The Jaguars had a chance to beat the Jets on Sunday, and had they managed it, it would've meant they'd have something other than the first overall pick. But this has been a tough season for the Jags, so it's no surprise they found a way to lose, and in the process, remain in the No. 1 spot.
For some context, the last team to make the first selection in back-to-back years was the 2017 and 2018 Browns, who drafted Myles Garrett and Baker Mayfield. Before that, it was again the Browns, but the expansion version, back in 1999 (Tim Couch) and 2000 (Courtney Brown).
In most other years, having the first overall pick -- and not wanting it -- wasn't necessarily a bad thing; in a good quarterback class, there are deals to be made. It's why, last spring, the Jags stayed put; they needed a QB and Trevor Lawrence was special. There are no Trevor Lawrence-type talents in this class, and it's hard to imagine a team trading up to the No. 1 spot for any of them, whether it's Matt Corral, Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Carson Strong or someone else.
Perhaps it's not the worst consolation prize, having to settle on either Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux, but the Jaguars have used two first-round picks in the last three drafts to land pass-rushers (K'Lavon Chaisson and Josh Allen). With so many other needs, it feels almost silly taking another one. Jacksonville can avoid this scenario by winning once, and maybe twice over the next two weeks. Unfortunately, they face the Patriots in Week 17 and the Colts in the regular-season finale.
In other mock-draft news, we again have the Giants trading up three spots from the No. 5 position, again to get an edge rusher -- and they're still able to land an offensive lineman with their other first-rounders.
So what did the Giants have to give up to swap spots with the Lions? Remember, back in 2018, the Jets shipped three second-rounders to Indy to move up from No. 6 to No. 3 to take Sam Darnold. So there's precedent, though the trade details aren't critical here; the bigger takeaway is that we could see a team trade up next April; not for a QB, however, but an edge rusher.
For now, keep reading to see how the entire first round unfolds.
One other thing, and this is important: now that we're past the midway point of the season, we're using the 2022 NFL Draft order (via tankathon, with results prior to Monday's Dolphins-Saints game) to determine selections 1-32 below.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Michigan • 6'6" / 265 lbs
Hutchinson is a great example of a player who got better each and every season, and instead of coming out early he stayed in school, balled out as a senior, and made himself into arguably the best player -- on either side of the ball -- in the country during the '21 college football season. The Jags have taken an edge rusher in the first round in two of the last three drafts.
Mock Trade from Detroit Lions
Round 1 - Pick 2
Oregon • 6'5" / 258 lbs
The Giants need help on both lines, and in last week's mock draft we had them target two offensive linemen. This week, they move up from No. 5 to No. 2 to get Thibodeaux, who could end up being the first player selected in April. Is the cost prohibitive for the Giants, a team with plenty of holes to fill? Ultimately, that will depend on what it costs, but remember, it cost the Jets three second-rounders to go from No. 6 to No. 3 back in 2018 to go get Sam Darnold.
Round 1 - Pick 3
LSU • 6'1" / 190 lbs
The Texans could go either cornerback or safety here, and in previous mock drafts we've had them targeting Kyle Hamilton. But Stingley has been one of the best players on the field since his freshman season and he'll likely be the first CB off the board in late April.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Ikem Ekwonu OT
NC State • 6'4" / 320 lbs
The Jets have to protect Zach Wilson, and this should be the mantra to begin every draft meeting the team has. Ekwonu is one of our favorite players in this draft class. There's talk that he may have to move inside to guard but when you watch him play, he's perfectly suited to be a dominant tackle as well.
Mock Trade from New York Giants
Round 1 - Pick 5
Notre Dame • 6'4" / 219 lbs
The Lions aren't necessarily in the market for a QB; Jared Goff has been good at times and this team has plenty of other immediate needs. Among them: the secondary, and only safety Will Harris is under contract after next season. Hamilton, meanwhile, is a 6-4, 220-pound version of Ed Reed -- a sideline-to-sideline ball hawk -- and that makes him a Day 1 impact player.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • 6'7" / 350 lbs
Quarterback makes all the sense in the world here, but it's important to remember these two words: Fit matters. Put Mac Jones on the the Jets and he probably looks a lot more like Zach Wilson than a legit Rookie of the Year candidate. So knowing that, the Panthers bolster an offensive line in desperate need of bolstering. Neal is an athletic freak who could end up being the first OT taken.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 7
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • 6'0" / 225 lbs
Dean plays with the type of urgency and physicality that has been lacking in this Jets defense. And while Dean's playing on the best defense in the country, don't be fooled -- he's not riding on the coattails of a dominant defensive line -- he's been a huge reason for their success. In New York, he'll join C.J. Mosely, Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman, a group that hasn't consistently played up to the expectations of first-year coach Robert Saleh.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 8
Mississippi State • 6'5" / 311 lbs
This feels like best-case scenario for the Giants, even if the costs is an additional three second-rounders. They get arguably the best pass-rusher in the class with Thibodeaux, then land one of the best offensive tackles in the class.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Pittsburgh • 6'3" / 220 lbs
We love what Pickett accomplished this season but we also didn't give him a first-round grade. But that doesn't mean he didn't have a fantastic senior campaign, or that he'll end up being among the first 32 selections. And while Matt Ryan's contract is such that he'll likely be back in '22, that doesn't mean Atlanta can't plan for the future now.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Purdue • 6'4" / 275 lbs
Karlaftis adds another dimension to the defensive line. Injuries and the pandemic saw him bounce back in '21 after playing limited snaps in '20 but Karlaftis (and he was nearly impossible to stop in '19 when he recorded 17 TFLs and had 7.5 sacks). In Denver, he'll line up opposite Bradley Chubb a year after the team traded Von Miller to L.A.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Clemson • 6'0" / 200 lbs
The team has already parted ways with 2020 first-rounder Jeff Gladney, and Patrick Peterson is on a one-year deal. Wide receiver could also be an option here but stockpiling defensive backs is never a bad strategy. Booth has all the athleticism and tools to be special, and he balled out for Clemson this season.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Ohio State • 6'0" / 192 lbs
The Browns have needs at wide receiver, for sure, but the talking points in the coming months will likely concern the QB position. We think Baker Mayfield is much better than he's shown this season, in part because he hasn't been healthy. We'll find out together if the Browns' front office feels the same. Wilson is one of the the most dynamic players in college football and he'll give Mayfield another downfield option now that Odell Beckham Jr. is in L.A.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 14
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • 6'3" / 232 lbs
Lloyd is a twitchy, sideline-to-sideline player who fits the mold of off-ball linebackers we've seen coming into the league over the last decade. The Eagles might not have a history of taking off-ball linebackers in the first round but that doesn't mean they shouldn't consider it here.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Alabama • 6'2" / 189 lbs
Quarterback will obviously be a consideration here but only wide receivers Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway and Tre'quan Smith are under contract, and there's no guarantee Thomas will be back. Williams, who had to transfer out of Ohio State to see the field, was electric this season for 'Bama.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Iowa • 6'3" / 290 lbs
Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in the country and the Steelers need to continue to improve a unit that has four new starters this season. 2021 third-round pick Kendrick Green is the starting center but he played also played guard at Illinois.
Round 1 - Pick 17
David Ojabo LB
Michigan • 6'5" / 250 lbs
David Ojabo was a lot of fun to watch this season where he took advantage of every opportunity playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. But don't get it twisted -- he's a twitchy edge rusher who will only get better with experience, and if he excels opposite Hutchinson, imagine what he'll do opposite Joey Bosa in L.A.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Arkansas • 6'3" / 225 lbs
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Burks was consistently dominant during the '21 season. He has all the tools to eventually be WR1, and in Las Vegas he'd join a wide receiver corps that has just Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow under contract beyond '21.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Auburn • 6'0" / 190 lbs
McCreary was the most consistent cornerback in college football this fall, and that's all you want from that position, so while he lacks the high-end athleticism of some of the other names often mentioned as first-round talents, he's rarely out of position and almost always making positive plays for his team.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • 6'2" / 193 lbs
The Ravens secondary has been decimated by injuries this season but Jimmy Smith is in the final year of his deal and Marcus Peters and Tavon Young are set to hit free agency after next season. It was a forgettable season for the Gators but Elam's talents were hard to miss. He has the size (6-foot-2, 190) and athleticism to be one of the best draft-eligible corners.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 21
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • 6'4" / 325 lbs
Green can play either tackle or guard and he has the ability to be a Day 1 starter. He may have to kick inside but wherever he ends up, he's the latest O-lineman drafted early by the Dolphins, which have tried to address the unit in recent drafts but not with the success they were hoping for.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • 6'1" / 188 lbs
Olave is a polished route runner who would give Mac Jones some much-needed options beyond free agent acquisitions, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, especially with Jakobi Meyers in the final year of his rookie deal.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 23
Daxton Hill DB
Michigan • 6'0" / 192 lbs
Hill is part of a Wolverines defense that could end up seeing three players go in Round 1 next spring. He's underrated nationally but watch him play and it becomes clear pretty quickly that he's in the running for one of the best defensive backs in this class. He's listed as a safety but he can line up anywhere.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Logan Hall DL
Houston • 6'6" / 275 lbs
Last spring, some people were surprised Payton Turner made his way into Round 1. Don't be shocked if his Houston teammate, Hall, follows a similar path. He's been unblockable at times this season and at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, he can line up just about anywhere.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Washington • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, and plays primarily outside, we get Tyrann Mathieu vibes when we watch him. We love him as a slot corner who serves as an enforcer in run support and locks down short and intermediate routes, though he balled out on the outside for the Huskies this season.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Kentucky • 6'5" / 345 lbs
Kinnard is a mauler who plays with an edge and he can wreak havoc as both a run and pass blocker. He may have to kick inside at the next level but protecting Joe Burrrow has to be an offseason priority.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Jordan Davis DL
Georgia • 6'6" / 340 lbs
We love the idea of having Davis and Vita Vea on the field at the same time wreaking havoc, especially since the team can void Ndamukong Suh's contract after the season. When healthy (and, honestly, that's been rare this season), the Bucs don't have a lot of needs so they beef up the defensive line here.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 28
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • 6'1" / 225 lbs
We have a second-round grade on Willis but -- and stop us if you've heard this already -- that doesn't mean teams looking for a quarterback won't take one 15 to 30 picks before perhaps they should. If the Lions do, in fact, target Willis here it has to be with the understanding that he'll be a backup in in '22 while Jared Goff continues to hold down the job. Willis has all the tools you look for in an athletic, strong-armed QB but he's also extremely raw. It would be reckless to throw him into the lineup as a rookie.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Washington • Jr • 6'7" / 310 lbs
Kirkland was the cornerstone of the Huskies offensive line and has a chance to be a first-round talent. He may have to kick inside and in Tennessee, the O-line has been an issue all season.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • 5'11" / 182 lbs
Dotson was electric this season for the Nittany Lions, and he threatens the defense at all three levels. He's not going to break a lot of tackles but that assumes defenders are able to get their hands on him; he's as fast as he is elusive, and a legit home run threat every time he touches the ball.
Round 1 - Pick 31
Georgia • 6'0" / 190 lbs
Kendrick is a first-round pick all day long, and he proved that again this season with Georgia after transferring from Clemson. The biggest issue for NFL teams will be off-field issues; if Kendrick has matured since his time with the Tigers, he'll be worthy of a top 32 selection.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Drake London WR
USC • 6'4" / 213 lbs
London, was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season. And while he won't run a 4.3 when healthy, London is a high-point-catch machine who can take over games, which sounds like something both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams would appreciate in Green Bay.