Here we go. Free agency is over, and all attention is on the 2022 NFL Draft, which means that my final mock draft is here for your viewing pleasure. The Bucs pick 27th overall. Their needs are few, but you can guess that the defensive side of the ball will be a priority for Tampa Bay.

Remember, this is a mock of what I think could/will happen and fits that make sense based on teams scheme and draft history – not necessarily what I would do if I were the GM of each team. Just know that before you hate everything I’ve written here. Thank you.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – EDGE Travon Walker, Georgia

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Walker’s rise lands him in Jacksonville – as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The NFL was high on him all along, but it’s been crazy to watch him elevate in media mock drafts. He has incredible athletic and intangible traits, but needs a lot of development and seasoning. If selected No. 1 overall, Walker would be one of the most fascinating first-round picks of all-time.

2. Detroit Lions – EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

The Lions will be overjoyed if Hutchinson is there at No. 2. He fits what they are building very well, and will be a leader right away. But I still wonder if the ceiling is lower than we typically see with the No. 2 overall pick.

Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner

Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner – Photo by: USA Today

3. Houston Texans – CB Sauce Gardner, Cincinnati

The Texans need help literally everywhere except left tackle. But tackles are at the top of the board right now, so a trade down could make sense for Houston. But can the Texans get anyone to move up? If not, Gardner should be high on their radar. Houston has so few assets on defense that getting a lockdown corner feels like a massive win. This should be one of the quickest and easiest picks of the draft.

4. New York Jets – OT Ikem Ekwonu, N.C. State

I’ve got some doubts that Mekhi Becton is long for New York given the trajectory of that situation. The Jets have enough at tackle to consider other positions, but Ekwonu has an immense ceiling and is a great fit. Joe Douglas has prioritized tools on the offensive line, and Ekwonu has them in droves. Adding him would give the Jets an incredible nasty pair of tackles if Becton comes around. There’s a good chance that Ekwonu is the best player in this draft in three years. Even with a few tackle options on the roster, the Jets should jump at this opportunity.

5. New York Giants – EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The Giants need a pass rusher in the worst way. Their young secondary is exciting, and the interior defensive line features several studs. But on the edge, it’s ugly right now. Thibodeaux would pair with Azeez Ojulari to give Don “Wink” Martindale two speedy rushers off the edge.

6. Carolina Panthers – OT Evan Neal, Alabama

Carolina desperately needs a left tackle to pair with Taylor Moton to protect whoever their next quarterback is. Neal is a plug-and-play tackle who can maul in the run game and has range in pass protection. He’ll bring much needed stability to one of the worst lines in the NFL.

7. New York Giants – CB Derek Stingley, Jr. LSU

Stingley is going to be one of the top 10’s riskiest picks. He’s extremely talented, but injuries and recent play have given cause for concern. Still, the Giants are going to be looking for cornerback help with James Bradberry on the move soon. If Stingley can develop there, New York will have two cornerstone secondary pieces in he and Xavier McKinney.

Alabama WR Jameson Williams

Alabama WR Jameson Williams – Photo by: USA Today

8. Atlanta Falcons – WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

The speedy Williams’ draft stock hasn’t suffered despite a torn ACL in January. He’s expected to play this season, and teams love his elite speed and competitive nature. I think Williams needs further development before he’s a WR1 in the NFL. But Atlanta is drafting for the future, and they need wide receivers desperately.

9. Seattle Seahawks – QB Malik Willis, Liberty

I have no clue what Seattle would do. Typically they blow our minds with an outrageous pick in the 20s. Mocking for them in the Top 10 feels like an impossible task. Let’s give them the consensus top quarterback in the draft, as Seattle can develop Willis as they rebuild.

10. New York Jets – S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

I almost gave the Jets Drake London here, but I think they are comfortable enough with their wide receiver room to wait. Douglas entered the offseason knowing he needed to improve his secondary. He signed D.J. Reed and Jordan Whitehead, and brought back Lamarcus Joyner in free agency. But the team still needs more help at safety alongside Whitehead. Hamilton can be the difference-maker New York has lacked in the secondary.

11. Washington Commanders – WR Drake London, USC

Washington is trying to figure out how to lock up Terry McLaurin long-term this offseason. But even if it does, holes exist at the other receiver spots. Maybe the team gets something from Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown this season, but that can’t be the expectation. London would give Carson Wentz the big-bodied, downfield target the quarterback once thrived with in Philadelphia.

Georgia DT Jordan Davis Bucs

Georgia DT Jordan Davis – Photo by: USA Today

12. Minnesota Vikings – DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

The Vikings are one of the toughest teams to mock for if the board falls like this. I think they will try to trade back, just like last year. Will a suitor be willing to come up? Maybe the Steelers? I stayed away from trades in this mock draft. But if Minnesota stays put, they’ll look at cornerbacks and defensive tackles. I could see Washington’s Kyler Gordon as a surprise pick here. However, Davis fills a major need and gives the Vikings two dominant run-stuffers inside with Dalvin Tomlinson already there.

13. Houston Texans – WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

Again, the Texans can go so many different directions that nailing this pick feels impossible. I have a weird feeling Houston could be higher on George Karlaftis than most others teams. But if they don’t take the Purdue edge rusher, it’s probably because they want to get Davis Mills some help. Right now, it’s hard to evaluate him with only Brandin Cooks at his disposal. Wilson can play inside and outside, and would be a welcome addition thanks to his impressive ball skills.

14. Baltimore Ravens – EDGE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

I feel confident the Ravens will go defense with this pick, but the player is tougher to figure out. Gordon or Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd make a ton of sense. But Baltimore needs help up front, especially on the edges. Johnson is a high-motor edge defender who will play the run and pass with equal prowess. He and Odafe Oweh on the outside give the Ravens their pass-rushing duo of the future.

15. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Kyler Gordon, Washington

Gordon is a scheme-versatile corner who I think will go higher than most people believe on Thursday. He has all the traits needed to be a star corner in the NFL, his ball skills and recognition just need to develop a bit. In the Eagles’ zone-heavy scheme he’ll be a quick fit. But Gordon also excels in press-man enough for defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon to switch it up more than he did in 2021.

16. New Orleans Saints – OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The Saints made an aggressive trade with the Eagles to grab another pick in this year’s first round. Why? Who knows? One theory is that the team wants to be in position to land a falling top tackle to replace Terron Armstead. Cross might drop in their lap, or he could go in the top seven picks. Yes, Cross needs development in the run game hailing from a pass-heavy college scheme. But he’s got pro-ready tools in pass protection. That’s harder to learn than the run game.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa

The Chargers have a massive hole at right tackle, and they’ve done nothing to address it this offseason. That’s a little bit surprising, considering Storm Norton’s struggles nearly got Justin Herbert killed last year. Penning has played a little bit of right tackle in college, so maybe he can make the leap. There are rumors Penning could go higher than this, too.

18. Philadelphia Eagles – LB Quay Walker, Georgia

The Eagles currently don’t have a starting-caliber, every-down linebacker on their roster. Yes, I know they like T.J. Edwards and they signed Kyzir White and they don’t care about linebackers. But eventually this team has to improve its athleticism on the second level. Walker is an elite tackler and a superb athlete. He needs work to diagnose blocking schemes, but he’ll be a big asset on third downs early in his career.

Ohio State WR Chris Olave Bucs NFL Draft

Ohio State WR Chris Olave – Photo by: USA Today

19. New Orleans Saints – WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

The Saints are always looking to add talent through their Ohio State pipeline, and Olave makes a ton of sense here. He’ll be the new speed threat next to Michael Thomas that Jameis Winston needs. I’m just not convinced the Saints are trying to land a quarterback in this draft. Maybe I’ll be wrong.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

One way or another, I believe the Steelers are going to end up with one of the top quarterbacks in this class. I think Willis and Ridder are their preferences. It would be ideal if Pittsburgh can stay put and land one at No. 20 overall. The Steelers desperately need to keep all their picks. But that’s not typically how these things work. Ridder has leadership, poise and the tools. But his accuracy can improve a bit, as can his ball security in the pocket.

21. New England Patriots – LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

The Patriots getting Lloyd at No. 21 would be a ridiculous steal and a perfect fit. The heir apparent to Dont’a Hightower could not be more clear. Lloyd is an every-down difference maker who excels against the pass and as a blitzer. He’s also a two-time captain and a film junkie. It’s Bill Belichick’s dream come true.

22. Green Bay Packers – WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

The Packers have a weird wide receiver room. Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins are all veterans. If they draft a receiver early, one of those guys isn’t going to play much. And yet, it seems we are heading in that direction. Probably because none of those guys are good. Burks is an explosive playmaker who can win vertically or with the ball in his hands underneath. In a Green Bay offense that helps get people open, Burks’ raw route-running skills can be hidden for awhile.

23. Arizona Cardinals – CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

I’m a little bit torn on where McDuffie will land. He’s typically been mocked as a Top 15-20 player, but I could see him falling out of Round 1. However, Arizona has a crying need at cornerback and McDuffie fits the scheme well. The Cardinals don’t seem to prioritize size at cornerback like other teams. They value scheme versatility, and McDuffie’s Cover 3 background will fit in the Cardinals staple coverage. Also, Arizona already has all the other Washington DBs. What’s one more?

Boston College G Zion Johnson Bucs NFL Draft

Boston College G Zion Johnson – Photo by: USA Today

24. Dallas Cowboys – OG Zion Johnson, Boston College

The Cowboys know they have to build up their offensive line this offseason. Dak Prescott just isn’t the same quarterback under pressure, so protecting him should be the focus of their draft. Johnson is the best guard in the class and should make a quick transition to the NFL. There is very little to dislike in his extremely well-rounded game. He’ll plug in to his natural left guard spot between left tackle Tyron Smith and center Tyler Biadasz.

25. Buffalo Bills – CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

The Bills don’t have many needs, but finding a quality corner opposite Tre White is a priority. Booth is physical, aggressive and scheme-diverse. His best football might be ahead of him if he buys into the Buffalo culture. It is a little concerning that Booth hasn’t run yet during the pre-draft process. But the Bills care a little less about 40-yard dash for cornerbacks than other teams.

26. Tennessee Titans – OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M

The Titans lost Roger Saffold this offseason, and have yet to replace him. Green is a little bit raw, but has outstanding power and tenacity in the trenches. He’s also played at least one game at every offensive line position except center. So if Dillon Radunz struggles at right tackle, Green could be an option there, too.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Lewis Cine, Georgia

The Bucs could go a number of directions with this pick, based on the way the board has fallen. Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt, Houston DT Logan Hall and Colorado State TE Trey McBride will all be considered, as will a trade back. And don’t be surprised if the team grabs either Michigan EDGE David Ojabo or CB Dax Hill.

But Cine just makes so much sense for the Bucs. He doesn’t have to be a Week 1 starter, but the door is open if he wins the job. Cine is a perfect fit next to Antoine Winfield, Jr., capable of playing strong safety in place of Jordan Whitehead. But the Georgia product is also more scheme versatile than Whitehead, able to kick back into 2-high shells. Eventually, Cine could see reps at free safety, allowing Winfield to move around more freely. Cine is smart, physical and loaded with athletic potential. It’s a great fit if it happens on draft day.

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt NFL Draft

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt – Photo by: USA Today

28. Green Bay Packers – DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

The Packers could use some offensive line help, but they’ve typically found that in later rounds. Instead, finding a 3-technique pass rusher to play next to Kenny Clark could be a priority. Wyatt is explosive and physical, capable of playing all three downs right away. He’ll need time to develop as a pass rusher, but he’ll have ample opportunity to produce on a defensive line with Rashan Gary, Preston Smith and Clark. The Packers hosted Wyatt on a pre-draft visit a few weeks ago.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – EDGE George Karlaftis, Purdue

I know people think a wide receiver is heading to Kansas City in Round 1. I’m not so sure. They signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a big-money deal, and also grabbed JuJu Smith-Schuster. Are they ready to phase out Mecole Hardman? Is the wide receiver they could get at No. 29 going to be a true No. 1? Remember, the Chiefs still have pick No. 50 to grab a helpful pass-catcher. In Round 1, I think they’ll address a defense falling apart at the seams. Karlaftis’ slide stops in Kansas City, where he’ll start across from Frank Clark.

30. Kansas City Chiefs – CB/S Dax Hill, Michigan

Hill has spent some time at free safety for the Wolverines, but played mostly in the slot. He has instincts in zone and impressive fluidity in man coverage. Ideally, Hill’s versatility would allow the Chiefs to replace some of the impact left by Tyrann Mathieu’s departure. As the Chiefs sort out their defensive personnel, Hill could potentially help at multiple spots. The Chiefs need more man coverage defensive backs, and Hill fits the bill.

Florida CB Kaiir Elam Bucs NFL Draft

Florida CB Kaiir Elam – Photo by: USA Today

31. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

I think the Bengals consider three players here – Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum, Houston DT Logan Hall and Florida CB Kaiir Elam. But they’ve spent massive resources this offseason on the offensive line, and they still believe in Jackson Carman. Although the team probably likes Hall, they’ve got a lot of defensive line options on the roster. Elam is scheme versatile and can compete with Eli Apple for a starting spot right away.

32. Detroit Lions – QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt

The Lions could obviously trade up for a quarterback, too. But will they need to unless they think a team is jumping up from Round 2? No team drafting from 21-32 is likely to select a quarterback. At No. 32, the Lions could go Sam Howell or Kenny Pickett. If Pickett falls, I think Detroit could be the team that stops his slide. There’s not a high ceiling with Pickett, but he’s the kind of smart, capable signal caller teams talk themselves into every year.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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26 days ago

Nice job Jon, but I’ll be impressed if more than ten projections are correct.

26 days ago

Wyatt would play right away. He might be the top DT in this draft, and oh yes we need DTs more than safeties. Seeing Wyatt going to the Packers the very next pick is even a bigger kick in the nuts. I’d rather Wyatt is chasing Rodgers next year when we play, then destroying Stinnie on his way to sacking Brady. At that point no one will give a shit about who’s playing safety. We need help with our front seven. Drafting the back of our back end makes no sense.

Reply to  surferdudes
26 days ago

I have been focussed on Logan Hall thinking Devonte Wyatt would not be available by the 27th pick. I am not sure that we would pass on Wyatt should he be there. Between those two you get different types of defensive lineman. I don’t know who would contribute more in the rotation for this year. I would lean toward Wyatt as being a better attempt at replacing Suh next year. I believe he has the greater long term potential. Obviously, I see DL as a greater need than safety in spite of the loss of Whitehead. I think we did well during free agency on that… Read more »

26 days ago

Bucs would pass on Wyatt to take a safety they could pick up in the 2nd round? I doubt it.

26 days ago

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cine pick. As I read this and get to 26, I’m like Wyatt fell to us. Scroll a touch further and see Cine…. Preference is Wyatt, Cine then trade down in that order. Still love the pick, but didn’t see that one coming

26 days ago

Great article Jon! Cine would be a great pick, but I don’t think he’s there when we are on the clock. I do like Dax Hill though, so we’ll see what plays out.
It’s going to be sad to see you go Jon as I’ve enjoyed your articles over the last couple of years! Good luck in your next endeavor!

26 days ago

Not a bad pick by any means, but I think the DT from Houston fits our needs better. Hall, Cine, Hill or Mofe would be my choices if we don’t trade back.

The Freeman
The Freeman
26 days ago

Licht doesn’t care for positional value, so Cine in the 1st is an option!
i’ll be scared to take Thibodeaux, Stingley or Hamilton in the top 10… top 5 in no particular order should be: Walker, Hutchinson, Ikey, Sauce and Neal.
Jermaine Johnson and Charlie Cross at #14 and #16 would be the steal of the 1st round!
Quay Walker over Devin Lloyd and Kyler Gordon over Trent McDuffie would be surprising…

26 days ago

God i hope not a safety! when was the last time an nfl safety made an impact? They cant hit anymore. the days of ronnie lott, polamalu, atewater or over. How good were jamal adams and marcus maye with the jets? Its a waste of a resource in the first round. Hell I would draft a DL and an edge in 1st 2 rounds. Not sold on JTS as a consistent player. I think he could very well play better in a rotational role. He is stiff linear and doesnt have great instincts. He will sometimes get stonewalled.Besides i think… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by parnelldickinson
26 days ago

You don’t draft safeties with No.1 pick. Stupid. The last time the Bucs wasted a No. 1 pick on a safety he ended up playing in LA as an outside LB and he wasn’t even any good at that.

Reply to  drdneast
25 days ago

Mark Barron was one of the worst picks ever. I hated it at the time. I preferred some linebacker named Luke.Then Barron changed numbers, causing the shirt to be equally worthless.

26 days ago

D line, D line, D line … Either draft one or trade for one
No way we should draft a S in RD 1.

25 days ago

It’s always been hysterical to me how folks’ heads explode over a silly Mock Draft.