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NFL Draft 2022: Putting a high school spin on the projected first round

Mock drafts aplenty are out there, but this one will tell you a little bit about the projected first-rounders' high school careers.
Travon Walker photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Travon Walker photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

It's been mock draft season seemingly since the 2021 NFL Draft ended last May, but the glorious three days where the draft is actually real is almost here.

Before things get real, SBLive Sports is going to sneak in one more mock, taking Sports Illustrated's most recent first-round projection and spotlighting where each player went to high school.

Here are picks 1-32 (as projected by Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer), including a quick snapshot of each player's high school football career:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, DE, Upson-Lee High School (Georgia)

Walker starred in football and basketball for Upson-Lee High School in Georgia, winning 71 straight games and consecutive Class 4A titles on the hardcourt. He entered college at Georgia as the No. 2-ranked defensive tackle in the nation, and now he's the widely viewed slam-dunk candidate to be the top overall pick.

2. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Divine Child High School (Michigan)

Hutchinson finished his career at Divine Child High School in Michigan as the top-ranked player in the state but ranked outside the top 100 in the country. He played defensive end, tight end, offensive lineman and long snapper, plus starred for the lacrosse team before becoming a Michigan Wolverine.

3. Houston Texans: Ickey Ekwonu, OT, Providence Day High School (North Carolina)

The uber-athletic lineman developed into a wrecking ball at N.C. State after leaving Providence Day High School as the No. 23-ranked prospect in North Carolina. Ekwonu played both sides of the ball in high school, in addition to wrestling and running track.

4. New York Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB, Martin Luther King High School (Michigan)

Gardner led Martin Luther King High School in Detroit to the Division 3 state championship in 2018 playing wide receiver and defensive back. He left high school as a three-star prospect ranked as one of the top 30 players in Michigan before developing into a superstar at Cincinnati.

5. New York Giants: Charles Cross, OT, Laurel High School (Mississippi)

Cross stayed home at Mississippi State after leaving Laurel High School just north of Hattiesburg as one of the top prospects in the nation at any position. He anchored a dominant offensive line for the Tornadoes.

6. Carolina Panthers: Evan Neal, OT, IMG Academy (Florida)

Neal left IMG Academy as the top-ranked offensive tackle in the nation and top 10 regardless of position. He was the standout on a stacked offensive line for coach Kevin Wright's Ascenders before starring for Alabama.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

7. New York Giants (via Bears): Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oaks Christian (California)

Thibodeaux didn't sneak up on anybody, as he headed to Oregon ranked by multiple outlets as the No. 1 player at any position coming out of Oaks Christian in Southern California. He attended Dorsey High School as a freshman and sophomore before winning a CIF Southern Section Division 2 title at Oaks Christian.

8. Atlanta Falcons: Drake London, WR, Moorpark (California)

London was a two-sport star at Moorpark High School in Southern California before choosing USC. He made 62 catches for 1,089 yards with 12 TDs on the football field and averaged 29.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists on the basketball court his senior year.

9. Seattle Seahawks (via Broncos): Derek Stingley Jr., CB, Dunham High School (Louisiana)

Stingley was the 1A to Thibodeaux in 2019 as the top-ranked high school player in the nation. Before starring for hometown LSU, Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018 led Dunham to back-to-back district titles for the first time in school history while playing DB, WR and RB.

10. New York Jets (via Seahawks): Jermaine Johnson, DE, Eden Prairie High School (Minnesota)

Johnson has taken a circuitous route toward becoming a projected top 10 pick. He went from a two-star wide receiver at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota to a star defensive end via Independence Community College in Kansas to Georgia and then Florida State.

11. Washington Commanders: Chris Olave, WR, Mission Hills High School (California)

Olave finished his high school career in record-breaking fashion, catching 93 passes for a San Diego Section-record 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns before becoming an Ohio State Buckeye. The track star (sprints, long jump) sat out his junior season after transferring to Mission Hills from Eastlake High School.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Kyle Hamilton, S, Marist (Georgia)

Hamilton played wide receiver and defensive back for legendary coach Alan Chadwick's Marist War Eagles in Atlanta. He entered college ranked anywhere from 97th to 282nd nationally and far exceeded those projections at Notre Dame.

Garrett Wilson, Ohio State

13. Houston Texans (via Browns): Garrett Wilson, WR, Lake Travis High School (Texas)

A three-sport athlete at Lake Travis High School in Texas who earned Division I scholarship offers as a basketball player, Wilson chose to focus on football at Ohio State as one of the top-ranked recruits in the nation. He had 204 receptions for 3,359 yards and 55 total touchdowns in his high school career.

14. Baltimore Ravens: Jordan Davis, DT, Mallard Creek High School (North Carolina)

Davis went to Georgia as a three- to four-star prospect ranked anywhere from the top 200 to top 400 nationally. He helped lead Mallard Creek to a 14-1 record and an appearance in the 2017 4AA state championship game and also played varsity basketball.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Dolphins): Jameson Williams, WR, Cardinal Ritter College Prep (Missouri)

Williams had eight 100-yard receiving games, including a 257-yard effort with five touchdowns, during his time at Cardinal Ritter. The four-star prospect started his college career at Ohio State before starring at Alabama.

16. New Orleans Saints (via Eagles, via Colts): Trevor Penning, OT, Newman Catholic High School (Iowa)

Penning has charted an under-the-radar course to the NFL, lettering in football, basketball and track and field at Newman Catholic High School. He drew much more NFL attention at Northern Iowa than another former Panther — undrafted Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Zion Johnson, OG, Riverdale Baptist (Maryland)

Johnson finds himself in this position thanks in part to being what his high school offensive line coach described as the most coachable player he’s had in 43 seasons. Johnson, who already has a master's degree, went from Riverdale Baptist to Davidson to Boston College, and the NFL is up next.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (via Saints): Trent McDuffie, CB, St. John Bosco (California)

The former St. John Bosco star was strong in coverage and excelled in blitz packages in high school, and he kept that up at Washington. He was ranked as high as the No. 66 prospect nationally coming out of high school.

19. New Orleans Saints (via Eagles): Kenny Pickett, QB, Ocean Township High School (New Jersey)

Pickett was ranked the nation’s No. 10 pro-style quarterback by 247Sports before heading to Pitt. He passed for 4,670 yards and 43 touchdowns and rushed for 873 yards and 17 TDs in his high school career at Ocean Township.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Malik Willis, QB, Roswell High School (Georgia)

Willis led Roswell to the Class 7A state title game as a senior, his only year playing for the north Atlanta school after transferring from Westlake in south Atlanta. He also lettered in baseball in high school before starting his college career at Auburn and finishing at Liberty with a flourish.

21. New England Patriots: Kaiir Elam, CB, Benjamin High School (Florida)

Elam was a three-sport star at Benjamin (football, basketball, track), starring at defensive back and wide receiver for the 2018 Class 3A regional finalists before becoming a Florida Gator. He averaged 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his last high school basketball season.

22. Green Bay Packers (via Raiders): Quay Walker, LB, Crisp County High School (Georgia)

Walker starred on both sides of the ball for Crisp County, making 76 tackles, 10 for loss, and catching 13 passes for 201 yards and five TDs as a senior. He also starred on the basketball team before heading to Georgia as a four-star linebacker.

23. Arizona Cardinals: Jahan Dotson, WR, Nazareth Area High School (Pennsylvania)

After starring in football, basketball and track in high school, Dotson headed to Penn State ranked as one of the top 150 overall prospects in the nation as a wide receiver. He spent his junior year at The Peddie School in New Jersey.

24. Dallas Cowboys: Kenyon Green, G, Atascocita High School (Texas)

Green was an Under Armour All-American and Army All-American playing for Craig Stump at Atascocita High School in the Houston area before making the 90-mile move to Texas A&M.

Kyler Gordon, Archbishop Murphy and UW star before 2022 NFL Draft

25. Buffalo Bills: Kyler Gordon, CB, Archbishop Murphy (Washington)

Gordon is one of two Archbishop Murphy products expected to hear their names called early this week. As a senior, Gordon rushed for 517 yards on 40 carries, caught 32 passes for 841 yards, threw an 88-yard touchdown pass and made 44 tackles and five interceptions. The two-sport star (basketball is the other) stayed close to home to play for Washington.

26. Tennessee Titans: Tyler Smith, OT, North Crowley High School (Texas)

Smith took his talents to Tulsa after clearing space for the North Crowley offense that gained 293 yards and 3.5 touchdowns per game rushing in 2018.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Devonte Wyatt, DT, Towers High School (Georgia)

Wyatt chose the junior college route after being tapped by most outlets as a three-star prospect out of Decatur, Georgia. He made that move pay off, eventually starring for his home-state Georgia Bulldogs via Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

28. Green Bay Packers: Treylon Burks, WR, Warren High School (Arkansas)

Burks finished his high school career with 151 receptions for 3,403 yards and 43 touchdowns playing for small-town Warren High School. The top-ranked recruit in the state thrilled Arkansas when he chose to be a Razorback.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (via 49ers): David Ojabo, DE, Blair Academy (New Jersey)

Born in Nigeria and raised in Scotland, Ojabo moved to New Jersey for high school, where he first focused on soccer and basketball before finding football as a junior. He also won a state title in the 100-meter dash before heading to Michigan to focus on football. 

30. Kansas City Chiefs: Christian Watson, WR, Plant High School (Florida)

Watson took the ever-traditional path from Tampa, Florida, to Fargo, North Dakota. The lightly recruited receiver out of Plant High School chose North Dakota State, redshirted, grew his game and stature (from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-5), and the rest is history.

31. Cincinnati Bengals: Andrew Booth, CB, Archer High School (Georgia)

Booth chose Clemson as a five-star cornerback universally ranked among the top 50 players in the nation (and as high as No. 8). He starred on offense, defense and special teams for Archer.

32. Detroit Lions (via Rams): Lewis Cine, S, Trinity Christian (Texas)

Cine left high school as a four-star prospect ranked as high as No. 31 in the nation overall. He transferred to Trinity Christian after playing his first three seasons at Everett High School in Massachusetts, and then earned playing time right away at Georgia.