EUGENE, OREGON – OCTOBER 15: Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux #5 of the Oregon Ducks gets set for a play during the second half of the game against the California Golden Bears at Autzen Stadium on October 15, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won 24-17. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
The 2022 NFL Draft is three months away, but after the close of the regular season, the first 18 picks of the first round are now set in stone barring trades.
The 2021 NFL season has come to a close in terms of the regular season, as the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders gave us some fireworks on Sunday night. With their win, Las Vegas clinched the No. 5 seed in the AFC Playoff, and with that, the first 18 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft are now set in stone barring any offseason trades.
Here, we look at what the first round could look like next April in Las Vegas.
The Jacksonville Jaguars capped off a terrible 2021 regular season in the best way possible, as they were able to keep AFC South rival Indianapolis out of the playoffs. The Jaguars pummeled Carson Wentz and the Colts into submission, as rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence showed that he could be a legitimate franchise guy at this level.
Picking No. 1 overall for the second straight year, Jacksonville goes with a defensive player to kick off the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting Kayvon Thibodeaux from Oregon. He is widely regarded as the player with the highest ceiling in the 2022 NFL Draft, and teaming with Josh Allen in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have a dynamic duo coming off the edge.
The Detroit Lions were one of the worst teams in football in Dan Campbell’s first season at the helm, but they did have a few exciting victories. One came this past weekend, as the Lions beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, capping the year off with their biggest victory of the season.
Still, the Lions were awful for most of the season, and they could certainly move on from Jared Goff by selecting a quarterback here at No. 2 overall. However, Goff played well down the stretch and is under contract, so instead, they bring in Aidan Hutchinson, who many think could be the best player to come out of this draft class.
Offensive Tackle,Houston Texans
It was a tough 2021 season for the Houston Texans, who had some big expectations with Deshaun Watson under center, but all of those went away due to the fact he did not play all season. The Watson era is officially over in Houston, but they could be in better shape than many think, this after Davis Mills had an outstanding rookie season under center.
Mills should be the unquestioned starter in 2022, which means the organization now needs to go out and find some players to not only protect him but more weapons for him to throw to. Here at pick No. 3, they add the best offensive lineman in this draft class, selecting Evan Neal to be the team’s starting left tackle from Day 1.