The 2022 NFL Draft is coming to a close and it delivered plenty of surprises, blockbuster trades, draft-day slides and steals across all three days. As part of Sportsnaut’s NFL coverage, it’s time to look back on everything that happened.
Many focus their attention on Round 1 and for good reason, it’s where a majority of the premium talent is found and it’s responsible for two mega deals this year. However, we still saw plenty of marquee names make it to Day 2 and Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft. Plus, teams who were quiet in the first round made plenty of selections in the final six.
History can always prove draft analysts wrong. These reactions are entirely based on evaluations of the prospects and whether or not a team ignored a perceived need or reached for a player. Only time will tell whether or not these assessments are right, but it’s all part of the evaluation process.
Let’s dive into our winners and losers from the 2022 NFL Draft.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
The consensus Baltimore Ravens draft grade will be an A. If this team missed out on landing defensive tackle Jordan Davis, thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles trading up, they responded to it perfectly. Kyle Hamilton, easily one of the best players in the 2022 NFL Draft, fell because of his 40 time. Don’t let that be a concern, he’s got the talent and instincts to be a Pro Bowl safety and the Ravens will know how to use his versatility.
Baltimore also added center Tyler Linderbaum, fortifying its offensive line with the first-round pick stolen from the Arizona Cardinals in the Marquise Brown trade. That made the Ravens a winner of Round 1. On Day 2, general manager Eric DeCosta seized on the opportunity to buy low on edge rusher David Ojabo. He slid after tearing his Achilles at the Michigan Pro Day, but he could be one of the best pass rushers from this draft class by 2024.
Naturally, that wasn’t enough for the Ravens. Baltimore added brute force and size in Round 3 with defensive tackle Travis Jone. Kicking off Round 4, the Ravens added 6-foot-8 offensive tackle Daniel Faalele, who Daniel Jeremiah compared to Orlando Brown Jr. A phenomenal draft.
Loser: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears received a lot of praise for hiring general manager Ryan Poles and they faced significant competition to land him. We were a bit hesitant after Poles hired defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus as head coach, but there was more time to help Fields. Instead, just weeks after saying he’d put the second-year quarterback in a position to excel, the Bears’ 2022 draft class did the opposite.
Chicago spent its second-round picks on a pair of defensive backs, two players who will do nothing to make life easier for Fields in 2022. In Round 3, Poles drafted a 25-year-old receiver (Velus Jones Jr.) who lacks polish as a route-runner and might never be anything more than a No. 3 receiver in a best-case scenario for the Bears.
Fields will be starting behind a bottom-10 offensive line in 2022 with one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Oh, he’ll also need first-year play-caller Luke Getsy to prove he is an offensive savant for this unit to experience an ounce of success. It feels like Poles is already saying he doesn’t believe in Fields, but putting him in a situation ripe for failure is wildly unfair to the 2021 first-round pick. While we like some of the picks, failing to help Fields makes Chicago one of the NFL Draft losers.
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Some general managers put their young quarterbacks in horrid positions, others create a foundation to create a proper evaluation. The Philadelphia Eagles might not be 100% sold on quarterback Jalen Hurts as the long-term starter, but executive Howie Roseman did what it takes to help his young passer define his own future. Trading for A.J. Brown gives Philadelphia a young receiver with the talent to be one of the best in the NFL. Paired with tight end Dallas Goedert and 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith, the skill players are outstanding. On top of all that, Roseman built a great offensive line to protect his QB.
Trading for Brown and extending him on its own made this a strong 2022 NFL Draft for the Eagles. What really puts it over the top are the pieces added on defense. Not only is Jordan Davis going to completely change this run defense, but his athleticism and skills also make him the perfect rotational interior rusher in Jonathan Gannon’s scheme.
Roseman wasn’t finished. After seeing linebacker Nakobe Dean – a top-20 talent – slide into Round 3 because of medical red flags, Philadelphia ended his freefall. Dean served as the leader of one of the best defenses in college football history, he studies film and helps his teammates as if he were a coach. Oh, he’s also a three-down linebacker with incredible sideline-to-sideline range. There’s no question the Philadephia Eagles draft grade is an A and easily one of the biggest NFL Draft winners.
Loser: New England Patriots
We really needed to see a lot more from the New England Patriots in the 2022 NFL Draft. Trading down from the 21st pick, passfing on cornerback Trent McDuffie, can be justified if you nail everything else you do. Some might give Bill Belichick the benefit of the doubt after he reached for Cole Strange, that’s not going to be the case here.
While draft boards for every NFL team are different, it says something that the Los Angeles Rams thought Cole Strange would be available in Round 3. Even if you want to put that aside, the Patriots draft a No. 4 receiver in Tyquan Thornton with the 50th pick, ignoring concerns about his slender frame. If all that wasn’t enough, the first cornerback New England selected was an undersized 5-8 slot corner and Belichick also spent a fourth-round pick on a quarterback. Given Belichick’s recent draft history, maybe it’s time to be more critical.
Winner: New York Jets
Props to general manager Joe Douglas. After being skeptical of just how well the New York Jets would fare in the 2022 NFL Draft, he came away with some of the best players at each of their respective positions.
Ahmad ‘Sauce’ Gardner instantly arrives in New York providing a swagger for the locker room and a No. 1 cornerback for Robert Saleh. It’s a crucial part of what makes his defense work and is just the step forward to this pass defense improving. After that, New York snagged a top weapon for Zach Wilson in Garrett Wilson, who drew some Stefon Diggs comps.
Douglas then saw one of his favorites, edge rusher Jermaine Johnson falling, then jumped back into Round 1 to snag him. Drafting the 23-year-old who had one good year at Florida State would have been a reach at No. 10, but the 26th pick represents good value for a ready-made edge defender.
Day 2 also proved to be a strong night for the Jets. New York added three-down back Bryce Hall, who will step into a featured role and complements Michael Carter quite nicely. The Jets then added New York antie Jeremy Ruckert, adding a tight end they needed. Credit to Douglas, this is a huge step towards fixing the Jets.
Loser: 2022 quarterback class
NFL evaluators weren’t high on the 2022 quarterback class, we knew that from the beginning. However, positional value and perceived upside made it seem like the top signal-callers would hear their names called in Round 1.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett, a selection that might have been a reach. While Pickett still lands first-round money and the destination is ideal for him, it’s still a steep drop from the rumors suggesting he’d be selected with the 6th pick.
Things were far worse for Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Sam Howell. Willis, the only quarterback with the traits to be a franchise quarterback, didn’t hear his name called until late in Round 3. Ridder, arguably a more pro-ready passer than Pickett, slipped to the Atlanta Falcons with the 74th pick. Meanwhile, Corral barely avoided slipping into Day 3 and Howell had to wait until Round 5.
Now, it’s worth noting that Ridder and Willis landed in good situations. The Falcons will give Ridder opportunities in 2022 and Tennessee is a great spot for Willis to develop. After months of first-round buzz, though, the 2022 NFL Draft was simply an ugly quarterback year in the eyes of NFL teams.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs should feel elated about their 2022 NFL Draft class. Heading into Thursday, cornerback, edge rusher and linebacker stood out among the club’s biggest needs. Addressing all of them with rookies who could make an impact felt unlikely. Yet, it happened.
Trent McDuffie will immediately step in as a starting cornerback on the outside, likely drawing matchups against No. 2 receivers to start out. He drew quite a few comparisons to Jaire Alexander, which is lofty, but think of it in terms of his playing style and it’s easier to understand how this helps Kansas City’s defense.
Following that up, the Chiefs added defensive end George Karlaftis to provide some additional strength and pressure off the edge. At linebacker, Leo Chenal is going to be a quality two-down player for a unit that allowed the second-highest yards per rush attempt (4.8) this past year.
We also like the additions to the offense. Skyy Moore will be utilized correctly by Andy Reid, keeping him underneath with passes coming his way in open space to create yards after the catch. Lastly, Darian Kinnard is a quality Day 3 pick to provide depth on the interior offensive line. We’ll see if being among the NFL Draft winners translates to postseason success for Kansas City.
Loser: Baker Mayfield
On April 26, 2018, quarterback Baker Mayfield experienced one of the best days in his young life as the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Browns. Just four years later, no NFL team wanted to trade for him during the 2022 NFL Draft.
This is a player who has built his career off trying to prove everyone wrong, a quarterback with excessive confidence in his abilities. On Friday and Saturday, countless coaches and general managers sent a message that very few people in the NFL believe in Mayfield.
Salary plays a part in this, given he’s owed $18.8 million guaranteed. However, the reports about Mayfield’s immaturity and doubts about his leadership ability also played a role. Injuries can’t be blamed for this, either. At some point, Mayfield will get another show but the 2022 NFL Draft to be a humbling and somber weekend for the former Heisman Trophy winner.