The Athletic’s Dane Brugler published his second mock draft of the 2022 NFL draft season on Wednesday. It’s his first mock draft since November and this time, he added a second round.
Brugler’s mock draft provided a massive surprise at the first overall pick that had a ripple effect on the rest of the first round. Naturally, it’s time to dig in and offer up our takeaways from this mock.
Ikem Ekwonu goes No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars
Whoa. Talk about starting a mock draft with a bang! For the last couple of months, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux have dominated the first overall pick discussion. In fact, there hasn’t been much conversation about any other player challenging either prospect for the top selection. Apparently, that’s about to change.
Ikem Ekwonu has built momentum in recent weeks and is moving ahead of Alabama’s Evan Neal on most 2022 big boards, but this is an aggressive choice by Brugler. I’m not saying it’s wrong or that it won’t actually happen in April, but we’re still a bit early in the process for Ekwonu to make a push up the board like this.
Brugler leaned on insight from NFL scouts to make this pick.
“After numerous conversations with NFL scouts and league execs in preparation for this mock, there were two key takeaways that led me to Ekwonu here,” Brugler wrote. “First, there are several evaluators around the league who have Ekwonu ranked higher than Alabama’s Evan Neal and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross. Second, several evaluators agreed that in a draft class missing a no-brainer top prospect, they prefer the tackles over the pass rushers. I have no clue how the Jaguars feel, but Ekwonu at least belongs in this conversation.”