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Georgia QB JT Daniels Projected as No. 1 NFL Draft Pick

Can you feel it in the air?

It's way-too-early-mock-draft season. The time when you can shove the draft picks your team took five minutes ago to the back of your mind and focus on the future.

NFL teams build for the future to win now. If you think about it, time in the NFL is a flat circle.

Many NFL Draft analysts such as ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay and CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso have already released evaluations of the 2022 NFL Draft's top prospects.

These guys make sure you know who the quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers teams like the New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers are eyeing.

They also pinpoint the Notre Dame, Michigan, Oregon, Alabama, and Texas A&M players to look out for this college football season.

Me? I'm working ahead on my 2029 mock draft. There are plenty of talented 13 year-olds out there who have great NFL futures. I can't leak many of my evaluation secrets but let's just say hot-routing on a second-and-short in Madden is near the top of my list.

McShay and Kiper started digging into 2022 about 15 years ago, and Fox Sports Betting Analyst Jason McIntyre jumped on the train.

In his first mock draft, McIntyre slated Georgia quarterback JT Daniels as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

JT Daniels Projected as No. 1 Pick in 2022

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Daniels was a big name coming out of Mater Dei High School in the recruiting world. He was the 16th-ranked recruit and the second-ranked pro-style QB in the 2018 recruiting class, according to 247Sports.

He committed to USC and won the starting job as a true freshman. Looking to make a big jump as a sophomore, he caught a bad break and tore his ACL in the first game of the season against Fresno State. Backup Kedon Slovis took over and performed well enough to permanently take over the starting job.

Daniels transferred to the University of Georgia in 2020, where he initially served as a backup. Poor play and injuries elevated Daniels to the starting job against Mississippi State. He kept the job the rest of the year. In four games as starter, the Santa Ana, California native threw for 1,231 yards and 10 touchdowns against 2 interceptions while the Bulldogs went undefeated.

Back to McIntyre: why does he think the UGA signal caller is worthy of the No. 1 pick?

Here are his words on why the Detroit Lions (based on win total projections and educated guesses) will select Daniels at the top of the draft:

"The Lions tore the house down to the studs, and the rebuild began this past weekend, with lots of work in the trenches. I'm not sure they'll reach their projected win total of five, but they will be much tougher physically than last year."

This is the type of breakdown I'm looking for when evaluating a quarterback. Any good QB knows it's not about him, it's about the big fellas up front. Find any flaw about this analysis of the most important position on the field and I'll question your knowledge of the game.

Drafting Daniels tells me McIntyre thinks new Lions head coach Dan Campbell can't show Jared Goff the door fast enough. (Watch your kneecaps, Jared.)

The mock draft adds Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder, Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, North Carolina's Sam Howell, Arizona State's Jayden Daniels, Nevada's Carson Strong and USC's Slovis as other first-round quarterbacks. The Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Washington Football Team and Denver Broncos will allegedly be in the market for an offensive leader.

Guys like Clemson star Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State stud Justin Fields were at the top of draft boards ever since they played their first college football game. On the other side of the spectrum are guys like OU's Baker Mayfield, LSU's Joe Burrow, BYU's Zach Wilson, Alabama's Mac Jones and Florida's Kyle Trask. Each elevated his stock in his final season at the NCAA level.

With that in mind, Daniels may very well be a high first-round pick if he builds on the connection he had with wideout George Pickens last season (as long as Pickens is healthy by then). Crazier things have happened.

Kirby Smart's QB will need to have an impressive campaign in Athens next year for McIntyre's prediction to come to fruition, but Georgia could have another Matthew Stafford on its hands.

MORE: Georgia's 2021 Schedule Has CFP Written All Over It