Coming into the 2022 NFL Draft, we knew there would be 8 teams slotted for multiple draft picks in the first round. This type of high draft capital can change the structure of low tier organizations and improve the championship hopes of contenders. We got a nice mix of contenders and struggling franchises with multiple picks. With this we can evaluate each of these situations through a different sets of lens.
Pick #1: Travon Walker EDGE Georgia
Pick #27: Devin Lloyd LB Utah
The Jaguars stunned the NFL world with taking Travon Walker at #1. While this was surprising, it’s tough to knock the athletic ability mixed with off the chart measurable. Walker on the opposite side of Josh Allen will make it a nightmare for offensive tackles in the AFC South.
Jacksonville would later trade back into the first round and scooped Devin Lloyd from Utah. This is another strong pick as Lloyd led the Utah Utes to a conference title in 2021. Lloyd will fill the void left by Myles Jack and is bringing enthusiasm to Duval.
Pick #2: Aidan Hutchinson EDGE Michigan
Pick #12: Jameson Williams WR Alabama
Detroit may not be a city of champions as of right now. But with their selections tonight, the Lions did select two championship players. Both Hutchinson and Williams got to the College Football Playoff last season and were among the most important players on their respective teams.
Hutchinson is a hometown boy which will only further the connection between him and the fanbase. The move to trade up to #12 was expected to be for a QB, but instead they leave Vegas with arguably the most dynamic receiver in the draft.
Changing the culture was a big point that Dan Campbell preached when coming on board to Detroit. These selections further emphasize his point as the Lions got two winners to join the Motor City tonight.
Pick #3: Derek Stingley Jr. CB LSU
Pick #15: Kenyon Green G Texas A&M
Houston had to make up for the fact that they had no first round selections in 2021. They decided to stay inside the SEC by taking Stingley over Sauce Gardner and Kenyon Green over Zion Johnson.
The Texans have more holes on the roster to fill, but Stingley and Green are likely to start from day one. Both have impressive physical traits that should allow for a smooth transition to the NFL. Nick Caserio and team are in the infant stages of rebuilding but these two selections made sure both sides of the ball were accounted for.
New York Jets
Pick #4: Sauce Gardner CB Cincinnati
Pick #10: Garrett Wilson WR Ohio State
Pick #26: Jermaine Johnson EDGE Florida State
Joe Douglas’ career in New York has all built up to this day. Trading Jamal Adams and Sam Darnold set up the Jets with four picks inside the top 40. The positions of need were clear after drafting offensive lineman two years in a row and drafting Zach Wilson.
Douglas was able to fill these needs with three of Daniel Jeremiah’s top 9 prospects. Sauce Gardner is a lockdown corner who will now lead the Jets’ DB room. Garrett Wilson now will tag team with Elijah Moore to start up a fascinating offensive attack.
The cherry on the top was trading back up for Jermaine Johnson. Johnson had tremendous production at Florida State (11.5 sacks in 2021) , but had a surprising fall in this draft.
For Jet fans, the hope now is that these three players will be pillars to the team’s success going forward.
New York Giants
Pick #5: Kayvon Thibodeaux EDGE Oregon
Pick #7: Evan Neal OT Alabama
An absolute home run as you can expect from a team with two top 7 selections. The Giants had a clear direction with these picks. They wanted big, athletic lineman on both sides of the ball. Winning in the trenches has become cliche, but it still rings true for many contenders in the NFL.
General Manager Joe Schoen got a fresh start in New York with two premium picks. He decided to get an edge rusher who has the physical traits and motor desired at the position. Then he found a massive tackle in Evan Neal with hopes to have Daniel Jones complete a full season for the first time in his career.
These picks may not turn the Giants into an instant contender. But they will secure the foundation of the Giants for years to come.
New Orleans Saints
Pick #11: Chris Olave WR Ohio State
Pick #19: Trevor Penning OT Northern Iowa
The Saints’ trading up to the #11 pick triggered the QB alarm to go off. Instead, they decided they were comfortable with Jameis Winston and wanted to get additional WR help. Without Michael Thomas, the Saints receiving corps has been depleted. Olave provides home-run speed and allows Jameis to stretch the field more often.
Does any team like taking offensive lineman in the first round more than the Saints? Well with their track record, how could you blame them? The Saints have came away with guys like Cesar Ruiz, Andrus Peat, and Ryan Ramczyk with this strategy. Now with Penning they get a tough, gritty lineman who finishes his blocks with intensity.
Pick #14: Kyle Hamilton S Notre Dame
Pick #25: Tyler Lindenbaun C Iowa
A wild night indeed for the Baltimore Ravens’ front office. Many had slotted Jordan Davis to be picked by Harbaugh and company. But, the Eagles had other ideas and traded up one spot in front of the Ravens.
At the same time, Kyle Hamilton was free-falling in this draft. The Ravens did not make the stud safety from Notre Dame wait any longer and snagged him at #14.
Shortly after this, word came out that the Ravens traded WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals for the 23rd overall pick (later traded to BUF for #25). A big shakeup for the Ravens’ receiving corps, but a clear message was sent with the selection. Picking Tyler Lindenbaun in addition to getting JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards back are signs the Ravens want to return to being the league’s best rushing attack.
Green Bay Packers
Pick #22: Quay Walker LB Georgia
Pick #28: Devonte Wyatt DT Georgia
Many thought this would be the first year since 2002 in which the Packers took a receiver in the first round. By pick #22 there were five receivers already selected. They could have reached for guys like Skyy Moore or John Metchie II just to temporarily fill the need.
Instead they went with a more thoughtful approach. This approach involved drafting two players from a National Championship defense. Both Walker and Wyatt had their footprints in the foundation of Georgia’s title run in 2021. Both will be looked at to play on day one for another big-time football program.
Kansas City Chiefs
Pick #21: Trent McDuffie CB Washington
Pick #30: George Karlaftis EDGE Purdue
Hey AFC West fans, the Chiefs did not leave the first round with a receiver! While this may have been the hope going in, the two players that KC ended up with will make an immediate impact.
McDuffie’s measurables. may not pop off the page, but he is an experienced corner who plays with good technique. For Karlaftis they got another big body who wins at the line of scrimmage with power. Karlaftis and Chris Jones on the same line could be a nightmare for all AFC West teams.
They may have lost Tyreek Hill, but the Chiefs are doing a nice job building up other important positions.