ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay posted an updated two-round 2022 NFL Mock Draft this week. It’s his first two-rounder, and it offers some interesting nuggets of information as we steamroll toward night one of the NFL Draft.
Here are our biggest takeaways from the latest Todd McShay NFL mock draft.
Travon Walker settling in as Detroit Lions’ pick at No. 2 overall
This continues to be the biggest surprise in the 2022 NFL Draft to me. Sure, Walker is a fantastic prospect on the hoof; his testing numbers are rare and he has all of the physical traits NFL teams covet. But his college production simply wasn’t there. For a player touted as a potential cornerstone edge rusher, he didn’t have a season with more than six sacks at Georgia. It’s true he was part of a rotation because of how much talent the Bulldogs’ defense had, but he’s more projection than production at this point in his scouting report.
Evan Neal beginning to slide
Evan Neal falls to the Seattle Seahawks at No. 9 overall in Todd McShay’s latest mock draft. It was only a few weeks ago that Neal was considered a favorite to be the Jacksonville Jaguars’ choice at No. 1 overall. Now, he’s barely a top-10 pick.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Players like Neal get over-scouted as the days before the draft dwindle down. He’s also the type of prospect whose ceiling is considered lower than some of the other top-10 prospects. Regardless, he’s a 10-year starter at a premium position. I’d be shocked if he lasts this long.
Chris Olave trending in right direction
Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave is our No. 12 overall player in the 2022 NFL Draft, and it appears Todd McShay is beginning to finally jump aboard. He has Olave skyrocketing to the Washington Commanders at No. 11 overall. “Olave is a smooth route runner with soft hands and excellent speed,” McShay wrote. “Pairing him with McLaurin — his former Ohio State teammate — would immediately challenge NFC East defensive backs and open things up for Curtis Samuel out of the slot.”
Olave is going to make an immediate impact in the NFL next season. He’s a silky smooth route-runner who has the required blend of short-area quickness and long speed to be one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers a few years from now.
Saints beef up with two first-round picks
The New Orleans Saints’ decision to trade for an additional first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft was a curious one. It feels like the kind of deal that will target a quarterback. Instead, Todd McShay has New Orleans landing Northern Iowa offensive tackle, Trevor Penning, and Georgia defensive lineman, Jordan Davis. That’s two really big and nasty dudes leveling up the offensive and defensive lines.
I don’t hate the strategy, but it doesn’t feel like a good use of draft assets that, in part, cost next year’s first-round pick to acquire. Penning is a starting-caliber player, but he isn’t on the level of prospect that a team would trade a future first-round pick for. It doesn’t make much sense, at all.
Davis, on the other hand, is a stud. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a top-10 pick. He’s that rare. But with two-down run-stuffers having limited value in the first round, Davis could realistically slide to the later portion of the top 20.
Malik Willis falls to ideal landing spot
Willis has the ideal 2022 NFL Draft outcome in Todd McShay’s updated mock draft. He ends up with the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 20 overall. It’s the kind of player-team fit that enhances the odds for success. Willis needs time to develop, and he needs a stable organization that can give him that time. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has the closest thing to tenure in the coaching profession and will be given at least a couple of seasons to oversee Willis’ development.
Veteran Mitch Trubisky is in place to start for the Steelers in 2022. He’s good enough to hold the position for one season. Then, it’ll be Willis’ time… assuming he’s ready. For as much upside as Willis possesses, he’s a boom-or-bust projection.
Treylon Burks to the Cardinals? Ensue fireworks
How about this fit? Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks goes to an Arizona Cardinals offense with a magician at quarterback and an innovative play-caller at head coach. Burks, who has playmaking skill similar to San Francisco 49ers star Deebo Samuel, can thrive on all three levels of the passing game. He’d be the ultimate weapon alongside DeAndre Hopkins and would give the Cardinals the extra firepower needed to compete with the Los Angeles Rams.
Welcome to the first round, Christian Watson
North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson has consistently been on the rise since his fantastic showing at the 2022 Senior Bowl. His performance at the NFL Scouting Combine was insane. Now, with wide-receiver needy teams acquiring multiple picks in the first round, his chances of being a first-round pick are going up.
In Todd McShay’s latest mock draft, Watson comes off the board at No. 26 to the Tennessee Titans. It’s an interesting choice considering the presence of wide receivers A.J. Brown and Robert Woods, but with Brown’s contract uncertainty and Woods’ recovery from torn ACL remaining as questions, adding Watson as an outside downfield threat makes sense.