One of the most exciting parts of the NFL Season takes place before a ball is even kicked or thrown. That is of course, the NFL Draft. The time when franchises recruit fresh new talent from the NCAA system in the hopes that they can sign a rookie who will develop into the next world-beater.
Last year all the talk was about the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round draft pick. They picked up quarterback Trevor Lawrence from Clemson. It was a signing for the future as the Jaguars look to build a whole new team around him. But whilst maybe not expecting him to become the next Tom Brady overnight, they may have been expecting slightly more than they got with their new star signing.
That’s because, for the second season in a row, the Jaguars finished bottom of the NFL rankings. Meaning once again, they will have the first-round pick once the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around. That is if they don’t swap that pick whilst trading with other franchises, because often at times, some management teams will forgo their picks in order to secure existing talent that may become available.
The Difference Between The 2021 And 2022 Nfl Draft
There is a lot of excitement this year with some good young talent available, and plenty of franchises looking to bolster their aging ranks. But it could be a very different picture from what we saw last time round.
Last season saw many quarterbacks being drafted in the first round. Trevor Lawrence was the most talked about at the time, and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots probably being the most successful. This was because, with many aging passers in the modern game, teams were looking to bring in their successors.
However, this year it’s more of a mixed bunch, with both offensive and defensive players tipped to go early. The question is though, who are these hot prospects that are expected to go early on this year?
Well, we’re going to explore some of our hot prospects we think could be picked up and who could go on to have solid seasons in the NFL.
Kyle Hamilton – Notre Dame – Safety
Kyle is a prospect that is rated by many outlets, partly due to his frame and build measuring 6’ 4” and weighing in at 220 lbs. But also because of his adaptability, as he is a hybrid defender, who can play across the line and do whatever job is asked of him.
However, whilst he may be our favorite for number one pick, he is ranked slightly lower down the pecking order by some pundits and sportsbooks. In fact, he is 90/1 to be the very first pick. Although we put those low odds purely down to a knee injury that he picked up last season which cut his campaign short.
The reason we believe he should be favorites with online betting companies and other pundits is because Hamilton’s game intelligence is right up there with the pros already, and his build already lets you know that he is built for physicality. That’s not all though because Hamilton also has ball skills too.
He is a complete package and one we expect to be snapped up early in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Aidan Hutchinson – Michigan – Edge
Another hot prospect, another defender. Hutchinson is the favorite with most of the NFL betting sites to be the number one overall pick at odds of 2/1, and it’s easy to see why. He is quite simply the highest-graded edge defender operating in the NCAA; quick on his feet and immovable like a mountain when trying to run through him.
The reason that we put him behind Hamilton though is because we don’t feel he is as flexible or adaptable. Plus, questions have been raised on several areas in scouting reports for the player following his time at the NFL Combine, despite performing well overall.
Kayvon Thibodeaux – Oregon – Edge
Kayvon is a player with immense potential, which is why he is a favorite to be a first-round draft pick, and odds of 30/1 to be THE first pick of the round. What gives Hutchinson the Edge (excuse the pun) over Thibodeaux however is refinement.
Hutchinson feels a more complete player right now, he just has more polish to his game. But that doesn’t mean Kayvon can’t surpass him, because he has the skills. After all, you don’t manage to pull off a 91.5 PFF pass-rushing grade without being a good player with a lot of ability.
What we particularly like about this player though is not only is he able to track runners to force incomplete balls and intercept for conversions, he’s also just as quick at getting around the D-line to reach the QB. Meaning we expect him to get a fair few sacks for whoever he signs for.
Evan Neal – Alabama – Offensive Tackle
Measuring 6’ 7” and weighing in at a HUGE 360 lbs, this monster of a player is another with immense potential and one of the highest-rated OTs ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. And that is without competing at the NFL Combine.
Many may believe not competing at the Combine will have hampered his chances of being drafted, but his season was so impressive, that it hasn’t had any impact whatsoever on his odds. Currently, 15/1 to be the overall number one pick, he is the third favorite and we’d say it is guaranteed he will be snapped up in the first round.
Garret Wilson – Ohio State – Wide Receiver
Wilson could be the most sought-after Wide Receiver in this year’s NFL Draft, although he is a 200/1 outside pick to be the number one draft pick. He has outstanding body control with ball skills to match. And when he latches onto a ball, his ability to instantly turn on the afterburners means he is guaranteed to secure some important touchdowns for whatever franchise snaps him up.
To demonstrate just how good Garret Wilson is, just look at his stats from his junior year. He managed 70 catches, which led to a gain of 1,058 yards, with 12 touchdowns included. Could the Jaguars pick him up to complement Lawrence’s throwing game? It would definitely give them a great attacking option, but they may well look more to defensive players to better protect their new star QB who was sacked on numerous occasions last season.
With so many prospects coming through, there are too many to go into too much detail for. But these are some of the key players we expect to be picked up in the first round. Whether they will help a team in reaching the Super Bowl, who knows.
What are your thoughts? Let us know which players you expect to be drafted early on, and who you’re excited to see making the leap to the professional leagues.