The NFL Draft date is near, and experts all around will be submitting different variations of mock drafts. In an attempt to be different, we have a unique approach to this mock draft. We did it using “Madden NFL 22.”
We’ve done this for the past few years, and last year’s try was admittedly somewhat of a disaster. For some reason, only quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson were drafted in the first two rounds despite it being a quarterback-heavy draft. Thankfully, this year, that didn’t happen.
In order to get accurate results, we had to update the rosters ourselves since EA Sports quits updating after the Super Bowl. So that meant moving Russell Wilson to the Broncos, sending Deshaun Watson to the Browns and signing key free agents.
Before we get into the results, we’ll explain to those who are curious just how we went about this project. If you aren’t curious about that then you can click here to skip ahead.
How the Madden NFL Mock Draft works
As I mentioned before, since EA Sports doesn’t keep the rosters updated, it falls on me to update them myself. Thankfully in the game’s community files, someone else took the time to update the rosters. So I downloaded the file, and then proceeded from there. While that was a nice start, I still had to manage each team to make sure the players stayed on their respective teams.
Because in Madden when you start a franchise, you begin at the start of the 2021 season. So you have to sim through the season, and then keep the relevant players. To save time, I only kept players 65 overall and above since anybody lower won’t have a big impact on the first-round picks. And in order to make sure teams didn’t make transactions I didn’t approve of, I had to start an offline franchise and create a character to manage all 32 teams.
I also had to download the 2022 draft class from the community files. This year I went with YourHomeboyLilM’s file.
MORE NFL DRAFT: TSN’s 7-round mock | Top 150 big board
NFL Mock Draft 2022: Madden simulation
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
- Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
We’re off to a good start. Hutchinson is the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Jaguars. There is some debate about who Jacksonville will select in this spot, but Hutchinson is a very realistic option.
2. Detroit Lions
- Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux is another realistic choice here in terms of talent. But recently reports have indicated that head coach Dan Campbell doesn’t think Thibodeaux will fit into the culture he’s building at Detroit. The virtual GM doesn’t really care about stuff like that, so it makes sense why Thibodeaux went here.
3. Houston Texans
- Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
This is an interesting selection as not many are projecting the Texans to select a quarterback with the third overall pick. Malik Willis is a good option, though, as he’s likely going to be the first quarterback selected in the draft. But the Texans seem content with Davis Mills at QB, so it’d be surprising to see them go QB at three. It does make sense for Houston’s virtual GM to see QB as a position of need, though.
4. New York Jets
- Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton is a solid projection at fourth overall, as Mock Draft Database has him as the second-favorite selection at this spot. The Jets pick up some defensive help as Hamilton can fill a few roles for New York.
5. New York Giants
Similar to the Jets pick, Evan Neal is another logical selection at this spot. He’s also the second-favorite selection for the Giants according to the Mock Draft Database. Most mocks seem split on whether New York will take Neal or Ikem Ekwonu with this pick.
6. Carolina Panthers
- Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
The consensus for the Panthers in this spot is to take a quarterback since that’s definitely a position of need. But with Willis already drafted, the other quarterbacks must not seem appealing enough to Carolina’s virtual GM. Ekwonu isn’t a crazy selection here, though.
7. New York Giants (from Bears)
With the Giants’ second top 10 pick they select Derek Stingley, a somewhat surprising choice. Not too many mock drafts are projecting Stingley to New York, but he’s completely out of the question. The Giants attended his pro day, and hosted a work out for him.
8. Atlanta Falcons
- Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The Falcons have some other pressing needs, so an offensive lineman is not a trendy pick overall with Atlant’s No. 8 selection. In fact, he’s usually projected to go to Seattle with the following pick at No. 9.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Broncos)
- Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
As I mentioned with the previous selection, Cross is the favorite to land with the Seahawks here. But since he’s taken, Seattle ends up choosing another offensive tackle. The Seahawks could definitely use some offensive line help, and with so many offensive linemen already drafted, Penning makes sense in this situation.
10. New York Jets (from Seahawks)
With their second first-round pick, the Jets double up on defensive players. Lloyd is a bit of a surprising pick as most mock drafts have him falling a little later in the first round. Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson are the favorites to land here, but the virtual GM apparently wants Lloyd instead.
11. Washington Commanders
- Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
Most mock drafts have Washington selecting a quarterback or wide receiver here. Instead they go with a much less sexy pick with Kenyon Green. Madden GMs apparently have a strong love for offensive linemen.
12. Minnesota Vikings
- Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
The top two favorite picks for Minnesota here are Derek Stingley and Ahmad Gardner, both cornerbacks. With Stingley already drafted, Gardner makes the most logical sense and could easily be the selection from the real-life Vikings in this spot.
13. Houston Texans (from Browns)
The Texans’ second first-round pick is another surprise as Dean is viewed more as a late first-round prospect. Although some other mock drafts have Houston selecting Lloyd in this spot, so a linebacker isn’t completely out of the question at pick 13.
14. Baltimore Ravens
- Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
Not many experts are expecting the Ravens to go wide receiver here, but it wouldn’t be too wild of a pick. Baltimore lost Sammy Watkins in the offseason, so getting some extra depth at wide receivers makes some sense. Although Baltimore did select WR Rashod Bateman in the first round a year ago, so they might look at another position in 2022.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)
- Andrew Booth, CB, Clemson
Andrew Booth is typically projected to be drafted a little later than this, but it’s still a realistic selection. Some analysts have the Eagles taking a cornerback here, but with the other top-tier cornerbacks already drafted, Booth at 15 makes some sense.
16. New Orleans Saints (from Colts via Eagles)
- Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
A very realistic option for New Orleans here. With Baltimore drafting Jameson Williams, the Saints essentially get to pick between the two star Ohio State wide receivers in Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave. The virtual GM prefers Wilson over Olave, but it’s somewhat of a coin flip decision.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
- George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
Several other mock drafts have the Chargers selecting an EDGE rusher with this pick, although George Karlaftis is going a little earlier than projected. Still, it’s a realistic option to happen in real life.
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from Saints)
- Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia
With the Eagles’ second first-round pick they double up on defenders, this time taking former Georgia star Jordan Davis. It’s another realistic pick as many mock drafts have Davis going to the Eagles with their first pick in this round.
19. New Orleans Saints (from Eagles)
- Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The Saints signed Jameis Winston to a 2-year contract this offseason, so it’ll be interesting to see if New Orleans actually does end up going QB with this pick. The Saints could either really like a QB in this class, such as Kenny Pickett, or just ride with Winston and see what the 2023 QB class has to offer. The virtual GM, however, sees QB as a position of need right away.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
- Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Almost every mock draft out there has the Steelers taking a quarterback here, so it’s nice to see the virtual GM follow suit. Who the player will be though, is up for debate. With Willis and Pickett already gone in this draft, the selection essentially comes down to Matt Corral or Desmond Ridder. Unfortunately for Ridder, Pittsburgh likes Corral more and the Cincy QB falls out of the first round.
21. New England Patriots
- Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
Trent McDuffie has been projected to New England in a few mock drafts, so this is another potential real-life selection. After trading away Stephon Gilmore last season, it makes sense New England will look to add another cornerback. And with some of the top names taken already, McDuffie is a logical choice.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Raiders)
- Tyler Linderbaum, OL, Iowa
Tyler Linderbaum isn’t a trendy pick for the Packers here according to the Mock Draft Database, but an offensive lineman isn’t out of the question. It’s worth remembering the Packers have another first-round pick a little later.
MORE: TSN’s NFL mock draft with trades
23. Arizona Cardinals
- Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Jermaine Johnson has been climbing up NFL Draft boards recently, so he’d be a solid pick for Arizona here. But some experts are predicting Johnson could go as early as the top 10, so it seems somewhat unlikely.
24. Dallas Cowboys
- Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
The virtual GMs have improved this year as we’re getting a lot more realistic options this time around. Most mock drafts have the Cowboys taking an offensive lineman here, it’s just a matter of which player is around at this pick. Johnson has a strong chance to land at pick No. 24.
25. Buffalo Bills
- Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Bills lost Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley in free agency, although they did add Jamison Crowder. But with how talented this team is overall, Buffalo is a team that can afford to add some depth at the receiver position in the first round. While Treylon Burks isn’t a super trendy pick for Buffalo, it still has a chance of happening.
26. Tennessee Titans
Most mock drafts have Tennessee going with an offensive lineman here, but there’s already been a big run on that position throughout this Madden mock draft. So it makes sense the Titans more in the “best player available” route and select Jackson.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- David Ojabo, EDGE, Michigan
NFL Draft analysts are projecting a defensive lineman or some secondary help for the Bucs with this pick, but instead Tampa Bay adds another pass rusher. Pass rush is one of Tampa Bay’s strengths, so it seems unlikely they’ll go with David Ojabo in this situation.
28. Green Bay Packers
- Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Chris Olave is the favorite to land at Green Bay’s original first-round pick at 22, according to the Mock Draft Database. So if the Packers are able to wait until pick 28 to select Olave, then that’d be pretty good value. Either way, there’s a strong chance the Packers select a wide receiver with one of these two first-round picks.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from 49ers via Dolphins)
- Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia
This is a pretty big miss by the virtual GMs as Travon Walker is projected to mostly be a top five pick in this year’s draft. There’s even some talk of him going first overall. This can probably be blamed on the NFL Draft class I used being a little outdated and not having Walker as a higher prospect.
30. Kansas City Chiefs
This is a pretty realistic pick as the Chiefs could use some secondary help, and this is around where Kaiir Elam is projected to go. However, it’s more likely Elam is drafted a little before this. But if he’s available when the Chiefs are on the clock, then there’s a strong chance this pick ends up happening in real life.
31. Cincinatti Bengals
- Kenneth Walker, RB, Michigan State
An interesting choice for the Bengals with the 31st pick as they go with running back Kenneth Walker. While Walker is projected to be drafted around this spot, I have a hard time seeing the Bengals drafting him. Joe Mixon did a fine job last season, and is under contract for a few more years.
32. Detroit Lions (from Rams)
It’s like the virtual GM knew about the Michigan-to-Lions connection with this pick. While Hill isn’t necessarily a favorite to land here, he’s definitely in the realm of possibilities. The Lions can use help wherever, so drafting a Michigan player makes a lot of sense.