Could Jaguars pass on DE Aidan Hutchinson in the 2022 NFL Draft?
The Jaguars need to find a bookend pass rusher opposite outside linebacker Josh Allen, so it would make sense for them to select Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the first overall pick of the 2022 NLF Draft. However, he won’t be the only prospect the Jags could take at that spot, and they will need to decide how to best use that pick.
You will find Hutchinson going first overall in a good amount of mock drafts. Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus certainly sees the former Michigan Wolverine as one of the few slam dunks in this year’s draft and believes he’s “the best combination of run defender and pass rusher in the draft“. On the other hand, Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal is also making a case as the Jags’ choice and isn’t far behind Hutchinson in most big boards. In fact, Neal met with a contingent the Jaguars sent to the NFL Scouting Combine and says “it went well“.
Hutchinson certainly has the tangibles and the production to go with it to be the top overall pick in the draft. Derrik Klassen of the Bleacher Report Scouting department describes the Michigan native as a tough, smart run defender with powerful pass-rushing traits and thinks he is “an immediate starting edge-defender with Pro Bowl potential“. In his sitdown with the media in the scouting combine, Hutchinson said he was confident in his abilities, via Mario Tovar of FanSided.
"I’m very confident in my ability despite how long I am. I think my greatest attributes are my instincts, I’m very intuitive and that comes from watching a lot of film."
The Jaguars will have a tough choice to make at No. 1 in the 2022 draft.
The Jaguars probably knew they were taking Trevor Lawrence months before they were on the clock with the first pick in the draft but it won’t be as clear-cut this year. Aidan Hutchinson certainly deserves consideration but so does Evan Neal and Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Also, the Jags could trade down if another club makes an enticing offer to move a few spots in the selection meeting.
So what should the Jags do at No. 1? Free agency should play a role in their decision. If they pursue left tackle Terron Armstead, Neal will most likely be off the table. The same is true for Hutchinson if they pursue an edge rusher like Chandler Jones, Von Miller, or Harold Landry (if he doesn’t re-sign with the Tennessee Titans). General manager Trent Baalke didn’t share any insight into the team’s plans and told the media at the scouting combine that an offensive tackle or a pass rusher could be in play with the first overall pick.
This writer believes the Jaguars should go with Neal at number one, as he would ensure Trevor Lawrence’s blindside would be left protected. Also, they could allocate all that cap space they would commit to Armstead to other positions, including outside linebacker. However, Hutchinson would also be a good pick and will give the team’s brass something to think about. In the end, it will come down to who can become the better pro and help them the most.