LAS VEGAS — We are one day away from the highly anticipated 2022 NFL Draft!
This year, there's definitely no consensus No. 1 overall pick as that has bounced around in recent months from Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson to Georgia's Travon Walker in recent days and even some chatter about NC State's Ikem Ekwonu.
Similar to the guess work being done on the No. 1 pick, this is widely expected to be somewhat of an unpredictable draft. Aren't they all?
If you haven't yet, check out the Ultimate NFL Mock Draft 2022, presented by the Locked On Podcast Network and Audacy. This one-of-a-kind mock draft features all round 1 selections made by local team experts at Locked On, with analysis and insight from draft experts at Audacy and Locked On.
Let's get into what could be some surprises in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
No quarterbacks selected in the top 10
It doesn't happen often. In fact it hasn't even happened since 2013 when EJ Manuel was the first quarterback selected at No. 16 overall.
But, this is potentially a year where it could happen. All year, the narrative has been that this is a weaker quarterback draft class than normal, with a big one expected next year when Alabama's Bryce Young and Ohio State's CJ Stroud become available.
Malik Willis of Liberty has garnered most of the chatter to be the first quarterback selected. But, if the Panthers at No. 6 decide to go a different route and not select a QB, we may not see a quarterback selected in the top 10.
In the latest mock draft at the Locked On NFL Draft podcast, hosts Eric Crocker and Ryan Tracy had Willis fall out of the top 10, and actually getting selected by the New Orleans Saints all the way back at No. 16.
7 wide receivers selected in the first round
Vegas has set the total for wide receivers drafted in the first round at 6 total, but is seven more likely?
There are obviously a lot of teams looking to upgrade at wide receiver in the draft with this strong receiver draft class.
There hasn't been a draft with seven receivers taken in the first round since 2004. Six have been taken several times since then, but never seven.
Jameson Williams, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Drake London are the four receivers in the draft that are pretty much consensus first round selections. But, there are multiple others that are considered first round selections as well. That includes Treylon Burks, Jahan Dotson. If those six are selected, it just takes one more receiver to sneak in at the back of the draft, where there are several teams with receiver needs including the Packers, Chiefs, Bucs and Lions.
That player could be Western Michigan's Sky Moore, North Dakota State's Christian Watson or Georgia's George Pickens.
Saints trade up, but not for a quarterback
After the Saints made their trade with the Eagles to gain an extra first round pick, they're now selecting at Nos. 16 and 19. The initial speculation was that the Saints could package those two picks to trade up and get quarterback Malik Willis or Kenny Pickett.
But, Locked On Saints podcast host Ross Jackson talked about a possibility that the Saints could actually trade up instead for an offensive tackle that slips out of the top 10, like Mississippi State's Charles Cross, or the safety out of Notre Dame Kyle Hamilton.
Jackson thinks the Saints are content with Jameis Winston for now, and will look to improve their other needs in a big way in round one.
Three QBs selected picks 20-32
Could there be a late first round rush for quarterbacks? If Malik Willis is selected ahead of pick 20, like many expect, there could still be three other first round quarterbacks selected in the draft.
Those names are Ole Miss' Matt Corral, Pittsburgh's Kenny Pickett and Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder.
The Steelers at 20 could be looking to select a quarterback like Desmond Ridder or Kenny Pickett, following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and the tragic death of Dwayne Haskins just weeks ago.
Other teams that could be looking to go quarterback late is the Tennessee Titans, if the draft doesn't fall their way. Locked On Titans podcast host Tyler Rowland had Tennessee selecting Matt Corral in the Ultimate Mock Draft after the board didn't fall his way. The Detroit Lions are another team who could be looking to select a quarterback of the future with their 32nd overall pick they got from the Rams in the Matthew Stafford trade.
Otherwise, there could be some teams that trade up into the first round. Brian Peacock on the Peacock and Williamson NFL Show discussed that the Bucs at 27 could be trade-down candidates. A team could try to sneak up there for a QB. The Packers also have two picks in the 20s, they could look to move back from 28 for the right price.
Running back selected in the first round
There hasn't been much speculation at all that a running back would be selected in the first round of the draft, with picks likely to come in the second round of Iowa State's Breece Hall and potentially Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III.
But, could one of them sneak into the first round? You'd have to go all the way back to 2014 to find a draft where a running back wasn't selected in the first round.
There's been some noise lately that the Buffalo Bills may be interested in a running back at pick No. 25, with their lack of a running game. That could come in the form of Hall or Walker.
The Bills are really the only team that makes sense to select a running back in the first round, but if the board doesn't fall their way, the Bucs could also be interested in bolstering their running game at pick No. 27.