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Bruce’s 2022 NFL first-round mock draft

In 2020 and 2021, I did a comprehensive seven-round mock complete with trades and every pick for every team.

As pleased as I was with my 2021 performance, getting the first six picks correct and creating a mock that was reasonably predictive, 2022 has brought with it challenges that do not allow me the 15 or so hours necessary to complete such an exercise. Lest I find myself without skin in the game come Thursday night, here is my first round 2022 NFL predictive mock draft:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
  2. Detroit Lions - Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
  3. Houston Texans - Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  4. New York Jets - Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
  5. New York Giants - Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  6. Philadelphia Eagles (projected trade with Carolina Panthers) - Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
  7. New York Giants - Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi
  8. Atlanta Falcons - Drake London, WR, USC
  9. Seattle Seahawks - Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
  10. New York Jets - Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
  11. Washington Commanders - Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  12. New Orleans Saints (projected trade with Minnesota Vikings) - Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers (projected trade with Houston Texans) - Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
  14. Baltimore Ravens - Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
  15. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with Philadelphia Eagles) - Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  16. New Orleans Saints - Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
  17. Los Angeles Chargers - Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  18. Philadelphia Eagles - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  19. Minnesota Vikings (projected trade with New Orleans Saints) - Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
  20. Houston Texans (projected trade with Pittsburgh Steelers) - Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  21. New England Patriots - Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  22. Green Bay Packers - Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
  23. Arizona Cardinals - Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
  24. Dallas Cowboys - Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
  25. Buffalo Bills - Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington*
  26. Tennessee Titans - Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa
  27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
  28. Green Bay Packers - Boye Mafe, EDGE, Minnesota
  29. Kansas City Chiefs - George Pickens, WR, Georgia
  30. Kansas City Chiefs - Lewis Cine, S, Georgia
  31. Cincinnati Bengals - Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
  32. Atlanta Falcons (projected trade with Detroit Lions) - Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

*I just know I’m going to regret this.

The Bills’ need at corner lines up with the players on the board in this mock. Kenyon Green got flagged for injury concerns as did linebacker Devin Lloyd (who ended up going ahead of the Bills anyway), and George Pickens and Devonte Wyatt have off-field questions that might cause the Bills’ brass to shy away.

Daxton Hill and Lewis Cine were considerations here especially given general manager Brandon Beane’s comments about the draft being a long-term play. But ultimately, like in 2020 with the Ed Oliver pick and a glaring need at three-technique defensive tackle at that time, the positions with the clearest paths to reps in 2022 won out, leaving Kaiir Elam, Kyler Gordon and a running back as the top contenders for this spot given the way the board fell. Andrew Booth Jr. has serious medical red flags and in this mock he drops out of the first round entirely. I think the Bills will value Gordon’s aggressiveness and the gap that exists between what he is now and what he could become. They have invested in traits early with picks like Tremaine Edmunds, Josh Allen, and Ed Oliver with the hope their coaches would be able to help them adjust to the pro game.

Gordon is still in need of technical refinement, but has rare movement skills with a background in competitive dance and kung fu. He plays with an alpha dog mentality and a non-stop motor, both traits that will endear him to head coach Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane.