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Could Utes’ Devin Lloyd be first-round pick? Could other players with Utah ties get drafted?

Utah linebacker is one of a few players with Utah ties on ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s list of top prospects for the 2022 NFL draft

Utah’s linebacker Devin Lloyd celebrates with his teammates after an interception against Washington State in Salt Lake City.
Utah’s linebacker Devin Lloyd (0) celebrates with this teammates after an interception against Washington State during an NCAA college football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in Salt Lake City. Utah won the game 24-13.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

Every few months, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. updates a list of his top 25 NFL draft prospects overall and his top 10 at each position for the next draft.

In his first such list for the 2022 draft in May, Kiper had seven players with Utah ties on the list at various spots, but none in the top 25. That changed last week, however, as he had Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd all the way up at No. 11 on his list.

That comes after Lloyd was ranked the third-best inside linebacker prospect by Kiper in May.

“Lloyd has been incredibly impressive for the Utes this season,” Kiper wrote. “He has 46 tackles and has added two sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. He penetrates past linemen at the snap, but Utah also uses him often in coverage, showing off his range as an off-ball linebacker.

“Lloyd was used more as a pass-rusher in 2019, and he showed off with 6.5 sacks. The versatility stands out as a major plus. I’ve been really impressed by his 2021 tape so far, and he has a chance to be a first-round linebacker next spring.”

Oregon Ducks standout defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux remained the top player overall on Kiper’s list.

Beside Lloyd, a few other players with Utah ties cracked the top 10 position lists (Lloyd tops the inside linebackers list).

  • Utah’s Keegan Markgraf is No. 4 on the long-snappers list.
  • Former Olympus High standout Cameron Latu, who has had a bit of a breakout season for the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, is No. 7 on the tight ends list.
  • Utah’s Nick Ford is No. 8 on the centers list.
  • Three others who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are on position lists. Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o is the No. 5 inside linebacker, Arizona State’s Case Hatch is the No. 6 fullback/H-back and Stanford’s Tanner McKee is the No. 8 quarterback.