – Devin Lloyd (LB, Utah)

Lloyd possesses the right combination of intelligence and athleticism that would be a welcome addition to any defense. The Eagles would be wise to pounce on him if he’s still available at this spot.

16). NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (PHI) – Trevor Penning (OT, Northern Iowa)

The Saints off-season fire sale has resulted in them trading away franchise tackle Terron Armstead. In comes Trevor Penning, an intriguing small school prospect who has wowed scouts with his athleticism and warrior-like intensity.

17). LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – Tyler Smith (OT, Tulsa)

Another small school tackle prospect, the Chargers would be wise to invest in protecting Justin Herbert along the right side of the offensive line, with Rashawn Slater anchoring the left flank.

18). PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (NO) – Kaiir Elam (CB, Florida)

Adding another corner opposite Darius Slay would certainly help bolster the Eagles secondary, a group that finished just outside the top 10 in passing yards allowed per-game.

19). NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (PHI) – Jordan Davis (DT, Georgia)

While defensive tackle may not be a pressing need for New Orleans, good pass rushers are always at a premium in the modern league and it wouldn’t hurt the team to add such a vaunted lineman along the interior if the opportunity presented itself.

20). PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh)

While they did sign Mitch Trubisky, that should by no means guarantee him the starting job. Big Ben is gone and this team needs to find its next signal caller, and where better to look than a home grown product who can apparently manipulate the size of his hand.

21). NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – Andrew Booth Jr. (CB, Clemson)

The loss of J.C. Jackson delt a massive blow to the Patriots defense, and his replacement must be sought after immediately. Andrew Booth is certainly an athletic corner, but he’ll need to learn to not always rely on it to bail him out of trouble, and who better to teach him that than Bill Belichick.

22). GREEN BAY PACKERS (LV) – Jermaine Johnson II (DE, Florida State)

I know its unrealistic that JJ2  is still here but if he is then wow what a steal he would be for any team, especially Green Bay. The loss of Za’Darius Smith (to a division rival no less) would’ve hurt a lot more had it not been for getting this pick from the Raiders.

23). ARIZONA CARDINALS – Bernhard Raimann (OT, Central Michigan)

Unfortunately for Arizona, being a playoff team means picking later in the round. By this point the premiere corners and pass rushers will be gone, so it only makes sense for the Cardinals to address another need and help protect Kyler Murray (if he’s still their guy).

24). DALLAS COWBOYS – Zion Johnson (IOL, Boston College)

This off-season has felt strangely quiet for Dallas, but one area they could address is left guard, probably because that’s what Jerry Jones literally said they’d do. Zion’s strength and stout stature give him the edge in the trenches, and can be considered a week one starter.

25). BUFFALO BILLS – Breece Hall (RB, Iowa State)

Buffalo is a team that feels like it has every base covered, and with that they have the opportunity to splurge and treat themselves to something fancy. That being said, bolstering the backfield by drafting a true RB1 could be the cherry on top for such a talented offense and help take the load off Josh Allen.

26). TENNESSEE TITANS – Matt Corral (QB, Mississippi)

Ryan Tannehill really didn’t look great last season, and that’s putting it lightly when you consider his abysmal three-interception game against the Bengals in the playoffs. He’s always been average at-best and is turning 34 this summer, time to give him an understudy.

27). TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Devonte Wyatt (DT, Georgia)

With Tom Brady coming back, the Bucs feel like a complete team, which like the Bills allows them to splurge a little. Here would be a good opportunity for Todd Bowels to improve his defense and get a defensive tackle alongside Vita Vea.

28). GREEN BAY PACKERS – Jameson Williams (WR, Alabama)

Had it not been for his ACL injury in the National Championship Game, Williams would’ve gone off the board much sooner. With his recovery “ahead of schedule” by some reports, it wouldn’t be that risky of a move for the Packers to take him as Davante Adams’s potential replacement.

29). KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (MIA) – Jahan Dotson (WR, Penn State)

The sudden loss of Tyreek Hill will have major reverberations for Chiefs offense. It’ll be hard, but he’ll need to be replaced. Enter Dotson, a pass catching speedster who made a name for himself using his quickness and versatility. Depending on where you stand its either a match made in Heaven or a match made in Hell.

30). KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – George Karlaftis (DE, Purdue)

While CB is a pressing need for the Chiefs, the premiere first round corners will be gone by now and the team should turn to addressing their abysmal pass rush. Chris Jones is alone on that defensive line and needs some help from the edge. Enter Karlaftis.

31). CINCINNATI BENGALS – Tyler Linderbaum (IOL, Iowa)

It’s nothing short of a miracle what Joe Burrow was able to accomplish with such a horrendous offensive line. To their credit, the Bengals have gone all-in this off season on improving the line and that trend should continue with nabbing a touted prospect like Linderbaum, if he’s still available.

32). DETROIT LIONS (LAR) – Desmond Ridder (QB, Cincinnati)

Of all the quarterbacks in this draft, Ridder strikes me as the most “pro ready.” His draft interviews left many teams impressed with his leadership and maturity, and for what its worth leading a non-Power 5 school to the CFP is certainly a resume booster, even if they did lose to Alabama.

(Cover Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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