NFL Draft Winners and Losers from Day One in Vegas
The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft came with a ton of unexpected twists and turns. Let's jump into the biggest winners from the first round and grade some losers.
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A.B. - Adrian Broaddus
S.K. - Steve Kaplowitz
Winner: Georgia Football
The Bulldogs had a record-setting draft night yesterday, putting a nice bow on their fantastic season that ended in a National Championship. The five first round selections marked a record for Georgia football and it also set a program record for the most defensive players drafted in the first round from a single program.
Defensive end Trayvon Walker ended up being the No. 1 overall pick to the Jaguars. Standout defensive tackle Jordan Davis was selected by the Eagles at No. 13. Linebacker Quay Walker (No. 22) and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (No. 29) were both selected by the Packers. The Vikings rounded out the first round by drafting safety Lewis Cine (No. 32).
The crazy thing? They easily could have had seven players drafted in the first round, with both linebacker Nakobe Dean and wide receiver George Pickens projected early second round draft picks.
Loser: Malik Willis
This is a tough one for the former Liberty quarterback who many projected as the top quarterback prospect and a top 10 overall pick. However, NFL teams did not consider this draft to have any franchise signal callers so team after team passed on Willis and every other quarterback. When the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves with every available QB on the board at #20, many expected them to go with Willis. Instead, they stayed close to home with Kenny Pickett, who starred at the University of Pitt. Willis, who is filled with more projection and potential than college accolades will most likely be taken off the board early in the second round today.
Winner: Detroit Lions
The Las Vegas Strip is packed with Lions fans and all of them received a Christmas gift in April when the Jacksonville Jaguars passed up on Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson in order to take Georgia’s Trayvon Walker. That enabled the Lions to scoop up Hutchinson with the second overall pick and bring the homegrown defensive star to Ford Field. Later in the first round, they traded up with division rival Minnesota to move up to the 12th overall spot to get Alabama receiver Jameson Williams. By adding the speedster, the Lions gave Jared Goff another strong weapon. The only risk here is whether or not Williams will fully recover from the ACL injury he suffered in the National Championship game. If the speed is back, the Lions win big.
Losing wide receiver A.J. Brown is a huge, huge blow for the Titans. I feel for Tennessee fans, who lost their young star that wanted to earn big bucks this offseason. Instead, Philadelphia stole away Brown for No. 18 overall and a $100 million extension.
Brown had 63 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns last year. The Titans will now have to regroup with their weapons, as Robert Woods is the projected top receiver for Tennessee right now. Meanwhile, the Eagles will pair DeVonta Smith with Brown as a nice 1-2 punch for quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The six receivers taken in the top-20 is a record in the common draft era. There were nine trades in the first round, which was also a record-breaking night for the NFL. Included in those trades were two veteran receivers—Brown and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown—who were dealt.
Receivers were valued at an all-time high for this draft.
It started with USC’s Drake London to the Falcons at No. 8. London was also the first offensive skill player off the board. Three receivers were taken back-to-back-to-back—Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams—from picks 11-13, thanks to selections from the Jets, Saints and Lions, respectively.
Winner: The New York Jets
As a long-suffering Jets fan, the NFL Draft is not known as a time the organization traditionally shines. However, Gang Green absolutely crushed it on Draft Night and potentially landed three stars in the first round. It began when General Manager Joe Douglas focused on Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth overall pick. The Cincinnati cornerback established himself as a shutdown corner and his 6-3 190 lb. size enables him to play against the biggest NFL receivers. Six picks later, the Jets landed Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson, a smooth route runner with incredible hands and the type of ability to become Zach Wilson’s new favorite target. The icing on the cake happened late in the first round when Douglas swung a trade with the Tennessee Titans to acquire the 26th overall pick and select Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson II. The Jets also considered taking Johnson with the 10th pick and they pounced on him when the opportunity to trade up presented itself. It was a huge first night for the Jets.
Loser: Mitch Trubisky
After drafting Kenny Pickett 20th overall, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said that the quarterback competition will be open for the Steelers. Instead of challenging for a starting job with the Giants, Mitch Trubisky chose to sign with the Steelers in the offseason with hopes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL again.
But let’s be real with Mitch.
The Steelers didn’t draft Pickett to hang on the bench. They had an opportunity to watch the Pitt product ball out in the ACC from their own backyard. And, Pittsburgh didn’t even need to trade up in the draft to get their new quarterback. With Ben Roethlisberger retired, the Steelers need to move on with a formidable option at quarterback. Not a journeyman in Trubisky.
Loser: Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys
Dallas and Green Bay needed receivers in the first round and both struck out after six wideouts were taken by the 18th overall pick. Rather than package both picks to move up to take a receiver, the Packers (22 and 28) addressed defensive needs at linebacker and defensive tackle. Like the Green and Gold, the Cowboys also missed out on a receiver when they selected at 24. Dallas raised some eyebrows when they grabbed Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith. According to ESPN, the Cowboys had only 14 to 16 first round grades on players, so why would Jerry Jones reach for Smith rather than trade back and gain extra picks?
Winner: Steve Foster
Look at the Foss! He was able to snag a picture with the 10th overall pick in Garrett Wilson. Foss covered Wilson when he was a high school baller at Lake Travis in Austin. Of course, Wilson recognized Foss.