2022 B/R App NFL Community Mock Draft
The 2022 NFL draft is almost here. For hundreds of young football players, it signifies the beginning of their professional careers.
It also marks the end of jillions (approximately) of mock drafts.
Over the past few months, there have been mock drafts of all shapes and sizes. There have been ones for just the first round. Ones for all seven. There has certainly been no shortage of them here at Bleacher Report thanks to the hard work of the B/R NFL Draft Scouting Department.
Take a bow, y'all. Great work.
But what we haven't had is a mock featuring you, the fans.
Users of the Bleacher Report App were recently afforded the opportunity to play general manager and decide the wisest course of action for their favorite teams in Round 1. There were some no-brainers, some genuine surprises (just one quarterback in the first 32 picks) and all things in between.
As draft day nears, here's a breakdown of how that draft played out, complete with grades for each pick from Bleacher Report NFL Analysts Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton and Brent Sobleski.
Given the grades most picks received, maybe team owners should save a little scratch and just let you folks make the picks.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
Michigan edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson may not be the most talented or most athletic player in the Class of 2022.
But making him the first overall pick in the 2022 draft is absolutely the right move for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It's not about ceiling with the 6'7", 260-pounder. It's about floor. It's about motor. It's about the 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss he registered with the Wolverines last year.
As one NFL scout told Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated, what Hutchinson lacks in elite athleticism he makes up for with drive and effort:
"You're just going to have to get comfortable with the fact that he's talented but not crazy talented. When you watch Joey or Nick Bosa move, Aidan just can't quite move like that. He'll attack his weaknesses. He's going to do exactly what you tell him. There's not a lot of guys in this draft better than him. But you're going to get what you get with him."
Hutchinson may not turn out to be the best player in this class, but his bust potential is minimal.
The Jags need to hit on this pick, even if it means sacrificing a little upside in the process.
Grade: A (Davenport)
2. Detroit Lions: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
The Lions come away with the class' No. 1 overall prospect despite not owning the top selection.
Much has been made about Kayvon Thibodeaux's effort on the field and whether he is fully committed to the game. But most of the bluster appears to be nothing more than a predraft smokescreen. According to ESPN's Matt Miller, a league source called all the hubbub "overblown."
Thibodeaux is the class' most explosive pass rusher with enough upside to join the league's elite edge-rushers. He's a more natural edge-rusher than Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and far more productive than Georgia's Travon Walker.
Considering the Lions' longstanding problem of not harassing opposing quarterbacks, the idea of adding an elite talent to a unit that finished among the league's bottom three in sacks (30.0) is a good way to start their draft.
Some Detroit fans may have preferred to keep Hutchinson in the state, but he's already off the board. Besides, Thibodeaux was comparatively more effective in obvious pass-rushing situations despite dealing with a high-ankle sprain last season. With his inclusion, the Lions now have a legitimate defensive centerpiece.
Grade: A (Sobleski)
3. Houston Texans: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati
With arguably the top two edge-rushers off the board in Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux, this selection can immediately help a defense that gave up the third-most net yards per pass attempt last season.
Because of Ahmad Gardner's ball-tracking skills, he has the potential to make an impact comparable to Pat Surtain II, who went ninth overall to the Denver Broncos last year and logged 14 pass breakups and four interceptions while allowing a 51 percent completion rate in coverage.
Gardner picked off three passes in all three of his terms at Cincinnati. With his length (33½" arms) and ability to force turnovers, he could easily become the Texans' best cornerback in a short period. Houston signed Steven Nelson, which allows Desmond King II to move back into the slot, but the former has surrendered 12 passing touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Houston needs "Sauce" in its secondary.
Grade: A (Moton)
4. New York Jets, OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State
With two picks in this top 10 this year, the New York Jets are in excellent position to significantly upgrade the team this season.
With their first pick in this mock, the Jets use the first of those picks to upgrade the protection in front of Zach Wilson.
At 6'4" and 310 pounds with a wingspan just over seven feet, Ikem Ekwonu has everything NFL teams are looking for physically in a tackle prospect. B/R scout Brandon Thorn said Ekwonu's technique will need refinement at the NFL level, but his physical gifts are undeniable:
"Ekwonu will need to learn to harness his aggressive nature and play with better precision before reaching his full potential at tackle, but he has A+ physical traits and the white-hot motor to appeal to scouts and coaches at multiple positions. He has the versatility to be a longtime impact starter at either tackle or guard in any scheme."
Ekonwu isn't B/R's top-ranked tackle prospect, but Thorn's comp for him is a potential Hall of Famer in Jason Peters.
There are worse players to be compared to.
Grade: A- (Davenport)
5. New York Giants: OT Evan Neal, Alabama
A word cluster describing Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal will almost certainly include some variations of him being safe, massive and athletic. The consensus All-American prefers a different descriptor, though.
"I am dependable," Neal said during an interview on Good Morning Football. "Starter Day 1. Played three positions. Missed one game in three years, and it was due to COVID."
The Giants desperately need "dependable" after years of awful protection. The unit finished 30th overall last season, according to Pro Football Focus. Andrew Thomas, who the organization chose with the No. 4 pick in the 2020 draft turned into the lone worthy holdover from the last year's group. The organization signed Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano in free agency to play right guard and center, respectively. Right tackle and left guard remain question marks.
Fortunately, the 6'7", 337-pound Neal played both at Alabama. He can immediately take over right tackle and give the Giants a promising young offensive tackle duo, while simultaneously adding a prospect worthy of No. 1 overall consideration.
Grade: A (Sobleski)
6. Carolina Panthers: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State
The Carolina Panthers' fan community passed on quarterbacks at No. 6, which is understandable with this year's underwhelming class. So, they did the next best thing and selected someone to protect whoever starts under center in 2022.
Based on the selections, the Panthers missed out on two of the most prominent tackles, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, but Charles Cross can start as a rookie at left tackle in Week 1.
Cross has two solid years of starting experience at Mississippi State with SEC All-Freshman Team and first-team all-conference honors in 2020 and 2021, respectively. He has a strong grip, packs a powerful punch and moves exceptionally well laterally, which we all saw at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Pro Football Focus' Mike Renner gave high praise to the 6'5", 307-pound tackle.
"Cross is easily the most NFL-ready pass protector on the board if not the entire class," he said.
With Taylor Moton and Cross on the perimeter, the Panthers should have their starting tackles set for the long-term future.
Grade: A (Moton)
7. New York Giants (via Chicago Bears): Edge Travon Walker, Georgia
There hasn't been a player flying up draft boards faster during the predraft process than Georgia edge-rusher Travon Walker, who put on a jaw-dropping show at athleticism at the combine that included as 4.51 second 40-yard dash at 272 pounds.
There's belief among some in the draft community that he could wind up as the No. 1 pick on April 28.
While speaking to Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports, Walker compared himself to Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns, and made it clear that the team that drafts him is going to get a force on the defensive side of the ball:
"I'm a guy that's going to come in, work my tail off, do whatever the coaches ask me to do. I'll also become a leader as I grow with the team, and just the connection with the team, I'm one of those type of players that once I get comfortable with the environment, I'll definitely be one of those people that they look to for the leader role."
Walker's athleticism didn't translate to production at Georgia, and that's cause for some concern. But if the G-Men get a player some consider the best in the entire class at No. 7, it will be hard to criticize the pick.
Grade: A (Davenport)
8. Atlanta Falcons: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame
Apparently, the Falcons only draft unicorns in the first round. In draft parlance, a unicorn is a prospect whose skill set is completely unique and/or presents the caliber of traits to completely overlook positional value. Clearly, Kyle Pitts fit the mold in last year's class, and the tight end produced an exceptional rookie campaign.
Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton is special as well. The consensus All-American is a 6'4", 220-pound safety capable of doing everything asked of a modern defensive back. Much like Derwin James, Hamilton can play free or strong safety, serve a nickel linebacker, blitz the quarterback, play the run and cover the slot. James is a faster linear athlete, but Hamilton is bigger with better change-of-direction times.
The Falcons simply need talent since they feature arguably the league's worst roster. The addition of yet another gifted prospect, albeit at a non-premium position, will expedite the rebuilding process since Atlanta will have different-makers on both sides of the ball who are both only 21 years old.
Grade: A (Sobleski)
9. Seattle Seahawks: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
Derek Stingley Jr. has the physical ability to perform at a high level in the pros. Though he didn't work out at the combine while on the mend from a foot procedure, the LSU product had a good showing at his pro day, recording an 8.97 relative athletic score (RAS), per Kent Lee Platte of Math Bomb.
With that said, can you count on him to stay healthy and rediscover his elite form from 2019? We must question that after two years of injuries and inconsistent performances.
Stingley has missed 13 games since 2020, most recently because of a Lisfranc injury. Even while healthy, the cornerback's play didn't match his true freshman term when he recorded 15 pass breakups and six interceptions.
Stingley would address the Seattle Seahawks' need at cornerback, but in this spot, they would take him with the hope he looks more like the exceptional player we saw three years ago rather than the fairly decent cornerback over the past two campaigns. This isn't a bad gamble, but Stingley's durability and upside come with question marks.
Grade: B (Moton)
10. New York Jets (via Seattle Seahawks): Edge Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
Florida State edge-rusher Jermaine Johnson is a talented player. The 6'5", 254-pounder piled up 70 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks last year for the Seminoles. He's a ferocious edge-setter and a capable pass-rusher. And a Jets team that tallied just 33 sacks last year can use some pop in the pass rush.
But Johnson isn't a top-10 talent, and this is a need-based reach.
Johnson doesn’t have the elite flexibility and acceleration you see in elite in edge-rushers like Myles Garrett, Robert Quinn and T.J. Watt. He's also not an especially powerful pass-rusher. At least not consistently.
Without the bend to shoot around tackles or the strength to power through them, Johnson is going to struggle to win consistently while rushing the quarterback in the NFL. He should be a fine edge-setter and run defender at the next level, but he's unlikely to ever be a 15-sack defensive force in the pros.
There are other positions where the Jets could get better value here, and the actual draft looks like this mock, this would be a prime spot for Gang Green to trade down.
Grade: C (Davenport)
11. Washington Commanders: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
Washington Commanders: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
The Commanders are all-in with Carson Wentz as their franchise quarterback.
"Wentz is viewed by coaches as more than just a bridge player or even an experimental fix," the Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala reported.
They should be after the front office flipped second-round picks this year, included another third-round pick and sent a 2023 conditional third-round selection to the Indianapolis Colts for the 29-year-old signal-caller. With the situation behind center settled, Washington must turn its attention to properly building around its new quarterback. Washington is set along its offensive front, tight end and running back. Wide Terry McLaurin could use more help, though. No wide receiver beyond McLaurin managed more than 383 receiving yards last season.
Ohio State's Garrett Wilson is a fine addition. He's been a playmaker since the moment he stepped onto campus, and he can be electric once the ball is in his hands. The only question with this selection is whether he's truly WR1 and worthy of being the first off the board. Alabama's Jameson Williams tilts the field with game-changing speed. USC's Drake London is a much bigger and overwhelming target. Former Ohio State teammate Chris Olave is the best route-runner of the bunch.
To be clear, Wilson is a rock-solid addition. He just may not be the class' best wide receiver.
Grade: B+ (Sobleski)
12. Minnesota Vikings: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington
You cannot rely on the box score with your opinion of Trent McDuffie. You must watch him stick to wide receivers on tape. In other words, don't get caught up in the fact that he only recorded two interceptions and eight pass breakups through three collegiate terms.
Let's take a deep look at advanced statistics.
According to Pro Football Focus, McDuffie allowed the fewest receiving yards (111) in coverage among collegians with at least 300 coverage snaps, and he hasn't allowed a touchdown over the past two seasons.
Because of McDuffie's aggressive nature, he can reroute pass-catchers to disrupt the wideout's timing with his quarterback, and at times, signal-callers decided not to throw at him. The Washington product isn't afraid to support the run, logging four tackles for loss in 2021.
On the pro level, McDuffie must continue to play bigger than his size though. He's a 5'11", 193-pound cover man with 29¾" arms. The Minnesota Vikings may have to scheme around his physical limitations, perhaps moving him into the slot unless he demonstrates an ability to hang with bigger-bodied pass-catchers on the perimeter.
Grade: B+ (Moton)
13. Houston Texans (via Cleveland Browns): DT Jordan Davis, Georgia
With the way this draft is playing out, the Houston Texans might want to consider a quarterback here. The team could have their pick of the lot, and will all due respect to Davis Mills, he's more of a career backup than viable NFL starter.
That said, it would be hard to fault the team taking Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis.
Davis is a mountain of a defensive tackle, a 6'6", 341-pounder who will be larger than just about every offensive lineman he faces in the pros. But Davis also has excellent athleticism for a guy his size. In fact, per Kipp Adams of 247 Sports, Pro Football Focus said that we've never seen a player Davis' size with his speed and burst.
"341 pounds. 4.78-second 40-yard dash. 1.63-second 10-yard split. 10-foot-3 broad jump. Need we say more? We've never seen an athlete like Davis at the defensive tackle position," they said.
That kind of defensive unicorn would be hard to pass up for a Texans team that needs talent wherever it can get it.
Grade: A- (Davenport)
14. Baltimore Ravens: Edge George Karlaftis, Purdue
This selection really comes down to prioritization. An investment in the 21-year-old George Karlaftis gives the Ravens yet another talented young pass-rusher to pair with Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser. Karlaftis is also a different type of edge defender compared to the other two. The Purdue product bases his game on converting speed to power. He doesn't have the length, flexibility or raw athleticism to bend the edge like Oweh, but he's certainly more powerful at the point of attack than Bowser.
However, the earlier mention of prioritization banks on how Baltimore should invest at this particular slot. The team is built around Lamar Jackson and the league's best ground-and-pound attack. Yet the offensive line remains a significant question mark with Ronnie Stanley coming off another season-ending injury and an aging right side with Kevin Zeitler at guard and Morgan Moses now at right tackle. Both are already 31 or older.
Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning seems like an ideal fit. If not him, the front office could look to rework the wide receiver room with Alabama's Jameson Williams, USC's Drake London, Ohio State's Chris Olave and Arkansas' Treylon Burks still on the board. After all, the position's market exploded this offseason and it's better to invest early than too late.
Grade: C+ (Sobleski)
15. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
The Philadelphia Eagles' fan community made a smart move and basically acknowledged that executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman screwed up with wideout Jalen Reagor in the first round of the 2020 draft.
Jameson Williams can essentially erase that bad pick from two years ago. Though he's still on the road to a full recovery from a torn ACL, he's worth the wait—however long it takes for him to reach 100 percent.
If not for the injury, we can make the argument that Williams could've gone in the top 10. If he's still on the board at No. 15, the Eagles would hit a home run with him in this spot.
Williams showcased his big-play ability after transferring from Ohio State to Alabama, hauling in 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns. The explosive wideout will put immense stress on cornerbacks who lack quick-twitch athleticism and safeties deep downfield.
Eagles wideout DeVonta Smith may be a more reliable pass-catcher on a down-to-down basis, but defensive coordinators will have to scheme for Williams, who can stretch defenses over the top and accelerate after the catch.
Grade: A (Moton)
16. New Orleans Saints (via PHI and IND): WR Chris Olave, Ohio State
Man, the B/R App Community really isn't feeling this year's quarterback class.
To be clear, I have no problem with the Saints selecting Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave. Bleacher Report's Nate Tice ranks him as this year's No. 2 wide receiver and a top-10 prospect overall:
"Olave is a great route-runner with polish. He shows an understanding of not only the routes he runs but the concept that the offense is running and will tempo his routes accordingly.
Olave plays with balance and body control, which allows him to battle through contact and also attack defenders vertically before running by them or uncovering on a route. His understanding of space is on display when he's asked to run more "advanced" routes and also during scramble drills, where he has to find unoccupied areas of the field."
Given the uncertain future of Michael Thomas in New Orleans, this is a team that needs weapons in the passing game. The problem is that they also need a quarterback of the future, and with none off the board yet, the Saints passing on a signal-caller here is a gamble that could come back to haunt them.
Grade: B (Davenport)
17. Los Angeles Chargers: DL Devonte Wyatt, Gerorgia
The Chargers have done an excellent job building their defense in Brandon Staley's image. The basic tenant of his scheme is to play with light boxes in order to drop more defenders into coverage and confuse opposing quarterbacks. The organization brought in Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson to significantly upgrade the unit's defensive front.
Could the group use more help? Absolutely. Georgia's Devonte Wyatt fits perfectly into the scheme, and he brings the quickest first step of any interior defender in this year's class. The real question is whether he's good value at this point when quality additions have already been made along the same position group.
For example, right tackle remains a gaping hole. Considering how Justin Herbert is trending, his protection should be of the utmost concern. Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning and Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann both remain available in this scenario. A year ago, the Chargers were fortunate when Rashawn Slater fell into their laps with the 13th pick. They'd be fortunate if another first-round quality tackle remains on the board to address the other side of the line.
Grade: C+ (Sobleski)
18. Philadelphia Eagles (via New Orleans Saints): LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
In recent years, the Eagles bypassed off-ball linebackers in the first round despite a glaring need at the position, so it's refreshing to see the fan community make this selection to finally add a high-end rookie to the unit.
T.J. Edwards plays well when he moves downhill. Davion Taylor, a 2020 third-rounder, has time to develop into a decent linebacker. Kyzir White, whom the team signed in free agency, brings starting experience.
With that said, Devin Lloyd has the potential to become a special three-down defender in the middle of the Eagles defense.
As a former high school safety, Lloyd didn't have any issues in pass coverage at Utah. He's comfortable in space and also presents a threat as a blitzer. The 6'3", 237-pound linebacker recorded 43 tackles for loss, 16.5 sacks, eight pass breakups and five interceptions (returning three for pick-sixes) over the past three years. The Utah product can do it all at middle linebacker or on the weak side.
If Roseman leaned on the Eagles' community for an opinion in the draft, this would be the pick to do it.
Grade: A (Moton)
19. New Orleans Saints (via PHI): OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
19. New Orleans Saints (via Philadelphia Eagles): OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
If the New Orleans Saints don't take a quarterback with either of their two first-rounders, it will show an impressive amount on confidence in Jameis Winston's long-term viability—a level of confidence that very few people probably have.
With that said, it's not hard to see why Mickey Loomis could be interested in Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning as a replacement for Terron Armstead, who signed with the Miami Dolphins via free agency this offseason. Penning has experience at both tackle sports, power and plus athleticism.
As Bob McGinn reported for Go Long, Penning made quite the impression on his defensive counterparts at this year's Senior Bowl with his intensity. Penning said that level of nastiness will most assuredly be coming with him to the NFL.
"Just playing very nasty is just how I believe O-line is meant to be played," Penning said. "You want that guy across from you to hate to go against you. You want to see the fear in his eyes almost. You want him to be exhausted and he wants to go home and get on that flight and get the hell out of there. It's a huge, huge part of my game."
Who doesn't want that guy on their team?
Grade: A- (Davenport)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The particular selection elicits a mixed bag of thoughts.
Clearly, the Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need a long-term plan at the game's most important position, and they get their guy in Liberty's Malik Willis. Also, the quarterback is walking into the best possible situation, because the organization already has Mitchell Trubisky under contract and the rookie won't be forced into the lineup simply because he's a first-round pick.
The Steelers are also the league's most stable franchise. The idea of selecting a developmental option and actually committing to him could prove to be the difference between success or failure.
But everyone around the league knows this year's quarterback class is weak, and Willis' selection brings certain risks.
"I just have issues with his processing and the instincts," an NFC scout told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. "He knows his O-line's bad, but he still just stands there. He's not feeling [rushers] coming up on him and really escaping and getting the ball downfield. There's flash plays. There's a lot of bad stuff. He's definitely a project, and anybody taking him really high is going to have to fully commit to that."
Whatever the concern, the Steelers landed the most naturally gifted quarterback in the class, and he adds exceptional athleticism and raw arm talent to the offense.
Grade: B (Sobleski)
21. New England Patriots: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Though Nakobe Dean didn't work out at the combine and had some limitations at Georgia's pro day because of a pectoral injury, he showcased his athleticism through three collegiate terms. His physical tools check a box for New England Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh, who wants to add more speed to the roster.
At 5'11", 229 pounds, Dean doesn't have the ideal size of a pro linebacker. Teams may wonder if he's able to shed blocks when unable to avoid traffic near the line of scrimmage, but no one can argue against his 2021 production.
In addition to his ability to play in space, Dean made several stops in the opponent's backfield last season, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. If he continues to make an impact in that fashion, the versatile linebacker will quickly quell concerns about his stature.
Dean would likely start Week 1 for the Patriots, which released Kyle Van Noy and haven't re-signed Jamie Collins.
Grade: A- (Moton)
22. Green Bay Packers (via Las Vegas Raiders): WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas
The percentage of people who expect the Green Bay Packers to draft a wide receiver with at least one of their two first round picks is extremely high right now.
Treylon Burks of Arkansas has quite a few tempting qualities for NFL general managers. He has size at 6'2" and 225 pounds, decent speed, was productive in college, and he lined up all over the formation.
Timothy Lindsey of Lombardi Ave. thinks that Burks would be a perfect fit in green and gold.
"Being able to run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash while standing well above six feet and weighing 225 pounds is ridiculous," he said. "His route-running is smooth. His ability to track the ball in the air is elite. That is due to the fact that he was an All-State baseball player in high school. Think of Burks as a cross between A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel. He is a true athlete that can do multiple things very well. He has the size and speed to be a dangerous threat in Matt LaFleur’s offense."
Calling him a cross between Samuel and Brown may be a stretch, but there's no denying the Pack desperately needs the kind of explosiveness and versatility Burks could theoretically provide.
Grade: A (Davenport)
23.Arizona Cardinals: WR Drake London, USC
The Cardinals landed the best value of the first round, according to the Bleacher Report Scouting Department's draft board. B/R's group of scouts have 6'4", 213-pound receiver Drake London ranked as the third-best player in the entire class.
To be fair, London isn't generally considered the class' WR1 when looking at other boards and reading other scouting opinions. Even so, London should be held in extremely high regard because of his size, length, catch radius, body control and basketball feet. Interestingly, his size belies how he moves. In some ways, he's reminiscent of A.J. Green, who could serve as the perfect mentor for the 20-year-old target in Arizona.
The age of Green and DeAndre Hopkins—both will be 30 or older this year—plus the loss of Christian Kirk in free agency made wide receiver a priority in Kliff Kingsbury's Air Raid-inspired scheme. The coach has adjusted at the NFL level, but the opportunity to land another premium target and keep quarterback Kyler Murray happy should be more than enough to influence this particular selection.
Grade: A (Sobleski)
24. Dallas Cowboys: OG/C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
The Dallas Cowboys would snag a steal with this selection.
Tyler Linderbaum is easily the best center in the class. The 2021 first-team All-American and Rimington Trophy winner has three years of starting experience at Iowa and played through his redshirt junior campaign as a team captain.
Don't worry about Linderbaum's arm length (31⅛"); he's a strong and physical interior lineman who's also smooth in his movement with the ability to reach second-level blocks. Because of his active feet, he can locate and seal off a free defender who attempts to make an effort play or capitalize on a blown assignment.
The Cowboys can keep Linderbaum at his natural position and slot him over Tyler Biadasz as a potential upgrade, or they can experiment with him at left guard in a position battle with Connor McGovern. Either way, he's a pro-ready starter capable of clearing lanes for ball-carriers on the interior.
Grade: A (Moton)
25. Buffalo Bills: CB Andrew Booth Jr., Clemson
The Buffalo Bills aren't a team with a ton of needs. But after losing Levi Wallace in free agency, the defensive backfield could use an influx of talent.
That puts players like Clemson's Andrew Booth squarely in the team's sights with the 25th pick.
Booth isn't the tallest or fastest corner in the class. But as Mike Santagata wrote for All Bengals, he brings with him an NFL-ready skill-set in many regards.
"Booth possesses a very smooth, low to the ground backpedal that he can utilize while playing off coverage," he wrote. "He keeps his shoulders square and proper cushion as he backpedals allowing him to read the quarterback and receiver. It also keeps him square with the receiver allowing for him to move with him."
As is the case with just about every young cornerback entering the NFL, there are aspects of Booth's game that need work. Also, he's admittedly not the highest-ranked cornerback available either on my personal board or the rankings of the NFL Draft Scouting Department here at Bleacher Report.
But he's still a talented young cover man who should be able to make an impact for the Bills defensively early in his professional career.
Grade: B (Davenport)
26. Tennessee Titans: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State
Derrick Henry might be the heart and soul of the Titans, but the organization must start preparing for his inevitable decline—whenever it comes.
The wear and tear is already starting to show with last year's broken foot. Statistically, he wasn't quite up to his lofty standards, either. As the Football Guys' Dave Kluge noted, Henry's yards after contact per attempt decreased in each of the past three seasons, and he set a career low in broken tackle rate last year.
Thus, more of an emphasis should be placed on the Titans' passing attack to help lengthen and maximize the rest of Henry's career. The Julio Jones experiment didn't work, and the future Hall of Fame inductee is no longer with the team.
Penn State's Jahan Dotson can bring something different to the table.
Tennessee still features A.J. Brown and traded for Robert Woods. Dotson is a smaller target, who plays much bigger than his size (5'11", 178 pounds) might indicate. The first-team All-Big Ten performer displays strong hands, contorts his body in extremely difficult ways to snag passes and creates after the catch. He's an electric option to open up Tennessee's offense even more and take some of the onus off of Henry's broad shoulders.
Grade: B+ (Sobleski)
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OG, Zion Johnson, Boston College
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost left guard Ali Marpet, who retired this offseason. The team needs an immediate starter on the interior of the offensive line.
The Buccaneers community nailed this selection.
While Zion Johnson has experience at multiple spots across the offensive line, he's played a majority of his snaps at left guard, which makes him a shoo-in to start in Tampa Bay.
With a compact 6'3", 312-pound frame and great strength (32 reps on a 225-pound bench press at the combine), Johnson should be able to handle bull-rushing defenders and exert tremendous power, extending his 34" arms or using them to steer penetrators out of interior pass-rushing lanes.
Johnson must work on following twists and stunts with better footwork, but that's a minor blemish for a high-upside prospect. For the most part, he's equipped to protect quarterback Tom Brady and create space for running back Leonard Fournette.
Grade: A- (Moton)
28. Green Bay Packers: WR George Pickens, Georgia
It had to happen sooner or later. After making it most of the way through the first round without a truly bad pick, the Bleacher Report App Community finally whiffed.
It's not necessarily an indictment of Georgia wide receiver George Pickens—when healthy, the 6'3", 194-pounder has the sort of size/speed combos that NFL teams salivate over. But that "when healthy" part is a major caveat considering Pickens tore an ACL last spring.
That's not the only reason why this was an ill-advised selection, though. The Packers have already selected one wide receiver in this mock. With two second-rounders and a deep wideout class, Green Bay could afford to wait and address other positions.
Per Bleacher Report's big board, there is a higher-rated cornerback available in Florida's Kaair Elam, a higher-rated edge rusher in Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie and a higher-rated offensive tackle in Central Michigan's Bernhard Raimann.
Wide receiver isn't Green Bay's only problem. In panicking to address that problem twice in the first round, Green Bay wasted valuable draft capital here.
Grade: D (Davenport)
29. Kansas City Chiefs (Via SF an MIA): Edge David Ojabo, Michigan
The Chiefs are getting in early on a prospect who likely would have gone much higher had he been healthy for this year's draft. Unfortunately, Michigan's David Ojabo suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the Wolverines' pro day. The Chiefs have a pair of first-round picks and a future need at edge-rusher, which give them the flexibility to take the chance on a fluid athlete still learning how to harness his physical capabilities.
Ojabo emigrated from Nigeria, via Scotland, to the United States and didn't start playing American football until his junior year of high school. Four years later, the silky smooth defender racked up 11 sacks in one of the nation's best conferences. Depending on Ojabo's recovery, he could be back on the field by late December, though a return this year shouldn't be expected.
Two picks in the back of the first-round also allow the Chiefs to address wide receiver if they're looking for a Tyreek Hill replacement. A year from now, the Chiefs will already have a Frank Clark replacement on the roster when the team inevitably releases the defensive end because it doesn't want to have his $30.1 million salary-cap charge on the books.
Grade: B (Sobleski)
30. Kansas City Chiefs: WR Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Coming out of FCS North Dakota State, Christian Watson needed to use public events to build a buzz. He did just that with a strong performance at the combine.
At 6'4", 208 pounds, Watson ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and looked comfortable catching in the position drills. He has an intriguing combination of size and speed and averaged an impressive 20.4 yards per reception through four collegiate terms.
However, Watson seems like a bit of a reach in the back end of the first round. While he has potential because of his physical profile, the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff would have to work on his route-running technique.
Furthermore, Watson didn't dominate FCS competition, logging personal highs of 43 receptions, 807 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He must learn to use his stature as an advantage over smaller defenders. Perhaps he can improve in that area with added functional play strength.
Watson might be available for Kansas City at No. 50, which would be a more appropriate spot in terms of draft value. If the Chiefs want to fill a need with their second first-rounder, Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam, is a better choice here. He can replace Charvarius Ward on the boundary.
Grade: C (Moton)
31. Cincinnati Bengals: CB, Kaiir Elam, Florida
The Cincinnati Bengals entered the offseason with a glaring need on the offensive line. And to the team's credit, the Bengals addressed that need, adding center Ted Karras, guard Alex Cappa and tackle La'El Collins up front.
But that wasn't Cincinnati's only need—the team could use on upgrade on Eli Apple at cornerback opposite Chidobe Awuzie.
Florida's Kaiir Elam could be just such an upgrade. Per Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Elam's 6'2' frame and sub 4.4-second speed set him up to be a very effective boundary corner at the professional level.
"Elam thrives in press coverage at the line of scrimmage, using his size and his strength to overpower wide receivers with his punch at the snap, he wrote. "Elam has proven that he can match up at the line of scrimmage and use his physicality to slow down NFL receivers. He’s a true “press man” corner on the outside of the field who has the size and strength to stick with bigger wide receivers, like Tee Higgins, on the outside of the field."
He'd be an excellent get for the AFC champs at No. 31.
Grade: A (Davenport)
32. Detroit Lions: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
First, the good news: Michigan safety Daxton Hill is a talented and versatile defensive back—a player who can play both safety positions and in the slot.
That he played collegiately at Michigan would no doubt please Lions fans who came so close to landing Aidan Hutchinson.
But on Bleacher Report's big board, Hill isn't even graded as a top-five safety...or in the top-75 players overall. While drafting Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton in the first round is one thing, the reality is that safety isn't a premium position in the NFL draft.
Quarterback most assuredly is, though. If the draft plays out like this and just one signal-caller has been drafted by the time the Lions go on the clock with the last pick of Round 1, there are only two sensible courses of action: Trade down, or draft a quarterback.
Pitt's Kenny Pickett. North Carolina's Sam Howell. Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder. Matt Corral of Ole Miss. The Lions need to take whatever young quarterback is on top of their draft board.
There's a reason the Ravens traded up for Lamar Jackson in 2022. It's an opportunity to roll the dice on a signal-caller of the future at a deep discount—with the added bonus of a fifth option year,
The draft is a game of sorts. You have to know how to play it.
Grade: D (Davenport)