Jaguars can trade down in the 2022 NFL Draft and still land a pass rusher

Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis (5). (Imagn Images photo pool)
Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis (5). (Imagn Images photo pool) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars could use the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on either Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux but if they want to rack up extra selections and still land a pass rusher, they could explore the possibility of trading down.

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report recently ranked each positional group in this year’s draft class and edge rusher landed at the top of the list. He acknowledges that both Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are in the conversation for the top pick in the draft but notes that Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis and Michigan defensive end David Ojabo have significant upside.

"The 20-year-old Karlaftis, meanwhile, retains significant upside. The same could be said of Michigan’s David Ojabo, who came to the game later in life after coming to the United States from Nigeria with a plan to play basketball. Ojabo’s raw athleticism and potential could easily make him a top-15 selection."

Karlaftis and Ojabo aren’t the only pass rushers Sobleski mentions though. He talks about Houston’s Logan Hall and Georgia’s Travon Walker as potential first-round selections. He later identifies Cameron Thomas, Drake Jackson, and Kingsley Enagbare as other prospects with developing skills” worth keeping an eye on.

The Jaguars would need to find a trade partner

Late in 2021, Karlaftis was mocked to the Jaguars but it’s unlikely that he would end up as the top pick in the draft. The dropoff from Thibodeaux and Hutchinson to the Purdue product is significant. Having said that, Karlaftis could still be a top 15 or even top 10 pick, and if Jacksonville wants to acquire a few extra draft selections, they could very well trade down and take him.

Of course, the Jags would need to find a trade partner, and getting someone to move all the way to No. 1 may prove to be a challenging task. They would need to inquire with teams potentially interested in Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, or Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal and willing to pay the price to acquire them. Then again, the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles both have extra first-round picks. The Jags could give them a call and see if either one may consider trading up.

This is all speculation and there’s a chance the Jaguars already set eyes on one of the top three prospects in the draft but if the possibility of trading down arises, they should at least consider it, as they could still be in a position to end with a difference-maker.

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