2022 NFL mock draft: Which players will go 1-2-3 this year?

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Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson runs a drill during the NFL football scouting combine, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine on March 5 in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

This is supposed to be a ho-hum NFL draft when it comes to quarterbacks.

That’s OK, because the veterans can supply all the drama we need.

Tom Brady announced Sunday that he’s unretiring and coming back to Tampa Bay. That news came on the heels of Aaron Rodgers announcing he’s staying in Green Bay, and Denver making a trade with Seattle for Russell Wilson. It was almost an afterthought that Washington traded for Carson Wentz.

Two quarterbacks go in the first 18 selections of this mock draft, which is quite a change from last year, when teams took quarterbacks with the first, second and third picks.

There are lots of twists and turns to come before, for the first time, Las Vegas plays host to the draft.

As usual, free agency will reshape the landscape, but by how much? Some of the players likely to be available are defensive ends Chandler Jones and Randy Gregory, receivers Allen Robinson and Christian Kirk, and offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and Laken Tomlinson. Impact players? Yes. Household names? No.

Here’s The Times’ first mock of the year, and a look at one way the draft could unfurl:

1. Jacksonville: Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan Jaguars could draft an offensive tackle to protect their investment in Trevor Lawrence, but here they go for a bookend to Josh Allen.

2. Detroit: T Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State Evan Neal might be a freakish talent, but Ekwonu might be a better fit at right tackle opposite Penei Sewell.

3. Houston: T Evan Neal, Alabama — Could go with Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, but when you’re a franchise that needs everything, left tackle is a good place to start.

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux during a game.
Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux during a game on Nov. 27, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (Andy Nelson / Associated Press)

4. New York Jets: Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon — Coach Robert Saleh wants to keep building on that defensive front, and the former Westlake Village Oaks Christian standout would be an ideal puzzle piece.

5. New York Giants: T Charles Cross, Mississippi State — The Giants have a terrible offensive line and need to upgrade everywhere but left tackle Andrew Thomas.

6. Carolina: T Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa — Might be a little early for Penning, but if there’s a run on tackles … And the Panthers absolutely must address this need.

7. New York Giants: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State — With Evan Engram headed toward free agency, the Giants pick up a scorching-fast wide receiver to fill the void.

8. Atlanta: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame — Hamilton, who grew up in Atlanta, might be the best athlete in this class. The Falcons also need a complete rebuild at wide receiver.

9. Seattle: QB Malik Willis, Liberty — If the Seahawks don’t replace Russell Wilson through a trade or free agency, coach Pete Carroll could pick a quarterback here.

10. New York Jets: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati — The Jets need help on the offensive line and would love another receiver, but Gardner surrendered zero touchdowns in college.

USC wide receiver Drake London runs.
USC wide receiver Drake London runs during a game against Utah on Oct. 9, 2021 at the Coliseum. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

11. Washington: WR Drake London, USCThe Commanders got their quarterback in Wentz and now they have to get him more weapons.

12. Minnesota: CB Derek Stingley Jr., Louisiana State — The Vikings are desperate to improve at corner, as that was a key reason their defense unraveled last season.

13. Cleveland: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State — The Browns are lumbering and they could use a scorching-fast receiver to stretch the field.

14. Baltimore: Edge Travon Walker, Georgia — The Ravens haven’t had double-digit sacks from a player since Terrell Suggs in 2017. Walker is a rising star.

15. Philadelphia: Edge David Ojabo, Michigan — Even though defensive line is their strength the Eagles still need someone who can get to the quarterback.

16. Philadelphia: OL Zion Johnson, Boston College — The best Eagles teams were built from the offensive and defensive lines out. Johnson can play guard or tackle.

Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine.
Georgia defensive lineman Jordan Davis runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine on March 5 in Indianapolis. (Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

17. Chargers: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia — The Chargers need someone to help them stop the run. The 350-pound Davis is the immovable object in the middle.

18. New Orleans: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh — If Pickett lasts this long, he would be a good selection to help the Saints rebuild their passing attack.

19. Philadelphia: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas — Yes, the Eagles have used a first- or second-round pick on a receiver three years in a row, but they still have a need and draft capital.

20. Pittsburgh: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia — Many people see the Steelers taking a quarterback here, but if Willis and Pickett are gone, it’s time to address the need up front.

21. New England: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah — Lloyd’s athleticism and versatility make him a good fit for the Patriots, who last week released veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson participates in senior day festivities.
Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson participates in senior day festivities during a game against Rutgers in State College, Pa., on Nov. 20, 2021. (Barry Reeger / Associated Press)

22. Las Vegas: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State — The Raiders have had all sorts of issues at receiver — with no answers — so they once again need to turn their attention to the position.

23. Arizona: CB Roger McCreary, Auburn — McCreary, a first-team all-SEC corner, would help the Cardinals upgrade at a position at which they were only serviceable last season.

24. Dallas: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa — The Cowboys need to improve at center in a big way, as Tyler Biadasz was often overmatched last season.

25. Buffalo: T Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan — The Bills did a lot of shuffling of their offensive line last season and need to protect Josh Allen.

26. Tennessee: WR George Pickens, Georgia — A.J. Brown is a game-changer for the Titans, but Julio Jones did not live up to expectations. Tennessee needs to load up.

27. Tampa Bay: RB Breece Hall, Iowa State — Both Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are hitting free agency, and landing Hall would soften the sting.

28. Green Bay: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama — Is this the year the Packers give Rodgers the gift of a receiver in the first round? They haven’t picked one that high since Jordy Nelson (second round, No. 36 overall) in 2008.

29. Miami: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M — No team had more offensive line problems last season than Miami. Green would immediately upgrade the interior of that front.

30. Kansas City: S Jalen Pitre, Baylor — With the future unclear for Tyrann Mathieu in Kansas City, the Chiefs need to address their need for young talent at safety.

31. Cincinnati: T Daniel Faalele, Minnesota — Protecting Joe Burrow is paramount. The Bengals took Ja’Marr Chase with their top pick last year. Now, a meat-and-potatoes pick.

32. Detroit: LB Nakobe Dean, Georgia — Dean probably won’t last this long, but if he does, the Lions finally can pick up a playmaking linebacker.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.