Image Credit (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
The 2022 NFL Draft has officially concluded, So for the next few days I will be grading each round of the draft starting with the first round. Now as always when I grade a selection as a HACKENBURG Grade that is obviously an F grade. So let's get into it starting with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars - DE/EDGE Travon Walker (Georgia) - Grade B
Over Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux? That surprises me. I mean I don’t hate the pick, but Walker was not as complete of a prospect as both Hutchinson and Thibodeaux. I guess the Jaguars wanted to go after the upside for Walker. But they can pair Walker with Josh Allen which would be a great boost for their defense. Thank goodness this pick was not an offensive tackle as it would have made no sense at all.
2. Detroit Lions - DE/EDGE Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan) - Grade A
The Lions making quality picks. I love it. The Lions had to go DE/EDGE in this draft class. Like I said in my mock drafts I could not name a pass rusher on this team since they cut Trey Flowers. The Lions go with the most complete DE/EDGE rusher in this draft class by selecting Hutchinson who won't have to leave the state of Michigan. He will have a big impact on Detroit’s defense. Great work.
3. Houston Texans - CB Derrick Stingley Jr (LSU) - Grade A-
The Texans made the right decision here and did not draft an offensive tackle like I thought they would. Why would I not think this as this team has been a complete mess for seasons? What is also a mess is how abysmal the secondary was for the Texans last season. The secondary got a lot better with Stingley as he was easily the best corner in this draft and has the ability to be a shutdown corner on the defense. Good start Texans.
4. New York Jets - CB Ahmad Sauce Gardner (Cincinnati) - Grade A
This selection was either going to be Derrick Stingley Jr. or Ahmad Sauce Gardner. With Stingley off the board this pick became an easier choice for the Jets, as they needed a number 1 cornerback. I love Brandon Echols and Bryce Hall, but they are not number 1 shutdown corners. Gardner has that potential being a shutdown cornerback. Excellent selection by Joe Douglas.
5. New York Giants - DE/EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon) - Grade A+
It still boggles my mind how Kayvon Thibodeaux fell to the New York Giants 5th overall. He was the most complete prospect in the draft not named Aidan Hutchinson. But it's the Giants gain as at this selection Thibodeaux was way too good to pass up. The Giants get an excellent DE/EDGE rusher to help improve their defense.
6. Carolina Panthers - OT Ikem Ekwonu (NC State) - Grade A
Not a surprising selection here. The Carolina Panthers offense was completely terrible and they needed to get more protection for Sam Darnold or whoever QB they will select later in the draft. Ikem Ekwonu is a prospect many consider a 1st overall pick at one point and it is hard not to see why. Ekwonu's best trait is his positional versatility as he can be placed at guard or at tackle which are both needs for Carolina. I am more shocked that Carolina did not trade down from this selection as they did not have a pick until the late 4th round.
7. New York Giants (From Chicago Bears) - OT Evan Neal (Alabama) - Grade A
The Giants knew what they were doing, holding off from selecting Evan Neal 5th overall. They knew the Panthers were going to take Ikem Ekwonu as they had holes at guard and tackle. The Giants purley needed a strict tackle and they got one. This team desperately needed another tackle to help protect QB Daniel Jones and now they got it. Excellent selection by the New York Giants.
8. Atlanta Falcons - WR Drake London (LSU) - Grade C-
Woah. I would never think Drake London would be the 1st receiver off the board. It really is because he should not have been. I saw him as the 5th receiver to go off the board but I guess Atlanta wanted to draft a receiver from LSU as there were many receivers from this college that succeeded in the NFL. But I can’t grade this below a C- as Atlanta desperately needed a receiver on this team, but this was a reach by Atlanta.
9. Seattle Seahawks - OT Charles Cross (Mississippi State) - Grade A
The best way to start a rebuild is to build the offensive line. The best place to start is at tackle and that is what Seattle is doing. This is a strategic pick made by the Seattle Seahawks and I love it. They need to protect Geno Smith or Drew Lock to give them a chance to throw the football. Cross should be the franchise tackle for the Seahawks while they continue their rebuild.
10. New York Jets (From Seattle Seahawks) - WR Garrett Wilson (Ohio State) - Grade A-
As a fan of the Jets, I would have rather had Treylon Burks at this spot but I am not complaining at all as Garret Wilson would have been my second choice at wide receiver. The Jets need to surround Zach Wilson with targets. Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios were fantastic last season. Corey Davis when healthy should be a good receiver and now with Garret Wilson on the team there should be no excuses for Zach Wilson to have a strong season.
11. New Orleans Saints (From Washington Commanders) - WR Chris Olave (Ohio State) Grade B+
Many said that the Saints trading up was unnecessary but it had to be done. The Saints needed a wide receiver. Especially as who knows what is going on with WR Michael Thomas. WR Marquez Callaway was good but I would not call him a #1 receiver and I have given up on the hype for Tre’Quan Smith. Chris Olave has potential to be a great receiver for Jameis Winston to throw to.
12. Detroit Lions (From Minnesota Vikings) - WR Jameson Williams (Alabama) - Grade B+
It has been many years since I have had confidence in the Detroit Lions and I got to say Lions fans should be very hyped at this point. They have a good coach in Dan Campbell, they had Aidan Hutchinson drop to them 2nd overall and GM Brad Holmes robbed the Vikings trading up 20 spots only giving up a 2nd and 3rd round pick. The Lions get a potential generational talent to surround their Jared Goff with weapons. While they signed DJ Chark and both Kalif Raymound plus Amon-Ra St.Brown are solid weapons the Lions desperately needed a true #1 receiver and Williams has the potential to be one.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (via Houston Texans, from Cleveland Browns) - DT Jordan Davis (Georgia) - Grade A-
There were rumors days before the draft, where the Eagles were planning to trade up in order to acquire DT Jordan Davis. Well those rumors came true when the Eagles traded up two selections to select Davis. The Eagles need to find the long term replacement for Fletcher Cox who the team released him and then signed him to a cheaper deal. The selection makes sense, the trade was fair and another solid move by Eagles GM Howie Roseman.
14. Baltimore Ravens - S Kyle Hamilton (Notre Dame) - Grade A
It was surprising to be that Hamilton fell to the 14th pick and Baltimore knew that Hamilton was just way too good for them to pass up. The Ravens secondary was completely destroyed with injuries last year, to the point where they were stuck playing with scrubs last season. He should be a great fit at safety for the Ravens just in case another injury season hits they can plug Hamilton at Cornerback as well.
15. Houston Texans - (via Philadelphia Eagles, from Miami Dolphins) - OG Kenyon Green (Texas A&M) Grade D+
Ehhh not a big fan of this pick for the Texans. I don’t hate Kenyon Green, but this is a bit early for him to go in the 1st round. Especially with his issues of his constant poor hand usage, being too aggressive, and not having the best posture in blocking position. understand why making the pick as it never hurts building the offensive line and It's not a negative as the Texans traded down, but there were much better options for the Texans at this selection.
16. Washington Commanders (via New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, from Indianapolis Colts) - WR Jahan Dotson Grade C
Over Treylon Burks? I don’t hate the selection because Washington needed a receiver and Dotson is not a terrible prospect, but this is way too early to select Dotson. Burks is a more complete prospect than Dotson is as well and there were rumors Dotson was projected to go out of the 1st round. I guess Washington wanted more of a slot receiver as that would be where Dotson will likely play. At least they got extra draft picks as they traded back which is a good move after they overpaid for QB Carson Wentz.
17. Los Angeles Chargers - OG Zion Johnson (Boston College) - Grade C-
I get the pick, but to be honest, I am not a fan of Zion Johnson. He doesn’t have the best footwork, lacks consistency, is sloppy with his hands, has a poor mauling ability. He is a bit raw, but he has upside. Plus, I think that the Chargers needed more of a Tackle than a guard since Bryan Bulaga left in free agency. But there is upside and it never hurts to build the offensive line to protect Justin Herbert.
18. Tennessee Titans (via Philadelphia Eagles, from New Orleans Saints) - WR Treylon Burks (Arkansas) - Grade A-
I can’t believe what the Titans just did to acquire this selection. They traded AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles for this selection and a 3rd round pick this year. They just traded him for less value which is crazy to me. I am not a fan of what they just did trade wise. But what I am a fan of is selecting WR Treylon Burks. He is a genetic freak, smooth route runner, and has excellent hands. If he can translate into the NFL then the Titans got an excellent receiver that should be a solid replacement for AJ Brown.
19. New Orleans Saints (From Philadelphia Eagles) - OT Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa) Grade B+
This is the Terron Armstead replacement for the offensive line. The Saints were in cap hell and could not resign him. So why not draft his replacement in the 1st round. It is still scary that the Saints have 4 1st round picks invested on the offensive line which is a brilliant idea. It has panned out for a while and Penning should be a great tackle for the Saints.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers - QB Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh) - Grade C+
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. The Pittsburgh Steelers take a QB that has experience being in the same city and playing in the same stadium throughout his college career. The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a new QB, yes I have hope Trubisky could be something, but I don’t see him as the long term QB.. To be honest, they have needed one for a few years but this organization made the incompetent decision to overpay for an injury-prone QB who should of retired years ago. Pickett is a solid QB but there is plenty of work when it comes to Pickett. Especially, as he does not have a rocket arm, has sloppy footwork, hand size could be an issue, and is inconsistent throwing deeper balls.
21. Kansas City Chiefs (From New England Patriots) - CB Trent McDuffie (Washington) Grade A
When I saw the Chiefs originally trade up I thought they were going to take Jermaine Johnosn as an eventual replacement for Frank Clark when they get out of his contract. When I heard the Chiefs select Trent McDuffie I was surprised, yet the selection made a lot of sense. The Chiefs desperately needed cornerback help and I doubt McDuffie would have been available if they did nothing. He will have an impact on the Chiefs secondary, no question.
22. Green Bay Packers (From Las Vegas Raiders) - LB Quay Walker (Georgia) Grade C
Over Devin Lloyd and Nakobe Dean? I don't think Quay Walker is a completely terrible selection but there were much better options at this spot for the Packers at this selection. Now this fills a need as the Packers have needed a middle linebacker since Blake Martinez left years ago. They finally fill this need by going with Quay Walker and he should be a solid pairing with De’Vondre Campbell. Maybe the Packers view him more as a fit but the Packers should have waited on selecting Quay Walker.
23. Buffalo Bills (via Baltimore Ravens, from Arizona Cardinals) - CB Kaiir Elam (Florida) Grade B-
I like what the Bills have been doing lately, but this is a bit of a head scratching move here. I don’t hate the pick because the Bills needed cornerback help and Elam has a lot of promise. My question is, did the Bills really have to move up two selections for him? Maybe it's because Elam was the only player available that the Bills had a 1st round grade on and they wanted to ensure that they get him but I feel it was unnecessary to make this move. But like I said Elam has a lot of promise as he shines in coverage (Man-to-man and Zone) and is athletic. The B is for the player and the - is for the trade up.
24. Dallas Cowboys - OT Tyler Smith (Tulsa) Grade B
I would have drafted Linderbaum with this selection, but Dallas desperately needed to get a tackle. I like this pick for Dallas as an eventual replacement for Tyron Smith who has been suffering decline, especially with him being injured for multiple games last season. Heck Tyron Smith has not played a full season since 2015. But for now Tyler Smith can be the replacement for La’el Collins for the time being.
25. Baltimore Ravens (from Buffalo Bills) - IOL Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa) - Grade A+
I love it. This was a fantastic selection by the Baltimore Ravens here. The Ravens need to do whatever they can to protect QB Lamarr Jackson. They did that by selecting Tyler Linderbaum, who has a lot of the character traits that you want to see in a center. He snaps the ball well, has strong posture, and has strong pass plus run blocking skills. The Ravens made the right choice in getting Linderbaum and I will be excited to see him in the NFL as I was very high on him. Ravens fans should be excited with this pick no question.
26. New York Jets (From Tennessee Titans) - DE/EDGE Jermine Johnson (Florida State) Grade A+
Wow. Joe Douglas you did it again. I could not believe that Jermaine Johnson fell this far in the draft. When the Jets traded up to this selection I knew this pick was going to be Johnson. Heck the Jets were considering selecting him 4th overall at one point. Heck some thought he would be a Top 10 pick. This is great value and Johnson should be a great pass rusher along with Carl Lawson. Excellent job.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars (From Tampa Bay Buccaneers) - LB Devin Lloyd (Utah) Grade A+
My second favorite team traded up and selected Devin Lloyd which surprised me that Lloyd did not go in the teens. This is great value as the Jaguars desperately needed linebacker help. He is very versatile and can play interior or outside linebacker. Lloyd has strong awareness, tackling ability, and coverage skills. Lloyd should be a strong part of this defense to come, but what about the offense. Maybe later in the draft that will be where the focus turns too.
28. Green Bay Packers - IDL Devonte Wyatt (Georgia) - Grade D
Super surprising that the Packers did not go wide receiver with this selection. I am also surprised that the Packers went with Devonte Wyatt. I get that the Packers did need help on the defensive line but there are a lot of red flags surrounding Devonte Wyatt. Especially in the off the field issues regarding Wyatt and it resulted in him being removed from teams draft boards. Plus Wyatt is very inconsistent with how he plays, doesn’t have the best posture, and he has a tough time shedding blocks. Wyatt has talent as he is extremely competitive and has an impact as a run stopper and pass rusher. But, This selection is incredibly risky to make for the Packers and I wonder if Wyatt will be used as a rotational player.
29. New England Patriots (via Kansas City, Miami, From San Francisco ) - OG Cole Strange (Chattanooga) Grade HACKENBURG
WHAT!?!? You took a 4th round prospect, 29th overall. Are.. Are you okay Bill? You realize that this is the 1st round right? On a serious note this is easily the worst pick in the draft no question. You could have easily waited later in the draft to select Cole Strange. He has upside, but I got to be honest this is the strangest pick in the 1st round that's for sure.
30. Kansas City Chiefs - DE/EDGE George Karalaftis Grade A
Now there is the pass rushing pick the Chiefs went for in the 1st round of the draft. I really like this pick as it is clear the Chiefs want to move on from Frank Clark once they can get out of his contract. This is great value for Karlaftis who I am shocked did not go in the Top 20 in the draft along with Jermaine Johnson and Tyler Linderbaum. The Chiefs defense got stronger with this move as well.
31. Cincinnati Bengals - S Daxton Hill (Michigan) Grade A-
This is a very interesting pick and could mean two of one things. One this pick was used for leverage when negotiating a new deal for S Jessie Bates. The other is that the Bengals wanted to strengthen the secondary by getting another safety to pair with Bates. Either or I love this pick for Cincinnati. I would have rather had the Bengals cornerback here, but not complaining with Hill.
32. Minnesota Vikings (via Detroit Lions, from Los Angeles Rams) - S Lewis Cine (Georgia) Grade B-
I don’t understand what the Vikings were thinking trading down. First off, why are you trading 20 spots down and not acquiring two 1st round picks? Also out of all teams to trade within the 1st round 20 spots down, you trade with a divisional rival in the Detroit Lions. All the Lions gave up was a 2nd and 3rd round choice as well and they drafted a potential superstar receiver who could terrorise this team for many years to come. With that said in regards to the player, they chose with this pick I can’t complain as the Vikings needed help in the secondary, and Harrison Smith is declining so they needed a replacement. Now if it was me I would have rather drafted Jaquan Brisker here but Lewis Cine is still a good selection. I gave this a B for the player and the - for the questionable trade down.