Nothing is ever a guarantee, just days before the draft. Most of the news leaked from teams and sources this time of year is generally a smokescreen.
Early in the offseason, I had the Jacksonville Jaguars pegged to select one of the elite offensive tackles with the first overall pick. The Jaguars failed to agree on a long-term deal with their starting left tackle, Cam Robinson, and were forced to use the franchise tag on him for the second straight season.
So, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see the Jags draft a franchise-caliber left tackle first overall, whether it is Evan Neal out of Alabama or N.C State’s Ikem Ekwonu.
The narrative surrounding the Jaguars has seemed to change over the past few weeks, and they are expected to select an edge rusher with the first overall pick. To me, the choice is obvious and should be Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, but let’s not forget who we are talking about here; the dysfunctional Jaguars.
Remember, it’s smokescreen season. There are a lot of experts suggesting that Jacksonville is intrigued with Georgia’s Travon Walker and his immense upside over the more polished and perhaps plateaued Hutchinson.
In a perfect world, the Detroit Lions select Aidan Hutchinson no. 2 overall.
If NFL experts Peter King and Lance Zierlein are correct and the Jaguars covet Walker, the stars will align perfectly for the Detroit Lions to not only land an impactful starter but at a position of need.
The Detroit Lions defense has been horrendous for years but is expected to see a significant overhaul throughout the 2022 NFL Draft. General manager Brad Holmes is expected to make a conscious effort to rebuild this defense with his second draft at the helm; adding a player like Aidan Hutchinson is a beautiful start.
Hutchinson is coming off a career year at Michigan, earning a record 14 sacks and 74 pressures. Sure, Hutchinson doesn’t project to be Nick Bosa or Chase Young, but he’s a high-character player that doesn’t take plays off. Hutchinson’s attitude and high motor seem to fit exactly what head coach Dan Campbell is looking for, plus he’s no slouch on the field.
He will pair perfectly with Romeo Okwara, who is coming off a severe Achilles injury, along with Charles Harris, Julian Okwara, and Austin Bryant.
If Hutchinson is selected first overall by the Jaguars, I’d prefer Kayvon Thibodeaux over Walker and would be thrilled to see the Oregon product in Honolulu Blue.
Things get tricky when the Detroit Lions land on the clock with the no. 32 overall pick. Many experts expect the organization to take a flier on a quarterback with the final pick in the first round because the selection comes with a fifth-year option.
If an organization finds a franchise quarterback in the first round, it buys one more year of financial flexibility. If there isn’t a sure-bet franchise quarterback, don’t potentially waste a first-round pick just hoping to strike gold when you can plug in a day one starter elsewhere.