Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson seems like the favorite to go first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 NFL Draft. However, the Jags are still sorting out all their options and brought in Hutchinson and North Carolina State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu for a visit Monday.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Hutchinson and Ekwonu traveled to Jacksonville to meet with the Jaguars. They will then visit both New York teams (Giants and Jets) and their local teams, the Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers respectively. Just like Hutchinson, Ekwonu has been linked to the Jags at some point in the draft process, and if they hadn’t applied the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson, he might have had a stronger case to go first overall. Nevertheless, he will have a chance to rest his case to the Jaguars’ brass.
On the other hand, all signs point to Jacksonville taking a pass rusher at No. 1. Other than signing former San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arden Key, they haven’t done much to bolster their pass rush this offseason. Meanwhile, the Jags brought back Robinson and signed offensive guard Brandon Scherff, making it challenging to find a place in the lineup for either Ekwonu or Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.
Taking a pass rusher at No. 1 currently makes more sense for the Jaguars.
If the Jaguars really like Ekwonu, they could move him to guard a position he played as a sophomore in 2020. They could move him to left tackle in 2023 if they can’t reach a long-term deal with Robinson. Regardless of the position, the former Wolfpack is a pretty good run blocker that could give the Jags’ rushing attack a boost. On the other hand, he still needs to work on his pass-blocking technique, something he himself has acknowledged.
Having said that, Jacksonville could also take a pass rusher at No. 1 and draft a guard in the second or third round. After all, wouldn’t it make more sense to take someone who has more experience at the position? Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson might be available when the Jags pick in the second round and both of them deserve consideration. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t rule out taking Ekwonu with the top pick but rather that they need to weigh in on all their options and see which one is the best one.
The draft is less than a month away but there aren’t any signs the Jags have made up their mind about the No. 1 pick. The fact that they are meeting with Hutchinson and Ikwonu goes on to show they are doing due diligence and are trying to get the best player.