2022 NFL Draft: Aidan Hutchinson in the frame for first overall pick
Michigan Wolverines defensive end Hutchinson, 21, could be the man the Jacksonville Jaguars go for with their second consecutive number-one Draft pick.
For the second consecutive season, the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves on the clock before the first round of the NFL Draft gets underway, thanks to the fact that in 2021 they once again ended up with the league’s worst regular-season record.
Identity of Jaguars’ number-one pick not as clear-cut this year
With the first overall pick at their disposal, the Jaguars can choose from every single eligible college player who has entered the Draft. However, it’s a decision that looks like being much less straightforward than last year, when it was an open secret in the months ahead of the Draft that the franchise would pick Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
With the game’s most complex position covered this time around, Jacksonville have not given any firm indications as to the direction they’ll take in Las Vegas, which is to host the Draft from Thursday to Saturday.
But head coach Doug Pederson has at least shed some light on what the franchise wants. Pederson, who was appointed by the Jaguars in February, is looking for one thing: a player who can have an immediate impact on the team.
Given his displays for Michigan Wolverines and his performances in the NFL scouting combine drills, pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson has emerged as the favourite to be the number-one pick.
Why is Hutchinson being tipped as first overall pick?
Hutchinson registered 14 sacks in 2021 and came second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, the award given to the season’s outstanding performer in US college football. The 21-year-old would certainly improve the Jaguars’ pressure on opposition quarterbacks, after a year in which Jacksonville managed a total of just 26 sacks, the second-worst figure in the league.
The Michigan product’s physical and athletic attributes make him the type of player a team can build a defence around. At the scouting combine, Hutchinson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.74 seconds, leaving him 11th out of the 18 defensive ends who took part. Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon, who the Detroit Lions are being tipped to take with the second overall pick, did it in 4.58 seconds.
But Hutchinson’s 10-yard split was clocked at 1.62 seconds - an elite-level time that amply illustrates the player’s explosiveness. He also showcased his physical power when taking part in all the positional drills.