2022 NFL Draft Day First Round Predictions, Thoughts, Beliefs, Advice

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2022 NFL Draft Day: Final first round predictions, thoughts, beliefs and advice before all the fun gets going – all from the college perspective.

2022 NFL Draft Final Predictions, Thoughts, Advice

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And now we’re here.

After all the research, all the workouts, and all the work, tonight we finally get to know where all the top players in the 2023 NFL Draft are going to go in the first round.

It’s the best non-sporting event that sports can do. Before it all gets going, here are eight final thoughts, predictions, and beliefs about what’s going to happen and who the most interesting teams will be.

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Teams are going to take quarterbacks whether they like them or not

I hope Malik Willis is the next Dan Marino. I want Kenny Pickett and Sam Howell and Matt Corral to come into the league and rip this thing apart.

Humanity needs great NFL quarterbacks. That playoff shootout between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen made the world a better place.

However, these quarterback prospects are a giant sack of meh compared to the 2021 draft and what’s coming in 2023.

More than that, the odds are overwhelming that none of the quarterbacks taken in the first round will do more than a fat load of jack squat – and they sure as shoot aren’t going to take the teams that draft them to a Super Bowl win.

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But Willis is probably going to go to Carolina, just because. I’m convinced Atlanta is going to go Pickett – or someone else will grab him in the top 15 – just because.

And they’ll be fine.

Really – I don’t think they’re going to bust. They’re just not going to be as good as the other guys on the board at other positions.

Think of it this way. Trey Lance could be the next Steve Young, but San Francisco probably wins the Super Bowl last year – even with Mr. Subway at quarterback – if they had one game-breaking receiver like Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle.

Think of where the Bears would be if they had what’s now a glaring need filled by Micah Parsons or Rashawn Slater – the two players taken right after Justin Fields; and I LOVE what Fields might become – to go along with, say, a serviceable quarterback like Baker Mayfield.

And then there’s the case of …

Desmond Ridder

Again, I WANT Desmond Ridder to be an awesome starting NFL quarterback.

Good guy, great story, I hope he gets taken by Detroit at the end of the first round and he becomes the quarterback who finally leads that franchise to a Super Bowl.

But there’s always a problem when the NFL scouting community gets together and comes up with a thought.

On talent, Ridder is probably a third rounder – not accurate enough against the top defenses, needs more seasoning, high-end is good-not-amazing – but he looked phenomenal in workouts and suddenly all the other parts of the puzzle are blown off.

But what do I know? I actually think Jared Goff is fine – not Mahomes or Rodgers, but fine – if he gets better talent around him.

Speaking of things I don’t get …

Travon Walker

I have yet to find anyone who actually believes Travon Walker is the best player in this draft.

He’s obviously a great prospect, the tools are unbelievable, and the ceiling is limitless for a guy that size who moves like he does, but a reasonable argument could be made that he wasn’t even the best player on the Georgia defensive line.

There’s a crazy outside shot that he doesn’t turn out to be one of the five best NFL players from that epic D.

It’s going to take an epic call, though, by someone to get him.

No matter where he goes if it’s in the top three or five, there’s going to be a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive tackle who’ll have to be passed up to grab him.

Someone will have to look around the war room and explain what Kyle Hamilton isn’t that game-changing safety who deserves the pick instead.

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And, if Walker is the No. 1 overall pick, the second-guessing might be at an all-time level if Aidan Hutchinson and/or Kayvon Thibodeaux turn into superstars.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough when it comes to these guys, I hope he’s the next Bruce Smith. However, if it were up to me – and thank whatever god that you pray to that it’s not – instead of the ends, give me one of the top offensive tackles or …

Jordan Davis

It’s part of the NFL scouting world I just don’t understand. Why aren’t defensive tackles considered just as important as any position outside of quarterback?

Defensive tackle might be the hardest position to find an elite talent, because people that size who can take that kind of a pounding from multiple blockers and can also be relatively athletic are rare.

Disagree? Aaron Donald looked pretty nice holding up the Lombardi.

But Jordan Davis will slide.

In a draft that’s just okay at defensive tackle, Davis has already proven his worth as the leader and tone-setter for a high-end defensive full of NFL talents. He’s it. He’s the guy who sits in the middle of your line and lets the other ten guys go eat.

He’s going to be undervalued along with …

Linebackers. Don’t overthink this.

Utah’s Devin Lloyd is a big, do-it-all playmaker of a linebacker who can line up just about anywhere and produce.

Georgia’s Nakobe Dean is a smallish Tasmanian devil of a defender who brings a different sort of skill set to go along with a full-time motor and one of the biggest hearts in the draft.

Both of them are going to slide because they don’t quite fit into the neat-and-clean Edge Rusher position that’s become so glamorized.

Teams will go after need picks in the first round, because that’s what teams with needs do, but Lloyd and Dean – in different ways – are instant starters, instant leaders, and the exact type of players you want on your defense.

And remember, in today’s day and age, it really is all about …

Free agency. That’s where you get your guys.

I got yelled at for this suggestion …

NFL free agency is now to the NFL Draft what the transfer portal is to college recruiting. You still need to recruit talented players in college football, but you fill your needs and holes through the portal with proven talents instead of relying on unproven prospects.

You still need to draft well in the first three rounds – I can’t keep stressing this enough; the picks after the third round don’t work out like you think they do – but no matter what, go with the Best Player Available theory and then solve your problems through free agency.

If you need a wide receiver but you think that the great-looking left tackle is the better player, take the better player, because your current left tackle is probably leaving for the Browns in 2023. Take the best player, and let someone else develop your wide receiver.

And that leads to one of the most intriguing parts to this draft …

Where do the injured stars go?

If USC WR Drake London wasn’t coming off a foot injury, and if Alabama WR Jameson Williams didn’t tear his ACL, and if Michigan LB David Ojabo didn’t tear his Achilles tendon, they all might have been taken somewhere in the top ten.

He wouldn’t have gone high in the first round, but I’d actually throw one of my favorite prospects in that injury mix. LSU LB Damone Clark has the talent to be someone’s leading tackler if he can come back 100% after undergoing spinal fusion surgery and will be out for the year.

No one wants to take chances in the first round, but if London or Williams fall after the 15, and if Ojabo is there in the mid-to-late 20s, and if Clark is around in the third, go for it.

Who’s to say the guy you’re going to take instead doesn’t get hurt in mini-camp?

ALWAYS take the most talented guy on your board, even if you have to wait for him.

And finally …

Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first round’s most interesting teams.

How did Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl a few years ago? It had a few strong draft picks rise up, for sure, but Tom Brady came to town and upped the game for free agents who wanted to be part of the Buccaneers.

How did the Rams win the Super Bowl? Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp, yeah, but they sold their future and soul for free agents including that quarterback from the AT&T commercials.

Tom Brady is old. He’s not coming back for another year because he realized just how boring it is to hang with your family. He’s back to win a Super Bowl. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, now.

The same goes for Aaron Rodgers. He’s getting paid a whole lot of money, but he’s also back because Green Bay gives him the best chance to win a Super Bowl.

Those teams with those quarterbacks aren’t going to draft some project guy who could develop into something special. Oh no – those teams are going for the RIGHT NOW.

Tampa Bay needs a guard. It also needs more bodies for the defensive front. It’s not going to take any sort of a luxury pick – it’s going after a cheap need player who can step in and start at the 27th pick.

Green Bay has the 22 and the 28. No way, no how Captain Ivermectin is going to let his franchise take anything but a wide receiver – finally – with one of those picks, and he’s probably going to pound his fist for a giant pass protecting tackle who can handle himself on the right side.

In other words, whoever goes at the 22, 27, and 28 can expect to have epic pressure on their shoulders for late first rounders.

Happy draft day everyone.

Have fun, and Vontae Mack … no matter what.

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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings, Analysis
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | OTs | OGs & Cs | DEs & Edge | DTs
LBs | Ss | CBs | 50 Greatest Value Draft Picks Ever
NFL Draft by college over last 5 years: 1-130 rankings
3 Greatest Picks ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

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