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Scouting Combine: "Open for business" at No. 1


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Trent Baalke's keeping all options open.

When it comes to the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Baalke said the Jaguars would listen to trade possibilities. He also said something else is true.

They would be perfectly willing to not trade the selection.

"You are always open for business," Baalke, entering his second year as the Jaguars' general manager, said Tuesday during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine in downtown Indianapolis. "Now, whether we're going to be able to move it or not [we don't know], but we're very comfortable taking the pick as well."

This is the second consecutive year the Jaguars have held the No. 1 selection in the draft. They used the No. 1 selection in the '21 draft to select quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who most analysts considered the consensus best prospect in the draft.

Multiple players have been projected as a potential first selection this year, with most analysts projecting either Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal or Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson there. Players such as Oregon edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux and North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu also have been projected No. 1 overall to the Jaguars.

"You have to take the player that you think is the best fit for the organization as a whole and makes the biggest difference," Baalke said. "If that's the offensive tackle position, you do it. If it's edge rusher, you do it. I've always been a big believer in go big or go home.

"This draft has a lot of unique players in it. There may not be that clear number one (player), but there's a lot of very good football players at the top of this draft that we're obviously going to be in position number one (and) have our pick of those players."

The Jaguars currently hold 12 selections in the draft: One in Round 1 (No. 1 overall), one in Round 2, two in Round 3, one in Round 4, one in Round 5, four in Round 6 and two in Round 7. Baalke said he considers this a good draft, with strong positions including wide receiver, offensive line, pass rusher and cornerback.

"This draft happens to be a good draft," Baalke said. "There's a lot of good football players in this draft and I think there's going to be good football players to be gotten through every round. Some are going to need more development than others obviously. As you look back at this draft three years from now, I think it is going to be a pretty positive outcome for a lot of these young men."

And while trade talk is expected for any team before any draft – particularly one holding the No. 1 overall selection – Baalke said it would be incorrect to say the Jaguars were leaning in a particular direction on the issue.


"You have to be prepared for anything in this league, so to say we won't shop it is probably not 100 percent correct, but to say we will is not [100 percent correct] either," Baalke said. "We're going to see what comes and if something comes our way and makes sense to us, we'll make that decision at that time.

"The value is in the eye of the beholder. If someone wants to move up to one, what are they willing to give up? I can't answer that. I know what historically it would take to move up from each position, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. That doesn't mean that's what the value is going to carry this year. That's a hard-to-predict number."


Baalke on Thursday addressed the health of running back Travis Etienne Jr., saying the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft is "ahead of schedule" in his return from a Lisfranc injury that kept him out his entire rookie season. "He was on the grass for a little bit in the offseason program and then he got hurt," Baalke said. "He looks really good. He took the year to really transform his body and learn how to be a pro in his development. We are really excited to get him back on the grass and he is a little bit ahead of schedule right now."

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