FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 4th, 2022
PETER KING PROJECTS THE TOP 10 PICKS OF THE 2022 NFL DRAFT, INCLUDING AIDAN HUTCHINSON AT NO. 1, IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN
“Safest pick at a need position, and the kind of long-term cornerstone the Jaguars are crying out for…Young greatness is vital on the edge.” – King on Michigan Edge Aidan Hutchinson to the Jaguars at No. 1
“You just get the sense the Panthers aren’t sold on Sam Darnold and are desperate for an upgrade…Pickett would give them hope.” – King on Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett to the Panthers at No. 6
“It’s likely that when it comes time for Burrow or Herbert to do a new deal, the teams will argue that Watson’s deal is a one-off and they can’t do that…But contracts always get piggybacked. Agents and players will certainly try to continue the fully guaranteed trend.” – King on impact of Deshaun Watson’s guaranteed contract
STAMFORD, Conn. – April 4, 2022 – Peter King discusses projections for the top 10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also breaks down the Buccaneers’ head coaching transition from Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles, discusses potential strategies for the new playoff overtime rules, Deshaun Watson’s guaranteed contract, and more.
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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
2022 NFL DRAFT
King: “I’ll do my customary mock draft in three weeks, in the column of April 25. What (this is) is a combo-platter of what I’m hearing and what I think would be smart. It’s definitely not a prediction of what will happen. This is going to be a fun month and a compelling draft.”
King’s top ten picks in the 2022 NFL Draft right now:
|1. Jacksonville: Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan
|6. Carolina: Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
|2. Detroit: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia
|7. *LA Chargers: Charles Cross, OL, Mississippi
|3. Houston: Evan Neal, OL, Alabama
|8. Atlanta: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
|4. NY Jets: Sauce Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
|9. Seattle: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
|5. NY Giants: Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
|10. NY Jets: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon
|*Trade with NY Giants
King on Hutchinson to the Jaguars at No. 1 overall: “Safest pick at a need position, and the kind of long-term cornerstone the Jaguars are crying out for. Put him opposite Josh Allen, sprinkle in the underrated Dawuane Smoot, and all of a sudden the Jags have the kind of pass-rush that’s going to give foes real issues. One other thing: Smoot and Allen have expiring contracts at the end of this year. Young greatness is vital on the edge.”
King on Walker to the Lions at No. 2: “Walker edges Kayvon Thibodeaux here, in part because of versatility. At 275, Walker will be a lightish 3-technique defensive tackle on occasion, but more likely a strong two-way defensive end with good run-stuffing ability. If it is Thibodeaux, then potential and pass-rush wins. If it’s Walker, it’s best all-around player/worker bee in the Dan Campbell mold.”
King on Neal to the Texans at No. 3: “Second straight team that wouldn’t surprise me taking Thibodeaux because of the promise. But when I think of GM Nick Caserio, I think of long-term program-builder, and I think ‘Saban dude.’ As a disciple of Bill Belichick, Caserio learned to trust Belichick’s best pal in coaching, Nick Saban, and Saban is all-in on this versatile long-term lineman.”
King on Gardner to the Jets at No. 4: “I hear the Jets, like many teams, are leery of the best cornerback talent in this draft, LSU’s Derek Stingley, who had a super-weird career in the SEC. Gardner’s a fascinating prospect. In 33 college games, he didn’t allow a touchdown in coverage…At 6-2 and 188 pounds (likely to be able to play at 195 or so), Gardner is the kind of big corner teams lust for.”
King on Ekwonu to the Giants at No. 5: “The legend is true: Accepted at Harvard and Yale, chose to go to the better football school. One of the brightest players to enter the draft in years, the athletic Ekwonu would be the kind of perfect piece to continue a crucial Giants’ rebuild on the line. A tandem of Andrew Thomas and Ekwonu at left and right tackle – if Thomas continues his progress – could give Daniel Jones a real chance to show he deserves the Giants’ QB job.”
King on Pickett to the Panthers at No. 6: “You just get the sense the Panthers aren’t sold on Sam Darnold and are desperate for an upgrade. Drafting Pickett (2021: 67-percent passer, 42 TDs, seven interceptions) is no sure thing, at all. But the Panthers are still searching at quarterback, and Pickett would give them hope.”
King on Cross to the Chargers at No. 7 and proposed trade with the Giants: “Chargers deal the 17th pick in this draft, plus 2023 first- and sixth-round picks, for this choice. Wild guess on my part. Giants don’t want to make this pick – they want an extra first-rounder in 2023 in case they need ammo to go get a quarterback, or simply for depth in a draft likely to be stronger in the first round. The Chargers want a long-term starter opposite young Rashawn Slater. Works for both teams.”
King on Willis to the Falcons at No. 8: “Lots to be concerned about here, because Willis needs a redshirt year under a smart QB coach like Arthur Smith, and he needs to be schooled in working his progressions most importantly. But Smith is a patient teacher, and he won’t need to play this year with Marcus Mariota in the saddle for at least 2022. There’s something about Willis’ fit. He’s a local kid…teammates love him, very positive, and he has a big arm. Owner Arthur Blank could view him as a perfect long-term pilot of his franchise. I’m fascinated with the prospect of this.”
King on Stingley to the Seahawks at No. 9: “One of the strangest prospects to come out in years. Was superb as a true frosh in 2019, and had great practice battles with Ja’Marr Chase. But Stingley played only 10 games in the last two years due to ankle, illness and Lisfranc issues, and now teams don’t know what to think of him. But the Seahawks are desperate for corners this spring, and the 6-1 Stingley could be the kind of big and competitive corner Seattle longs for.”
King on Thibodeaux to the Jets at No. 10: “Asking around, people told me, Gotta give the Jets a receiver with one of the first-round picks. And they could go Drake London or one of the Ohio State stars here…But the Jets could also strike gold with Thibodeaux, the rusher of a thousand opinions who could go as high as two overall. This is why the draft is so fun, because of arguments on guys like Thibodeaux.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Tampa Bay’s head coach transition from Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles: “What’s the biggest issue in the league right now? It’s the one ‘that hung over the league meetings’ last week, per one high-ranking club official, the paucity of minority head coaches and top assistants. As (Bruce) Arians departs, he leaves behind a Super Bowl contender with a coaching staff that has its top six coaching posts filled by Black men… He didn’t leave Todd Bowles in the lurch. He left him with Tom Brady and a Super Bowl roster.”
King on Arians: “I believe, regardless how the end happened, it’s a good thing to acknowledge a retiring head coach who saw coaches for who they are and how well they could coach, and who won 29 games and a Super Bowl with a great quarterback and those coaches over a two-year period, and who left a championship contender in the hands of a Black coach who is – as close as I can tell – universally respected in the sport.”
King on Browns QB Deshaun Watson’s guaranteed contract: “The guarantee for Watson stunned GMs and club presidents – I can tell you that…It’s likely that when it comes time for (Joe) Burrow or (Justin) Herbert to do a new deal (they’re eligible after the 2022 season), the teams will argue that Watson’s deal is a one-off and they can’t do that. But contracts always get piggybacked. Agents and players will certainly try to continue the fully guaranteed trend.”
King on potential game strategies with the new playoff overtime rule: “First reaction for most people: Look for teams to want the ball second – allowing them to know what they need to do to either win the game or tie it to continue it into a third possession…There’s one more bit of strategy, as pointed out by former Saints coach Sean Payton. He said if wind or weather was a factor in a playoff game, he’d choose to defend a goal (take the wind, in other words) … The bottom line is this new rule is not as simple to divine as it appeared when it got passed in Florida the other day.”
King on LB Bobby Wagner signing with the Rams: “I love the signing for the Rams and for Wagner, who will have a couple of years to try to win a second Super Bowl and to burnish his already legit Hall of Fame case…The cap-poor Rams would never have engaged Wagner if they’d been able to sign Von Miller. But the Bills made Von Miller, 33, a surprisingly rich man, and so the Rams has some money left in couch cushions to procure Wagner.”
King on Washington owner Daniel Snyder: “On Saturday night, A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports reported that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating allegations of sexual and financial misdeeds in the Washington front office, has been informed by one source that the team did not give the full share of ticket revenue to visiting teams, as required by NFL bylaws…if the Perez story is true, it would be a way out for the NFL, and allow the league to get an owner into Washington who would restore its legitimacy.”
King on Matt Ryan and the Falcons: “(Falcons owner Arthur) Blank said wonderful things to me about Matt Ryan, and I believe he truly loves the guy. But the contract and cap number were onerous, and after one more year (this one) of a heavy ($40.5 million) number, they’ll be clean next year…Ryan going to the Colts was good for the Falcons, good for Ryan (who needed a fresh start) and potentially season-changing for the Colts.”
Blank to King on trading Ryan and his contract: “Getting out from under this tremendous burden is going to be big for our team. It’s really hard to build a complete team when the quarterback is making 25, 20 percent of our cap. Next year, as of now, we could be $110 million under the cap, and we’ll be able to operate aggressively [in free agency] if that’s what we choose to do.”
King on the Patriots’ trade for WR DeVante Parker: “It’s good to see the Patriots add a needed receiver, dealing a 2023 third-round pick to Miami for DeVante Parker and a fifth-round pick Saturday. But they’re still third in the division, behind Miami and Buffalo, in wideout weapons. Picking 21st and 54th in the draft, I doubt New England’s out of the receiver business.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) streams on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays & is available on-demand. The Dan Patrick Show streams at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.