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2022 NFL Mock Draft: First-Round Predictions (Updated)

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty Flames, 2022 NFL Draft

There have already been plenty of picks traded but teams may not be done making moves either before or when the draft gets stared on April 28

The boards are set. The visits are done. The medical checks are in the file. Now it's crunch time for all 32 franchises with the 2022 NFL Draft right around the corner. Interestingly, the trade market has already been quite active, and we're still two weeks out from the picks being sent into the league office from war rooms around the country. Could we be in store for a wild first night from Las Vegas as a result?

With all that in mind, here's a look at who could go where in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft after a few projected trades (impacted picks noted with a *):

1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Cam Robinson may have the franchise tag slapped on him, but that doesn't mean the team won't be able to nab his long-term successor knowing they've got a special one at quarterback that they can't mess up by getting hit too much. Neal is one of the safest players to pick at a premium position for a franchise that won't want to overthink things.

2. Detroit Lions — Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

The local star heading up the road is a fun storyline, but Hutchinson is also the type who can come in right away to help boost a woeful pass rush in a division featuring some unique QBs to chase down. The Lions will love the makeup of the former Wolverine in the locker room, too, as they look to change the culture in Detroit.

Related: Edge Rushers in High Demand in the 2022 NFL Draft

3. Houston Texans — Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

It wouldn't be shocking to see Walker emerge as the best player out of the first round when all is said and done given his physical tools. The Texans need help pretty much everywhere, and the recent national champ can plug a variety of holes on top of being a coach's delight when it comes to game-planning using his versatility.

4. New York Jets — Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Jets' pass defense has been dreadful for ages, and Gardner can provide both some "Sauce" and a quick fix as one of the most polished corners to emerge from the college ranks in several years.

5*. Los Angeles Chargers (via New York Giants for No. 17 overall, No. 123 overall, 2023 1st-round, 2023 3rd-round picks) — Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

After seeing the Rams win it all to help win over LA, the Chargers go all-in on their window before having to pay Justin Herbert the megabucks. Landing a premier tackle like Ekwonu to go with Rashawn Slater is just the type of bold move that can pay off huge in a competitive division while the Giants get their sought-after first-rounder for next year.

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6*. Washington Commanders (via Carolina for No. 11 overall, No. 47 overall, 2023 4th-round pick) — Drake London, WR, USC

D.C. gets a big-bodied receiver to pair with Terry McLaurin and help out Carson Wentz in the biggest way given London's ginormous catch radius. The Panthers, meanwhile, pick up an additional top-100 pick that they were lacking while moving down a few spots to enhance positional value.

7. New York Giants (from Chicago) — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

The Giants can shore up their defense with the versatile Thibodeaux while knowing they still have plenty of shots to correct that offensive line a bit later on.

8. Atlanta Falcons — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It wouldn't be shocking if the Falcons kick the tires on a QB despite signing Marcus Mariota, but they'll have better luck in their rebuild waiting another draft for that. The offense does feature Kyle Pitts but still lacks a No. 1, which Wilson has all the tools to become in short order under head coach Arthur Smith.

9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Out goes Bobby Wagner, in comes a cheaper and more athletic replacement? The Seahawks won't view it that way but that could be what it amounts to as Pete Carroll nabs his next field general on D.

10. New York Jets (from Seattle) — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Everybody wants to see Zach Wilson take the next step, and Olave is one means toward that given how silky smooth he is at running routes and stretching defenses.

11*. Carolina Panthers (via Washington) — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The front office will kick the tires further at a move back but will need to be wary of others like Pittsburgh in selecting their QB of the future. Willis won't have to be thrown to the fire right away but has the greatest upside in what Matt Rhule wants to do offensively.

12. Minnesota Vikings — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

A new regime coming in will likely have a bit more latitude in taking a chance on somebody as obviously talented as Stingley, who can be mentored by guys on the roster to help reach his potential as a true No. 1 that shuts down the opposition.

13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland) — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

Lovie Smith knows he needs some blue-chippers to build around, and Hamilton qualifies as somebody who can step in right away and play at a high level. Although his speed has been knocked, his range on tape is impressive, and the Irish safety should be able to rack up tons of tackles early in his Houston career.

14. Baltimore Ravens — Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

A pick that will evoke plenty of memories from 2006 and the team nabbing a similarly freakish and overpowering defensive tackle in Haloti Ngata. Davis' addition to that Ravens front seven gives them an incredibly young and active front capable of shutting down just about any offense.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) — Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State

Johnson falling is a gift to the Eagles, who need a long-term answer coming off the edge. The Georgia transfer will be able to use his size and quickness to see the field early before developing next to Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett into a three-down force.

16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis/Philadelphia) — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The move to get back into the first round was necessitated by the front office feeling they're closer to competing than the outside thinks and because of how pressing the need is to replace Terron Armstead. Enter Cross, who has tremendous upside as a left tackle the way he moves.

17*. New York Giants (via Los Angeles Chargers) — Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Penning is just the kind of mauler in the run game that Brian Daboll will like to see, and he's adept enough as a pass blocker to slide in as a right tackle right away before possibly displacing Andrew Thomas down the road.

Related: 5 Intriguing 2022 NFL Draft Prospects From the FCS Ranks

18*. Green Bay Packers (via Philadelphia/New Orleans for No. 22 overall, No. 92 overall, No. 249 overall) — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The first-round drought can be broken by the Packers, and they can do so by moving up to secure a star like Williams to boot. There are few moves that say we're behind you 12 quite like this one by the front office.

19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia) — Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

Getting better in the trenches is clearly the focus for the new faces across the Saints' organization, and they're accomplishing that with these first-rounders. Wyatt is pretty dynamic from the interior and could add an extra pep in Cameron Jordan's step for the next few seasons.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

McDuffie is a bit undersized for some, but he is so polished in pretty much every other area that he should fit in seamlessly in Pittsburgh given the way he can play at the line or off it. Few bring the kind of physicality to the position he does either, a trait that will fit in well with the rest of the AFC North.

21*. Cincinnati Bengals (via New England for No. 31 overall, No. 95 overall, No. 226 overall, 2023 2nd-rounder) — Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan

As much as the OL was fixed during free agency (and likely later rounds of this draft), that secondary still doesn't look to be at the level it needs to repeat a trip to the Super Bowl. Hill can be a nice partner in crime with Jessie Bates III after he slides in as the starting nickel as a rookie.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (via Las Vegas/Green Bay) — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Burks' ability to catch and run fits in well with the style of offense that Philly is building around Jalen Hurts. Physically, he's built to play inside or out but could have an impact not unlike Justin Jefferson did with the way he explodes out of breaks.

23. Arizona Cardinals — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The organization is extremely thin in the secondary, and it would not at all be surprising if the first few picks help address needs on the back end. Booth has all the physical tools to compete right away and is adept in a variety of schemes.

24. Dallas Cowboys — Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College

Johnson can spot-start at right tackle if needed but has a chance to really boost Dallas' interior OL that never could seem to click in recent years. His athleticism and strength will endear him to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the rest of the 'Boys who will finally get the push needed up the middle.

25*. Detroit Lions (via Buffalo for No. 32 overall, No. 97 overall, No. 181) — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

If the Lions want to take a swing on a QB, there's much better value at the bottom of the round than the top. Pickett will get a chance to sit and learn behind Jared Goff before taking his job and freeing up his salary.

26*. New York Jets (via Tennessee for No. 35 overall, No. 69 overall, 2023 6th-rounder) — Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

The Titans can slide back and pick up additional assets while the Jets can secure another top-tier wideout in Dotson, who is slippery and tough in all phases of the game.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The Shaq Mason trade helps replace Alex Cappa, but there's still that question of who will be taking over for the retired Ali Marpet. Green has a chance to slot in right away in front of Tom Brady on top of providing cover at other spots across the line.

28. Green Bay Packers — Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State

Za'Darius Smith's exit means somebody has to get after the QB come crunch time, and Ebiketie has a chance to be a star in that regard. He's still a bit raw, but the ceiling is off the charts, and there's enough as a pure rusher off the edge to get you excited about what he brings to the Packers' D.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami/San Francisco) — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Not an overtly obvious need, but the Chiefs should run the card up as quickly as possible if Dean is sitting there. A true field general, he makes a defense better in pretty much every aspect given his smarts and ability to react and fly to the football.

30. Kansas City Chiefs — George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Karlaftis doesn't quite have the explosion off the line some want in their edge rushers, but he's consistently good in all areas, brings size, and has a non-stop motor to fall back on. The Chiefs only need a handful of pieces and the Purdue star could be one of them.

31*. New England Patriots (via Cincinnati) — Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma

The Pats need to start re-tooling the second level, and Bonitto has a chance to quickly shed that tweener label in Bill Belichick's scheme. He could be quite the pass rusher on third downs before adding the needed bulk to stay on the field. His versatility could be a real key in stopping things like RPOs and shows the instincts needed to land in New England.

32*. Buffalo Bills (via Detroit/Los Angeles Rams) — Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

They say don't draft a running back in the first round, but the Bills are built to overcome being just 13 seconds short of the AFC title game and will need to learn to play ball control at times. Enter Hall, who is as complete a back as you'll find in this class and provides some nice juice out of the backfield as a receiver too.

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.