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.
Evan Neal listed at 6’7 360 which makes this illegal in 19 states pic.twitter.com/TAV8mGSoBm— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) July 12, 2021
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.
Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson had 15 pressures vs Ohio State, per @PFF_College.— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) November 28, 2021
Prior to the week, the most pressures Ohio State’s OL had allowed to an opposing TEAM in 2021 was 13. pic.twitter.com/goWAvPOBpo
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.
Kayvon Thibodeaux with the MONSTER strip sack 🔥— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) September 4, 2021
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.