We are only a matter of hours away from the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Rumors are swirling and hopes are high. As people try to predict what will happen, not enough folks are sitting back and asking themselves what they would do. Based on my rankings and my assessments of team needs and fits, here is how I would shape the first round.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon: Kayvon Thibodeaux has been the best player in this class since his freshman year at Oregon. Even with trends favoring a more recently productive Aidan Hutchinson or a more athletic Travon Waker, Jacksonville should go with the guy who has been the best for the longest. Pairing Thibodeaux with Josh Allen would give the Jaguars some excellent building blocks for years to come.
2 - Detroit Lions
Derek Stingley Junior, Cornerback, LSU: The Lions are in a position where they just need to stock up on the best players at the most important positions. Derek Stingley Junior has upside to be a top cornerback in the league.
3 - Houston Texans
Evan Neal, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: There is not a position where the Texans don’t need to address, so grabbing a polished and physical offensive tackle is a no brainer. Protecting Davis Mills in year two is the best way to see what they truly have in the promising passer.
4 - New York Jets
Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan: The Jets are still sorely lacking quality play from the edges of their defense. Hutchinson pairing with a returning Carl Lawson could help New York take a huge step forward.
5 - New York Giants
Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia: Wink Martindale seems the best equipped coordinator to turn Travon Walker’s upside into a reality. Walker’s high level run defense will keep him on the field and he will develop into a well rounded defender in this defense.
Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle, NC State: The Panthers are a wildcard in this draft, but in the world of I Am Every GM, they take one of the best blockers in the class.
7 - New York Giants (From Chicago)
Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame: I should stress that as an Eagles fan I would hate it if the Giants walked out of the first round with Walker and Hamilton. Both prospects would immediately make their defense dangerous.
8 - Atlanta Falcons
Jordan Davis, Defensive Tackle, Georgia: The Falcons have a pretty bleak short term outlook and their best hope is grabbing the best players available. Keeping Jordan Davis in Georgia would go a long way to give them some truly special foundation to build their defense on.
9 - Seattle Seahawks (From Denver)
Charles Cross, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State: Seattle needs to eventually realize that investing in tackle is the easiest way to guarantee their next franchise quarterback doesn’t force his way out in a trade.
10 - New York Jets (From Seattle)
Sauce Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati: With the defensive line addressed, the Jets grab a lockdown cornerback prospect to shore up the back end of their defense.
11 - Washington Commanders
Treylon Burks, Wide Receiver, Arkansas: The Commanders made a swing for the fences trading for Carson Wentz and they’ll need to surround him with weapons if they want the most out of the mercurial quarterback. Burks being a number two option behind Terry Mclaurin would be a great combo.
12 - Minnesota Vikings
Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC: The Vikings are giving it one more go with Kirk Cousins and with an offensive minded head coach, scoring points will be the number one goal. Drake London could take on the big slot role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense and have a ton of room to work with Justin Jefferson drawing attention.
13 - Houston Texans (From Cleveland)
George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue: George Karlaftis is a high upside pass rusher who would fit extremely well into Lovie Smith’s defense.
14 - Baltimore Ravens
Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, FSU: The Baltimore Ravens always have a steady stream of talent on the defensive line. Jermaine Johnson II could contribute to a solid group as a great run defender and someone who turns pressures into sacks.
15 - Philadelphia Eagles (From Miami)
Chris Olave, Wide Receiver, Ohio State: The Eagles still have needs all over their defense, but grabbing another offensive playmaker is crucial to building a great foundation around Jalen Hurts or whoever the future of the franchise might be. Chris Olave is the best route runner in the class, has game breaking speed and tracks the ball well. Putting him on the outside of the Eagles offense will allow DeVonta Smith to eat up targets as an intermediate threat and give the Eagles a legit deep threat.
16 - New Orleans (From Indianapolis)
Lewis Cine, Safety, Georgia: The Saints replaced Marcus Williams with Marcus Maye and still have a very solid player in Chauncey Gardner Johnson. Even with those two, Dennis Allen likes a three safety look with all players having a wide range of flexibility. Lewis Cine can play anywhere and would thrive in a defense that maximizes his flexibility.
17 - LA Chargers
Kenyon Green, Guard, Texas A&M: With LA’s free agency spree addressing defense, they need to keep drafting for quality players to put around Justin Herbert. Kenyon Green is a plug and play guard on the offense line.
18 - Philadelphia Eagles (From New Orleans)
Nakobe Dean, Linebacker, Georgia: I have heard and respect every argument against drafting a linebacker in the first round. I know Howie Roseman will not do it. I am just here to say that Nakobe Dean would kick some serious ass in the Eagles defense. His speed, his rangieness, his intelligence and his bat out of hell aggression could completely change the entire defense. Dean can cover, defend the run and bring a ton of heat as a blitzer. Having Dean, Reddick and Kyzir White moving around would make the defense fast and unpredictable.
19 - New Orleans (From Philadelphia)
Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa: Safe, boring pick for a team going through a period of transition. Linderbaum is one of the best players in the class and will immediately be a valuable piece on their offensive line.
20 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty: This quarterback class is tough to project, but it is hard to argue with Malik Willis being the most talented passer in the group. Malik Willis seems like a great fit in Pittsburgh. That is a coaching staff that would bring him along and be patient with his development.
21 - New England Patriots
Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Florida: With JC Jackson off to Los Angeles, the Patriots have a big hole on their defense. Kaiir Elam would bring smarts, size and athleticism to that secondary.
22 - Green Bay Packers (From Las Vegas)
Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama: The Packers have a gaping hole on their offense with Davante Adams no longer in town. Factor in Marquez Valdes-Scantling leaving for Kansas City and the Packers need to seriously address wide receiver to keep Aaron Rodgers happy. Jameson Williams is the best pure deep threat in the class and would help ease the pain of Davante’s departure.
23 - Arizona Cardinals
Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State: Speaking of keeping quarterbacks happy, Arizona needs to give Kyler Murray more targets in the passing game. Garrett Wilson would be so dangerous in an offense that already has Nuk Hopkins, Rondale Moore and AJ Green. Wilson will not have lots of attention paid to him by defenses and will be able to threaten as a YAC player.
24 - Dallas Cowboys
Devin Lloyd, Linebacker, Utah: The Cowboys defense took a huge step under Dan Quinn, but still has room to improve. Devin Lloyd would be a great fit considering his size, athleticism and playmaking ability.
25 - Buffalo Bills
Andrew Booth Junior, Cornerback, Clemson: The Bills have all the offensive firepower in the world, but need quality defensive players if they want to take the next step in the playoffs.
26 - Tennessee Titans
Jaquan Brisker, Safety, Penn State: The Titans are a tough team to figure out in this draft. Jaquan Brisker is a bruising, athletic safety that could keep the back end of their defense dangerous.
27 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Zion Johnson, Offensive Lineman, Boston College: The Bucs lost a lot of quality offensive linemen this offseason. Zion Johnson could plug in at guard immediately and be a great player.
28 - Green Bay Packers
George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Georgia: It is a legit possibility that the Packers double dip at wide receiver in the first round. Pickens has great size, athleticism and physicality at the receiver position and could grow into a number one receiver.
29 - Kansas City Chiefs (From San Francisco)
Logan Hall, Defensive Lineman, Houston: The Chiefs have a lot of reloading to do on both sides of the ball. Logan Hall feels like an Andy Reid player.
30 - Kansas City Chiefs
Jahan Dotson, Wide Receiver, Penn State: Replacing Tyreek Hill is no easy task. Jahan Dotson might not be Tyreek Hill, but his speed, route running and YAC ability will be an asset in the offense.
31 - Cincinnati Bengals
Devonte Wyatt, Defensive Lineman, Georgia: The Bengals spent a ton of money to juice up their offensive line this free agency. Now they can draft the best player available in this draft and adding Devonte Wyatt to their young, talented defense.
32 - Detroit Lions (From Los Angeles)
Christian Harris, Linebacker, Alabama: This might be a bit of a boring pick, but it is a great one. Christian Harris is as pro-ready a linebacker as there is in this class. He would immediately step into the Detroit defense as a leader.