We've entered the closing kick on the path to the 2022 NFL Draft, with the calendar turning over to April officially making it crunch time for all 32 franchises. After a frenzied free agency period, some wild quarterback trades, and a hefty dose of pro days, front offices across the country have started to firm up their draft boards and inch ever closer to finding that missing piece that will help bring home a Lombardi Trophy.
With all that in mind, here's a look at who could go where in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars — Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
Bringing in Brandon Scherff and Christian Kirk were designed to help out young QB Trevor Lawrence but this is still a team that needs help all over. Hutchinson is not just a safe pick, but he's polished enough to come in right away and contribute while also helping set a new tone in the locker room after a disastrous 2021.
2. Detroit Lions — Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
The Lions have to be heartbroken knowing that Hutchinson is unlikely to be there for them thanks to that late-season win but can at least take solace in building an offensive line that can hold up for the long haul. Ekwonu has the kind of toughness that Dan Campbell is looking and could be a starter right away at guard before kicking outside opposite Penei Sewell for the next decade.
3. Houston Texans — Travon Walker, DL, Georgia
Even amid all the attention and questions about quarterback and the rest of the offense, Lovie Smith needs even more help all over his defense. Walker showed he's athletic enough to play nearly anywhere and could be a unique piece too valuable to pass up.
4. New York Jets — Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Few teams need somebody they can throw out on an island more than the Jets and that's exactly how Gardner operates. He ticks pretty much every box you want in somebody given his length and could help unlock the rest of Robert Saleh's defense.
5. New York Giants — Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
New head coach Brian Daboll is bound to get the inside info on Neal from his old boss Nick Saban and walk away convinced this can be the building block desperately needed regardless of what happens at the QB position. Neal's size and quickness are a rare combination at the high level needed and he seems like a good fit in the NFC East moving forward.
6. Carolina Panthers — Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Hamilton's sub-par 40 times have caused some teams to rethink him but when you put on the tape, it's understandable why he's still about as clean a prospect as you could ask for and plenty fast enough between the lines that count. There's pressure to nab a QB to save the jobs of many in Carolina but without the big-ticket player available under center, the sensible option ends up winning out.
7. New York Giants (from Chicago) — Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
Outside of Azeez Ojulari, the Giants need to desperately upgrade their athleticism among the linebacking corps and can do that in a big way by nabbing Lloyd. The former Utes star goes sideline-to-sideline, is as instinctive as can be, and still has yet to reach his ceiling in terms of getting after the QB.
8. Atlanta Falcons — Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
Marcus Mariota is the new guy under center in Atlanta but in terms of pass catchers, he's got Kyle Pitts and…uh, well… yeah. Enter Wilson, who seems like he could thrive in the Falcons' offense and form quite a combo playing off Pitts and company.
9. Seattle Seahawks (from Denver) — Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State
The last time the Seahawks were picking in this region of the draft, they went with Russell Okung to kick off the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era in Seattle. Cross has varied opinions of where he can go as a run blocker but he should help improve the pass protection right away.
10. New York Jets (from Seattle) — Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
It wouldn't shock anybody if the Jets became good trade partners with somebody lower in the draft for when this pick rolls around but Robert Saleh and the front office also know they need to keep improving the back end of their defense if they want to compete at all in the division. McDuffie's ability near the line of scrimmage could be a tie-breaker over several bigger names here.
11. Washington Commanders — Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The number of people in Washington who truly believe that Carson Wentz is a real long-term option at QB can probably be counted on one hand. Pickett still needs to sit and learn a bit but has the level of consistency and upside that the organization has been lacking for nearly over a decade.
12. Minnesota Vikings — Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
After free agency helped fill some holes defensively, new head coach Kevin O'Connell's first order of business is finding some additional protection for Kirk Cousins while also netting someone who fits with that run scheme to help out Dalvin Cook and company. Penning still has a few rough edges but his physicality can make up for it in Minnesota.
13. Houston Texans (from Cleveland) — Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU
If Stingley would have been allowed to come out after his All-American freshman season, he might have been a top-five pick. Injuries and two years later, it's a bit of a different story but the Texans have huge needs to fill and his upside is being an elite corner in the game to make this well worth expending their second first-rounder on the LSU product.
14. Baltimore Ravens — Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
Davis landing in Baltimore will result in an all-time, "of course the Ravens drafted that awesome college player" who also checks off a box in terms of big need.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Miami) — Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia
The Eagles have been doing their best to re-tool up front but definitely could use Wyatt's excellent short-yardage burst and ability to get up field and bring down the ball carrier. His upside is tremendous and he'll get the added benefit of a veteran defensive line group to receive that additional level of polish necessary to turn him into a star.
16. Philadelphia Eagles (from Indianapolis) — Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama
While some Eagles fans cringe at the thought of using another first-rounder on a receiver, Williams has the potential to be a true game-changer once he's fully recovered from that ACL injury. He would pair well with DeVonta Smith running routes underneath and mesh nicely with a coaching staff used to having a burner threaten the opposing secondary.
17. Los Angeles Chargers — Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
The Chargers hit it out of the park with their first-round lineman last year and could do the same with Green, who can slide in right away at guard while providing plenty of positional flexibility to play other spots. Justin Herbert is still a young QB and would benefit from that extra split-second in the pocket the addition of Green would provide.
18. New Orleans Saints — Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State
The needs are diverse for the Saints but Cameron Jordan, great as he is, still is getting a year older and Marcus Davenport is only on his fifth-year option with no guarantee of a long-term future. Johnson has top-10 talent and could be a steal at this point in the draft.
19. Philadelphia Eagles — Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
We'll see if the Eagles wind up using all three of their first-rounders but Dean seems tailor-made for the team given their struggles at the position in recent seasons. While some might find him a tick undersized, that isn't going to bother the Eagles as much given how much he jumps off the tape at you.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers — Daxton Hill, S, Michigan
So much attention on the QB spot even if Mitchell Trubisky is not the answer but this is also going to be a re-booted defense for Mike Tomlin's crew too. Hill brings similar versatility to Minkah Fitzpatrick while also being just as physical over the middle of the field.
21. New England Patriots — Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
Bill Belichick understands that there's a glaring hole in the secondary but when has that ever caused him to move off the draft board? Walker doesn't get as much attention as any of his Bulldog teammates but has the tools to become a huge star for the Pats with his inherent physical talent ready to be shaped by that coaching staff.
22. Green Bay Packers (from Las Vegas) — Drake London, WR, USC
The Packers don't do receivers in the first round. They just don't. But there comes a time for every franchise to toss some of those long-term beliefs out the window when you're in win-now mode. London is going to be a jump-ball machine for Aaron Rodgers in the red zone and has the work ethic to mesh well in Green Bay.
23. Arizona Cardinals — Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
DeAndre Hopkins needs a new running mate and the Cardinals would have their jaw drop if Olave is still around by the time they pick. He not only adds plenty of speed but you'd be hard-pressed to find a smoother route-runner that can catch a lot of balls from Kyler Murray over the coming years.
24. Dallas Cowboys — Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
There are questions about Thibodeaux to be sure, with his attitude and ability to attack on all three downs coming up for some teams. But he's also tremendously talented and the Cowboys have a history of landing such players a little lower than expected in moves that wind up playing out nicely down the road. Jerry Jones has to hope that will be the case again as the former Duck star could be a nice replacement for recent departures.
25. Buffalo Bills — Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
Thirteen seconds will live in Bills lore for a long time but the franchise can overcome it if they fix that secondary by adding the physical Booth to a group that badly needs some fresh faces to keep pace in the AFC.
26. Tennessee Titans — Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
The Titans have come close to reaching the Super Bowl several times and could see that Ryan Tannehill may not be the guy to get them over the hump. He's due a chunk of change down the road so it makes plenty of sense to nab the toolsy Willis as the new long-term QB while allowing him to sit around and learn for another season.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue
The championship roster Bruce Arians had quickly looks like it has a lot of holes in it for 2022 but Karlaftis can take some of the pressure off up front thanks to his relentless motor.
28. Green Bay Packers — Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
See pick 22, only factor in Dotson's deep speed to one of the best at finding the open receiver down the field.
29. Kansas City Chiefs (from Miami via San Francisco) — Arnold Ebiketie, Edge, Penn State
Applying pressure to opposing QBs is one way to help the back end of your defense and Ebiketie has a chance to hit double-digit sacks sooner rather than later. He'll benefit from learning from those on the roster already before becoming the long-term guy playing off of Chris Jones.
30. Kansas City Chiefs — Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
We'll see if Tyrann Mathieu returns to KC but the secondary still needs new faces at corner if the Chiefs want to return to the Super Bowl. Gordon is a savvy operator who knows just when to take a chance and when to hang back to make the right play.
31. Cincinnati Bengals — Travis Jones, DT, UConn
Jones has been a fast riser up the draft boards and without a top-tier corner around in this spot, could be a quality option for the reigning AFC champs as they look to take the next step defensively.
32. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams) — Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Lions need pass catchers in the worst way and Burks provides the physicality the coaching staff likes with a wideout who attacks the ball in space and has a tremendous catch radius to help out a QB that might not be the most accurate.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.