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2022 NFL Draft Preview: Who Will Go #1 Overall?

Every year, a select group of young men are chosen to compete in one of the United States’ four major sports leagues. Prospects work hard all year round to impress scouts and potentially earn a roster spot with one of the illustrious franchises atop their respective leagues, with each league’s respective draft serving as the culminating point of their collegiate careers. Now we are less than a week away from the 2022 NFL Draft which is scheduled to kick off, no pun intended, next Thursday, April 28th in Las Vegas, and football fans couldn’t be more excited. Let's take a closer look at who will make the top selections at this year’s NFL Draft and what talented prospects will be available to said teams when they go to make their selections on Thursday from the desk of WAJ Sports writer Gavin Saxon.

Though a year removed, this year’s draft is set to look a lot like last year’s with the Jacksonville Jaguars set to make the first overall selection. Last year they selected Clemson University quarterback Trevor Lawrence who was expected to help the franchise make a turnaround this past season, but that didn’t happen and the team's head coach Urban Meyer was ousted after just thirteen games. Now with the number one overall selection for the second straight year, all eyes are on Jacksonville: will they draft a premier offensive talent to line up against Lawrence, or will they take one of the edge rushers at the top of most mock drafts in Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeuax? Most NFL analysts are thinking the latter, but virtually anything goes down in Jacksonville.

Hutchinson is considered by many to be the premier talent of this NFL Draft after he finished as a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in his final season at Michigan. Those individuals shouldn’t forget the name Kayvon Thibodeuax however, who, per CBS’ Tom Fornelli, is “my top-rated player in this class.” Both edge rushers arguably ranked as first and second in this year’s draft class, Jacksonville or any of the other teams with a top selection this year can use all the stopping power they can get on defense and should be considered winners if they get the opportunity to select either of these two young men. Alongside them is some premier backfield talent as well in Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner, revered for his pure athleticism,​​ and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, who racked up eight interceptions in 31 career games at Notre Dame. Then to finish it off, we have a pair of tackles: Alabama’s Evan Neal and NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu. The opportunity to draft an elite Alabama talent is almost too good to pass up, but after Ekwonu posted a 4.93 second 40-yard-dash at the combine this offseason he has many teams thinking twice.

While the talent pool has certainly changed, the draft order hasn’t changed all too much from previous years. Rounding out the rest of the top five selections for this draft, we have the Detroit Lions, the Houston Texans, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants. The only one of these teams making a repeat appearance in the top five like Jacksonville is the Jets, however, now they aren’t even the only team from their city in the top five. The Giants have also seen a much steeper fall than their green-and-white counterparts who selected 20th overall in last year’s draft but still couldn’t create any momentum this past season. Everything will be set in motion once the Jacksonville Jaguars make the first selection on April 28th, then virtually all bets will be off.


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