Bears

Hutchinson, Thibodeaux favored to be selected No. 1 in 2022 NFL Draft

Bears

As the 2021 NFL season winds down, a number of teams already have their sights set on the offseason.

Eight teams have officially been eliminated from postseason contention entering Week 17. And that doesn’t include others -- like the Washington Football Team, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons -- who are given a 5% chance or less to make the postseason with just two weeks to play.

The 2022 NFL Draft isn’t loaded with the traditional quarterback power that we’ve seen in recent years. Instead, there’s a glut of high-level defenders and offensive linemen soaring up draft boards.

So, who is favored to go first in April’s draft? And which quarterbacks could sneak into the first round?

Here’s an early look at some of the 2022 NFL Draft prospects.

Who will be the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Two disruptive edge rushers are currently favored to be the No. 1 pick this year: Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Hutchinson made a statement on the biggest stage this season, totaling three sacks in Michigan’s win over rival Ohio State. The 21-year-old senior finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Alabama’s Bryce Young after amassing 14 sacks in 13 games this season. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Hutchinson has the size to be an immediate difference-maker in the NFL.

 

Given his freak size and athleticism, Thibodeaux will flash at the NFL Scouting Combine in March. That could help him supplant Hutchinson atop draft boards. He didn’t quite reach the counting numbers that Hutchinson did -- seven sacks in 10 games -- but many project him to get even better at the next level.

Hutchinson and Thibodeaux are heavily favored to go No. 1 over the rest of their fellow prospects, according to PointsBet. Here are the full odds:

Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson, -125

Oregon DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, +110

Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett, +1100

Alabama OL Evan Neal, +1200

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral, +1300

Liberty QB Malik Willis, +2500

North Carolina QB Sam Howell, +3000

Nevada QB Carson Strong, +3300

LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr., +5000

Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Who are the best quarterbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft?

For the last four years, a quarterback has been the No. 1 pick in the draft. It was Baker Mayfield, then Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence. Dating back to 2014, six quarterbacks and two defensive ends have been selected first overall.

While it looks like a defensive end will go first in the 2022 NFL Draft, there are still a number of intriguing quarterback options. As the draft inches closer, teams in need of a signal caller tend to trade up to ensure they get the player they want.

So, who could those teams be targeting this year? Let’s take a look:

Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh)

Pickett will be 24 by the time he takes an NFL snap, but that shouldn’t discourage teams. He exploded in his fifth year at Pitt, tossing 42 touchdowns in 13 starts after totaling just 39 in his first 39 career games.

Matt Corral (Ole Miss)

Corral and Pickett are the top two quarterback prospects in this class, and they are very different players. The Ole Miss product is more athletic and mobile, but isn’t as poised in the pocket at Pickett. Depending on team fit, either of them could be the first QB off the board.

Sam Howell (North Carolina)

Many projected Howell as a potential top pick entering the season, but he struggled after losing a handful of weapons in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 21-year-old junior saw his numbers slightly dip each year after a stellar freshman campaign.

Malik Willis (Liberty)

Willis has all the tools -- a rocket arm, lightning speed and good athleticism. He struggled to put it together consistently on the field in 2021, his first year as a full-time starter. Someone is going to take a chance on him, and it could be early in Round 1. Team fit is going to be crucial.

 

Carson Strong (Nevada)

After back-to-back impressive seasons to close his college career, Strong is rightfully moving up draft boards. He isn’t a lock to go in the first round due to concerns about his mobility. He’s a pure pocket passer with limited dual threat upside, but his strong arm works in his favor.

What is the 2022 NFL Draft order?

There’s still plenty to be sorted out atop the 2022 NFL Draft order with two weeks remaining. The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the top pick entering Week 17, which, if they hold on, would mark the eighth time in NFL history that a team has picked first in consecutive years.

Here’s a look at the projected top 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft after 16 weeks:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-13
  2. Detroit Lions, 2-12-1
  3. Houston Texans, 4-11
  4. New York Jets, 4-11
  5. New York Giants, 4-11
  6. Jets (via Seattle Seahawks), 5-10
  7. Carolina Panthers, 5-10
  8. Giants (via Chicago Bears), 5-10
  9. Washington Football Team, 6-9
  10. Denver Broncos, 7-8