There are a number of “dream pairings” leading up to every incarnation of the NFL Draft. Sometimes those pairings come to fruition. Let’s highlight 12 of my favorite potential marriages in the 2022 NFL Draft, starting with the day one options!
Malik Willis, Quarterback, Liberty
Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the market for a starting quarterback for the first time in nearly two decades. The franchise selected Ben Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, but “Big Ben” decided to call it a career following the 2021 season. General manager Kevin Colbert is retiring as well, but first he is preparing for one final draft as the lead man. Much like when former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome chose Lamar Jackson in his final draft, I expect Colbert to land a new face of the franchise before departing.
Malik Willis is a phenomenal athlete, not even just for a quarterback, for any position. He has a rocket launcher of an arm and brings the type of leadership and infectious attitude that teams covet at the quarterback spot. He is an ideal fit for the Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft because he can take time to fully develop if he doesn’t beat Mitchell Trubisky out in training camp, and if he does, I trust the team to put him in position to succeed while out there.
Jameson Williams, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Team: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs sent away franchise legend, Tyreek Hill, in a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins. In return for the speedy wide receiver, the team received picks 29, 50, and 125 in the 2022 NFL Draft, in addition to fourth- and sixth-round selections in 2023. With all this draft capital, Brett Veach can maneuver up and down the board as he pleases.
There is a chance that Jameson Williams’ ACL injury forces a slide to the end of round one, but the more likely option is the Chiefs jumping into the middle of the round to secure a perfect Tyreek replacement. There’s no guarantee that Williams replicates the All-Pro wide receiver, but he has some traits that are perfectly suited for Andy Reid’s system. He is more of an all-around threat than given credit for, and slots in perfectly between JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Sauce Gardner, Cornerback, Cincinnati
Team: New York Jets
Sauce Island sure does have a ring to it, doesn’t it? The Jets addressed their secondary a few times in free agency, signing former Seahawk DJ Reed at cornerback and former Buccaneer Jordan Whitehead at safety. That should boost the unit substantially in 2022, but adding Sauce to the equation elevates the secondary from good to potentially great.
As you’ve probably heard throughout this process, Gardner did not allow a single touchdown during his time at Cincinnati. He is a former wide receiver converted to cornerback, and you can see that in his length and the way he moves. Gardner has a moxie to him that you cannot teach. He believes in his own ability more than anyone and this oozes off the screen when you watch him. Number four overall in the 2022 NFL Draft is not too rich for a lockdown corner.
Jordan Davis, Defensive Line, Georgia
Team: Los Angeles Chargers
This has become somewhat of an over discussed pairing in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it is easy to see why. Jordan Davis looked like a man-among-boys all season heading into the SEC Championship Game versus Alabama. Davis’ lack of conditioning was something that Bill O’Brien took advantage of, keeping a steady pace on offense and not allowing Georgia to substitute. The 341-pound juggernaut took this personally, and rebounded with phenomenal performances against Michigan in the semi-finals and a rematch against Alabama in the National Championship Game.
Davis got his revenge by securing victory as the key cog of one of the best defenses in college history. Looking at the Chargers defense right now, it is loaded with big names; Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Khalil Mack, and JC Jackson to name a few. Imagine adding Jordan Davis and sandwiching him between Bosa and Mack. Sheesh.