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NFL mock draft 2022: Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Cincinnati players dominate Round 1

The last time Sporting News posted a 2022 NFL mock draft, it was our first one, right after the 2021 NFL draft. Much has changed since May, with a better indication of which top prospects are rising and falling going into the new college football season.
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Once again, quarterbacks will be in high demand for the league’s have-nots at the position. But those teams that either choose or can afford to go in a different positional direction also will be rewarded in the first round. With five teams for now getting two turns each — the Lions, Giants, Eagles, Jets and Dolphins — there might be serious stockpiling ahead.

Here’s a look at all of those current pick projections, with Sporting News’ 1-32 first-round draft order based on the reverse of our record and playoff projections for the 2021 NFL season:

NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD: Ranking the top 50 prospects for 2022

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NFL mock draft 2022

1. Houston Texans

Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma (6-1, 200 pounds)

Deshaun Watson’s days with the Texans are finished. It’s only a matter of when the trade might happen and what discipline, if any, might be ahead for the QB. Regardless, the Texans will need a new franchise passer and dynamic runner. Rattler, who can end up as a Heisman winner and national champion, projects as the best choice with a strong floor of accuracy and athleticism and a high athletic ceiling, too.

2. Detroit Lions

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (6-1, 215 pounds NEW)

Speaking of high ceiling, Willis has a cannon for an arm and great speed. He should have the potential to make scouting jaws drop at the position and make them less concerned about his small-school status. The Lions will need a QB, too, with Jared Goff serving as a shaky bridge.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama (6-7, 350 pounds)

Trevor Lawrence will need better offensive line support in Year 2. So will Travis Etienne when he returns from his foot injury, to boost his running game. Neal is a no-brainer to dominate as a pass protector and run blocker for many years to come.

MORE: Each team’s worst-ever NFL Draft regret

4. Las Vegas Raiders

Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU (6-1, 195 pounds)

Stingley does carry a familiar name in Raiders lore and the team cannot deny it desperately needs a game-changing do-everything defensive back the way that Charles Woodson once was for them.

5. Denver Broncos

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (6-1, 220 pounds)

Drew Lock isn’t the answer for this season or the next one. Teddy Bridgewater is serving as a serviceable bridge. George Paton needs to end John Elway’s non-Peyton Manning run of franchise QB futility and go with this experienced and smart pocket passer after passing on Justin Fields in 2021.

6. Atlanta Falcons

DeMarvin Leal, DT/DE, Texas A&M (6-4, 290 pounds)

The Falcons need more impactful defensive linemen of any ilk to support Grady Jarrett and Leal is the real deal as a versatile disruptor.

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7. New York Jets

Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon (6-5, 258 pounds)

Once new defensive-minded coach Robert Saleh gets a good look at his rebuilding defense, he should soon realize he must find his version of Nick Bosa. He should already be thinking about Thibodeaux wreaking havoc in his front seven.

8. Carolina Panthers

Kedon Slovis, QB, USC (6-3, 205 pounds)

The Panthers need a smart passer who can make all the throws and deliver some of the Drew Brees-like qualities in a more ideal frame for Joe Brady. Sam Darnold is not the former high-drafted Trojan who will do that job. Slovis profiles as a much better option.

9. Philadelphia Eagles

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (6-4, 220 pounds)

The Eagles will have a need at safety in 2022, either needing to replace aging Rodney McLeod or pending free agent Anthony Harris. Hamilton makes a lot of sense as an intelligent all-around force to clean up for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.

MORE: The biggest busts in NFL Draft history

10. New York Giants

Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington (6-7, 310 pounds)

The Giants need a true rock of a left tackle to replace Nate Solder and allow Andrew Thomas to slide to a more comfortable position at right tackle. Kirkland is a big, smooth athlete meant to upgrade their pass protection big-time for Daniel Jones or another QB.

11. New York Giants (from Bears for Justin Fields trade up)

Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC (6-4, 250 pounds)

Big Blue has a big chance to upgrade both edges, perhaps even with consecutive picks depending on finish. Jackson’s agility and versatily are ideal for Patrick Graham’s version of the 3-4.

12. Minnesota Vikings

Kalir Elam, CB, Florida (6-2, 196 pounds)

The Vikings can’t expect Patrick Peterson to be a long-term solution in their cornerback transition. Elam has the size and coverage efficiency Mike Zimmer likes at the position.

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13. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)

Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati (6-5, 255 pounds)

Sanders has freakish pass-rush qualities and will be a good reason for the Eagles to double up on defensive impact for Gannon given Derek Barnett will be a free agent.

14. New Orleans Saints

Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State (6-1, 189 pounds)

The Saints are having sudden trouble with their current top Ohio State product, Michael Thomas, but regardless, they need to address the big-play wide receiver spot opposite him for Jameis Winston or whoever will be QB next season. Olave has great speed, quickness and burst to be a true No. 1.

15. New England Patriots

John Metchie III, WR, Alabama (6-0, 195 pounds)

Metchie has plenty of speed to help give the Patriots more legitimacy to their passing game going forward, reuniting with former Crimson Tide teammate Mac Jones in the process. Look for him to develop into more a complete target this season in Tuscaloosa.

MORE: The biggest steals in NFL Draft history

16. Indianapolis Colts

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State (6-0, 188 pounds)

Wilson has been a good complementary technician to Olave and does everything required of him well. The Colts need to replace T.Y. Hilton next season and Wilson would be a nice fit with Michael Pitttman Jr. for Carson Wentz.

17. Cincinnati Bengals

Zion Nelson, OT, MIami (6-5, 316 pounds)

The Bengals’ offensive line might surprise with its quality in 2021 with Jonah Williams back at left tackle but it still will need at least an upgrade on the right side in front of Joe Burrow over stopgap Riley Reiff

18. Washington Football Team

Carson Strong, QB, Nevada (6-4, 215 pounds)

Strong is a Josh Allen-like prospect to watch based on his stout frame and big arm and can work his way into first-round consideration by displaying more of his athleticism for the Wolf Pack. He would be a good successor to bridge Ryan Fitzpatrick in Scott Turner’s offense.

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