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NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Pass Rushers aplenty in Round 1

By Stuart Dick

Published: 18:00, 27 April 2022

With the NFL Draft almost upon us and the height of free agency wrapped up, we’ve had a final examination of each team’s crucial needs.

The draft order has been reshuffled following a series of huge trades over the past month – here is how the first round could shape up in Las Vegas today.

Mock Draft Version 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 5.0 

#1 Jacksonville Jaguars – OL Ikem Ekwonu (North Carolina State)

There has been a late trend towards Ekwonu going first overall, and I jump on the bandwagon. Trevor Lawrence needs protection, and the Jags have spent two recent first-round picks on EDGE rusher. Ekwonu has the versatility to start at guard during his rookie season and move out to tackle later in his career, or he can start at tackle straight away.

#2 Detroit Lions – EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)

Detroit rushes to the podium to take a hard-nosed, relentless pass rusher in Hutchinson. Hutchinson stays in state – having played his college career in Ann Arbor – and will be an immediate upgrade at edge for the Lions. Detroit’s scoring defense has ranked #31, #32 and #26 over the past three seasons so this is a no-brainer.

#3 Houston Texans – T Evan Neal (Alabama)

Houston has a need at RT, and Evan Neal is the best option of the two remaining top-10 calibre tackles. He has experience playing the position – and across a number of offensive line positions. The Texans rebuild is a massive undertaking, and they need to start in the trenches.

#4 New York Jets – EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon)

Head Coach Robert Saleh will be keen to build a defense like the one he had in San Francisco, and he gets potentially the most explosive pass rusher in this draft. Thibodeaux is a physical monster with speed, power and athleticism – while the question marks around his desire to play the game have quietened as the draft has approached.

#5 New York Giants – EDGE Travon Walker (Georgia)

Walker’s dominating Combine showing has rocketed him up the draft boards of many a team – and there is a belief he could go first overall. I take production on tape over Combine stats and measurables, thus Walker is the third EDGE off the board. At 6’5” and 272lbs, he ran a 4.51 40-YARD DASH! He can also play at 3-4 DE or 3-4 OLB.

Trade – Philadelphia Eagles (#15, #83 and LT Andre Dillard) for Carolina Panthers #6

#6 Philadelphia Eagles (via, CAR) – CB Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner (Cincinnati)

There has been talk the Eagles are looking to move up – with the target supposedly WR Jameson Williams. However, I suggest this is a smokescreen as they move up to grab a top-two corner in the draft. ‘Sauce’ has the length, production, speed and toughness you look for in a man-to-man corner and he will start immediately opposite Darius Slay.

Trade – Minnesota Vikings (#12 and #77) for New York Giants (#7)

#7 Minnesota Vikings (via CHI, via NYG) – CB Derek Stingley Jnr (LSU)

Minnesota knows it needs to make a move to secure Stingley Jr as the cornerback run begins. The Giants, meanwhile, trade back knowing a WR run is coming, and they can get OL later in the round. Stingley could prove to be the best corner in the draft, if he returns to his freshman LSU form.

#8 Atlanta Falcons – WR Jameson Williams (Alabama)

Questions over the knee injury which scuppered Williams during the NCAA National Championship Game are now being downplayed. He is already back in training and the consensus is that Williams is considered the best WR in the class, thus Atlanta secures his services as the Falcons begin their rebuild.

Trade – Green Bay Packers (#22 and #59) for Seattle Seahawks (#9 and #106)

#9 Green Bay Packers (via DEN, via SEA) – WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State)

Green Bay needs a WR, and with two first-round picks it can use some of that capital to make this move up the draft order. The Packers take Garrett Wilson, who could become the new Jordy Nelson for Aaron Rodgers. His short-area athleticism makes him a prime candidate for the slot – expect a high volume of targets, and catches.

#10 New York Jets (via SEA) – WR Drake London (USC)

The third wide receiver to go off the board in as many picks as the Jets need to add weaponry for second-year QB Zach Wilson. At 6’4” and 219lbs, London may unfairly be given the tag of ‘contested catch’ specialist, and fall down draft boards. On production alone though he’d be a top 5 lock, but suffered a season-ending injury midway through the last campaign.

#11 Washington Commanders – WR Chris Olave (Ohio State)

Washington stays put and continues the WR run by taking Olave. The former Buckeye gains separation through fluid route running in addition to elite speed, and he should be the perfect complement to Terry McLaurin should the latter remain in Washington.

#12 New York Giants (via MIN) – T Charles Cross (Mississippi State)

The Giants drop down five spots, pick up a third-rounder and still secure a top-three player at a position of need – nice work. Cross is a specialist pass blocker who should help keep Daniel Jones upright. He will however need to improve his run blocking to open holes for RB Saquon Barkley.

Trade – Arizona Cardinals (#23, #55 and #201) for Houston Texans (#13 and #68)

#13 Arizona Cardinals (via HOU, via CLE) – CB Trent McDuffie (Washington)

Kliff Kingsbury could very well be on the hot seat in 2022, so he makes a big move to secure the #3 cornerback in the draft class. McDuffie is a tier below Gardner and Stingley Jnr due to his lack of size, but his production certainly shows on tape. McDuffie could start immediately opposite Byron Murphy.

#14 Baltimore Ravens – DT Jordan Davis (Georgia)

Baltimore solidifies the interior of its defensive line with the physical monster that is Georgia Nose Tackle Jordan Davis. Davis is 6’6”, 341lbs and can run a 40-yard dash in a similar time to Jerry Rice. Davis could make a huge impact on the Ravens’ #32-ranked pass defense, and with the top three corners of the board it is also the best value pick.

#15 Carolina Panthers (via PHI, via MIA) – QB Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)

Speculation has been rife that the Carolina Panthers prefer Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett over many of his draft rivals. After trading back and acquiring a third-round pick – as well as a former first-round left tackle – Carolina makes the pick and takes Pickett. He doesn’t have the physical tools that you expect elite QB talents to have, but his accuracy is second to none in an underwhelming class.

#16 New Orleans Saints (via IND, via PHI) – WR George Pickens (Georgia)

New Orleans witnessed the wide receiver run earlier in the draft and is forced to sit tight and take the 6’3”, 200lb George Pickens out of Georgia. Pickens has had his injury troubles, but he would be in consideration as a top-10 pick based on physical traits alone. He has excellent speed and the ability to high-point a ball.

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#17 Los Angeles Chargers – S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame)

The Chargers cannot believe their luck as a certified top-five talent drops all the way to #17 after a sub-par Combine and pro day in terms of his 40 time. However, pure playmaking ability shown on tape should keep his draft stock high, but somehow, he drops to the Chargers – who pair him with Derwin James in an elite safety combo.

#18 Philadelphia Eagles – DT Devonte Wyatt (Georgia)

Wyatt has become somewhat of a familiar pick across the mock draft landscape for the Eagles. With Fletcher Cox on a one-year deal, and his production dropping off, the Eagles draft a like-for-like replacement in Wyatt. The former Georgia Bulldog doesn’t have the production which warrants a first-round selection in terms of sacks, but his physical tools earn him a shot to shine in Philly.

#19 New Orleans Saints – OT Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan)

Raimann is the instant replacement for the departed Terron Armstead as New Orleans fills both its major needs in round one. The former Central Michigan star is a physical monster whose selection is based on physical tools more than play to date. He is a raw talent who can be molded into an All-Pro.

#20 Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati)

Pittsburgh takes a quarterback to develop behind Mitchell Trubisky. Ridder is a winner, having led the Cincinnati Bearcats to the NCAA National Championship playoffs. He has the dual-threat ability the modern game covets.

#21 New England Patriots – LB Devin Lloyd (Utah)

Another team to miss out on the wide receiver run, the Patriots settle for one of the best off-the-ball draft prospects in the draft. Lloyd is an instinctive tackler who can excel in the interior run game, and he has the speed to make plays side-to-side. The rich get richer as a top-five defense secures another elite playmaking talent.

#22 Seattle Seahawks (via GB, via LV) – QB Malik Willis (Liberty)

Seattle drops down and still secures its quarterback of choice in Malik Willis. Willis is raw but he has the arm, the intangibles, the dual-threat capability and the size you want in a franchise QB. He’ll need time to develop in the NFL, and will gave a tough task in a strong NFC West division.

#23 Houston Texans (via ARI) – LB Nakobe Dean (Georgia)

The Texans, having dropped back and added further draft capital, take the other big-name off-the-ball linebacker in the draft. He may be undersized, but Dean’s instincts, athleticism and ability to tackle are unquestioned. He’ll be a playmaker in the pass game too.

#24 Dallas Cowboys – EDGE George Karlaftis (Purdue)

Randy Gregory is now a Bronco, so Karlaftis is the choice for Jerry Jones. The Purdue star may not have the sack numbers you desire in a premium pass rusher, but if you look deeper into the analytics he disrupts the play – whether it’s by moving the QB off his spot, allowing space for others or stopping the run. A steal for Dallas at 24.

Trade – Seattle Seahawks (#40 and 2023 R2) for Buffalo Bills (#25)

#25 Seattle Seahawks (via BUF) – CB Andrew Booth Jnr (Clemson)

Seattle jumps back into the first round, with Buffalo adding capital for a future draft. The Seahawks need corner and were buoyed by the fact that both Booth and Willis were available at #22. So they work hard to get back into the first round to secure a player at another position of need. Booth has the size and speed teams covet on the outside.

#26 Tennessee Titans – C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa)

With the Titans on the clock, they could go quarterback, but the best options are already gone. Instead, they take potentially the best player in this draft in Linderbaum. He could dominate for years to come in the weak AFC South.

#27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – G Zion Johnson (Boston College)

Another gritty, nasty lineman comes off the board as Johnson replaces the retiring Ali Marpet. A powerful player, Zion has excellent technique and will be a strong addition for Tom Brady in pass protection.

#28 Green Bay Packers – T Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa)

Penning fills an immediate need at offensive tackle, and he will start on the right side for now. The question mark for Penning is the standard of opponent in college – he played his ball in the Football Conference Series (FCS). He is a polished run defender who will need to improve in the pass game.

#29 Kansas City Chiefs – EDGE Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State)

Andy Reid loves pass rush and with Senior Bowl standout Jermaine Johnson II still available, he becomes the first selection for the Kansas City Chiefs. Johnson has the versatility to play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 and he could have gone a lot higher. Instead it all falls perfectly for the Chiefs, who get a steal.

#30 Kansas City Chiefs – WR Treylon Burks (Arkansas)

With the second of back-to-back picks, Kansas City selects the Swiss Army knife that is Treylon Burks. With the departure of Tyreek Hill, the offensive mastermind that is Andy Reid and the perennial MVP candidate that is Patrick Mahomes, this is a no-brainer. Great value.

#31 Cincinnati Bengals – G Kenyon Green (Texas A&M)

The Bengals could become a year-on-year contender in the AFC if they are able to fix their offensive line. Cincy has already added All-Pro calibre talents in the form of guards Alex Cappa, centre Ted Karras and tackle La’el Collins. They now draft the relentless run blocker that is Kenyon Green.

#32 Detroit Lions (via LAR) – S Lewis Cine (Georgia)

With the three quarterbacks worthy of consideration all off the board, Detroit goes to a position of need to grab a quality safety. The Georgia Bulldog made 73 tackles in 2021 with nine passes defended and one interception. He becomes the sixth Georgia star off the board in the first round – including the fifth on defense.


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