Santa Claus is comin’ … to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ol’ Saint Nick isn’t quite ready to drop down the chimney, but NFL teams are already making their lists for next April. The Lions got an early Christmas present: Their first win in the 2021 season, courtesy of Jared Goff throwing a walk-off touchdown to Amon-ra St. Brown.
Even with a win, the Lions still sit with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. No teams, though, could be in for a bigger Christmas haul than the Jets, Giants and Eagles: Each of those franchises are sitting pretty with two first-round picks apiece (the Eagles could end up with three first-rounders) for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Each squad has their work cut out for them, too: The Jets could find massive gifts with some stud defenders if their draft status holds, while the Eagles are still pondering the question of whether or not Jalen Hurts will be passer of the Philly’s future — especially after Gardner Minshew’s big win over New York.
The Giants have similar questions as their division-rival: Is Daniel Jones “The Guy” moving forward, or will Big Blue’s braintrust — whoever will comprise that — think twice about giving Jones another year in the Meadowlands?
Here’s how the latest NFL Draft order stands:
2022 NFL MOCK DRAFT:
Defense is the name of the game in SN’s latest version
NFL Draft order 2022
Here’s how the 2022 NFL Draft order stands after NFL Week 13 games:
(Last updated before the Week 13 “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Chiefs and Broncos.)
— The Eagles currently hold three first-round picks.
— The Giants currently hold the Bears’ first-round pick, which was sent as part of an in-draft trade Chicago made to select quarterback Justin Fields in 2021.
— The Dolphins currently hold the 49ers’ first-round pick as part of a predraft trade. San Francisco selected quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall in 2021.
— The Jets currently hold the Seahawks’ first-round pick as part of the Jamal Adams trade in 2020.
— The Eagles currently hold the Colts’ first-round pick as part of the Carson Wentz trade. (In order for the pick to turn into a first-rounder, Wentz must play ≥75 percent of snaps this year OR Wentz plays ≥70 percent of snaps and Indianapolis makes the playoffs.)
— Pick Nos. 19 through 32 are held by teams currently in the NFL playoff picture.
It’s a trio of pass rushers who could steal the spotlight come April.
While there’s no surefire, No. 1-overall pick entering the 2022 NFL Draft, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Purdue’s George Karlaftis all could stake a claim as the best pass-rush presence in this year’s draft.
While Karlaftis’ stock has fallen behind the others, the question to whether or not Hutchinson has done enough to knock of Thibodeaux as the draft’s top-ranked edge defender is still unanswered: It doesn’t hurt, though, that Hutchinson had monster performances vs. Ohio State on Nov. 27 and in the Big Ten championship game.
In all, Hutchinson finishes the 2021 regular season with 14 sacks, and will have an opportunity to further strengthen his case for No. 1 overall in the College Football Playoff.
For quarterback-needy teams, the picture for passers has never been murkier: While there are some intriguing names entering the 2022 scene, no QB in the nation has yet to elevate into bona-fide franchise passer status. North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral could all be first-round selections, but there’s a long, long way to go before names are called next April.
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