Winners and Losers of the 2022 NFL Draft
Whew, what a ride! The NFL draft last night was smorgasbord of entertainment, with plenty of action going down… after the first ten picks. Let’s take a look at who did what.
Last year, offense had it’s day in the sun, taking over the first 7 picks and dominating the first round. This year, however, my how the turntables. Defense dominated the early going, garnering the top 5 picks. Offense still did just fine in the end, narrowly edging defense in overall picks, but it’s clear where the top talent lied. The trenches also did quite well, with 6 of the top 10 coming on one side of the line or the other, burnishing this drafts credentials as 2013 all over again.
Winner: Cheap wide receivers
While only one wide receiver snuck into the top ten, that pick started a chain that lead to 6 WRs taken in a span of 10 picks. Clearly, teams are stockpiling cheap talent at the position. Two teams, the Ravens and the Titans traded their top wide receiver option, and the Titans quickly replenished the spot with a new WR with their new 1st round pick. With the price of WRs soaring, it seems teams are eager to reload on cheap talent (the opposite of what I guessed heading into the draft).
Loser: The New York Giants
The Giants were where everyone didn’t want to be, the top 10 of this draft. They had two picks in the top ten, and didn’t bomb the picks. Still, it’s hard to be excited about getting the third best edge rusher and the second or third best offensive tackle out of it. This was hardly the kind of haul that is going to turn around what has become a moribund franchise.
Winner (mostly): The Baltimore Ravens
Kyle Hamilton and Tyler Linderbaum were two of my absolute favorites in the draft this year and the Ravens got both deep into the first round. These were two of the best players in the country in college this year who fell down the draft because of a slow 40 time and short arms respectively. Any decent look at their film, however, shows two elite players who I think should both have been considered in the top 10. My only problem with this is the loss of Marquise Brown turning a bad WR room into a worse one. Who are they expecting Lamar to throw the ball to? Can they trade for Deebo? Lamar isn’t going to develop as a passer throwing to this current group, and that’s the main thing the Ravens need to improve their lot.
Loser: Detroit Lions
Most people will have them as a winner for getting local hero Aidan Hutchinson, and I do like that pick for them. What I cannot possibly understand is them trading picks to move up in this draft. They are lacking talent at almost every position. Now is not the time to be packaging picks to move up. They need MORE shots and finding good players not fewer, and, while Jameson Williams has a lot of talent, he is coming off a knee injury, has some likability concerns and WR is a position you can find at a discount later in most drafts. Plus, this draft simply didn’t have the top end talent to warrant such a move.
Winner: Jordan Davis (and the Eagles)
Jordan was my favorite player in this year’s draft, because it is so hard to find elite players with his body type. The Eagles get it, and used some other their draft capital to move up to take him. He is a winner here, because he will get to learn at the feet of a superstar in Fletcher Cox who will make life much easier for him in his transition to the NFL. Cox is an elite pass rushing DT who should pair perfectly with Davis to make a very tough tandem inside for the Eagles. Also, Davis’ suit being a clear promotion for Red Stripe makes him a big time winner in my book.
Winner AND Loser: AJ Brown and the Eagles
Speaking of the Eagles, they also traded for AJ Brown, who is a winner, because he got a new contract worth 100 million dollars. That is an automatic win. It’s not a perfect fit, however. He is taking a big step down at QB with Jalen Hurts, who is not a great passer. Ryan Tannehill isn’t great, but he is a solid passer. I think this will hurt his numbers a bit. I also think this isn’t as clear a win for the Eagles as it seems. Brown has struggled significantly with injuries and has yet to put together a truly incredible full season. If he can’t put it all together physically, this has some bust potential, given his new paycheck.
Loser: The Atlanta Falcons
Sorry Falcons fans, this franchise is being run hastily into the ground. Rather than pick an elite player, the Falcons reached for Drake London, a WR with size who has trouble separating, the most common type of WR to bust in the NFL. Even when these players hit, it usually takes a while, like Chargers Mike Williams or Vincent Jackson. The Falcons needed help at WR now, and took a player that I don’t think will make an impact for the next two years.
Mystery: The New England Patriots
The Patriots did all the Patriot stuff the Patriots do, like taking a player who most had going in the late second round in Cole Strange. At least they traded down first, so they didn’t waste AS high of a pick on him. Still, it was an odd decision, given they could have easily gotten him in the second. On the plus side, their trade down netted two solid picks later in the draft, and the Pats have historically been better picking there than at the top of the draft. I can’t shake the feeling Bill Belichick is outthinking himself at this point though.
Winner: The New York Jets
The Jets have struggled tremendously in the draft in recent years. While I don’t love anyone trading up in the draft, getting a top ten level player (Jermaine Johnson) in the late 20s was a smart move, and I think did warrant the trade up. All told, Sauce Gardner, Johnson and Garrett Wilson were a solid three picks and will improve a team with holes everywhere. A rare win for Jets fans. They never did get their star WR they were trying so hard to get, but ultimately, I don’t think they will regret that, given the solid picks they made.
Winner: My Nuggets!
It was a solid showing for my pre draft nuggets, as the Falcons and Jets did take wide receivers, as I suggested. The Jaguars did blow the first pick, as I suggested. The Seahawks didn’t take a QB (although they went O-line, not defense as the elite cornerbacks were both gone). There were some misses though. WRs definitely did not fall, with a hot stretch coming in the middle of the first as expected. The Eagles didn’t take a QB (yet). And, while I was sort of right about no one wanting to trade up (at least into the first ten), the second half of the first round was rife with trades. Overall though, I’m counting my nug nugs as winners.