2022 NFL final mock draft: Steelers land Willis, Giants deal Toney

Photo of NFL Draft Combine
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1) Jacksonville Jaguars

Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

The Jaguars have plenty of needs even after their free-agency spending spree, so there is no need to overthink this. Hutchinson has a great balance of athleticism and production and could be a star.

2) Detroit Lions

Travon Walker, DE, Georgia

In a rebuilding phase with no rush to win a Super Bowl, Detroit has time to develop Walker, whose unheard of raw athletic ability ranked him third out of 1389 defensive ends from 1987 to 2022, into a franchise-changing player.

3) Houston Texans

Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Many of the best players available are tackles, but that seems to be one of the only positions where the Texans have already invested heavily. The third defensive end off the board already, Thibodeaux has dominated the Pac-12 for years and could add a real threat to a defense that has been missing a true superstar on the line since J.J. Watt’s departure.

4) New York Jets

Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

While any of the top-three picks would have been ideal for what defensive-minded head coach Robert Saleh seeks in building a defense, a lockdown corner is just as essential for a good defense, and Gardner has the tools to be one. While top-tier tackles remain on the draft board, the current tackle positions are occupied by the duo of George Fant and Mekhi Becton, and are far from an immediate need.

5) New York Giants

Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Giants recently spent on a high first-round pick on another offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas. Thomas has potential, but pairing him with the powerful Ekwonu would create a high-upside duo with the ability to keep Daniel Jones upright far more often.

6) Pittsburgh Steelers (from Carolina Panthers)

Projected trade-up Steelers receive: sixth overall pick, 2023 third. 2022 Panthers receive: 20th pick and 52nd pick 2022, 2023 first.

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

In the worst-kept secret in the league, the Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin are thrilled with Malik Willis and his upside. With 18-year franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired and Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph under contract, Pittsburgh can afford to give Willis a year to develop.

7) New York Giants (from Chicago Bears)

Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Giants would be thrilled to see a player with the upside of Stingley fall to them. Though his best tape came as a freshman at LSU, he has the potential to be a shutdown corner and a great complement to or replacement for the disgruntled James Bradberry.

8) Atlanta Falcons

Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

With the recent suspension of Calvin Ridley, the Falcons receiver room is spread dangerously thin. After signing former second overall pick quarterback Marcus Mariota due to his connection to current head coach Arthur Smith, they need surrounding talent to give him a chance at success.

9) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos)

Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Seahawks could consider a quarterback here, but Neal presents tremendous value at a position of need. With Duane Brown still unsigned, Neal and his massive 6’7 1/2″ 337 pound frame can hold up the blindside in a division with star pass rushers Nick Bosa and Aaron Donald.

10) New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked receiver is widely regarded as the top deep threat in this class. While his torn ACL may hinder his draft value, the Jets cannot pass up this opportunity for Zach Wilson and his deep passing talent. This makes the jobs of fellow receivers Corey Davis and Elijah Moore easier, making for a much-improved Jets offense and, more importantly, the development of Zach Wilson.

11) Washington Commanders

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The newly named Commanders boast plenty of young talent along the defensive line, and acquiring an enforcer to support them from the secondary could help take their defense to the next level. Hamilton has earned rave reviews from many talent evaluators, and it is only lack of positional value that pushes him out of the top 10.

12) Minnesota Vikings

Jermaine Johnson II, ED, FSU

After ranking in the bottom four in team pass-rush win rate this past season, the Vikings wisely added Za’Darius Smith. Adding Johnson is both great value at 12 and will help patch up this defensive flaw.

13) Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns)

Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Remember how I said the Texans don’t need a tackle? Well, the value here is too good to pass up. College football’s No. 1 graded pass blocker according to Pro Football Focus, Cross would be an immediate asset at a valuable position. A team cannot have too many good offensive linemen.

14) Baltimore Ravens

Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

After running a 4.78 40 at 341 pounds, Jordan Davis proved that he is from a different planet. For the Ravens and their proud history of defensive prowess, Davis presents a similar value as that of legend Haloti Ngata and his tone-setting play.

15) Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins)

Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

The Eagles have a big hole at linebacker, and Lloyd is exactly the type of player the modern NFL is looking for at his position. A converted safety, he has the speed and coverage instincts to hang with tight ends and running backs in the passing game with great burst and a nose for the football on blitzes.

AJ Alany covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected]. Maxfield Mullins covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].