“I’m as skeptical of one-year wonders as the next mock-drafter, but it falls into GM Trent Baalke’s history of taking the athletic playmakers.” – King on having Jacksonville take Georgia’s Travon Walker at No. 1 over Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson
“Upset special: Pickett over Malik Willis – and it’s a gut feeling more than anything else…But I’ve heard the Steelers think Pickett’s more likely to succeed as a pro.” – King on having the Steelers take Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett at No. 20
“This pick could be one of the most interesting in the round because of all the directions GM Brian Gutekunst could go…Green Bay’s a fascinating team in round 1.” – King on the Packers
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 25, 2022 – With the 2022 NFL Draft beginning this Thursday, Peter King unveils his first-round mock draft in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses potential first-round trades in his mock draft, the status of 49ers WR Deebo Samuel and Giants WR Kadarius Toney, and more.
This week, NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2022 NFL Draft includes Chris Simms’ 2022 mock draft, which will be available this afternoon on Chris Simms Unbuttoned, and Pro Football Talk’s continued team-by-team draft needs conversation.
For more NFL coverage, Peacock offers daily programming on the NBC Sports channel for free, including Pro Football Talk at 7 a.m. ET every weekday, Chris Simms Unbuttoned, The Peter King Podcast, The Rich Eisen Show, Brother from Another, and The Dan Patrick Show. To learn more about the NBC Sports on Peacock channel and how to sign up, click here.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King on his mock draft: “It’s a strange year… I have Bernhard Reimann and Arnold Ebiketie going in the first round, and Malik Willis not. I don’t have a quarterback going till the 20th pick. I have Kayvon Thibodeaux, the first pick in mockland last Thanksgiving, going 13th. I have teams fighting over a player out for the year with an Achilles injury.”
KING’S 2022 FIRST-ROUND MOCK DRAFT
|1) Jacksonville: Georgia DL Travon Walker||17) LA Chargers: Washington CB Trent McDuffie|
|2) Detroit: Michigan Edge Aidan Hutchinson||18) **Green Bay: Penn State WR Jahan Dotson|
|3) Houston: NC State T Ikem Ekwonu||19) New Orleans: Georgia DT Devonte Wynn|
|4) NY Jets: Cincinnati CB Sauce Gardner||20) Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett|
|5) NY Giants: Mississippi St. T Charles Cross||21) New England: Central Michigan T Bernhard Raimann|
|6) Carolina: Alabama T Evan Neal||22) **Philadelphia: Utah LB Devin Lloyd|
|7) NY Giants: Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton||23) Arizona: Florida State Edge Jermaine Johnson|
|8) Atlanta: USC WR Drake London||24) Dallas: Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum|
|9) *Houston: Ohio St. WR Garrett Wilson||25) Buffalo: Boston College OL Zion Johnson|
|10) NY Jets: Alabama WR Jameson Williams||26) Tennessee: Tulsa T Tyler Smith|
|11) Washington: Ohio St. WR Chris Olave||27) Tampa Bay: Michigan Edge David Ojabo|
|12) Minnesota: LSU CB Derek Stingley||28) Green Bay: Penn State Edge Arnold Ebiketie|
|13) *Seattle: Oregon Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux||29) Kansas City: North Dakota St. WR Christian Watson|
|14) Baltimore: Northern Iowa T Trevor Penning||30) Kansas City: Georgia S Lewis Cine|
|15) Philadelphia: Georgia DT Jordan Davis||31) Cincinnati: Colorado State TE Trey McBride|
|16) New Orleans: Arkansas WR Treylon Burks||32) ***Atlanta: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral|
|* Projected trade between Houston and Seattle|
|** Projected trade between Green Bay and Philadelphia|
|*** Projected trade between Atlanta and Detroit|
King on having Jacksonville take Walker at No. 1: “Expect a surprise, I heard out of Jacksonville recently. That would eliminate Aidan Hutchinson here. The trendy pick after that has been Walker, so that really wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Ikem Ekwonu, perhaps? I’ll go with the one-year-college-start upside guy, Walker…It’s risky, and I’m as skeptical of one-year wonders as the next mock-drafter, but it falls into GM Trent Baalke’s history of taking the athletic playmakers.”
King on Jacksonville and Walker: “The troubling part for Walker and his 9.5 career sacks in 29 games is that if he’s the pick, the comparisons to Hutchinson will be forever. That’s something Baalke had better factor in.”
King on having Detroit take Hutchinson at No. 2: “’A real Dan Campbell player,’ one NFL GM told me about the steadiest player in this draft. Campbell got a lot of people to chuckle when he talked about wanting players who want to bite kneecaps. It was his way of saying he wants guys who love football, who don’t take off plays, who won’t allow the Lions to be downtrodden anymore. Ask scouts about Hutchinson and they’ll tell you that’s how he played every one of his 43 career games in Ann Arbor.”
King on Detroit at No. 2: “Final note: Some late buzz about the Lions being smitten with Kayvon Thibodeaux and strongly considering him here. I just can’t see them passing on Hutchinson.”
King on having Houston take Ekwonu at No. 3: “If you’re the Texans, you’re really drafting for 2024. GM Nick Caserio’s got to be thinking of the long haul, and the long haul probably doesn’t consist of Laremy Tunsil and Brandin Cooks…So if you’re smart, and you’ve seen the top two edge guys go 1-2, you draft into the strength of this crop, tackle and wideout. Ekwonu is versatile and athletic, not the mauler that the other two top tackles are, but a cornerstone and smart lineman who should be the long-time leader of a currently lousy group.”
King on having the Jets take Gardner at No. 4: “I know lots of people I like and trust are going Kayvon Thibodeaux here, but I’m leery…Gardner might not have the feet or hips of Derek Stingley, but he has the consistent production, is highly competitive, and in a division with Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs (and Gabriel Davis), and whatever Bill Belichick has in store for the Jets, that’s six games a year when a top corner will be invaluable. And the Jets don’t have one.”
King on having the Giants take Cross at No. 5: “It’s logical to think GM Joe Schoen would want the best available right tackle here, with Andrew Thomas set on the left side. And because Cross was consistently on the left side in college, and Evan Neal started a season each at left tackle and right tackle, Neal’s a better fit here. And it may be Neal…What many don’t know is the Giants put Cross through some work to judge whether he’d be a good right-tackle candidate and came away happy that he would be. Cross, one GM told me, is the best pass-protector of the three top tackles, a power-forward type.”
King on having Atlanta take London at No. 8: “Kind of the first ‘they could do five things here’ pick. I’m going with the receiver I hear they love…His average game in 2021 (15 targets, 11 catches, 136 yards, one TD) was notable. Everyone knew the ball was coming to him, and his competitiveness in multiple coverages caught eyes. To keep up that level of production game after game is something that separates London from the other receivers in this crop.”
King on having Houston trade up to take Wilson at No. 9: “And so here comes the run on receivers. Houston leapfrogs the Jets to get the franchise receiver for Davis Mills (who has a chance this year to win this job) or whoever the Texans pick next year to be the franchise passer. There’s a lot of love for Wilson in the league…I look at Houston’s draft this way. Post-Watson, the Texans need some franchise players. If they come out of this draft with a long-term left tackle and a top receiver who can be counted on for the next five to eight years, it’s a profitable draft.”
King on having Minnesota take Stingley at No. 12: “There are good fits, and there is Stingley in Minnesota, where he’d be coached by his old defensive coordinator at LSU, secondary coach Daronte Jones, and he’d be mentored by former Tiger corner Patrick Peterson. This is a dream scenario for the Vikings.”
An NFL general manager to King on Stingley: “I think he was the best NFL prospect in the country as a freshman, and his workout this spring showed a lot of [Darrelle] Revis to me.”
King on having Seattle take Thibodeaux at No. 13: “Perfect Pete Carroll pick. Thibodeaux’s an LA kid, he’ll be supremely ticked off at not being the first edge off the board and falling this far, and Carroll knows how to feed into the mental game that fuels players…Thibodeaux, if he works out, would be a good pick for a team devoid of a top-end pass-rusher, in a division with some serious passing games.”
King on having Pittsburgh take Pickett at No. 20: “Upset special: Pickett over Malik Willis – and it’s a gut feeling more than anything else… Pretty cool to think Pickett, who for the entirety of his college career has walked into the door to the right of the Steelers/Pitt complex on the South side of the gritty city, might walk into the left door as a pro now…Could it be Willis here? Yes, it could. I wouldn’t he surprised. But I’ve heard the Steelers think Pickett’s more likely to succeed as a pro.”
King on having the Packers trade up to take Dotson at No. 18: “Surprising for the sixth receiver in the round, if this is how it goes. Dotson is a better version of Randall Cobb, with maybe the best hands in the draft…All along, I tried everything I could to get Chris Olave to the Packers. Barring a huge tradeup that might cost Brian Gutekunst next year’s first-round pick, it’s hard to see one of the top four receivers landing in Green Bay. Dotson’s a good alternative. He’s just not Olave.”
King on having the Packers take Ebiketie at No. 28: “I do make this proviso: The Packers may need this pick, or one of two in the second round, to move up significantly to take a receiver to replace Davante Adams. This pick could be one of the most interesting in the round because of all the directions GM Brian Gutekunst could go. He could move way up to target a Chris Olave around 10th, or he could (as I predict) move up a lesser number of spots to take a lesser receiver. Green Bay’s a fascinating team in round 1.”
King on Kansas City at picks No. 29 and 30: “I am going to have Kansas City keep both picks here, 29 and 30, because I don’t have a great idea of what to do with them…unless GM Brett Veach gets very bold and uses both and maybe something more to move up in range to get one of the best receivers in the draft. Kansas City lost Tyreek Hill and replaced him with lesser free agents; Green Bay lost Davante Adams and replaced him with no one except Sammy Watkins. Both teams are likely to try to make a score in the draft at receiver.”
King on having Atlanta trade up to take Corral at No. 32: “This is all about a team, Atlanta, believing in a quarterback this year, and investing a chunk of draft capital in him that isn’t cost-prohibitive. (I hear the Falcons like Corral.) If you think you might have a long-term quarterback and it costs you two second-round picks, is that really a major cost? No, it’s not. This pick is not something I’m convinced about. It’s more about the concept of it. If a team wants a quarterback but isn’t positive about this group, it can still invest in one.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Giants WR Kadarius Toney: I’m not convinced the Giants will trade problem wideout Kadarius Toney. I certainly would be wary of trading for Toney, the Giants’ man-child wide receiver who had some wonderful moments last year…He’s slithery, very fast, and hard to bring down. Now the Giants, I think, have to decide if he’s going to be a fit in their offense with the new Brian Daboll/Joe Schoen regime…My gut says Brian Daboll is going to try to get Toney back in the program, and soon.”
King on the 49ers and WR Deebo Samuel: “If I were John Lynch, I wouldn’t trade Deebo Samuel until I absolutely had to. He’s too good. I’d keep the volume down on any incendiary talk, which Lynch surely will do, starting today at his pre-draft press conference, and let things simmer for a while…Not saying Samuel will change his mind, but if every professional sports star who asked to be traded actually was, we’d have 25 mega-trades a year, not three or four.”
King on the 49ers: “I think there’s a risk in not trading Samuel now, obviously. There will be an argument that Samuel will fetch the most value before the draft, particularly with a desperado team like the Jets having two picks in the top 10. It’s interesting to consider where the interest might be greatest. Lynch will have to consider whether trading Samuel for, say, the 10th pick in the draft, and turning that pick into the possible first receiver in the draft, would be worth it.”
King on CB James Bradberry and the Giants: “I’d guess that James Bradberry of the Giants, the good corner New York GM Joe Schoen needs to trade to be in good cap shape going forward, will be dealt before the end of the weekend. I don’t have a great feel for where he’s going, but Kansas City wouldn’t shock me. In that division, you’re going to play six games every year against upper-tier quarterbacks, and the KC corner situation is just okay; L’Jarius Sneed is the only difference-maker the team has. Bradberry would be a good fit there.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.