2022 NFL Draft: Kayvon Thibodeaux on what he’s looking for in a team
Defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux joined Sports Seriously ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft to talk about all things football and his future.
Sports Seriously, USA TODAY
The 2022 NFL draft, i.e. the league’s 87th annual “Player Selection Meeting,” and its myriad mysteries are finally here.
Perhaps appropriate that an event that leads so many teams to hit blackjack and comes up snake eyes for quite a few others is being staged for the first time in Las Vegas, which was originally supposed to host the draft in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic scrapped those plans. The backdrop should make the visuals uniquely spectacular this year.
The intrigue should also be rampant given the number of trades that have already impacted the draft with more sure to follow. Make sure to follow the instant analysis here starting at 8 p.m. ET Thursday night, when the players start coming off the board.
If we should expect anything from the NFL draft … well, it’s the unexpected. More trades are inevitable tonight, while some projected top-10 picks won’t get selected in the top 10. Of course, there will also be head-scratchers throughout Round 1 sure to be parsed in the near and long term. Here are a few potential script flippers to watch for.
Heading into the draft – after an offseason packed with notable trades – the status of 49ers All-Pro Deebo Samuel has been a primary topic after he requested a trade from San Francisco following his breakout season. Probably going to be harder to execute a deal – if the Niners even really entertain one for their budding, 26-year-old superstar – once teams go on the clock given any transaction would need parameters, and a team acquiring Samuel would have to be ready to pay him $25+ million annually. But you never know in the NFL. The Jets and Lions could be receiver-needy teams to monitor.
The players are already hitting the red carpet in Vegas. The bling and threads are impressive, and you might be surprised by what occurs on the fashion front behind the scenes. USA TODAY Sports’ Josh Peter did a deep dive on the suit game that occurs before the draft.
The Jaguars, who selected Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence first overall last year, obviously won’t be taking another passer. Barring an unlikely trade of the selection, the 2022 draft will be the first since 2017, when the Browns took DE Myles Garrett, what won’t have a quarterback off the top. Ten of the past 13 drafts have been christened with a quarterback at No. 1.
USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis and Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz both released their final mock drafts this week … Davis good-naturedly complaining about the quality of Middlehurst-Schwartz’s Thursday mock as compared to his Wednesday version. Both agree Georgia DE Travon Walker will go No. 1 overall to the Jags, followed by Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson to the Lions. Middlehurst-Schwartz then goes off the rails … as most mock drafts anywhere tend to within the top five.
If the current order holds, a record eight teams would make multiple selections in Round 1. Eight others wouldn’t pick at all on Thursday night. Quite the indicator of how trades have pervaded the roster-building process when it seemed it wasn’t that long ago that teams were highly reluctant top part with prime draft capital, especially first-rounders.
Advice for every NFL team
Though not every club will play in the draft sandbox Thursday night, that doesn’t mean each franchise doesn’t have objectives to achieve over the draft’s full three days and seven rounds. Here is our friendly advice for all 32 NFL teams, pertinent both to the draft and beyond, as they continue shaping their rosters ahead of the 2022 season.
Top 50 prospects
Which players do you want your team to target? Middlehurst-Schwartz revealed his top 50 players of the 2022 draft earlier this week. Of note, it hardly mirrors your typical mock draft, with Walker – who could be Jacksonville’s selection at No. 1 – listed 18th, and Pitt QB Kenny Pickett not making the top 50 cut at all (only two QBs did).
2022 NFL draft tracker: First-round picks
1. Jacksonville Jaguars –
2. Detroit Lions –
3. Houston Texans –
4. New York Jets –
5. New York Giants –
6. Carolina Panthers –
7. Giants (from Chicago Bears) –
8. Atlanta Falcons –
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver Broncos) –
10. Jets (from Seahawks) –
11. Washington Commanders –
12. Minnesota Vikings –
13. Texans (from Cleveland Browns) –
14. Baltimore Ravens –
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami Dolphins) –
16. New Orleans Saints (from Indianapolis Colts via Eagles) –
17. Los Angeles Chargers –
18. Eagles (from Saints) –
19. Saints (from Eagles) –
20. Pittsburgh Steelers –
21. New England Patriots –
22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas Raiders) –
23. Arizona Cardinals –
24. Dallas Cowboys –
25. Buffalo Bills –
26. Tennessee Titans –
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers –
28. Packers –
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from San Francisco 49ers via Dolphins) –
30. Chiefs –
31. Cincinnati Bengals –
32. Lions (from Los Angeles Rams) –
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.