2022 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Next Year's Top Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 1, 2021

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Predictions for Next Year's Top Prospects

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    The NFL draft is all about projecting years into the future.

    You'll have to forgive us, then, for diverting our attention away from the current talent grab to look ahead at next year's iteration.

    It's, admittedly, super early. We don't know which prospects will ultimately separate, or where teams will be lined up to take them.

    But we do have an idea of early favorites to land high up the draft board. And, by using the 2022 Super Bowl odds from DraftKings sportsbook, we have a mechanism to help gauge how the draft order might shake out.

    After laying out a way-too-early mock first round, we'll spotlight the top three prospects on our board.

2022 NFL Mock Draft

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    1. Houston Texans: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

    2. Detroit Lions: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

    3. New York Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE/OLB, Oregon

    4. Cincinnati Bengals: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

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

    6. Las Vegas Raiders: Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

    7. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

    8. New York Giants: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M

    9. Carolina Panthers: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson

    10. Washington Football Team: JT Daniels, QB, Georgia

    11. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears): Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

    12. Atlanta Falcons: Drake Jackson, DE/LB, USC

    13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zion Nelson, OT, Miami

    14. Arizona Cardinals: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

    15. Tennessee Titans: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

    16. Minnesota Vikings: Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State

    17. Los Angeles Chargers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

    18. New Orleans Saints: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

    19. New England Patriots: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

    20. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins): Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State

    21. Indianapolis Colts: Nick Broeker, OT/OG, Mississippi

    22. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

    23. Dallas Cowboys: Josh Jobe, CB, Alabama

    24. Denver Broncos: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

    25. Green Bay Packers: John Metchie III, WR, Alabama

    26. Cleveland Browns: Ventrell Miller, LB, Florida

    27. Baltimore Ravens: Bubba Bolden, S, Miami

    28. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco 49ers): Chris Hinton, DT, Michigan

    29. Buffalo Bills: Tyler Linderbaum, C/OG, Iowa

    30. Detroit Lions (via Los Angeles Rams): Nik Bonitto, LB, Oklahoma

    31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue

    32. Kansas City Chiefs: Brenton Cox Jr., LB, Florida

1. Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Spencer Rattler isn't the overwhelming favorite for the No. 1 spot that Trevor Lawrence was this past season, but if you had to pick the likeliest candidate, he'd get our vote.

    The Sooners' signal-caller has the early support of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., too.

    "I think he'll be the No. 1 quarterback coming out of Oklahoma," Kiper said on Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin, via 247Sports.

    If Rattler lands in the top spot, he'd join two other passers who played under Sooners skipper Lincoln Riley to go No. 1: Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Rattler has major arm talent, the creativity to improvise and great athleticism when he has time to set and fire.

    This past season, as a redshirt freshman, Rattler steered the Sooners to a 9-2 record punctuated by a 35-point thumping of Florida in the Cotton Bowl. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes and threw for 3,031 yards with 28 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

2. Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

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    Marta Lavandier/Associated Press

    Whenever Sam Howell leaves the Tar Heels—2021 will be his junior season—his stats will stack up with anyone's and tower over most.

    He's an accurate thrower to every level of the field and a strong decision-maker who impresses with both volume and efficiency. Through his first 25 games, he has totaled up 7,227 yards on 64.4 percent passing with 68 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

    "Scouts are destined to praise Howell for his arm strength and downfield touch," B/R's David Kenyon wrote. "Through two seasons at UNC, he's averaged 9.4 yards per attempt and totaled 76 gains of 25-plus yards."

    The quarterback competition in this draft class could be ferocious, but Howell has the arm to finish right near the top.

3. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE/OLB, Oregon

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    When conjuring up a mental image of Oregon football at its best, the first thing that comes to mind is the blink-and-you-missed-it burst that makes all of the Ducks' opponents seem like they're playing at half-speed.

    Kayvon Thibodeaux has that kind of zip, and his ability to pester opposing quarterbacks has him in the running to be the first non-quarterback selected—if not the first player taken outright. New Oregon defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, who handled Von Miller's development at Texas A&M, sees a lot of the eight-time Pro Bolwer in Thibodeaux.

    "He's probably the first person who I've seen in a while that's had that explosiveness off the edge like Von," DeRuyter told reporters. "The ability to bend, the pass rush value. I'm really excited about him."

    Once Thibodeaux exits Oregon, Pac-12 offensive linemen might all breathe a collective sigh of relief. The speedy edge-rusher has tallied 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks across his first 20 games with the Ducks.

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