The order for the top 18 picks in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft is set — after a bit of Week 18 chaos — with the Jacksonville Jaguars picking No. 1 and the Detroit Lions picking No. 2. Could both teams be thinking pass-rusher with their selections? NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks a pair of defensive ends 1-2 on his Big Board: Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon). The Jags and Lions both won on Sunday to lock in the top two picks, followed by the Houston Texans at No. 3.
This draft, however, figures to take on a distinctly New York flavor early. Both the Jets (courtesy of a trade with Seattle) and Giants (via a trade with Chicago) have two picks among the top 10. The Jets will be on the clock at pick Nos. 4 and 10, while the Giants hold pick Nos. 5 and 7.
The Philadelphia Eagles have three first-round picks, the most of any team, but the first one doesn’t come up until No. 15 (via a trade with Miami). They also have pick No. 16 and a to-be-determined selection depending on how far they go in the playoffs.
The 2022 NFL draft will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, with the first round slated for April 28. Rounds 2 and 3 will take place on April 29, while Rounds 4 through 7 will be on April 30. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN, ABC and the ESPN App.
Check out the top 18 picks below, with Nos. 19-32 projected from the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), which projects the order by simulating the rest of the season 10,000 times. (Team write-ups below have been updated from December).
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
The Jaguars have a long list of needs: wide receiver, pass-rusher, offensive tackle, tight end, linebacker — pretty much everywhere but quarterback and cornerback. But if the approach is to build around Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars could and should go heavy on offense … after grabbing the pass-rusher of their choice at No. 1. — Michael DiRocco
2. Detroit Lions (3-13-1)
With the No. 2 overall pick, it would make sense to go with an elite edge rusher who also fits the hard-nosed culture that coach Dan Campbell is trying to build in Motown. Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was a Heisman Trophy finalist, and he makes sense from a football perspective (in addition to being a local product), as does Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The pick could be a foundational player for the Lions’ future as they continue to rebuild, and they’ll get another late first-round pick because they have the Rams’ selection from the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff trade. Picking the right guys will be pivotal to the franchise. — Eric Woodyard
3. Houston Texans (4-13)
The biggest question is whether Houston decides to use this pick on a quarterback. It’s not a particularly great QB class, and rookie signal-caller Davis Mills has showed signs of life down the stretch of the season. Do the Texans go with a veteran option, give the ultra-affordable Mills another chance or draft the player the team hopes is the QB of the future? — Sarah Barshop
4. New York Jets (4-13)
The Jets have nine picks total — including four in the first two rounds — so this has to be a franchise-altering draft. They will have two top-10 picks for the first time in the common draft era (since 1967), so it’s a great opportunity to address their historically poor defense.
The Jets need a lot of help on the second and third levels, but they could end up with an edge rusher if one is the best player available. — Rich Cimini
5. New York Giants (4-13)
So here is perhaps the lone positive for the Giants heading into the offseason: They have a boatload of picks — 10 to be exact — in April’s draft. They will have two picks in the top 10 of the first round (theirs plus Chicago’s), their own second-rounder and two third-rounders.
That’s a lot of draft capital at their disposal for a potential new general manager (if Dave Gettleman’s time with the team comes to an end) to address the offensive line and find a high-end edge rusher. — Jordan Raanan
6. Carolina Panthers (5-12)
The Panthers have a lot of needs and few high draft picks to fill them with after giving up their second-round selection for quarterback Sam Darnold and third-round pick for cornerback CJ Henderson. The big question will be whether to reach for a quarterback in a thin QB class or begin rebuilding an offensive line that has only a couple of legitimate starters.
Missing on Darnold was a huge mistake, and likely not finding his replacement with the return of Cam Newton magnifies that even more since Carolina will be stuck with Darnold’s $18.8 million fifth-year option in 2022. — David Newton
7. New York Giants (via 6-11 CHI)
This pick goes to the Giants from the Bears’ trade up for quarterback Justin Fields last year. The Giants received the No. 20 pick (wide receiver Kadarius Toney) along with first- and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft. — ESPN staff
8. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
The Falcons need, well, everything — all the way from figuring out what the quarterback position will look like in the future down to the long-snapper. (Note: Don’t use a draft pick on a long-snapper.)
Atlanta’s roster construction will allow general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith to go to almost any position on the board to match need with draft value. It’s an intriguing place to be for a team trying to replenish talent in so many areas while also cleaning up the salary cap. — Michael Rothstein
9. Denver Broncos (7-10)
The Broncos’ biggest draft question is exactly the same as it was last April: What, exactly, is the team’s plan at quarterback? The draft strategy will revolve around whether to attempt to sign or trade for a veteran quarterback. They will have the cap space to do whatever they want in free agency, and they already have 11 picks — including five in the top 100 — in April’s draft.
General manager George Paton, approaching the end of his first calendar year on the job, has repeatedly said how much he covets more draft picks instead of less. So it’s unclear if he would consider a trade of multiple first-round picks to acquire a top-tier quarterback, if that’s the route the team takes. — Jeff Legwold
10. New York Jets (via 7-10 SEA)
This pick is a result of the Jamal Adams trade from July 2020. The Jets got two first-round selections in the deal; they used their 2021 picks from it to trade up for guard Alijah Vera-Tucker in the 2021 draft. — ESPN staff
11. Washington Football Team (7-10)
Washington likes quarterback Taylor Heinicke, but the team will be on a serious quest to find a quarterback it views as a stronger long-term solution. Heinicke’s play means it doesn’t have to force a pick, but there will be interest in finding someone with a higher ceiling. Washington won’t have a high pick, but this is not a draft with top-end quarterback talent. The organization has sought a long-term answer for years, starting 31 different players at the position since Mark Rypien led them to the Super Bowl following the 1991 season.
If not a quarterback, Washington could use more help offensively, whether at guard (if Brandon Scherff leaves) or wide receiver. A middle linebacker will be a priority, as well. — John Keim
12. Minnesota Vikings (8-9)
Minnesota is drafting in the top 15, the team’s highest pick since it selected cornerback Trae Waynes at No. 11 overall in 2015. Cornerback is once again a need for the Vikings, whose defensive retooling last offseason hasn’t panned out the way the team expected.
A lot of Minnesota’s offseason decisions hinge on quarterback Kirk Cousins’ future and that of coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman, but finding a cornerback and an edge rusher will be priorities to help rebuild the defense regardless of who else stays or goes. — Courtney Cronin
13. Cleveland Browns (8-9)
Since Week 5, the Browns scored over 20 points just four times, and they are in desperate need of some firepower at wide receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. was supposed to be that big-play threat. But with him now long gone, the Browns will have to take a hard look at addressing their need downfield offensively, including with their first-round pick. — Jake Trotter
14. Baltimore Ravens (8-9)
The Ravens could draft a defensive lineman in the first round for just the second time in team history. It looks like Baltimore will have to rebuild its defensive front, because tackle Brandon Williams is a free agent and end Calais Campbell could retire. The other starter, Derek Wolfe, is 31 years old, and he missed the entire season with a back injury. The Ravens can only hope they can find the same success as they did in 2006, when they drafted future Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. — Jamison Hensley
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via 9-8 MIA)
The biggest question facing the Eagles is whether to use one of their three first-round picks to acquire a quarterback or roll with Jalen Hurts for another season and build up the talent around him. This is not considered a particularly strong quarterback class, but some notable veterans could be available by trade, including Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. Expect Philadelphia to explore all options.
This pick was originally Miami’s, but it went to the Eagles in last year’s deal that included the 49ers. — Tim McManus
16. Philadelphia Eagles (via 9-8 IND)
This pick comes to the Eagles as a result of their trade with the Colts for quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz had to play at least 75% of the snaps for the pick to become a first-rounder. Philadelphia also received a third-round pick in the 2021 draft, which it used to trade up two spots with Dallas in Round 1 to take wide receiver DeVonta Smith. — ESPN staff
17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)
The Chargers are fortunate to have a pick in every round in April’s draft. They might want to find a better complement to linebacker Joey Bosa and fix their run defense. They are among the NFL’s worst against the run. The defensive line will be a priority this offseason, as will the O-line. — Shelley Smith
18. New Orleans Saints (9-8)
Quarterback will be an obvious consideration, since 2021 starter Jameis Winston is a pending free agent and is now rehabbing from a torn ACL. But it will be hard for the Saints to land a surefire QB prospect in the draft considering the talent pool and where they’ll be picking.
So perhaps they should focus instead on finding a desperately needed pass-catcher to help their 2022 quarterback. The Saints are one of the few teams who have missed out on the historic wide receiver draft classes over the past three years, drafting only one, a seventh-rounder. — Mike Triplett
ESPN FPI’s projections for pick Nos. 19-32
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)
20. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
21. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
22. Miami Dolphins (via 9-8 SF)
23. New England Patriots (10-7)
24. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
25. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
26. Detroit Lions (via 12-5 LAR)
27. Buffalo Bills (11-6)
28. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
29. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
31. Tennessee Titans (12-5)
32. Green Bay Packers (13-4)
(FPI projections are as of Sunday night)
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