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NFL Mock Draft 2022: Predicting where Spencer Rattler, Kedon Slovis and other top prospects will go

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NFL Mock Draft 2022: Predicting where Spencer Rattler, Kedon Slovis and other top prospects will go

With all the picks in the 2021 NFL Draft complete, there’s one natural thing to do next: Project what the picks might look like a year from now in the 2022 NFL Draft.

It’s never too early for a way-too-early mock draft. Consider this a watch list of top prospects, one that is bound to change several times over the next 12 months as the college football season will provide a lot more answers on the players and the NFL season will bring several more questions about every team.

For now, based on the talent we have seen and potential to grow, here’s matching those players with the teams. Sporting News’ 1-32 first-round draft order is based on early upcoming record and playoff projections:

NFL DRAFT BIG BOARD: Ranking the top 50 prospects in 2022

NFL mock draft 2022

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1. Houston Texans

  • Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

The Texans are headed to splitting with Deshaun Watson in some form and they will quickly find that Davis Mills isn’t the answer. For a QB-needy team, the best place to start is with the latest athletic dual threat from Lincoln Riley’s offense.

2. Detroit Lions

The Lions will be looking for their future at the position beyond Jared Goff in 2022. Slovis should have a breakout season as an efficient and accurate passer ahead.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars will find they need to upgrade their pass protection for Trevor Lawrence going into Year 2. Neal is a pass-protecting force and a rock for the running game, too.

4. New York Jets

  • Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Once Robert Saleh gets a good idea of the impact pieces on his rebuilding defense, he’ll realize he needs to find his version of Nick Bosa. He should already thinking about Thibodeaux wreaking havoc from his front seven.

5. Denver Broncos

  • Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Barring the Broncos pulling off a blockbuster for Aaron Rodgers, they won’t be too happy with whatever comes from Drew Lock vs. Teddy Bridgewater. Howell, Rattler and Slovis will have a great battle ahead to see who emerges as the top QB.

2021 NFL DRAFT:
Full results | Team-by-team grades | Winners & losers

6. Las Vegas Raiders

  • Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Stingley, despite the past family connection to the franchise, has some Jalen Ramsey-like shutdown coverage and big-play potential to boost a pass defense that will still be reeling outside in 2021.

7. Cincinnati Bengals

  • Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Bengals did well with second-rounder Jessie Bates II and can give him plenty of support against pass and run with this rangy tackler with a good nose for the ball.

8. Carolina Panthers

  • Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Panthers failed to address offensive tackle well and Cross should have plenty of appeal as a natural pass protector, whether it’s Sam Darnold or someone else at QB.

9. Atlanta Falcons

  • DeMarvin Leal, DT/DE, Texas A&M 

The Falcons could use a versatile disruptor for their front four on either side of Grady Jarrett and Leal would be ideal.

10. Washington Football Team

  • Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Washington was fine passing on quarterback with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the bridge and it will be happy to know it will be better positioned for a rising first-round dual threat in 2022.

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(Getty Images)

11. Philadelphia Eagles

  • Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M

The Eagles still may try to move Zach Ertz but it’s unlikely as they didn’t draft a tight end with any of their nine recent picks. They should be more comfortable moving on from his next year with Wydermer about to shoot up his stock as a receiver.

12. New York Giants

  • Christian Harris, LB, Alabama

The Giants will be interested in some second-leave mass cleanup for Patrick Graham and Harris is developing into the following class’ Micah Parsons.

13. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals ignored the pass rush early despite having a present and future need, so they should get to know Jackson as a prospect pretty quickly.

14. New England Patriots

  • Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

The Patriots worked to reshuffle their wide receiver corps a little in relation to the big splurge at tight end. Olave can be a much better potential No. 1 with combination of big-play ability and red zone flair than N’Keal Harry was as a first-rounder.

15. New York Giants (from Bears for Justin Fields trade up)

The Giants felt OK putting off finding a better candidate for left tackle after using a more right-side tailored Andrew Thomas in 2020. They will be eager to replace Nate Solder with this  extra first-rounder.

MORE: Get to know the top 10 QBs in the 2022 NFL Draft

16. New Orleans Saints

  • Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

The Saints didn’t go after the flashy field-stretching receiver for the outside to better complement Michael Thomas. They should be comfortable going back to the Buckeyes to land him.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Rasheed Walker, OT, Penn State

The Steelers did invest later picks on offensive linemen as they transition up front, but there’s a good chance they will seek a rock for left tackle to better protect Ben Roethlisberger or someone else.

18. Tennessee Titans

  • George Pickens, WR, Georgia

The Titans did get an intriguing receiver in Dez Fitzpatrick but they should make the position a higher priority to further complement A.J. Brown.

19. New York Jets (from Seahawks for Jamal Adams)

  • Perrion Winfrey, DT, Oklahoma

The Jets once again will double up on the first round and Saleh wouldn’t mind having this quick, backfield-disrupting force who has some DeForest Bucker and Javon Kinlaw in him.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (from Dolphins)

The Eagles did address their secondary a little this year but they should be more in the reliable starting cornerback market. This big ballhawk could be huge for them outside.

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(Getty Images)

21. Indianapolis Colts

The Colts brought back T.Y. Hilton for one more season to hold off addressing the need for No. 1 big-play receiver. Ross would be a great fit with Carson Wentz.

22. Minnesota Vikings

  • Sevyn Banks, CB, Ohio State

The Vikings can’t expect Patrick Peterson to be a long-term solution outside so going back to this position in the first-round with size from a familiar program makes sense for now.

23. Los Angeles Chargers

  • John Metchie, WR, Alabama

The Chargers didn’t think about upgrading wide receiver as much as they needed for Justin Herbert so Metchie would a strong first-round follow to Rashawn Slater.

24. Dallas Cowboys

  • Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

The Cowboys didn’t focus their defensive haul much on the pass rush in 2021 so Harrison needs to be an early consideration.

25. Baltimore Ravens

  • Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

The Ravens tabled upgrading their playmaking ability at this position but tapping into of their favorite programs for a solid solution makes sense.

26. Detroit Lions (from Rams for Matthew Stafford)

  • Aidah Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The Lions, after using their early pick to replace Goff, should be locked into more defensive help here. The edge should call after they solidified tackle in the 2021 draft.

27. Green Bay Packers

  • George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

The Packers should know the Smith “Brothers” — Za’Darius and Preston — will soon creep into their thirties and are only signed through 2022. Karlaftis can help the team get ahead of replacing one of them in their 3-4.

28. Cleveland Browns

  • Cade Mays, G/C, Tennessee

The Browns got some tackle depth in James Hudson. They could benefit from getting more versatility and contingency for the interior with Mays.

29. Miami Dolphins (from 49ers for Trey Lance trade up)

  • Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M

The Dolphins have done pretty well addressing the tackles for Tua Tagovailoa but they likely will need to turn their attention to the interior line more next year.

30. Buffalo Bills

  • Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

The Bills once took a running back named Spiller with OK results early in the first round. They didn’t draft an alternative to Devin Singletary and Zack Moss in 2021, which can set up the positional need to be more pressing next year.

31. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs held off any one major corner upgrades for the outside this year but that should make them interested in the services of the nice-sized Jobe.

32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers addresse some defensive depth in the 2021 draft, but they need to think about grooming a successor to Lavonte David, who will turn 32 next January.

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Giants schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

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Giants schedule 2021: Dates & times for all 17 games, strength of schedule, final record prediction

The Giants are hoping for a breakout third season with quarterback Daniel Jones in 2021. New York finished second in the NFC East at 6-10 under new coach Joe Judge last season, an improvement from 4-12 the previous season.

With better health, led by running back Saquon Barkley, and upgrades in personnel all around, the Giants are more confident that they can jump into first place in Year 2 with Judge. Here is a complete breakdown of the Giants’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.

NFL OFFSEASON 2021:
Team-by-team draft grades | Latest power rankings

New York Giants schedule 2021

Here is the New York Giants’ complete schedule for 2021.

 

Week Date Opponent Kickoff time TV
1 Sept. 12 vs. Broncos 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
2 Sept. 16 at Washington (Thursday) 8:20 p.m. ET NFLN
3 Sept. 26 vs. Falcons 1 p.m. ET Fox
4 Oct. 3 at Saints 1 p.m. ET Fox
5 Oct. 10 at Cowboys 4:25 p.m. ET Fox
6 Oct. 17 vs. Rams 1 p.m. ET Fox
7 Oct. 24 vs. Panthers 1 p.m. ET Fox
8 Nov. 1 at Chiefs (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN
9 Nov. 7 vs. Raiders 1 p.m. ET CBS
10 Nov. 14 Bye
11 Nov. 22 at Buccaneers (Monday) 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN
12 Nov. 28 vs. Eagles 1 p.m. ET Fox
13 Dec. 5 at Dolphins 1 p.m. ET Fox
14 Dec. 12 at Chargers 4:05 p.m. ET Fox
15 Dec. 19 vs. Cowboys 1 p.m. ET Fox
16 Dec. 26 at Eagles 1 p.m. ET Fox
17 Jan. 2 at Bears 1 p.m. ET CBS
18 Jan. 9 vs. Washington 1 p.m. ET Fox

The Giants have an interesting slate beyond their six division games against the Cowboys, Eagles and Washington. The other complete NFC division is the South, while the interconference rotation brings up the AFC West.

As a second-place team, the Giants also get the NFC wild-card Rams and Bears on top of the Super Bowl 55 champion Buccaneers. From the AFC, the Dolphins are the 17th opponent.

MORE: Strength of schedule for all 32 teams in 2021

Giants strength of schedule

The Giants, thanks to their weak division, are tied for the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFL with the Bills and Colts. New York’s 2021 opponents had a combined 2020 record of 128-142-2, a winning percentage of .474.

The two games against Washington lead the contests against returning playoff teams. The Rams, Bears, Chiefs, Saints and Buccaneers make it seven out of 17 games.

Toughest tests: The Giants get the Chiefs, Buccaneers and Saints on the road. The Bears, Chargers and Dolphins round out the nasty non-division away slate. Of the home games, the Rams are easily the toughest foe.

Biggest breaks: The NFC East should be better, but the division still provides their most favorable games. The Falcons, Panthers, Raiders and Broncos are a welcome quartet of contests to soften the blows at home.

Bottom line: Jones has everything around him to be more successful winning games. The Giants’ defense is in the next stage of its rebuild. Should Jones raise his passing and running, New York will have a real chance at an NFC playoff berth, either as East champs or fringe wild card.

Record prediction: 8-9

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Lakers injury updates: Are LeBron James, Anthony Davis playing vs. Rockets?

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Lakers injury updates: Are LeBron James, Anthony Davis playing vs. Rockets?

The Lakers will be short-handed for their Wednesday night game against the Rockets.

Los Angeles confirmed that both LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (groin) will be unavailable on the second night of a back-to-back following the Lakers’ dramatic overtime win over the Knicks, 

This will mark James’ sixth straight absence due to injury and his 22nd missed game in the team’s last 24 games.

MORE: Where the Lakers stand in the West’s playoff race

That said, James announced via his Twitter account that he is “getting close” to returning to action. James also said that he would attend Wednesday’s game to see the Lakers raise their 2020 NBA championship banner at Staples Center.

As for Davis, the Lakers said that the big man won’t be in action against the Rockets due to left adductor tightness. Davis toughed out the groin injury against the Knicks on Tuesday and then acknowledged after the contest he was “hurting.”

“I’m hurting,” Davis said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “Not more so my body, just my groin got tight. . . . I’m not sure about [Wednesday]. I mean, I’m going to get treatment and see how I feel. I want to say I’m going to play, but it was really bothering me [Tuesday]. We’ll see how I feel [Wednesday] and then later on in the day.”

Evidently, Davis didn’t feel well enough to go, and it makes sense that he and the Lakers would play it safe. He spoke about not wanting his injury to linger and make him miss “a couple games.” It appears the Lakers decided to give him an extra day to recover from his latest malady.

Even without James and Davis, the Lakers will still have a chance to beat the Rockets. Houston is an NBA-worst 16-53 on the season and has posted a 1-9 record in its last 10 games. But it has already locked up the top spot in the 2021 NBA Draft lottery, so perhaps it will relish a chance to play spoiler and damage the Lakers’ chances of avoiding the NBA’s play-in tournament.

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Blake Bortles reportedly signs with Packers amid team’s rift with Aaron Rodgers

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Blake Bortles reportedly signs with Packers amid team's rift with Aaron Rodgers

The Packers are a bit shorthanded at the quarterback position at the moment. Because of an ongoing dispute between Aaron Rodgers and the team, Green Bay entered Wednesday with only one quarterback on its roster, Jordan Love, who is set to be at their in-person offseason workouts that begin Monday.

As such, the team is taking a proactive approach and is signing a veteran passer to serve as the third-string quarterback.

That would be Blake Bortles, who, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, signed a one-year contract with the Packers on Wednesday afternoon.

Bortles, 29, spent the 2020 season bouncing between the Rams and Broncos rosters and practice squads. He didn’t play a snap for either team and hasn’t started a game since 2018, his final season with the Jaguars. During the past two seasons, he has a combined two regular-season pass attempts.

TIMELINE: What led to Aaron Rodgers’ rift with the Packers?

For his career, Bortles sports a 24-49 record and has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 103 touchdowns and 75 interceptions. He is merely a backup-caliber quarterback at best and will provide experience behind the 22-year-old Love.

Of course, some may be wondering what this means for Rodgers’ future. Does signing Bortles mean that the Packers are ready to consider trading the veteran quarterback? Have the two sides reached an impasse?

Probably not. Even if Rodgers were set to attend offseason workouts, he probably wouldn’t be taking that many early-offseason reps at this point in his career. So, Green Bay would still need another quarterback to come in and take some reps to avoid overworking Love.

If Rodgers were there and happy, maybe the team wouldn’t go after Bortles and would instead go after a younger player with more upside.

But all told, the team signing Bortles won’t have much of an impact on the Rodgers situation.

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