The 2021-22 NFL Playoffs have almost reached their conclusion, as the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams are now preparing for their Super Bowl 56 matchup. Even though fans and experts are looking forward to seeing who’ll win this season’s championship, many others have their attention set on the 2022 NFL Draft.
The 2022 NFL Draft will take place beginning Thursday, April 28 at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada. For the second time in as many years, the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the draft’s first overall selection after finishing the season with a 3-14 record.
Jacksonville used the first overall pick on Trevor Lawrence in 2021, so another quarterback is far from something that they need. Even though there are several options that the Jaguars could go with, the latest NFL Draft betting odds point towards Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson going at No. 1.
It seems like the Jaguars have been in a rebuild forever, however, a player of Hutchinson’s — or any of the other potential first overall picks — caliber can help turn the ship around.
2022 NFL Draft: Odds to Be Drafted No. 1 Overall
- Aidan Hutchinson – DE (Michigan) +155
- Evan Neal – OT (Alabama) +240
- Kayvon Thibodeaux – DE (Oregon) +270
- Ikem Ekwonu – OT (NC State) +550
- Kenny Pickett – QB (Pittsburgh) +2500
- Derek Stingley Jr. – CB (LSU) +3300
Odds via FanDuel as of Thursday, February 2.
The 2021 NFL season went poorly for the Jaguars for a multitude of reasons. One of the biggest ones was that the defense was one of the worst units in the league, surrendering 26.9 points per game (No. 28). Since Lawrence is already the quarterback of the future, it only makes sense that Jacksonville would consider using the first overall selection at the 2022 NFL Draft on a player like Hutchinson.
The Michigan defender was among college football’s best last season. He suited up in 14 games for the Wolverines, finishing with 62 tackles (16.5 for a loss), a school-record 14.0 sacks, three passes defended and a pair of forced fumbles.
It was his late-season play that not only catapulted him into the first overall conversation but had him finishing second when it came to Heisman Trophy voting.
At the end of the day, Hutchinson is a terrific defender who can stop both the run and pass. The consensus All-American has elite and game-changing upside, which is the type of player that could take Jacksonville to the next level.
Evan Neal, OT, Alabama +240
If the Jaguars don’t think that defense is their top priority, there’s a good chance that could select Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal at No. 1 at the 2022 NFL Draft.
Lawrence was constantly under pressure throughout his rookie season, finishing in the top 10 when it comes to times knocked down (51) and hurried (68). He was also sacked 32 times, further proving how the Jaguars need to do a better job at protecting him.
Meanwhile, Neal is like a dream come true for quarterbacks. The 6-foot-7, 350-pound All-SEC offensive lineman allowed just 22 pressures over his last two years with the Crimson Tide, showcasing his ability to play bother tackle positions along the way. He’s also great at run protection, proven by his 80.4 run-blocking grade on ProFootballFocus.
At the end of the day, Neal may not be the flashiest or most exciting option at the 2022 NFL Draft, but a great offensive line is crucial for a championship team. The Jaguars might be a ways away from reaching that level, however, Neal can help get them there sooner than later.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon +270
For a decent portion of the 2021 football season, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux was favored to go first overall. Injuries holding him to just 10 games caused his stock to drop a bit, although, he still has the third-best odds (+270) to go first overall to the Jaguars at the 2022 NFL Draft.
Thibodeaux has had an illustrious three years with Oregon, which was perfectly encapsulated in his performance last season. He was named unanimous All-American for the first time in his career and received first-time All-Pac-12 honors for the second time in his career.
A former Morris Trophy winner as the Pac 12’s top defensive lineman, Thibodeaux finished the 2021 NCAA college football season with 49 total tackles, 7.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and a defended pass.
A lot of experts have Thibodeaux and Hutchinson on the same level in their mock draft rankings, so it’ll come down to who the Jaguars prefer more at the 2022 NFL Draft.
There could be a chance that they think the hype about Thibodeaux earlier in the season is valid and that his ceiling is still high despite his injury history. If that’s the case, the Ducks great could be a core piece of the franchise for years to come.