Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft is in the books with 32 players selected and plenty of surprises on Thursday night. While there are still six rounds left with Day 2 and Day 3, we’ll examine the winners and losers after the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Needless to say, there were a lot of surprises. From blockbuster trades sending A.J. Brown and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to new teams to some eyebrow-raising selections, Round 1 certainly will have an impact on the 2022 NFL season.
Here are the winners and losers from the 2022 NFL Draft.
Winner: New York Giants
Round 1 of the 2022 NFL draft couldn’t have gone much better for the New York Giants. Ater hiring defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, this team needed an edge rusher. Kayvon Thibodeaux might have a few more red flags than Aidan Hutchinson, but he brings more upside to the table. Thibodeaux is a three-down player immediately, holding up the edge against the run and serving as a pass-rushing weapon for Martindale to move around.
After snagging a cornerstone edge rusher, New York used the 7th overall pick to shore up its offensive line. Evan Neal always fit what general manager wanted. New York sought an offensive tackle with experience on the right side, Neal played three different positions at Alabama. At 6-foot-7, Neal only allowed 24 combined pressures (Pro Football Focus) in the past two years, this is a home run pick.
Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers studied the 2022 quarterback class extensively and settled on Kenny Pickett. While the current regime might receive the benefit of the doubt from plenty of evaluators, it’s not given here. There’s a case to be made the Steelers drafted the third-best passer in an already weak class.
Yes, Pickett can challenge Mitch Trubisky for the starting job. Here’s the thing, his processing ability and composure under pressure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He also did next to nothing in his first three seasons as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. Turning 24 in June, Pickett offers limited upside. If you’re going to spend a top-20 pick on a quarterback, it needs to be someone who can be more than a rich man’s version of Taylor Heinicke.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens were a winner of the 2022 NFL Draft the moment they selected Kyle Hamilton. Marcus Williams is already going to be a difference-maker in this secondary, but great teams recognize value when it’s available. Hamilton, a consensus top-five talent in the 2022 draft class, is a do-it-all safety with outstanding range and instincts. With Hamilton and Williams roaming around, this defense is going to be one of the best in the NFL.
Related: 2022 NFL defense rankings
Yet, Baltimore didn’t stop. Recognizing the rising price for wide receivers, especially the Christian Kirk contract, Marquise Brown was shipped to the Arizona Cardinals. In an offseason that saw All-Pro talent like Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams go for a first-round pick and a Day 2 selection, the Ravens landed a top-25 pick for an inferior weapon. Oh, the Ravens also added center Tyler Linderbaum to fortify the offensive line. Bravo Eric DeCosta, bravo.
Loser: Aaron Rodgers
It’s fair to wonder how much scotch quarterback Aaron Rodgers is drinking tonight. He knew the Green Bay Packers were trading Davante Adams this offseason, that was a given. The hope, for Rodgers and the fan base, was one of Green Bay’s first-round picks was spent on a wide receiver,
It never happened. That’s not entirely the fault of general manager Brian Gutekunst. Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams came off the board prior to the 13th pick. By the 20th selection, Jahan Dotson and Treylon Burks came off the board. With A.J. Brown traded to Philadelphia, there were no other options for Green Bay.
The Packers should still feel good about their top picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, this defense is loaded with talent. For Rodgers, who has expressed frustration for years over Green Bay not spending premium picks on receivers, this was another rough night. Fortunately, alcohol helps.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Howie Roseman is aggressive. Fans might have been a bit disappointed to see the Philadelphia Eagles trade up to the 13th pick, missing out on one of the high-end receiving prospects. Instead, they landed one of the most gifted athletes we’ve ever seen on the defensive line. Jordan Davis is going to be an absolute wrecking ball for Philly. Of course, that was just the start of this wild night.
The Eagles never planned to exit the first round without helping quarterback Jalen Hurts. After prolonged negotiations behind the scenes, Philly landed its No. 1 receiver. Brown, age 24, fits into this team’s window perfectly and he’ll be motivated after signing a $100 million contract. It’s a bold move, but the rewards are obvious as the Eagles just landed one of the NFL’s top, young wideouts.
Loser: Arizona Cardinals
It’s quite simple with the Arizona Cardinals. They massively overpaid for Hollywood Brown. While wide receiver was a need, the front office could have packaged a pick to move up or addressed the position on Day 2. Instead, seemingly desperate to prove to Kyler Murray is a great situation, Arizona traded a first-round pick for a No. 2 receiver in an offseason where No. 1 receivers were only slightly more expensive.
Winner: New York Jets
The New York Jets are winners of the 2022 NFL Draft, a statement that seems hard to believe. We’ve seen some whiffs and reaches from general manager Joe Douglas in the past, but he’s going to come out of Round 1 grinning from ear to ear.
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner is the CB1 that Robert Saleh’s scheme needs to be successful. He also brings the swagger that fits so perfectly in the region. Following up a great No. 4 pick, the Jets snagged the No. 1 receiver on their draft board. Garrett Wilson is going to get open, that’s a plus. The best traits he brings to the table are a catch radius and body control that will help him bail out quarterback Zach Wilson on plenty of throws. Wilson brings WR1 upside and he’ll make an immediate impact as a rookie.
In a lot of 2022 NFL mock drafts leading up to Thursday night, many thought Jeraine Johnson would be picked 10th overall by New York. As he slid down the board, Douglas saw an opportunity. The Jets added a dominant force against the run who should also improve as a pass rusher with time.
Loser: New England Patriots
The New England Patriots drafted a player who a lot of teams expected would be taken late on Day 2. Yet, Bill Belichick believes he sees something special. The interior offensive line is a need, but cornerback seems like a far bigger concern. Let’s also keep the Patriots’ recent draft history in mind, the results are mixed. Maybe this all works out, but the Patriots have to be viewed as losers from Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft until Strange and Belichick prove otherwise.