The latest on Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross and the 2022 OT class

We are less than three weeks away from the Jacksonville Jaguars calling the clock to start the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, unlike years past, there’s a lot of guesswork about how the top of the draft will play out. Here’s the latest news and rumors surrounding the 2022 NFL Draft class at offensive tackle — a position that will affect the top of the draft, and the results of which will ripple throughout the entire first round.

2022 NFL Draft news and rumours: Charles Cross on the rise

It can be argued that offensive tackles in the 2022 NFL Draft are growing faster than any other position, including Mississippi State’s Charles Cross.

How high could Cross get off the board?

Currently, three tackles could land in the first six picks. Evan Neal of Alabama and Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State have long established themselves in the top six. The third player at the position would be To cross from Mississippi State, who is progressing faster than any of the best players in the position.

The Carolina Panthers’ No. 6 pick isn’t out of the question. People in league circles believe it will happen. Although they need a quarterback, the left tackle is also badly needed. If Cross comes off the board for the Panthers, that pick dictates even more down the road.

Cross’ selection dictates rest of Round 1

If those three are out of the board at the ninth pick, it will affect where Trevor Penning of northern Iowa and Tyler Smith of Tulsa end. Penning could drop off the board as early as No. 10 on the New York Jets. I’ve been reporting from the Senior Bowl that Penning is a GM Joe Douglas favorite. As we discussed during last week’s edition of Draft Insiders, the saga with Mekhi Becton continues.

Jets coaches have told several players the team will switch to offensive tackle early in the draft. Whether early means fourth pick, 10th pick, or top of Round 2, I can’t say at this point.

I hear the latest Penning out of the board is the Baltimore Ravens’ No. 14 pick. The franchise recently signed Morgan Moses, who played with the Jets last season, to a three-year contract. Yet upon review of the contract, it reads like a one-year contract. Thus, the Ravens want to come out of this draft with a young offensive tackle.

Other tackle landing spots in the 2022 NFL Draft

Don’t overlook a needy tackle team like the Los Angeles Chargers moving in for Penning. A trade partner to keep in mind is the Minnesota Vikings. I’ll have more later this week.

It should be noted that the Ravens are bringing Penning in for an official top-30 visit this week. The Jets also caught up with Penning recently, albeit outside of the realm of the official top 30 visit. It’s significant because Penning was at the Senior Bowl and Combine, and it’s a sure sign that both teams are very interested. by his services.

Smith has been generating a lot of interest lately. He has 14 official visits and has been forced to turn down requests due to his busy schedule. The list of official visits includes the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders and an already completed visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jets worked on Smith and requested a visit, but were omitted from the roster due to his travel schedule.

The team to watch for Smith is Tennessee at the No. 26 pick. Smith would be an upgrade at right tackle over 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz, a natural guard. As previously reported, Smith has long established himself as the No. 5 tackler in this year’s class, and some believe he could start his career as an offensive guard and then jump in to tackle.

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