2022 NFL draft: Hub Arkush’s first-round mock draft

A general view of the NFL Draft 2022 logo in the NFL Draft Theater, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Las Vegas.

What is the actual value of mock drafts? It’s matching players as closely as you can with where they’ll actually be chosen relative to other prospects on the board.

There will be multiple trades made throughout the draft, and you can throw out your mock as far as matching players to teams once the first one happens because it will change who’s gone and who’s available.

But after months of watching tape, studying stats and needs, along with working the phones with anyone who wants or is willing to talk, here’s my best guess at who goes in the first round and where they fall.

TeamPlayer, CollegePositionAnalysis
1. JaguarsAidan Hutchinson, MichiganDETop 5 ceiling, draft’s highest floor makes him No. 1 overall.
2. LionsTravon Walker, Georgia,DEMaybe draft’s highest ceiling, but higher climb than many to get there.
3. TexansAhmad Gardner, CincinnatiCBLovie Smith loves big corners. Texans need playmakers and some extra sauce.
4. JetsKayvon Thibodeaux, OregonEDGERobert Saleh needs go-to guy for his defense, Thibodeaux has the traits.
5. GiantsEvan Neal, AlabamaOTGiants get their franchise left tackle for the next decade.
6. PanthersIckey Okwonu, N.C. State.OTPanthers are surprised to find local kid some like more than Neal still on board.
7. GiantsJermaine Johnson II, Florida St.EDGEGiants badly need pass rush. Johnson’s a legit Top 10 pick.
8. FalconsGarrett Wilson, Ohio St.WRWith Marcus Mariota in for Matt Ryan, Falcons need weapons more than ever, Wilson top receiver in the class.
9. SeahawksMalik Willis, LibertyQBMy first big surprise, but think about it: the best QB prospect in draft built to run same scheme as Wilson.
10. JetsDerek Stingley Jr., LSUCB This is the steal of the draft if he’s the player he was in 2019.
11. CommandersKyle Hamilton, Notre DameSHamilton is the most exciting athlete in this class. Ron Rivera will know what to do with him.
12. VikingsJordan Davis, GeorgiaDTHe may out-snack Snacks Harrison, a true one-man blockade.
13. TexansTreylon Burks, ArkansasWRIf Davis Mills is going to be the answer, he needs a special target.
14. RavensGeorge Karlaftis, PurdueEDGEThis would have been David Ojabo until Achilles tear. Karlaftis is next man up.
15. EaglesChris Olave, Ohio St.WRWideout has been Eagles’ biggest need for a while. Olave’s potential is through the roof.
16. SaintsCharles Cross, Mississippi St.OTTerron Armstead may be the biggest loss any team in the league suffered in free agency.
17. ChargersDevonte Wyatt, GeorgiaDTStick him between Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack and talk about border walls!
18. EaglesBoye Mafe, MinnesotaEDGENo. 18 could be a little rich for Mafe, but Eagles need pressure. I’m hearing they like this kid a lot.
19. SaintsJameson Williams, AlabamaWRHe isn’t first WR off the board only because of ACL injury. Saints can afford to wait an extra month or two.
20. SteelersKenny Pickett, PittsburghQBPickett isn’t the 20th best prospect in draft, but c’mon, this just makes too much sense.
21. PatriotsDevin Lloyd, UtahLBBelichick builds defenses around LBs like this and size separates him from Nakobe Dean.
22. PackersBernhard Raimann, Central MichiganOTThere’s a hole at right tackle in Green Bay, and Raimann could eventually replace Bakhtiari on the left.
23. CardinalsTrent McDuffie, WashingtonCBCombo best player available and Cardinals’ greatest need.
24. CowboysKenyon Green, Texas A&MOGThis is a little high for Green, but he’s best guard in draft. Cowboys have a big hole there.
25. BillsBreece Hall, Iowa St.RBShow me who’s left that can have bigger impact on Bills team looking to win right now?
26. TitansTyler Linderbaum, IowaCMostly best player available along with a moderate to significant need.
27. BuccaneersZion Johnson, Boston CollegeOGB.C. offensive linemen always project well, and Tom Brady has to stay clean.
28. PackersDrake London, USCWRThe Swiss Army knife Aaron Rodgers has been dreaming about.
29. ChiefsDaxton Hill, MichiganSCould be the new “Honey Badger,” only bigger and even more athletic.
30. ChiefsGeorge Pickens, GeorgiaWRHe’s a project, but the kind of project Chiefs have excelled at under Andy Reid.
31. BengalsKaiir Elam, FloridaCBAnother best player available who happens to fit a real need.
32. LionsNakobe Dean, GeorgiaLBDean is one of my Top 15 prospects in this draft. Lions stunned he’s here and can’t pass him up.
Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and