When Devin Lloyd decided to return to Utah for the 2021 season, he had a list of things he wanted to accomplish. First-team All-American? Check. Pac-12 Player of the Year? Check. Pac-12 Champion? Check. First-round draft pick? 


On Thursday night, the Utah linebacker was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 27th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s the Utes’ first first-round draft selection since 2017 and just the fifth for the program in the last 30 years. 

Lloyd was a consensus All-American in 2021, the leader of a tenacious Utah defense and the heartbeat of a team that claimed the program’s first-ever Pac-12 championship. He is a two-time Butkus Award finalist and earned both the Pac-12 and the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year awards. Lloyd ended his Utah career with a bang, totaling 110 tackles and 22 tackles for loss during his final season, the second-best mark in the country.

A 6-foot-3, 235-pound off-ball linebacker from California, Lloyd spent five seasons at Utah. In 47 career appearances, he earned 32 starts and totaled 43 tackles for loss, the fourth-most for a career in Utah’s history. 

Last season, Lloyd was the fourth-highest graded linebacker among qualified FBS players, according to PFF. He’s a freak athlete who comes off the edge with uncommon attack angles but great bend. He beats blocks. He blows up runs. He flows to the ball. And, maybe more importantly than anything else as the NFL game becomes more pass-happy, he’s excellent in coverage. Overall Lloyd is a high-IQ player.

His strengths as a player, he told CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani, are his instincts.

“I feel like I’m somebody who plays at a high level going forward and backward from the inside linebacker position,” he said. “And really just being versatile, honestly. Having that mentality of always getting to the ball and always knowing where the ball is at.”

Thinking Football broke down his game well:  


Lloyd worked. He could have left Utah to enter the NFL Draft following the 2020 season, but stressed to his team that he was determined to come back and lead Utah to a Pac-12 championship. Lloyd was a consummate captain. 

“I kid you not, I go up to the facility any time of the day and this dude is sitting in there in the film room, whether it was 10 p.m. on Saturday night or 6 a.m. on a Monday morning,” Utah teammate Clark Phillips told Utah great Steve Smith for an NFL 360 story on Lloyd. “I’m like, this dude is different.”

He can play multiple linebacker positions. Teams don’t usually spend premium draft picks on off-ball linebackers, but make no mistake about it—Lloyd is one of the most talented and productive players in his class.  

Time to start on that NFL rookie checklist.