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NFL Draft

Ben Volin’s 2022 mock NFL Draft: See who he has the Patriots taking at No. 21

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson would be a nice building block for the Jaguars to take with the first overall pick.Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

How will the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft shake out?

Ben Volin offers his own mock draft ahead of Round 1.

Click here to read more about the NFL Draft.

1. Jaguars

Needs: TE, G, DE, DT, CB, S

Pick: DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Last year’s No. 1 pick was easy for the Jaguars, who raced to the podium to take Trevor Lawrence. This year is a much tougher choice, so they go with the cleanest prospect in the draft. Hutchinson is a relentless edge rusher who will be a good building block for the defense under new coach Doug Pederson.

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2. Lions

Needs: QB, WR, TE, DE, DT, CB

Pick: DL Travon Walker, Georgia

The Lions need a future quarterback and another wide receiver, but none in this draft are worthy of the No. 2 pick. Instead they improve their 31st-ranked scoring defense, and Walker is a dominant athlete who can play multiple positions across the defensive line.

3. Texans

Needs: QB, WR, TE, RB, G/C, DE, LB, CB, S

Pick: CB Ahmad Gardner, Cincinnati

The Texans are still in the early stages of their rebuild and have a need at almost every position. The third pick is too early to take a quarterback or an offensive skill player. With the two defensive linemen off the board, Nick Caserio takes the best cornerback in the draft.

4. Jets

Needs: WR, OT, DE, LB, CB, S

Pick: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The Jets could use another receiver and another lineman for young QB Zach Wilson, but Robert Saleh’s defense also badly needs a pass rusher after finishing 26th in sacks last year. Thibodeaux is not only a solid edge rusher but also a terrific run defender.

5. Giants

Needs: OT, TE, G/C, DE, LB, S

Pick: OT Evan Neal, Alabama

The Giants for years have struggled to protect their quarterback, whether it was Eli Manning or Daniel Jones. They have a lot of needs on defense, but they have an opportunity to have their pick of offensive tackles this draft, and they have to give Jones a chance this year if they want to properly evaluate him.

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6. Panthers

Needs: QB, TE, OT, G, DT, LB, S

Pick: QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

The sixth pick is probably too high for Pickett or any other quarterback. And the Panthers probably would like to close the gap between their first two picks at Nos. 6 and 137. But they badly need a quarterback, and Pickett is just sitting there, too tempting to pass up. The contract would only be about $28 million over four years, making it worth the risk.

7. Giants

Needs: OT, TE, G/C, DE, LB, S

Pick: CB Derek Stingley, LSU

Here’s betting that new GM Joe Schoen would rather trade one of his two picks in the top 10 to get an extra first-rounder for next year. But if he is stuck at 5 and 7, he has a chance to fill two big needs. After landing his pick of offensive tackles, Schoen fills a big need at cornerback with Stingley, who probably would have been the top CB in the draft if not for injuries.

Derek Stingley is the grandson of former Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

8. Falcons

Needs: QB, WR, RB, DT, DE, LB, CB, S

Pick: WR Jameson Williams, Alabama

The Falcons have a ton of needs on defense, and obviously need a long-term solution at quarterback. But they have always had premier talent at wide receiver, and now have a gaping void without Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. They go with another Alabama product in Williams, who is expected to recover fine from his ACL injury.

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9. Seahawks

Needs: QB, OT, G, DE, DT, LB, CB

Pick: OT Ikem Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Another team that badly needs a quarterback but probably won’t force the issue in the first round. The Seahawks need to rebuild their defense, but their offensive line also has been an issue for several seasons. Even if left tackle Duane Brown re-signs, the Seahawks need to get younger at the position, and Ekwonu is a potential Pro Bowl talent.

10. Jets

Needs: WR, OT, DE, LB, CB, S

Pick: WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

The Jets clearly want another receiver for Zach Wilson after almost landing Tyreek Hill. They may trade one of their first-round picks to the 49ers for Deebo Samuel. But if that doesn’t come to fruition, they should have their pick of receivers from a very deep class. Thomas is a speedy playmaker who can play on the outside or in the slot.

11. Commanders

Needs: TE, G, CB, S, WR

Pick: CB Trent McDuffie, Washington

For a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year, the Commanders don’t have many glaring needs, and the ones they have don’t match up particularly well with this draft. But every team always needs more cornerbacks, and Washington has an opportunity to land one of the best in the draft in McDuffie, a three-year starter for the Huskies.

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12. Vikings

Needs: WR, TE, G, DE, LB, CB

Pick: DE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

It’s awfully tempting to take another receiver, as Adam Thielen turns 32 this year, but it’s a deep position that can be addressed later. The Vikings need to retool their defense, and probably would love to get one of the top three cornerbacks. But they also need to upgrade their pass rush, so they land the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

13. Texans

Needs: QB, WR, TE, RB, G/C, DE, LB, CB, S

Pick: S Kyle Hamilton, Notre Dame

The Texans need help up and down their roster, putting Caserio in a position to simply take the best player available. The secondary needs major help, and after getting the draft’s top cornerback at No. 3, the Texans take the safety in Hamilton, a long, versatile defender.

14. Ravens

Needs: TE, OT, G/C, DT, DE, LB, CB

Pick: LB Devin Lloyd, Utah

The Ravens’ biggest needs come on defense, where they need youth and speed on the line, another starting-caliber middle linebacker, and better depth at cornerback. Lloyd is an explosive three-down player who can blitz, chase down ball carriers, and cover running backs.

15. Eagles

Needs: WR, TE, DE, DT, LB, CB

Pick: WR Drake London, Southern Cal

The Eagles need to get younger and more athletic in the front seven. But GM Howie Roseman loves drafting offense, especially dynamic receivers. He used his last two first-round picks on receivers, but Jalen Reagor was a miss, so he goes back to the well with London, a big, physical playmaker on the outside.

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16. Saints

Needs: QB, WR, OT, TE, DT, DB

Pick: QB Malik Willis, Liberty

It feels like the Saints really want a quarterback in this draft after trading away next year’s first-round pick to give them an extra one this year. Willis is a developmental project, but the Saints have Jameis Winston to start the season, and Willis’s athleticism and talent are worth the investment.

Malik Willis (left) led Liberty to a victory over Eastern Michigan in the LendingTree Bowl in December.Kendall Warner/Associated Press

17. Chargers

Needs: TE, G, DT, LB, CB

Pick: DT Jordan Davis, Georgia

The Chargers don’t have many needs after loading up in free agency with cornerback J.C. Jackson and pass rusher Khalil Mack. But they do need a big body up front to improve their 32nd-ranked run defense, and Davis is a freak of an athlete who projects as a dominant run defender.

18. Eagles

Needs: WR, TE, DE, DT, LB, CB

Pick: CB Kaiir Elam, Florida

After getting their receiver at No. 15, the Eagles focus on their second-biggest need, cornerback depth. Elam has good size (6-foot-1) and is battle-tested after spending the past three seasons lining up against the best receivers in the country in the SEC.

19. Saints

Needs: QB, WR, OT, TE, DT, DB

Pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State

After getting their quarterback of the future in Malik Willis with the 16th pick, the Saints get him (and Jameis Winston) a shiny new toy. Olave has game-breaking speed and will be a good complement to the bigger, physical Mike Thomas.

20. Steelers

Needs: QB, TE, OT, G/C, DT, CB

Pick: OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The Steelers clearly need a quarterback, but I don’t think they are going to force the issue. If Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis falls to 20, great. Otherwise, this pick is too high for the other QBs. Cross is a potential top-10 pick who can immediately start at left tackle.

21. Patriots

Needs: WR, OT, G, DT, LB, CB

Pick: CB Andrew Booth, Clemson

Other than finding a guard and potentially an offensive tackle of the future, the Patriots’ top needs are squarely on the defensive side of the football. They badly need another cornerback after losing Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, and Booth is a terrific athlete who can excel in both man and zone coverage.

Andrew Booth picked off three passes last season.Jacob Kupferman/Getty

22. Packers

Needs: WR, TE, OT, G, DE, LB, DB

Pick: DE George Karlaftis, Purdue

Receiver is the most obvious need, not pass rusher, but the Packers don’t have to force the pick here. The draft is deep with receivers, they have another first-round pick (28th), and at this spot, they have an opportunity to fortify their pass rush with one of the best all-around edge rushers in the draft.

23. Cardinals

Needs: WR, RB, OT, DE, CB, S

Pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas

The Cardinals probably should use this pick to fortify their shaky defense, particularly the secondary. But it also seems as though they want to extend an olive branch to disgruntled quarterback Kyler Murray, and no better way to do that than by drafting a big, physical receiver in the same mold as Deebo Samuel.

24. Cowboys

Needs: WR, TE, OT, CB, S

Pick: G Zion Johnson, Boston College

The Cowboys badly need a receiver after losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson this offseason. But receivers can be found later in the draft, and they also need help on the offensive line. Johnson is a former zero-star recruit out of high school who is the best interior offensive lineman in the draft.

Zion Johnson (left) excelled for two years at BC after starting his collegiate career at Davidson.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

25. Bills

Needs: RB, G/C, DE, CB, S

Pick: S Dax Hill, Michigan

The Bills have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and don’t have many glaring needs. But safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer are both over 30, and Poyer is grumbling about his contract, so they take Hill and groom him this year as the No. 3 guy.

26. Titans

Needs: WR, TE, G, RB, LB, DB

Pick: DB Lewis Cine, Georgia

The Titans might have to get another receiver if they do the unlikely and trade A.J. Brown. Otherwise, their 25th-ranked pass defense needs a big boost, and Cine, a former star at Everett High, is a versatile and explosive athlete who can help in a number of ways.

27. Buccaneers

Needs: TE, DE, CB, S

Pick: DT Devonte Wyatt, Georgia

The Bucs don’t have many needs after filling most of them in free agency, and quarterback is out after getting Tom Brady back and taking Kyle Trask last year. You can never have enough bodies on the defensive line, and Wyatt could provide a dominant interior pass rush with Vita Vea.

28. Packers

Needs: WR, TE, OT, G, DE, LB, DB

Pick: WR Jahan Dotson, Penn State

The Packers clearly are going to use one of their two first-round picks on a receiver after trading Davante Adams. Dotson has outstanding speed and ball skills, is used to the cold weather, and should be an instant contributor with Aaron Rodgers.

29. Chiefs

Needs: WR, TE, RB, DE, CB, S

Pick: DE Logan Hall, Houston

The Chiefs probably need one more weapon on offense after trading Tyreek Hill, but the more glaring needs are on defense. They need to improve last year’s 27th-ranked pass defense, and may move on from pass rusher Frank Clark sooner rather than later. Hall is a long, twitchy athlete who has the versatility to play up and down the line.

30. Chiefs

Needs: WR, TE, RB, DE, CB, S

Pick: WR Skyy Moore, Western Michigan

Not only do the Chiefs have back-to-back picks, they also have Nos. 50 and 62 in the second round, allowing them to truly take the best player available at this spot. They got a couple of big receivers this offseason in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, giving them the freedom to take a 5-9 dynamo in Moore.

31. Bengals

Needs: TE, RB, G/C, DE, CB, S

Pick: DE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

The defending AFC champions return a fairly complete team that doesn’t have very many needs, so they may as well add another edge rusher. Ebiketie is a one-year starter and a bit of a project, but has terrific speed and should be a solid rotational pass rusher right away.

32. Lions

Needs: QB, WR, TE, DE, DT, CB

Pick: QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

The Lions are rolling with Jared Goff and his $26 million guaranteed salary this year, but need a QB for the future. They also have the 34th pick, but this spot makes more sense because the contract comes with a fifth-year option. Ridder is a four-year college starter with good size who potentially could compete with Goff by midseason.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com.