Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd is expected to become the fourth former Utes defender to be a first-round NFL draft selection when the 2022 draft kicks off Thursday night.

When he’ll hear his name is less certain — the former Utes playmaker has been projected anywhere from a top-five pick to a late first-round selection, with the consensus being he lands somewhere in the middle.

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One thing is certain, though: Lloyd is highly valued in the 2022 NFL draft class. He’s been ranked as one of the top two top inside linebacker prospects in this year’s draft class — along with Georgia’s Nakobe Dean — and many national draft experts have him as the top player at the position.

The first round for the 2022 NFL draft begins at 6 p.m. MDT Thursday and will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network.

What are others saying about Devin Lloyd?

  • “Lloyd doesn’t have to come off the field with his impressive blend of instincts, chase speed and explosiveness to blitz, play the run and cover. He projects as a scheme-proof NFL starter and a better version of Los Angeles Chargers’ Kenneth Murray.” — The Athletic’s Dane Brugler.
  • “Lloyd is an effective blitzer off the edge, displaying a burst to close and wreak havoc in the backfield. Against the run, he plays downhill and uses his length to play off of blocks and collect tackles. He has great lateral range. He does have some stiffness in space, but is a reliable tackler. I love Lloyd’s play speed, passion and aggression. He has Pro Bowl potential.” — NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
  • “Lloyd locates the ball quickly, slips blocks and closes well in pursuit. He played safety in high school and moves like one in coverage. He has outstanding ball skills and his four interceptions tied for most by an FBS linebacker in 2021. He’s an effective hand fighter with good burst and bend rushing the passer.” — ESPN’s Steve Muench.
  • “Lloyd is a super-productive playmaker with great length, high-end athleticism, and instincts in both coverage and run defense; he brings the versatility to wear several different hats for a defense.” — The Ringer’s Danny Kelly.

What are the best team fits for Devin Lloyd?

Here are three teams that could make an ideal landing spot for the Utah linebacker.

Philadelphia Eagles (No. 15 and No. 18 overall picks): One of the Eagles’ top needs going into the draft is at linebacker, and Philadelphia has a pair of draft picks in the area where Lloyd is being projected to come off the board.

The Eagles have often been a popular landing spot for Lloyd in mock drafts. 

“The Eagles signed Kyzir White to a one-year deal, but there are still needs at the linebacker position,” CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson wrote. “He’s the prototypical off-ball linebacker in today’s NFL (pay no attention to his 4.7-something 40 times — he plays immeasurably faster), and it’s like he was built in a lab.”

New England Patriots (No. 21 overall pick): The Patriots released former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy earlier this offseason, and Lloyd fits the mold of a prototypical Patriots defender.

“For all the different things he can do, he kind of just feels like a Patriot type player with the size, the length, the versatility, the intelligence, the leadership. All that stuff kind of screams Patriot to me,” Jeremiah said of Lloyd recently in previewing the draft. 

Dallas Cowboys (No. 24 overall pick): Dallas doesn’t have a pressing need at linebacker, though it does have some questions at the position. If Lloyd is still on the board at this point, it could be tempting to pair him with outside linebacker Micah Parsons, last year’s NFL rookie defensive player of the year.

“Whoever gets Lloyd will get a ready-made NFL player who can legitimately do the three things that make great linebackers — react, run and hit,” Cowboys team writer Nick Eatman said. “Not only did Lloyd live in the opponent’s backfield with 22 tackles for loss, he had four interceptions last year and two returned for touchdowns.”

Other intriguing options

  • The Seattle Seahawks (No. 9 overall pick) need to replace former Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner, an eight-time Pro Bowler, but have other needs that could be addressed this high in the draft, like quarterback.
  • The Baltimore Ravens (No. 14 overall pick) are a good schematic fit for Lloyd, while the New Orleans Saints (No. 16 and No. 19 overall picks) are rebuilding and could use a young linebacker alongside veteran Demario Davis.
  • If Lloyd is still on the board by the mid-20s picks, he could be a solid addition for either the Buffalo Bills (No. 25 overall pick) or Tennessee Titans (No. 26 overall pick), two AFC teams who are well-built to be playoff contenders for years.