The battle of 2021’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 led to the Jaguars winning by losing.
The Jaguars entered Sunday’s matchup with New York holding the No. 1 pick, and they exit New York with the top selection in the NFL Draft still in their possession after falling to the Jets 26-21 at MetLife Stadium.
The Jaguars came close, though: They had an opportunity to put away the Jets with a first and-goal with time ticking down in the fourth, but came away empty handed, leading to New York’s fourth win on the season.
Ultimately, winning is good, but the dub may lead to an unfortunate byproduct for Gang Green. Now, sitting at the fourth pick in the draft, there’s a good chance they’ll miss out on an opportunity to draft either Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux and Michigan’s Aiden Hutchinson — both players would go a long way to solve New York’s long-standing pass rush issue, something that was especially apparent on Sunday.
For now, the Jets got a late Christmas present by way of a W.
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NFL Draft order 2022
Here’s how the 2022 NFL Draft order stands after NFL Week 16 games.
(Last updated before the Week 16 “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Cowboys and Washington Football Team.)
|4||New York Jets||4-11|
|5||New York Giants||4-11|
|7||New York Jets (via SEA)||5-10|
|8||New York Giants (via CHI)||5-10|
|9||Washington Football Team||6-8|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (via MIA)||7-7|
|15||New Orleans Saints||7-7|
|16||Los Angeles Chargers||8-7|
|17||Las Vegas Raiders||8-7|
— 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.
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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.