Best Fits From the 2022 NFL Draft
Chris Olave- New Orleans Saints
This is one of the teams that jumped out at me when looking at great spots for Olave to land. The absence of Michael Thomas has hurt the Saints' offense, especially without Drew Brees at quarterback. While the quarterback spot may still be a question mark going forward, the team addressed a huge need. Olave's speed and precise route-running can torch any defense and gives the Saints another elite weapon outside of Alvin Kamara (and Michael Thomas when available).
Kyle Hamilton-Baltimore Ravens
The best safety in the draft falls to a franchise known for historically great defenses. The Ravens were uncharacteristically bad against the pass last season, and the safety spot was a chief component of that. Hamilton was considered the best safety in college football this past season and has incredible length, range, and instincts on the back end. He's exactly the kind of player this team needed and should step in as a starter from day one.
Logan Hall- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Under Todd Bowles, the Tampa defensive front has excelled with versatile players that can play both on the edge and on the outside. With Ndamukong Suh potentially moving on, there was a hole to be filled. Hall played mostly defensive tackle in college but has more of an edge defender profile for the NFL. That versatility makes him a perfect addition for Tampa.
Christian Watson- Green Bay Packers
This is your potential Davante Adams replacement. The Packers are extremely thin at the receiver position after losing Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Watson's college stats don't exactly jump off the page, but he was playing in an offense that puts less of an emphasis on the receiver position. When called upon, his production was excellent. Plus, he can absolutely fly down the field-- especially for a 6'4" receiver. We'll have to see how he adjusts to the next level, but he is exactly what Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense needed on paper.
David Ojabo- Baltimore Ravens
He's not Terrell Suggs, but that is the kind of role he fits. Ojabo had a breakout season at Michigan and would have been a first-round pick if it were;t for a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day. The Ravens usually have a great pass rush but only managed 34 sacks in 2021. Ojabo comes in after an 11-sack season, and, while he will miss this year with the injury, can form a deadly duo with last year's first-round pick Odafe Oweh (5 sacks as a rookie).
George Pickens- Pittsburgh Steelers
Great receivers who can block and the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be a prototypical match. They've had smaller guys like Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle-El, and Antonio Brown in the past, but Pickens brings a bigger frame and more athleticism. With JuJu Smith-Schuster moving on to Kansas City and James Washington heading to Dallas, the Steelers needed to replenish their receiving corps. As a projected first-round pick before suffering an injury that forced him to miss most of last season, Pickens is a player who can contribute as a rookie and develop into a true number one receiver down the road. Pretty great value in the second round.
Drake Jackson- San Francisco 49ers
San Fran got great value for not having a draft pick until late in the second round. Jackson has the prototypical NFL edge-rusher size. The only issue was he was constantly playing in different defensive schemes at USC and never got to settle into his roles. That will change in San Franciso. We know the Niners love to shuffle through big and athletic defenders up front, and Jackson fits that role as a situational guy as a rookie. Plus, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is one of the best in the business at developing players.
Jelani Woods-Indianapolis Colts
Very few teams other than Indy had such a glaring need at tight end, and the Colts landed the quickest-rising prospect at the position. Woods began his college career at Oklahoma State but wasn't asked to do a ton in that offensive system. He transferred to Virginia prior to last season and had a career year. The Colts are thin at tight end after the retirement of Jack Doyle, and Woods's 6'7" frame combined with his unique athleticism can add immediate contributions to the Indy offense.
Travis Jones-Baltimore Ravens
Think of all the elite Baltimore defenses of years past and what do they have in common? A dominant pass-rusher, a ball-hawking safety, a monstrous linebacker, and a stout, powerful defensive tackle. Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, and Tony Siragusa are just some of the players who have filled that last role, and Jones is built in that same mold-- much quicker and more athletic than he looks and a potential game-wrecker in the middle of the line of scrimmage.
Jeremy Ruckert- New York Jets
The four tight ends on last year's Jets roster combined for just 48 catches and 505 yards, so the position was clearly in need of upgrades this offseason. In free agency, the team signed CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, but Uzomah can't play forever and Conklin is more of a backup. That means Ruckert can come in and develop at an ideal pace rather than being forced into starter duty right away. Ruckert is very balanced between receiving and blocking and has the potential to be a better pro player than a college player.
Cade Otton- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The uncertainty surrounding Gronk's status made this a low-key need for Tampa. With former first-round pick OJ Howard also leaving for Buffalo, the team was looking at Cameron Brate as the starting tight end with very little depth beyond him. That shouldn't be taken as a slight against Brate; he's fully capable of playing the TE1 role but just isn't a game-changer. Otton was a four-year starter at Washington, named to multiple All-PAC-12 teams, and was a semifinalist for the Mackey Award (country's best tight end). It takes tight ends a little while to adjust to the pro game, but Otton is in a good spot to gain opportunities to succeed.