With the 2022 NFL Draft drawing closer, here is how I see things playing out. And as always, I am projecting where I believe players will go, not necessarily where I think they should go.
In a draft without a clear-cut top dog, this Dawg offers outstanding measurables and explosiveness, with high-end upside to cultivate.
Dan Campbell’s squad fought hard all year in 2021. Adding Hutchinson at a position of need does nothing but bolster the culture the Lions are building.
Neal is big (6-foot-7, 350 pounds), athletic and technically sound. He can play both tackle or guard spots and would be the eventual starting left tackle if Laremy Tunsil were to move on.
Taking Gardner here gives the Jets the top CB in the class while allowing them to search for a talented pass rusher at No. 10 overall.
The Giants need more pass rush, and they’ll hope to find just that with this two-way defender who boasts untapped rush potential.
Mississippi State · OT · Sophomore (RS)
The Panthers choose to add immediate help rather than draft a developmental quarterback. Cross may be more game-ready as a left tackle than Ickey Ekwonu would be.
Ekwonu is a guard/tackle prospect with a healthy mean streak and exciting upside, if he can learn to play with more consistency in pass protection.
The Falcons will likely shop this pick, as they have an abundance of needs, but they must come away with a wideout either way — and the earlier, the better.
Seattle has needs at cornerback, tackle and quarterback. After his strong pro day, Stingley is likely to carry the highest grade of the remaining talent at those positions.
Florida State · DE · Senior (RS)
Johnson is a plus run defender who flashed exciting upside as a pass-rusher at the Senior Bowl.
This could be a trade-in spot for a team looking to add QB. But if the Texans stand pat here, they could roll with Wyatt, a three-down talent with gap-winning quickness who has the run-stopping ability to play along with Maliek Collins.
Karlaftis is a rugged edge defender who can play with a hand down or standing up. He’d fit the Ravens’ culture and has underrated power rushing talent.
Philadelphia has an obvious void at one cornerback spot, and McDuffie gives the Eagles one of the stickiest, toughest man corners in the draft.
Liberty · QB · Senior (RS)
I’m sure New Orleans came into the draft expecting to take a left tackle or receiver with this choice, acquired in a trade earlier this month with the Eagles, but passing on Willis will likely be too difficult if he’s there.
Northern Iowa · OT · Senior (RS)
This could be a trade-in spot for someone else if tackles fly off the board at a quicker rate than projected. Otherwise, Penning is an easy plug-and-play option for the Chargers.
Jalen Hurts needs another weapon on offense, and Burks is one of the most well-rounded in the draft, combining size (6-3, 225), athletic ability, play strength and run-after-the-catch capability.
If New Orleans takes Willis at No. 16, it would only make sense to pair him with a speedy home-run hitter he could grow with over the long haul.
Pittsburgh · QB · Senior (RS)
Outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert might be salivating over the prospects of adding Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis here, but Pickett is an ascending talent who could compete for a starting spot this season.
Total Patriots pick right here. Green is big (6-4, 325), tough and reliable, with multi-position flexibility if needed. He’s an early starter with Pro Bowl potential.
Green Bay needs a receiver, but the Packers won’t reach for one if they see a better player on their board. Davis has rare traits, and his best football may be in front of him.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH ARIZONA CARDINALS
You didn’t think GM Brett Veach was going to just sit and wait at the back of the draft with all that capital (12 total picks, including Nos. 29 and 30 and six within the first 103), did you?
Central Michigan · OT · Senior
The choice here could come down to Zion Johnson or Raimann. The latter is the better athlete and can play left guard or tackle, which gets him the nod.
What pick do you give the team that has the fewest holes to fill in the draft? It’s not an easy call, but Elam is a quality corner with outstanding football IQ.
Lloyd could be targeted well before this, but if he’s still on the board, he’s a better option than what the Titans have currently. He’s a Mike Vrabel-level tough guy.
Connecticut · DT · Senior
The big (6-5, 333), long and disruptive Jones should step quickly into the void left by Ndamukong Suh‘s departure to help Tampa maintain its defensive standards.
North Dakota State · WR · Senior (RS)
Doesn’t Watson just feel like a Packer? He’s a little raw but ridiculously athletic, with the type of size (6-5, 208) that Aaron Rodgers seems to do well with vertically.
PROJECTED TRADE WITH KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Trading back with the Chiefs give Arizona additional draft capital — and the Cardinals still get to add a full-package runner with the ability to impact the game on all three downs.
Minnesota · Edge · Senior (RS)
With receiver out of the way, the Chiefs turn to bolstering the edge. Mafe’s explosiveness and power are exciting traits for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to mold.
Washington · CB · Junior (RS)
With offensive line addressed via free agency, the Bengals add a talented but inconsistent cornerback with tremendous upside to help slow down the quarterbacks of the AFC.
Mississippi · QB · Junior (RS)
I have a funny feeling that the Lions may get frisky and jump up the board for a QB at some point, but if they sit tight, Corral has plenty of talent to become their future starter.