The 2022 NFL Draft was one of the more exciting drafts in recent memory as we saw some of the better wide receivers in the NFL traded, some players make dramatic falls down the draft board, and other players drafted several rounds higher than they should have been. In this week’s NFL Draft Notebook we take a look back at the 2022 NFL Draft and discuss the following topics
- NFL Draft winners and losers
- The best picks of each round
- Some undrafted free agents to watch
- And much more
2022 NFL Draft Winners
The Baltimore Ravens had the top NFL Draft by far. To start with they found the best value in the first and second round when they drafted Kyle Hamilton with the 14th pick and David Ojabo with the 45th selection. The Ravens were also able to get the top center in Tyler Linderbaum with the 25th overall selection. In addition to starting the draft off with three great selections, they also found good value on day three in Daniel Faalele, Charlie Kolar, and Tyler Badie.
New York Giants
The New York Giants got two day-one starters with high upside with their first two selections in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal. It would not be a shock if either one of these players developed into the top player from the 2022 NFL Draft. In the second round, they snagged Wan’Dale Robinson who should excel as a slot receiver.
Perhaps no team maneuvered the NFL Draft better than the Philadelphia Eagles this year. The team was able to pick up a true number one wide receiver in A.J. Brown, the best run defender in the draft in Jordan Davis, and a first-round pick in 2023 before the draft got underway. The team also found excellent value in the third round with the selection of Nakobe Dean.
A team that had an underrated draft is the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the first round, they added the top quarterback in the draft when they took Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick. They then took a high upside wide receiver at the end of the second round in George Pickens. They also added a speedster in the fourth round when they selected wide receiver Calvin Austin III out of Memphis.
2022 NFL Draft Losers
New England Patriots
Any time you take a player who is rated as the 150th best player in the draft in the first round you are not going to get a high draft grade. Along with taking Cole Strange way too high the team also reached on Tyquan Thornton in the second round and Jack Jones in the fourth. One place they did get good value though was in the third round when they took Marcus Jones.
San Francisco 49ers
While I liked the 49ers’ first selection of Drake Jackson the same can’t be said of the rest of their draft. In the third round, the team took running back Tyrion Davis-Price and wide receiver Danny Gray who were two players that did not receive a draftable grade from me. It is hard to see the 49ers getting more than one or two impact players from this year’s draft class.
Green Bay Packers
A team that is getting high grades from some people but I am not sold on is the Green Bay Packers. In the first round, the team reached for Quay Walker and again reached in the second round with the selection of Christian Watson who the team traded up for. None of their day three selections stood out as great value picks either.
While I like Cowboy’s first-round pick Tyler Smith I think the team could have traded down to the start of the second round and still got him. Second-round pick Sam Williams is strictly a pass rusher at this point in his career and also has seen his share of the off-the-field issues. On the positive side though offensive tackle Matt Waletzko who the team took in the fifth round is the type of player who could develop into a starter in a few years.
Best Pick of Each Round in the 2022 NFL Draft
First Round: Kyle Hamilton, S, Baltimore Ravens
While Kyle Hamilton might not be the best tester in the NFL Draft there is no doubt he is an outstanding player. He is strong against both the run and the pass and despite only running a 4.59 40-yard dash shows good range. He should be a day one starter for the Ravens and be one of the best safeties in the NFL in a couple of seasons.
Second Round: David Ojabo, DE, Baltimore Ravens
While David Ojabo will likely miss most if not all of this season he is still outstanding value at this point in the draft. He is an explosive pass rusher who is just starting to learn the finer points of the game. Another positive with this pick is he goes to the Ravens and his old college defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald who knows how to fully utilize his talent.
Third Round: Malik Willis, QB, Tennesse Titans
A player who I thought would be overdrafted in the 2022 NFL Draft was Malik Willis but after falling to the third round that is definitely not the case. Willis is an outstanding athlete who should be able a dual-threat in the NFL. Look for him to sit for a couple of years behind Ryan Tannehill before competing for the Titans’ starting quarterback job.
Fourth Round: Cade Otton, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers were able to get the top tight in the 2022 NFL Draft to start the third day of the draft. Otton is a complete player who shows the toughness to hold up as a blocker and the consistent hands to be a receiving threat in the passing game.
Fifth Round: Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders
Like Willis, Sam Howell is another quarterback who fell down the draft board. Going into the 2022 NFL Draft Howell carried a second-round grade so getting him in the fifth round is a steal. While it is doubtful Howell will see any playing time this season, if he proves he can play like he did in 2020 he should be able to contend for the starting quarterback job in Washington in 2023.
Sixth Round: Malcolm Rodriguez, OLB, Detroit Lions
If Malcolm Rodriguez were 6-foot-1 instead of 5-foot-11 he would have been a second or third-round selection instead of a sixth-round pick. What stands out with Rodriguez is his impressive production. Last season, he finished with 123 tackles which were enough to lead the Cowboys in tackles for the third straight season. At the bare minimum, he should be a strong special teams player for the Lions next season.
Seventh Round: Baylon Spector, OLB, Buffalo Bills
A member of the 2022 All-Underrated Defensive Team Baylon Spector was a good value pick in the seventh round. Spector has the instincts to play sideline to sideline and was one of the better tacklers in this year’s class. He should provide good depth behind Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, and Terrel Bernard.
Five Undrafted Free Agents to Watch
1. Carson Strong, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
It came as a major surprise when Nevada quarterback Carson Strong went undrafted. Earlier in the draft process, some people projected Strong to go in the first round, after he had a spectacular college career a Nevada. Over the past three seasons, Strong completed 70% of his passes and tossed 74 touchdowns. Strong should be able to earn the number three job in Philly behind Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew.
2. Justyn Ross, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Another player who was once viewed as a possible first-round pick but went undrafted is former Clemson wide receiver, Justyn Ross. Ross was a Freshman All-American in 2018 after leading the team in receiving yards and setting a school record for yards per catch. However, over the past two seasons Ross has battled significant injuries including a neck injury that kept him out the entire 2020 year and a season-ending foot injury this year. If Ross can stay healthy it would not be a shock if he developed into an NFL starting wide receiver down the road.
3. Kellen Diesch, OT, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins added an intriguing developmental tackle after the draft in Kellen Diesch. While he will need a year two to develop his strength he has the quick feet and length to potentially develop into a backup left tackle down the road.
4. Zach VanValkenburg, DE, Las Vegas Raiders
While Zach VanValkenburg will not blow away opponents with his speed or overall athletic ability he does have the talent to make the Raiders next season. What stands out with VanValkenburg is sound fundamentals which allow him to hold up well vs. the run and was one of the main reasons he was able to account for 5.5 sacks last year.
5. James Skalski, MLB, Indianapolis Colts
While James Skalski might be on the stiff side there are not many players more intense than him. This intensity should pay off on special teams where he will excel at covering kicks. He also should be able to fill a role as a backup linebacker for the Colts.
Quote of the Week
“Travon Walker is the first player selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era who never made an all-conference or All-American team in college.”
-ESPN Stats and Information