2022 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles fortify their defense

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2022 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles fortify their defense originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The draft is just five short months away, but the needs of all 32 NFL clubs have presented themselves. The Eagles are on track to have three first-round picks – from the Dolphins (8th), their own (11th), and from the Colts (16th). In this mock, they stock up to arm the defense with difference-makers at all three levels.

1. Lions: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

No sure-fire QB in this draft class, so Detroit goes chalk, taking the most gifted pass rusher on the board.

2. Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

The Jets have a ton of needs, mainly on defense. Stingley is out for the season, but a player of this talent and athleticism (4.30 in the 40, 42-inch vertical) at a position of need would be foolish to overlook.

3. Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Jags rank near the bottom of the NFL in sacks, and this guy will help with that from Day 1. Michigan OC Josh Gattis last week called Hutchinson “the absolute best player in college football.” He’s not that far off.

4. Texans: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

Houston has no true starting quarterback, and picking one here would be a colossal reach. Neal is a great place to start. At 6-7, 350-plus pounds, he’s a Day 1 starter and a lock to protect whomever the Texans seek out as their next signal-caller.

5. Giants: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

Big Blue lacks a playmaker in the passing game to keep teams from stacking the box against Saquon Barkley. Wilson, the Buckeyes’ big-time playmaker, will help. Witness his effort against Purdue, where he caught three TD passes and took a Jet sweep 51 yards for another score.

6. Jets (via Seahawks): Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Jets double up on secondary, tabbing the most versatile defensive player in the draft. Hamilton can tackle, he can cover, he excels wherever you put him on the field. 

7. Giants (via Bears): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

This is a move designed to lengthen the career of Barkley from within. Linderbaum compares favorably to Jason Kelce, which definitely shows up on film. He has the athleticism and strength to anchor the Giants’ line for years to come.

8. Eagles (via Dolphins): George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

With Derek Barnett all but gone after 2021 and the future of Brandon Graham up in the air, Karlaftis fits an immediate area of need for a team with a sporadic pass rush. The Boilermaker big man has an elite combination of raw strength and athleticism that the Eagles can tap into out of the gate. A heck of a second prize with Hutchinson off the board.

9. Falcons: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

It seems a fait accompli that the Falcons take a QB here, it’s really just a question of which type of QB you think best fits them. I feel like Willis’ upside, in the right hands, could blossom.

10. Washington: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The Willis pick begins the run of QBs, and the FT get theirs in Corral. The Ole Miss signal-caller has become very comfortable in the Rebels’ system, and more decisive in his throws. He’s thrown just two picks through his first 10 games, compared to 14 last season.

11. Eagles: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

The Eagles stay defense for the most complete corner in the draft in Booth. The 6-foot, 200-pound Booth anchors a secondary that ranks among the top 10 in FBS in fewest TD passes allowed (9) and fewest yards per pass attempt (6.04). Plugging him in opposite Darius Slay will allow Jonathan Gannon to go deeper into his defensive playbook.

12. Panthers: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

Whether the Panthers stick with Cam Newton 2.0 or go elsewhere, they’ll need to protect whomever takes the snaps in their offense. Green has experience on the inside as well as at the tackle spot, and will certainly help a leaky Carolina front.

13. Broncos: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

Denver has five picks in the first three rounds thanks to the Von Miller trade, so they can address a number of needs. No need is bigger than quarterback. The four-year starter has thrown 36 TD passes compared with just six picks through 11 games this season.

14. Dolphins (via 49ers): Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Miami could go QB here, but with the top three QBs off the board, they address another big need. Cross is young, and could afford to add weight, but he makes up for it with jump off the screen athleticism.

15. Raiders: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

The Raiders value raw numbers over seemingly everything, and Elam has them. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash in high school, and at 6-2 he certainly has the physical characteristics to project well at the next level.

16. Eagles (via Colts): Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

It hasn’t happened since 1979, but the Eagles get a steal at this spot with the selection of the playmaking Utah linebacker. A force against the run and the pass, Lloyd gives the Eagles a three-down stalwart they have lacked for years.

17. Browns: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia 

The Dawg Pound get a true Dawg to root for in Jordan Davis. He could have declared after the 2020 season, but stuck around for a shot at a national title. Davis is a physical monster (6-6, 340) who commands double teams on virtually every snap. 

18. Steelers: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada

The search for Pittsburgh’s heir apparent to Big Ben is long overdue. They could trade up to go after one of the big three, but for our purposes they stay put and grab Strong, who is carving up defenses in the Mountain West Conference to the tune of 350 passing yards and three TD per game.

19. Saints: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State

Ekwonu has been used at both tackle and guard for the Wolfpack. He is a solid pass blocker, but really shines in the run game, winning at the point of attack and getting to the second level with ease.

20. Vikings: DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M

Everything you read about Leal talks about his versatility. You can put him anywhere along the D-line and he can help you. Already with 7.5 sacks and 11.5 TFL this season, the 6-4, 290-pound Leal can get what he wants, when he wants it.

21. Bills: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Ohio State hasn’t had a WR selected in the first round since Ted Ginn in 2007. Olave becomes the second to go in the first round in this draft. Some would argue he’s the best all-around pass catcher in the draft.

22. Chargers: Drake London, WR, USC

It’s hard to miss London among other wideouts – he’s a full 6-5 and uses that size and amazing hands and catch radius to grab anything in his area code. And 88 catches in just eight games is a ridiculous number at the college level. 

23. Bengals: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

The Bengals need secondary help, and they get it right in their own backyard. The man they call “Sauce” is a complete corner, with the ability to make opposing receivers disappear, and is a sure tackler if his man does happen to come up with the ball. 

24. Lions (via Rams): Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Jared Goff is not the answer in Detroit, at least not yet. Maybe a little competition will wake him up. Either way, the Lions take Howell as a look to the future, whether that’s 2022 or beyond.

25. Chiefs: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

Washington boasts a fine legacy of defensive backs in the NFL, and McDuffie will likely add to that. A bit undersized (5-11, 190) for his position, McDuffie more than makes up for it with his quickness and explosive athleticism.

26. Patriots: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Burks gives the Patriots what they desperately need: a big-time playmaking receiver to pair with Mac Jones. This guy has all the gifts, and shows up when it matters most. His effort this past weekend against Alabama: 8 catches, 179 yards, and 2 touchdowns against the Crimson Tide in the Razorbacks’ near-upset.

27. Cowboys: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

Even with the unreal Trevon Diggs, Dallas’ pass defense leaves a lot to be desired. Hill has the physical tools – he’s run a 4.3 40-yard dash and has a 43-inch vertical – but needs to show a bit more consistency.

28. Buccaneers: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Penning is a mountain of a man at 6-7, 340 pounds, and Tampa would do well to grab a guy with Penning combination of strength and athleticism to protect Tom Brady.

29. Ravens: Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State

A three-year starter in one of the best offenses in college football says something about this promising tackle. He says even more with his play. There are very few at the college level who can move as well as he does at 6-5 and 320 pounds.

30. Packers: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

He doesn’t look like the prototypical NFL wide receiver, but watching him play eases all doubts. Everyone in the building knows he’s the first (and second, and third) option in the passing game, and he still produces: 19 touchdowns in his last 20 games and still going strong.

31. Titans: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Georgia could become the Linebacker U of this era of college football, and Dean is the latest model on Georgia’s showroom floor. Not imposing in size, but Dean is everywhere on the field. Goes sideline to sideline as good as anyone, and would fit in very well in Mike Vrabel’s defensive unit.

32. Cardinals: Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

Spiller seems like a Derrick Henry type, a wrecking ball-style runner averaging nearly six yards a carry for the Aggies. Also picks up blitzes very well. A bit of an issue with his sizable workload already; he’s had more than 600 touches over the past three seasons in College Station.

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