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For the longest time, Michigan football defensive end Aidan Hutchinson had been thought of as the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. However, there lacks a consensus of late.
NC State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu has been surging in many circles, including in Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest NFL mock draft for ESPN. Which means that Hutchinson is falling, even though he’s still No. 1 on Kiper’s updated big board.
So, with that in mind, where does Kiper think he’ll go? He expects that Hutchinson will stay home.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
The Lions are in a great spot here, with a clear need at edge rusher and one of the best two prospects guaranteed to be available. Hutchinson is a local kid who just finished second in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, racking up 14 sacks and 19 total tackles for loss and dominating Big Ten offensive tackles. This is not just a sentimental pick because he went to Michigan; Hutchinson is an elite defender.
Detroit’s defense is still a few pieces away from being average — there are big questions in the secondary, too — but this should be a rush-to-the-podium selection.
But, of course, Hutchinson isn’t the only Wolverine expected to go in the first round in April.
David Ojabo, his compatriot edge rusher, was long thought as a potential top 10 pick, but he’s also been slipping of late. Kiper has him going in the middle of the pack in the first-round, as a selection by the Eagles.
David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
The Eagles ranked 31st in the league with 29 sacks last season; they have to get better there. Getting pressure on the quarterback is a way to improve the entire defense. Ojabo is a pure pass-rusher who is still developing as a run defender. He had had 11 sacks and five forced fumbles, wreaking havoc opposite potential No. 1 pick Aidan Hutchinson. I’d feel better about taking Ojabo in the middle of Round 1 vs. the top 10 because he can get swallowed up in the run game, but his edge-rush upside is undeniable.
Of course, both of these mock picks come before this week’s NFL scouting combine, where both can put up eye-opening numbers (or the opposite) and either solidify their standings, bolster them, or make them worse.
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Isaiah is a University of Michigan alum, and has been covering the Wolverines football team since 2015.
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