2022 NFL Draft: Hutchinson, Gardner lead Cowherd's Top 10

2022 NFL Draft: Hutchinson, Gardner lead Cowherd’s Top 10

With 262 selections spread across seven rounds, the NFL Draft is next to impossible to predict.

That even applies to the top 10 picks, and Colin Cowherd has become exhausted with the yearly predictions always going wrong. So he took a different approach this time. Cowherd listed the 10 players he’d choose if he were in a general manager’s shoes.

“This is my dream job,” said Cowherd. “This is what I would do. This is my rationalization for every pick.”

10. New York Jets: Charles CrossOT, Mississippi State

2021 notable facts: 2021 first-team All-SEC, allowed only two sacks on 719 pass-blocking snaps.

Colin’s rationalization: “Cross maybe not an all-time left tackle, but if I were the Jets, I’d go real heavy offensive in the draft.”

9. Seattle Seahawks: Derek Stingley Jr.DB, USL

2021 season stats (3 games): Eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one fumble forced (played in only three games due to Lisfranc injury)

Colin’s rationalization: “I have concerns about this kid busting. He’s never been as good as his freshman year, but the kid is ridiculous. A three-year starter at LSU. Just long, athletic, fast. He is a sensational player. Is he their Jalen Ramsay?”

8. Atlanta Falcons: Garrett WilsonWR, Ohio State

2021 season stats (11 games): 70 receptions, 1,058 receiving yards, 12 receiving touchdowns, 2021 second-team All-Big Ten selection

Colin’s rationalization: “He got better every year at Ohio State, and Calvin Riddley isn’t around. This receiving core is a mess. It’s a tight end and a bunch of nonsense. He’s Calvin Ridley for a year, then Calvin steps in, and those guys battle it out for No. 1.”

7. New York Giants: Travon WalkerOF, georgia

2021 season stats (13 games): 33 tackles, six sacks, one fumble recovered, recorded a sack in each of Georgia’s College Football Playoff games

Colin’s rationalization: “Most people think he’s going No. 1. He’s not productive enough. He was a one-year starter. That’s not my thing. You’ve got to give me numbers and sacks. I think he’s a big-time athlete, and everyone loves his traits.”

6. Carolina Panthers: Malik WillisQB, Liberty

2021 season stats (13 games): 207 of 339 passing (61.1%), 2,857 passing yards, 27 passing touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 878 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns

Colin’s rationalization: “[Carolina] has already told Sam Darnold they’re going to draft a quarterback, so why not get the best one? Why draft one in the third round that won’t be as good as Sam Darnold? I think you can put [Willis] in the offense pretty early because of his athleticism. He’ll figure out stuff.”

5. New York Giants: Evan NealOT, Alabama

2021 notable facts: 2021 consensus All-American, 2021 Outland Trophy semifinalist, allowed only 24 QB pressures over his last two seasons

Colin’s rationalization: “I don’t love his feet, but he’s a three-year starter under Nick Saban. [He’s] 6-foot-7, 320 [pounds], and the Giants had the 30th-ranked offensive line. This isn’t a great draft, but this is of great need, so I would go get him.”

4. New York Jets: Kayvon ThibodeauxOF, Oregon

2021 season stats (10 games): 49 tackles, seven sacks, two fumbles forced, 2021 unanimous All-American

Colin’s rationalization: “The Jets have not had a player with 10-plus sacks in seven years. This kid was just a sack machine. He’s going to play. He’s twitchy and he’s strong. The bottom line is, if you just ask him to rush the passer , he can do that. Can he play in space? He can do that.”

3. Houston Texas: Ikem EkwonuOL, NC State

2021 notable facts: 2021 unanimous All-American, 2021 Outland Trophy finalist, allowed only three sacks on 400 pass-blocking snaps in 2021

Colin’s rationalization: “I don’t know how great he’ll be, but there’s a zero chance he’ll miss. Great feet, 320 [pounds], allowed two sacks in 880 snaps. That’s big boy football. The Houston Texans’ offensive line stinks, 29th in the league, and they’re taking offers on Laremy Tunsil.”

2. Detroit Lions: Ahmad “Sauce” GardnerCB, Cincinnati

2021 season stats (13 games): 40 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, 2021 consensus All-American, 2021 AAC Defensive Player of the Year

Colin’s rationalization: “Sauce Gardner never allowed a passing touchdown in college, did not allow a catch for over 20 yards, and Nick Saban said when they played him, they went away from him. And the Lions’ pass defense allowed 69 touchdown passes last year. It stunk.”

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Aidan HutchinsonOF, Michigan

2021 season stats (14 games): 62 tackles, 14 sacks, two forced fumbles, set Michigan single-season record for sacks

Colin’s rationalization: “Highest-ranked college football player. I know what he is: wildly productive. He led the Big Ten with 14 sacks. He has all the production that I need. I want production, not just traits.”

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