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The 10 most intriguing moves of the 2022 NFL draft: Steelers on an island with Kenny Pickett pick

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The first round of the 2022 NFL draft is in the books, and what a wild and wacky opening round it was.

First came the selection of five straight defensive players. Then as the night unfolded, six wide receivers went off the board, only one quarterback (the one with seemingly the least amount of upside) was taken, and nine trades (the most in the first round since 2004) went down.

Here are 10 of the most intriguing moves of the night.

1. DE Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 1

Entering the offseason, Walker was regarded as a fine athlete but wasn’t considered by many to be a top-10 pick. But as Walker navigated the whole pre-draft evaluation process, his stock continued to rise because of impressive measurables (6-5, 272 pounds with a 4.51-second 40-yard dash) and strong showings in interviews. Walker rose all the way to the top of the draft ahead of Aidan Hutchinson, who for much of the pre-draft process was regarded as a strong favorite to go first overall. Hutchinson was probably the safer pick. But Walker’s athleticism and versatility were too good for the Jaguars to pass on. During his time at Georgia, Walker moved all around the defensive front, which was impressive. But he didn’t put up elite numbers, recording a career-high six sacks in 2021. But the Jaguars determined that he was their guy. Now, they have to figure out how to develop him into an elite-level edge rusher.

2. OT "Ickey" Ekwonu, Carolina Panthers, No. 6

The 6-4, 310-pound Ekwonu drew consideration as the top overall pick of the draft. He’s regarded by some as one of the most gifted athletes in the draft, and his body of work at North Carolina State proved too good to pass up for Carolina, which also has a pressing need at quarterback. The Panthers wouldn’t have surprised anyone by using that sixth pick on a passer. But instead, they sought to address another important need. The Panthers could either wind up rolling with Sam Darnold again or trading for Baker Mayfield. Regardless of who is under center, he'll have a very strong and versatile new lineman blocking for him.

3. WR Drake London, Atlanta Falcons, No. 8

In a draft class that presented a wealth of talent at wide receiver, London was the first to go as Atlanta took the USC product eighth overall. At 6-4, 219, London boasts great size, and now new quarterback Marcus Mariota will have two big targets to throw to in London and Kyle Pitts. The Falcons were very thin at receiver, so London should fill a sizable void. The selection of London sparked a run on wide receivers and five more pass-catchers heard their names called in the first round.

4. DE/OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux and OT Evan Neal, New York Giants, No. 5 and No. 7

The Giants used their two first-round picks to land potential cornerstones to both their defense and offense. Oregon’s Thibodeaux possesses great athleticism and was disruptive in college. However, there are questions about whether he is physically equipped to make a seamless transition to the more physical NFL. Meanwhile, Neal, who at one point drew consideration as the first overall pick, will be tasked with protecting quarterback Daniel Jones, who is in a make-or-break year after the Giants elected not to pick up his fifth-year option.

5. WR Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans, No. 18

The Titans spent the offseason trying to work out a contract extension with A.J. Brown. Those efforts proved fruitless as the Titans instead traded the standout receiver to Philadelphia for the No. 18 and 101 picks, using the former to select Burks out of Arkansas. The 6-2, 225-pound Burks essentially is a younger, cheaper Brown, and now the Titans will work to develop him and position him to make a big impact as a rookie. Now, Tennessee can use its cap space to address other more pressing needs.

NFL DRAFT TRACKER: Analysis on every pick in the first round

BEST AVAILABLE PLAYERS: Top talent still on board entering Day 2

Former Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett reacts next to his fiancee, Amy Paternoster, and his father, Ken, on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Loch Arbour, N.J., after learning that the Pittsburgh Steelers had chosen him in the NFL draft.
Former Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett reacts next to his fiancee, Amy Paternoster, and his father, Ken, on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Loch Arbour, N.J., after learning that the Pittsburgh Steelers had chosen him in the NFL draft.

6. QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 20

The first and only quarterback taken in the first round, Pickett went 20th overall to the Steelers, who found themselves in search of Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement. Of all the top quarterbacks in the draft (which includes Liberty’s Malik Willis, Mississippi’s Matt Corral, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder), Pickett was considered by many talent evaluators to be the most NFL-ready. However, multiple scouts believe he has the lowest ceiling of them all and don’t see him as a potential star. Willis, meanwhile, seemed to boast the most potential of his position group because of his strong arm and mobility. But the Steelers went with Pickett instead. Can he prove his critics wrong? Mitchell Trubisky is expected by some to start in Pittsburgh after signing a two-year deal this offseason. But it’s likely only a matter of time before Pickett overtakes him. From there, how much higher can Pickett ascend?

7. LB Quay Walker and DT Devonte Wyatt, Green Bay Packers, No. 22 and 28

Another draft, another first-round come and gone without the Packers having spent a top pick on a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers. The move is especially intriguing because Green Bay this offseason shipped Davante Adams to Las Vegas rather than pay him. But this makes it 20 consecutive drafts that the Packers have gone without selecting a receiver, tight end or running back in the first round. Green Bay essentially gave Rodgers $50 million and told him to figure out the rest. Meanwhile, Georgia teammates Walker and Wyatt should help a defense that is working to get younger and more imposing, but some rival talent evaluators question whether either was really worthy of a first-round pick.

MORE: Aaron Rodgers is OK with Green Bay Packers' 2022 first-round picks, so fans should be, too

8. G Cole Strange, New England Patriots, No. 29

One pick sparking the most head-scratching around the league was the Patriots’ decision to trade down from No. 21 to 29 and then take Strange, a guard/center out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. To many around the league, this was a big reach. But the Patriots seemingly are looking at the long-term health of their offensive line and salary cap.

9. Arizona Caridnals’ trade for WR Marquise Brown

Continuing the trend that has seen wide receivers garner first-round picks on the trade market, the Cardinals pulled the trigger on a deal that sent the No. 23 selection to Baltimore in exchange for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and No. 100 pick. The move gives Kyler Murray yet another weapon, but unlike the moves for Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and A.J. Brown, Marquise Brown isn't exactly regarded as elite. Talented, yes. But he's still rather inconsistent. However, the Cardinals craved him and his speed. But, they're also going to have to pay him, which likely means opening up the check book to the tune of $100 million given how wideouts are being paid this offseason.

10. Philadelphia Eagles' A.J. Brown trade and draft selection

The Eagles helped themselves on multiple fronts. They entered the draft with three first-round picks and wound up coming away from Day 1 having met a longstanding need for a top-flight wideout (Brown). They also used a draft pick to land a potentially dominant defensive tackle in Jordan Davis, who should eventually take up the mantle for Fletcher Cox.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Steelers, Patriots' picks among NFL draft's 10 most intriguing moves