Lou (2:45 p.m. CDT): Opening day of the 2022 NFL Draft is upon us.
For me, the pressure was off once I locked in the final mock and sent it to The Huddle Report, who have been doing this even longer than me.
And this summer will mark 19 years since I launched this site. If you count the 2003 mock I did on LouPickney.com as a one-off, this is mock draft #20 for me.
After some intense prep work that left me limited free time over the past few weeks, it was fun today to drive to west Nashville to have lunch with my buddy Max.
It hardly seems possible that the 2012 NFL Draft, which I attended in person at Radio City Music Hall in New York, was ten years ago now. And yet here we are.
I invite you to check out my newly-released sports announcer play-by-play demo reel. If you ever need a producer or a sports announcer in Nashville, or anywhere in reasonable driving distance from middle Tennessee, please keep me in mind.
Contact Lou@LouPickney.com for any booking/availability inquiries.
And for those of you so inclined, my past NFL Draft running commentaries and/or live event experiences are linked below.
2004 (Round one)
2004 (Round two)
2005 (Part one)
2005 (Part two)
2005 (Part three)
2012 (Live event)
Lou (3:05 p.m. CDT): ESPN and NFL Network have four hours to fill. Player profiles, personality pieces, feature stories, fashion show, etc.
Lou (4:14 p.m. CDT): This might be a good spot to go through some of my late thinking relative to the draft.
It went down to the wire for me deciding on Houston. Ultimately, there was simply too much buzz surrounding LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. to ignore.
There has been talk for some time surrounding Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and the New York Jets at #4. It's complicated with many of these teams, as we're in an era of several teams having multiple first-rounders.
There's been even louder talk about the Giants and Mississippi State OT Charles Cross at #5. Reminds me in some ways of fantasy leagues with snake drafts from a strategic standpoint with the Giants at #5 and #7.
Lou (4:15 p.m. CDT): Remember that the NFL is a copycat league. After the success that the Cincinnati Bengals found with Ja'Marr Chase in 2021, there inevitably will be teams hoping to find something similar.
To that end, one really interesting element will be where the top wide receivers go on night one.
I have Drake London (Southern Cal) at #8 to Atlanta, Garrett Wilson (Ohio State) at #10 to the Jets, Jameson Williams (Alabama) at #11 to Washington, Chris Olave (Ohio State) to the Eagles at #18, Treylon Burks (Arkansas) at #22 to the Packers, and Christian Watson (North Dakota State) to the Chiefs at #29.
Also, TCU WR Jahan Dotson was the last name I switched out before locking in my mock. We could end up seeing seven wide receivers go in round one tonight.
Lou (5:03 p.m. CDT): It has been fun seeing video of fans in Las Vegas filing into the facility for the draft. Should be a lively atmosphere there tonight.
Lou (6:14 p.m. CDT): In hindsight, I think projecting Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux to the Giants at #7, rather than Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton, would've been the better move.
And yet I could see the Giants trading back from #7 if Stingley and Gardner are gone in the first four picks and the Giants go offensive tackle at #5. If you want a specific receiver, the Giants might be your last chance at #7 with Atlanta looming at #8.
Lou (6:23 p.m. CDT): Shoutout to Tony Khan, whose family owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. In an era when brand-building is more difficult than ever, TK's All Elite Wrestling launched in 2019 and has grown into a huge success. That happened in spite of both the pandemic and the inherent difficulty of taking on a monopoly like WWE.
The last half-hour awaits. You never know what will happen right before an NFL Draft.
Lou (6:58 p.m. CDT): No pre-draft trades. Let the fun begin...
Lou (7:10 p.m. CDT): After another ten minutes of filler, we're finally underway.
Lou (7:15 p.m. CDT): The pick is in for Jacksonville, but they won't tell us yet.
Lou (7:18 p.m. CDT): As has been rumored, and as I predicted, the Jaguars take Georgia DL Travon Walker at #1 overall.
Up next: Detroit. Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson appears to be the favorite for the Lions here.
Lou (7:21 p.m. CDT): As anticipated, Hutchinson goes to the Lions at #2 overall.
Intrigue here for Houston at #3. Likely either an offensive tackle or a cornerback. The late buzz on LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. was loud enough to win me over on my final projection before the deadline.
Lou (7:27 p.m. CDT): I'm 3/3 so far, as the Texans drafted Stingley at the #3 spot. Seems strange that Mike Greenberg on ESPN multiple times claimed that this was the first big surprise considering that Stingley was the betting favorite today.
The Jets are on the clock. Could be an offensive lineman. Could be Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, which was my prediction.
Lou (7:34 p.m. CDT): 4/4 thus far for me, as my Sauce prediction came true. There was too much buzz on him with the Jets for too long without the type of pushback you see sometimes when the rumor is off-base.
Giants are up at #5 and seem likely to go with an offensive tackle with both of the top corners off the board. There has been a lot of buzz connecting Miss. State OL Charles Cross with the Giants at this pick.
Lou (7:38 p.m. CDT): As Rich Eisen noted on NFL Network, this is the first time since 1991 that the first four picks in the NFL Draft were defensive players.
Waiting now for the announcement on the Giants' pick.
Lou (7:38 p.m. CDT): And it's Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux going to the Giants at #5. My first miss. Super talent, sensible move considering that no matter who goes off the board at #6, the Giants can get one of their top two OL prospects at #7.
No pick yet from Carolina at #6. You'd have to think they'd be fielding offers for a trade-back considering the limited number of early picks for the Panthers in this year's draft.
Every offensive player is still on the board.
Lou (7:50 p.m. CDT): No trade for Carolina, as my prediction came true with the Panthers drafting NC State OL Ikem Ekwonu at #6. I wonder if the Giants, who are back on the clock, expected the Panthers to take Ekwonu, thinking they could get Cross or maybe Alabama OT Evan Neal at #7.
Lou (7:57 p.m. CDT): And the Giants go offensive line as expected, with Evan Neal as the selection at #7. In the end, the rumors about Cross with the Giants proved to be inaccurate.
And now here is Atlanta at #8 with every wide receiver still on the board.
Lou (8:00 p.m. CDT): As I predicted, Drake London goes to the Falcons at #8. That's six out of eight.
I had projected Neal to Seattle at #9, but that's out of play now. The Seahawks are one of the toughest teams to figure out, at least in my experience.
Lou (8:09 p.m. CDT): Seattle goes with Charles Cross at the #9 spot. The run on offensive linemen continues. No trade-backs thus far.
There had been talk that Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson wouldn't make it past the Jets at #10. That was my prediction.
Lou (8:14 p.m. CDT): Seven out of ten. The intel that Wilson wouldn't make it past the Jets at #10 panned out.
Next up, it's the first draft selecton of the Commanders name era for the former Washington Redskins and Washington FT. My prediction was Alabama WR Jameson Williams.
Lou (8:17 p.m. CDT): *TRADE* New Orleans has traded up from #16 to the #11 spot held by the Commanders.
Every quarterback prospect remains on the board. For what it's worth, I had the Saints going with Pitt QB Kenny Pickett at #16 and Tulsa OT Tyler Smith at #19.
Lou (8:22 p.m. CDT): The NFL Network crew seems to think it might be a wide receiver here for the Saints.
Lou (8:25 p.m. CDT): New Orleans selects Ohio State WR Chris Olave at #11. And now Detroit has moved up from #32 to #12.
Every quarterback remains on the board at this point. I had projected Detroit taking Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder at #32.
Lou (8:32 p.m. CDT): Wow, now here's a surprise with Detroit selecting Alabama WR Jameson Williams at #12. Great prospect but a very big jump by Detroit to snag Williams.
Remember what I wrote earlier about the NFL being a copycat league.
Philadelphia just leapfrogged the Baltimore Ravens, moving up from #15 to #13 as the Texans trade back.
Lou (8:41 p.m. CDT): The Eagles select Georgia DT Jordan Davis at #13. I had thought the Chargers might trade up to get him.
Up next it's the Baltimore Ravens at #14.
Lou (8:48 p.m. CDT): Baltimore selects Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton. Tremendous talent who was hurt by a disappointing 40-yard dash time. Should be a good fit with the Ravens.
Now it's Houston at #15 after the trade down with Philadelphia.
Lou (8:51 p.m. CDT): Texas A&M OL Kenyon Green goes to the Texans at #15. Versatile, should be able to produce right away for Houston.
And now the pick is in for the Commanders at #16.
Lou (8:58 p.m. CDT): Baltimore isn't finished tonight, as the Ravens have traded WR Hollywood Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for the #23 pick.
Lou (8:58 p.m. CDT): The new era of the Washington Commanders begins with the selection of TCU WR Jahan Dotson at #16. As noted earlier, Dotson was the last name switched out on my draft board before the final lock.
The Los Angeles Chargers at #17 have their pick turned in, with the Eagles to follow at #18.
Lou (9:00 p.m. CDT): Boston College OG Zion Johnson goes to the Chargers at #17. Fills a need. Another player who just missed the cut on my mock, but a solid talent.
Lou (9:01 p.m. CDT): The Tennessee Titans have traded WR AJ Brown to Philadelphia for the #18 pick and a third-rounder.
Lou (9:08 p.m. CDT): The Titans select Arkansas WR Treylon Burks at #18. I had thought Burks would go to Green Bay at #22. Six wide receivers have been drafted thus far.
Lou (9:12 p.m. CDT): At #19, the Saints draft Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning. Every quarterback remains on the board, and look who's up next at #20 -- the Pittsburgh Steelers.
My projection for Pittsburgh here was Liberty QB Malik Willis.
Lou (9:21 p.m. CDT): So much for Pittsburgh being leaky. It's a QB for the Steelers at #20, but not Willis. Instead, it's University of Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett.
And now the New England Patriots are on the clock at #21. My projection was Utah LB Devin Lloyd.
Lou (9:26 p.m. CDT): Kansas City has traded up with New England at #21 to draft Washington CB Trent McDuffie.
Green Bay is now on the clock at #22.
Lou (9:39 p.m. CDT): Two that narrowly missed the cut for me went back-to-back, with Green Bay selecting Quay Walker at #22 and Florida CB Kaiir Elam going to Buffalo at #23.
Up next at #24, it's the Dallas Cowboys.
Lou (9:46 p.m. CDT): Dallas selects Tulsa OT Tyler Smith. I didn't think Smith would fall out of the Top 20, but there he was for the Cowboys at #24.
Lou (9:52 p.m. CDT): At #25, it's Baltimore drafting Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum. One spot below where I had thought Linderbaum would end up.
Back on the clock at #26, it's the New York Jets. I can't keep track of all the trades at this point.
Lou (9:56 p.m. CDT): The TV analysts on both ESPN and NFLN seem surprised that Florida State DE Jermaine Johnson is still on the board. I had him going #23 to Arizona.
Lou (9:59 p.m. CDT): And at #26, the Jets selected Jermaine Johnson. Seems reasonable to me with the runs on OL and WR happening right about when I thought they would.
It has been quite the night for the Jets in this draft.
Lou (10:01 p.m. CDT): And now Jacksonville has traded up from #33 to #27 with Tampa Bay. And the Jags' pick is already in...
Lou (10:07 p.m. CDT): It's Utah LB Devin Lloyd to Jacksonville at #27. I thought Lloyd would be gone by here, good value pickup for the Jaguars.
Lou (10:13 p.m. CDT): Green Bay at #28 selects Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt. There was a lot of variance on Wyatt projections. I had Wyatt going at #15 to Philly, though I'm not surprised he went this low.
The Patriots are up next at #29.
Lou (10:21 p.m. CDT): New England selects Chattanooga OG Cole Strange at #29. Vintage Bill Belichick!
Lou (10:23 p.m. CDT): At #30, it's the Kansas City Chiefs selecting Purude DE George Karlaftis. I had Karlaftis going at #31, and this fits right in that late first-round range.
Only two picks to go for round one with the Cincinnati Bengals at #31 and the Minnesota Vikings at #32. I wonder if any team will trade out of a high second-round spot to grab a QB here late.
Lou (10:29 p.m. CDT): Cincinnati selects Michigan DB Daxton Hill at #31. Hill was a late riser who I had going to Tampa Bay at #27, very versatile.
Lou (10:36 p.m. CDT): And Minnesota closes out the night at #32 by selecting Georgia DB Lewis Cine, who I had predicted would go at #30.
Fun opening night. For those of you there in person, have fun! Las Vegas is a special place.
As for me, I connected on seven of the first ten picks and had 27 of the 32 players drafted tonight going in my first-round mock. I'll take it.