Home is where the heart and, apparently, the future is. The first night of the 2022 NFL draft saw plenty of shocking trades (cough, Hollywood Brown and AJ Brown, cough) and unanticipated selections, but for Aidan Hutchinson, Ikem Ekwonu and Kenny Pickett there was likely a sense of comfort that came with their respective selections.
Hutchinson, Ekwonu and Pickett will all be embarking on the next chapter of their careers in the same state where they played college ball.
Hutchinson was the first pick to set off the trend of running it back when the Detroit Lions selected the former Michigan Wolverines standout DE at the No. 2 spot. Hopefully Hutchinson isn't sick of the cold, because he won't be venturing far from Ann Arbor or Dearborn, where he played high school ball at Divine Child (approximately 30 minutes).
Aidan Hutchinson is staying in Michigan and headed to the Lions at No. 2 👏 pic.twitter.com/4M36NssswZ— ESPN (@espn) April 29, 2022
At least it will be easy for his family to get to games.
Big Ickey in the Queen City
Not only did the Carolina Panthers' No. 6 overall pick play for the NC State Wolfpack, Ekwonu is a Charlotte native who played his high school ball at Providence Day. The highly touted left tackle is Carolina through and through.
Ekwonu was nicknamed "Ickey'' by a youth coach because he looked like former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods. Ickey won't be taking his talents to Cincinnati like his namesake, but if playing for the Panthers works out as well for him as playing for the Bengals has for Ohio native Joe Burrow, he'll be in good shape.
Pride of Pittsburgh
While Pickett isn't actually a Pittsburgh native, he's Pittsburgh Panthers royalty and that's close enough. The Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 20 pick and likely QB of the future hails from Oakhurst, New Jersey, where he attended Ocean Township High School.
The Steelers dared not pass on the guy who shattered Dan Marino's passing records at Pitt, 39 years after failing to draft Marino.