Favorite Draft Classes of 2022
1.14 Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
1.25 Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
2.45 David Ojabo, OLB, Michigan
3.76 Travis Jones, NT, Connecticut
4.110 Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
4.119 Jalyn Amour-Davis, CB, Alabama
4.128 Charlie Kolar, TE, Iowa State
4.130 Jordan Stout, P, Penn State
4.139 Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
4.141 Damarion Williams, CB, Houston
6.196 Tyler Badie, RB, Missouri
The Baltimore Ravens are notorious for finding value on draft day, and they did so once again in 2022. On Thursday, Baltimore allowed teams to trade out in front of them and wait for a consistently ranked top-5 prospect in Kyle Hamilton to fall to them. While his combine and pro-day shied some away, Hamilton provides a ton of value as a ranging safety and helps beef up the DB room that has been ravaged by injury, age, and free agents. Later in the evening, Eric DeCosta flexed his general manager muscles over Steve Kiem and traded disappointing wide receiver Marquise Brown and pick 100 for the 23rd overall pick. They traded down a little bit and grabbed another faller in Tyler Linderbaum, who might not fit their blocking scheme perfectly, but will do wonders paving the way for the Ravens’ rushing attack.
The Ravens focused on the defensive line on Day 2 and grabbed David Ojabo, who was a projected first-round pick before his torn Achilles on his Pro Day. The Ravens will be able to allow him to sit and develop a bit at the beginning of the season. This is an ideal landing spot for his development, and it also helps that his high-school teammate Odafe Oweh is also a Raven. Travis Jones can fill into a rotational role with Michael Pierce back at the nose tackle position and will be a starter later down the line. Day 3 was similarly great, with just a few question marks with the Stout and Williams picks. I will never be a fan of taking a specialist before Round 6, but I’ll have to defer to former special teams coach John Harbaugh.
Faalele is a massive tackle, who will move mountains and will have his best chance to stay disciplined and grow in Baltimore. Amour-Davis and Williams boost a depleted corner room and offer interesting athletic upside. Ravens love using their tight-ends and Kolar and Likely allow them to have a 3-man rotation once again and lessen the pass catching blow they took with the loss of Brown. Badie is an interesting pass catching back that might find some value if injuries hit again. I would have liked to see the Ravens add another WR, as their room is currently lacking, but their run game will be great again and their defense is revamped.
1.6 Ikem Ekwonu, OT, N.C. State
3.94 Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
4.120 Brandon Smith, LB, Penn State
6.189 Amare Barno, DE, Virginia Tech
6.199 Cade Mays, OG, Tennessee
7.242 Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor
The Panthers had a lot of question marks over this offseason and a lot of worry around Head Coach Matt Rhule’s job. Well, this class helped create some more confidence in the 3rd year head coach. Taking Ekwonu allowed the Panthers to find a stalwart at left tackle. They have had a different starting left tackle every year since Jordan Gross retired. Ekwonu is a monster athlete and will provide blindside protection for whoever Carolina’s QB will be.
Despite coming into the draft with no Round 2 or 3 picks, Carolina saw Matt Corral falling and traded up to secure the Ole Miss quarterback. Corral should mesh well with DJ Moore and CMC and should be in an instant competition with Sam Darnold. Corral can be a Day 1 starter and Carolina recognizing this shows that they are willing to spend as much draft capital as possible to try to get the most important position in football right.
Day 3 was a load of athletic talent, which has been a staple of the Rhule/Fritterer era. Smith, Barno and Barnes have a ton of athletic talent that needs to be cultivated under Phil Snow and the Panthers have done a great job of adding a lot of defensive depth where these players will have some time to develop until they can become eventual contributors. Cade Mays played tackle for the Volunteers in 2021 but will shift inside in the NFL and should provide a push behind Pat Elfein. Mays has played snaps at all five positions along the offensive line in his college career. With a limited number of picks, it’s hard to ask the Panthers to do more, but ideally they would add more talent to the wide receiver room for their QBs.
Kansas City Chiefs
1.21 Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
1.30 George Karlaftis, DE, Purdue
2.54 Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
2.62 Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati
3.103 Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin
4.135 Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State
5.145 Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky
7.243 Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State
7.251 Isaih Pacheco, RB, Rutgers
7.259 Nazeeh Johnson, S, Marshall
The Kansas City Chiefs were in a bit of a rut to start the draft, with the trading of Tyreek Hill. They also needed some help on defense, especially with the loss of Charvarius Ward. Veach, Reid and co. managed to hit all the holes they had and get good value. Trent McDuffie is a bit of a shorter corner but he can play immediately in a loaded AFC West and provides slot versatility. Karlaftis was also a great value and he has heavy hands and can provide value on every down. This type of high floor player is a great fit for a reloading contender like Kansas City.
Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed that KC left Day 1 without adding to the pass catching room, but they made things better taking Skyy Moore at 54. Skyy Moore has great ball skills and speed. He can fill a similar role to Hill (obviously, not as well). Mahomes will love his new wide receiver who can easily work his way into being the number one.
Bryan Cook will work well in a rotational role and can provide some push behind Juan Thornhill, and you can never have too many talented defensive backs in the NFL, especially when facing Derek Carr, Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert twice a year. Leo Chenal fell all the way to 103 and provides a ton of pass rush upside and would not surprise me if he is starting week 1. He provides more bite to that defense and should be a great partner with 2021 2nd round pick Nick Bolton.
Joshua Williams is a fantastic athlete that will need time to develop, especially out of a small school. The Chiefs know the importance of OL depth more than anyone else in the league and Kinnard provides good depth and versatility as both a tackle and a guard. Their trio of seventh round picks could provide some depth, but I would be most excited about Pacheco, especially with a less than stellar RB room. I would have liked to see the Chiefs add another pass catcher in this draft, as Hill’s void is so large, but overall this draft should see a lot of immediate contributors and some interesting upside depth pieces.
New York Jets
1.4 Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
1.10 Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
1.26 Jermaine Johnson II, DE, Florida State
2.36 Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
3.101 Jeremy Ruckert, TE, Ohio State
4.111 Max Mitchell, OT, Louisiana
4.117 Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M
It’s easy to dismiss the Jets class as only being good because they had seven picks in the top 117, but as we have seen with some NFL teams, they have the uncanny ability to mess up even high value picks. It all started with Sauce Gardner. Many Jets fans thought that HC Robert Saleh wouldn’t prioritize the CB room high, but they really needed to just because of how talent lacking it is. Sauce immediately comes in as CB1 and should provide a lock down presence for many years.
Garrett Wilson was their pick at 10 and he provides some more juice to a wide receiver room that needed help. He can displace the disappointing Denzel Mims and limited Braxton Berrios and provide another weapon for talented 2nd year QB Zach Wilson. Throughout the first round, we saw Jermaine Johnson II fall for unexplained reasons, whether it was something unknown medically or off the field, or that the league was simply not as high on him as we all thought. Well, the Jets saw the value here and traded up to pick up the edge rusher many pegged to them at 10. Johnson II will slide in as a starter across from Carl Lawson and gives the Jets a great edge rushing duo.
On Day 2 the Jets found value once again, taking the first running back in this draft in Breece Hall. He will also be a starter and can create a great tandem with Michael Carter. Jeremy Ruckert is my least favorite pick of the Jets’ draft as he will likely only cap out as TE3 as the Jets brought in two TEs in free agency in C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. He is a nasty blocker and should help on special teams regardless.
Day 3 only saw 2 picks, but both were along the trenches in Max Mitchell and Michael Clemons. Mitchell provides some much needed tackle depth with the questions surrounding Mekhi Becton’s future with the team and the fact that George Fant is a free agent after this season. Mitchell allows the Jets to have some depth and stability and prevent them from making a desperate move, while also already being experienced in the wide zone scheme.
Michael Clemons is a talented edge rusher with some off field baggage but provides some depth in a pass rushing room that does need more juice. I would have liked to see the Jets collect some more late round picks and add some depth in the iOL and LB rooms, but overall, this is one the best draft classes this year.
1.20 Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
2.52 George Pickens, WR, Georgia
3. 84 DeMarvin Leal, DL, Texas A&M
4.138 Calvin Austin III, WR, Memphis
6.208 Connor Heyward, FB, Michigan State
7.225 Mark Robinson, LB, Ole Miss
7.241 Chris Oladokun, QB, South Dakota State
Pittsburgh started the first round off with a bang. It was widely rumored that they would be taking a QB in the first round, and probably trading up for one. They were able to read the league (well, sort of) and sat and waited for their hopeful future franchise QB at 20th overall. Many felt like Malik Willis (TEN 3.86) was the better quarterback, but the Steelers grabbed one that is ready to start right away and gives them a better chance to win in a very competitive division and conference. Not to mention Pickett getting to play for his hometown team is almost poetic.
The Steelers once again went wide receiver early, stopping George Pickens’ fall. There were a number of receivers taken before him and the Steelers once again wisely sat back and let Pickens fall. While there are some off the field and injury concerns, Pittsburgh has shown the ability to take on headcases and make them into consistent contributors. He should provide value to a receiving room and be a solid target for Pickett for years to come.
DeMarvin Leal is another player who was projected in the first round before the college season. He provides a lot of pass rush versatility over the defensive line and should provide some immediate value spelling Tuitt and Heyward. Calvin Austin III is a super shifty slot receiver that Matt Canada can get creative with. Despite his small size, he runs hard with the ball in his hand and should become an exciting fan favorite. The late day 3 picks are a spattering of depth and projects. Oladokun is a productive, traitsy, small school QB which should provide some competition for Mason Rudolph at least. Heyward can push Watt while Robinson may just be solid linebacker depth which is always welcome in a 3-4 scheme. I would have liked to see the Steelers add to their OL room again as the tackle spots are still a question mark.