NFL mock draft 2022: In defense of the quarterbacks

Kenny Pickett has been panned for everything from an average arm to small hands. Here’s betting he’s still going to be a solid pro. (Wikimedia Commons/Photo by Carl Ackerman)

By MIKE HERNDON

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

“The (insert name of QB-needy team here) shouldn’t draft a quarterback this year because this is a weak class. Wait for 2023.”

It’s become so trendy to pan this year’s crop of quarterbacks that it’s almost now passé. So let me give you a take that was once hot and is now only simmering: More than one quarterback from this class is going to become a standout starter.

The problem with this class is that there’s no real consensus No. 1, and the guy that most seem to have in that slot is a project who may need a year or two of grooming before he’s ready to play. That, and last year’s class was so deep in first-round talent that this class seems lackluster in comparison. But that doesn’t mean it’s trash.

Yes, I know Malik Willis got beaten out by a true freshman at Auburn, which may say more about Gus Malzahn than Malik Willis. Yes, I know Kenny Pickett has small hands. So does this guy:

I’m not worried about Kenny Pickett’s hands.

Quarterback is the most important position in the game. If you find someone you believe in, you do what it takes to get him. I’m thinking there are some NFL teams who believe in a few of these guys more than Twitter does..

I typically never try to predict trades — a fool’s errand, if there ever was one — but depending on how the board falls, two quarterback-needy teams could pull the trigger on a move up for one. New Orleans’ trade with Philadelphia to pick up an extra first-rounder this year didn’t make a whole lot of sense unless the Saints are positioning themselves to trade up even further. The Steelers, meanwhile, have been paying a lot of attention to all the top QB prospects and GM Kevin Colbert has hinted to the possibility that they could move up if they find the right trade partner.

In this mock, they both have quarterbacks fall to them, but if either decide they’re enamored with Malik Willis, a trade will likely be necessary.

For the first time in a while, there’s no clarity on what will happen with the No. 1 overall pick. Defensive ends Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackles Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu could all be in play here. There’s a lot of late buzz about Walker, but I’ll stick with the most productive defensive disruptor – Hutchinson.

The draft begins Thursday in Las Vegas.

The 2022 SportsChasers first-round mock:

  1. Jacksonville – Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
  2. Detroit – Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
  3. Houston – Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
  4. NY Jets – Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
  5. NY Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
  6. Carolina – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, North Carolina State
  7. NY Giants – Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
  8. Atlanta – Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
  9. Seattle – Jermaine Johnson, DE, Florida State
  10. NY Jets – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  11. Washington – Drake London, WR, USCA
  12. Minnesota – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
  13. Houston – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
  14. Baltimore – Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
  15. Philadelphia – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
  16. New Orleans – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
  17. LA Chargers – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
  18. Philadelphia – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
  19. New Orleans – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
  20. Pittsburgh – Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
  21. New England – Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
  22. Green Bay – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
  23. Arizona – George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
  24. Dallas – Zion Johnson, OG, Boston College
  25. Buffalo – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
  26. Tennessee – Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
  27. Tampa Bay – Kenyon Green, OG, Texas A&M
  28. Green Bay – Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia
  29. Kansas City – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
  30. Kansas City – Boye Mafe, DE, MInnesota
  31. Cincinnati – Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
  32. Detroit – Daxton Hill, S, Michigan


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