Could the 2022 NFL Draft start off with a surprise selection?
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was looking like he'd be the Jacksonville Jaguars' selection with the No. 1 overall pick in this week's draft.
But, on Monday, NBC Sports' Peter King wrote in his Football Morning in America column that he recently heard "to expect a surprise" out of Jacksonville. King predicted the Jags would take Georgia defensive end Travon Walker in his mock draft, with Hutchinson going to the Detroit Lions at No. 2. Walker has overtaken Hutchinson as the betting favorite to be the first pick as well.
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ESPN's Matt Miller then added to the speculation surrounding the No. 1 pick, reporting "the buzz is definitely out there" that NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu is in play for Jacksonville.
Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke said last week the team is considering four players at No. 1. In addition to Hutchinson, Walker and Ekwonu, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux could be among the names Jacksonville is eyeing.
Ekwonu, who King mocked to the Houston Texans at No. 3, played both guard and tackle during his time at NC State. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder earned Second Team All-ACC honors as a sophomore in 2020 before being a consensus All-American in 2021, when he made 11 starts at left tackle.
New England Patriots
Drafting a potential cornerstone left tackle to protect young franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence would make a ton of sense for Jacksonville. On the other hand, the Jags could have already decided that they're taking Hutchinson and might just be sending out smokescreens to see if one of the first few teams behind them makes a godfather offer to move up.
What's the one thing that's for sure? We're only a few days away from actually finding out who the No. 1 overall pick will be.