With the 2022 NFL Draft on the horizon, it's time to take my second crack at a mock of the first round.
REMINDER: As always, this isn't what I would do -- it's what I'm hearing from my sources around the league.
I'm told by people in the know that the decision on this pick is far from made. With less than two weeks to go, the Jaguars are still building their board. The fact that it remains a debate makes me think Trent Baalke is leaning toward Walker.
If the Jags go with Travon Walker, Detroit won't waste a second turning in this draft card. Local ties aside, Hutchinson is everything the Lions are looking for in a franchise building block and future 10-year starter up front.
If Evan Neal, Sauce Gardner and Thibodeaux are all on the board at No. 4, it will be a simulation and conversation the Jets have explored for weeks. I'm told the team is still sorting its board, but that its meeting with Thibodeaux last Friday went extremely well. At some point, the Jets front office needs to get Robert Saleh an edge rusher.
Pickett's meeting with the Panthers last week went really well. In fact, all of the QB prospect meetings with Carolina did. With only one other pick in the top 140, I think the Panthers just take their QB of choice, hold their nose and deal with any draft-day critiques suggesting they reached with this selection.
New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be the happiest man on the planet if Sauce falls to No. 7. The former Bearcat is one of the few DBs in recent college football history who could be left on an island and come out on top. Considering Wink's blitz-everyone-and-their-brother-and-mother approach, Gardner would be a perfect fit in the Giants' defensive backfield.
The Falcons sit pretty at No. 8 and take the best player available in Neal. This situation would be a lot like what happened to the Chargers last year when Pro Bowler Rashawn Slater unexpectedly fell out of the top 12.
Defensive back might not be the most pressing need for Seattle, but Stingley can ball. There's a big drop-off on teams' overall boards at the corner spot after Gardner and Stingley. Seattle gets another LSU Tiger to join Jamal Adams in the secondary.
Williams is still working his way back from ACL surgery, but that shouldn't eliminate his chances of going in the top 10. The Jets are still looking to beef up their receiver room, and Williams has WR1 potential.
Whether or not Washington extends Terry McLaurin isn't a contributing factor with my pick here. The Commanders can go a variety of ways, but if Wilson slips out of the top 10, I think they'd pounce on the former Buckeye.
Derek Stingley Jr.'s defensive coordinator at LSU, Daronte Jones, is now coaching with Minnesota (defensive backs), and I think the talented corner is the apple of the Vikings’ eye. If he’s off the board, look for Johnson, an Eden Prairie, Minnesota, native who’s viewed by most teams as the fourth pass rusher off the board.
The Texans need to address their defensive backfield. In Hamilton, they get the best safety in this draft and a guy who could be a captain his first year on the field.
Could Philly draft a wide receiver in the first round for the third straight year? Yes. Yes, they can. Remember, they have 10 total selections, and Nick Sirianni is an offensive coach with a big say in this pick.
New Orleans takes a WR with elite speed and tremendous upside to pair with the big, physical Michael Thomas.
Lloyd's a great player and person and has the X's-and-O's know-how to be the shot-caller of the Eagles' D. He has exceptional pass-coverage skills (check out his INT against Stanford) and can line up with tight ends in the passing game.
The NFL Scouting Combine superhero would find a great defensive coaching staff and core to learn from in New Orleans. Is he going to be the 340-pound physical freak we all saw in Indy or the 360-pound player at UGA who struggled to stay on the field versus Alabama the first time they played last season?
Drafting Willis wouldn't be an indictment on Mitchell Trubisky -- it'd be a move toward the future. May the best man win. Willis, who'd be a value pick at No. 20, has a lot of fans around the league -- just not sure there's one willing to take him in the top 10 at this point.
I think the Packers take the best WR left on the board. Dotson isn't going to be Davante Adams anytime soon (or likely ever), but he's a quality receiver who can contribute right away from multiple spots on the field. Eventually, by the end of the season, he could be the Packers' No. 1 or 2 option.
Incredibly intelligent and versatile, Johnson would immediately find a spot along Arizona's offensive line. I don't see the Cardinals taking a defensive player in the first round for a third straight year -- regardless of who's on the board.
The Cowboys need offensive line help, and if Linderbaum is still available at No. 24, I could see the former standout wrestler as the team's starting center from Day 1.
Everyone's loading up with offensive weapons in the AFC. The Bills are no different. Hall is the only running back I have going in the first round and would immediately become Buffalo's RB1.
Green has interviewed well with teams the past few weeks and has an edge to him that will jell with that Titans offensive line.
Karlaftis could go anywhere from the 20s to the 40s. If he's still on the board at No. 29, the Chiefs could scoop him up; he'd be a good fit in Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 defense. Karlaftis, who spent his early years in Greece playing water polo, has emerged as a polished talent over the last few seasons in the Big Ten.
The Chiefs respond to the AFC's arms race by adding another defensive back. Gordon is well-regarded around the league, with some teams liking him as much as his Washington teammate, Trent McDuffie.
Smith is only a redshirt sophomore, but he's viewed as having one of the highest upsides of any lineman in this class. In the offseason of "Protect Joe Burrow AT ALL COSTS," Cincinnati keeps the theme going strong.
Corral has fans around the league and conceivably could go as high as the top 10. I think Detroit grabs a quarterback (for the fifth-year option) with the 32nd pick.