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Cy Stoltz 2022 Mock Draft
Published at 4/28/2022 8:34:44 AM

Don't project trades and give thorough explanations, reasonings, and analysis. I recommend skimming.

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Round 1

1. Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, Defensive End, Michigan

I've read reports that the Jaguars are torn between Hutchinson and Walker with this pick. The Jaguars really can't afford to miss here, and I expect them to play it safe and take the layup. Hutchinson's active hands, agility, strength, and competitiveness will make him an instant contributor on any NFL D-Line. Hutchinson has surprisingly short arms for his height (32 1/8 inch arms at 6'7) and he doesn't offer the same length as other similarly sized edge rushers like Greg Rousseau, but his agility times in the 3-cone and 20 yard short shuttle were great times for a man of his size.

2. Lions: Travon Walker, Defensive End, Georgia

Travon Walker compares very favorably to Jadeveon Clowney as a prospect, and I believe that's a fair pro comparison for him as well. For comparison:

Walker: 6'5 272 lbs 35 1/2 inch arms 4.51 40 35.5 vertical 10'3 broad jump 6.89 3 cone 4.32 short shuttle

Clowney: 6'5 266 34 1/2 inch arms 4.53 40 37.5 vertical 10'4 broad jump 7.27 3 cone and 4.43 short shuttle

While Clowney has flashed and made impact plays in the pros, he hasn't lived up to the expectations of a first overall pick. He has remained an excellent disruptor and run defender, but his pass rush never developed into that of an elite pass rusher.

Walker played all over the Georgia defense and couldn’t settle into one defined role or position, so the hope is that settling him on the edge allows him to grow and develop his pass rush, and there's a ton of upside. That said I think the most reasonable expectation is that he is an excellent run defender, makes athletic splash plays, and is a solid contributor to a pass rush without being the headliner, though he certainly has the potential to become that.

3. Texans: Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati

Lovie Smith commented recently about the Texans being unable to play the style of defense they would like without better cornerback play. Granted I've been hearing all sorts of reports about WR, CB, DL, and OL for the Texans first rounders, but I thought that comment really stuck out.

I think both Gardner and Stingley are better prospects than Jeff Okudah who went #3 to the Lions in 2020 and both project as true #1 corners in the NFL. I give Gardner the nod here because I think he's a better fit for Lovie's defense because of his height/length and his cleaner injury history.

Gardner had over 1000 career coverage snaps from his freshman to junior season and didn't let up a touchdown once. Last season he only allowed 13 catches for 117 yards. His combination of speed (4.41) and height/length (6'3, 33 1/2 inch arms) are overwhelming to most WRs. He plays aggressively with a chip on his shoulder and isn't afraid to lock up and jam WRs. Can be a bit too grabby at times.

4. Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Defensive End, Oregon

The Jets have an ideal rotation for Thibodeaux to come in and learn the game. Carl Lawson would be a great mentor to help KT develop his rush, and John Franklin Myers can rotate in at end or tackle allowing KT to take breathers on first and second down and come in fresh for a third down edge rush.
Thibodeaux has a ton of talent as edge rusher but is very unrefined. He doesn't really rush with a plan, and his hand usage is pretty rudimentary. He uses speed to power move most often and tries to overwhelm the tackle with speed to get leverage. He flashes solid hand use on these rushes- getting a nice pop in the chest plate of the tackle to uproot him- but it's too one-dimensional. He jumps the snap the best of any of the edge rushers and is so quick he looks offsides at times.

5. Giants: Evan Neal, Offensive Guard, Alabama

Evan Neal has a lot of agility for a man his size, but he doesn't play with the nasty demeanor you'd like to see out of a tackle. He executes his assignments, but doesn't seem to really relish putting guys on their back like Ikem Ekwonu, and doesn't have the same lateral agility and kick step athleticism as Charles Cross.

Neal, however, has size, athleticism, polish, and a ton of scheme/positional versatility. You can plug and play him anywhere besides center, and that versatility would be huge for the Giant's thin offensive line. Ideally, the Giants can select him here and keep him at right tackle across from Andrew Thomas for the long term.

6. Panthers: Charles Cross, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State

The Panthers might go quarterback here, but I don't think any rookie quarterback available helps them win games more than Cross. The Panthers don't have another pick until pick 137, so they're very likely to trade down here. The Ravens have 5 picks in the 4th round alone and 2 in the 3rd, so they're a team to watch in a trade-up here, especially if they don't feel great about Ronnie Stanley's recovery from injury. If I'm a Panthers fan I'm expecting a trade down here. Other teams in play could be the Chiefs, Packers, Saints, or Steelers.

Charles Cross is the most natural left tackle in the class. Despite being 2-3 inches shorter than Evan Neal, Cross actually has the longer arms of the two (Cross' arms being 34 1/2 and Neal's being 34) Cross's kick steps, hand uses, lateral agility, and recovery are all elite and he has the most potential of any tackle in this draft when it comes to pass protection and the ability to be a true franchise left tackle. He could stand to play with more physicality in the ground game, but his athleticism translates well there, and he'd be an excellent fit in a zone running game.

7. Giants: Derek Stingley, Cornerback, LSU

The Giants might want to trade down here, especially if the Panthers pass on QB and they get a good offer from a team like the Steelers or Saints
James Bradberry looks to be on the way out, leaving the Giants thin at corner. Cornerback play is very important to new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, and the Ravens roster building exemplified that with heavy investments in CBs Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. Martindale loves zero blitzes and exotic blitz packages, and to run those looks he needs his corners to play reliably in coverage.
Stingley has had injuries hamper his play the last two seasons, but his true freshman season was incredible. The combination of size, speed, and explosion is daunting. (4.33 40 yard dash and 38.5 inch vertical 10'2 broad jump) He excels at sticking in-phase on the WR's hip pocket and doesn't tangle up with WRs like Gardner. More than explosive enough to make plays in off coverage out of phase. If healthy, he's a true lockdown corner.

8. Falcons: Jermaine Johnson, Defensive End, Florida State

Jermaine Johnson might be the most developed pass rusher in this draft class. His hand usage is excellent, he tested almost identically to Kayvon Thibodeaux (4.58 40 and 27 reps on bench), and he has the best array of moves to get after the passer. He's not projected as high because he's an older prospect, as a transfer, at 23 years old while the other first round consensus rushers are 22/21 years old. He didn't produce much before his transfer to Florida State and is viewed as a 1 year wonder. It's my opinion that he's the highest floor edge rusher in this class, and I think he's the safest bet of any of these prospects to put up 10+ sack seasons in the pros. He absolutely dominated the days of practice he participated in during the senior bowl and was noticeably the best player present on either offensive or defensive line.
It's not a popular opinion, but I have him as my top edge player in this draft, and wouldn't be surprised if he sneaks into the top 3 somehow. A fun fact about him is he's a Last Chance U alum and started his career in Hutchinson Kansas.
The Falcons have a real need at edge rusher/outside linebacker and Johnson gives them the best plug and play player ready to contribute.

9. Seahawks: Ikem Ekwonu, Offensive Tackle, N.C. State

The Seahawks have always valued the ability to run the ball under Pete Carroll, though that was diluted the last few years with the roster being better suited for a pass heavy attack with Wilson Lockett & Metcalf and a below average OL and RB group. Now that Wilson is in Denver, I expect the Seahawks to try and return to their ground & pound roots. Ekwonu is the best run blocking tackle in this draft and a true mauler who enjoys paving lanes for ball carriers. He's athletic and can move in space, though he doesn't possess the same sort of effortless athleticism in pass protection that Charles Cross exhibits with his kick steps, mirror ability, and recovery. This has some saying Ekwonu's best fit is at guard, but I believe the Seahawks will view him as heir apparent to current free agent left tackle Duane Brown and would be enthused to pick him here at 9. He tested great athletically, and his arms measured 34 inches, so I see no concerns with him at tackle.
Malik Willis or Matt Corral is an option here, but I don't think the Seahawks will want to pass up on acquiring a top 10 talent like Ekwonu.

10. Jets: Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama

The Jets have been linked to every big name WR available this offseason with this pick, and they might try to trade away or trade back into future drafts here. As it stands now, I think Williams is the pick.
Williams's speed would add another dimension to the offense, and with Elijah Moore and Corey Davis already in place, the Jets can survive at WR until he's healthy. Williams's ability to take the top off will help Wilson with some easy YAC yards, and explosive plays, and help open up the rest of the offense. During the combine it was said his weight was down from rehabbing his knee, and his play weight is closer to 190.

11. Redskins: Kyle Hamilton, Safety, Notre Dame

Washington has invested a ton in a defense that relies on its combination of size and speed, but there's a big hole at safety next to Kamren Curl. Kyle Hamilton makes a ton of sense as he's arguably the best player on the board, fills a need, and fits the team and scheme.

12. Vikings: Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty

New regimes typically mean new quarterbacks and it's suspicious to me how quiet the Vikings front office has been. The centerpieces of the Vikings offense appear to be set. The interior offensive line is a little weak, particularly at right guard, and the secondary and defensive line need help, but if there's a team with a great situation to take a quarterback like Willis it's the Vikings.

Willis is a quarterback that's mostly all tools at this point in time. He is built like a running back and runs through tacklers like one, but his arm is also special, and the ball jumps from his hand. He throws with a ton of velocity, and has shown a lot of touch. He'll make mental errors, and he needs work processing the field and learning to check down. He will also provide a better floor if forced into action than I think people expect, due to his athleticism and improvisational abilities. Expect a roller coaster if he's thrust into a starting role too early.

The Vikings are an ideal redshirt scenario for him, and the Vikings can move Kirk Cousins in a trade for a QB needy team when Willis is ready to play - similar to what the Chiefs did with Mahomes and Alex Smith.

13. Texans: Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver, Ohio State

The Texans have to add talent on offense if they want to seriously evaluate Davis Mills as a potential franchise quarterback. The 32nd ranked rushing attack could use some attention as well, but interior offensive linemen and running backs can be found later in the draft.
Wilson, a native Texan from Austin, would be a great fit for the Texans offense. At 5'11 183 and a 4.38 40 Wilson has all the tools to be a WR1 at the next level. He has deep speed, elusiveness, and though he's not the most physical receiver, he is great in contested catch situations and competing for jump balls. His vertical was only 36 inches at the combine, but on film he jumps through the roof competing for the football. Has a lot of route runny savvy and has really sticky hands.

14. Ravens: Trent McDuffie, Cornerback, Washington

Marcus Peters is rehabbing an achilles and is due for a 15.5 million dollar cap hit and only costs 5.5 million in dead cap, as he's currently in the last year of his deal with the team. The Ravens can not afford to pay 2 corners 10+ million a year with the Lamar Jackson deal incoming so it makes a lot of sense to bring in a young corner on a rookie contract to compliment Humphrey. Peters could very well be cut or they could let him play out this year and walk next offseason, but McDuffie would be the heir apparent as CB2 to Humphrey and would add some much needed depth to the CB room.

McDuffie is an intelligent, high effort player with good, if not great, athletic traits. He's agile and explosive and has great eyes. Can play in the slot or outside. Very high floor player.

15. Eagles: Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC

The Eagles have invested a ton into the WR position in recent years, but it's still a need after Jalen Reagor and JJ Arcega Whiteside have shown little to inspire confidence.

Drake London is a great fit in this offense as his skill set really compliments Devonta Smith's as a bigger more physical receiver. The Eagles have been looking for a possession receiver since Alshon Jeffery fell off, and London would solve that for them. London is a tough, power forward type of receiver, with great YAC skills and a great ability to fight through contact and get vertical to secure the catch at its apex. His speed is a question, and he played more out of the slot than the outside (313 snaps outside vs 662 in the slot per PFF), but he's got a lot of talent.

16. Saints: Trevor Penning, Offensive Tackle, Northern Iowa

The Saints have a huge need at tackle after losing Terron Armstead, and they'll want to take Penning here before the Chargers can. Penning has elite athletic traits: 34.25 inch arms, 4.89 40, 28' vertical, 9'3 broad jump, 7.25 3 cone, 4.62 short shuttle, and 29 reps on the bench.

Some analysts and pundits have been downgrading him for playing over aggressive. The aggression is great, but he needs to tone it down. Had an ugly play during the senior bowl practices where he threw an edge rusher to the ground trying to rag doll him and threw the guy into leg whipping Desmond Ridder trying to climb into the pocket. That said, It's an easier fix to coach a guy to dial down the aggression and harness it more intelligently than it is trying to get a guy to play with aggression he just doesn't have. Penning might take a season or two to get used to the level of competition and NFL veterans won't take kindly to his attitude, but he has the demeanor and athletic ability to be an elite tackle.


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