Going into the 2022 NFL draft, the number one pick seems more of a mystery than ever. Usually the first pick will be the best quarterback selected by a team desperate for one or a generational pass rush talent like Myles Garrett.
However, the Jaguars do not have a quarterback need, and there are a multitude of pass rushers and linemen in the running for the best prospect available. The odds for who will be selected first are as followed:
- Evan Neal (+165)
- Aidan Hutchinson (+175)
- Kayvon Thibodeaux (+425)
- Ikem Ekwonu (+800)
- Charles Cross (+3000)
- Malik Willis (+4000)
- Kenny Pickett (+5000)
Evan Neal (+165)
The favorite to be the first overall selection, Evan Neal is a unique athlete at the tackle position and had nearly perfect 2021 game tape. Neal has been connected to Jacksonville at one due to a need to upgrade their offensive line for young quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Aidan Hutchinson (+175)
Many scouts’ pick for best overall player in the draft, Hutchinson dominated the Big Ten all year and even was a finalist for the Heisman trophy. Hutchinson’s most notable performance came against Ohio State, where he recorded three sacks in a 42-27 throttling. He is a big-game player, and would be a star player on Jacksonville’s defense.
In the Running
Kayvon Thibodeaux (+425)
Before the college football season started, Thibodeaux was widely regarded as the top pick of the draft. Scouts remain amazed by his athleticism and technique, but he did not take over games and have the same level of team success as Aidan Hutchinson, who plays the same position. There are still many analysts who regard Thibodeaux as the best player, and if the Jaguars want to take a defensive player first overall, the Oregon product has a very real chance to be the first name announced.
Ikem Ekwonu (+800)
Staying with the theme of pass rushers and offensive tackles, Ikem Ekwonu had a terrific season for the N.C. State Wolfpack at left tackle. He is lighter on his feet and more technically sound than Evan Neal, but does not have the same physical tools.
Charles Cross (+3000)
One last tackle to consider, Charles Cross is a future top ten pick after his season with Mississippi State. He will be the number one tackle on a couple team’s boards, but most will have Ekwonu and Evan Neal ranked ahead.
Malik Willis (+4000)
While the Jaguars will not draft a quarterback first overall, another team may trade up in order to take a top quarterback available. Malik Willis would be my pick for a quarterback a team would trade up for, as he is the most unique and raw talent of the available players at the position. Willis has turned heads during his pre-draft process, and will continue to be an intriguing bet to be the first quarterback taken.
My Pick: Evan Neal (+165)
While picking the favorite is not always the fun play, I believe it is the right pick here. Jacksonville has great, young pass rushers in Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, and struggled to protect rookie Trevor Lawrence from pass rushers all season. Evan Neal is my pick for best tackle in the draft, and should be the first player taken in the draft.