The 2021 NFL Draft is a wrap, which means you’re already several weeks behind on thinking about the 2022 NFL Draft. This league never sleeps, and the need for professional football content is never-ending!
We take a crack at filling out a first-round board below, with the draft order based on inverse odds of winning Super Bowl LVI from DraftKings Sportsbook. Since the Houston Texans are the longest shot at +17500 they’ll pick first, while the favored Kansas City Chiefs are just +525 so they’ll pick last.
Also remember to write these picks below in cement and then soak them with an industrial-grade sealant, as there’s absolutely no way any of these selections will change between now and April of next year. Also no one will make any trades, and this is the exact order of finish in 2021. We tell no lies.
1. Houston Texans: Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma
We think he overtakes some of the other passers in this class, and maybe even guides OU to a win in the College Football Playoff (finally!). Seems to have the highest ceiling of the QB’s available, and will have the weapons and time in Lincoln Riley’s system to develop. No. 1 overall’s Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray have come out of this same pipeline, which forces players to both use their athleticism and throwing ability. Rattler also might have the most raw talent of those three.
2. Detroit Lions: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
With Penei Sewell now entrenched blocking his blindside, Howell can replace Matthew Stafford and let the Lions get younger as they start over. His size is the only question, and he had a couple decision mistakes last season, but he should have a monster year for a UNC team that is the favorite for the Coastal Division title in the ACC.
3. New York Jets: Evan Neal, T, Alabama
Someone to block for Zach Wilson is a good fit for a team that let Sam Darnold get hit so much he might not ever recover. Drop Neal in at LT (a position where he likely moves this this season with Alex Leatherwood gone), and be sure to make it to Canton for his enshrinement in 20 years. He’s a complete freak of nature athletically.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Olave can catch everything, run like the wind, and his physicality as a blocker is outstanding. Assuming one of the three freshman competing to replace Justin Fields can get him the ball, Olave’s highlight tape this year could be special, and add him to Ja’Marr Chase?? How do you shade the coverage to someone??
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
A safe pick for a team that needs safe picks. Harris had 70 tackles last season as just a sophomore on the most loaded roster in college football. He’ll be a plug-and-play starter for Urban Meyer from Day 1.
6. Las Vegas Raiders: Kedon Slovis, QB, USC
Jon Gruden overrating a quarterback prospect with an accurate arm but athletic deficiencies? Sometimes these things write themselves. Also the most underreported story of 2020 is how the team chaplain for the Las Vegas Raiders is Gruden’s former pupil Randall Cunningham... the same quarterback he helped ruin because he didn’t know how to adjust to what he could do. Speaking of the Eagles...
7: Philadelphia Eagles: Tyler Shough, QB, Texas Tech
The Oregon transfer should post monster numbers this season in a pointsball Matt Wells system, and the Birds are likely to be in the market for a passer if the Jalen Hurts experiment doesn’t go well. That’s also an experiment without too long a leash.
8. New York Giants: Drake Jackson, DT, USC
Jackson could be a force of nature in the pivot at the next level. Dave Gettleman taking the best player available is apparently also a thing now after the 2021 Draft where he received high marks all around.
9. Carolina Panthers: Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson
A gift if he falls this far. There will be questions about his spinal injury, but there’s not a more athletically-talented player anywhere, and he’ll have all of 2020 to prove he’s healthy. With a season of DJ Uiagalelei throwing him the ball, look for his highlight tape to be borderline preposterous.
10. Washington Football Team: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Lane Kiffin’s disciple completes 70+% of his passes, and he can move a little as well. Maybe not the most elite prospect on the board, but there’s a chance he becomes a very solid-if-not-spectacular NFL signal caller.
11. Chicago Bears: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
Best corner on the board. Easy win.
12. Atlanta Falcons: Kayvon Thibodeaux, OLB (3-4), Oregon
He’s outstanding, and now he’ll get to show his skills in organized football instead of the Pac-12.
13. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Safe pick from the safest team. If you’re going to take a safety this high (and maybe you shouldn’t!), this is the guy you’d choose.
14. Arizona Cardinals: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
Big, physical, can be a shutdown corner at the next level and has good ball skills. He should translate.
15. Tennessee Titans: Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati
He’ll do and say all the right things this season, and his 13 years in college won’t work against him as the pre-draft buzz will be about his newfound “maturity.”
16. Minnesota Vikings: JT Daniels, QB, Georgia
Someone is getting sucked in here by the arm talent, and our guess is they’re wearing purple! We vote for the Vikings to take the guy with a completely new knee and a gorgeous spiral when he has time to throw.