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Few Certainties About Draft, Though Eagles Taking a WR Seems to be One

It's one of the more intriguing drafts in recent memories with no consensus first overall pick and a still-evolving top 10, but it's strong in edge rushers and deep in cornerbacks
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For the first time in four years, a quarterback will not hear his name called when the 2022 NFL Draft opens its three-day run on Thursday night.

There isn’t much known about a class that does not have much consensus on just who the top 10 players will be, let alone, which players will go in the first round or slide into the second, but it’s safe to say that neither Kenny Pickett nor Malik Willis will go first overall.

“It's kind of fun not even knowing who the first pick is going to be,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah on a conference call last Thursday. “We don't know where these quarterbacks slot in and where they'll end up going. It provides a lot of intrigue. 

"We might not have those star-stars that we've had the last couple years up at the top, but I don't believe we've ever had more intrigue than we do this year with this draft.”

Pickett and Willis aren’t at first-pick level, plus the owners of the first overall pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars, already have Trevor Lawrence.

Aidan Hutchinson is just about all mock drafters’ pick to go to the Jags, but their GM Trent Baalke said on Friday that there are four players still involved in what that final decision will be.

The last time a QB didn’t get picked first overall was in 2017 when the Browns went with edge rusher Myles Garrett.

So, what is known about the 2022 draft?

For the Eagles, it is that they have 10 picks, but even that is subject to change.

Whether they stay at 15 and/or 18 or trade up or down isn’t clear, though that never is with GM Howie Roseman who likes to keep things interesting. 

Even if he stays put, it’s a guess as to who he will select because there is very little consensus as to who the first 14 players off the board will be.

“When anyone ever talks about drafts they start with the quarterbacks and feel like the quarterbacks are kind of the anchor of any draft,” said Roseman.

“So, there's some uncertainty about where the quarterbacks go in this draft. I think for us, we just go by our rankings and what we think is the right way to stack the board. We'll be prepared to take our 15th player at 15 and our 18th player at 18.”

Some things known about this class is that it’s strong in edge rushers and deep in cornerbacks.

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There were 37 cornerbacks taken last year in the draft after just 27 were picked in 2020. 

The 2020 class did have six first-rounders to five last year, but those taken two years ago have some uncertainty around them in Jeff Okudah, C.J. Henderson, A.J. Terrell, and Noah Igbinoghene while two others – Jeff Gladney and Damon Arnette - have run into legal troubles, with Gladney already on his second team and Arnette out of football.

The Eagles could certainly select a cornerback in the first round, something they haven’t done since 2002 when they picked Lito Sheppard.

Lito Sheppard was the last cornerback the Eagles drafted in the first round and that was back in 2002

Lito Sheppard was the last cornerback the Eagles drafted in the first round and that was back in 2002.

As for edge rushers, you can never have enough of those. The Eagles certainly don’t, but one thing about this draft seems certain - they will take a receiver in the first round for a third straight year.

Every draft analyst who held a conference call the past two weeks has no problem with Roseman doing it again after taking Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith in back-to-back first rounds.

“When you look around this league right now and you see if Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert and Aaron Rodgers and Josh Allen and these guys are on their game, I don't care how great your defense is, you'd better be able to score 28 points or you're not beating them,” said Jeremiah.

“I think it is a little bit antiquated from just we're going to have the roughest most rugged defense in the world because even with the way the rules are right now and the talent at the quarterback position, you're going to have to be able to score some points to match them.”

Finally, this draft is considered to be deep after year after COVID-19 wrecked 2020, and many took advantage of that including Pickett, who chose to try to raise his stock from a third, fourth-round level had he left Pitt after 2020 to a surefire first-rounder now.

It also means some players in the draft are older than they normally would be after taking the COVID year.

That’s good news for Roseman, who has three picks in the fifth round and one in the seventh.

“Every year I try and get 400 players (evaluated) for the draft, and usually I get to about 350 or 360, and then I'm just - it's a mad scramble to try and find some more guys to get to that 400 number,” said Jeremiah. “This year I kind of got to 400 pretty easily. ... “It's going to be a really good kind of sixth, seventh round, and priority free agent year to get those guys. 

"We have a couple older guys in this draft than we've had recently, but I haven't talked to too many teams that have thought that was that much of an issue to preclude them from taking them where they have them rated.”

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.