The NFL draft is right around the corner, so it’s time to have a mailbag. What are your predictions for this year?
The “nfl mock draft 2022” is a question and answer session with NFL Draft experts. It’s a great way to get your questions answered by the people who know the most about it.
7 a.m. ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is the son of Mel Kiper.
- Since 1984, Mel Kiper has worked as an NFL draft commentator for ESPN. He’s a frequent on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio, and he writes for ESPN Insider on a weekly basis.
Senior Writer for ESPN
- Analyst for ESPN College Football and the NFL Draft
- In 2006, he joined ESPN.
- In high school, he was a quarterback, and at the University of Richmond, he was a backup quarterback.
There are still so many unresolved issues ahead of Round 1 of one of the most exciting — and perhaps turbulent — NFL drafts in recent memory. Which clubs are interested in quarterbacks? Which clubs could be willing to make a transaction in order to get additional capital? Which clubs could be willing to move up to acquire their guy? There are a record eight clubs in the draft with multiple first-round choices, which opens up a lot of possibilities.
That’s why we called in ESPN NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. is the son of Mel Kiper. and McShay, Todd to help make sense of everything. We gathered questions from readers via Twitter, then asked them to answer them. The questions range from the specific (What round would you select Carson Strong?) to the broad (Which surprise prospect could fall out of Round 1?), but Kiper and McShay took a crack at them anyway.
They exchanged questions below, delving into the class’s deepest spots, possible Day 3 steals, and more. Take a look at SportsCenter’s Special: You’ve Got Mel and Todd on ESPN2 and ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday to watch them answer more NFL draft questions. (Questions have been modified to make them more clear.)
Who is the greatest player who has yet to crack the surface of the Big Board? (Image courtesy of @JsSauers)
Kiper: Trey McBride of Colorado State is a greater admirer of mine than many NFL clubs. Tight ends often struggle as rookies, but he’s already a capable pass catcher and route runner who can roam around the formation to grab passes.
McBride will most likely be selected in the second round, but if I were in charge of the front offices of the Buccaneers (No. 27) or Bengals (No. 31), I’d seriously consider picking him in the first round.
How do the tackles in the 2022 draft compare to the best tackles from the 2020 and 2021 classes? (Image courtesy of @Boltup1584)
McShay: Over the last several years, we’ve seen some pretty talented offensive tackles enter the draft. And this year’s top two players, NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal, are in the mix. They both received 93s, and they are ranked Nos. 2 and 3 on my board, respectively. Charles Cross of Mississippi State isn’t far behind at No. 15 with a 90, but there’s a big gap between him and the top two tackles.
I like Ekwonu’s mauling run-blocking abilities, as well as the strength with which he plays and his remarkable intuition. Cross is an easy mover in pass protection, and Neal possesses an outstanding mix of size and agility.
Based on how I judged them at the time they were taken, here’s how I’d stack the best tackles from the last three classes:
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Through the first two days of the draft, which positions have the most depth? (Image courtesy of @XedoBandito)
Kiper: The wide receiver is deep once again. In Round 1, I set the over/under at 5.5, and I’d take the over. There’s a possibility we’ll receive seven, tying the record set in 2004. Three of them were selected in the first ten selections in that draft, which will not happen this year, but there is talent throughout. On Day 2, there will be a few impact wideouts (George Pickens and Alec Pierce are two I like), and on Day 3, there will be some fascinating wideouts (such as Bo Melton and Justyn Ross). In each of the last two editions, precisely 36 receivers were selected, tying the record for most in a seven-round selection. We may be able to get near once again.
This is the class you take if your team requires an off-ball linebacker. Nakobe Dean and Devin Lloyd are anticipated to be selected in the first round, while Day 2 values include Quay Walker, Troy Andersen, Channing Tindall, and Christian Harris.
McShay: I’d think the Packers at No. 22 are the most likely landing spot for the North Dakota burner. If the top tier of receivers — Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Drake London (USC), James Williams (Alabama), and Chris Olave (Ohio State) — are entirely off the board in the top 20, we may see a second wave of receivers begin with the Packers. The Patriots, Cardinals, Bills, Titans, and Chiefs are among the other clubs to keep an eye on (perhaps via a trade-up).
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If I were the Giants, I’d draft Ekwonu or Neal with one of the picks and either Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) or Jermaine Johnson II (Florida State) with the other to boost the pass rush. I’m not persuaded that this QB class has a clear high-level NFL starter, but the other players in that area might be game-changers for the Giants.
I also believe this is an opportunity to beef up the roster and see what Jones can accomplish in a new scheme. If he can pull it all together, that’ll be fantastic. If not, the Giants can go more aggressive in next year’s draft, with Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Kentucky’s Will Levis, and Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke all possibly available. This year’s quarterback class might be lot more comparable to last year’s than this year’s.
Strong’s greatest difficulty is how clubs perceive his medical reports, according to Kiper. He’s undergone two right knee operations since high school, and a club must be confident in his long-term prospects before accepting him. He’s strictly a pocket passer with little movement, which restricts his potential. If his knee is in good shape, he may be a valuable backup.
After the top quarterbacks, there’s a drop-off, and Strong is No. 6 on my list. I’ve given him a fifth-round rating, but he could go a bit sooner. Medical reports, once again, are vital, and only teams have access to them.
Is it fair to say that Cincinnati did enough in free agency to pass on the offensive line in the first round? They have a defensive requirement. (Image courtesy of @Dilts22)
McShay: Great question, and I believe it really relies on who is accessible. The additions of offensive tackle La’el Collins and guard Alex Cappa go a long way toward bolstering that line, but if someone like Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum becomes available, I’d seriously consider him as an instant improvement at center. Ted Karras was also a free-agent offensive line acquisition for the Bengals, although he is 29 years old and has switched clubs three times in the last three seasons. Karras, in my opinion, is a good stopgap, but Linderbaum has the potential to be a star.
For a chance to win $100,000, answer questions about the NFL draft in 2022. Make your selections
Who would be the most surprising among the risers? We’ve seen a lot of names in first-round mock drafts, and a lot of fringe names will be considered on Day 1. However, there are a few of players that may be relatively surprise first-round picks:
Christian Watson (North Dakota State) is a wide receiver.
Minnesota’s Boye Mafe, OLB
Washington’s Kyler Gordon is a cornerback.
Penn State’s DE Arnold Ebiketie
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Desmond Ridder
Iowa State’s Breece Hall is a running back.
The “mel kiper mock draft 2022” is a mailbag that features Mel Kiper Jr. and his thoughts on the upcoming NFL Draft.
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