With the college football season coming to a close and the NFL playoffs about to begin, speculation about the 2022 NFL Draft has already started.
The NFL Draft odds have yet to be released, but it’s never too early to handicap the top prospects in the upcoming draft. This year, some of the best players are on the defensive side of the ball. Read on to learn more about the top defensive NFL Draft picks in 2022.
Aidan Hutchison: DE Michigan
Aidan Hutchison made Michigan history in 2021. He recorded a single-season record of 14 sacks along with 15.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. His defensive dominance earned him a nomination for the Heisman Trophy, and he finished second in the voting.
Michigan has at least one game left. Hutchinson should have ample opportunity on the big stage to impress scouts further and improve his draft stock. The Jacksonville Jaguars, picking first overall, could be the destination for Hutchinson.
Kayvon Thibodeaux: DE Oregon
Kayvon Thibodeaux is an edge rusher out of Oregon who projects to be one of the most elite rookies in the NFL.
Though injured this season, he still recorded an impressive seven sacks and 12 tackles for a loss. Thibodeaux’s left-ankle sprain may have dropped his draft placement, but only slightly. In 2019, he recorded nine sacks and 35 tackles.
Throughout his career at Oregon, Thibodeaux’s speed and strength have garnered the attention of NFL scouts.
The Detroit Lions is one of the possible destinations for Thibodeaux. They rank in the bottom three for sacks per game and could use a skilled edge rusher to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Kyle Hamilton: S Notre Dame
Kyle Hamilton may not enter the draft, but he projects to be a top defensive player if he does. As a 2021 team captain, Hamilton contributed 34 tackles, 19 solo tackles, and three interceptions in seven games played. Hamilton has recorded 97 solo tackles and eight interceptions in his college career.
Along with his elite play, Hamilton’s shown to be a natural leader. He refused to transfer from Notre Dame even as head coach Brian Kelly bolted to LSU.
The New York Jets make sense as a destination for Hamilton. This season, the Jets rank 28th in passing defense and could use a physical and intelligent player to improve their secondary.
The 2022 NFL Draft Has Defensive Depth
The NFL Draft is where teams look to improve, and first-round picks are crucial to a team’s continued development and success. The inability to turn first-round choices into elite Sunday players can handcuff a team. These three players, however, look destined for greatness.
What about your favorite team? Could one of these players end up as a new star? Or does your favorite NFL team need a jolt of offense?
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