I finished my seven round mock draft on Friday six days ago. The biggest change from Friday leading up to draft day starts in Jacksonville. It's now been widely reported that Jacksonville Jaguars GM Trent Baalke prefers Travon Walker over Aidan Hutchinson for one reason. That big reason is arm length with Walker being in the top 93 percentile for arm length while Hutchinson is in the bottom 7 percent for arm length.
The 6-4 272 lb Travon Walker can play 4-3 right end, 4-3 left end, 3-4 right end, 3-4 left end, 3-4 right outside linebacker, or 3-4 left outside linebacker. His elite versatility and athleticism is why he is in play for the Jacksonville at 1 despite the fact that there are 9 players on my final big board ranked ahead of Walker. Even though I have Walker at 10 on my big board, it appears he's the top player on Trent Baalke's draft board.
Travon Walker had 19 solo tackes, 18 assisted tackles, 37 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 6 sacks, and 6 quarterback hurries in 2021. Travon Walker has the best bull rush move of any edge rusher in the draft along with a deadly spin move to compliment his bull rush. He still needs to develop his rip and swim moves.
Tony Mario has Travon Walker playing the 5-technique at 3-4 left end while Jason Bantle has him playing edge rusher across from Josh Allen at 3-4 left outside linebacker. The bottom line is Tony Mario, Jason Bantle, and myself all agree on Walker being the selection Jacksonville will make at 1, but what we're debating is where he lines up on Jacksonville's depth chart because it's pretty evident he'll start right away if he's the number one pick.
Travon Walker would play 3-4 left end next to Malcolm Brown at 3-4 right end and nose tackle Foley Fatukasi if he plays on the defensive line in the NFL. This would allow Jacksonville to keep their first round picks Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson at edge rusher. However, if Walker makes the transition to outside linebacker, he probably takes Chaisson's spot. Walker is bigger than most 3-4 outside linebacker so he may end up playing 5-technique because I haven't seen him drop back into coverage once on tape. The big question with Walker is where will he play because you can make an argument for him at 3-4 left end on the defensive line or 3-4 left outside linebacker on the edge.
Travon Walker went 1/12 against Evan Neal in the SEC Championship before going 1/15 against Neal in the National Championship game going 2/27 against Alabama's left tackle in both contests. Jacksonville Jaguars fans need to just hope Walker can take pressure off of Jacksonville's Pro Bowl caliber 3-4 right outside linebbacker in Josh Allen.
Walker ran a 4.51 40 time a the NFL Combine. His speed and athleticism gives Walker a chance to be elite defensive end down the road if you can develop his rip and swim moves.
If Travon Walker is the first pick on Thursday this is now the tenth year in a row, that Jacksonville has drafted from the Southeast region with previous first round picks being Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M (2013), Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida (2014), Dante Fowler Jr., RE, Florida (2015), Jalen Ramsey CB, Florida State (2016), Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (2017), Taven Bryant, DT, Florida (2018), Josh Allen, 3-4 ROLB, Kentucky (2019), C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida (2020), K'Lavon Chaisson, 3-4 LOLB, LSU (2020), Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (2021), Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (2021) and now Travon Walker, 3-4 LOLB, Georgia (2022).
Out of those twelve selectons, assuming Walker goes first, Josh Allen, K'Lavon Chaisson, Trevor Lawrence, and Travis Etienne are the only picks currently on the Jaguars with Jalen Ramsey being the only other notable star on that list of players in the Southeast Region drafted by the Jaguars in the first round over the last ten years. Ramsey demanded a trade, and Fournette resurrected his career in Tampa Bay after struggling in Jacksonville following a strong rookie year. I don't feel very confident about Walker succeeding as an edge rusher in Jacksonville because he's my fourth best pass rusher off the edge in this draft, but he could have success as an interior defensive lineman if he plays against guards instead of offensive tackles on Sundays. I gave Jacksonville a C- grade here for these reasons.
The Detroit Lions had an outstanding 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately they don't have enough weapons for Goff to succeed in Detroit yet despite adding Penei Sewell as a right tackle to compliment left tackle Taylor Decker, center Frank Ragnow, left guard Jonah Jackson, and right guard Logan Stenberg.
Detroit followed that up by using day 2 picks on Levi Onwuzrike and Alim McNeil who both compliment Michael Brockers in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defensive scheme. Adding Ifeatu Melifonwu as a nickel cornerback to compliment Amani Oruwaryie and Jeffery Okudah was a great way to top off day 2 before Detroit got Amon-Ra St. Brown a receiver with a second round grade on my board in the fourth round.
Honestly, I think the Trojanman Brad Holmes drafted at wide receiver may be better than Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, or Kalif Raymond. Those guys may be ahead of Amon-Ra St. Brown on the depth chart at the moment, but that will not last. If it does, then I could honestly see Detroit picking this high unless tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back DeAndre Swift just absolutely go off for Fantasy owners like they did on my Fantasy team last year.
Many Lions fans would assume they will cut Jared Goff in this scenario if they pick this high. Cutting Goff in 2022 only saves the Detroit Lions a meager $650,000 dollars. Brad Holmes could save more money by switching to Geico. I had Detroit picking second overall behind the Houston Texans in the preseason. That's exactly where they are picking now after Jacksonville secured the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville is now leaning towards Travon Walker at 1. This means the Detroit Lions get the hometown prospect and the best overall player in this draft at 2 with Aidan Hutchinson. Aidan Hutchinson is number one on Brad Holmes Draft board for the Detroit Lions.
The 6-7 260 lb Aidan Hutchinson can play 4-3 right end with his hand in the dirt, but also has the size to line up at 3-4 right outside linebacker. He's also versatile enough to play 4-3 left end or 3-4 left outside linebacker. Hutchinson was the only defensive player to be a Heisman Trophy finalist and he was also the 2021 Ted Hendricks Award Winner.
The Heisman Trophy finalist will make the opposing left tackle quiver in fear regardless of what scheme you line him up in. Detroit will now have Aidan Hutchinson at 3-4 right outside linebacker with Charles Harris last years leader in sacks for the Detroit Lions complimenting him at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Detroit will also have the Okwara brothers Romeo Okwara and Julian Okwara for depth behind Hutchinson and Harris.
Aidan Hutchinson had 62 total tackles, 36 solo tackles, 26 assisted tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, and 12 quarterback hurries in 2021. Hutchinson was so dominant he became a Heisman finalist while surpassing Kayvon Thibodeaux to be the consensus best edge rusher in this draft.
I posted a film cut of Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson VS Penn State a week before Hutchinson knocked Ohio State left tackle Nicholas Petit-Friere on his ass in Michigan's first home win over Ohio State in a long time. Aidan Hutchinson is a huge reason why Michigan won the Big 10.
The 6-0 190 lb Derek Stingley Jr. had 21 deflections for pass breakups in 2019 on LSU's National Championship team that went 15-0 two years ago. He only had 5 in 2020 following the departure of safety Grant Delpit and cornerback Kristian Fulton. Teams realized how lethal Stingley was so they gameplanned around LSU's defense by throwing it to the cornerback across from Stingley.
Derek Stingley Jr. entered the season as the only cornerback A+ grade in man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. Stingley can play in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 scheme. With Stingley missing time due to injuries for the second year in a row, you can make a pretty convincing case that Ahmad Gardner has this skill set too. However, you can also argue that Derek Stingley Jr. has a higher ceiling than Gardner when both cornerbacks are fully healthy as Stingley dominated LSU's Pro Day with a 38.5 inch vertical and a 4.37 40-time.
He changed his number from 24 to 7. Patrick Peterson, Grant Delpit, an Leonard Fournette all wore 7 at LSU.
Derek Stingley Jr. gives Houston a number one field cornerback. He'll have Steven Nelson playing across from him. Practicing agaist Ja'Marr Chase really helped prepare Derek Stingley Jr. for the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 6-2 190 lb Ahmad Gardner ran a 4.41 at the 2022 NFL Combine. He also went all four years at Cincinnati without giving up a touchdown at cornerback. Gardner has A+ level man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner can play in a cover 0, cover 1, cover 2, cover 3, or cover 4 coverage scheme in the NFL. He may not have the ceiling that someone like Derek Stingley Jr. has, but he's the most durable cornerback in the 2022 NFL Draft. That's one big reason why the New York Jets could draft him at 4.
Ahmad Gardner allowed zero touchdowns on 1,059 coverage snaps in four years at Cincinnati. Quarterbacks also had a 37.7% completion percentage when throwing near Gardner. Last season in 2021, quarterbacks had a 21.0 passer rating when throwing to Gardner while Gardner only gave up 131 receiving yards. Opponents were 0/12 targeting 15+ yards on receptions on medium or deep throws. Ahmad Gardner is extremely disciplined as he only committed one penalty all season in 2021.
The 6-5 249 lb Kayvon Thibodeaux can play 4-3 right end with his hand in the dirt, but also has the size to line up at 3-4 right outside linebacker. He's versatile enough to play 4-3 left end or 3-4 left outside linebacker against a right tackle as well.
New York drafts Kayvon Thibodeaux to compliment Azeez Ojulari who was my eleventh best player in the 2021 NFL Draft. New York is going to have a really strong edge rusher tandem at 3-4 outside linebacker.
Thibodeaux will make the opposing left tackle quiver in fear regardless of what scheme you line him up in when he wins one-on-ones with his athleticism. Detroit drafts Kayvon Thibodeaux second overall here. Brad Holmes saw him in person against UCLA back in the Fall, plus Detroit sent seven scouts to Oregon's Pro Day which cannot be overlooked.
Kayvon Thibodeaux had 14 tackles for a loss and 9 sacks as a true freshman in 2019. He didn't do as well in 2020 due to a shortened PAC 12 season thanks to Covid-19, but he stepped up big time embarassing Alijah Vera-Tucker in the 2020 PAC 12 Championship game. Kayvon Thibodeaux bounced back as a junior with 12 tackles for a loss, 8 quarterback hurries, and 7 sacks despite getting constantly double teammed. Thibodeaux used his athleticism to win against the pass and run. He can drop back into coverage too, but Thibodeaux is inconsistent as a run stuffer.
I posted a film cut of Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux against UCLA where he's facing UCLA left tackle Sean Rhyan.
Carolina needs a pass blocker. They passed on the best one in Evan Neal for Ikem Ekwonu who is the best run blocker.
The 6-4 310 lb Ikem Ekwonu is the best run blocker in this draft and The Athletic called him the most feared offensive lineman in the ACC. Ikem Ekwonu was a three sport athlete in High School that played Football in the Fall, Wrestling in the Winter, and Track in the Spring. The three year starter at left tackle has lined up at left guard and right guard as well throughout his career at North Carolina State.
The 6-7 337 lb Evan Neal is a three year starter for Alabama with experience at left tackle, right tackle, and left guard. Neal went 25/27 against Travon Walker who I mocked at 1, and he's my top player in this draft not named Aidan Hutchinson making this pick at 7 a huge steal.
Evan Neal also has good pass blocking footwork, run blocking, run blocking strength, run blocking footwork, zone blocking, pancake blocking, cut blocking, and pull blocking you want an offensive tackle to have. I gave Evan Neal a 96 potential grade same grade I gave Christian Darrisaw as I have Neal currently graded higher than Alex Leatherwood who played on the same offensive line as Evan Neal. Neal is currently my second best overall player behind Aidan Hutchinson, but in this mock he falls to 5 if Jacksonville passes on him at 1.
New York has Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Max Garcia at left guard, Jon Feliciano the Bills interior offensive linemen who played right guard in 2020 before moving to left guard in 2021 making the transition to center under former Bills offensive coordinator now Giants head coach Brian Dabboll with Mark Glowinski at right guard, and Evan Neal at right tackle. There are zero excuses for quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley in 2022 with this offensive line if everyone stays healthy.
Tony Mario actually got this pick correct in his mock draft. Drake London was my second best receiver, but he's got the biggest size. He dominated against Notre Dame and Kyle Hamilton. Marcus Mariota has his number one target.
The 6-3 219 lb Drake London had 33 receptions, 502 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns in 2020. With Amon-Ra St. Brown gone, Drake London will get a lot of targets with USC in 2021.
Drake London had 88 receptions, 1,084 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns before a torn ACL ended his season. Despite that, he still won PAC 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2021. On tape against Notre Dame this guy was getting open on every play even on plays where Kedon Slovis failed to go through progressions. Drake London showed up in 2021 and provided the USC Trojans with an infectious presence where he was targeted 9 times or more in every single contest prior to his season ending injury. There were games where this guy was getting 17-21 targets a game on a weekly basis at USC when he was fully healthy.
London is can run 21/30 routes on a route tree and has the best skill set after Garrett Williams in this draft. Only Makai Polk, a wide receiver on Mississippi State and Isaiah Spiller out of Texas A&M are younger.
All three Leo's are 20.7-years old if you want to get technical. Tom Brady, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin are the three most iconic Leos to play professionally in 2022, but the best wide receiver of All Time with a Leo zodiac sign is former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown who was just as heralded as London was when he played at Notre Dame. Brown finished his career seventh All Time in receiving yards sixth among receivers while also being one of nine NFL receivers to score 100 career receiving touchdowns.
Seattle could get a quarterback at 9, but I think they will take the best player on their board. Mississippi State left tackle Charles Cross and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. are both in play at 9. The Texans took Stingley at three so this left Cross by process of elimination.
I would take Cross here since he gives Drew Lock, Geno Smith, or Jacob Eason a competent blindside at left tackle. Charles Cross provides a left tackle that Seattle can build their offensive line around.
The 6-4 307 lb Charles Cross has the best foot speed of any offensive tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft as he only allowed 3 sacks on 682 pass blocking snaps. He doesn't maintain blocks as long as Evan Neal in pass protection in terms of pass blocking strength and he's not as lethal of a run blocker as Ikem Ekwonu. However you can argue that Cross, the two year left tackle at Mississippi State has the best foot speed of any left tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The New York Jets got this pick from Seattle in the Jamal Adams trade. New York offered this pick back to Seattle for D.K. Metcalf which they declined which is why I believe the New York Jets are taking a wide receiver at 10. Drafting Garrett Wilson at 10 gives Zach Wilson a number one target and allows the New York Jets to move Corey Davis into a number two role which suits him better. It also allows Elijah Moore to permanently play slot receiver.
The 5-11 183 lb Garrett Wilson ran a 4.38 40 time and caught every single ball thrown his way in the 2022 NFL Combine. Garrett Wilson had 30 receptions for 432 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns as a true freshman in 2019. Wilson improved on that with 43 receptions, 723 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns in 2020. Wilson put together his best season in 2021 with 70 receptions, 1,058 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns. Garret Wilson can run 24/30 routes on a route tree and is considered by many to be the best route runner in the 2022 NFL Draft. His ceiling isn't as high as Smith, Chase, or Waddle, but he's the top receiver option in this years draft. Wes Langley compared him to former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.
New Orleans reached for a second round receiver at 11. To be fair Mitch Pabst took Chris Olave in our group mock when picking for the Saints. Wes Langley compared him to former Michigan State wide receiver Devin Smith. Michael Thomas mentoring Olave may end up boosting the team chemistry for this offense. I still believe this was a massive reach. New Orleans gave up their third and fourth round pick to move up five spots for a second round prospect on my board.
Chris Olave was the go-to-guy for Justin Fields at Ohio State in 2020 while having 12 receiving touchdowns in 2019 as he enters his senior season at Ohio State. The 6-0 187 lb Chris Olave had 65 receptions, 936 receiving yards, and 13 receiving touchdowns in 2021. He ran a 4.39 at the 2022 NFL Combine and had a good workout at Ohio State's 2022 Pro Day. Chris Olave is great at running streak routes and can give New Orleans another deep threat.
I need to see Chris Olave do more in terms of route running to say he'll be a star, but he can take pressure off of Michael Thomas. Maybe being mentored by Michael Thomas will help him out.
Detroit gets a target to pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown at 12. Jameson Williams gives Detroit an immediate starter to pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Jameson Williams runs like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill in terms of speed. When fully healthy, you can easily argue he's the best receiver in this draft just on speed alone.
The 6-1 179 lb Jameson Williams becomes a target for Jared Goff. Jameson Williams can run 16/30 routes on the route tree, but he went 2/32 against cornerbacks in man coverage.
Jameson Williams had 79 receptions, 1,572 receiving yards, and 15 receiving touchdowns in 2021 leading the SEC in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Williams played five games against NFL cornerbacks and went 2/32 against cornerbacks in man coverage. The only game where he exceeded 100 receiving yards was against Georgia in the SEC Championship against Derion Kendrick. Williams got ejected for targeting versus Auburn and tore his ACL in the rematch against Georgia in the National Title Game. First round cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Ahmad Gardner kept him in check on film, but my Lions fan and good friend Chris Robbins gave him a higher grade than Calvin Johnson.
The 6-4 219 lb Kyle Hamilton is a special player who is versatile enough to play nickel cornerback, strong safety, or free safety with his versatility. He plays man coverage, zone coverage, and tackles effectively with A+ man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage. The last safety to get an A+ grade in all three categories for me was Eric Berry back in 2010 who went fifth overall to Kansas City. You'd like to see Hamilton press more when lining up in the nickel, but I can look past that if a team wisely opts to play him at safety. I'd also give Hamilton an A+ grade in versatility.
Baltimore now has Kyle Hamilton as a chess piece on their secondary. Kyle Hamilton compliments Marcus Williams quite well.
Houston gets a starting left guard to compliment left tackle Laremy Tunsil and right tackle Tytus Howard. Kenyon Green struggled at the Combine. He did much better in the blocking drills at Texas A&M's pro day even though a lot of players struggled at Texas A&M's Pro Day with their 40 times in the 40-yard dash.
Kenyon Green has the pass blocking, run blocking, and zone blocking. He needs to get stronger and improve his footwork at the next level. Kenyon Green is versatile enough to play left tackle, left guard, right guard, or right tackle with his versatility as Green played left tackle in 2021 after being a guard his first two years at Texas A&M dominating on film against Alabama when Texas A&M defeated Alabama.
Terry McLaurin is 27-years-old. Washington reached here, but in their defense they took the second best wide receiver on the board behind Treylon Buks even though I had a second round grade on Dotson mocking him to Cleveland at 44. Washington has McLaurin, Dotson, and Dyami Brown in the slot for 2022, with my guess being that Dotson and Brown are the guys who will take over at receiver for the Commanders if they cannot re-sign McLaurin. Dotson is faster and can run more routes then Burks, but Burks is 6-2, so I guess this selection comes down whether you value speed and route running or size. Washington valued the speed and route running more despite Dotson's height, which you can't really blame them for since Dotson is the clear cut star on Penn State's team last year. Other Penn State players in the 2022 NFL Draft were good, but didn't have the impact Dotson had.
The 5-10 178 lb Jahan Dotson can run 24/30 routes on the route tree. He's fast with a 4.43 40 time. Jahan Dotson had 91 receptions, 1,182 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns in 2021. If he was a little bit taller, he'd probably be a first round target, but training with Kentucky wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson before dominated the 2022 NFL Combine and Penn State's Pro Day has certainly helped him cement his status in the top half of the first round.