Mike Lockhart’s NFL Mock Draft: Picking the first round
Toucher & Rich
April 27th, 2022
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: The New England Patriots logo is seen on a video board during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Mike Lockhart, producer for Toucher and Rich and host of the Sports Hub Fantasy Football Show, has created his own NFL Mock Draft for the class of 2022. Read more below about his picks for the top-10, and for the Patriots, as well as the rest of his selections for the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Nov 20, 2021; College Park, Maryland, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) rushes during the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
There are several players who could land here, and nobody is calling for this pick. Hutchinson gives the team a ready-to-play defensive end who can adjust multiple positions for Jacksonville. He’s a hardnosed player who can bring a good attitude to the locker room. Travon Walker or offensive line are options here. It’s rumored that the owner, front office and coaches are all split on who to pick.
2. Lions: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Nov 20, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) and cornerback Coby Bryant (7) react after cornerback Arquon Bush (not pictured) blocked a field goal by the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
The Lions are desperate for help in the secondary. Detroit was in most games last season, despite their record. Adding a lockdown corner would help against giving up 31 passing touchdowns. If Jeff Okudah can turn into a steady starter, they could have two good young corners. Travon Walker, Hutchinson and Kyle Hamilton are all in play.
3. Texans: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
Oct 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) warms up prior to a game against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Texans have a lot of holes to fill. Houston’s offensive line was not very good last season. Ekwonu gives the team a day-one starter at guard with the ability to play tackle. Travon Walker is an option for Houston. They have two picks in the first round, so they can be flexible.
4. Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
Sep 18, 2021; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (7) reacts after making a tackle against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Clause/The Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK
The Jets have two picks in the first round. Stingley missed this season with a foot injury but is said to be ready for 2022. Pass rush needs to be addressed but there will be options at 10.
5. Giants: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
ATHENS, GA – NOVEMBER 06: Travon Walker #44 of the Georgia Bulldogs sacks Tyler Macon #10 of the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Sanford Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Walker could easily go first to Jacksonville. He won’t fall much further than this. Evan Neal is an option here. Walker’s measurables outweigh his college production and will land him in the top 5 of the draft.
6. Panthers: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
Dec 18, 2021; Mobile, Alabama, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) rolls out to pass against the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the third quarter during the 2021 LendingTree Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert McDuffie-USA TODAY Sports
The Panthers didn’t land any quarterbacks this off-season. They don’t seem to be in on Baker Mayfield. Depending on which quarterback they covet the most in the draft, they could pass here and try for someone like Ridder or Howell in the second round.
7. Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 04: Charles Cross #OL06 of Mississippi State runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Giants pass on Evan Neal whose medicals have come into question. Cross gives a poor Giants offensive line a boost. Prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 310 pounds. He comes out early as a redshirt sophomore.
8. Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton (14) intercepts a pass intended for Purdue tight end Payne Durham (87) in the end zone during the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
The Falcons secondary gave up 31 touchdowns through the air and 19 rushing touchdowns this season. Hamilton can help in both of those categories and fills a vacant safety spot.
9. Seahawks: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Evan Neal (73) against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Neal could still be in play at the top of the draft. His medicals have come into question, and he didn’t work out at the combine or Alabama’s pro day. He may end up playing guard. Neal has a massive body that he relies on to block over technique.
10. Jets: Jermaine Johnson, DE, FSU
Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Florida State linebacker Jermaine Johnson II (LB20) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jermaine Johnson will add an immediate upgrade rushing the passer. Johnson shined during Senior Bowl practice. He tallied 11.5 sacks last season at Florida State.
EUGENE, OR – OCTOBER 30: Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the Oregon Ducks rushes against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium on October 30, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson (77) looks to block against the Colgate Raiders during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
At 6-foot-3 and 312 pounds, Johnson has the size, strength and length to succeed in the NFL. As a run blocker, he gets to the second level and seals off running lanes well. He keeps momentum going and can turn one block into two.
In pass protection, he keeps a low base and doesn’t pop up when engaging as a blocker. Johnson has a strong first punch and quick feet that he uses to keep moving with a defender who’s changing direction.
He’s got experience at tackle, guard, and center.
I’m a little worried Zion could be gone here. Pittsburgh could use him. Other players New England could target: Kenyon Green, Trent McDuffie, Quay Walker and Boye Mafe. They could also trade back into the second round and look for defensive tackles like Travis Jones (UConn), Perrion Winfrey, or Logan Hall. Linebacker Leo Chenal from Wisconsin could fit the Patriots’ desire at linebacker in the second round.
Oct 23, 2021; Little Rock, Arkansas, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) rushes for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
22. Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas 23. Cardinals: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia 24. Cowboys: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M 25. Bills: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan 26. Titans: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia 27. Buccaneers: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue 28. Packers: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa 29. Chiefs: Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson 30. Chiefs: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn St 31. Bengals: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida 32. Lions: Devonte Wyatt, DE, Georgia
One last reminder: give Lockhart your thoughts on his mock draft on Twitter at @Lockhart81.
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