2022 NFL Draft one week away: Aidan Hutchinson to go No 1, Travon Walker’s rise, the Malik Willis story, Derek Stingley Jr query marks | NFL Information

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Highlights from Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson’s 2022 NFL Scouting Combine workout.

Highlights from Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson’s 2022 NFL Scouting Combine workout.

The 2022 NFL Draft is just one week away. But what do we know so far?

Red carpets, Oscar-worthy suits, a Fountains of Bellagio backdrop, in-your-face swankiness, Roger Goodell-directed jeers, and picks – lots and lots of picks. Draft paradise, and it’s coming to Nevada’s very own town of Paradise.

A spectacle two years-in-the-making awaits as Las Vegas plays NFL pathway to college football’s best and brightest – and you can watch all three days of it live on Sky Sports!

Here we guide you through the need-to-know names and storylines ahead of the start of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28…

2022 NFL Draft details

When? Thursday, April 28-Sunday, April 30
Where? Las Vegas, Nevada
No 1 overall pick Jacksonville Jaguars
Most selections Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs (12)
Fewest selections Miami Dolphins (4)

Top 10 locks?

The early phone calls between teams are shaping up, or so we might like to think. Trawl through the free agency clamor and the draft clues are there.

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ moves to ‘franchise tag’ offensive tackle Cam Robinson and sign guard Brandon Scherff seemingly paving the way for Michigan pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson to join the Jags as 2022’s No 1 overall pick.

Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson evaluates his workout at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and discusses his journey to the NFL.

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Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson evaluates his workout at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and discusses his journey to the NFL.

Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson evaluates his workout at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine and discusses his journey to the NFL.

Rangey, suffocating, dogged Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Garder appears to have leap-frogged LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr as the ‘shutdown corner’ of the draft, while Notre Dame’s flying and diving safety Kyle Hamilton (watch his interception against Florida State) stakes a strong claim as the most accomplished player in the entire class.

NC State’s Ickey Ekwonu, meanwhile, accompanies Alabama’s Evan Neal as the premier quarterback protectors on offer and a prime attraction for the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks of the world desperate for offensive line help.

Otherwise, stay tuned for curve balls…

2022 NFL Draft: First round picks

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Detroit Lions
3. Houston Texans
4. New York Jets
5. New York Giants
6. Carolina Panthers
7. New York Giants (from Chicago Bears)
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos)
10. New York Jets (from Seattle Seahawks)
11. Washington Commanders
12. Minnesota Vikings
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland Browns)
14. Baltimore Ravens
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins)
16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts via Philadelphia Eagles)
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans Saints)
19. New Orleans Saints (from Philadelphia Eagles)
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. New England Patriots
22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders)
23. Arizona Cardinals
24. Dallas Cowboys
25. Buffalo Bills
26. Tennessee Titans
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
28. Green Bay Packers
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers via Miami Dolphins)
30. Kansas City Chiefs
31. Cincinnati Bengals
32. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams)

The quarterbacks

Malik Willis remains the most compelling story heading into the draft as quarterback-needy teams of the present and not-so-distant future contemplate picking the raw undisputed talent.

Experienced competition at the Senior Bowl boosted his stock, as did a Pro Day that offered all the aesthetics of a ravishing deep ball that may or may not have ended up as an interception in a live-action scenario. The thought of the Liberty star being the first quarterback off the board is becoming increasingly-less wild.

Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett projects among analysts as the most pro-ready option under center with the off-platform arm talent, slick processing and pocket-escaping athleticism that led his emergence in 2021. With four-year Cincinnati starter, and Pro Day ‘winner’, Desmond Ridder comes seasoned pocket poise, polished mechanics, and design-worthy mobility.

Check out Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett's highlights from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

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Check out Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett’s highlights from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Check out Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett’s highlights from the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Ole Miss’ Matt Corral plays with heart and precision, with the willingness to attack tight windows and the elusiveness to be effective on the ground, while North Carolina’s Sam Howell is swift through his reads with a resume of off-platform success, though he saw his production slip in 2021 following the loss of key weapons.

Uncertainty has been the theme of this quarterback class, but it is precisely the lottery nature of the draft that makes you refrain from writing off the long-term starting credentials of any member of the 2022 class. Alongside them sits Nevada’s Carson Strong, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe, Western Michigan’s Kaleb Eleby and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy among others.

College football’s pass-catching factory

Drake London is widely acknowledged as the most complete, dangerous and outright frightening receiver in the class, a reputation that may come to fruition on the back of his USC Pro Day on April 5. He towers over defenders as a ‘contested-catch’ nightmare, he deceives with underrated top-end speed and separation, he offers unsung versatility as a slot receiver and outside option, and that’s in addition to being a devastating deep threat and bubble-screen focal point.

The Ohio State tandem of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave sit among the most query-free players when it comes to not only the receiver class, but the entire draft. Those tasked with pinpointing flaws have had their work cut out, they are fast, fluid, factory-built playmaking machines.

Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Garrett Wilson runs the 40-yard dash at 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

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Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Garrett Wilson runs the 40-yard dash at 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Garrett Wilson runs the 40-yard dash at 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Alabama’s Jameson Williams was pegged back by an ACL tear, but that should not deter teams from arguably the draft’s purest speedster, built for the NFL’s growing ‘yards-after-catch’ trend and with the snatching hands and impressive catch radius to turn high balls into chunk gains. A now-Tyreek Hill-less Kansas City Chiefs may be suitors.

Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore excels against press coverage and boasts one of the most complete route trees, George Pickens’ concoction of power and explosiveness would be more commonly-raved about were it not for his ACL tear with Georgia and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks is an elite chess piece and No 1 receiver in-waiting with some of the best hands in the class.

Miss out on them and you still have Jahan Dotson, Christian Watson, Jalen Tolbert, David Bell and John Metchie III in play. Once again, it’s a wonderful time to need a receiver in the NFL.

The draft-board risers

A pads-off Combine exposé of staggering athleticism has helped catapult Georgia’s Travon Walker up draft boards and into the 10 of most and top five of some. Walker has the speed, agility and at-the-snap power that makes him a unique threat as both a pass-rusher and run-stuffer.

To label his Bulldogs team-mate Jordan Davis as a fellow ‘riser’ may be a disservice to the unquestionable disruptor he is but, between a freakish 40-yard dash and the phenomenal agility he displayed in drills, he might have reassured teams over just how high a pick he warrants.

North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson has managed to debunk customary questions over small-school opposition as a rangy deep-threat, electric yards-after-catch slalomer and accomplished blocker.

While most are enamored by the Kyle Hamilton show, Maryland safety Nick Cross has crept his way up boards as a tight end and slot receiver hitman with bruising engagement power, sharp anticipation and explosive shutdown speed warranting second-round buzz. It may be wrong that it took a position-leading 40 time of 4.34 to heighten recognition, but if it earns him some extra dollars then so be it.

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis evaluates his stellar combine workout and reacts to some celebrity tweets about his performance.

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Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis evaluates his stellar combine workout and reacts to some celebrity tweets about his performance.

Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis evaluates his stellar combine workout and reacts to some celebrity tweets about his performance.

Question marks?

Unfair and unjust as it may be, Kayvon Thibodeaux remains chief opinion-splitter of the top-end first-round candidates. The Oregon pass rusher goes early, but how early? Some will attest to his destructive power, elite instincts and premium ‘get-off’; others will tell you there is an inconsistency to his work ethic. I know who I believe; the tape depicts a game-wrecker.

Rewind to 2019 and few would dare question who the top cornerback would be at the 2022 Draft. Derek Stingley Jr was LSU’s next blue-chip product, flaunting the attributes of a NFL star in waiting. His production faltered in 2020 and he managed just three games in 2021 due to injury, so a lop-sided sample size has fuelled intrigue and opened the door for Cincinnati’s Gardner to take centre stage among corners. Though for Stingley to remain a strong top 10 candidate speaks volumes as to faith in his talent and the showcase he put on as a freshman.

Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux reflects on his combine workout and his future.

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Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux reflects on his combine workout and his future.

Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux reflects on his combine workout and his future.

Michigan edge rusher David Ojabo was a first-round lock, maybe still is a first-round lock, but now faces flickers of doubt after tearing his Achilles on his Pro Day. His rushing arsenal is tricky for offensive tackles to forecast, his footwork gives him a mental and physical edge and his speed closes space effectively, but how will a cruel injury setback impact his stock?

Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer is another to monitor as excitement over his aerial threat and red zone value was pegged back by troubles in blocking, dropped catches and a 5.03 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. The depth of the tight end class may not help him, either.

The unsung sleepers

The beauty of the draft is the ability to be besotted by a player of which others may think little; the playing field is open, all opinions are welcome and ridicule is futile amid a process that can be a minefield for talent doubters. In an age of Deebo Samuel-dreaming teams, Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson glistens as your utility man, gadget menace, jet-sweep and screen-running Rubik’s cube with home run ability at all three levels of the field.

Missouri’s jinking mismatch problem Tyler Badie has the potential to prove himself as the most reliable pass-catching running back in the class, while it is hard not to be fascinated by the transition of six-foot-nine 380-pound offensive tackle Daniel Faalele to the next level.

Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary projects as a potential steal as he outweighs his short arms with physicality in press coverage, sound instincts and a sharp change in direction. Only Coby Bryant (37) had more pass breakups in college football than McCreary (29) since 2018, according to PFF.

San Diego State edge rusher Cameron Thomas brings a standout swim move, relentless motor and versatility, while Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, even as a potential first-round pick, is still short of appreciation.

Tight end depth

Such has been the development of the modern tight end and its production of bigger-bodied unofficial wide receivers, investment in the position is on the up, and the latest tight end draft class is as deep as we have seen in some time.

Trey McBride appears to lead the pack in the wake of a breakout year at Colorado State, across which he showcased the sticky hands, sharp release, run-after-catch ability and blocking proficiency of an NFL starter to be on his way to 90 catches for 1,121 yards and a touchdown. UCLA’s Greg Dulcich is probably not too far behind with excellent separation and effective in-route physicality.

Iowa State’s Charlie Kolar arguably warrants a place under the ‘unsung’ section as a proven red zone threat and PFF’s highest-graded college tight end in single coverage last season. Behold your solid pro with exceptional hands, desired measurements and a knack for getting open.

Virginia’s Jelani Woods stands to be one of the most athletic tight end specimens scouts have ever seen with acceleration and after-catch speed to complement his remarkable size and the catch radius that comes with it. Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely is meanwhile deemed one of the best route-runners and dynamic pass-catchers in the class – though faces questions over his blocking prowess – Ohio State’s Jeremy Ruckert provides tried and trusted versatility as both a receiving option and adept blocker, and Maryland’s Chigoziem Okonkwo boosted his stock with the fastest 40-yard dash at the Combine among tight ends.

Stay across skysports.com/nfl and follow @SkySportsNFL on Twitter as we bring you the latest free agency and trade news while also building up to the 2022 NFL Draft.

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