2022 NFL draft: Even after winning, Jaguars earn No. 1 pick; top 18 picks are set
The Jacksonville Jaguars will be on the clock first in the NFL draft for the second straight year.
Despite shocking the Indianapolis Colts in Week 18, the Jaguars clinched the top pick in the 2022 NFL draft when the Detroit Lions won at home against Green Bay on Sunday.
The Jaguars will pick first overall, the Lions second and the Houston Texans third, following their loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Here's the full order of the top 18 picks (with the order of the remaining 14 first-rounders to be determined based on the playoff results):
4. New York Jets
5. New York Giants
6. Carolina Panthers
7. Giants (via Chicago Bears)
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Denver Broncos
10. Jets (via Seattle Seahawks)
11. Washington Football Team
12. Minnesota Vikings
13. Cleveland Browns
14. Baltimore Ravens
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami Dolphins)
16. Eagles (via Indianapolis Colts)
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. New Orleans Saints
Lawrence, the top overall pick in 2021, had struggled most of his rookie season. But he had perhaps his best overall game of the season against the Colts, looking confident and effective throughout and finishing the season on a high note.
The Jaguars had never owned the No. 1 overall pick prior to last year. Lawrence was a no-brainer pick in that slot a year ago. But their options in 2022 are far less clear.
If the Jaguars want to bolster a defense that allowed the second-most points in the league this season, they could have their pick of two pass-rush talents — Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson. There also are fine DB prospects available, although they often don't get taken first overall.
The Lions could take whichever pass rusher the Jaguars don't select. But Jacksonville might also want to beef up an offensive line that has given up plenty of hits and sacks on Lawrence this season. If that's the case, there are several offensive tackles who could be worth considering high in the draft, including Alabama's Evan Neal, North Carolina State's Ikem Ekwonu and Mississippi State's Charles Cross.
This is not a draft cycle that's expected to resemble its 2021 brethren. Although we could end up with multiple first-round quarterbacks, right now there are none who are guaranteed to crack the top 10. Pitt's Kenny Pickett might have the best shot to do so, but the 2022 QB crop is considered to be considerably less exciting overall than the 2021 group with five first-rounders and eight picked in the top 70 overall.
The Lions are picking at their highest slot since 2010, when they took Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh at No. 2 overall. They also have a second first-round pick, via the Los Angeles Rams, which will end up closer to the bottom of Round 1.
The Texans might be willing to bypass a QB — both because of the draft crop and with the emergence of Davis Mills. They certainly figure to be in the hunt for offensive line help, but also for defensive additions, as well.
But right now the early draft story appears to be Thibodeaux vs. Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, a Heisman Trophy finalist, had a less impactful game than we're used to seeing in the Wolverines' CFB semifinal loss to Georgia, with four tackles (one for loss) and no sacks. In his other 13 games this season, Hutchinson had 62 tackles (16.5 for losses), 14 sacks, three pass breakups, 12 QB hits, two forced fumbles and one recovery.
Thibodeaux had similar per-game production, albeit in 11 games this season for the Ducks, totaling 49 tackles (12 for losses), seven sacks, eight QB hits and two forced fumbles.
Either could potentially join Lawrence in a Jaguars offseason rebuild that also will include a new head coach. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28.