Jaguars pave the way to draft Aidan Hutchinson with No.1 overall

Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Syndication Usa Today
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. Syndication Usa Today /

Left tackle and wide receiver were the Jacksonville Jaguars’ biggest needs in free agency but they check off those boxes when they applied the franchise tag on Cam Robinson and signed Christian Kirk and Zay Jones. On the other hand, they didn’t sign a pass rusher, which paves the way for them to take Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

While the team’s brass could still add depth to both positions in the draft, it’s unlikely that they will invest an early-round pick in either one. That leaves edge rusher as their biggest priority. Draft analyst Matt Miller of ESPN says that all signs pointed to Jacksonville taking a left tackle with the No.1 pick but with Robinson in the fold, selecting Hutchinson is the most likely outcome.

"But with the Jaguars placing the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson for the second-consecutive season and signing five-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff at right guard, the new signs point to GM Trent Baalke and new coach Doug Pederson falling for Hutchinson, my top overall prospect in the draft."

Miler also thinks the Jaguars could take North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu and have him line up at right tackle or guard, with the intention of moving him to left tackle in 2023.

Drafting a left tackle at No. 1 doesn’t make sense for the Jaguars right now.

A couple of months ago, it made sense to bring back Cam Robinson, kick Walker Little to the right side, and draft Evan Neal (or Ikem Ekwonu) to play guard. Another possibility was to let Robinson walk away, have Walker Little play left tackle, and move Neal to the right side.

Either scenario would ensure Trevor Lawrence had better protection than he did in his rookie campaign but neither is viable after the addition of guard Brandon Scherff in free agency. Also, general manager Trent Baalke has praised right tackle Jawaan Taylor, so it’s unlikely that the Jaguars will continue pouring so many resources into their offensive line, with so many options currently in place.

Also, the Jaguars passed on the chance to sign the top pass rushers in free agency and instead address other needs. This probably means that they think highly of Aidan Hutchinson and have probably laid eyes on him. The Jags could still take a wide receiver in the draft but it won’t likely be with the top pick. The same is true for their interior offensive line. They could select an offensive guard or a center but that should be with a second or third-round selection.

The Jaguars have spent the last few days fortifying a roster that was in need of impact players but there’s plenty of work left. They still need to add a bookend pass rusher opposite outside linebacker Josh Allen. Based on all the moves they made in free agency, Hutchinson looks like the top candidate.

Next. Free agency: Arrivals, departures, and other moves. dark