Winners & Losers of the 2022 NFL Draft
2023 QB Draft Class
We heard the 2022 class was thin at quarterback and it became increasingly more evident as the draft continued. Kenny Pickett was the only first-rounder and is currently the only one who could start Week 1. We're still a year out from the next draft, so take this with a grain of salt, but the signal-callers are supposed to be much better and there are still plenty of teams who could upgrade at the position. Currently, most mock drafts have six or seven being taken in the first round, but it should be noted that that number was similar for the 2022 class at this point last year. Still, seeing the names alone (CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, DJ Ugialeilei, Spencer Rattler, etc) already makes next year's class seem deeper.
I hesitated to put this on here since it's my team and even their good drafts have eventually let me down in the past, but I really like what Detroit was able to land. First, they get the top defensive player in the draft who will help them fix a pass rush that has been nonexistent for years. Then, they really just trade a third-round pick to move back up and land Jameson Williams, who could have been the top receiver in this class had he not torn his ACL in the National Championship. They also double-dipped along the defensive line with Kentucky's Josh Paschal, added a promising safety in Illinois's Kerby Joseph, and brought in some impact special teamers and developmental guys on day three. Each pick matched value with need and improved the overall quality of a roster that's still a work in progress.
New York Jets
The Jets had picks four and ten and landed the top corner in the draft in Cincinnati's Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner and one of the top receivers in Ohio State's Garrett Wilson. They were also able to trade back into the first round select a top 10 prospect in Flordia State defensive end Jermaine Johnson and land one of the top running backs in the draft in Iowa State's Breece Hall. The offense needed play-makers on the outside and the defense should be much improved with the three additions. Plus, defenses will have a hell of a time trying to stop the duo of Hall and Michael Carter out of the backfield.
New York Giants
Meanwhile, the Giants landed two guys that were both projected to be the number one overall pick at one time this season: Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal. You can never have too many pass rushers and the offensive line has been the biggest problem for the Giants in recent seasons. While there were some reaches with the remaining picks, the G-Men were able to add an underrated play-maker in Wan'Dal Robinson, more protection upfront in Joshua Ezeudzu, and an intriguing tight end in Daniel Bellinger.
Kudos to Carolina for not taking the bait and reaching on a quarterback in the top ten of a questionable class. The Panthers had the sixth overall pick and many pundits and media outlets predicted them as a destination for either Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis at that spot. Instead, Carolina made the smart decision to invest in the offensive line with North Carolina State offensive tackle Ickey Ekwonu.
They eventually did take a quarterback in the third round (Ole Miss's Matt Corral) and used a fourth-round pick on Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith, who I believe can turn into an NFL starter. The team also selected speed-rusher Amare Barno-- the fastest edge player at the combine--Tennessee guard Cade Mays, and Baylor defensive back Kalon Barnes. Not a bad haul and some of these guys will play big roles.
As I just mentioned, the Panthers didn't draft a quarterback until the third round. While Matt Corral comes with some upside, it is difficult to see him supplanting the incumbent starter as a rookie. The only ways I see Corrla under center for Carolina in 2022 is if Darnold is injured or there is a change in leadership and the coaching staff. For now, Darnold is still the starter and that's a win for him.
The Eagles have spent many a first-round pick on wide receivers trying to land elite talent for their offense in recent drafts and seemed poised to do it again this year. Yet, there was a better move up their sleeves, and the team acquired Titans All-Pro receiver AJ Brown, who instantly becomes the number one target. And it only took two draft picks to do it.
As for the rest of the draft, Philadelphia added the best defensive tackle in this class (Georgia's Jordan Davis), one of the top centers (Nebraska's Cam Jurgens), and a first-round linebacker well after he should have been off the board (Georgia's Nakobe Dean). All four acquisitions addressed needs with the best of the available talent, which lands Philly on my winners list.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints' draft class may not be flashy and they gave up too many picks to trade up twice during the first round. However, I like how their picks fit with their roster. Alvin Kamara was really the only threat offensively last season with Michael Thomas out, and Chris Olave immediately becomes one of the top players for that unit and will be a nightmare for defenders to stop. Additionally, they ended up with a top 15 prospect in Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning with their second first-round pick to help replace the departed Terron Armstead, and landed a sleeper at linebacker in D'Marco Jackson (Appalachian State) in the fifth. There were some reaches with their other picks and I can understand why most don't like this draft for New Orleans, but I think the players they added fit their team well.
As I mentioned above, Pickett was the only quarterback taken in the first round this year. Adding to that, he gets to stay in the same town and play in the same stadium he did in college. With Ben Roethlisberger retiring and Mitchell Trubisky entering the offseason as a starter, Pickett has a real chance to win the job and make an impact as a rookie.
The Ravens had a great draft and were able to add players that are prototypical fits for their schemes and fill immediate needs. Kyle Hamilton is the perfect fit to guide the back end of that defense at safety and should help fix the pass defense. Defensive tackle Travis Jones fits the mold of a Baltimore nose tackle and was a first-round value available in the third round. Center Tyler Linderbaum was the best center in the draft and has the nasty streak the Ravens love in offensive linemen. Second-round pick David Ojabo will likely miss this season with an Achilles injury, but once healthy, he provides elite pass-rushing talent. I also like the values they found on day three in tight ends Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely, offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, and running back Tyler Badie.
Conner experienced a resurgence in Arizona and was rewarded with a new contract. PLus Arizona let Chase Edmonds leave for Miami. He should be considered the incumbent starter and there is little chance rookie Keaontay Ingram or second-year Eno Benjamin are able to usurp him this season. Therefore, Conner has earned a spot on this winners list.
Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield
We keep hearing there is not much of a market for these guys, and it may be because of their contracts (contact details). Whatever the cause may be, both are "losers" from draft weekend because they stayed with their teams. Plenty of teams could use the services of either Baker or Jimmy, but it looks less likely that they'll be mov3ed before the season. Both are capable starters but will be relegated to the bench in 2022 if things continue this way.
Strong is a prototypical pocket passer with a knee injury in his medical history, so it's not that difficult to see why teams didn't take him. His overall game just doesn't quite fit the style of today's NFL, despite having elite arm talent. To me, that talent should have been good enough to get him drafted, but teams apparently saw otherwise. He will have to make an impact as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles. Hard pill to swallow for a guy some "experts" considered among the top five or six signal-callers in this draft.
Velus Jones Jr
This is less about Jones and his talent and more about the Chicago Bears' receiving corps. Yes, they did reach a little bit for Jones, but I believe he will be a good NFL player. However, he is not going to an ideal situation. QB Justin Fields is still in development and Darnell Mooney is the only proven receiving threat on the team after Allen Robinson signed with the Rams. So, yes, Jones is going to get plenty of chances to prove his worth, but it may be too much to put on a rookie that quickly.
When the Falcons signed Mariota earlier this offseason, most people saw it as a short-term bridge until the Falcons found their next franchise quarterback. Third-round pick Desmond Ridder may or may not end up being that guy, but Atlanta saw enough in him to add him to the squad. I think Mariota's job is safe for this year, but next year could be a different story. Ridder plays a similar style and has greater upside at this point.
Tannehill has had an up and down career, but it has been better so far in Tennessee. Yet, he was the sole reason the Titans lost some games down the stretch including the playoff game against the Bengals. His job should be safe for now, but the Titans drafted Liberty's Malik Willis in the third round. Willis was considered one of the top two quarterbacks in this class by most. He gets time to develop, but, if all goes well, it may just be a matter of time before he takes Tannehill's job.
Isabella earned his way to a second-round selection in 2019 because of his record-breaking speed and good performances against Power Five teams. Three years later, he has struggled to stay on the field and has just 31 receptions on a team that uses a myriad of receivers. His role so far has been as that speed guy, but Arizona just traded for the same type of player in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who is a much more established version. Time may have run out on Isabella in the desert.
Derek Stingley Jr
There's no question Stingley is a talented player and earned his way to a high draft slot, but this has more to do with the situation he's going to and the pressure of highly-drafted corners. The Houston Texans are a mess and can use all the help they can get-- both on and off the field. I question many of the moves the front office and ownership have made, especially replacing a sitting duck in David Culley with another one in Lovie Smith. I've mentioned previously on the podcast, that makes me think coaching candidates throughout the league are avoiding Houston at all costs.
Stingley is now also tied for the highest-drafted corner in league history at No. 3 overall. On the surface, that sounds like quite an accomplishment until you look at who those others were. Shawn Springs turned in a solid career but was he ever really a shutdown corner?. Did Bruce Pickens do anything noteworthy? What about Jeff Okudah? This point can be expanded to the third overall pick in general (Dion Jordan, Trent Richardson, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, etc) or even corners in the top ten (Morris Claiborne, Justin Gilbert, Eli Apple, etc). There are good players that have come from that bunch, so Stingley is not destined to fail by any means. There is just too much history of busts where he was taken and it's not a place with a currently good culture.