September 27, 2022

Pat Leonard’s NFL Mock Draft: Taking a stab at how Giants, Jets, first round will shake out

Hamilton is a divisive prospect because of his position. (Paul Sancya/AP)

No quarterbacks in the top 10. No running backs in the first round. Lots of teams who want to trade back. No consensus top player.

Welcome to the 2022 NFL Draft, where anything can happen.

Here is my first and only mock draft, taking a crack at how it might shake out for the top 32, including the Giants’ and Jets’ four combined picks in the top 10.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

New coach Doug Pederson could fortify the offensive line here for QB Trevor Lawrence with Alabama OT Evan Neal, but GM Trent Baalke takes the freak that multiple coaches and execs have called “the best pass rusher in the draft.”

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Wolverine pass rusher is a “can’t miss pick,” per one league source. Some believe he’ll be good but not great in the NFL. Still, he’s a great fit in-state with Lions coach Dan Campbell.

3. Houston Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

This is the first potential trade spot for teams looking to move up (the Giants being one if they fall in love with a player). Texans GM Nick Caserio is a strong candidate to slide back. If he doesn’t, he goes with the best player available.

4. Jets: Jermaine Johnson II, EDGE, Florida State

Buzz on the Georgia transfer joining Robert Saleh’s defense has picked up tons of steam in the last couple weeks.

5. Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux and Cincinnati corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner wouldn’t surprise me here, either, if the board falls this way. But The News first reported in early March that the Giants loved Cross, and they take him here.

6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State

This is another possible trade target for teams like the Saints and Steelers looking to possibly move up. If Panthers GM Scott Fitterer stays put, he addresses Matt Rhule’s O-line.

7. Giants (from Chicago): Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

I think Schoen would like to trade back here. Watch the Saints. Schoen gives D-coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale his corner here, but Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton could be in play, too.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR, USC

Alabama’s Jameson Williams would be the first receiver off the board if not for his ACL injury. Falcons GM Terry Fontenot still lands a blue-chipper in the big-bodied London.

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver): Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

A controversial personality with special talent doesn’t have to go far geographically to leave the Ducks for the pass rush-needy Seahawks.

10. New York Jets (from Seattle): Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Joe Douglas adds 4.38 40-yard dash speed to Zach Wilson’s arsenal. Williams would be the pick here if he were healthy (and still might be).

11. Washington Commanders: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

“If he’s not hurt, it’s not close” that Williams is this year’s top wideout, one coach says. Washington GM Martin Mayhew rolls the dice not knowing when Williams will be available.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

“He’s the one,” one coach told the News of Stingley as his best man-to-man corner in this draft class. Stingley is a top 10 talent who might go way higher than this. It’s just injuries, including a Lisfranc in 2021, make his projection difficult.

13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

There was word as early as the NFL Combine the first week of March that the Texans loved Hamilton as the possible No. 3 overall pick. They still get the versatile safety at 13.

14. Baltimore Ravens: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

John Harbaugh’s injury-decimated secondary cost Baltimore big time in 2021. GM Eric DeCosta has options but stays safe at a position where they can’t afford a drop-off again.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami): Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

GM Howie Roseman already made a trade with the Saints to get an extra 2023 first-round pick, and he might not be done moving around the board. But Philly is one of the best at reinforcing its lines and does that here with Davis.

16. New Orleans Saints (from Colts through Eagles): Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

The first quarterback off the board joins Tom Brady in the NFC South.

17. L.A. Chargers: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Another weapon for Justin Herbert. Sounds unfair.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans): Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

Teams love Moore. He’s expected to go in round 1. And Nick Sirianni could use another receiver, then put Jalen Reagor on the trade block.

19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia): Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

The Saints lost left tackle Terron Armstead to Miami in free agency, so they need help up front.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

GM Kevin Colbert is a candidate to trade up for a QB. Pittsburgh waited too long to find its successor to Ben Roethlisberger. It needs to get this pick right.

21. New England Patriots: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Lloyd’s versatility and upside make him a candidate to go anywhere from the top 10 to here in the early 20s. Bill Belichick lands an exciting player for a defense that got run over by the Bills in last year’s playoffs.

22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas): Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Aaron Rodgers lost Davante Adams to the Raiders in free agency. GM Brian Gutekunst gives him one of the most physical and productive receivers in this year’s draft.

23. Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

GM Steve Keim has been on this year’s receivers, as well. Burks is an option here, too. But if Karlaftis is available here, his pass rushing ability can help Kliff Kingsbury’s defense.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Dean is undersized, but he was a gamer and a playmaker on the best defense in the country last season. There are rumblings of the Cowboys considering a trade up for Thibodeaux if he falls far enough, but Dean would be a great add.

25. Buffalo Bills: Andrew Booth, Jr., CB, Clemson

Coming off that defensive playoff collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bills add a corner to Leslie Frazier’s side of the ball as they prepare for a hopeful Super Bowl run in 2022.

26. Tennessee Titans: Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College

A lot of teams in the back of the first round would love to trade back. Many don’t even have 30 players graded as first-round guys this year. So keep that in mind. Titans GM Jon Robinson reinforces the O-line here, however, for his Derrick Henry-led, run-heavy offense.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

Adding the dynamic Wyatt to Todd Bowles’ defensive interior led by star tackle Vita Vea makes a lot of sense, especially with veteran Ndamukong Suh still unsigned.

28. Green Bay Packers: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

Pickens didn’t play a lot in 2021 due to injuries, but he has wide receiver 1 potential and excellent 50-50 ball skills. Getting Burks and Pickens would make Rodgers happy.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from 49ers through Miami): Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

Patrick Mahomes gets speed at receiver to hopefully replace some of what K.C. lost in the Tyreek Hill Dolphins trade.

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo undoubtedly would be thrilled to develop and employ this athletic Temple transfer coming off a 9.5-sack season.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

Protect Joe Burrow. That’s the name of the game coming off Cincy’s Super Bowl berth. This could also be a corner like Clemson’s Booth, if he’s still on the board.

32. *TRADE*: Atlanta Falcons (up from 43 with Detroit Lions, from Rams): Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

There is no consensus on which quarterbacks will go where, with no clear stars in this class. Some say the Falcons like Corral, too. Willis, an Atlanta product, goes home and develops in year one behind Marcus Mariota before taking over.