Identifying Every NFL Team's Dream Draft Target in 2022February 24, 2022
Identifying Every NFL Team's Dream Draft Target in 2022
Teams have to compromise during the NFL draft.
Front offices often must find a middle ground between taking a player that gives them the best possible prospect that still fits their scheme and roster composition.
It's readily apparent when comparing big boards to mocks to the actual results of a draft, where you will find that some of the most highly-regarded prospects don't end up getting selected as high as their skills and production might warrant.
Even teams selecting No. 1 overall must compromise at times.
That's why the Jaguars face a particularly tough decision this year. They have to choose between beefing up their offensive line with a top-tier tackle like Evan Neal or going with an elite pass-rusher like Aidan Hutchinson, who many feel is the best prospect in the entire class but doesn't fill as large of a hole for the club.
With Trevor Lawrence needing better protection in his second year to continue his development, Neal would be Jacksonville's dream pickup this year.
Hutchinson won't fall too far, however, as he's still worth a top pick, even if he's not perfect for a particular roster at this juncture.
That is why you won't find Hutchinson listed in this article or a handful of other high-end prospects who are likely to come off the board before landing with a team that is an ideal fit.
Read on to see which realistic prospect every other team should be dreaming about. Consideration was given to collegiate production, professional upside, the likelihood of availability and team need when identifying the ideal draft targets for every franchise.
Arizona Cardinals: CB Kyler Gordon, Washington
First Pick: No. 23 Overall
The Cardinals' cornerback corps is due for an upgrade this offseason.
Arizona was forced to lean on Robert Alford—who hadn't seen the field for over two full seasons—and rookie fourth-rounder Marco Wilson on the outside last year.
The pairing wasn't the league's worst set of starting cornerbacks but provided mixed results for much of the campaign.
While the Cardinals did rank No. 7 in passing yards allowed, they conceded 30 touchdowns through the air—the eighth-most in the league—while only securing a middling 13 interceptions.
Selecting Kyler Gordon at No. 23 could help turn this unit into a top-tier one.
The Washington star is a lengthy, athletic defender. At 6'0", 200 pounds, he possesses the size to cover larger receivers and boasts dynamic playmaking abilities with his explosiveness, aggression and ball-tracking ability.
While he didn't receive a high grade from Bleacher Report's Scouting Department, other scouts are convinced he'll be a first-round pick based on his testing ability alone.
With Gordon in the mix, Arizona's secondary will finally have the athleticism and upside it has been lacking in recent years.
Thanks to his experience covering both outside and slot wideouts, Gordon is the type of corner the Cardinals can find a way to insert into their lineup early in his career and rapidly develop into a star.
Atlanta Falcons: WR Drake London, USC
First Pick: No. 8 Overall
The rebuilding Falcons need help across the lineup, but adding an elite receiving prospect would make the team more competitive in 2022 while also serving as a long-term piece to build around.
While Atlanta will eventually need to find an heir to Matt Ryan, the veteran quarterback is under contract through the 2023 campaign. That gives the organization time to find a successor without having to roll the dice on the relatively weak crop of signal-callers in the 2022 class.
At No. 8 overall, Atlanta will likely have several blue-chip wideouts to choose from that could help Ryan bounce back in his 15th season.
Drake London out of USC has a strong chance of becoming the first receiver off the board this year thanks to his unique blend of athleticism and size.
The 6'5", 210-pound wideout is a massive target with elite hands and quality route-running abilities. London would be an ideal complement to playmaking tight end Kyle Pitts—the No. 4 overall pick in 2021—who flashed the potential to become a superstar last season.
This pick would be a bit of a luxury if the Falcons can convince Calvin Ridley to return to the fold in 2022, but reports have surfaced that both sides may be looking for a fresh start.
If Ridley is dealt, London and Pitts would form the nucleus of a high-powered Falcons passing attack for years to come.
Baltimore Ravens: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
First Pick: No. 14 Overall
The Ravens saw their playoff hopes derailed by a string of injuries last year. One of the most impactful losses was standout corner Marcus Peters, who missed the entire campaign with a torn ACL.
While Baltimore's brass has said it wants Peters back next season, releasing or trading the veteran could save the club $10 million.
Even if the Ravens keep the three-time Pro Bowler and potentially extend him to reduce his cap hit, they would see a boost by adding another elite cornerback to their secondary.
Ahmad Gardner is a great pickup for the club due to his mix of size, skill and athleticism.
The Cincinnati product is excellent in coverage, excelling in both man and zone schemes. He's smooth and quick while still standing a towering 6'3", a stature that allows him to go toe-to-toe with any opposing wideout.
With little depth at the position behind Peters and Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore would be making a mistake to pass on Gardner if he falls to No. 14.
The selection would make the Ravens secondary one of the league's best when healthy.
Buffalo Bills: DL Jordan Davis, Georgia
First Pick: No. 25 Overall
One area the Bills may have to shore up this offseason is along the interior of the defensive line.
They employed productive players in the defensive trenches last season but soon may be seeking replacements with potential free agency losses looming.
Both Harrison Phillips and Vernon Butler are hitting the open market, making defensive tackle a possible position of need during the 2022 draft.
Selecting Jordan Davis would be a dream come true for Buffalo. The Georgia star is the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's top-ranked defensive lineman, and it's easy to see why so many scouts are high on him.
He's arguably the top run-stopper in the class and would have an immediate impact with his ability to clog lanes and overpower blockers.
Davis stands at a hulking 6'6", 340 pounds, with long arms and impressive control of his frame. He's incredibly strong while still staying nimble—assets that will allow him to thrive as a 0-tech or 3-tech in the pros.
The Bulldogs product still has some work to do to get his pass-rushing abilities up to speed, but there is the potential for him to blossom into a legitimate three-down force at the defensive tackle spot.
Buffalo may have to trade up to get Davis instead of hoping he falls to No. 25, but the move would be well worth it to land a defensive anchor.
Carolina Panthers: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
First Pick: No. 6 Overall
The Panthers decided to give quarterback Sam Darnold a chance in 2022 by picking up his fifth-year option. That, coupled with a lackluster quarterback class, points to the team upgrading its offensive line in the draft rather than taking a signal-caller.
With the No. 6 selection, Carolina would be making a mistake to overlook offensive tackle Charles Cross if he's still on the board.
The Mississippi State product could slot in at left tackle for the club, significantly upgrading the position from incumbent Cam Erving.
The head-scratching decision to bring in Erving to protect Darnold's blindside had expected results. PFF graded the veteran out at a paltry 56.0, the seventh consecutive year that the 29-year-old failed to crack a 60.
B/R's Scouting Department believes there is no better pass-protector in this draft than Cross.
The 6'5", 310-pound has immense experience in that department, starting the last two years in the Bulldogs' Air Raid offense. He was able to keep his quarterback upright with his rare blend of explosiveness and balance, utilizing his hand placement and physicality to keep defenders at bay.
There is room for Cross to grow as a run-blocker, but the limited work he saw in that area was promising.
Cross would immediately usurp Erving as a starter in Carolina's lineup and should be able to maintain that position for the foreseeable future.
Chicago Bears: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
First Pick: No. 39 Overall
Although the Bears lack a first-round pick after dealing it away to the Giants for the selection that became Justin Fields, the team can still find an impact player when it is on the clock in Round 2.
New general manager Ryan Poles should be willing to make a splash with his first selection, grabbing a high-upside prospect like Christian Watson.
The North Dakota State wideout has been rapidly ascending the big boards. While the Bleacher Report Scouting Department has him as their No. 84-ranked prospect, a strong Senior Bowl showing may help him come off the board as early as the first round.
If Watson is still available at No. 39, the Bears would be wise to capitalize.
The 6'5", 208-pound receiver missed four games in 2021 but still racked up 43 receptions for 800 yards and seven touchdowns. Watson has a knack for finding the end zone and showed he could match up with tougher competition by standing out against some of the nation's top defenders at the Senior Bowl.
With his size and blazing 4.4 40-yard dash speed, Watson is a major threat to turn every catch into a big gain.
Given the Bears are likely to part ways with free agent Allen Robinson II and have little proven talent outside of Darnell Mooney in the receiving corps, Watson would be a fantastic pickup for the club on Day 2.
Cincinnati Bengals: OL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M
First Pick: No. 31 Overall
Joe Burrow is on track to lead the Bengals on many deep postseason runs, but those dreams could be quickly dashed if the offensive line cannot keep its QB from being battered.
No quarterback took more sacks than Burrow last year. After getting taken down 32 times in just 10 games as a rookie, the 25-year-old went down a whopping 51 times in the regular season and 19 more in the playoffs.
The situation has been dire for years, as Jonah Williams is the only Bengals lineman to earn a grade higher than a 76.0 on PFF's scale over the last five seasons.
Cincinnati cannot afford to continue on this trajectory and must secure the best available OL prospect at No. 31 overall.
Kenyon Green is the type of versatile offensive lineman the Bengals would benefit from with their late first-round selection.
The Texas A&M product can play almost anywhere, using his sizable 6'4", 325-pound frame—which is packed with strength—to shut down rushers and open up lanes.
He made 12 starts last year, lining up at left guard in seven games and also playing right tackle for two and left tackle for one.
With the Bengals needing to make plenty of adjustments in the offensive trenches, having a rookie like Green who they can plug in to fill any hole will give them plenty of mileage on this pick.
Cleveland Browns: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
First Pick: No. 13 Overall
In the span of one season, the Browns saw their receiving corps go from being an enviable, star-studded group to a razor-thin unit in desperate need of talent.
Donovan Peoples-Jones was the team's most prolific receiver last year, but the second-year man out of Michigan only caught 34 passes for 597 yards and three scores.
With Odell Beckham Jr.'s release and Jarvis Landry a realistic cut candidate, Cleveland cannot afford to ignore the wideout position when it is on the clock at No. 13.
Garrett Wilson could aid the Browns in righting the ship. The Ohio State star is one of the more unique receivers in this draft, showcasing an ability to turn every play into a home run during his time with the Buckeyes.
While Wilson may lack the measurables and polish of some of his contemporaries, he is a natural playmaker who consistently comes up with big catches thanks to his speed and hands.
He needs to refine his route-running abilities a bit, but the upside here is undeniable. With the Browns needing a game-changing pass-catcher, Wilson stands out as a shrewd first pick this year.
Dallas Cowboys: S Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
First Pick: No. 24 Overall
The Cowboys made a major push to upgrade their defense in last year's draft and should continue right where they left off with another big defensive pickup this year.
Dallas will have several directions to choose from when they are selecting at No. 24, including potentially pairing another elite linebacker with rising star Micah Parsons.
While that move wouldn't hurt, the team would be even better served looking at the secondary and going with another Penn State product in Jaquan Brisker.
Brisker has good size at 6'1", 204-pound and athleticism, but also possesses a high football IQ that allows him to continually put himself in a position to make plays.
Bleacher Report's Scouting Department has him ranked as their No. 2 safety in the class—behind only Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton—noting that Brisker is the most versatile of the bunch.
With both of Dallas' starting safeties heading towards free agency, the organization needs to bring in a high-end rookie to shore up the secondary.
Denver Broncos: Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
First Pick: No. 9 Overall
The Broncos have no bigger need than at quarterback. The team is a strong candidate to be the first to take one off the board when it picks at No. 9 but is also reportedly exploring a multitude of veteran options going into the offseason.
If Denver can bring in a proven signal-caller—something it has success with in the past, winning a Super Bowl after courting Peyton Manning on the open market—the front office will likely want to bolster the defense in the first round.
George Karlaftis would give the Broncos some additional pass-rushing firepower after trading Von Miller midway through the 2021 campaign.
The Purdue defensive end would need to transition to outside linebacker in Denver's 3-4 system but should have little issue terrorizing opposing quarterbacks in the pros regardless of where he lines up.
The 6'4", 275-pounder secured 29 tackles for a loss and 14 sacks across 26 games with the Boilermakers.
The Broncos should be rushing to put the pick in if Karlaftis—the No. 6 overall prospect on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's board—is still available when they are on the clock.
Detroit Lions: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
First Pick: No. 2 Overall
The Lions were a plucky team in 2021, but despite their grit still ended up with the second-worst record in football.
They can start to truly turn things around next year, especially with the acquisition of one of the top edge-rushing prospects in this class.
Kayvon Thibodeaux is a transcendent talent, grading out as the year's top prospect according to B/R's Scouting Department.
The Oregon product looks every bit of a generational edge-rusher at 6'5", 258 pounds. His lengthy frame is sturdy enough to overpower blockers but allows him to be quick enough to beat his man with pure speed.
Thibodeaux is a prototypical pass-rusher but can also drop into coverage reliably when tasked to. That versatility will help a rebuilding Lions squad that needs help all over the field.
With only 30 sacks in total last year, Detroit stands to improve significantly in that department if it acquires Thibodeaux.
Green Bay Packers: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
First Pick: No. 28 Overall
The Packers are at a crossroads with their longtime offensive core of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
It's looking likely that the team either retains both or neither but is reportedly "all-in" on convincing the quarterback to stick around in Green Bay. Doing so would likely mean a high-paying contract for Adams.
Even if Green Bay manages to ink Adams to a new deal, the team still desperately needs more talent within its receiving corps.
Despite Rodger's having another MVP season, no other wide receiver had more than 40 catches or 513 receiving yards last year.
Treylon Burks would give Green Bay an edge it has been lacking from its depth receivers. The Arkansas product is as physical as they come, using his 6'3", 225-pound frame to bully defenders.
Burks is a YAC machine waiting to be unleashed with a quarterback of Rodgers' caliber throwing him the ball in space. He'll be able to take advantage of the defensive attention Adams warrants, dominating his man in single coverage.
Even if the Packers are entering a rebuild without Rodgers and Adams around, Burks would still be an intriguing pickup as a scrappy, hard-nosed wideout who can separate and make plays for Green Bay's next quarterback.
Houston Texans: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
First Pick: No. 3 Overall
The Texans have serious needs all over the place after an ugly 2021 campaign and are projected to field one of the league's most pockmarked lineups again in 2022.
The team may end up trading down to acquire more capital but won't go wrong by using the No. 3 pick at nearly any position.
They should play it safe, however, by taking a polished prospect almost certain to have a long and fruitful career.
Kyle Hamilton would be a tremendous choice for Houston. The Notre Dame standout offers incredible size for the position at 6'4", 220 pounds. He can cover extremely well, gets to the ball with ease and makes his tackles.
While Hamilton still needs to bolster his strength to go against offensive lineman on blitzes, he would be a Day 1 starter for the Texans and immediately upgrades their secondary to respectable levels.
With starting safety Justin Reid hitting the open market, the door is wide open for Hamilton to assume a large role in this defense early on.
Head coach Lovie Smith will be able to deploy Hamilton in a variety of creative ways from the start, making him a nightmare for opposing offenses to deal with.
Indianapolis Colts: OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota
First Pick: No. 47 Overall
The Colts won't be selecting in the first round this year, shipping their pick over to Philadelphia as part of the trade that brought Carson Wentz in.
Unfortunately for Indianapolis, Wentz's lone season with the club didn't go well, resulting in a missed postseason appearance despite the emergence of Jonathan Taylor as the league's top running back.
It remains to be seen if Wentz even sticks around for the 2022 campaign, with rumors swirling that there may be a breakup this offseason.
Regardless of who lines up under center for the Colts next season, the team cannot afford to ignore the offensive line.
While Indy performed well in the run-blocking department, their pass-protection was graded as the league's third-worst by PFF.
Daniel Faalele could jump-start a turnaround in that area while still excelling as a blocker in what should remain a run-first offense as long as Taylor is around.
Faalele stands a gigantic 6'8", 387 pounds and moves surprisingly well for a player of that size. He can completely shut down defenders, creating massive lanes during his time at Minnesota.
While he's going to need help as he brings his pass-protection skills up to speed, Faalele is a high-upside prospect with unteachable size that will help Indy's offensive line improve from the jump.
Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
First Pick: No. 1 Overall
The Jaguars used the top overall pick on Trevor Lawrence last year and should have no qualms about using this year's No. 1 selection to protect their investment.
Evan Neal looks to be the clear-cut choice here, as he is not only the top offensive tackle prospect in the class but arguably the best overall player on the board.
Neal can excel on either side of the offensive line thanks to his 6'7", 350-pound frame and incredible mobility, power and technique.
Among the many elite OL qualities this 21-year-old possesses, Neal's footwork and hand placement stand out as something to be admired. He's the ideal prospect to entrust Lawrence's blindside with.
Considering Lawrence was sacked 32 times and pressured on 151 of his dropbacks, the quarterback will be in great hands if Jacksonville makes Neal the top pick.
Incumbent left tackle Cam Robinson is set to hit free agency next month after playing out the 2021 campaign on a franchise tag. The Jags can afford to let him go, having peace of mind from knowing Neal will soon be on the way.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Justyn Ross, Clemson
First Pick: No. 30 Overall
The Chiefs are coming off their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance but can't afford to let off the gas if they want to win another title with their current core.
One way to turbo-charge the Kansas City offense—which finished the season ranked top-five in scoring and yardage but looked uncharacteristically sluggish at times—would be to add a dynamic wideout with this late first-round selection.
The Chiefs have a bona fide star in Tyreek Hill, but he'll be going into the final year of his contract in 2022. Outside of him and tight end Travis Kelce, the club lacks consistent playmakers for Patrick Mahomes to target.
That could change if Kansas City nabs Justyn Ross, the big Clemson receiver who would be a perfect complementary piece in this aerial attack.
At 6'4", 205 pounds, Ross would be the ideal possession receiver to line up with the smaller, shiftier Hill. He has the size, athleticism and route-running skills to shine for the Chiefs, especially with their veteran playmakers diverting defensive attention.
Injury woes have been a problem for Ross during his time with the Tigers, but he'll be a weapon in an offense like this if he can stay healthy.
Las Vegas Raiders: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
First Pick: No. 22 Overall
The Raiders are on the cusp of becoming a contender but have to find a No. 1 receiver to take the next step.
Las Vegas can count on Hunter Renfrow in the slot and Darren Waller from the tight end position but still need a vertical threat to open up the offense.
That could change if the team picks up a wideout like Jameson Williams in the 2022 draft.
Williams displayed world-class speed and athleticism during his short time at Alabama, breaking loose for several big plays after transferring from Ohio State. The 6'2", 189-pound speedster racked up 79 receptions for 1,572 yards and 15 scores during his lone year in Tuscaloosa.
The Raiders could also use Williams as a return man on special teams. He scored on two kick returns last year and can take one to the house every time he touches the ball.
With Derek Carr reportedly looking for an extension worth approximately $40 million per season, Vegas brass must be willing to surround him with more weapons.
Taking Williams in the first round would be a perfect place to get one at an affordable cost.
Los Angeles Chargers: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
First Pick: No. 17 Overall
The Chargers have found their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert and done a solid job bolstering his protection over the last two years.
Los Angeles can now focus on augmenting their offense with more pass-catchers and there is hardly a better option in this draft than Penn State's Jahan Dotson.
Dotson may not have the height or build of a prototypical blue-chip receiving prospect, but the 5'11", 184-pounder is simply a playmaker.
He's one of the best route runners in the class, can overcome larger defenders with his quickness and has amazing hands and a big catch radius for his size.
Dotson's effort is unquestionable, as he seemingly gave his all on every snap during his time with the Nittany Lions. His determination and competitive nature have allowed him to overcome his stature and make him one of the most intriguing receivers available in 2022.
Factor in his ability to pitch in as a punt returner, and you can see why the Chargers would be getting plenty of value by making this pick in the middle of the first round.
Given Mike Williams is entering free agency and could be on his way out this offseason, Dotson may find himself playing a sizable role for the Bolts as a rookie.
Los Angeles Rams: OL Spencer Burford, UTSA
First Pick: No. 103 Overall
The Rams' decision to go all-in on a Super Bowl title by trading their draft picks for star players paid off. The team will now try to make the most out of the limited selections they have left, starting with their first pick at No. 103 overall.
It would be prudent for the club to select an offensive lineman at this spot, given it employs the league's oldest left tackle in 40-year-old Andrew Whitworth.
While the top options will be long gone by the time L.A. is on the clock, the team could conceivably land a prospect like UTSA's Spencer Burford at the end of the third round.
Burford was a four-year starter for the Roadrunners, spending most of his time lining up at left tackle. He has adequate size for the position, standing nearly 6'4" and 293 pounds, and moves well for his build.
The Rams will want to see Burford get stronger and drop some poor habits, such as not staying square against power rushers, but they still would be getting a tackle who could contribute as a rotational player almost right away.
While it's unlikely Burford becomes a star, he has the upside of developing into a serviceable starter.
Miami Dolphins: OT Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan
First Pick: No. 29 Overall
The Dolphins offensive line was a disaster last season, grading out as PFF's worst overall unit. No player earned higher than a 67.4 grade, and three starters scored a concerning 52.5 or lower.
The team cannot afford to look anywhere else with the No. 29 overall pick, which they acquired from the San Francisco 49ers. Miami dealt their own first-rounder in 2022—which became the No. 15 pick—to the Eagles to draft Jaylen Waddle.
There should still be some quality OL talent available at the end of Day 1, with Bernhard Raimann a likely candidate for the 'Phins in this spot.
Raimann has had an interesting journey to becoming a potential first-round pick, starting his career at Central Michigan as a tight end before converting to offensive tackle.
He started 18 games for the Chippewas at left tackle, displaying a good amount of polish for a late-bloomer.
At 6'6", 304 pounds, the Austrian native is an elite athlete and uses good hand placement to create plenty of leverage.
Raimann's age—he'll turn 25 at the start of the 2022 campaign—limits his upside, but he's still relatively new to the position and seems to have plenty of room to improve.
Even with his developmental arc just beginning, the Dolphins could still throw Raimann right into their starting lineup and see an immediate improvement.
With the team committing to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, this is the right move to help Miami finally break through and reach the playoffs.
Minnesota Vikings: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
First Pick: No. 12 Overall
The Vikings made massive moves this offseason, hiring a new coach and general manager to help return the franchise to prominence.
Some more changes will soon be on the way, with the cornerback position looking ripe for an overhaul.
The Vikings could address it by signing a veteran in free agency. Even if the team does so, it would still heavily benefit from using the No. 12 pick to acquire an elite CB prospect.
It would be tough to find one better than Derek Stingley Jr., the LSU corner who has all the tools to become one of the NFL's next great defenders.
The 6'1", 195-pound DB is physical, quick and has the versatility to shine in man or zone coverage. He's not the strongest cornerback but makes up for it with his reads, patience and ball skills.
With Minnesota's starting corners constantly getting roasted in coverage—the corners allowed more yardage on the outside than all but two teams in 2021—Stingley's presence would be a welcome sight in the Twin Cities.
New England Patriots: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
First Pick: No. 21 Overall
The Patriots pulled off one of the great steals of the 2021 draft when Mac Jones fell to them at No. 15. The pick gave New England the franchise quarterback it needed to return to the playoffs, but the club clearly still has plenty of work to do after getting blown out in the Wild Card round.
If the Pats can add a game-breaking wide receiver to the roster, it could help Jones go from being a good game manager to a superstar as he prepares for Year 2 under center.
Chris Olave certainly fits the bill as a difference-making wideout. The Buckeyes product amassed 65 receptions for 936 yards and an impressive 13 touchdowns in 11 games last year.
Bleacher Report's Scouting Department has him ranked as the 10th-best overall prospect this year, a testament to Olave's polished route-running, plus-athleticism and football IQ.
That instinctual feel for the game should aid Olave in establishing an instant connection with Jones, who will be without offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels after he took the Raiders head coaching gig this offseason.
While Olave may not be available when New England is on the clock at No. 21, the Pats would be wise to explore moving up to secure this selection.
New Orleans Saints: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
First Pick: No. 18 Overall
It isn't often there is a chance that one of the top-rated quarterbacks is still available past the midpoint of the first round, but the Saints could capitalize on a weak draft class this year.
New Orleans is in dire need of a franchise signal-caller to help get the organization on the right track. The team couldn't replicate the success from the Drew Brees era and dealt with injuries as it started Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian and Taysom Hill at various points last year.
The Saints could put that all behind them by taking Kenny Pickett, the promising QB prospect out of Pittsburgh, with the No. 18 selection.
Pickett is arguably the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, which stems from his experience running a multitude of concepts during his tenure with the Panthers.
The Heisman finalist completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions last year.
Despite the statistical success, Pickett could have been even better with improved vision and the awareness to stay inside the pocket longer before starting to scramble.
Regardless, the 6'3", 217-pound QB has quality size, athleticism and arm strength that a team will surely benefit from at the next level. He may not be a slam-dunk future-Pro Bowler, but the Saints will be hard-pressed to find a rookie better suited for their starting job in 2022.
New York Giants: OT Ikem Ekwonu
First Pick: No. 5 Overall
The Giants have a pair of top-10 picks this year—a fortunate amount of draft capital given the team's untenable cap situation.
The squad may use both early selections on defensive prospects, given how poorly the G-Men fared on that side of the ball last season, but offensive line is also a major area of concern.
If Ikem Ekwonu is still available when Big Blue is up, expect the team to jump at the chance to bring him aboard.
Ekwonu has the distinction of being the No. 2 overall player on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's big board.
The North Carolina State product's "unbelievable combination of size, power and athletic ability" was cited on B/R's scouting report, and it's hard to see the Giants passing up the opportunity to add this special of a prospect to their arsenal.
While Ekwonu mostly played left tackle for the Wolfpack, the 6'4", 320-pounder has the skillset to thrive regardless of where he ultimately lines up the pros.
Ideally, he would become a long-term starter at LT for the Giants, but the rebuilding franchise could move him around as necessary and still feel comfortable that he will perform at a high level.
It's hard to see Ekwonu falling outside the top-five, making him a dream prospect for the G-Men to land in April.
New York Jets: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
First Pick: No. 4 Overall
The Jets also possess a pair of top-10 picks this year and can't afford to whiff on either if they are going to finally field a contender.
One of the safest and surest picks in the 2022 draft class is Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa's exceptional center that has a strong chance of coming off the board early on Day 1.
Linderbaum may not play the sexiest position, and center is certainly not a spot that often sees prospects get picked high in the first round, but he's simply too good to risk missing out on.
The 6'3", 290-pound Hawkeyes product not only has the physical traits to become a game-changer in trenches but has also displayed an extremely high football IQ and uses it to his advantage against defenders.
While he still needs to add weight to his frame, there is little doubt about Linderbaum developing into a Pro Bowl-tier center early in his career and maintaining that status for a long NFL career.
While the Jets do need plenty of help elsewhere—the secondary should get addressed with the No. 10 pick—they stand to gain a long-term offensive anchor by selecting Linderbaum at No. 4.
Philadelphia Eagles: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
First Pick: No. 15 Overall
The Eagles have back-to-back picks in the middle of the first round and another at No. 19 this year. They must use at least one of those choices to secure an impact linebacker.
Devin Lloyd is one of the best in the nation, earning 80-plus PFF grades in the key areas of run defense, coverage and pass-rushing this past season.
The 6'3", 235-pound prospect is a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker, capable of covering his man as well as rushing the quarterback and meeting runners at the point of attack.
He's a heady player that has a tendency for sniffing out the play, racking up 111 tackles—22 for a loss—seven sacks, six pass defenses, four interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 14 games last year.
The three-year Utes starter can come in and bolster a Philadelphia linebacking corps that could lose Alex Singleton in free agency.
Lloyd may not be the biggest name in this class, but he's a highly reliable player that will make the Eagles defense noticeably better.
Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
First Pick: No. 20 Overall
The Ben Roethlisberger era is officially over in Pittsburgh, making it time to finally find an appropriate heir for the longtime quarterback.
It's unlikely that Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins are the long-term solutions for the Steelers. Unless the team can swing a trade for a veteran, it will likely need to roll the dice in the upcoming draft.
There is a chance that Malik Willis falls to the Steelers at No. 20 on draft day.
While he's only the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's No. 91-ranked prospect, he's been generating significant buzz lately and could be a potential top-10 pick for QB-needy teams this year.
Willis has more upside than any other signal-caller in the class, showcasing tremendous athleticism and arm strength during his time at Liberty.
The Auburn transfer still has to improve his timing and anticipation but is more than capable of making plays when the play breaks down or on the run.
Considering the Steelers were one of the league's most dangerous teams during Big Ben's prime because of his ability to extend plays and avoid the rush, Willis would be a nice fit for this franchise.
San Francisco 49ers: CB Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
First Pick: No. 61 Overall
The cornerback position is one of the biggest problem areas for San Francisco. It won't be easy to fix with a lack of cap space and a lack of a first-round pick.
The 49ers should be willing to gamble on a high-upside defensive back prospect when they finally get on the clock near the end of the second round.
Tariq Castro-Fields could be the pick if he's still available. He's yet another elite athlete in an impressive line that Penn State has produced in recent years.
The six-foot, 194-pound cornerback made 30 starts for the Nittany Lions, finishing his 52-game career with 138 tackles, 25 pass defenses and three interceptions.
Castro-Fields has a solid understanding of the game and plays with good leverage. He's a physical corner that matches up well in man coverage, knocking receivers off their routes and sticks with them with his quickness.
While Castro-Fields is not the best tackler and can struggle to get up to top speed, the 49ers' thin and injury-prone cornerback room would be in much better shape if they can make this pick.
Seattle Seahawks: Edge Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State
First Pick: No. 41 Overall
The Seahawks had a troubling lack of edge-rushing talent last year, with only four teams faring worse on PFF's final pass-rushing grades.
While Seattle won't be able to land one of the blue-chip prospects without a first-round pick, the organization will still have some quality players to choose from when it is on the clock at No. 41.
Jermaine Johnson II is one of the better players who could fall into the second round. The Florida State edge has a prototypical frame for the job—he measures in at 6'4", 259 pounds—and excels as both a run and pass defender.
He's a high-octane player that head coach Pete Carroll will love, giving maximum effort that results in him making plays others would have given up on.
Bleacher Report's Scouting Department believes Johnson will "make a living in the NFL as a run defender" but also noted his savvy pass-rushing skills and highlighted the array of moves in his arsenal.
Johnson may not be a high ceiling player due to his age—he turned 23 in January—but he's polished and should quickly find a role within a Seahawks squad that needs pro-ready rookies to contribute.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
First Pick: No. 27 Overall
The Buccaneers ended their magical two-year run with Tom Brady under center with one Super Bowl. While they came up short this season, they'll find it tough to even get back to the divisional round without a serviceable starter in 2022.
Tampa has a roster ready to win now and will likely prefer to make a run at a veteran signal-caller. Nonetheless, they should also start planning for the future by selecting a QB at the end of the first round.
Matt Corral could be one of the draft-day steals if he falls to the Bucs at No. 27.
The 6'2", 205-pound Ole Miss product is only the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's No. 74 ranked prospect, but he's their third-highest rated QB behind Desmond Ridder and Kenny Pickett.
He'll certainly be seeing heavy consideration from several teams in need of a young quarterback and could come off the board earlier due to his quick release and consistent throwing motion.
Corral is a quality athlete with decent arm strength and accuracy but isn't a guy who can make every throw and lacks pro-style experience from playing in the Rebels' RPO-heavy offense.
Still, the Bucs shouldn't need to start Corral from the get-go and could let him develop behind whichever veteran they end up deploying for at least the upcoming campaign, if not the next few years.
Tennessee Titans: IOL Zion Johnson, Boston College
First Pick: No. 26 Overall
The Titans are coming off a mildly disappointing campaign in which they earned the AFC's top seed but failed to win a playoff game. Their offense needs a slight tune-up this offseason after that underwhelming finish, most notably at the guard position.
Tennessee would be fortunate to land Boston College guard Zion Johnson when it's the team's turn to select on Day 1.
Johnson is a beefy 6'2", 314-pound guard with a powerful playstyle. He has a low center of gravity and is extremely strong, making him almost impossible to beat with a bull rush.
If he lands with the Titans, the Eagles product will pave lanes with ease for superstar running back Derrick Henry while also offering adequate protection for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
A two-year starter at Boston College, Johnson has experience playing both left guard and left tackle during that span. He projects to be a guard at the next level but could fill in on the end if required.
Tennessee would be getting an immediate contributor with this selection, a perfect pickup for a team looking to make a run before its window closes.
Washington Commanders: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
First Pick: No. 11 Overall
The recently-renamed Commanders have the opportunity to kick off the new era by landing a potential franchise quarterback with their first-round pick.
Washington would be a great landing spot for Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, the top signal-caller on the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's latest big board.
Ridder stands out in a shallow class with his ability to grasp a complex offense and progress through his reads.
The 6'3", 207-pound QB is not only one of the year's more cerebral quarterbacks, but he's also one of its best athletes.
Ridder has shown a propensity to pick up big gains on designed runs and can quickly break away from rushers when scrambling. He possesses the arm strength to push the ball downfield, although his accuracy does need to be tuned up at the next level.
The Commanders could feel comfortable installing Ridder as their Week 1 starter in 2022, even though there may be some growing pains as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.
Given how poorly the team fared at the position last year, the Bearcats star represents a major and necessary upgrade.