This will be a storyline for much of the pre-draft process: Who should the Jaguars take with the No. 1 overall pick? A year ago, it was a layup: Trevor Lawrence. Now, headed for the top selection in back-to-back years, Jacksonville obviously doesn't need a quarterback, and unfortunately for them, there isn't a QB in this class worth moving up to first overall to grab.
That means the Jags could take the best player -- for us, that's Aidan Hutchinson followed by Kayvon Thibodeaux -- except there's one problem: The team has used a first-round pick on an edge rusher in two of the last three drafts. Which leads us to this week's mock draft, where we have the team stepping outside the box, passing on both Hutchinson and Thibodeaux and instead taking Alabama left tackle Evan Neal, who previously played right tackle and left guard before that.
Neal fills a huge need along the O-line in Jacksonville, where protecting Lawrence has to be Job No. 1.
In related news, we have three offensive linemen going in the first four picks for the first time, which allows Thibodeaux to fall to the Giants at No. 5. Is this likely? No, probably not, but it would also get really boring really fast if we just rattled off the most popular landing spots based on draft Twitter groupthink.
Keep reading to see where the three quarterbacks land, and 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 Browns-Steelers game) to determine selections 1-32 below.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Evan Neal OL
Alabama • Jr • 6'7" / 350 lbs
We'll be honest, this is a complete, unmitigated overreaction to the semifinal game; Aidan Hutchinson looked human and because the Jaguars can't find a win they're stuck here, with the top overall pick. And instead of taking the best player -- and Hutchinson remains the best player for us -- we have them instead filling a huge need along the offensive line. Look, if teams can reach for quarterbacks, they can reach of other positions of need, too, especially if it means protecting the franchise QB who looked skittish for much of his rookie campaign. And to reiterate: We wouldn't take Neal first overall but since we do a mock draft every week, we're mixing it in this version.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Michigan • Sr • 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. Yes, he struggled against Georgia on Saturday, and yes, it's easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to his performance (see the No. 1 pick above!) but the reality is that great players have off days and he's still the favorite to be the first pick in the '22 draft.
Round 1 - Pick 3
Ikem Ekwonu OT
NC State • Soph • 6'4" / 320 lbs
With Davis Mills playing some pretty good football since earning the starting job (though, admittedly, he struggled against the 49ers on Sunday), it sure looks like the team will move forward with him, at least for another season. And if that's the plan, it seems reasonable to protect him. According to Football Outsiders (which has been confirmed by the eyeball test), the Texans' O-line has been one of the most inconsistent units in the league. Ekwonu, meanwhile, 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, which is exactly what the Houston needs.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Mississippi State • Soph • 6'5" / 310 lbs
The Jets were great for 59 minutes on Sunday, but the fact remains: they have to protect Zach Wilson, and this should be the mantra to begin every draft meeting the team has. Yes, this might be too rich for Cross, but we've had him going inside the top 10 in previous mock drafts, he had a really strong showing in 2021, and he immediately upgrades New York's O-line.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 258 lbs
Last week, we had the Giants trading up for Thibodeaux, and this week he falls to them at No. 5. The team needs help on both lines, and while O-line could be a consideration if Neal or Ekwonu are still on the board, Thibodeaux is one of the best players in this class.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Matt Corral QB
Ole Miss • Jr • 6'2" / 205 lbs
Corral suffered a scare in his bowl game on Saturday but he remains our QB1. And while the Panthers desperately need to fix their offensive line, it's clear that neither Sam Darnold nor Cam Newton are the answer at QB. Meanwhile, Matt Rhule could be coaching for his job in '22, and if the team doesn't land a big-name QB in free agency, his best chance at success might rest on the shoulders of a rookie passer.
From Seattle Seahawks
Round 1 - Pick 7
LSU • Jr • 6'1" / 195 lbs
The Jets already addressed the offensive line so here they take the best CB in this class, and perhaps in any of the recent draft classes. Stingley missed the final half of the season because of injury but that will have zero impact on his draft stock.
From Chicago Bears
Round 1 - Pick 8
Iowa • Jr • 6'3" / 290 lbs
Linderbaum, who left Iowa's bowl game with a lower-body injury, is one of the best offensive linemen in the country. And although a center hasn't gone higher than No. 18 in the last dozen drafts, a) Linderbaum is that good, b) the Giants need to solidify the interior O-line.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Pittsburgh • Sr • 6'3" / 220 lbs
There will be plenty of teams talking themselves into QBs in this draft and WFT (along with Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver, Pittsburgh and Detroit) will be in the running in a decidedly weak class. Pickett had a great 2021 season for Pitt and he'll have several opportunities during the pre-draft process, starting with the Senior Bowl, to prove he's QB1.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Notre Dame • Jr • 6'4" / 220 lbs
The Falcons could be in market for a quarterback but with two already taken, and with Hamilton still on the board, they'll bolster their secondary. Hamilton 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 11
Clemson • Jr • 6'0" / 200 lbs
Last year, the team used a first-round pick on Patrick Surtain, who has had a solid rookie campaign. But with only CBs Surtain, Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia under contract after the season, adding a playing of Booth's talents makes a lot of sense here.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Ohio State • Jr • 6'0" / 192 lbs
The Vikings could go QB here, if they are ready to move on from Kirk Cousins (despite taking Kellen Mond a year ago), or they could target a cornerback. Instead, we have them going with a wideout. Yes, Justin Jefferson is one of the best players in the league but Adam Thielen will be 32 next season, and more importantly, there's not much depth behind those two among the wideouts.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Purdue • Jr • 6'4" / 275 lbs
The season has slowly fallen apart for the Browns but it feels like most of the wounds have been self-inflicted. This is still a very good team with a lot of young players. That said, there isn't much depth at pass-rusher after Myles Garrett, and though he's been special, adding another legit pass-rusher opposite him will make him even more dangerous.
From Miami Dolphins
Round 1 - Pick 14
Nakobe Dean LB
Georgia • Jr • 6'0" / 225 lbs
This has been a popular pairing in our weekly mocks, partly because the Eagles could use Dean in the middle of their D (even if, historically, they don't draft off-ball linebackers in Round 1), and in part because Dean has been dominant during the '21 season. And while he is playing on the best defense in the country, don't be fooled -- he's not riding on the coattails of a dominant Georgia defensive line -- Dean's been a huge reason for its success.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Alabama • Jr • 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
David Ojabo LB
Michigan • Jr • 6'5" / 250 lbs
Prior to the semifinal loss to Georgia, 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. In Baltimore, he'll join another athletic marvel, 2021 first-round edge rusher Odafe Oweh, who has had some jaw-dropping plays as a rookie.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Malik Willis QB
Liberty • Jr • 6'1" / 215 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. It sure feels like the Steelers would be content rolling with Mason Rudolph next year but it's also early January and a whole lot can change over the next 3-4 months. If Pittsburgh does, in fact, target Willis, it has to be with the understanding that he'll be a backup in '22 while the team fixes a suspect offensive line. 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 18
Kaiir Elam CB
Florida • Jr • 6'2" / 196 lbs
The Raiders' secondary has had some bright spots among its young players -- rookies Trevon Moehrig and Nate Hobbs have flashed -- but the team also cut 2020 first-rounder Damon Arnette this season and could lose several veterans to free agency. Meanwhile, 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 in '21.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Chris Olave WR
Ohio State • Sr • 6'1" / 188 lbs
This likely won't be a popular pick because the Eagles have used first-rounders on wide receivers the last two years, but they'll only have four wideouts under contract after the season, and that includes J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Olave is one of the best route runners in this class and he'd be a nice complement to '21 first-rounder DeVonta Smith.
Round 1 - Pick 20
San Diego State • Jr • 6'5" / 270 lbs
Thomas, who can play anywhere along the defensive line, set career bests in tackles for loss (20.5) and sacks (10.5) this season for the Aztecs, and he appears to just be scratching the surface on his abilities. He's as good against the run as he is getting after the quarterback.
From Indianapolis Colts
Round 1 - Pick 21
Auburn • Sr • 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.
From San Francisco 49ers
Round 1 - Pick 22
Kenyon Green OL
Texas A&M • Jr • 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, who have tried to address the unit in recent drafts but not with the success they were hoping for.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Georgia • Sr • 6'0" / 190 lbs
J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills have seen the majority of snaps at cornerback for the Patriots and Jackson is in the final year of his deal and he'll be rightfully looking to get paid in the offseason. If the Pats want to add depth in the secondary, targeting a CB here would make sense. 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 24
Arkansas • Jr • 6'3" / 225 lbs
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Burks has all the tools to eventually be WR1, as was evidenced just about every week in the fall. The Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins (whose season is over because of injury) and Rondale Moore but Christian Kirk is in the final year of his deal and Arizona can move on from AJ Green after the season, if they so choose.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Cincinnati • Jr • 6'2" / 188 lbs
Levi Wallace is in the final year of his deal and Dane Jackson has been serviceable as his playing time increased following Tre White's season-ending injury. That said, beefing up the secondary would be reasonable here. Sauce Gardner is a long, press corner, who would have a chance to play immediately in Buffalo.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Kentucky • Sr • 6'5" / 345 lbs
Repeat it with me: PROTECT JOE BURROW AT ALL COSTS. Kinnard is a mauler who plays with an edge and he can wreak havoc as both a run and pass-blocker. Cincy made the right decision by taking Ja'Marr Chase but bolstering the O-line is priority No. 1 this offseason.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Devin Lloyd LB
Utah • Jr • 6'3" / 235 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. You might note that the Cowboys just drafted Micah Parsons, who excelled as an off-ball linebacker at Penn State, but has emerged as one of the most explosive edge rushers in the NFL. Adding Lloyd can take a suddenly good defense and make it great.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Jahan Dotson WR
Penn State • Sr • 5'11" / 184 lbs
So, yeah, it appears Antonio Brown's NFL career ended abruptly Sunday, and suddenly a very deep Bucs team is surprisingly light, especially at wide receiver. Chris Godwin, who was on the franchise tag, tore his ACL last month, and now the team will move forward with Mike Evans, and names like Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman and Cyril Grayson. Dotson might not break many tackles but that suggests defenders will be able to get a hand on him first.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Washington • Soph • 5'11" / 195 lbs
Even though McDuffie plays cornerback, 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, something he did regularly for the Huskies in '21.
From Los Angeles Rams
Round 1 - Pick 30
Drake London WR
USC • Jr • 6'5" / 210 lbs
By the time we get to the actual draft, we'll much more clarity on what the Lions' QB plans might look like, though it feels like Jared Goff's job in '22. With its second first-rounder, we have Detroit adding London, who was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing USC season. He won't run a 4.3 but London is a high-point-catch machine who can take over games, and we love the idea of him playing alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has been a bright spot in the Lions' passing game.
Round 1 - Pick 31
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 in Tennessee where the O-line has been an issue all season.
Round 1 - Pick 32
Logan Hall DL
Houston • Jr • 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, Logan Hall, follows a similar path. He was unblockable at times this season and at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, he can line up just about anywhere.