The race to the bottom just got a bit more interesting.
The Lions pulled off a stunner of a victory in Week 15, downing the Cardinals and giving them their second win of the 2021 season. Elsewhere, with the Texans and Davis Mills pounding the Jaguars, Jacksonville now slides into the No. 1 overall slot in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The re-shuffle at the top of the draft order marks the first time that the Lions don’t own the No. 1 overall pick this season, which may come as a bit of bittersweet news to Detroit fans hoping to draft a franchise-altering player with the top selection. Jacksonville’s remaining schedule means they have a pretty good shot to end up with the top pick for the second consecutive year.
For now, though, the Detroit win is a bit of an early Christmas present, while Jacksonville’s may pay off down the line.
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NFL Draft order 2022
Here’s how the 2022 NFL Draft order stands after NFL Week 15 games:
|4||New York Jets||3-11|
|5||New York Giants (via CHI)||4-10|
|6||New York Giants||4-10|
|8||New York Jets (via SEA)||5-9|
|10||Washington Football Team||6-8|
|11||Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA)||7-7|
|14||New Orleans Saints||7-7|
|16||Las Vegas Raiders||7-7|
— The Eagles currently hold three first-round picks.
— The Giants currently hold the Bears’ first-round pick, which was sent as part of an in-draft trade Chicago made to select quarterback Justin Fields in 2021.
— The Dolphins currently hold the 49ers’ first-round pick as part of a predraft trade. San Francisco selected quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall in 2021.
— The Jets currently hold the Seahawks’ first-round pick as part of the Jamal Adams trade in 2020.
— The Eagles currently hold the Colts’ first-round pick as part of the Carson Wentz trade. (In order for the pick to turn into a first-rounder, Wentz must play ≥75 percent of snaps this year OR Wentz plays ≥70 percent of snaps and Indianapolis makes the playoffs.)
— Pick Nos. 19 through 32 are held by teams currently in the NFL playoff picture.
It’s a trio of pass-rushers who could steal the spotlight come April.
While there’s no surefire, No. 1-overall pick entering the 2022 NFL Draft, Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson and Purdue’s George Karlaftis all could stake a claim as the best pass-rush presence in this year’s draft.
While Karlaftis’ stock has fallen behind the others, the question of whether Hutchinson has done enough to knock Thibodeaux off as the draft’s top-ranked edge defender is still unanswered: It doesn’t hurt, though, that Hutchinson had monster performances vs. Ohio State on Nov. 27 and in the Big Ten championship game.
In all, Hutchinson finishes the 2021 regular season with 14 sacks, and will have an opportunity to further strengthen his case for No. 1 overall in the College Football Playoff.
For quarterback-needy teams, the picture for passers has never been murkier: While there are some intriguing names entering the 2022 scene, no QB in the nation has yet to elevate into bona fide franchise passer status. North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral could all be first-round selections, but there’s a long, long way to go before names are called next April.