NFL Draft 2022 live updates: Date, draft order and mocks

Mock drafts inspire debate, if nothing else. Today on The Athleticwe published a first-round mock draft (written by yours truly), and I figured that no one would be better suited to yell at me over the picks and trades I made.

For starters, let’s lay out the angle behind this exercise: I stand in this position as an analyst – not as an insider – so these picks are more reflective of my opinion on who are the best / most promising players this year and less of what NFL sources are telling the media. Those kinds of mock drafts serve as a key reference point on what’s most likely to happen, and it was considered in my process – particularly with teams with multiple options.

Let’s take a look at some of those teams, and some of the trades, to discuss some potential alternatives for this year’s top 32 picks.

New York Giants: Trading out of picks no. 5 or 7

The Giants aren’t in a full-blown teardown this spring because of the hefty contracts left on the book. It will be difficult to maneuver the roster around to open space without gutting roster depth, so I’d expect the Giants to aggressively shop one of their top-10 picks to Houston, New Orleans and Philadelphia – the three teams with surplus draft capital in the top half of the first round. The lack of a high-profile quarterback and the depth at other cornerstone positions (tackle, cornerback and edge rusher) eliminate the scarcity that typically motivates aggressive trading, though, which may depress the typical value on these picks.

Seattle Seahawks: Best player available, not pick accumulation

Seattle’s head coach-general manager marriage is more than a decade in, and a tenure of this length means seeing the franchise through multiple iterations of the roster. The Seahawks want to transition into the post-Russell Wilson era as smoothly as possible, and the ninth pick could return a major playmaker on either side of the ball. In my mock draft, Derek Stingley Jr. would be the best player available for Seattle’s current roster construction – and the player that The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler sent to the Seahawks in his seven-round mock. I think loading the roster with rookie contracts would be the best approach, but it would be hard to protest bringing in a player with All-Pro potential.

Los Angeles Chargers: Opening up the offense with speed

This isn’t revealing any hidden information, but Los Angeles’ offense is missing a receiver that can stretch the field vertically. Trevor Penning, the tackle I selected at pick no. 17, is a controversial player – he’s equally likely to become a plus-starter as a bust – and there are some receivers available that can check the “speed” box for the Chargers’ offense. Jameson Williams and Garrett Wilson were picked right after my Chargers selection, and either player (assuming good health for Williams) can step right in and take the top off of any defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills: Moving out of awkward picks

Pittsburgh and Buffalo served as the odd ones out in my mock draft, with players both franchises would undoubtedly love off the board by pick Nos. 20 and 25. For Pittsburgh, I’m fascinated to see if general manager Kevin Colbert has the green light to make an aggressive trade into the top 12, jumping ahead of some teams with similar needs and multiple picks.

For Buffalo, if the best interior defensive linemen and corners are gone, it may be best to shop its pick to a team like Detroit for the Lions’ picks between 30 and 40, giving them more bites at high value role players on rookie deals.

Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers: Aggressive movement

Kansas City and Green Bay are prime candidates to take big swings in the trade market as contenders looking to keep the championship window pried open.

For Kansas City, the next five years are going to look much different than the previous one, with different body types in the fold at wide receiver and a strong offensive line that will allow for a more versatile schematic approach. Addressing cornerback and edge rusher are also urgent needs, so expect Kansas City to make calls to teams picking in the teens, where there will be a high concentration of rookies who can make an immediate impact.

Green Bay has to treat this draft as its last shot to push the chips in on winning right now, given that Aaron Rodgers’ future in Green Bay will be in question from here on out. Wide receiver is a position that must be addressed after the departures of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams, and I’d expect the Packers to be in the mix with trade offers as soon as the run on wide receivers begins in the first round.

How this draft will play out is still up in the air, but one thing I’m certain of is that trades will be the story of Day 1.

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