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Saunders: First-Round Mock 2022 NFL Draft



The 2022 NFL Draft is here, and this feels like one of the most unpredictable first rounds in quite some time but here is our Steelers Now mock first round. 

With eight teams possessing multiple picks, it would be very difficult to predict the way this draft falls without trades, and there will probably be many trades made, as well. We won’t be including those here, but expect many Thursday night.

1, Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Walker would not be my pick of the edge rushers, but feels like a good fit for the Jaguars. There are plenty of Georgia fans in their area and an edge rusher will do more to capture the fanbase than a tackle will, which is really the only other position I could see going here. Betting markets have gone hard to Walker late in the process.

2, Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Dan Campbell wants to bite kneecaps. The Ford Family wants to sell tickets. Hutchinson will do both, while also filling a big need in the Detroit defense. Easy pick here for me.

3, Houston Texans: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Texans could go almost any direction with this pick, but Stingley feels like the consensus top corner to me, and that is as big of a need as Houston has. Kayvon Thibodeaux and one of the tackles would be hard to pass up.

4, New York Jets: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

With Mekhai Becton possibly getting traded, the Jets would suddenly have a big hole at tackle, and Ekwonu could fill that. In the off chance things get resolved between Becton and the Jets, Ekwonu could also fit at guard, which elevates him over the other tackle options.

5, New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

The Giants’ big needs are edge rusher and tackle. With one edge and two tackles on the board, they’ll take Tbibodeaux first and the let whoever falls to No. 7 fall.

Charles Cross

OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

6, Carolina Panthers: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Panthers will probably trade down here, but without that option, they’ll take the best tackle available and look later in the draft for a quarterback.

7, New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Giants get both of their big needs and land a player at No. 7 that had been talked about as a potential first overall pick.

8, Atlanta Falcons: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Without his injury, Williams would be talked about as a top-five pick. The Falcons are reeling at receiver with the suspension to Calvin Ridley and have nowhere near enough offensive weapons. Williams is a great fit.

Liberty Football hosts the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Williams Stadium on November 20, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

9, Seattle Seahawks: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Nobody really believes in Drew Lock, right? If the Seahawks want to be the Seahawks, and run the ball a lot, run with the quarterback, and throw deep with play action, Malik Willis is a perfect fit and while this may not be a great value pick, since when does Seattle care about that?

10, New York Jets: Ahmad Garder, CB, Cincinnati

This is another perfect trade-down spot, but the Jets could very well be just as happy with getting a top corner with their second top-10 pick of the draft.

11, Washington Commanders: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Another pick that could go almost any direction, but Washington is light on offensive playmakers and another Buckeye to go with Terry McLaurin seems like a good fit.

12, Minnesota Vikings: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

This is another prime trade-down spot as McDuffie is probably a hair of a reach here. Kyle Hamilton and the other remaining edge rushers are also likely options and good fits, especially George Karlaftis.

13, Houston Texans: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

Johnson just fits what the Texans want in an edge rusher and they get one in the first round, even after prioritizing Stingley at No. 3. Another good trade-down spot for a quarterback team.

Jordan Davis

14, Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

In a very uncertain first round, this one feels too easy.

15, Philadelphia Eagles: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Eagles could always draft another wide receiver, but Hamilton’s fall is too much to pass up. It stops here.

16, New Orleans Saints: Drake London, WR, USC

The Saints could take a quarterback here, but I think London stands out from the rest of the wide receiver pack enough that it’s worth taking him ahead of the Eagles and Chargers.

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

A great value pick at a position of need, the Chargers avoid the wide receiver spending spree and still get a great addition at the spot. More weapons for Justin Herbert in a loaded-up AFC West is a must.

18, Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

This is a position the Eagles have ignored forever, but Lloyd is a great one. Wide receiver is always an option and Treylon Burks would be a good fit here, too.

19, New Orleans Saints: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

In what would be a crushing situation for Steelers fans, I have Pickett going one pick ahead of them. I doubt they’d sit there at No. 20 and watch this scenario play out, but we’re not trading here. Pickett is a great complement to what New Orleans has at quarterback and playing in a dome should minimize any concerns about his hand size.

2022 NFL Draft Desmond Ridder

Ridder 2/2/22 FB Reese’s Senior Bowl, Photo by Jeff Hanson

20, Pittsburgh Steelers: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

The Steelers are taking a quarterback in the first round, come hell or high water, and while I think a trade is more likely, sitting at No. 20 and taking Ridder is fine value for the pick. I don’t necessarily love Ridder, but this is a pretty awful board for them and it’s hard to imagine them taking someone much better. I suppose one of the safeties like Lewis Cine would probably be the next-best fit. They could also trade down, as no one before Tennessee at No. 26 would even consider a quarterback.

21, New England Patriots: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The Patriots are like the Steelers in that they have a 3-4 base, but play a lot of even fronts, but they don’t have an elite pass-rusher to put across from Matthew Judon when they go down that road. Karlaftis fits that bill.

22, Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

The Packers need to replace Davante Adams, and here he is. Really as simple as that.

23, Arizona Cardinals: Zion Johnson, C/G, Boston College

The Cardinals need help up front, and Johnson’s versatility and strong performance in the pre-draft process asks him the pick here.

24, Dallas Cowboys: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Cowboys need help at guard and tackle, but Penning has probably fallen a bit from his pre-draft projection here and will be a great fit for a team that wants to run the ball.

25, Buffalo Bills: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

I don’t love this pick, but the Bills need help at running back and Hall will provide it.

Kenyon Green

IOL Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

26, Tennessee Titans: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

Green’s stock has fallen a bit, but the Titans are built to run the ball and lost both starting guards to free agency. 

27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

There are character concerns, but putting Wyatt next to Vita Vea and William Gholston is too enticing to pass up for new head coach Todd Bowles.

28, Green Bay Packers: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Having taken care of their biggest need at wide receiver, Green Bay turns to defense, where they need help at edge and linebacker. Not a lot of edge options left, but linebacker is deeper here, with both Georgia players a potential fit. 

29, Kansas City Chiefs: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

The entire AFC should cringe at this pick. Meet the new Tyreek Hill.

30, Kansas City Chiefs: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

This is a solid trade-down spot, but you can never have enough good corners, and Elam certainly is one.

31, Cincinnati Bengals: Terrell Booth, CB, Clemson

Let the Eli Apple jokes die here.

32, Detroit Lions: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

This is a place the fourth quarterback could go off the board, especially with the Lions picking again at No. 35, but Walker seems to fit the mindset Campbell is looking for and fills a need on defense, as well.

Going with the Steelers the rest of the way, here’s my seven-round prediction:

52: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

84: Phidarian Mathis, DL, Alabama

138: Damarri Mathis, CB, Pitt

208: Hassan Haskins, RB, Michigan

225: Connor Heyward, TE, Michigan State

241: Markquese Bell, S, Florida A&M