Final 2022 NFL Mock Draft: QBs Fall, Trenches Dominate

It's Christmas Eve, the 2022 NFL Draft is finally here! It's time for the final mock draft of the season, which will be my best guess at what will actually happen, come Thursday evening.

In this mock there are zero QBs going top-10, three 1st-round trades and plenty of emphasis on the trenches, WRs and CBs. Strap in for one final mock draft ride, I promise it'll be a smooth one.

For an in-depth look into my thoughts on each of these draft prospects and 200+ more, check out my 2022 NFL Draft Guide with scouting reports, big boards, positional rankings and more!

1. Jacksonville Jaguars, Ikem Ekwonu, OT/IOL, NC State

Prospect at a glance: 6'4, 310, RAS = 8.5/10, 9th on personal big board.

Analysis: While it's rumored GM Trent Baalke desires Travon Walker, DC Mike Caldwell wants Aidan Hutchinson, it's new HC Doug Pederson who gets his way.

Pederson follows his Super Bowl winning recipe and invests heavily in the trenches, attempting to provide Trevor Lawrence the protection up front to help the young QB take a leap, which the franchise desperately needs.

2. Detroit Lions, Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

Prospect at a glance: 6'6, 260, RAS = 9.88/10, 1st on personal big board.

Analysis: A simple decision for Detroit, if the Ann Arbor kid is available at #2. Dan Campbell gets his on and off field cultural leader as Hutchinson will provide an example of how to play with toughness and effort on every given play. The Lions need a guaranteed talent and Hutchinson is exactly that.

3. Houston Texans, Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Prospect at a glance: 6'7, 337, RAS = N/A, 3rd on personal big board.

Analysis: The Texans are viewed around the league as a wild card, as Nick Caserio holds his cards close to his beloved blue vest. They've shown a lot of interest in Ahmad Gardner and there is plenty of smoke towards Derek Stingley. Additionally, HC Lovie Smith recently voiced his concerns with the performance of the CBs last year.

Many arrows point to Sauce or Stingley but I believe the Texans will shock the fan base and select the behemoth from Tuscaloosa, in Neal. Caserio and the coaching staff have consistently preached their players being "good people" first and foremost. I imagine they will buy into Neal in that regard, more so than Gardner, Stingley and Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Neal was a permanent team captain for the Crimson Tide and, "was a pro the day he walked into Alabama in terms of his maturity," says Butch Jones, a former Alabama special assistant to the HC and offensive analyst. Furthermore, Neal has displayed his raw talent and versatility by starting at three different positions on the OL in three consecutive years (13 starts at LG, 12 at RT and 14 at LT) versus SEC competition.

The Texans will value his freakish athletic gifts, blue-chip reputation as a leader and worker, and the versatility to start at guard as a rookie and potentially move to tackle, depending on Caserio's plans with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard.

4. New York Jets, Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 190, RAS = N/A, 5th on personal big board.

Analysis: Robert Saleh would love to add a foundational building block in the secondary and Gardner profiles as the type of CB1 who will succeed in this defense.

The AFC East has plenty of dangerous WRs to slow down, in Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Gardner will be a great start in improving the Jets coverage capabilities.

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

Prospect at a glance: 6'4, 254, RAS = 9.63/10, 4th on personal big board.

Analysis: Adding Thibodeaux on the EDGE to Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence inside will form a formidable DL with the potential to wreck games.

Thibs has been unfairly scrutinized as his film displays no motor/effort issues and he is an extremely well-spoken individual who has never had any off-field altercations/allegations. Stop overthinking it.

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

Prospect at a glance: 6'4, 307, RAS = 7.58/10, 11th on personal big board.

Analysis: Despite being a popular spot to mock a QB and Malik Willis still being on the board, the Panthers gain a necessary building block on the OL. Their offensive roster and system (no I am not a Ben McAdoo fan) is simply not an advantageous situation for one of the raw QBs in this class.

Instead, gaining an athletic and proven tackle who is arguably the best pass protector in the class will help support the future franchise QB, who could be selected in the stronger 2023 class.

7. New York Giants, Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

Prospect at a glance: 6'0, 190, RAS = 8.98/10, 23rd on personal big board.

Analysis: James Bradberry departure rumors have been a constant throughout the offseason and it's clear New York desires new bodies in the secondary. Stingley offers high-upside due to his receiver-like ball skills and dominance at such a young age.

8. Atlanta Falcons, Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Prospect at a glance: 6'1, 179, RAS = N/A, 20th on personal big board.

Analysis: While the Falcons could use help anywhere and everywhere, they decide to pair up another game-breaking offensive talent in Williams, with Kyle Pitts.

This duo will help Atlanta put up points and get back to their exciting offensive identity. Williams fits Arthur Smith's scheme well, providing an explosive vertical threat to punish the defense on play-action concepts.

9. Seattle Seahawks, Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Prospect at a glance: 6'5, 272, RAS = 9.99/10, 21st on personal big board.

Analysis: Establishing a core foundation in the trenches should be the Seahawks plan with the first of many premium picks. Walker provides a high-floor as a versatile run defender with power and length.

He also projects as the typical "toolsy" prospect that the Seahawks have historically loved. It might take him a few years to live up to this top-10 billing, but Walker should feel little pressure as Seattle is just beginning their rebuild.

10. New York Jets, Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Prospect at a glance: 6'4, 221, RAS = 9.33/10, 2nd on personal big board.

Analysis: Adding Gardner to the Jets secondary shouldn't stop them from taking one of the highest-ceiling prospects (if not the highest) in this class. Hamilton would help make up for the loss of Marcus Maye and pair nicely with newly acquired Safety Jordan Whitehead.

11. Washington Commanders TRADED to Pittsburgh Steelers, Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Prospect at a glance: 6'0, 219, RAS = N/A, 33rd on personal big board.

Analysis: Washington may think about selecting Willis for themselves, but in this scenario, Pittsburgh offers them a package they cannot turn down. Let's say pick #20, a 2023 1st and a 2023 3rd.

The Steelers have a playoff ready defense, RB Najee Harris and WR Diontae Johnson on offense, while also having QB Mitchell Trubisky which allows Willis to develop at his own pace.

12. Minnesota Vikings, Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

Prospect at a glance: 6'4, 245, RAS = 9.22/10, 13th on personal big board.

Analysis: Best player available meets need. The Vikings have been rumored to be attempting to trade Danielle Hunter back in March and Johnson could make that loss easier to handle. He provides a physical force to set a hard edge and exert maximum effort in getting after the QB.

13. Houston Texans, Jordan Davis, IDL, Georgia

Prospect at a glance: 6'6, 341, RAS = 10/10, 15th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Texans continue their theme of getting "bigger, stronger and faster" by adding Neal at #3 and Davis at #13. Adding another mountain of a man for the trenches will help setup Houston for long-term success.

Davis' elite run defending and ability to demand double teams will make life easier for Maliek Collins and Jonathan Greenard. It will also allow Lovie Smith to play his beloved Tampa 2 and dedicate 7 defenders to stop the pass, while playing light in the box thanks to Davis' physical presence.

Improving the league's worst run defense unit will be pivotal in helping the Texans beat their divisional opponents. Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry have run Houston to ruins in the past, but Davis will help change their defensive identity and success.

14. Baltimore Ravens, George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Prospect at a glance: 6'3, 266, RAS = 9.21/10, 16th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Ravens certainly would've loved Davis, but gain another defensive building block in the trenches in Karlaftis. The 21-year-old is one of the youngest players in the class and has impressive upside due to his explosiveness.

15. Philadelphia Eagles, Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Prospect at a glance: 6'0, 187, RAS = 8.69/10, 27th on personal big board.

Analysis: It's no secret that the Eagles want to add another weapon to pair with DeVonta Smith and while Jameson Williams would've been a fun pairing, Olave will also help stretch the field.

The reason I'm lower on Olave than the consensus is I'm not confident he can be a WR1 for an offense, but with Smith in town, he won't have to. This will make for a QB friendly WR duo with smooth route running and separation capabilities.

16. New Orleans Saints, Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 304, RAS = 9.59/10, 19th on personal big board.

Analysis: Adding a beast on the interior of the DL will help Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner on the edges. Wyatt provides the motor and versatility that the Saints desire and will improve their run defense and pass rush, early on.

17. Los Angeles Chargers TRADED to Green Bay Packers, Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Prospect at a glance: 5'11, 183, RAS = 7.8/10, 12th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Packers cannot be serious about pushing off adding a WR until Day Two or Three. With Davante Adams reuniting with Derek Carr in Las Vegas, Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur need a new offensive engine.

Wilson can be that focal point as he can run shifty routes to all three levels of the field and align at all three WR positions. He shouldn't fall this far and his unique skillset is deserving of moving up five spots to secure.

18. Philadelphia Eagles, Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

Prospect at a glance: 6'0, 194, RAS = N/A, 8th on personal big board.

Analysis: After adding a WR to improve their passing offense, the Eagles grab a CB to boost their passing defense. Booth Jr. is being forgotten about in this class but his ball skills and fluid athletic ability will go a long way in replacing Steven Nelson, opposite of Darius Slay.

19. New Orleans Saints, Drake London, WR, USC

Prospect at a glance: 6'3, 219, RAS = N/A, 22nd on personal big board.

Analysis: With the top OTs off the board and no opportunity to draft Malik Willis in this scenario, the Saints add a "win-now" WR who meshes well with Jameis Winston's skillset. London can be on the receiving end of Winston's aggressive vertical shots and with his elite body control and ball skills.

There might be some redundancy between London and Michael Thomas but injuries have become a legit concern for the latter. Additionally, if both are healthy, there are not many NFL teams who have two CBs that can guard these physical, 6'3 freaks.

20. Washington Commanders TRADED FROM Pittsburgh Steelers, Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Prospect at a glance: 6'3, 323, RAS = 5.99/10, 49th on personal big board.

Analysis: By trading down the Commanders will get more swings at bat and bolster the trenches with a much-needed Brandon Scherff replacement, in Green. A tone-setter and physical mauler, the Texas A&M o-lineman displayed impressive versatility, lining up everywhere but Center for the Aggies.

He best projects to guard though, where his strength at the point-of-attack is maximized and quickness concerns in pass protection are minimized.

21. New England Patriots, Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Prospect at a glance: 6'1, 191, RAS = 8.63/10, 24th on personal big board.

Analysis: Losing JC Jackson will hurt this Patriots defense, a lot. That can be remedied a bit with the addition of another sticky press-man corner. Elam offers impressive height, length and traits that bode well for CB success in the NFL.

22. Los Angeles Chargers TRADED FROM Green Bay Packers, Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 314, RAS = 9.75/10, 14th on personal big board.

Analysis: This is a win-win scenario for the Chargers, being able to add more draft capital and still select a prospect they could've very happily taken at 17.

Johnson projects as a Day-One starter with Guard/Center versatility, leadership traits and a workman's attitude. He is one of the safest prospects in this class and you can never go wrong with protecting your franchise QB,

23. Arizona Cardinals, Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Prospect at a glance: 5'10, 193, RAS = 9.49/10, 34th on personal big board.

Analysis: McDuffie should not be forgotten about in this top-heavy CB class. He possesses the "quicker than fast" label but also has strong instincts and tackling prowess. Arizona's CB room is pretty barren, apart from Byron Murphy, and adding former 1st-round CB Jeff Gladney should not stop them from adding McDuffie's talents.

24. Dallas Cowboys, Tyler Linderbaum, IOL, Iowa

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 296, RAS = 8.84/10, 10th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Cowboys look to get back to their dominant OL days by adding the best Center in the class. Linderbaum will make some special blocks in the run game and help rejuvenate Ezekiel Elliot even more so than in 2021. If there is any team that knows the value of interior offensive linemen in the 1st round, it's Dallas.

25. Buffalo Bills, Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 225, RAS = 5.81/10, 7th on personal big board.

Analysis: Burks really shouldn't fall this far just because of his slower-than-average 40 yard dash. A 4.55 at his height and weight is still impressive and that speed was never an issue when he was running away from top-tier defenders in college (see the Alabama game).

Providing Josh Allen another weapon and someone who will force defenses to take attention away from Stefon Diggs will do wonders for the Bills offense.

26. Tennessee Titans, Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Prospect at a glance: 6'3, 211, RAS = 9.61/10, 72nd on personal big board.

Analysis: With the top interior o-linemen and wide receivers off the board, the Titans select an heir to Ryan Tannehill. Ridder provides winning experience (3rd most collegiate wins by a QB ever) and some will argue the best pocket passing skills in the class.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lewis Cine, S, Georgia

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 199, RAS = 9.92/10, 42nd on personal big board.

Analysis: Cine is a violent head-hunter who plays extremely fast and tough, which new HC Todd Bowles will love. After losing Jordan Whitehead to the Jets, Bowles finds his new starting strong safety to compliment Antoine Winfield. The Bucs have had plenty of success pouring resources into the secondary

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

Prospect at a glance: 5'11, 229, RAS = N/A, 6th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Packers could go offensive lineman or safety here but this Georgia linebacker was by far the best player available. The 2021 Butkus Award Winner helped lead a legendary collegiate defense and would be an exceptional running mate beside D'Vondre Campbell.

29. Kansas City Chiefs, Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Prospect at a glance: 5'10, 178, RAS = 6.34/10, 48th on personal big board.

Analysis: One of these 1st rounders has got to be a WR to replace Tyreek Hill, right? Right. I debated between Dotson and Christian Watson but felt that Dotson was a more seamless scheme fit that has played against higher level of competition and could be viewed as more pro-ready, to fit the Chiefs timeline.

30. Kansas City Chiefs, Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan

Prospect at a glance: 6'0, 191, RAS = 9.06/10, 17th on personal big board.

Analysis: Back on the clock, Kansas City selects another smaller player who punches above his weight class. With Tyrann Mathieu gone, Hill provides DC Steve Spagnuolo with a fiesty, explosive and versatile DB who can play nickel corner and both safety positions.

31. Cincinnati Bengals, Trevor Penning, OL, UNI

Prospect at a glance: 6'7, 325, RAS = 9.95/10, 47th on personal big board.

Analysis: The Bengals have done well to address their porous OL in free agency but should continue the trend of protecting Joe Burrow, in the draft. Penning is more of a 2nd round talent to me, but there likely won't be a lineman with his potential still on the board at Cincy's next pick (63).

32. Detroit Lions, Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Prospect at a glance: 6'2, 250, RAS = 8.91/10, 31st on personal big board.

Analysis: One of "my guys" this year, AK17 is going to make an NFL team very happy. His combination of pass rush nuance and enticing athleticism is rare. The Lions need talent, everywhere, and adding Ebiketie to the trenches, opposite Hutchinson, will form a deadly duo for years.