Todd McShay 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Thibodeaux to Texans at 1; Lions Nab QB Kedon Slovis

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 6, 2021

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Oregon (5) Kayvon Thibodeaux (DE) celebrates after a college football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal on September 21, 2019, at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay released his first 2022 NFL mock draft Thursday, headlined by Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux going No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans.

McShay's top 10 picks were as follows:

1. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

2. Detroit Lions: Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

4. New York Jets: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Zion Nelson, OT, Miami

6. Carolina Panthers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

7. Philadelphia Eagles: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

8. New York Giants: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

9. New York Giants (via CHI): Evan Neal, OL, Alabama

10. Las Vegas Raiders: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The release of McShay's way-too-early 2022 mock came just one week after the start of the 2021 NFL draft. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick.

The Texans are an organization in disarray that could benefit from getting the No. 1 overall pick and landing a potentially transcendent talent like Thibodeaux next year.

Houston is coming off a 4-12 season in 2020, but it was unable to do much to improve its roster in the 2021 NFL draft since it traded its first- and second-round picks in the Laremy Tunsil deal in September 2019. As a result, it didn't pick until the third round when it took Stanford quarterback Davis Mills.

The Texans have a great deal of uncertainty at the quarterback position since starter Deshaun Watson requested a trade and is facing 22 civil lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.

That means quarterback could be a target for the Texans next season, but if they want to develop Mills and see what he can become, Thibodeaux could be a great pick at No. 1 overall, especially on the heels of Houston releasing franchise sack leader J.J. Watt this offseason.

Thibodeaux was the No. 2 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class, per 247Sports, and he has lived up to the billing thus far with 12 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in just 20 career collegiate games.

He appeared in seven games last season since the Pac-12 had a shortened campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if Thibodeaux can have a full, productive season in 2021, he has a good chance to go first overall next year.

The first quarterback to come off the board in McShay's mock is USC's Kedon Slovis to the Detroit Lions at No. 2 overall.

Unless Jared Goff regains some of the form he showed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, the Lions are likely to be on the lookout for a signal-caller. Slovis could be their man after he threw 30 touchdown passes as a freshman and followed that up with 1,921 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games last season.

Quarterbacks came off the board with the first three picks in this year's draft, but there are only two quarterbacks in the top 10 of McShay's 2022 mock. The second after Slovis is North Carolina's Sam Howell to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 7.

While 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts will have a chance to establish himself as the long-term starter in 2021, Howell figures to have a great deal of hype surrounding him entering the 2022 draft after throwing 68 touchdown passes in his first two collegiate seasons.