Least Favorite Draft Classes of 2022
2.38 Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
2.48 Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
3.71 Velus Jones, WR, Tennessee
5.168 Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
5.174 Dominique Robinson, DE, Miami (Ohio)
6.186 Zach Thomas, OG, San Diego State
6.203 Trestan Ebner, RB, Baylor
6.207 Doug Kramer, OC, Illinois
7.226 Ja’Tyre Carter, OG, Southern
7.254 Elijah Hicks, S, Cal
7.255 Trenton Gill, P, North Carolina State
The Chicago Bears are a bit of a special case. They took two very good defensive backs with their pair of 2nd round picks. Kyler Gordon is a great athlete that new head coach Eberflus should be able to coach up to be a dependable contributor. Jaquan Brisker is a great downhill safety that can challenge for a spot immediately across from Eddie Jackson.
My issue with the Bears class has to do with Justin Fields. New GM Ryan Poles did an awful job of creating a situation for Fields to succeed. Adding a 25-year-old rookie receiver who saw most of his value come on special teams is not the key to helping a young quarterback succeed. This team is starting Darnell Mooney, who is a good player, but is not cut out to be a number 1 and supplanting him with Byron Pringle and Velus Jones. This is likely a bottom 5 pass catching room in the NFL.
The way the Bears invested in a bunch of OL in the late rounds was reminiscent of the Giants doing that with Daniel Jones and just hoping that throwing picks at the problem will work itself out. Teven Jenkins has talent, but also question marks and injury concerns, especially playing on the blind side. Dakota Dozier is projected to start at right guard, and that is a recipe for disaster.
I believe the Bears failed their young quarterback (whom they invested multiple first round picks into) by ignoring their dismal receiving and protection rooms and instead focusing on an admittedly broken defense. It’s good that they drafted a punter in the 7th, because young Trenton Gill will likely see a lot of work this season.
New England Patriots
1.29 Cole Strange, OG, Chattanooga
2.50 Tyquan Thornton, WR, Baylor
3.85 Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
4.121 Jack Jones, CB, Arizona State
4.127 Pierre Strong Jr., RB, South Dakota State
4.137 Bailey Zappe, QB, Western Kentucky
6.183 Kevin Harris, RB, South Carolina
6.200 Sam Roberts, DE, Northwest Missouri State
6.210 Chasen Hines, OC, LSU
7.245 Andrew Stueber, OT, Michigan
The New England Patriots had the biggest “who?” or “what?” or “why?” of the first round with interior offensive lineman Cole Strange. Strange was a late riser this draft cycle but played at a lower level of competition at Chattanooga and also didn’t even blow up the Senior Bowl when playing against better players. I believe he is a good player, but definitely needed some time to develop and acclimate to the pressures of playing in the NFL, instead of getting thrown into the fire right away.
They came back with another surprise pick in the second round with Tyquan Thornton, another projected Day 3 pick. He is a speedy receiver and does add another element to a lackluster wide receiver room but lacks a lot of play size or strength and may struggle with the added physicality of the NFL. With the departure of J.C. Jackson, the Patriots needed a lot of help in the cornerback room and decided to double up with two short cornerbacks, one (Marcus) that saw most of his value as a returner and the other (Jack) who will be 25 before Christmas this year. Adding depth is always good, but there were better corners on the board or they could have selected a corner earlier and came back for the likes of Strange and Thornton with later picks. They just didn’t get great value here.
The Patriots also doubled up selecting running backs, despite having one of, if not the, deepest running back rooms in the NFL and seeing a good rookie campaign from Rhamondre Stevenson. Both these selections were good value in a vacuum, but were a bit questionable for a team that has some holes at other more important positions and a lot of depth in this room. Bailey Zappe was also a head scratching pick. There is more and more value in a backup quarterback in the NFL, but selecting Zappe in the 4th round, when the likes of Sam Howell were still in the board is very questionable.
I did like the trio of their last picks as they add some intriguing depth, especially Stueber, but they do not do enough to make up for the mind-boggling picks earlier in the draft. They were already a question to finish 2nd in the division they’ve had a stranglehold on for decades, and will likely struggle to compete for even second this upcoming season.
San Francisco 49ers
2.61 Drake Jackson, DE, USC
3.93 Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, LSU
3.105 Danny Gray, WR, SMU
4.134 Spencer Burford, OG, UTSA
5.172 Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo
6.187 Nick Zakelj, OT, Fordham
6.220 Kalia Davis, DT, UCF
6.221 Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State
7.262 Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
Without a first-round pick, it’s a much higher bar to clear to have a standout draft class. The 49ers failed to. I loved their trio of 6th round picks, especially Tariq-Castro Fields, as they provide depth to very important positions and with some seasoning may become rotational contributors. However, the first three picks of the 49ers draft were the opposite.
Drake Jackson was a highly hyped prospect early in the draft season, but there was a reason he fell off. He struggles with play strength in the Pac-12 and will continue to see these problems in the NFL. I don’t see him becoming anything more than a rotational defensive end or a designated pass rusher. Danny Gray is a stereotypical 49ers receiver who might be stuck in a slot receiver role due to his low wingspan and struggles with contested catches and play strength. Shanahan will have to be in his bag to get the ball into his hands and get value out of this pick.
Tyrion Davis-Price is one of my least favourite picks in this entire draft. Just a year after spending two picks on running backs (3rd round on Trey Sermon and 6th round on Elijah Mitchell, who had a fantastic season) the 9ers went back to the running back well and used another premium pick on a non-premium position with little to no need. I would have loved to see the 49ers spend this pick on someone like Daniel Faalele, Perrion Winfrey or Akayleb Evans and fill a position of need and add depth to very important positions.
Their other picks are fine, and I’ll never fault a team spending a late round pick on a flier-quarterback, even though the 49ers have a deep room here. San Francisco is a team that needs to hit on early picks to remain in competitive in a challenging division like the NFC West and failed to do so in the 2022 draft.
New Orleans Saints
1.11 Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
1.19 Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
2.49 Alontae Taylor, CB, Tennessee
5.161 D’Marco Jackson, LB, Appalachian State
6.194 Jordan Jackson, DT, Air Force
The New Orleans Saints had two first round picks, but still found themselves on this list. How is that possible? Before draft night they gave up their first this year (18th OVR), a third rounder, a seventh rounder, and then a first next year and a second the year later with the Eagles for 2 firsts (16 and 19) and a sixth rounder.
During draft night, they traded up with the Commanders from 16 to 11 by giving up another 3rd and a 4th. All in all they spent 2 firsts, a second, 2 thirds, a fourth and a seventh to select Chris Olave and Trevor Penning. Penning was a decent selection, getting someone who should be able to slot into the vacant right tackle position and develop into a plus starter due to his athletic traits. But giving all those assets for someone who was the third best receiver on his college team? Studying Olave before the draft, he never was a player that will become an alpha receiver that should be selected in the top-15 of the 1st round.
He doesn’t possess many standout traits that should allow him to dominate opposing corners and be someone worthy of the 11th overall selection (not to mention all the other picks spent on him). Alontae Taylor was the worst selection of the entire draft in my opinion. When I watched him, my only positives were his length and his willingness to tackle. I felt he lacked fluidity in his hips and the football IQ necessary to spend a premium selection on. I think he will struggle early and often in the NFL and will need a lot of patience from coaches and fans.
The last two picks (yes only five total selections) are decent and provide some depth, especially D’Marco Jackson on special teams, but for a team that loses so much talent every offseason due to cap constraints, Mickey Loomis needed to infuse a lot of young talent and failed to do so and will struggle to do it next year, because a lot of their picks are already traded.
1.1 Travon Walker, DE, Georgia
1.27 Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah
3.65 Luke Fortner, OC, Kentucky
3.70 Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
5.154 Snoop Conner, RB, Ole Miss
6.197 Gregory Junior, CB, Ouachita Baptist
7.222 Montaric Brown, CB, Arkansas
Another team with two first round picks found themselves on this list. The Jacksonville Jaguars are on this list not because they selected bad players, but because they left a lot of value on the board from their selections. It all started with Travon Walker. A great athlete, but a bit of a question mark as a football player. He struggled to establish himself along a dominant Georgia defensive line but somehow still found himself selected before any other player.
I give credit to the Jacksonville management for trusting their coaching staff to get the most out of this raw athlete, but they do not have the greatest track record in doing so and shouldn’t have overthunk this pick and selected a more established pass rusher like Aidan Hutchinson or Kayvon Thibodeux.
The Jags also traded up to select off ball linebacker Devin Lloyd in the first round. Lloyd is a great player and a good selection at the 27th overall spot. My bigger question comes with the selection of Chad Muma in the 3rd round. Another good player and worthy of that draft spot. But I question spending two premium picks on off ball linebackers, when there are so many holes on the roster and there is so much depth at the position in this draft.
Luke Fortner was another player I didn’t love in the draft process. I felt he played too slow and too passive to be someone a team can rely upon to come in and at least challenge for a starting spot as a rookie. The last three picks are solid again. There are running backs I liked more than Snoop Conner, but he should serve as a good replacement in case of a James Robinson injury. The two corners add some developmental upside that teams will always love. This was another draft class of questionable value.