Advertisement
Share

NFL mock draft live: Team reporters make their first-round picks

1

Step aside national NFL prognosticators.

This mock draft is locals only.

As has been tradition for nearly two decades, the Los Angeles Times turned to beat writers, the people who cover these teams on a daily basis, to make the first-round picks in an imaginary draft. They know the tendencies and needs of their respective teams, and have been writing about them for months.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, which will be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Below, the reporters make a selection and give a rationale for it.

A year after quarterbacks went 1-2-3, this mock projects only two selected in the opening round, with the first going to New Orleans at No. 19.

This projects an in-the-trenches draft, with the first six selections being defensive or offensive linemen. The scenario also has a USC receiver going in the top 10 for the first time since Mike Williams was taken 10th in 2005.

Advertisement

2

First-round live mock draft recap

Farmer and the reporters who made the top five picks in this year’s mock draft analyzed their picks in a post-draft Twitter Spaces chat. Be sure to check it out. Here’s a pick-by-pick recap of all 32 first-round selections:

3

1. Jacksonville Jaguars | DE-OLB Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) fights off a Northwestern blocker in October.
(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

There’s a lot of need across the board, but Hutchinson is a safe pick. Hutchinson could really help opposite Josh Allen, and this team needs a better pass rush.” — John Reid, Florida Times-Union

4

2. Detroit Lions | DE-OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) lines up against Stanford in October.
Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) lines up against Stanford in October.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

There are valid concerns about how Thibodeaux will mesh with Dan Campbell, but one of Campbell’s strengths is embracing his players’ unique personalities and Thibodeaux can be an impact player at a major position of need for the Lions.” — Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press

Advertisement

5

3. Houston Texans | OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu (79) prepares to block against Clemson in September.
(Karl B DeBlaker / Associated Press)

While Georgia pass rusher Travon Walker would be tempting at this spot, the Texans could really use an influx of toughness and versatility for their offensive line. Ekwonu is a tone setter with a real nasty streak. — Aaron Wilson, Pro Football Network

6

4. New York Jets | DE Travon Walker, Georgia

Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker (44) lines up against Arkansas in September.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

Jets have not had a good edge since they traded John Abraham in 2006. They signed Carl Lawson last year and they can team up Walker with him to give Robert Saleh a pass rush like he had in San Francisco. — Brian Costello, New York Post

7

5. New York Giants | OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

Mississippi State offensive lineman Charles Cross (67) sets up to pass block against Arkansas in November.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

Advertisement

An offensive lineman with great feet who played left tackle in college but showed in pre-draft he can play on the right side. Has the skills to fit into Brian Daboll’s offense, and he’s only 20 years old so he has a lot of upside. — Pat Leonard, New York Daily News

8

6. Carolina Panthers | OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) blocks Mississippi State defensive end Randy Charlton in October.
(Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press)

The Panthers need a quarterback, as the world knows. But they also need a left tackle, having had a different one every season since Jordan Gross retired at the end of the 2013 campaign. And Neal is too good to pass up. Draft your franchise left tackle, then go get Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield — or run it back with Sam Darnold and get your quarterback next year. — Joe Person, The Athletic

9

7. New York Giants | CB Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner, Cincinnati

Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner pursues against Tulane in October.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

The Giants have to trade or cut No. 1 cornerback James Bradbury, because his salary-cap number is unaffordable. Despite the team saying it can keep Bradbury, it’s more likely the Giants will look to replace him in the draft.” — Ralph Vacchiano, SportsNet New York

Advertisement

10

8. Atlanta Falcons | WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson breaks free against Michigan State in November.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

Best yards-after-the-catch receiver for a unit that’s devoid of weapons at receiver, having lost Russell Gage and Calvin Ridley. — D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

11

9. Seattle Seahawks | DE Jermaine Johnson II, Florida State

Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II rushes the passer against Notre Dame in December.
(Gary McCullough / Associated Press)

The Seahawks would love it if one of the top three offensive tackles fell to them. But if not, then they’ll address their pass rush, which has been persistently inconsistent the last few years. — Bob Condotta, Seattle Times

12

10. New York Jets | WR Drake London, USC

 USC wide receiver Drake London heads to the end zone against Utah in October.
USC wide receiver Drake London heads to the end zone against Utah in October.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Advertisement

The Jets offseason has been all about helping Zach Wilson in Year 2. The addition of London gives him a top receiver after the Jets struck out on Tyreek Hill. — Brian Costello, New York Post

13

11. Washington Commanders | S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton get in position against Cincinnati in October.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton get in position against Cincinnati in October.
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Washington played its best defense last year when it used Landon Collins as a hybrid, drop-down safety in their big nickel package. With Collins gone, the Commanders can fill that role with Hamilton, a versatile playmaker who can move around in base and sub-packages. — Nicki Jhabvala, Washington Post

14

12. Minnesota Vikings | CB Derek Stingley Jr., Louisiana State

Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. warms up before a Louisiana State game last season.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Vikings need a No. 1 corner, for both 2022 and the future, and they’ve been interested all spring in Stingley. He missed the end of the 2021 season with a Lisfranc injury, but he likely answered some of the health questions with his performance at LSU’s pro day. He’s got the size and speed to start right away and learn from Patrick Peterson, another former LSU product. — Ben Goessling, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Advertisement

15

13. Houston Texans | WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams runs down the sideline on a long pass reception against New Mexico State in November.
(Vasha Hunt / Associated Press)

While the Texans could use an upgrade at 4-3 nose tackle with Jordan Davis, it’s tough to pass up Williams, even as he’s recovering from an ACL tear. His elite speed, paired with Brandin Cooks, will improve a vertical passing game that was lacking in 2021. A best-available approach invests again in QB Davis Mills and elevated OC Pep Hamilton. — Brooks Kubena, Houston Chronicle

16

14. Baltimore Ravens | DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis watches during warm ups before the Orange Bowl against Michigan.
(Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

The Ravens know that they need to get younger and more explosive on their defensive front and Davis, whose athleticism was on full display at the Scouting Combine, would be a large building block. There are concerns about whether Davis will impact the quarterback on the next level, but the Ravens have long prioritized stopping the run first and they believe Davis has the size and athleticism to be a disruptive force. — Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

17

15. Philadelphia Eagles | DE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis (5) readies to make a tackle against Wisconsin in October.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Advertisement

No QBs going in the first 14 picks would not be an ideal scenario for the Eagles. They may trade out if that ends up the case, but for this purpose, I think they would take player at a premium position who also addresses a need. Karlaftis may not be sexy, but he may just be a Brandon Graham in waiting and that didn’t turn out so bad. — Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

18

16. New Orleans Saints | OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning (70) gets set for a play against Southern Illinois in October.
Northern Iowa offensive lineman Trevor Penning (70) gets set for a play against Southern Illinois in October.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

If the Saints don’t package their two first round picks to move up, it would be smart for New Orleans to draft a tackle here. The Saints have to replace Terron Armstead at the left tackle spot after he departed for the Dolphins during free agency, and Penning fits the bill with his experience, athleticism and strength. — Amie Just, The Times-Picayune

19

17. Los Angeles Chargers | WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

Ohio State receiver Chris Olave catches a touchdown pass against Michigan State in November.
Ohio State receiver Chris Olave catches a touchdown pass against Michigan State in November.
(Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)

The Chargers would love to upgrade their right tackle situation but, with the draft’s top four options at that position now off the board, they’ll gladly “settle” for a boost of speed on the outside. Olave brings a more consistent deep threat than Jalen Guyton has been able to provide the last two seasons. He’s considered a polished route runner with the sort of footwork that can create immediate separation. With a quarterback like Justin Herbert, there is no such thing as too many weapons. The Chargers used free agency mostly to bolster their defense. This move represents a step forward for their offense. — Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times

Advertisement

20

18. Philadelphia Eagles | CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

Washington defensive back Trent McDuffie gets ready to defend  against Colorado in November.
Washington defensive back Trent McDuffie gets ready to defend against Colorado in November.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Again, still no QBs! And, again, I feel like the Eagles may trade out under that scenario. I know Howie Roseman has never drafted a CB in the first round, and McDuffie has some flaws, but he’s the best I have on my board at this point, and the secondary needs some dudes. — Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

21

19. New Orleans Saints | QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes against Clemson in October.
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes against Clemson in October.
(Keith Srakocic / Associated Press)

Saints fans will want a receiver here but Pickett is too good to pass up. He fits the prototype for what the Saints looks for in a quarterback and can be the team’s long-term solution at the position in the post-Drew Brees era. — Jeff Duncan, The Times-Picayune

22

20. Pittsburgh Steelers | QB Malik Willis, Liberty

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis (7) scrambles between Campbell defenders Josh McNeely, left, and Keshawn Thompson.
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis (7) scrambles between Campbell defenders Josh McNeely, left, and Keshawn Thompson in September.
(Kendall Warner / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Having Mitch Trubisky will allow the Steelers to have Willis behind him his rookie season, to learn the pro ropes and then start in 2023. — Ed Bouchette, The Athletic

23

21. New England Patriots | CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam readies for a play against Samford in November.
Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam readies for a play against Samford in November.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

The Patriots need to get younger and faster at all three levels of the defense, but their most glaring need is at cornerback after losing JC Jackson and Stephon Gilmore in the last year. Elam has good size and speed, and spent three years lining across from the best receivers in the SEC. — Ben Volin, Boston Globe

24

22. Green Bay Packers | WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks runs to the end zone after a catch against Missouri in November.
Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks runs to the end zone after a catch against Missouri in November.
(Michael Woods / Associated Press)

The Packers have to rebuild their receiving corps after trading Davante Adams, and Burks has the size and strength GM Brian Gutekunst covets at that position. — Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette

Advertisement

25

23. Arizona Cardinals | WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) celebrates a touchdown catch against Villanova in September.
Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) celebrates a touchdown catch against Villanova in September.
(Barry Reeger / Associated Press)

Even with the top five wide receivers off the board, the Cardinals could easily make Dotson the sixth wideout to go in the first round. The more weapons on offense they can give Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray, the better. Arizona has done its homework on the speedy Dotson, who loves the game so much he carries a football with him everywhere he goes. — Bob McManaman, Arizona Republic

26

24. Dallas Cowboys | G-C Zion Johnson, Boston College

Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson is projected to play guard or center in the NFL.
Boston College offensive lineman Zion Johnson is projected to play guard or center in the NFL.
(Mary Schwalm / Associated Press)

Ending Devin Lloyd’s slide and pairing the versatile, lengthy linebacker with Micah Parsons was a tempting concept. Maybe the Cowboys will be bolder than me. Ultimately, the need on the interior offensive line made it too difficult to pass on someone of Johnson’s intelligence, anchor ability and positional flexibility. He can start immediately at left guard. — Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News

27

25. Buffalo Bills | CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. surveys the field against South Carolina in November.
Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. surveys the field against South Carolina in November.
(Sean Rayford / Associated Press)

Advertisement

The Bills don’t have a lot of holes in their projected starting lineup, but cornerback is one of them after losing Levi Wallace in free agency and dealing with the uncertainty of when Tre’Davious White will be ready to play after suffering an ACL tear last season on Thanksgiving night. Booth fits the physical profile the Bills look for in a cornerback and is a willing tackler, which is a must for Sean McDermott. — Jay Skurski, Buffalo News

28

26. Tennessee Titans | G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green kneels before an October game against Alabama.
Texas A&M offensive lineman Kenyon Green mentally prepares before an October game against Alabama.
(Sam Craft / Associated Press)

The Titans have an offense that needs reinforcements just about everywhere, but O-line is the most glaring weakness, with two starters that need to be replaced. Green would be a Day-1 starter at left guard for Tennessee. He has the versatility to play other spots, too. — Ben Arthur, The Tennessean

29

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt runs a drill ahead of the Senior Bowl.
Georgia defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt runs a drill ahead of the Senior Bowl.
(Butch Dill / Associated Press)

There’s a reason the Bucs haven’t re-signed Ndamukong Suh. They want to get younger at DT. Wyatt really shined at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He illustrated his ability to rush the passer utilizing some rare strength. That made scouts and coaches spring to attention. But his athleticism wowed everyone at the NFL scouting combine, when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds. Wyatt would instantly plug the run next to Vita Vea. But his upside as a pass rusher is exciting. — Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times

Advertisement

30

28. Green Bay Packers | ILB Devin Lloyd, Utah

Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd readies for the next snap.
Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd was front and center in the Utes’ defense.
(Bryan Byerly / Utah Athletics)

Georgia wide receiver George Pickens might interest the Packers here, too. They re-signed All-Pro DeVondre Campbell this offseason, but having a talented inside linebacker to pair with him would upgrade their nickel defense in a big way. So the Packers take Lloyd hoping he’s that guy. — Pete Dougherty, Green Bay Press-Gazette

31

29. Kansas City Chiefs | WR George Pickens, Georgia

Georgia wide receiver George Pickens pulls in a touchdown pass against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
Georgia wide receiver George Pickens pulls in a touchdown pass against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
(Brett Duke / Associated Press)

The Chiefs want a combination of size and athleticism with their new receiving corps and Pickens makes a lot of sense here if the team doesn’t trade up. Pickens can be another threat for Patrick Mahomes, who should have several passing options this upcoming season despite the team trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. — Nate Taylor, The Athletic

32

30. Kansas City Chiefs | DE Boye Mafe, Minnesota

Minnesota defensive lineman Boye Mafe stands on the field before a November game against Wisconsin.
Minnesota defensive lineman Boye Mafe stands on the field before a November game against Wisconsin.
(Stacy Bengs / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Taking a pass rusher late in the first round is often a bit risky, but the Chiefs don’t really have another alternative when it comes to adding depth at the defensive end position. Mafe has good size and burst off the ball. He can be developed into the Chiefs’ next star pass rusher if everything goes right. Cornerback is another position of need, but the Chiefs can address that in the second or third rounds. — Nate Taylor, The Athletic

33

31. Cincinnati Bengals | DL Logan Hall, Houston

Houston defensive lineman Logan Hall rushes the passer against Temple in November.
Houston defensive lineman Logan Hall rushes the passer against Temple in November.
(Chris Szagola / Associated Press)

The Bengals love versatility and are looking for another pass rusher who can work both inside and out. Hall fits that mold and checks all the culture boxes for the AFC champs. — Paul Dehner, The Athletic

34

32. Detroit Lions | S-CB Daxton Hill, Michigan

Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill pursues on defense against Indiana in November.
Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill pursues on defense against Indiana in November.
(Carlos Osorio / Associated Press)

Desmond Ridder is tempting here, but the board favors the Lions’ needs at defensive back and linebacker. Detroit’s staff covets versatile, athletic defenders, and those are Hill’s calling cards. He and Tracy Walker together at safety would erase a lot of potential mismatches. — Chris Burke, The Athletic

Advertisement


Here’s the selection order for the entire 2022 NFL draft (today’s reporters’ mock draft will cover the first round):

Share

Advertisement