Todd McShay 2022 Mock Draft: Hutchinson to Lions, Pickett to Steelers as 1st QB TakenDecember 14, 2021
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is the projected No. 1 overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the latest 2022 NFL mock draft released by ESPN's Todd McShay on Tuesday.
Here are McShay's predicted top-five selections for the April 28 event following Week 14 of the 2021 season:
1. Detroit Lions: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
2. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
4. New York Jets: Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
5. New York Giants: George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
The first quarterback doesn't come off the board until No. 12, when the Pittsburgh Steelers select Pitt's Kenny Pickett to keep him in Steel City.
Hutchinson finished second in voting for the Heisman Trophy behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. The senior edge-rusher has recorded 58 total tackles, 14 sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles across 13 appearances for the Wolverines this season.
The 6'6", 265-pound senior will try to cap his collegiate career by helping lead Michigan to a national championship. UM faces off with Georgia in the Orange Bowl semifinal on New Year's Eve.
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh praised the standout defender's decision to return for his senior campaign at the Heisman ceremony Saturday night.
"He stayed, he became a champion, he improved his game, he became a captain, he was a great leader," Harbaugh said. "... And I think he's gonna be the No. 1 pick in the draft."
In a year without a quarterback as the obvious No. 1 choice, the focus typically then shifts to the best pass-rusher available, and it appears that's the case here with a competition setting up between Hutchinson and Thibodeaux for the top spot.
Meanwhile, Pickett finished third in the Heisman vote after a breakout 2021 season.
The redshirt senior posted a modest 39 touchdowns and 25 interceptions across his first four years with the Panthers. He's exploded on the scene this year, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 4,319 yards with 42 passing scores and seven picks in 13 games.
Pickett is also a threat with his legs, recording 801 rushing yards and 20 TDs on the ground across 52 college games.
The Lions need a quarterback of the future, so it'll be interesting to see whether Pickett or another signal-caller can make a push for the No. 1 spot if Detroit stays in the slot at season's end.
Other QBs who were selected in McShay's first-round mock include Ole Miss' Matt Corral, Liberty's Malik Willis, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder and UNC's Sam Howell.
There's some talent available at the sport's most important position, just nobody who's quite proved themselves as a potential No. 1 pick. At least not yet with bowl games and the predraft process still to come.