By William Gregory
Following the all-new Super Wild Card Weekend, 24 teams have had their playoff hopes dashed, and their fans of those teams have turned most of their attention to the 2022 NFL Draft. This year’s draft offers a lot of intrigue in that there is a large contingent of elite defensive talent, and a relative lack of slam dunk quarterbacks, though teams have proven they will reach for average signal callers. This mock draft will be the first in a series that will run all the way up to draft night. We’ll track progress throughout, and after the draft, the results of the final predictive mock draft will be reported and posted. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock.
#1 - Jacksonville Jaguars - EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
The difference between the top two edge rushers in this class is based largely on opinion. Thibodeaux and Hutchinson are both incredible players, and predicting the direction of the Jacksonville Jaguars is similar to a 50/50 chance. However, looking at Jacksonville general manager Trent Baalke’s draft history with the 49ers shows that he has generally avoided taking Big Ten prospects with Top 100 picks and has chosen many players from the West Coast. Two of those players were Oregon defensive linemen drafted in the first round: Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. It’s plain to see that Thibodeaux’s talent will get him drafted in the Top 2 picks, but Trent Baalke’s draft history offers insight into how they will operate this April.
#2 - Detroit Lions - EDGE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan
There may not be a better fit in this draft than Aidan Hutchinson taking the short drive from Ann Arbor to Ford Field. While Hutchinson is built more like a 4-3 defensive end and not an outside linebacker, his pass rushing skill allows him to be played anywhere on the defensive line. Not only does his relentless motor gel with Dan Campbell’s never say die mentality, it’ll keep him from taking plays off when Detroit inevitably collapses to rip its collective fanbase’s heart out. The Lions add a much-needed, impact defensive playmaker.