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NFL mock draft: Seahawks trade up for QB, Bengals add playmaker

Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is among the top passing prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Photo courtesy of Liberty Athletics
1 of 6 | Former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis is among the top passing prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft class. Photo courtesy of Liberty Athletics

MIAMI, April 19 (UPI) -- Former Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal remains my No. 1 overall pick, but the latest version of my 2022 NFL mock draft features several adjustments based on recent trades and signings throughout the league.

The 2022 NFL Draft runs April 28 to 30 in Las Vegas. Coverage will start at 8 p.m. EDT April 28 on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first of 32 first-round picks.

Neal should still be a great fit for the Jaguars, who need some protection for franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. After that, the Detroit Lions will be tasked with picking one of several stellar pass-rushing options. I like former Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson in that spot, assuming the Jaguars don't grab him.

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Former Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker also is expected to be one of the first picks. He could land with the Houston Texans if Neal and Hutchinson are off the board.

I expect the New York Jets to snag Sauce Gardner at No. 4 overall. Gardner, widely regarded as the best cornerback in the class, should improve a Jets secondary that ranked among the worst in the NFL last season.

Look for the Seattle Seahawks to make the first splash of the draft. The Seahawks, who traded longtime starting quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos this off-season, most likely are in the market for a young passer.

Willis, who might have the highest talent ceiling in the class, should fit in nicely with star wide receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

The Seahawks are to pick ninth and would need to work out a trade with the New York Giants to move up to No. 5 overall. That move most likely would require forfeiting several prized assets and/or draft picks.

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The Giants should be a willing trade partner because they have an array of needs. They also have the No. 7 overall pick, and can grab one of their top targets even if they trade the No. 5 pick.

Ickey Ekwonu, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kyle Hamilton, Charles Cross and Jordan Davis are the other elite college prospects I expect to land inside the Top 10.

The New Orleans Saints, who need to a playmaker at wide receiver, should be a great fit for former Ohio State pass-catcher Garrett Wilson.

The Packers, who traded star wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season to the Las Vegas Raiders, also should be in the market for a wide receiver. I like former Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams as their target at No. 22 overall.

I expect the Kansas City Chiefs to pick former Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave toward the end of the first round. Olave could provide a ton of upside for the Chiefs, who traded star wide receiver Tyreek Hill this off-season to the Miami Dolphins.

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The Cincinnati Bengals were very close to winning the Super Bowl last postseason, and already addressed their offensive line in free agency. They could look to add an explosive playmaker to their emerging offense.

Former Iowa State running back Breece Hall would be a great fit, thanks to his running and pass-catching ability. He would fit in nicely as a pass-catching option and as a change-of-pace option with fellow running back Joe Mixon.

Overall, my first-round mock draft contains seven edge rushers, six offensive lineman, six cornerbacks, four wide receivers, two quarterbacks, two safeties, two defensive tackles, two linebackers and a running back.

Mock Draft 3.0

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan

3. Houston Texans: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

5. Seattle Seahawks trade with New York Giants: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

6. Carolina Panthers: Ickey Ekwonu, OT, NC State

7. New York Giants: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

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8. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

9. New York Giants trade with Seattle Seahawks: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

10. New York Jets: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

11. Washington Football Team: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

12. Minnesota Vikings: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

13. Houston Texans: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State

14. Baltimore Ravens: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

16. New Orleans Saints: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

18. Philadelphia Eagles: Drake London, WR, USC

19. New Orleans Saints: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

21. New England Patriots: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

22. Green Bay Packers: Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

23. Arizona Cardinals: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

24. Dallas Cowboys: Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

25. Buffalo Bills: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Georgia

26. Tennessee Titans: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson

28. Green Bay Packers: Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State

32. Detroit Lions: David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan

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