Five bold NFL draft predictions for 2022: Big trades and QBs

Looking for a safe bet in an otherwise mysterious 2022 NFL Draft?

Aaron Rodgers will do something to try and dwarf college prospects. That’s the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s course of action, based on news during the 2021 draft that he was unhappy and looking for a change of scenery, followed by the social media implication during NFL Combine week in 2022 that he was retiring consider

So Rodgers, turning the attention back to himself, doesn’t go too far.

But here are five bolder predictions:

Deebo Samuel, Baker Mayfield and James Bradberry acted

The best time for a draft pick is between mid-January and the draft weekend when the order is known. The time is running. Deadlines make business.

As of Sunday, when all 2022 picks are in the rearview mirror, acquiring a 2023 draft pick is a crapshoot — like when the Texans unknowingly gave up 3rd-ranked picks for Laremy Tunsil in 2021, or when the Lions were surprisingly stuck at 32nd-ranked picks in 2021 for Matthew Stafford.

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after a catch
We expect Deebo Samuel to be just one of the big names on the road during draft weekend.
Getty Images

Samuel is traded to the Jets (and working out a contract extension) on Thursday. The 49ers replace him using the trade return (#10 pick) on Garrett Wilson. Mayfield is traded Friday after the dust settles on the first-round quarterbacks and the Seahawks have none. The Chiefs are calling the Giants about the availability of receiver Kadarius Toney Saturday, but ultimately opt to give up a late-round pick for cornerback James Bradberry.

Two quarterbacks in the top 10

Months of chatter about a weak quarterback class with perhaps no worthy top-20 picks is replaced by a sense of urgency when the going gets tough.

Sure Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis and Desmond Ridder have flaws, but do the No. 6 pick Panthers really need to see more of Sam Darnold (after four years in the NFL) with head coach Matt Rhule in the hot seat? Will the No. 9 Seahawks really go the route of Geno Smith or Drew Lock? The unknown is more tempting than always the same results.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett wants to pass
Poor QB class won’t stop teams from trading against signal callers like Kenny Pickett.
AP photo

The Falcons No. 8 are perfectly positioned to let hometown native Willis learn behind stopgap Marcus Mariota for a season or two. Saints #16 and #19 have the assets to trade. The No. 20 Steelers have a retired general manager who wants to shape the future — without facing the future consequences if he huffs.

The prediction here is Pickett for the Panthers, Willis for the Falcons and Ridder for the Steelers in a trade-up over the Saints.

Notorious first for running backs, tight ends

During the common drafting era (since 1967), at least one running back or tight end was selected in the first round each year. This series ends now.

When there were no first-round running backs for the first time since 1963 in 2013 and 2014, both years saw close ends to close the gap. In 2020, history was almost made when running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire became the first running back or tight end to be hit with the last pick of the first round.

Breece Hall, the top running back, and Trey McBride, the top tight end, are consensus picks for the early second round.

Patriots win Jameson Williams Sweepstakes

Perhaps the biggest X-factor in the first round is receiver Jameson Williams, who tore an ACL in the College Football National Championship Game.

The worst-kept secret in the NFL is that the Chiefs are eyeing the lightning-fast Williams. But unless they’re willing to bag both picks #29 and #30 and up, they’re probably out of reach to trade in and steal him.

If the Jets don’t trade for Deebo Samuel, they could shock the league by picking Williams at No. 4 rather than betting on him slipping to No. 10. In those predictions, however, it’s the Samuel-less 49ers that pass Williams at No. 10, prompting the No. 15 Eagles, No. 16 and No. 19 Saints, No. 21 Patriots and No. 25 Bills to make trade calls .

Jameson Williams #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide
Jameson Williams will have many teams vying for his services.
Getty Images

The Patriots, known for trading down and accumulating more picks, unusually make the bold move up at No. 13 (with the Texans) to steal Williams.

Defense! Defense! Defense! Defense!

The last time the first three picks in a draft were all defensive players was in 1992. A year earlier, the first four picks all went defensive.

Time to party like it’s 1991!

The Jaguars are considering three options at number 1: offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu and edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker. They choose Walker, who is gifting Michigan native Hutchinson to the Lions.

The real fascination lies with the No. 3 Texans and No. 4 jets. While the choice of a receiver (Williams, London, Wilson) or an offensive lineman (Ekownu, Evan Neal) is tempting for both teams, they’ll make four straights on defense by picking from a pool of edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, safety Kyle Hamilton and cornerbacks select Sauce Gardner and Derek Stingley Jr. If Hutchinson goes at No. 1, cornerback becomes an option for the No. 2 Lions. Five bold NFL draft predictions for 2022: Big trades and QBs


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