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Jaguars GM Trent Baalke Says No. 1 Pick in 2022 NFL Draft is ‘Work in Progress’

With less than a week before the start of the 2022 NFL draft, Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke says the team has four players they are considering with the No. 1 pick.

Baalke told reporters on Friday that their selection is a “work in progress” and there are a lot of guys “valued very similar.”

“It will be interesting to see how the top ten lay out when it’s all said and done,” Baalke said. “… We still have a lot of meetings to go through… we’re ahead of last year schedule in terms of preparation.”

Baalke downplayed the chance to trade out of that spot without an obvious choice at No. 1. “Nobody has called directly,” he said Friday, per Brent Martineau

In Sports Illustrated's NFL Mock Draft 4.0 by Conor Orr, the first three projected picks are linemen: Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal, Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson and North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu.

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Other names to consider include Mississippi State offensive tackle Charles Cross, Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Georgia defensive end Travon Walker. 

While there are several days remaining for discussions on Jacksonville’s top selection, the Jaguars could use some help along their offensive line to aid in protecting the franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

More than three weeks ago, Jaguars offensive lineman Brandon Linder retired after spending all eight of his seasons in the NFL in Jacksonville. The Jaguars drafted Linder in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft. He started 15 games during his rookie season before moving to center ’16 and signing a $51.7 million deal with the franchise that made him the highest paid center per average annual salary in NFL history at the time.

However, a season-ending knee injury in 2018 and ankle and MCL injuries in ’20 and ’21 limited Linder’s production on the field. If Jacksonville hopes to make a major leap in the 2022 campaign after a tumultuous 3–14 finish in the 2021 season, that journey starts with franchise selecting someone to protect its prized asset in Lawrence as the priority.

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