Jaguars are on the clock: Who should be the pick at No. 1?

Top prospects are guys who sack the QB and guys who protect the QB

From left to right, Alabama tackle Evan Neal, edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu. (The Associated Press, Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It is 2022 and the Jaguars are in the same position they were in 2021 … on the clock for the NFL draft.

A year after having the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars find themselves in the same position this year. The big difference this time is there isn’t a player considered a generational prospect. So, the Jaguars have a big decision on their hands.

The discussion this year seems to all come back to sacks. Guys who can get them and guys who can stop the other team from getting them. It’s that simple.

There is still a long road to the Draft with the NFL scouting combine (March 1-7), Pro days and workouts that could rework the way teams view prospects. But right now, here are the four guys in play for the No. 1 overall pick.


OT Evan Neal, Alabama

If the plan is to protect Lawrence then Neal is as safe a bet as there is. Neal is considered by many the top offensive line prospect in this year’s draft class. He has incredible size at 6-7, 360 pounds, but also has great mobility for the player of that size. Neal is expected by many to be a long-term starter in the NFL. I mean check out this video of him. I don’t advise anyone trying to recreate that video at home. That is quite the show of athleticism.

On the edge

Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

At 6-6, 265 pounds, Hutchinson is firmly in the discussion for the top pick in April’s draft. I mean, just look at what he did to this Ohio State offensive tackle last season.

Hutchinson dominated last season at Michigan, racking up 14 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss. He has flown up draft boards and could find himself flying to Jacksonville, especially if at the NFL combine he can “Light that thing up.”

Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The other sack artist in the conversation is Thibodeaux. He started the college football season as the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick but has lost some of that momentum. Thibodeaux has an incredible combination of size, speed and bend that could one day make him a superstar. But right now, that is just potential. Thibodeaux still has some things to improve about his game. But if he can put all those tools together he will be a dynamic pass rush threat in the NFL.

Dark horse

OT Ikem Ekwonu NC State

With two sacks artists, it is only right there is two sack prevention specialists in the conversation for the top pick. Ekwonu is a late entry into the conversation for No. 1. At 6-4, 320 pounds, he has the size teams look for at offensive tackle. The reason he finds himself in play for the top pick is because of the dominating work he does in the running game.

Ekwonu may be the best-run blocker in the 2022 draft. He can put his size and strength to work and move defenders. While run blocking may be his specialty, Ekwonu is also an asset in the passing game. Check out this rep against FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson who is expected to be a high pick in the 2022 draft.

About the Author:

Jamal St. Cyr is an award-winning sports anchor who joined the News4Jax sports team in 2019.