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NFL Draft: Hutchinson Emerging as The Top Draft Prospect

Defensive Ends, Offensive Tackles Expected to Fly off the Board at Draft

NFL Top Draft Prospect

Any mention of the 2021 NFL draft has to begin with the run on quarterbacks.

The top three players selected were all quarterbacks and by the midway point of the first round, the top five quarterbacks were off the board.

NFL Draft: Hutchinson Emerging as The Top Draft Prospect
Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

It is going to be a much different deal in the upcoming draft. Not only will a quarterback not be taken first overall for the first time since 2017, but there are also questions about how long the top QBs will need to wait to hear their names called.

This is a draft where edge rushers, offensive tackles, cornerbacks, and receivers seem likely to dominate.

Let’s take a look at the NFL betting odds when it comes to the position-by-position breakdown of 2022 NFL draft prospects.

The NFL draft will be held in Paradise, Nevada. The first round is on April 28, rounds 2 and 3 on April 29 and the final four rounds being conducted on April 30.

How Low With the Quarterbacks Go?

With all the offseason moves, some of the teams thought to be in the market for a quarterback are no longer in that situation. Denver took care of its QB situation with its trade for former Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. Longtime Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is now in Indianapolis, with Carson Wentz moving from Indianapolis to Washington. Cleveland acquired Deshaun Watson although there is the potential for discipline from the NFL that could delay his debut with the Browns.

There is no Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, or Baker Mayfield in this year’s draft class. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, and Matt Corral of Ole Miss top the list of quarterback prospects.

Three of the teams picking in the top five have recently used a high first-round pick on a quarterback so those who bet online aren’t anticipating an early pick being used on a quarterback.

The first potential landing spot for a QB could be when Carolina picks sixth overall although that is pretty high to take a quarterback in this year’s draft. The Falcons and Seahawks are No. 8 and 9 and traded away their franchise quarterbacks. Will they move quickly to replace them or perhaps wait until later in the draft?

The New Orleans Saints gave up next year’s No. 1 pick to move up to No. 16 in this year’s draft and also acquire the 19th pick from Philadelphia, leading some to speculate that a quarterback could go in either of those picks.

Pittsburgh’s QB Ben Roethlisberger retired so the Steelers, which picks 20th, could also go to the QB route in the first round while the Detroit Lions with the No. 32 pick in the Matthew Stafford trade could also take a quarterback off the board in the first round.

Pick: Under 2 ½ quarterbacks going in the first round

Pressure is the name of the game in today’s NFL

Just pop in a tape of the last two Super Bowls to see how important it is to have dynamic pass rushers.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ aggressive defensive scheme played a huge role in the upset of Kansas City and in the most recent Super Bowl, visions of Aaron Donald blowing up Cincinnati’s final play are fresh in the minds of so many who will be making player selections later this month.

The good news is that this draft is loaded with edge rushers. Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson could be the No. 1 overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon and Travon Walker of Georgia won’t need to wait long to hear their names called. Counting Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, four of the top 10 players in former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah’s list of top 50 prospects in the 2022 draft are edge rushers. He has eight in his top 50 so it is a good year for teams needing players to wreak havoc on passing downs.

Picks: Hutchinson -250 to be the first overall pick; Walker +300 to be taken second overall.

Protecting the quarterbacks

It is not often that an offensive lineman is even in the conversation to be taken first overall.

However, Alabama’s Evan Neal and North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu are possibilities to go to Jacksonville with the top selection.

While Hutchinson is picking up steam as the likely pick, Neal has stardom written all over him and Ekwonu went from being ranked behind 611 other players in his recruiting class to a potential No. 1 overall pick according to the Las Vegas odds.

They will not be the only offensive tackles to hear their names called on the first day of the NFL draft. Charles Cross of Mississippi State is showing up anywhere from the top 10 to the late first round, Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning is also receiving a first-round grade.

Tulsa’s Tyler Smith and Bernhard Raimann of Central Michigan are non-Power 5 products to keep an eye on. Interior linemen Kenyon Green (Texas A&M), Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), and Zion Johnson (Boston College) could also end up being first-day picks.

Pick: Over 7½ offensive linemen going in the first round.

Trying to catch on

There doesn’t appear to be another Ja’Marr Chase in this draft but there isn’t a lack of quality receivers to choose from.

Southern California’s Drake London is being touted as a potential top-10 selection while Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson is the top-rated receiver on Jeremiah’s most recent ranking of draft prospects. Ohio State’s Chris Olave, Alabama’s Jameson Williams, Treylon Burks of Arkansas, and Penn State’s Jahan Dotson are all among Jeremiah’s top 25 players.

Pick: Over 5½ receivers going in the first round.

Time to get defensive

The draft’s defensive prospects aren’t limited to only top pass rushers.

Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, a cornerback out of Cincinnati, will go in the top 10 according to the NFL draft predictions and has -155 odds to go in the top seven picks. Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton could slide a bit due to the safety position being undervalued and also that an injury-shortened his final season but he is at -160 to go ninth or later and that could be the steal of the draft.

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley may not make it to the teens.

The 370-pound Davis had jaws dropping when he ran sub 4.8 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine while Stingley is healthy during the pre-draft process which is huge considering his injury history in the last couple of seasons after a brilliant freshman season.

Picks: Davis over 13½, Stingley over 12½

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