Predictions & Comparisons for the Top 5 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft

By Noah Costantino

With NFL training camps starting in less than a month, it is almost time for the pre-season to be officially underway. Some odd free agency signings and blockbuster trades made it safe to say this offseason has been a wild one; we can only hope the same for the 2022 NFL season.

Even more interesting in this year’s draft is the fact that not one quarterback was taken off the board as a Top 5 selection, an anomaly that has not happened since the 2013 NFL Draft. Who was the first quarterback selected then you ask? The Buffalo Bills used the 16th pick on E.J. Manuel from Florida State. Not a name that has been mentioned in a while.

Faced without a Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence-type talent to save their franchise, teams resorted to drafting based on raw talent and potential. The league wasn’t picking guys that would single-handedly win them games. Instead, they were drafting for positional cornerstones that would spend their career on the team. Only time will tell how these rookies will fare in their first season.

Pick 1 – Travon Walker – DL – Jacksonville Jaguars

After two consecutive years of picking in the number 1 spot, the Jaguars shocked some fans by going with late riser Travon Walker. Many believed this spot was saved for Aiden Hutchinson of Michigan, yet that was not to be.

In the Jaguars’ eyes, Walker brings much more to the table. Size, speed, and wingspan are all intangibles needed for an elite pass-rusher and Walker checks all those boxes. Coming from the national champion Georgia Bulldog team, it seems he will be poised to win in the state of Florida for Jacksonville as well.

Projection: 66 Tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 12 TFL.

NFL Comparison: Jared Allen

Pick 2 – Aiden Hutchinson – DL – Detroit Lions 

In my eyes, Hutchinson should not have been a top 10 selection, let alone number 2. While he does have the size and good arm length, he lacks speed. Not just vertical running speed but speed off the ball.

When NFL rookies are asked the biggest difference between college and pro ball, they usually answer the speed of the game. This is especially important to get adjusted to for a defensive lineman, however, this is not something Hutchinson will adjust to very easily.

Projection: 26 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks 0 FF, 5 TFL.

NFL Comparison: Solomon Thomas

Pick 3 – Derek Stingley Jr. – CB – Houston Texans

Another shocking pick, as many believed Sauce Gardener would be the first cornerback off the board. The Texans went with Stingley Jr. out of LSU. Stingley didn’t leave Baton Rouge with too impressive numbers. In his junior and senior years, not even recording one interception in either season. However, this was due to limited play as he only started 10 games during that two-year span.

This begs the question; is he NFL ready? After an impressive combine and enough tape for the Texans to look at, they decided Stingley was their guy. Let’s just hope they get what they bargained for.

Prediction: 41 Tackles, 2 INT

NFL Comparison: Sean Murphy-Bunting

Pick 4 – Sauce Gardner – CB – New York Jets

One of the more electric talents out of this year’s Draft class, Sauce Gardner, out of the Cinderella 4 seed Cincinnati Bearcats, helped put the school on the map from the moment he had stepped on campus.

This was a home run for the Jets to get at pick number 4. Sauce will fill the role of an electric playmaker that the Jets secondary has needed since the departure of Jamal Adams. However, this will come at a cost. Gardner will be so focused on making plays that it will cause some lapses of judgment from the young corner. Jets fans may have a bittersweet relationship with Sauce but at the end of the day, he will help get the offense back on the field with turnovers.

Prediction: 50 Tackles, 6 INT, 1 Sack.

NFL Comparison: Trevon Diggs

Pick 5 – Kayvon Thibodeaux – DE – New York Giants

If you were to ask someone a year ago who would be the number one pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, a lot of people would have put their money on Thibodeaux. Yet, after missing some games due to injury and not putting up the sack numbers many would have anticipated, it dropped his stock.

In the end, the talent is still there. One of the more explosive and strong pass rushers off the ball, Thibodeaux can do much more than just get to the quarterback. Kayvon may not be the biggest defensive end in the class, but he certainly will have a chance to show off his ability. He will look to be the catalyst of the lackluster New York Giants defensive line.

Prediction: 52 Tackles, 7 Sacks, 2 FF

NFL Comparison: Mario Williams

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