2022 NFL Draft: First Round Grades

2022 NFL Draft: First Round Grades

by April 29, 2022 0 comments

The madness has concluded. A record number of traits went down in Thursday night’s first-round and talented players flew off the board. We started hot and only got hotter as teams went all out for their guy. This was easily the most insane first round in recent memory, and there are plenty of players still available. How did each team do? Let’s break it down.

1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

This is the pick we expected for months, though it’s still one of the rougher first picks in memory. Sure, Walker is super athletic. But he’s only one percent more athletic than the likes of Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeaux. Walker clearly isn’t as talented as these other two guys, and it could be a huge price that Jaguars general manager Trent Baake pays later on.

Grade: B-

Check out our scouting report on him.

2) Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan

The hometown hero. Hutchinson grew up in Michigan, played high school there, and eventually dominated at the University of Michigan. Hutchinson is the top edge rusher in this class and a near-home run for the Lions. He fits the Dan Campbell scheme so well and brings in a motor that Detroit is trying to install in their organization.

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

3) Houston Texans – Derek Stingley Jr., CB, LSU

Stingley to the Texans was something heating up for weeks leading up to this draft, and after a ton of uncertainty, he’s finally the selection. With Steven Nelson being the top corner in Houston, it was an obvious need, though Stingley was my third-best cornerback on the board, and guys like Ahmad Gardner and Andrew Booth Jr. caused this grade to lower. Still, Stingley has enormous upside because of his twitch and athletic ability.

Grade: B+

Check out our scouting report on him.

4) New York Jets – Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati 

There were temptations to move this pick to a lower grade for one reason. The first is scheme fit. For months we talked about how Robert Saleh takes his corners based on the scheme. Gardner doesn’t really fit the scheme, but the talent level is just so high. It was an expected pick for the Jets, though it was the beginning of the chaos, and the Jets got the best player available. 

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

5) New York Giants – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon

Again we see the best player on the board get taken. Almost everyone thought the Giants would go Evan Neal here, but with the first four picks not being any of the top tackles, they clearly liked both Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, no matter what the Carolina Panthers did. Thibodeaux will now team up with Azeez Ojulari to cause hectic off the edge. He packs a nasty first step, absurd explosiveness, and great potential.

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

6) Carolina Panthers – Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

Don’t get me wrong, Ekwonu is a phenomenal player. But, this needed to be a trade down. Carolina has one of if not the worst rosters in the NFL. On top of that, they do not have a pick on Day 2 in one of the most Day 2 heavy drafts we’ve ever had. All of the trade talks aside, Ekwonu will be a cornerstone on this line for at least five years.

Grade: B+

Check out our scouting report on him.

7) New York Giants – Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Giants are the early winners of the first round. They make arguably the best player out there at the five-spot and arguably the other best player out there at seven. Additionally, Neal fits New York’s biggest need: offensive tackle. Neal can come in and park himself opposite Andrew Thomas, creating one of the best young duos in the NFL.

Grade: A+

Check out our scouting report on him.

8) Atlanta Falcons – Drake London, WR, USC

It’s easy to see the reasoning behind this pick, but it’s probably the worst we’ve seen so far. London can catch any ball thrown his way. The problem is, who’s going to throw it to him down the road? Furthermore, London’s functional strength mid-route and off the line is not the greatest. That’s the big knock on him that will hold London back early, and the talent level isn’t better than the likes of Jameson Williams or Garrett Wilson

Grade: C+

Check out our scouting report on him.

9) Seattle Seahawks – Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

Cross is not the tackle that Seattle needs to start in Week 1. However, the tools are all there. Cross has immediate value against the pass. His problem is the run game. The best thing he really does is just box players out to finish the play. Cross came in at 41 on my big board, though he was one that I went back and forth on and can eventually live with this pick.

Grade: B

Check out our scouting report on him.

10) New York Jets – Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

This was a sneaky pick to close out the top 10. With all the steam the Jets blew off about selecting Jermaine Johnson here, they go with a pick that was mocked in the early days of this draft cycle. Wilson is an immediate big-time weapon added to second-year quarterback Zach Wilson‘s arsenal, one that could be a staple of the offense for years to come with how safe a floor he has.

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

11) New Orleans Saints (via Washington) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Our first trade and it’s Mickey Loomis with his classic aggression. We know through and through that, the Saints were infatuated with Olave, but no one could imagine this much. He’s a great receiver, sure, but was the price too much? Maybe. Olave gets the title from some as the best route runner, but functional strength is a must-add as soon as he touches down in New Orleans.

Grade: B

Check out our scouting report on him.

12) Detroit Lions (via Minnesota) – Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The trade run, and receiver run, stay in check. As soon as Detroit made this deal, we figured they had moved up to grab their quarterback of the future, Malik Willis. This was not the case. Instead, the Lions took one of the top receivers out there. The Lions add to a young core featured with one of last year’s big-time sleepers, Amon-Ra St. Brown

Grade: B+

Check out our scouting report on him.

13) Philadelphia Eagles (via Houston) – Jordan Davis, DL, Georgia

When the Eagles made the move, most thought that it was for Williams if Detroit took Willis. However, general manager Howie Roseman clearly had his own plan. He took the monstrous-sized defensive tackle out of Georgia to give them their very own run-stuffer. Fletcher Cox will come off the books next season, and Davis will be great for years to come (with the right conditioning).

Grade: A-

Check out our scouting report on him.

14) Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Hamilton, SAF, Notre Dame

Hamilton is the best player in the entire draft. We knew he was going to slide a bit, but never into the hands of Baltimore. This is easily the best pick of the first round in terms of best playing available. Hamilton can give the Ravens literally anything on the defensive side of the ball. He has great range and can line up in the box, single-high, or two-high. This selection could be the one we talk about for years.

Grade: A+

Check out our scouting report on him.

15) Houston Texans (via Philadelphia) – Kenyon Green, iOL, Texas A&M

The Davis Mills era is in full effect. After taking Stingley at third overall, the Texans got their guy at 15 even after a trade down. Green sets up ultimate protection for Mills as he bounces inside and can maul guys in both the run and pass game. While the Texans already have a nice line, it gets solidified by Green.

Grade: B

Check out our scouting report on him.

16) Washington Commanders (via New Orleans) – Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

This was the biggest shocker of the first round up to this point. The Commanders could’ve had Hamilton back at 11. Instead, they trade down for Dotson. Dotson runs great routes and has a nice twitch, but the size, need, and what they could’ve had, hold him back big-time. This selection makes virtually no sense for Washington as they nearly lose the night.

Grade: D

Check out our scouting report on him.

17) Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, iOL, Boston College

Johnson is an amazing get for the Chargers. The only reason the pick grade gets a knock on the letter grade is due to the fact they did not address the interior defensive line. Otherwise, Johnson comes in and puts the finishing touches on an ever-lasting offensive line rebuild in Los Angeles. This is one of the best picks of the mid-first round, one that the Chargers didn’t even need to make a move for.

Grade: A-

Check out our scouting report on him.

18) Tennessee Titans (via Philadelphia) – Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Tennessee traded star receiver A.J. Brown to the Eagles for a first and a third. With that first-rounder, they use it on mini-Brown. Burks comes in and plays nearly the same role Brown does while giving you hints of Deebo Samuel. What that can do is allow Derrick Henry to get some extra touches off, something that he needs with the injuries starting to accumulate. Overall, the Titans did everything they needed to here, with Brown receiving such a big contract.

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

19) New Orleans (via Philadelphia) – Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

After giving Penning an early-second round grade after the Senior Bowl, he has shot down on my board. On my final big board, I had Penning as my 72nd best prospect. He is a tackle that teams should not want to have. There is no way he starts Week 1 and no way that the Saints could’ve chosen him to be the guy to replace Terron Armstead.

Grade: D

Check out our scouting report on him.

20) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh

It was obvious that Pittsburgh was taking a quarterback, just not Pickett, to be that guy. For months, the Steelers seemed all in on Willis. They had Senior Bowl meets and more, all to select the hometown kid in Pickett. With development, this can be a very good NFL quarterback, but if he’s the one that is the future in Pittsburgh? That seems up in the air.

Grade: C+

Check out our scouting report on him.

21) Kansas City Chiefs (via New England) – Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

This whole pick got thrown in motion via a trade-up with AFC counterpart New England Patriots. With that pick, instead of taking a receiver as everyone thought, they took one of the smartest defensive backs out there. McDuffie will certainly slot into the cornerback role, not the safety spot that was tossed around a bit pre-draft, and can lockdown for a hurting secondary.

Grade: B

Check out our scouting report on him.

22) Green Bay Packers – Quay Walker, LB, Georgia

Walker is a very solid player, but it just doesn’t work. The need for a linebacker is not there. Wide receiver was, or edge rusher was the clear option, and the talent on the board was insane. Johnson, George Karlaftis, Arnold Ebiketie, Daxton Hill, and more were on the board, but Green Bay decided to go with the fifth-best linebacker on the board.

Grade: C-

Check out our scouting report on him.

23) Buffalo Bills (via Baltimore) – Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

One of the best players available and the Bills’ biggest need. Elam was my 12th-ranked player and fits the bill for the Bills perfectly. He’s long, instinctual, and tough to beat in man coverage. Elam and Tre’Davious White can combine to be the best cornerback duo in the NFL if Elam can develop into the player it looks like he can be.

Player Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.

24) Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Smith, OT, Tulsa

Smith was rising into the first round for the past few weeks. This is such a Jerry Jones selection, but one that is not all that bad. If he’ll play early on is still to be determined. Smith is definitely more of a project for a first-round guy, though he’s still a better selection than someone like Penning or any of the other lower-tier tackles.

Grade: C+

Check out our scouting report on him.

25) Baltimore Ravens (via Buffalo) – Tyler Linderbaum, iOL, Iowa

Eric DeCosta may be the best general manager when it comes to the draft. He not only got the best talent in this draft, but he got arguably the best player regardless of positional value. This also hits on a need at center. Other than the Giants, the Ravens are the winners of this first round without a doubt.

Grade: A+

Check out our scouting report on him.

26) New York Jets – Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State

New York finally got their man. One prospect always slides in the first round, and Johnson was that guy. The media hyped him up far too much and it showed. Nevertheless, Johnson can be a dominant pass-rusher out of any scheme but will need to work on stiffness and consistency. The mentality and motor are great and will help the culture that Saleh wants to build on a defense that couldn’t get much done next year.

Grade: A-

Check out our scouting report on him.

27) Jacksonville Jaguars (via Tampa Bay) – Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

Lloyd was once regarded as a top-10 pick during the middle of the draft cycle. After poor testing, it saw Lloyd drop a good amount. He is an uber-smart linebacker, though there are struggles. People think Lloyd can line up on the edge and be a versatile guy, but he cannot shed blocks whatsoever. However, the talent with the processing is too much to pass upon, and the Jaguars nab a solid linebacker at 27.

Grade: C+

Check out our scouting report on him.

28) Green Bay Packers – Devonte Wyatt, DL, Georgia

It was an eventful past month or so for Wyatt as he had an assault charge come up. Scouts were all over the place with their grades on him, but Wyatt is a good player. He’ll plug in right next to All-Pro Kenny Clark on the defense and pairs up with former Georgia teammate Walker who was picked at 22 for Green Bay. Still, the need wasn’t all there compared to the wide receivers on the board.

Grade: B-

Check out our scouting report on him.

29) New England Patriots – Cole Strange, iOL, Chattanooga

Perhaps the big shocker to everyone shouldn’t have been a shocker at all. Bill Belichick is going to do what he wants and if he sees a first-year starter out of this 6-foot-4 guard/tackle then that’s the guy that’ll work. Strange is a bit of a PFF merchant, but he packs a 9.95 raw athletic score and the talent is there despite the lack of having a big name. The grade lowers because of what was left on the board, but this one can have good potential.

Grade: C-

Check out our scouting report on him.

30) Kansas City Chiefs – George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Karlaftis was my second-ranked edge and sixth-best player in this entire class. His impact is constant and unstoppable. Teams would have to double-team him non-stop to even handle his strength. For the Chiefs, they take the best player on the board and get to studs on their defense with Karlaftis and McDuffie, and they can add a receiver on Day 2.

Grade: A+ 

Check out our scouting report on him.

31) Cincinnati Bengals – Daxton Hill, DB, Michigan

The Bengals did not take their biggest need: an offensive lineman. However, they did the next best thing. Hill is the definition of versatile. He succeeded everywhere for Michigan, including at boundary corner, in the slot, in the box, single-high, and two-high. The Bengals get a guy who has a serious future with this team and can be the secondary help they need.

Grade: A-

Check out our scouting report on him.

32) Minnesota Vikings – Lewis Cine, SAF, Georgia

Minnesota does it yet again. This team in the latter half of the first round has been very good as of late. Cine was my 14th-ranked prospect and second-best safety. He has elite explosiveness that allows him to fly all over the field. Now, Cine will come in and learn from Harrison Smith while potentially playing opposite of him should the Vikings use him at free safety.

Grade: A

Check out our scouting report on him.


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