Phil Perry's five bold predictions for the 2022 NFL Draft


After months of trying to predict the unpredictable event that is the NFL Draft, NBC Sports Boston draft guru Phil Perry is ready to get bold.

Perry has covered it all with mock drafts, potential Patriots fits, and more. With the 2022 NFL Draft only one night away, he's sharing some of his outside-the-box takes on what will transpire in Round 1.

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Here are Perry's five bold predictions for the first round of the draft, which is set to kick off Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. The Patriots own the No. 21 overall pick.

Jameson Williams goes in the top 10

Based on talent alone, Williams is a no-brainer top-10 selection in this year's draft. The Alabama star wide receiver caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns in 15 games last year. The only caveat that comes with drafting Williams is he's coming off a torn ACL and likely will miss some of the 2022 season. There may be some NFL GMs willing to overlook the injury given his long-term potential as a true No. 1 wideout, so this prediction from Perry may not look so bold when we look back on it down the road.

Kayvon Thibodeaux will drop out of the top five

At one point, Thibodeaux was considered a potential first overall pick. While the Oregon edge rusher still is widely considered a lock to be selected in the top five, there's no doubt his draft stock has taken a hit in recent months. ESPN's Todd McShay reported after the Senior Bowl that some NFL teams are questioning Thibodeaux's competitive drive. Since then, there have been several reports of teams being turned off by his personality.

Thibodeaux unquestionably a top-five talent -- he tallied seven sacks, two forced fumbles and 49 tackles (12 for loss) for the Ducks last season -- but rumors of a poor work ethic could be enough to cause him to slide.

Only two QBs will be taken in the first round

You'd have to go all the way back to 2015 to find the last draft in which fewer than three quarterbacks were selected in Round 1. With this year's draft featuring one of the weaker QB classes in recent memory, Perry wouldn't be surprised to see only two signal-callers taken.

Liberty's Malik Willis, Pitsburgh's Kenny Pickett, and Mississippi's Matt Corral are the consensus top three QBs in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Willis and Pickett both are expected to be taken in the top 15, it looks like Perry believes Corral will slip into Round 2.

Quay Walker will be drafted ahead of Nakobe Dean

Georgia's star linebackers Quay Walker and Nakobe Dean are considered two of the top prospects at the position in this year's draft class. Most expect Dean to be selected before his Bulldogs teammate, but Perry is feeling bold.

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Considered by Perry to be a "Prototypical Patriot," Walker clocked a 4.52 40-yard dash (91st percentile) and has an 80-inch wingspan (96th). He's a physical freak with an unknown ceiling having played only one season as a starter in college. Dean might be a safer selection, but Walker's upside may be too good to be pass up.

Not only does Perry see Walker being selected ahead of Dean, but he also boldly predicts Dean will fall to the second round.

Six WRs will be picked in the first round

For most sportsbooks, the current over/under line for wide receivers drafted on Day 1 is 5.5. Perry is taking the over.

We already covered Jameson Williams going in the top 10, and Perry sees five more WRs where that came from in the first round. Ohio State's Garrett Wilson and USC's Drake London are the consensus top two wideouts and are expected to fly off the board. After them are Ohio State's Chris Olave, Georgia's George Pickens, Arkansas' Treylon Burks as the most probable first-round selections. Don't completely rule out Penn State's Jahan Dotson or Western Michigan'sm Skyy Moore either.

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