2022 NFL Draft: Winners and losers from the first round

·5 min read

2022 NFL Draft: Winners and losers from the first round originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Well, that was something.

A hectic opening round saw five defenders go off the board first, nine draft-night trades and just one quarterback selected.

With six rounds and 230 picks remaining, there’s plenty of time for teams to make or break their drafts. Still, it’s always fun to overreact to the first-round – so that’s what we’re going to do.

Here are some winners and losers from Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft:

Winner: New York Football

Is football back in the Big Apple? It certainly feels like it after the first round. Both the Jets and the Giants were armed with two top-10 picks, and they seemed to make the most of them. 

The Jets used the No. 4 pick on Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, cornerback out of Cincinnati. He was only targeted 30 times during the 2021 season, as quarterbacks knew to steer clear of him. With the No. 10 pick, the Jets picked Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson. That gives second-year quarterback Zach Wilson a much-needed weapon. Then, the Jets surprisingly traded back into the first round to grab Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II, a projected top-15 pick in most mock drafts, at No. 26.

The Giants filled two huge holes with their top picks. At No. 5, Big Blue took Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Once expected to go first overall, Thibodeaux brings an immediate presence to the Giants defensive line that struggled to rush the passer in 2021. With their second pick at No. 7, the Giants added Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal. The 6-foot-8 beast should be an instant starter at right tackle.

Loser: Malik Willis

Kenny Pickett was the only quarterback taken in Round 1, leaving Willis in the green room all night. The Liberty product was favored to be the first quarterback off the board. Now, he’ll have to settle for the second round.

It could be a blessing in disguise for Willis, who will now enter the league with less pressure and potentially join a better team. He will obviously be disappointed, but plenty of good quarterbacks have fallen outside of the first round. Team fit will be crucial for Willis. At this point, getting drafted by the right team is far more important than getting drafted as early as possible.

Winner: Philadelphia Eagles

Howie Roseman continues to finesse with his chest of draft picks. The Eagles entered the offseason sitting on three first-round picks in 2022. After a trade with the Saints, they shuffled to get two first-rounders in 2022 and 2023. On draft night, Roseman made two more major deals.

First, Philly traded up from No. 15 to No. 13 and selected Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis. A massive man (6-foot-6, 341 pounds), Davis has a chance to learn from 31-year-old Fletcher Cox, one of the league’s best interior D-linemen.

The Eagles’ second first-round pick (No. 18) was made by the Tennessee Titans. How, you ask? Well, the Eagles acquired Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Brown and immediately signed him to a four-year, $100 million extension. Philly also tossed in a 2022 third-round pick, which allowed them to keep both of their first-round picks in 2023 (their own and the Saints’).

Winner: Detroit Lions

I continue to crown teams that made multiple first-round picks. But seriously, the Lions did really well. The Jaguars passed on Aidan Hutchinson, allowing the Michigan product to stay in-state to play in Detroit. He might not be on the level of recent No. 2 picks Nick Bosa and Chase Young, but he’ll be an impact rookie.

The Lions were slated to close the first round at No. 32. They weren’t satisfied sitting still, though, and they pounced up to No. 12 for Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. After suffering a torn ACL in the national championship game, Williams is likely to miss the start of the season. That’s just fine for a rebuilding Lions team that is still searching for a franchise quarterback. All the pieces are coming together around the QB spot, and they could go all-in for one next year.

Loser: Aaron Rodgers

The Packers had two first-round picks after trading away Davante Adams. They still didn’t give Rodgers a wide receiver, the same first-round story throughout Rodgers’ entire career. The star quarterback signed a massive extension with the Packers before Adams was dealt. During a draft interview with Pat McAfee, Rodgers admitted that he re-signed with the expectation that Adams would stick around.

Rodgers’ current receiving corp includes Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins and Amari Rodgers as his primary targets. When you see teams like the Lions and Saints moving up for wideouts, you have to wonder what the Packers are thinking.

Winner (and loser?): Baltimore Ravens

Good news for Baltimore: The Ravens made some wise moves, trading away receiver Marquise Brown to get an extra first-round pick. They grabbed Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 to shore up the secondary and the consensus top center prospect Tyler Linderbaum at No. 25.

Bad news for Baltimore: Lamar Jackson is not happy. Like, he is actively angry.

Jackson and Brown were close friends. Jackson is set to hit unrestricted free agency next offseason. Even though the Ravens can use the franchise tag on him, it’s clear that Jackson could be unhappy. He’s had the opportunity to extend with the Ravens since last summer and he still hasn’t. This is one to watch throughout the offseason.