The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick in the NFL draft for the second year in a row. The general consensus among top NFL draft minds is that they will select Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with their pick. Hutchinson was college football’s top-rated edge rusher and had a 14 sack season and three coming against rival Ohio State to win the Wolverines their first Big Ten Championship since 2003.
Before this season, the predicted number one pick was Kayvon Thibidoux out of Oregon, another defensive end. His statistics are remarkable, with a time of 4.58 in the 40. Even though he had an injury that required him to miss roughly a month, it should have no impact on his pro career. He should not drop farther than the third pick.
The fastest and highest riser of the draft has been Trayvon Walker, an edge rusher for the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Going into the offseason, he was viewed as an early to mid-first-round pick, but after a strong combine performance and great initial meetings with teams, Las Vegas has him as the second favorite for the top selection. He is the fastest of the edge rushers, posting the top 40-time of his position group at an insane 4.51. Based on recent rumors within the league, he should be in the top three.
The next top prospect can be found in the top cornerback in the draft, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The University of Cincinnati prospect did not let up a single touchdown in his career playing for the Bearcats in his three years. He was one of the main reasons why Cincinnati became the first non-power-five conference school to make the college football playoff. There’s no front runner for where he could be drafted, as all the teams in the top-12 picks, besides the Carolina Panthers, have a glaring need at the cornerback position. Gardner has the potential to be the next Richard Sherman.
We will most likely see two quarterbacks drafted in the first round. The one with the most potential is Malik Willis, the signal-caller of Liberty University. With comparisons to former NFL MVP quarterback Steve McNair, Willis dominated the lesser competition with his dual-threat style. He led the Flames to a blowout win in the LendingTree Bowl. It is expected that he’ll go to either Carolina or Pittsburgh, so he should still go in the first round.
The New England Patriots have multiple positions they need to fill heading into the NFL Draft. The most prominent positions they have to address are the wide receiver, cornerback, guard, linebacker and defensive tackle positions. They are expected to pick up two Alabama receivers, John Metchie and Jameson Williams, both coming off injuries. They have also had multiple visits with Georgia linebacker Nakobi Dean and Boston College guard Zion Johnson. Both are extremely logical picks, as the team has let Kyle VanNoy walk and have still not re-signed the aging Dont’a Hightower at the linebacker position.