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U-M Mock Draft Roundup: NFL Network, ESPN, and The Athletic make their first predictions

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Hutchinson continues to be at the top of boards.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia v Michigan Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We are at the AFC/NFC Championship stage in the NFL season and four more teams have been eliminated from contention. As we get closer to the NFL Draft, some of the national pundits are beginning to craft their own mock drafts. Mel Kiper, Daniel Jeremiah and Dan Brugler each came out with their first mock drafts of the NFL Draft season, and all of the above think very highly of the Michigan Wolverines’ defensive ends. Let’s see exactly where they rank the duo:

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.: No. 1 overall (JAX), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“If the Jaguars get first dibs on any prospect in this draft, I’d go with Hutchinson; I have him ranked slightly ahead of Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. Hutchinson, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, is a dominant and consistent pass-rusher who can put up double-digit sacks as a rookie. He’s a safe No. 1 pick. They can play him on the other side of Josh Allen, who is a really nice player. Now, there could be some talk about the Jags taking a left tackle here, but I’m not buying that over the value of having a truly great edge rusher. Yes, left tackle might be more of a “need,” but they should take the best prospect, not fill the biggest need.”

No. 7 overall (NYG), OLB David Ojabo

“Ojabo can help the pass rush immediately. He had an incredibly impressive season, racking up 11 sacks and five forced fumbles while playing opposite my projected No. 1 pick, Aidan Hutchinson. He doesn’t have Hutchinson’s all-around game — he has to get better against the run — but as a pure pass-rusher, he has a very high ceiling. With these two top-seven selections, New York can get high-end starters on both sides of the ball.”

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: No. 2 overall (DET), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“The Lions shouldn’t waste any time turning in the card if the Jags pass on Hutchinson. The Heisman Trophy runner-up is a perfect fit for their needs and the culture they are building.”

No. 23 overall (ARI), DE David Ojabo

“Ojabo is a polarizing player in league circles. I love his get-off quickness and ability to bend at the top of his rush, but he’s going to need some time and reps to improve against the run. Chandler Jones is a free agent and the Cardinals need to add some youth up front.”

The Athletic’s Dan Brugler: No. 2 overall (DET), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“Hutchinson isn’t on the same level as the Bosa brothers — he doesn’t have the same bend or arc skills. However, there are similarities when you talk about their quickness, power and skilled hand play to defeat blockers and disrupt the pocket. Hutchinson can win in multiple ways and is wired in a way that will appeal to head coach Dan Campbell.”

No. 8 overall (ATL), DE David Ojabo

“Polling several NFL personnel people for this mock, the feedback on Ojabo was he won’t be a top-10 pick because of his struggles vs. the run and his relative inexperience. But I’m betting on his ceiling at a premium position to bump him up in this draft class.”

No. 29 overall (KC), S Daxton Hill

“With Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes about to hit free agency, the Chiefs’ secondary might look a little different next season. Hill is not only an option at safety, but he played a slot cornerback role for the Wolverines and can do the same in Kansas City, which would allow L’Jarius Sneed to play outside full-time.”

CBS Sport’s Ryan Wilson: No. 1 overall (JAX), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“Hutchinson is a great example of a player who got better each and every season, and instead of coming out early he stayed in school, balled out as a senior, and made himself into arguably the best player — on either side of the ball — in the country during the ‘21 college football season. The Jags have taken an edge rusher in the first round in two of the last three drafts, but we don’t expect there to be teams clamoring to trade up to the top pick in this draft and Jacksonville may be stuck here.”

No. 14 overall (BAL), DE David Ojabo

“Prior to the semifinal loss to Georgia, David Ojabo was a lot of fun to watch this season, where he took advantage of every opportunity playing opposite Aidan Hutchinson. But don’t get it confused — he’s a twitchy edge rusher who will only get better with experience. In Baltimore, he’ll join another athletic marvel, 2021 first-round edge rusher Odafe Oweh, who has had some jaw-dropping plays as a rookie.”

No. 30 overall (TB), DB Daxton Hill

“Hill is part of a Wolverines defense that could end up seeing three players go in Round 1 next spring. He’s underrated nationally but watch him play and it becomes clear pretty quickly that he’s in the running for one of the best defensive backs in this class. He’s listed as a safety but he can line up anywhere.”

Sports Illustrated’s Zack Patraw: No. 4 overall (NYJ), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“Aidan Hutchinson is an experienced, productive and well-built defensive end. He primarily wins with his length and technique, managing distance well. Hutchinson also fights hands to keep his frame clear. What’s more, he employs early hands and strings a wide variety of moves together with an incredible work rate.”

No. 7 overall (JAX via Draft Day trade with NYG), DE David Ojabo

“Explosive two-point stance rusher with very good length. Ojabo possesses a great get-off and burst to consistently threaten and win the outside shoulder of tackles from wide alignments.”

No. 24 overall (NYJ via Draft Day trade with ARI), S Daxton Hill

“Hill has the coverage ability of a cornerback with added instincts and lateral agility. He plays hard and through the whistle, often frustrating his opponents with his methods.”

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso: No. 2 overall (DET), DE Aidan Hutchinson

“Hutchinson feels like a Dan Campbell selection, and he’s got all the tools to be a All-Pro type on the edge.”

No. 17 overall (LAC), DE David Ojabo

“Ojabo is a raw rusher with high upside because of his explosive and bendiness around the corner. He’d be a perfect running mate alongside Joey Bosa in Los Angeles.”

PFF’s Mike Renner: No. 1 overall prospect, DE Aidan Hutchinson

“The highest-graded edge defender in college football. Hutchinson has multiple ways to win with his blend of quicks and power. He’s a complete edge defender who excels against both the run and the pass.”

No. 22 overall prospect, DE David Ojabo

“Ojabo had played only 26 career snaps before 2021, but he made his presence felt in a big way, earning an 86.9 pass-rushing grade on 300 pass-rushing snaps. The Michigan product is still only scratching the surface of what he can be, given his physical tools.”

No. 33 overall prospect, S Daxton Hill

“Hill showed off his versatility by playing mainly slot for the Wolverines defense. Still, he’ll be a deep safety in the NFL, and he possesses some of the class’ best speed for that position.”

No. 138 overall prospect, RB Hassan Haskins