2022 NFL Draft: 6 Shocking Picks That Might Happen in Round 1

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVApril 28, 2022

2022 NFL Draft: 6 Shocking Picks That Might Happen in Round 1

0 of 6

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Even after poring over mock drafts and reading into every rumor and team visit, the 2022 NFL draft is impossible to predict. Trades will immediately destroy mock drafts, and there figure to be at least a few shocking picks that no one saw coming.

    It's easy to dream about how star college football players will dominate in the pros. What fans and media don't get access to ends up mattering just as much as what happened on the field, though. Medical histories, interviews, and scheme fits must be considered when projecting landing spots for prospects.

    Sometimes, the most shocking picks happen because a team values the player more than anyone else. Other times, a front office may not consider certain team needs to be nearly as important as the public does. 

    After scouring mock drafts, we've come up with six shocking picks that might happen in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. Some of these players haven't been mocked to these teams often, while others were pegged to be drafted in later rounds.

    Let's dive in ahead of one of the most unpredictable NFL drafts in recent memory.

Atlanta Falcons Take WR Jameson Williams

1 of 6

    Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

    According to NBC Sports' Peter King, the Atlanta Falcons "love" USC wide receiver Drake London. However, they just took tight end Kyle Pitts fourth overall last year.

    Rather than spend another top-10 pick on a big-bodied receiver, they should be targeting a speedster at No. 8. Alabama's Jameson Williams would be the perfect fit despite his injury concerns.

    Williams has incredible speed and agility for someone with a 6'1½", 179-pound frame. His effortless acceleration on deep routes and ability to cut on a dime without losing speed should make him a great fit for any quarterback.

    Williams is recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered during the College Football Playoff national championship game, so he might begin the 2022 season on the physically unable to perform list. That shouldn't deter the Falcons from taking him, as they're headed into a rebuild after trading away longtime quarterback Matt Ryan this offseason.

    Expectations are low in Atlanta this season. The Falcons can afford to sit Williams as long as he needs to recover. In return, he could become a potential true No. 1 threat next to Pitts in the near future.

New England Patriots Trade Up for DT Jordan Davis

2 of 6

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    There isn't a more New England Patriots type of player in this year's draft class than Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

    That isn't just because of the success that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick enjoyed when he had Vince Wilfork in the middle of his defenses from 2004-2014. Davis is a rare interior force with his massive 6'6", 341-pound frame, much like Wilfork and Vita Vea have been.

    Davis should be selected higher than he's projected to go based on his movement ability and the importance of a penetrating defensive tackle. He had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time of any defensive tackle at the combine (4.78 seconds) and led all players at his position by nearly a foot with a 10'3" broad jump.

    Most mock drafts have Davis going 12th overall to the Minnesota Vikings or 14th overall to the Baltimore Ravens, which should give the Patriots an idea of how high they'd have to trade up. Moving their 21st and 85th overall picks along with a 2023 second-rounder should be enough in trade value to leapfrog the Ravens. 

    That's a heavy price to pay, but Davis can be a transformative trench piece. His presence should open up pass-rushing lanes for his teammates since he'll occupy multiple blockers more often than not. Any offense that risks blocking Davis with one lineman will quickly realize that his speed and power is too much for any one person to regularly contain. 

Detroit Lions Grab WR Skyy Moore at No. 32

3 of 6

    Al Goldis/Associated Press

    Every NFL team could use more playmaking help in some form. The transition to quick, shifty receivers who can win off the line of scrimmage has redefined what teams look for at the position.

    Most mock drafts have Western Michigan star receiver Skyy Moore being picked in the mid-to-late 30s, but the Detroit Lions should consider taking him at No. 32.

    The 5'10" Moore ran a blazing 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the combine. His explosiveness out of the slot is obvious, but he can also play outside for any offense with his ability to get downfield. Pairing Moore with Amon-Ra St. Brown and D.J. Chark in Detroit would give Jared Goff a strong variety of playmakers.

    The Lions might be tempted to take a quarterback at No. 32 because they'd have a fifth-year option on his rookie contract. But if they don't love any of the signal-callers in that range, they should instead fill out their receiver room with a dynamic threat who would help in 2022 and beyond.

Minnesota Vikings Select Pass-Rusher Drake Jackson

4 of 6

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    New Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah cut his teeth in research and development for the San Francisco 49ers before serving as the Cleveland Browns' vice president of football operations. He's learned the value of an efficient draft process from some of the best in the NFL.

    Trading down to stockpile assets while still drafting a similar-caliber player than one he could've had with the original pick is the ideal strategy. Given the Vikings' needs at defensive end and cornerback, Adofo-Mensah should look at the strength of this class at both positions and see the path to value.

    If the top two corners (Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr.) are off the board at No. 12, the Vikings shouldn't force a pick at that position. The edge-rusher class also drops off after Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and Georgia's Travon Walker, all of whom figure to be long gone by No. 12.

    USC edge-rusher Drake Jackson fits the analytical mold thanks to his solid production across three seasons (103 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks) and age (he just turned 21 in mid-April. Despite that, he's widely being projected as a second-round pick. 

    Trading down and adding Jackson to a rotation of Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith would not only help keep Minnesota's veterans fresh, but it would also put a clear heir in place to take over as a starter in the coming years.

New York Jets Draft Pass-Rusher Jermaine Johnson II at No. 4

5 of 6

    Hakim Wright Sr./Associated Press

    After a breakout 2021 season at Florida State, pass-rusher Jermaine Johnson II has established himself as a premier option for teams in the top 10. He already has an NFL body at 6'5" and 254 pounds, and he was one of the best run defenders in the nation, according to PFF.

    The New York Jets have a massive need for another pass-rusher who can step into their starting lineup right away, making Johnson more attractive than a developmental pick.

    Johnson isn't as flexible or fast as Kayvon Thibodeaux, but he is a much better player at the point of attack against the run. He will provide three-down value right away. The Jets will surely need to consider that Thibodeaux's personality has raised question marks.

    New York must also consider the health factor after losing defensive end Carl Lawson for the entire 2021 season. Johnson showed durability as he racked up 70 tackles and 11.5 sacks in 12 games last year, whereas Thibodeaux missed several games with an ankle injury.

    Johnson is the better overall fit for the Jets than Thibodeaux, even at No. 4.

Philadelphia Eagles Draft LB Quay Walker

6 of 6

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Armed with two first-round picks, the Philadelphia Eagles can solidify a roster with few needs left on it.

    Their most glaring weakness on defense is at linebacker. Even after T.J. Edwards tallied 130 tackles last season and the team signed veteran Kyzir White from the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency, the Eagles don't have a three-down coverage linebacker.

    Adding former Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Quay Walker would solve this huge need.

    Walker is coming off a career year with 65 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. The senior then raised his draft stock significantly with a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and 10'2" broad jump at the combine.

    Walker's combination of quick feet, quality tackling technique and comfort in coverage makes him an ideal modern-day linebacker. Others in this year's draft class might have been more productive in college, but NFL success is about traits as much as opportunity.

    Walker has the skill set to become a dynamic starter early in his career.