In about two months, dozens of NFL hopefuls will have their dreams recognized.
Ahead of the scouting combine, which begins Tuesday, Lions reporter Dave Birkett shares his first 2022 mock draft of the offseason.
BIRKETT’S FILM REVIEW: Aidan Hutchinson still worth No. 1 pick after Georgia game
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
The Jaguars could opt for Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson here, but they need to surround franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence with talent and there’s no better place to start than by taking the draft’s best tackle.
2. Detroit Lions
Aidan Hutchinson, edge, Michigan
Hutchinson, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton are among those who figure to be in the mix for the Lions at 2, but if Hutchinson is there he will be tough to pass up. He had a dominant 2021 season, is more than just a pass rusher, fits Dan Campbell’s style player and would immediately upgrade a defense that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in sack percentage.
3. Houston Texans
Kyle Hamilton, safety, Notre Dame
I’m leery of the value of drafting a safety this high, but Houston brass comes from that New England smarter-than-thou school of thinking and Hamilton is an incredibly unique prospect.
4. New York Jets
Kayvon Thibodeaux, edge, Oregon
I wrote back in October that Thibodeaux was valued more as a prospect by media than some NFL evaluators, and his draft stock has been sufficiently scuffed. Still, I’m keeping him in my top five until I hear from more people on the ground at the combine next week.
5. New York Giants
Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
The best thing the Giants can do to help Daniel Jones is protect him better up front.
6. Carolina Panthers
Malik Willis, quarterback, Liberty
Panthers owner David Tepper is desperate for a franchise quarterback, so if Carolina can’t land a veteran in an offseason trade, this might be where the first QB goes in the draft.
7. New York Giants
Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback, LSU
Stingley is coming off a foot injury, but he was dominant as a freshman in 2019. With James Bradberry a potential cap casualty, new general manager Joe Schoen could take his replacement.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Travon Walker, edge, Georgia
The Falcons were atrocious rushing the passer last season and Walker has position flexibility up front.
9. Denver Broncos
Jermaine Johnson, edge, Florida State
Johnson could crack the top 10 after a dominant week at the Senior Bowl. The Broncos need a Von Miller replacement.
10. New York Jets
Drake London, WR, USC
The Jets got minimal production from top free agent addition Corey Davis last offseason. This year, they can spend one of their two top-10 picks on a pass catcher.
11. Washington Commanders
QB Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Washington GM Martin Mayhew (remember him?) has been looking for a quarterback since he took the job last winter. Perhaps Corral can be his Matthew Stafford.
12. Minnesota Vikings
Ahmad Gardner, cornerback, Cincinnati
Gardner, a Detroit Martin Luther King product, was the best cornerback in college football last season.
13. Cleveland Browns
David Ojabo, edge, Michigan
Everyone has a receiver mocked to the Browns and it’s a huge position of need. I’m just not sure Cleveland’s analytically minded front office will pull the trigger on one in Round 1.
14. Baltimore Ravens
Tyler Linderbaum, center, Iowa
This seems like a Ravens pick. Linderbaum is the best interior lineman in the draft.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
George Karlaftis, edge, Purdue
In a deep defensive line class, Kalaftis could be a steal.
16. Philadelphia Eagles
Nakobe Dean, linebacker, Georgia
Some smart team will ignore Dean’s size concerns and take the draft’s best linebacker.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Charlie Cross, OT, Mississippi State
If you saw Maxx Crosby terrorize Justin Herbert in the season finale, you know what position the Chargers are drafting in Round 1.
18. New Orleans Saints
Kenny Pickett, quarterback, Pitt
Life without Drew Brees did not treat the Saints well last year.
19. Philadelphia Eagles
Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
With three picks between 15 and 19, there’s a good chance Philadelphia deals down at some point.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
The Steelers have been connected to Willis, but they won’t be able to land him sitting at 20 and they won’t take a quarterback just to take one.
21. New England Patriots
Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Former Lions coach Matt Patricia will reportedly coach offensive line for the Patriots next season. Maybe his BFF Bill Belichick will get him a young tackle to develop.
22. Las Vegas Raiders
Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
There is no Ja’Marr Chase in this year’s receiver class, but Wilson is polished enough to have a big impact as a rookie.
23. Arizona Cardinals
Trent McDuffie, cornerback, Washington
McDuffie could slide a tad as a sub-6-foot corner. If he does, the Cardinals should have no problem adding a top talent to their secondary.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Devin Lloyd, linebacker, Utah
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn could give opponents fits moving Micah Parsons and the versatile Lloyd around every play.
25. Buffalo Bills
Andrew Booth Jr., cornerback, Clemson
With all the good, young quarterbacks in the AFC, it might turn out that the team that can stop them best reaches the Super Bowl.
26. Tennessee Titans
Arnold Ebiketie, edge, Penn State
If Harold Landry leaves in free agency, the Titans will need to replace some pass rushing.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Chris Godwin’s uncertain future in Tampa puts a receiver firmly in play for the Bucs.
28. Green Bay Packers
Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
One of these years the Packers will get Instagram provocateur Aaron Rodgers the offensive help he desires.
29. Miami Dolphins
Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
Every year there seems to be a running back that comes off the board late in Round 1. Spiller is best in class this year.
30. Kansas City Chiefs:
Jaquan Brisker, safety, Penn State
Brisker is a guy I think will be in the mix for the Lions at 32 or 34 — if he makes it that far.
31. Cincinnati Bengals
Dax Hill, safety, Michigan
Three Michigan defensive players in Round 1. Makes sense why Jim Harbaugh was trying to bolt for the NFL.
32. Detroit Lions
Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Taking a receiver coming off a torn ACL is risky (see: Broyles, Ryan), but the Lions can afford to be patient with one of the draft’s top pass catchers.
Kyler Gordon, cornerback, Washington
The Jaguars start Round 2 by adding some athleticism to a defense that had just seven interceptions last season.
Kaiir Elam, cornerback, Florida
The Lions could use a linebacker or safety here and there are still good interior linemen available on both sides of the ball. But they’re far from set at the cornerback position behind Amani Oruwariye with Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs coming off season-ending injuries and Ifeatu Melifonwu still an unknown. Elam has the physical traits the Lions like in their cornerbacks.