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Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft: First run through topped by Aidan Hutchinson, includes four QBs

Mel Kiper has his first mock draft of the 2022 NFL Draft cycle.

Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Michigan Wolverines in action against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The NFL wrapped up the first round of the 2022 NFL Playoffs, which has solidified the first 24 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft. The remaining eight picks will be sorted out over the next four weekends, but in the meantime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. arrives with his first mock draft of the year.

Last week, Kiper and Todd McShay combined to create a top five mock draft in a podcast with Field Yates. Kiper handled picks 1, 3, and 5 while McShay handled 2 and 4. Kiper had Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson No. 1 and that remained the same in this first mock. The only difference in the top five between this mock and the dual mock with McShay was at No. 4. Kiper sent Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton to the Jets instead of LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.

Here’s the top five in Kiper’s mock draft.

1. Jaguars: DE Aidan Hutchinson
2. Lions: DE Kayvon Thibodeauk
3. Texans: LT Evan Neal
4. Jets: S Kyle Hamilton
5. Giants: LT Ikem Ekwonu

The quarterback position is always the wild card in the draft at this point in the offseason. When there isn’t a clear big name QB, we can all but guarantee somebody is going to climb between now and April. Kiper’s mock draft included the following quarterbacks:

11. Washington: Malik Willis, Liberty
18. Saints: Kenny Pickett, Pitt
20. Steelers: Matt Corral, Ole Miss
28. Lions (via Rams): Sam Howell, North Carolina

For now there’s no top ten quarterbacks, but that could change. As Kiper noted, six of the quarterbacks are headed to the Senior Bowl the week of February 1 and that could be enough to get a team excited. The QBs competing in the Senior Bowl include Kenny Pickett, Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, Carson Strong, and Bailey Zappe.

DraftKings Sportsbook is currently offering odds on who will go No. 1 in the 2022 NFL Draft. Hutchinson tops the list at +120, followed by Thibodeaux (+125) and Neal (+250). Pickett follows at +3500, so it’s going to take some work to move a QB’s odds into that top tier range.