Todd McShay 2022 NFL Mock Draft: Hutchinson, Walker, Thibodeaux Go Top 3

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Michigan Wolverines in action against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

ESPN's Todd McShay released his latest mock draft for the 2022 NFL draft on Tuesday with a blitz of edge-rushers projected to open the proceedings April 28.

McShay kept Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson as the predicted selection for the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1 overall, which is the same as his previous mock, but there are changes starting with the Detroit Lions at No. 2.

Here's a look at the top five picks:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
  2. Detroit Lions: Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
  3. Houston Texans: Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
  4. New York Jets: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
  5. New York Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The first quarterback comes off the board at No. 6, when McShay projects the Carolina Panthers grab Pitt's Kenny Pickett.

The Jags' decision to use the franchise tag on offensive tackle Cam Robinson moved them firmly in the market for a defensive end with the first pick, and Hutchinson is trending toward consensus No. 1 status with just over three weeks until draft day.

He's coming off a breakout senior season at Michigan that saw him tally 62 total tackles, 14 sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles in 14 games. He'd recorded just 3.5 sacks in 22 appearances across his first three years with the Wolverines.

"It would mean a lot," Hutchinson told reporters in March about potentially going No. 1 overall. "A lot of hard work has gone into this. It's been a very long journey, but I'm ready to start a new chapter."

The 6'7", 260-pound edge-rusher would be a welcome addition to the Jaguars defense opposite Josh Allen and could instantly bolster a pass rush that ranked joint-28th in the NFL last season with 32 sacks.

Walker is a polarizing prospect because he lacks the sack production of his fellow top-ranked defensive ends. He only recorded 9.5 sacks in 29 games during his three years at Georgia, including a modest six quarterback takedowns in his final season with the Bulldogs.

That said, he's showcased the ability to play anywhere along the front four, and McShay believes the 21-year-old Georgia native has the "explosion to anchor the Lions' defensive line."

Thibodeaux also doesn't come without some question marks despite racking up 19 sacks in 30 games for the Ducks.

ESPN's Matt Miller reported Friday the Oregon edge-rusher could be trending toward a draft-day slide because of some "poor" interviews with interested teams.

The need for defensive ends and outside linebackers is too high around the league for him to sit on the board too long, however, and McShay still has him inside the top three.

After the early run on defenders, McShay's mock evens out over the rest of the first round, with 18 offensive players and 14 defensive players selected.